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Monstrous

About a year after Dave and I published Yesterday’s Gone and started the Self-Publishing Podcast with Johnny, I publicly said that I’d need a substantial advance from a traditional publisher to hand over my work, but that I was willing to sign with Amazon for a nickel or so. 

That’s pretty much what happened.

That statement made sense at the time. We were new to publishing, and Amazon was changing the game. We only had the lives that we did — writing whatever we wanted to and selling it to eager readers every week — thanks to the Kindle and the platform they had built for budding authors like us to flood them with content. Amazon was running the engine that fueled book sales all over the world. Of course we would be willing to sign with them. 

They were starting their Kindle Serials program and were looking to authors like us for pipelines of content. We had three serials out already and they asked us if we wanted to add another new series to their imprint, 47North. We agreed to come up with a couple of pitches, then get back on another call the next day. 

We came up with six, three of which were Invasion, which I ended up writing with Johnny a couple of years later, and which we eventually built a giant world around with more than a hundred additional books. We also pitched Z2134, our “Hunger Games with zombies” story, which did well enough to earn two sequels from 47North, and Monstrous, a series we loved, which launched on April 15, the worst purchasing day in the American year, then was abandoned immediately after that. 

The premise of Monstrous is simple. After years of struggle, comedian Henry Black finally had it all — a loving family and a thriving career. But in one night, it’s all ripped away when a trio of intruders murder his daughter and put an end to his world. Fortunately for the reader, death isn’t the end for Henry. When given the chance to return to his wife, he accepts. Except he’s no longer the man he was — or even a man at all. 

To match his sins, Henry’s body has been twisted and his mind thrust into darkness. Unable to comfort his suffering wife, Henry uses his newfound supernatural abilities in pursuit of the only goal that matters: VENGEANCE. 

But the closer he comes to the truth of that fateful night, the more he leaves his humanity behind.

Because Henry is a standup and comedy writer, I originally wanted him to have a lot more comedic moments than he did. But Dave always hated that idea. He didn’t think a dark serial was any place for comedy, despite his own writing often curling with the darkest breed of humor at its edges. I was never able to properly convey how I wanted this to happen, so the first book in the series reads drier then it should. 

But Sawyer, one of our new authors at the time, understood this construct immediately. Monstrous was one of the first projects we started on together when he joined our studio. Dave didn’t want much to do with these new stories, not quite resentful but not yet embracing the quality storytelling Sawyer would bring to our existing work. 

He stayed away from Sawyer’s drafts until more than a year after they were written. But when he did finally read them, not only did Dave enjoy the books a lot more than he expected to, he loved Sawyer’s take on our stories, especially his use of humor. With three authors invested in this series, it was one of our studio’s most collaborative works before that became par for the course. 

The best thing about the project is that Dave finally saw what I saw, that Monstrous wasn’t just as good as it would’ve been if Dave and I had finished it ourselves, it was better. This series is a bit like Spawn, but with a comedian hero, perfect for readers who love the style established by me and Dave, but with grittier writing and a more knowing sense of self. 

Download the first book in the series here for free.