Better than whiny female characters who can’t defend themselves themselves from a papercut? A female protag who kicks ass. Even better than that? Female protags kicking the asses of monsters. Like this idea? Check out Anne Michaud‘s new novella collection Girls & Monsters.
Anne agreed to answer a few questions about herself, her projects, and her favourite ice cream.
I already know you’re wonderful, but since your name may be new to some people reading, how about we start with an introduction – what should people know about you?
I’m a word addict who enjoys to creep people out. A long time ago, I believed myself to be a filmmaker, using images, music and editing, but the voices in my head disagreed: they wanted me to write, and right they were. Since my University of London Master’s in screenwriting, I fell in love with the freedom of yoga pants and makeup-free face, preferring the comfort of my writing world to whatever’s out there.
So to sum up: a happy recluse listening to music as she writes all day long, if she’s not working on transcription contracts.
You have a new book coming out! End of April, I believe, is the release date for Girls & Monsters? Of course, the fantastic part about this title is that it’s not just one novel, but five (excellent) novellas! What gave you the idea for the theme?
I realized that I had a bunch of stories with two main things in common: girls and monsters. Instead of the usual short story collection, I wanted something different, a longer approach without the extend of novels. So novellas were perfect to expand each character and her allocated monster, giving me more time to truly discover about them and their worlds.
These stories are all very different – what are your inspirations for the various creatures that go bump in the night? Some of them are wonderfully unique and refreshing.
Limnade, the killer mermaid: The very first bathroom scene in which Liz meets her monster, I dreamt it exactly as I wrote it down. When I woke up from that nightmare, tears ran down my face and I was out of breath – and I knew I had something too good to pass up. So I wrote it down and let it simmer until the rest of the story came to me.
Black Dog: The youth hostel in the story exists for real, I’ve lived there for almost two weeks the first time I tried to make it in Olde London Town – and there’s a statue in the park across the street. Churchill fought depression and he called it his black dog, which was totally appropriate for the story of a girl dealing with mental issues and hallucinating things that weren’t there.
Suburbia: Without revealing the monster of A Blue Story, I’ve lived in small towns most of my life and I must admit that there’s always a neighbour that’s weird, that does things like no one else, that makes you question their sanity. And more often than not, that neighbour is one creepy nutjob.
Bunny: My mom and me are the only people I know who aren’t afraid of spiders – I even find them beautiful! So for Dust Bunnies, I went with the general fright and developed a monster big enough to eat a horse with long legs and plenty of eyes to watch its prey squirm.
Zombies: Although they’re not We Left At Night’s focus, I do find it terribly frightening to think that the people you know and love (even those you despite and don’t know), can turn on you and become so beastly that they want to eat you. Those are monsters enough for me. Oh, and the very first homework scene? Dreamt it like I wrote it: the forest line moved, shadows closing in, my family the only survivors.
Despite the difference, the commonality in all the stories in the butt-kicking female lead characters. Were they easy to write and for you to relate to?
YES! I’ve never been the fragile little girl and I know I’m not the only one out there. I’m just so fed up of reading female leads that are afraid and never do anything – especially in YA, there seems to be a trend where the boys take charge and the girls stand back and watch. No way I’ve ever been this way, and I wouldn’t want my niece to become a wall-flower, either. So this is for the strong girls, really:)
I’d have to peg my favourite story as Dust Bunnies because of the brilliant twist of an ending. Did any of the stories-lines surprise you as different from when you first thought them out?
I’m a control freak outliner, so whenever I started a story, I knew how it would end… except Dust Bunnies. Dave Thomas (one of Darkfuse’s fine editors) said he thought something was missing at the end, that there should be something added to keep the feel of the last scene. I’m so pleased that one of my beta thought of the very last lines, ’cause I sure didn’t have a clue as to what to do!
Do you have a personal favourite?
I’d say Black Dog, just because it is one of the darkest piece I’ve ever written for YA and through it, I travelled to London one more time. And for me, it’s the scariest, because developing a mental disease is by far one of the most frightening thing that could happen to any human being.
With Girls & Monsters finished, what’s your next big project?
I’m writing its sequel, Girls & Aliens, to be soon followed by the last instalment, Girls & Ghosts. I’ll start the editing process of a French novella taking place in Hiroshima soon enough, and then it’s back to my almost-nine-years-long project, Rebel. Can you say 365th draft? Ugh.
On a final note, one other minor commonality I noticed in the books is that most of them mention ice cream. I’m guessing the writing of these stories coincided with massive crème glacée craving. So, point of random trivia, what is Anne Michaud’s favourite ice cream flavour?
Oh dear, I have categories for my ice cream. 1) Best in the UK unavailable in Canada: Green & Black sticky toffee pudding. 2) Best expensive ice cream when trouble is big: Haagen Dazs cookies and cream OR caramel cones explosion OR triple chocolate. 3) Best expensive ice cream when trouble is small: Haagen Dazs strawberry OR vanilla with Stewart’s grape soda (Best. Float. Ever.) 4) Best ice cream when money is low: Chapman’s black cherries.
She who likes dark things never grew up. She never stopped listening to gothic, industrial and alternative bands like when she was fifteen. She always loved to read horror and dystopia and fantasy, where doom and gloom drip from the pages.
She, who was supposed to make films, decided to write short stories, novelettes and novels instead. She, who’s had her films listed on festival programs, has been printed in a dozen anthologies and magazines since.
She who likes dark things prefers night to day, rain to sun, and reading to anything else.
She blogs http://annecmichaud.wordpress.com
She Facebooks: http://www.facebook.com/annecmichaud
She tweets @annecmichaud
Girls & Monsters Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17335353-girls-monsters