What inspired you to write Monster? Did it turn out how you thought it would?
I’d wanted to write a story set in a girls’ boarding school for a long time but I’d not had the opportunity to do so. For my fourth book I knew I wanted to write something in that setting but I didn’t have a clue about a story. Then I saw an article in a national paper about a sighting of the Beast of Bodmin Moor and my brain just started churning. I put the two ideas together, made the school a bit more snowbound and remote et voila – a Monster was born! It turned out better than I ever thought it would. I’m very proud of it. The best review I’ve had so far described the first half of it as ‘giving you a safe, Hogwartsy kind of cuddle – then the second half puts you in a chokehold.’ Exactly the impression I wanted to make!
Do you have a special place you go to write your books?
I would love to say that I have a treehouse at the bottom of my garden or a remote cave in the Andes where I always go to ‘create’ but the reality is spectacularly boring. No, just at my desk on a laptop, and sometimes last thing at night when I’m in bed a few ideas will arrive so I’ll do some longhand writing in a notebook.
How long did it take to write Monster?
I think it was about six months to do the first draft, then a few more drafts after that (I think I did six in all), plus copyediting, line editing and proofreading it added up to about 18 months, but under the supervision of my publisher and a great editorial team. In some ways, Monster has been the easiest book to write so far, but really difficult in others. It took me three full drafts before I realised who my actual monster was!
Monster is a heart-racing thriller for readers. What makes your heart race?
Thanks! The Walking Dead makes my heart race. And any film where there’s an animal in some kind of peril. And really good rock music. I’m a big fan of 5 Seconds of Summer (yeah I know I’m too old) but their new album is very good for getting the old ticker thumping away!
If you could be any monster what would you be and why?
I’d be The Hulk. Or Hulketta, whoever the female version is. I feel like that most days anyway but if I was a lot bigger and greener I could do way more damage and throw tanks around and stuff so that would be fun.
Could you give us one writing tip for our young writers?
You get a LOT of rejection in this game so my one crucial tip is to always have faith in your own work. Sometimes you’ll come up against people who won’t get it or won’t enjoy it or who will tell you you’re not as good as some other writer but if you know in your own mind that your stories are worth telling and that you’ve told them to the best of your abilities, you can move mountains, I swear. But be prepared for rejection because it doesn’t end when you get published. It can be a very hard road.
Have you started to write your 4th book? If so can we have a sneak peek into what it will be about?
Monster is my fourth book so it’s actually my fifth book that’s out next and it’s called The Deviants. It’s due this time next year and it centres on about a small group of teenagers who knew each other as children but have since grown apart. In the time that’s passed, they’ve become very miserable and they join forces to exact revenge on individuals in the town who’ve been making their lives hell. It’s being billed as The Famous Five meets We Were Liars and I’m very excited to share it with you.
MONSTER by CJ Skuse out now in paperback (£7.99, MIRA Ink)