(Christopher Golden is the author of such novels as Of Saints and Shadows, The Myth Hunters, The Boys Are Back in Town, Strangewood and, with Mike Mignola, Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire. His work for teens and young adults includes The Secret Journeys of Jack London, co-authored with Tim Lebbon, and the Body of Evidence series. His other hats include editor, screenwriter, video game scripter, and comic book creator. Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family. His original novels have been published in more than fourteen languages in countries around the world. Please visit him at www. christophergolden.com. His story “Under Cover of Night” appears in Creatures.)
What was the first monster that scared/moved you?
Definitely Frankenstein’s monster. I’ve told the story before, but I remember being six or seven years old, sitting on my back porch, watching the movie on a little black and white TV. My mother was in the room, and presumably my brother as well, but I’m not sure they were watching. When the monster comes upon the little girl by the lake and she teaches him to play he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not, and he ends up throwing her in after they’ve run out of flower petals…I cried. I was afraid and horrified, but also so sad for him. He was so childlike himself, searching for someone who would be kind to him, and he’d ruined it for himself and taken the little girl’s life. A lot of that, of course, is my adult perception about what my young self felt, but–although I’m sure I’d never have been able to consider it in those terms–I do think all of those feelings were there.
Does a great monster have to evoke pity as well as fear?
Not necessarily. One of the best monsters in pop culture is Magneto, the X-Men villain. He’s not monstrous in appearance, but in his behavior, he certainly is. We might have sympathy for him in the films, where you see him as a child, but pity? I don’t think so. He’s one of the best monsters because we can see his perspective and it’s hard to disagree with him. His behavior is monstrous, but his rationale is persuasive.
If you could be a monster, which one would you choose and why?
I’m tempted to use this as an opportunity for snarky remarks about TWILIGHT, but really…who’d want to be a monster?
King Kong, or Godzilla?
Such a hard choice. The original KING KONG is one of my all-time favorite movies, but overall, Godzilla wins. (I’m actually wearing a Godzilla t-shirt right now.) There are some really awful Godzilla movies, but a lot of them are really fun…whereas the only great Kong movie is the original, and the only subsequent movies that don’t suck are the two remakes, which are both fun on different levels. The Peter Jackson film is excellent, but somehow it’s missing some of the soul of the first one. Doesn’t mean I didn’t love it…I just wanted to love it more.
What are the challenges of writing about a monster, as opposed to showing it on film?
Not challenges…opportunities. The ability to get inside a monster’s head and heart makes it much easier to tell an interesting story. On film, it’s harder to make the monster something you can identify with.
Who are the new monsters of the 21st century? Recommend a monster story/book/movie from the past ten years.
The first thing that popped into my head is THE DESCENT. I love that film. I think it’s very well executed and I loved the creatures. But, honestly? The real monsters of the 21st century are people. If we can’t relearn kindness and civility, we won’t need monsters to destroy us…we’ll be our own most terrifying monsters.