Paul C.R. Monk was born in Exmouth, Devon, grew up in the south east of England then spent over 20 years living in France with a 3-year stint in Spain. Monk is a qualified linguist and has been writing scripts and storyworlds for videogames for over ten years and has authored an interactive language learning course. Influenced by the works of naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre, Monk has been an entomology enthusiast for many years. A former resident of the house of Villeneuve where his novel is set, he now lives in England with his French wife and their three young sons.
Stephanie:Hello Paul! Welcome to Layered Pages and thank you for chatting with me today. I hear a congratulation is in order for winning the BRAG Medallion for your book, Strange Metamorphosis. Please tell me about your book.
Paul: Well, first of all thanks for having me here. I’d also like to thank IndieBRAG for the honor. It is not only rewarding but stimulating to know that your book has received approval from such a rigorous reading group.
About the novel, a boy facing a difficult life decision is magically turned into a bug by a giant oak tree, forcing him to take an extraordinary journey that brings startling changes to himself and those around him. Set at the turn of the twentieth century, Strange Metamorphosis is a YA fantasy adventure story about shedding fears, escaping from family pressures and spreading wings.
Stephanie: What an interesting premise. What was your inspiration for your story?
Paul: It was really a melting pot of inspiration composed of an idea, a good dose of entomology, and an old house. It was my wife’s grandmother’s house in the south of France and had been left vacant for a long time. It was a great rambling place surrounded by tall trees, a meadow and it is where we lived for a few years when we were younger and broke.
In the bookcase I came across the works of the late 19th/early 20th century naturalist, Jean-Henri Fabre. Fabre has an extraordinary way of recounting his observations. He would speak about bugs as if they were characters or personal acquaintances.
I had been noting down the broad lines of the story as well as character traits a good few years before this, so when I encountered Fabre and the house, not to mention the great oak tree, everything just fitted into place.
Stephanie: I saw that your book is written in the Fantasy Genre? What are the high points in writing in this genre and what are the challenges?
Paul: To be honest, I didn’t write Strange Metamorphosis with its genre in mind. I simply felt compelled to write it no matter what, for my sons. And by the time I had finished the book I had three! The book is dedicated to them. So it was categorized afterwards. In this case the challenge is to write the best book you possibly can. That said, when you create any parallel world one of the greatest challenges is to make it all plausible.
Now that Strange Metamorphosis is out there, it has to be marketed. That is at present the biggest challenge as the book goes against the current trends of fantasy. There are no unnatural elements in it like dragons and wizards (which, incidentally, I love too), instead it features dragonflies, giant hornets, a Brimstone inchworm and a legendary tree.
Stephanie: Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
Paul: I hope people take something away from it, whatever that is. As for the characters, they have to learn to look inside themselves, confront their conscience and follow their heart. They must also take a step back sometimes and rectify their stance, and keep striving towards their goal even when life sets innumerable obstacles in their way.
Not taking ownership of your life for the sake of doing what is expected of you will only lead to incomplete metamorphosis. Between the known path and one that requires a leap of faith, I would go for the second. It makes for a more interesting life. So, I suppose the book is saying, don’t be afraid of change.
I would also like to bring awareness to the tiny but all-important part of wildlife that all too often gets overlooked.
Stephanie: When did you know you wanted to be a writer and what is your process?
Paul: When I was a little boy I used to love words, not just story books. I wrote poems as a hobby that I would hide under my mattress. Then, becoming a teenager I started writing lyrics to songs until one day it struck me that I should write a book, so I wrote novels and plays too, which, incidentally, I have yet to publish.
Anyway, that passion led me on to getting a great job in the videogame industry and I spent the next ten years writing scripts and story worlds for various videogames. To help create the pre-launch buzz I also wrote short stories that were published in weekly installments. I remember the thrill of publishing on a Friday and the stories being translated into French and German by fans of the game just a few hours later.
But I was still writing my own work and dreamed of one day getting a book into print. And now that has happened I don’t intend to stop there!
Stephanie: Who designed your book cover?
Paul: I wrote the layout for the design and went through CreatSpace who worked with one of their illustrators. Unfortunately, I only know that he was called Tim. I actually tried to get a massage to him asking if I could put his name on the inside of the cover but to no avail.
The cover for the accompanying short story, though, was commissioned by yours truly, so I was able to add the illustrator’s name, Nahuel Ventura, which is important. By the way, that short story, which is titled Subterranean Peril, is being serialized on Wattpad right now so that anybody can read it for free.
Stephanie: Is there a book project you are currently working on and will you self-publish again?
Paul: I am currently writing another novel which features the main human characters of Strange Metamorphosis a few years on, which means it takes place during WWI. I would definitely self-publish again. The next time, though, with the benefit of hindsight, I would start marketing a few months before the publication date.
Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?
Paul: Being self-published means that your book is tossed into an ocean of books of varying quality. So I was wondering how I could get some sort of seal of approval so that readers could fish my book out, and I came across IndieBRAG on the web. It was a great surprise when I received the email a few months later, announcing that I had won the medallion. It gave me a terrific boost.
Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?
Paul: As I mentioned earlier, I am serializing a short story, set in the storyworld of the novel, which you can read on Wattpad for free. Please feel free to vote, follow and comment, I’ll always be glad to get back to you.
And I’d like to say a BIG THANKS for reading Strange Metamorphosis.
Stephanie: Where can people buy your book?
Paul: The printed version can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online retailers. The ebook is available at Amazon. It will soon be available on other platforms.
Paul C.R. Monk
E-mail: paulmonk at bloomtree.net
Author website: www.pcrmonk.com
Book website: www.strangemetamorphosis.com
Strange Metamorphosis on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1hlwnDP
Subterranean Peril on Wattpad: http://bit.ly/1iahsuj
Book trailer on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1oABQYn
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Paul Monk, who is the author of, Strange Metamorphosis, one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Strange Metamorphosis merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.