The construction and deconstruction of monsters

The construction and deconstruction of monsters

There is nothing like a vile and contemptible monster.  I should know because as anyone who reads Max Power books will know, I do like my monsters.  The problem I find is that I hate a clean cut one.  As far as I am concerned black and white are never opposite ends of the spectrum, they are balance in all of us.

Little Big Boy has some of my worst monsters.  My construction of the monsters came from the perception of a very small boy so their construction and deconstruction sometimes, was something of a challenge.   Children see things far more simply than most adults care to acknowledge.   Often they ask questions that perplex us and we try to find a complex answer that isn’t necessary.

My daughter asked me when she was five why I was her daddy.  She told me quite logically that she grew in her mammy’s tummy, therefore she was her mammy.  The thought struck her…what made me her daddy and she brought that question to me immediately.  I could have panicked and tried to conjure up an age appropriate answer explaining eggs and seeds for example, but that might have led to a more complicated line of questioning.   The answer of “Because we’re married,” satisfied her curiosity instantly and reminded me that children don’t think like we grown-ups do.

In that spirit I wrote Little Big Boy, always questioning how a five to seven year old would consider the monsters around him.  He needed to misunderstand and miscalculate and often completely take for granted some of the monstrous things that happen in his life.  Sometimes, I needed him to create his own monsters.

In Larry Flynn, there is more of a deconstruction of monsters.  Larry himself is hardly sweetness and light and the book also contains an uncomfortable fulcrum, revolving around two rapes that occur decades apart in very different circumstances.   While apparently minor in terms of the overall plot, both had to be handled in completely different ways as part of the monster myth being taken apart.

It was vital that while I didn’t want to lessen one event over the other in terms of the impact each had on the victims, I needed to portray a different understanding of the motivation of the perpetrators.   Larry plays no part in either attack, but both have an enormous impact on how he perceives his world.

Bad Blood has of course, the monster of the serial killer and the vileness of Elias Wainwright.  There are other characters that may or may not be monstrous and a large part of the story involves playing with how the perception of each character can change with the smallest pieces of additional information.   I wanted to switch allegiance and sympathy throughout the book and indeed, that is always key in how I use the monsters I create.

Which brings me to the book that holds a special place in my heart, Darkly Wood.  Here the very title suggests monsters, yet as I so often say, I was writing a love story and the title as anyone who reads the book knows, is not quite what it seems.  Of course there is a very special and for me at least wonderful monster in Darkly Wood.  He was in his creation, without doubt the most fun character and the most challenging at the same time.  The book is filled with monsters throughout the generations.  The evil one in the tale of Able Gloom, Jo-Jo’s father and one of my personal favourites Lionel Goja.  The fun continues for me in the sequel but you’ll have to wait a little longer for that one.

Ultimately, I need to create an emotional experience for my readers.   I want them to feel happy, shocked, frightened, saddened, dismayed and even devastated if I can.  It is important for me that sometimes there is no doubt that someone is a monster without redemption, but with that I want the reader to doubt and be unsure.  I construct and deconstruct my monsters and hopefully keep you wanting more.  That’s what stays with me when I’ve read the last page of a book.   That’s what I have to feel as I write.  That’s why you’ll always find a monster, be they real or imagined, walking through the normality of the pages of my books, just waiting to grab hold of you and let you know that despite the difference in theme and genre,  you are very definitely, reading a Max power book.


Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy, all available on amazon to download or in paperback.

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

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