Interview: Charles Gilman, Author of the ‘Tales from Lovecraft Middle School’ Series

It’s no secret that I love Quirk Books’ new series Tales from Lovecraft Middle School. The Middle Grade series follow Robert Arthur and his two friends as they save the student body from monsters from another dimension following the lead of their master, H. P. Lovecraft.

The second Lovecraft installment, The Slither Sisters, is out in stores on tomorrow, so author Charles Gilman stopped by to answer a few questions about the series.

We hear you’re a pretty big horror fan. What’s your favorite horror movie?

All of my favorites are entirely inappropriate for kids — except for Joe Dante’s Gremlins, which is still a lot of fun.  I recently watched it again at a special screening in Philadelphia, and it made me lament two things: (1) The spectacular puppetry effects that were common in movies before CGI and (2) the dearth of family-friendly monster movies in theaters nowadays.  When I was kid, there was always something fun and harmless playing in movie theaters: PoltergeistGremlinsGhostbusters, Beetlejuice.  Nowadays, so many popular movies and so-called “family entertainments” seem incredibly dark. The horror movies are especially bleak.  Even the superhero movies—the new Batman movies—they’re spectacularly dark.  It’s always raining and no one ever smiles.  One of my goals with the Lovecraft series was to return a sense of lightness, humor, fun, and whimsy to these kinds of stories.

Your favorite paranormal creature? Will it make an appearance in the series (if it hasn’t already)?

I adore monsters of all shapes, sizes, and species; I don’t think I could name a favorite!  One of the great pleasures of this series has been the opportunity to parade a host of bizarre beasts across its pages: winged demons, snake-sisters, giant spiders, two-headed rats, shrieking harpies, ghouls, demons, and so on.

What type of research have you done for the Lovecraft books?

I read a ton of Lovecraft, because I’m constantly trying to work in references to the Lovecraft canon (even though 99% of my readership probably doesn’t notice them).  For The Slither Sisters, I did a lot of reading about snakes and reptiles, and of course I brushed up on my Greek mythology (gorgons).  I’m not sure very much of the research ended up in the book, but I felt obligated to do it.

What can we expect to see in future Lovecraft books?

Teacher’s Pest (due in May) picks up where The Slither Sisters ended, and concerns a boy who is secretly a fly-monster in disguise.  For that book, I did a ton of research into the lives of insects, and I tried to work as many disgusting insect facts as I could find into the book.

Is there a set amount of books in the series?

Honestly, it will depend on how the first four books are received.  I’d love to do more.  In addition to plotting & writing the actual stories, I’m involved in every aspect of the production — the photo shoot for the cover, the interior illustrations, everything — and the whole process is incredibly fun.

Are you working on any projects aside from the Lovecraft books?

Not a chance—these books keep me busy 24 hours a day!

Charles has also answered a bunch of FAQs on the Lovecraft website.

About Tales from Lovecraft Middle School

Tales from Lovecraft Middle School is the spine-tingling series about a haunted middle school where monsters roam the halls, mysteries lurk behind every door, and strange transformations take place before your very eyes.

Seventh-grader Robert Arthur just wants to fit in at his new school. But the place is crawling with weird spirits and supernatural creatures. What’s a kid to do? Ask a teacher for help? Some of them are monsters in disguise! Find a classmate he can trust? Many of them are transforming too! If Robert and his friends can uncover the truth about Lovecraft Middle School’s secret history, they might find out who—or what—is behind all the mysteries.

Each book in the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series features an amazingly cool morphing photo cover. Hold it one way, it’s a science teacher. Give it a turn, and watch him morph into a hideous demon. As you collect new books in the series, you’ll also collect new clues that help you unlock the secrets of Lovecraft Middle School. It’s like having your very own haunted library!

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