We began this journey together, as father and son, with the goal of writing a story that spoke to friendship, overcoming obstacles (and the ultimate evils in our world), and of the power of working together to face the biggest challenges in our lives. Yes, it’s full of monsters, peril, and steeped in exciting mythology and folklore, but it centers around the powerful bonds formed between an unlikely group of friends as they face a unique set of challenges. We wanted to write a story that we would be proud to read aloud to our then newborn son/baby brother (who now, years later, has read them through twice more). It has turned into the adventure of a lifetime as we are meeting people from all over the world who are falling in love with Charlie Sullivan, Darcy Witherington, Nash Stormstepper, and the twins Lisa & Liev Vadinknov – along with a wild, often humorous, and mysterious cast of humans and monsters alike.
Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: Witch Moon is the next adventure in the series, which takes us across the ocean to the Old Country, then on to Book 3: Council of the Hunters, where the group’s character and loyalty face the ultimate tests when they meet a surprising and spooky new cast of characters. The Dragon Gate (Book 4) will be released soon, and there will be a total of 6 books in the series!
Welcome to my interview with novelists, C. Michael McGannon and D.C. McGannon, co-authors of Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters (YA); KAOS Obsidere: The Nightmare Has Begun (Adult, Horror) an interconnected short story horror collection.
Okay guys, What is your favorite junk food vice?
Michael: Oh, that’s a hard one. What are we calling junk food? (Chocolate can be good for you, right!?) Probably have to go with cheeseburgers. Any time I go to a new place to eat, I have to test out their cheeseburger. If they have a good burger, then I’m happy.
Any movies that you really want to see?
D.C.: I am really looking forward to Crimson Peak out this October. I’m really due for something gothic, dark, and spooky, and I love Guillermo del Torro! Also, the Peanuts movie! Yay!!
Do you have a favorite book or film?
Michael: Yes! Multiple! I’ll just throw two at you. Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is my favorite fun, gritty, and imaginative novel ever. Of all time. But I would be amiss not to mention Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy, which quite literally kept me up at night and had me chomping at the bit to finish Alek and Deryn’s story.
What’s on your reading list right now?
D.C.: Three books actually. Survive the Night by Danielle Vega; I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter; and the Three Investigators series by Alfred Hitchcock. We were gifted with a whole set of the Three Investigators recently after doing a library event, and our whole family is so excited to have these gems!
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head to first?
Michael: Oh dear. Comic books and graphic novels section. There are so many lovely, twisted stories in there!
Besides writing and reading, what is your most favorite thing to do?
D.C.: Drinking coffee, hiking, or a night of board games with the family. Is there anything else really? Hehe.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Michael: Usually scribbling notes for another project (in the most disorganized way I can manage), doodling up some weird chimerical beasts, or spending time with my family and my friends.
What do you listen to when you write? Do you find one type of music over another that inspires you to write?
D.C.: I have to listen to instrumental music. I can’t have any words singing in my headphones or I get distracted. So, if I’m writing young adult, it’s high energy dance music. If it’s horror, it’s usually really epic movie soundtracks, or very ethereal, moody music.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Michael: Every book has its own challenge. Strictly speaking about our newest title, KAOS Obsidere, getting into the mindset of the characters and letting that loose in the writing. For instance, I had to learn the process of how you would turn human skin into a canvas, and then I had to put myself in the shoes of someone carrying out that process. It’s a small piece in the final draft, but it was enough to make me shudder as I got into that dude’s head.
Which is your favorite character in your book and why?
D.C.: In Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters, it’s Charlie. Lisa would be a close second. Because they’re both leaders in an unassuming way. Quietly courageous, yet willing to do what it takes for their friends. Charlie is a quiet storm and Lisa is an intelligent girl, who is bold and loyal. I love those attributes about each of them.
The next two questions are for Michael:
What else do you have in the pipeline?
Without dropping titles, there are a few projects that we are working on alongside the Charlie Sullivan series and the KAOS stories. The one I’m looking forward to the most has been on the backburner since we started writing Charlie Sullivan and is something that I would consider a blend of gothic horror, steampunk, and dark fantasy.
What genre do you consider your book(s)?
The Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters series is definitely young adult dark fantasy. KAOS Obsidere is the first dark fiction/horror title to be released under Dark Waters Press, our new imprint, and I would consider some of the stories within to be weird fiction.
Back to you D.C.:
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
For Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters, yes! Stick together and work together, and learn to overcome differences. If we can do this, the world will be a stronger and healthier place to live! No bullying!
For KAOS, I think, even though it’s horror, it’s about looking at the world differently. Realizing there are very ugly things going on around us, but there is also hope. There is love. And we need to hold on to those things. It’s a brutal set of stories to be sure, but if you make it through and read the author notes, you’ll really be able to hear our hearts through the stories.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For the Charlie Sullivan series, it is a constant challenge to stay true to our target audience. It’s real easy to try to write for everybody. That’s not successful writing. We constantly have to remind ourselves that we are writing for “this” person and stay on target. I think that makes a stronger story.
For KAOS, it was an emotional and spiritual drain. So much of the stories are a very spiritual and emotional experience and I had to come up for air quite a bit while writing those. They are important stories though, so I had to get through them and then take a break from writing and ease back into it.
Michael, tell us about your approach to the writing craft:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Pretty early on, between fourth and fifth grade. I’ve always told stories. As a kid, I was constantly drawing characters and monsters, and each one had a backstory, a mission, a personality… I wanted to turn them into movies. But around that gradeschool time, I realized that I enjoyed telling the story on my own, introverted as I was. Writing words on a page sounded a lot easier than trying to become a director.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hahaha, my obsession with chaos and order. In my creative cycle, I usually am trying to drive myself a little crazy, and that involves destroying my room, playing the absolute weirdest music I can manage to find at that moment, or creating fun and cryptic mindmaps for brainstorming. Then I try to exist in that state until the writing is finished. Afterward, I clean the heck out of the apocalyptic wasteland that is my room.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
All the time. I try to never allow it to stop me, though. Even if what I write in the midst of that block is utter bullcrap, I’m still writing, getting the ideas out of my head and onto paper. Later on, I go back and scrap what I had written before and do it again, better, or if it’s usable then I can just refine what’s already there. Work through the struggle!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If writing is truly what you want your career to be…don’t ever stop. Writing is not for everyone. This is not easy, it isn’t always fun (although most of the time it’s a crazy blast!), and just like any other career there will be days when you feel like a failure and want to throw in the towel. Don’t give up. Write with everything you have. Getting that story into a person’s hands is worth it, every time.
How about you D.C., what are your thoughts on the writing craft?
Did you have any teachers in school that encouraged you to write? What was their advice?
My fourth grade teacher encouraged me to write, but I don’t remember any specific advice beyond just do it. I mean, what are you going to tell a fourth grade boy. Haha!
My high school theatre teacher and chorus teacher were perhaps the most influential people in my academic life. Dani Dilks and Doc (Brian) Lanier. Those two will never know the impact they’ve had on me, though I’ll try to repay that. Both of them were rocks of encouragement for me, especially through some difficult storms in high school, and were always pushing me to dig deep creatively and live that out. Not just on stage, but in life. I appreciate their resolve and patience more than words can describe.
My children. And the opportunity that I had to write my first book with my oldest son. It’s been such a privilege as a father to get to do this!
Because I love it, and I believe the art of the story is perhaps the most important gift to the human race. Sometimes, I feel we’ve lost the ability to share our stories, caught up with all the negativity in the world. But there’s so much good too, so I have hope. One day I hope it becomes a norm again that families and friends sit around the campfire or the evening dinner table and share their hearts, their stories, with each other.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers?
I love you and thank you! Your words, meeting you, your reviews, your tears and laughter about these stories, are what keep my fires burning. It’s a privilege to write and I thank you for being that person who picks up one of our books and takes the time to read it. You are a hero!
Thanks Monster Guys! You’re the best!
Links for D.C.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?