Is there a monster under your bed? Or in the cupboard in the corner? If there isn’t one now, I bet there was one when you were little. We all have memories of scaring ourselves silly over something, perhaps a ghost story told at a sleep-over, or coming home to an empty house and thinking there is someone there. (There actually was for us once when we interrupted a burglar but I won’t add to your nightmares!)
Fear is a powerful emotion which we all have for very good evolutionary reasons. Better to run from the merest hint of a sabre-tooth lion than go face it. So fear is necessary and makes a great subject for writing as we can all summon it up so easily. And the good news that stories are where we learn to overcome the monster; it is one of the basic plots, from Beowulf to Harry Potter. I doubt it will ever go out of fashion.
However, not everything we think of as monsters are really, well, monsters, are they? They might be the odd shape your dressing gown makes hanging up on the back of the door, or, more importantly the
person who looks different, or behaves differently, someone that society has pushed to the edge. And a real monster might not look like our idea of one at all! That’s the really scary stuff, also excellent matter for fiction and a good lesson to learn from a book so you don’t get caught out in real life. I’m thinking here of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings who started as a kind of fallen angel and the White Witch in Narnia. Can you add some others?
So if you are doing some writing over the summer, you might like to think about what kind of monsters you find powerful in stories. Do you have a favourite baddie? Or a favourite misunderstood monster who is really a sweetie? If you come up with an answer, you could enter my competition here to win a copy of my new book, Mel Foster and the Demon Butler. Mel has monsters under his bed, but they both happen to be great new friends. I wouldn’t mind them moving in under mine.