Peter Monn Interview

Today I have my interview with Pen Name Publishing’s Peter Monn.  He is the author of The Before Now and After Then as well as a contributing writer to The Huffington Post and a lover of Halloween. (I also love Halloween).

1. Please tell me about yourself.
I love Halloween. The whole idea of dressing up as something else and going from house to house to either scare people or get candy is marvelous. I also am in love with old Hitchcock films. I am addicted to strong coffee, as well as alcohol, but I’ve been sober for 20 years. I’m married to a 30 year man from Venezuela so I can say I’m in an intergenerational, biracial, same-sex marriage. Oh, and I’m a writer.

2. What do you like to read?
It really depends. Because I’ve been writing a lot of young adult, I’ve been reading a lot of young adult books. I’ve probably read everything that came out in the last two years that’s been on the bestseller list. I also like reading pulp mystery novels, that have no depth but engage you in a great chase or story.

3. What are you reading right now and what do you think you will read next?
I’m currently reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. So many people have recommended it to me. I have to say, I’m not loving it so far. I’m also reading The Mysteries of Pittsburg by Michael Chabon and I’m totally loving it. Reading it feels like eating a juicy pear, the sweetness pouring all around my mouth and I have to eat it slowly because I want to savor every word.

4. Why do you like to write?
I like to lie. Not really. I write because I love telling stories. When I was younger I just loved the idea of writing stories or books and most of them were mysteries or chase scenarios but in the last year it has become very important for me to write with intention. I’m not willing to write a book anymore that doesn’t have some lesson or some aha moment in it because after all, what’s the point. Life is too short not to move someone emotionally. And in all honestly, I’m good at moving people emotionally. I suck at writing suspense and mystery novels. That is a true art form.

5. Tell us about where you come from and where you live now.
I was born in Chicago and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana in the middle of the United States when I was four. It is boring here, but a great place to raise of family and drive around late at night on deserted roads. My husband and I do not plan on raising a family but I do love a good night drive. Plus, our family is here so this is our home, although we plan to move to Miami within the next few years.

6. If you could invite any person, alive today or from history, to a dinner party who would you invite and why?
I answer this the exact same way every time I’m asked, which seems to be often. Oprah Winfrey. She is way too wise, way too creative, and has way too much power. Plus, I like to think she and I would make great friends.

7. What advice can you give people trying to achieve their dreams?
Honestly, I didn’t understand this until after I was 40, but you literally can achieve anything you set your mind to having. The trick is wanting it bad enough. You have to put action into anything you want in your life, but if you’re willing to do the work, you’ll achieve your dreams. So ask yourself, how bad do I want this?

8. Can you tell us about your book The Before Now and After Then.
It is a young adult novel about a gay teenager’s quest for himself after the death of his identical twin brother. It is also a simple teen love story, which is something I would have wanted to read when I was in high school. It has very cool musical references, original drinks from Starbucks, a righteous car and lots of kissing. It’s a cute story with a magical premise.

9. Can you tell us anything about the book you are working on and your inspiration.
The book I’m currently working on is based on lessons I learned from my mother, who passed away seven years ago. And even though she is my inspiration, it is probably more about making the most of your life, which I guess is my true inspiration.
10. Can you give us a quote from your favorite book?
“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Peter’s book is available right now. It is published by Pen Name Publishing.



A Halloween Ghost Story

Simon McCarrick used drugs. He was a heavy user, spending all his money and destroying his health. One day, under the influence, he drove his car home from town and passing through a quiet suburb he hit and killed an old man who was crossing the road at a set of traffic lights. Simon, dizzy and heavily affected, climbed out of his car and turned the old man over. The back of the old man’s head was caved in but his face was unharmed and Simon had a good look at the man’s features, then in a panic, Simon ran back to his car and drove home.

That night Simon swore to himself he would not use any more, he sat shaking in his small rented room above a fruit market. He had no one to help him and he had been throwing up half the night. Finally, although sick, he dragged himself into bed. The old man’s face flashed through his mind and the night seemed so dark and cold. He could not sleep.

The next day, Simon tried to nap but the noise of the market and the sun through the windows kept him up. He went for a walk in the park and with his nerves as bad as they were he bought some drugs and began using again. The same thing happened that night, he swore off using and he felt sick. He crawled into bed again and tried to sleep. This time the night seemed softer and less threatening and just as he was falling asleep he heard a noise. It was a noise from within the room, he opened his eyes, it sounded like an animal scratching at the walls. Sometimes animals came in, attracted by the food below. He looked about but as soon as he turned on his lamp the noise stopped. He turned off the light and rolled over in bed. The scratching returned. It was coming from the corner of the room. This time Simon sat up and looked without turning on the lamp.

In the corner was a mass of cloud, internally lit by a blue light. Simon froze and his eyes went wide with terror. He would have screamed but these things had occurred to him before in his drug hazes. He sat silently, blinking and shaking his head, trying to shake the nonsense away. But instead of the cloud disappearing, it grew larger and larger until it was the old man he had killed. The old man stood in the corner of the room and stood there silently watching Simon.

“Oh God”! Simon yelled. “Oh God!”

The old man seemed to hear the cry and stepped back to the wall, then with a flowing motion and agile strength, the apparition climbed the wall, still watching Simon, until he reached the ceiling, then in the corner he stopped and perched like a night owl waiting for its prey.

“What do you want?” Simon called to the man, the ghost made no answer. His was silent but then, before Simon’s eyes, the man began to decay. In twenty seconds the ghost went from being the old man to a skeleton with strips of flesh and rotten clothes falling from him and collecting in a putrid pile on the floor below. Soon the old man was a skeleton, it stayed very still in the corner of the room just below the ceiling. Simon screamed, the skeleton stayed a little while longer, seeming to enjoy the terror and then disappeared into the black night.

Simon did not sleep or move all night, he just waited. Nothing happened until sunrise then Simon climbed out of bed and examined the wall. There was nothing remaining of the apparition. The were no marks or stains.

Terrified Simon left the house and stayed at a friends place for the night. The friend let him stay in the front room on a couch. As night fell, Simon was happy to be away from his room. He lay his head back on the hard couch and closed his eyes. At that moment the apparition reappeared. Blue and terrible in the black night. It climbed the wall and there from the top corner again it decayed. Simon screamed. By the time his friend came into the room there was nothing there. Only Simon, tears running from his eyes and pale in a state of terror.

People began to blame it on his drug use and no one believed what he told them. He did not mention that he had killed the man he only told them a ghost visited him. Simon stayed at others people houses, they let him stay in spare rooms or the garage but each night the ghost would visit him no matter where he was. Simon could find no peace.

That night Simon spent in his own apartment. He was certain he would soon die, the terror was too much. As the darkness fell and the phantom appeared, Simon fell to his knees before the old man and begged.

“Please, stop haunting me!” He yelled, “I’ll do anything to have you stop! What do you want me to do? I’ll go to the police and tell them what I did! Anything to have you leave me!” Simon lay before the ghost who looked down at him. The ghost did not climb the wall, instead he looked down at Simon and nodded.

“I…” The ghost said in a voice deep with death, “I want you to go to my wife’s grave tomorrow at midnight. I want you to place flowers on her grave and I want you to say a prayer for her.”

Simon looked up at the ghost. “I will. I will!” He said. “Where is her grave?”

The ghost told him his wife’s name and where her grave was in the city graveyard. “Do this, at midnight and I will no longer haunt you.”

Simon agreed.

The next day Simon, feeling happier with himself, took all the money he had and bought a large bouquet of flowers. He walked past the graveyard and looked to the front corner where he saw the massive gravestone that the ghost had told him to find. Simon went to it, committed the path to his memory and he read the name on the stone. “Mary Watts.” The name read. That was her name, Simon thought, then he went home and took a nap.

Making sure he would not be late, Simon headed out to the graveyard half an hour early. He sat in the park opposite the graveyard until midnight, then carrying the large bunch of flowers, he carefully made his way through the dark to the correct gravestone and laid the flowers out. The town was silent, it was cold and there was no noise. He felt a sense of relief to be ridding himself of his curse. He smiled and then kneeled down on the grave and crossed himself. He said a prayer, something he remembered from his childhood and then again crossed himself. He took a deep breath, it was wonderful to be free. He began to think of other things, and sat for a moment quietly, he could see some stars twinkling in the sky.

“So,” a voice screamed from behind him. “You killed my husband?”

Simon turned and standing behind him was a huge skeleton, covered in dirt. It had burrowed up from the grave, the horrible gaping hole lay open beside it. The skeleton shook the mud from its bony fingers. Simon screamed. The skeleton grabbed him and then dragged him back into the grave with her.