A shivery middle-grade horror story

A shivery middle-grade horror story

Posted on September 11 by Kyle
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Award-winning copywriter, poet, and multi-award nominated children's author Philippa Dowding talks to us about Myles and the Monster Outside, the latest book in her new kids series, Weird Stories Gone Wrong. Philippa’s Lost Gargoyle series was shortlisted for a host of awards, including the Diamond Willow, Hackmatack, and Silver Birch awards; The Gargoyle at the Gate was named a White Raven Book 2013 by the International Youth Library in Munich.

Tell us about your book.

Myles and the Monster Outside is book 2 in the Weird Stories Gone Wrong series, and follows Jake and the Giant Hand (Sept 2014). There is a third book coming next year, Carter and the Curious Maze (2016). Each story is a quick, spooky read, perfect for children 8-12, and explores a different sub-genre of horror including tall tales, ghost stories, psychological thrillers, time travel and more.

Myles is a psychological road-trip thriller about an anxious boy on a long car trip with his travel-weary family, and as they near their new home he is the only one who can see (and hear) a monster following their car in the dark, stormy night. To add to the spooky drive, the family meets a ghostly old man looking for his lost dog, they get lost on an abandoned highway, they find a creepy, all-night diner (where strange secrets are revealed), they take a scary, almost disastrous detour, and all the while their cranky old car, Victor-the-Volvo, is about to break down for good. It’s a great introduction for younger readers to the spooky road-trip genre, and it also speaks to childhood anxieties about moving to a new home.

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

I wanted to write a book for my son (who is now 17, so I left it a little late), who was a creative thinker at 9, but not a super strong reader. When he was in grade 3 and 4, we had a hard time finding books sophisticated enough to capture his imagination, but short and exciting enough to be read from cover to cover, books that weren’t necessarily for reluctant readers, but that weren’t 250 pages long either. So this series of books is for that child who loves a good spooky story with a slightly challenging premise in a quick read. But any child who likes a spooky tale will enjoy reading about Myles and his creepy night.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Horror for kids takes a deft touch. What’s too tame, what’s too spooky, how do you strike the right balance between scary and believable, plus provide a satisfying ending that’s not just a Scooby-doo reveal (not that there’s anything wrong with Scooby-doo)? Because Myles and the Monster Outside is a psychological, road-trip thriller (which may be a first for a children’s book), much of the spookiness comes from the late night, and the blurred line between what’s real and what’s imagined. I had to keep the tension high inside the car, too – a tall order!  

What are you reading right now?

At the moment I’m reading Life in a Medieval Village (Francis Gies) which is pretty fascinating, and I just finished The Gargoyle (Andrew Davidson), 6 years after everyone else read it.

What is your new project?

I’m editing Carter and the Curious Maze, the 3rd book in Weird Stories Gone Wrong which comes out September 2016, and I’m also hammering away at a sequel to my YA novel, The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden.

Intrigued? Want to learn about about Myles and the Monster Outside? Check out the book trailer below!