Fragile Things is a somber look at the bleak lives of council estate residents (which is a form of government housing) Jennifer and newcomer Ebony. Jennifer, a recovering heroin addict, struggles for a life that she can call normal while Ebony fights to keep the monster inside of her from coming out. They both struggle to find something to live for in a town where the only interesting thing that’s happening is your routine drug deal. In the midst of their troublesome lives they stumble upon each other and find comfort in each other’s friendship and mystery in each other’s lives.
The first things I noticed about Fragile Things is the writing, very concise contemporary writing that’s intriguing in its simplicity and underlying eerie foundation. I was endlessly interested to see what kind of odd situation Jennifer would find herself in and I was constantly wondering (or worrying) when Ebony was going to let her demons take over and rip someone to shreds. Fragile Things is a short read and ends rather abruptly, but sets up nicely for the rest of the series and leaves you with a definite feeling that something peculiar is going on with the people and the town.
Kindle Edition, 105 pages
The Hungry Monster gobbled up City Under the Moon so fast he bit his little monster fingers off. Well, the Monster got the chance to interview Hugh Sterbakov, author of City Under the Moon, and ask him if he would pay for the medical bills to reattach the Monsters little fingers.
City Under the Moon takes a zombie outbreak approach to the werewolf genre. How did that idea come together for you?
I had a traumatic obsession with werewolves as a child, and I wanted to put that on the page, maybe as a catharsis. I was inspired by the firm grounding Michael Crichton brought to Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, and that blend of fiction and science thematically contextualizes my childhood fears that werewolves were real and my parents’ promises that they weren’t. So City has more in common with Crichton epidemic thrillers, or Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone and Robin Cook’s Outbreak than it does with zombie films. You’re in the moment with the exponential werewolf outbreak and the immediate response from law enforcement, the military, the White House, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You’ve worked on Robot Chicken, sold TV and movie scripts, co-created a comic book and now you’re writing a book. Is book writing just another step on your path to world domination or is this something that you’ve just been wanting to do?
It came out of frustration with Hollywood development. I wanted to do something for myself, and for an audience beyond studio conference rooms. I sat down one day just to see if I could do it, and I realized… yeah, I couldn’t.
So I kept at it, studied narrative prose, rewrote countless times, hired an editor, struggled to overcome fear and perfectionism, and one day my wife told me it was finished. It ain’t perfect, but it’s me.
You have obviously done a lot of research for this book. But I wonder how much research did you do for Lon’s character? Lon is an interesting character and in the novel he’s a ‘nerd’ that loves to play Magic the Gathering, blog, and plays video games. Did you spend a lot of time at Magic the Gathering tournaments researching character traits for Lon?
I’m a lifelong comic book collector, an avid gamer and I’ve spent time at Magic the Gathering tournaments playing Magic the Gathering. Lon is me–or at least he’s the self-destructive misanthropic narcissist I (try to) keep locked away.
What was the one book, movie, song, or Rorschach test that most influenced your work for City Under the Moon?
Probably Michael Jackson’s Thriller–not just the video, but the theme and sensation of the song. It has a nostalgic texture reminiscent of the classic Universal horror films–that tone is important to me, and it’s prevalent in the novel– and it captures both the torture of undergoing the transformation and the helpless terror of watching it happen.
What was your favorite scene in City Under the Moon?
In the middle of the book, as the government, military and scientists are attacking the situation with cutting-edge tactics and technology, our heroes discover that the werewolf curse is rooted in old world superstitions. They travel to Romania–to Transylvania–and it’s like a time warp from Michael Crichton to Bram Stoker. I love that juxtaposition.
Random question: What next generation video game console are you going to get. XBOX One, Playstation 4, Wii U, or decline to comment because it would be too controversial?
Ha! I love that you’ve asked this question. I’m an old-school, hardcore gamer, so there are only a few consoles I never had–relatively obscure ones, like the Amiga and the Atari 7800. I mean, I had an Odyssey 2. So I’m sure that by the end of the life cycle, I’ll have both. I was predominantly an Xbox 360 player in this generation, so I’m used to that ecosystem and I’m dedicated to that gamerscore. But the PlayStation 4 has such compelling advantages over the Xbox One, particularly that $100 price difference, that I’m leaning toward jumping. I have both on pre-order, but I’ll probably cancel one and wait for it to drop in price. It’s only mid-July, and there are still details to be revealed before November. So we’ll see. Ask me again at the end of October.
Available at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com
Also, be on the lookout for the followup to City Under the Moon called Moonrise Duet that will be available December 2013.