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Tell Me - Matt Forbeck

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

What I Love About Monster Academy

By Matt Forbeck

Monster Academy is a new trilogy of young adult fantasy novels that I launched on Kickstarter earlier this month. It's the fourth set of books in this insane 12 for '12 plan I have in which I'm trying to write a dozen short novels this year. I've been having a blast writing the books so far, and it's a little bittersweet — and panic-inducing — to see the end barreling at me so fast.

Jenn Brozek was kind enough to ask me what it was that I love about these books. It's a good question. If you're going to spend months with a story, you better damn well have some amount of affection for it, and with luck that blossoms into full-blown love that shines through the pages.

So let me tell you about this tale of mine.

Monster Academy is set in a fantasy world in which the good guys win. They defeat the Great Evil and drive it from the land. Then they have to set to the less exciting work of governing the land and mopping up all the little evils left behind. This inevitably involves some young monsters that haven't technically done anything wrong — yet.

The king, of course, thinks the monsters will turn bad given enough time. It's their fate, decreed by their blood, right? So why give them the chance? Better to just kill them all.

Or so he thinks, until a vampire turns his granddaughter into a bloodsucking force of evil too. That's when he decides that maybe there could be some good in such creatures after all — if they can prove themselves, that is — and he founds the Royal Academy for Creature Habilitation. Here, at what most people call Monster Academy, the students have the chance to become useful and productive members of society or face banishment or execution.

So, why do I love the concept? Honestly, I identify with those little monsters.

I wasn't always the best student. I got great grades, but many times I didn't behave the way my teachers would have preferred. I spent a lot of time writing lines and cooling my heels in the principal's office.

Once you get that kind of reputation early on, it's hard to shake it. I often found that some of my new teachers every year treated me as rotten kid long before I actually did anything wrong. That's the kind of prophecy that leads to it fulfilling itself.

Despite all that, I had a couple teachers who saw me for who I was, ignored the whispers from the other teachers, and gave me the chances I needed to shine and excel. One of them — Sister Cabrini Cahill — even encouraged me to try my hand at fiction and inspired me to make a career out of it. I can't thank her enough for that.

So the idea of a school in which everyone expects you to fail, to do the wrong thing, and to be punished for it spoke to me. More important than that, though, I wanted to have students who seemed doomed to fail show how they could pull themselves together and — with the help of even a single teacher who believed in them — become the kinds of heroes that no one ever thought they could be.

That's what Monster Academy's all about. It's not a story of a chosen child who fulfills his destiny. It's the tale of a bunch of kids who were supposed to grow up to be the bad guys teaming up to do the right thing in the end, despite all the odds arrayed against them.

That why I love it, and why I hope you will too.

The books should be out in early 2013, but you can jump on board the Kickstarter right now.