I have always been fascinated with monsters. Growing up, I watched all the old monster movies because my mom loved them, whether it was The Blob or Killer Clowns from Outer Space. We also had a large library at home, including an extensive Stephen King collection with all the best book covers from the 1970s and 1980s. The covers sometimes looked so real that I expected to feel texture on them. (I’m looking at you, Night Shift!) I was too frightened as a kid to read those books, the covers were scary enough! But as I got older, I found my taste leaned more toward darker themes and spooky monsters, and I was drawn to those kinds of books.
These days I’m inspired by monsters I see artists create, whether it’s in the creativity of the ImaginaryCreatures Reddit board or in the intimidating, lingering artwork of Boris Groh on Instagram. It’s fun to see how different artists come up with new ways to frighten us, new anatomy to create a strange amalgam of creatures, or induce a sense of dread by having something unnatural in a perfectly normal landscape.
To create the monsters in The Seeking, I pulled on creatures that freak me out, ones that I hate to even look at. I was inspired by all those old monster movies I watched and the monster stories I read when I was brave enough. The Mist by Stephen King was a heavy inspiration of mine. The whole concept of Lovecraftian monsters coming through a portal into our world and wrecking havoc on everything that we take for granted is the kind of storyline I love. I would easily put Bird Box by Josh Malerman into that same category too. Reading about the monsters in his book, you get to see the effect they have on the characters, the world, and the way they play people against each other without even knowing what they look like.
I think monsters can be metaphorical too. In The Seeking, they seem like your typical fare of 1980s horrors, but as the story continues, you realize there is more to them. Many assumptions can be made at the beginning of the book, but by the end of it, that entire concept is thrown on its head.
Monsters reflect an unknown enemy with unknown abilities. Whether they’re created from radioactive waste, an experiment gone wrong, a lone dog looking for a home, or a rip in our reality, monsters will continue to fascinate, terrify, and draw us in for how gruesome they are and how impressively they attack. They remind readers that humans weren’t always the apex predators in the world, and that kind of reminder can be humbling and exciting at the same time.
As for me, I will keep pushing The Mist and Bird Box into as many hands as I can.
What are your favorite monsters? What is it about them that makes them so great?