I must say, though, that this book was different than my first, Town & Train. This time, I set out to write about a character's story. And, in fully realizing the protagonist John Newman's story, I discovered the stories of other characters. Many of these, including Miguel McIntyre and Sara Jasmine appear in my other stories, but these stories (such as A Canadian Ghost in London) have not yet been published. Ghost was accepted by a small Canadian publisher for an anthology, but then the publisher sold the press to an American owner and the anthology (and story) never saw print.
Along the way, with Monstrous, I discovered what I was writing about as well. That sounds odd, yes, but it happens in the business. I thought the novel was only about a 17-year-old boy who becomes something else entirely. It is about that, but also about how the past affects you. You can live in the past, hold onto to it, be bitter or angry about it, or you can learn from the past, move forward, and never forget the lessons you've learned, whether good or bad. So I did a lot of playing around with time, with showing how the characters converge and arrive at the same retrofitted inn, The Auld Dubliner, where all the trouble begins in earnest.
This note about reconciling with one's past is ironic for me.
Without my friend Hugh to see this draft in its earliest form, as he passed away in September 1996 from a heart attack (unrelated to seeing my manuscript, of course), I missed him dearly this time around. For Train, he was a mentor, there for the genesis, but not for the fruition. I hope he was still here in some way. But this journey was harder for his absence and his support. Some people come into your life for whatever reason, and when they leave, they also leave a mark on you and you are changed.
I hope Hugh likes how hard I worked on Monstrous, through all my bouts of self-doubt and rewriting and tears. I hope he likes the book as much as I do. This is for you, Hugh- I proved I could write a novel, again.