Ready, set, READ! Monster Trucks is officially out in the world! In honor of its release day, I thought I’d share a little backstory, and give away a signed book!
When I first began telling people my new book mashes traditional “scary monsters” with trucks, the most common response was, “I can’t believe no one’s done this before.” And that’s exactly how I felt when the idea came to me. I’d been chatting with my cousin, who said her young son would only read books with monsters or trucks in them. I half-jokingly replied, “He needs a book with both. I should write him one!” But then I promptly talked myself out of it. Someone’s done this book already, I thought. Someone must have.
Just before drifting off to sleep, though, the first lines raced through my mind.
On a SPOOKY speedway…
Monster Trucks moan!
Monster Trucks grumble!
Monster Trucks groan!
Quickly, I jotted down the words before they sped off and vanished into the night. In the morning, I made notes about possible characters for my spooky speedway race: Frankentruck, Zombie Truck, Werewolf Truck, Ghost Truck and Vampire Truck. That’s when I got “the feeling.” Writers, you know the feeling — the dare-I-believe-it inkling that this could be a winning idea. It’s typically followed by the desire to get to your laptop immediately.
But before going too far down the track of a first draft, I needed to do a title search. Talk about scary. There are few things more terrifying (or disappointing) than falling in love with an idea, only to find out it’s been done. (Horrors!)
So, I typed my title in the search box and hit return. Results came up for a board book, a few nonfiction titles about monster truck rallies, and there was an adorable Little Golden Book with illustrations by the über-talented Bob Staake, featuring a truck named Mudenstein. Hmmm. Similar… but not so similar that I felt I should abandon my idea. The story I wanted to write, would feature a full cast of menacing monster big rigs in a high-octane race. I’d add an unlikely heroine. And of course — a twist.
That all makes it sound too easy, but believe me, like any idea, it took many drafts; feedback from my amazing critique partners Jamie Michalak, Kara LaReau and Kristen Tracy; input from my dear husband, who helped me rev-up the ending; and a final round of comments from my rock star of an agent, Emily van Beek, before it was submission-ready.
When the book sold to Nancy Inteli at HarperCollins, I was glad I’d stayed the course. And I was super-excited when Nancy suggested approaching Nate Wragg (Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears; 10 Little Ninjas, Elwood Bigfoot) to do the illustrations. Nate’s Monster Truck characters are perfect for the text. And I adore all the fun monster-ish details he added to the spreads. Picture books are collaborations, and it’s truly a thrill to see how magically Nate brought our “spooky speedway” to life.
So, I guess this is all by way of saying thank you — to Nate, my agent and editor, my writing group, my sweet and supportive husband, and to friends and family — who have been sharing and tweeting “happy book birthday” wishes.
A writer’s life is not for the faint of heart, but when the checkered flags fall on this book release day, I can tell you, without a doubt, I feel like a winner — with an amazing team supporting me.
And because it’s release day and I’m feeling big love and gratitude, I will send a SIGNED COPY to one reader who leaves a comment below. Vroom, vroom!