Today I am delighted to welcome long-time writing friend Diana Murray to my blog. Diana and I met through a poetry critique group several years ago and our first books came out at roughly the same time. Diana is now the author of over 20 books and I am a fan of all of them. Her rhyme is impeccable and her storytelling is light and fun. Today we are chatting about the release of her newest book GROGGLE’S MONSTER HALLOWEEN, illustrated by Bats Langley and published by Sky Pony Press.
First a little confession, though. Diana’s first Groggle book, GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINE is a favorite of mine. It’s the story of an appealing young monster who wants to make his sweetheart the perfect valentine. Unfortunately, he’s also hungry! I featured that book on my blog back in 2017 when it first released. You can check that post out here.
And now a second confession. I have mixed feelings about Halloween and dislike the darkness that surrounds so much of it. You can see that darkness in the choice of some of the lawn decorations people put out that include gory bodies and other frightening things. These scared my kids when they were little and because of that I’m always on the lookout for fun, non-spooky Halloween options. GROGGLE’S MONSTER HALLOWEEN, still starring that appealing young monster, fits the bill… delightfully! Now, enjoy the interview with my questions bolded.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Diana. Let’s dig right in. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself including your favorite Halloween memory.
Diana: I started writing after my first daughter was born. We read so many books together and I began to fall in love with picture books as a genre. My favorite Halloween memory might be when she dressed up as a yellow duck and tried her very first lollipop. She was about two and I’ll never forget the look of joy on her face. Or, maybe my favorite memory is when my second daughter dressed up as a pumpkin with a little pumpkin hat. She was just barely walking and it was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. Halloween is my favorite holiday and having young kids makes it extra fun.
Groggle’s Monster Halloween is the sequel to your first Groggle book. How did you come up with the idea? Were there any challenges?
Diana: The suggestion to do a sequel actually first came from a fan! Because the main character is a monster, Halloween was a natural choice. I did struggle initially, trying to figure out how to make Groggle’s “monster appetite” a problem again, while keeping the story fresh and having a unique ending. I wrote the first story in prose (although there are rhyming poems sprinkled in) but decided to write the second one fully in rhyming verse. That’s just the type of writing that I’m more comfortable with. I had fun with it.
Bats Langsley’s illustrations are so much fun and integral to the not-so-spooky monster fun of this story. Tell us a little bit about Bats. Do you have a favorite spread? What makes it your favorite?
Yes, it’s so wonderful seeing Bats bring the characters to life! That’s my favorite part of the process. My favorite spread is at the very beginning when Groggle and Snarlina are walking up a long, winding path to Werewolf’s house. It so perfectly captures the spooky but slightly silly mood, and the colors are so rich. There is also the touch of humor with Werewolf “howling” while watching TV on his roof. So funny and quite brilliant.
What would you like readers to take away from this story?
Well, School Library Journal said that it includes “sweet messages about friendship”. And I think that’s exactly right. I want people to see that nobody’s perfect and you should always treat your friends with kindness and care. Things don’t always go as planned but friends can help. It’s a subtle message wrapped in a silly-spooky story.
Finally, what’s next? Also, where can interested readers find your books?
There are many more books to come! For example, the third and fourth sequels to “Unicorn Day”, which are “Unicorn Christmas” and (branching out into other topics) “Mermaid Day”. There’s also “Someday, Maybe” which is an optimistic look at the future with different futuristic jobs explored, “Love Stinks!” which is a Valentine’s Day themed early reader comic starring a skunk, and “Firehouse Rainbow” which is a color concept Little Golden Book about a busy and diverse group of firefighters. And there’s more on the horizon! My website: http://www.dianamurray.com Twitter: @DianaMWrite
Thank you for taking the time for a blog chat, Diana. I wish you the very best and I’m hoping that maybe today a little costumed Groggle come trick-or-treating at my house.
Happy Halloween, all!
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