One randomly drawn commenter will win a $50 Amazon/BN GC (international giveaway), five randomly drawn winners will win a size large Monsterland T-shirt (US only).
Any weird things you do when you’re alone?
I bite the inside of my lips. I do it when I’m concentrating. Then my wife and mom tell me to stop. So I guess I don’t do that when I’m alone. But I think I do.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin. I think that says it all.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Me. No, I’m kidding. I can’t choose one author, it’s like choosing children. But I will give you a few. Wallace Wattles and Joseph Murphy – their books “The Science of Getting Rich” and “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” changed my life. They taught me that the universe is at our command and you can manifest anything you’d like. Michael Crichton has been very influential in my life. Jurassic Park was the spark that made me want to be a writer.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
When a writer can make you forget about your day while reading his/her work, that’s the best type of writing. I liken reading a good book to playing a video game. You are not thinking about your mortgage, your car payment, or your broken sprinkler in the backyard. You are completely immersed in the moment and truly care about the characters you are reading about.
Where did you get the idea for this book?
I always wanted to write a monster book, but couldn’t come up with something catchy. I wanted to write something completely brand new, but still have a primal theme that audiences could connect with. My son and I were watching an 80s and 90s movie marathon one weekend. It popped into my head after watching The Goonies and Jurassic Park. “What about a theme park with zombies?” I immediately called my brother to tell him about this nugget I conceived, and, to my surprise, he said “No.” I told him it would be like Rollercoaster Tycoon– a game he and I used to play when we were kids where you build your own theme park and manage it. My brother said, “It can’t be just zombies. It’s gotta be werewolves, vampires, AND zombies.” Right then I knew every single ride that each creature was going to be showcased in. I started beating out the story that night with my characters. Fast forward three months later, Monsterland (the self-published version) arrives on Amazon and becomes an instant hit with audiences. Fast forward two years later and I have a literary agent, an entertainment attorney, a film agent, a publicist, a two-book publishing deal with a commercial publisher, and film interest with a very well-known producer – all centering on an idea about a theme park with real monsters that popped into my mind a couple years ago. It’s been some thrill ride.
by Michael Okon
GENRE: Horror (Monsters)
Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth. Wyatt Baldwin’s senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance. But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville. With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?
The sky was a sparkling, powder blue, mosquitoes droned lazily over the tepid water, frogs croaked messages while they sunbathed on waxy lily pads. The fire he created burned bright, rabbit roasting on a spit made from hickory, the juices dripping to hiss in the flames. Seven of them lay in scattered repose, enjoying the late afternoon lull—two napped, the others tossed a stuffed fur in the form of a ball around the clearing, hooting with amusement when it rolled into the brush. They traveled in a pack, his group, his makeshift family, foraging together, hiding in plain sight. It had been that way for generations. But the glades were getting smaller, the humans invasive.
The sun started its slow descent into the horizon, hot pink and lilac clouds rippling against the empty canvas of the sky. Their color deepened as the sky filled, the rosy hue morphing into a burnt orange as the sun hid behind the condensation. The air thickened, moisture causing the leaves to lie heavily against the branches. Here and there, fireflies lit the gloom, doing a placid ballet in the humid air. The men moved closer as the sun sank into the western treetops, the fading sky promising another clear day tomorrow in the Everglades despite the moving ceiling of clouds.
A lone hawk cried out, disturbing the peace of the glade. Huge birds answered, flapping their wings, creating a cacophony of swamp sounds. The area became a concerto of animals responding to the disruption of their home—wild screams, squeaks, and complaints of the invasion of their territory.
The lead male stood, his head tilted. He heard it again. It was music, the strange organization of sounds, predictable as well as dangerous. Where those rhythms originated meant only one thing—they were not alone. They all rose, tense and alert, searching the waterway. Billy pointed, his dirty hands silently parting an outcropping of trees to expose a flat-bottom boat with strangers floating slowly toward them. It was filled with people, excitedly searching the banks of the swamp, their expensive khaki bush clothes ringed with sweat. Many held huge cameras. It was obviously a film crew, invasive, nosy individuals looking for something, anything, to enhance their lives. Men’s voices drifted on the turgid air. Billy stood, sniffing, his mates following suit. He glanced at the sky, gauging the time, his eyes opening wide. It was late. The bald top of the moon peeked over the ridge in the south, the sky graying to twilight with each passing second. Night came fast and furious in the swamp, dropping a curtain of darkness, extinguishing all light except for the beacon of the full moon. That chalk-white orb floated upward, indifferent to the consequences of its innocent victims. A halo of lighter blue surrounded the globe, limning the trees silver, the cobwebs in the trees becoming chains of dripping diamonds in the coming night.
Michael Okon is the award-winning and best-selling author & screenwriter formerly known as Michael Phillip Cash. His originally self-published book Monsterland was picked up in a two-book publishing deal by WordFire Press. Michael is happily married and writes full-time on the North Shore of Long Island with his two screaming monsters in the background.
For more information, details and updates, visit:
Email Michael at MichaelOkonBooks@gmail.com
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monsterland-michael-okon/1126998959