Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blog Tour Stop-over: Clinton D. Harding and the Our Monsters Chronicles

Boy in the Middle

In Clinton D. Harding's debut novel "Our Monsters", Jon Graves and his friends escaped their parents and the military, leaving behind the only home they'd ever known, the small town of Carpenter. But their freedom is short lived as they find themselves in more danger than before they left Carpenter. 
"Bad Monsters"—the second book in The Our Monsters Chronicles, released March 2014—picked up where its prequel ended.

Jon and his friends are on the run and hunted and by General Mauser and his military dogs. Jon can practically feel them breathing down his neck, as the jaws of the military dogs snapping at his heels.

Blood is spilled, friendly and not, and now Jon must answer his friends' questions sooner than later, or risk one of those friends dying. He's just not sure he's the person to be deciding their fates or if he, Alice, and George are fully prepared to walk away from their normal lives.

A farm in northern California may serve as salvation to this scared, but brave, group of teenagers. However, can they trust the inhabitants they find there, who themselves have a history with Carpenter? If Jon can talk his way past the shotgun in his face, he might just discover what he and his friends need; answers about the history of Carpenter, the hybrids, the powers the teens borrow from their hybrids and who are the true monsters. In all this confusion and danger, Jon may also find a young woman who can help heal the wounds left by Mikaila when she left him and the group.

Pick up "Bad Monsters", the second installment in The Our Monsters Chronicles, now available and can be found in e-book and paperback form at major online retailers: Amazon | Barnes& Noble | Smashwords.

Clinton D. Harding Speaks... about love triangles:

Love triangles are popular these days in YA novels/series. A staple. As expected as a heroine wielding a bow and a quiver of arrows.

A teen girl is usually hopelessly burdened with not only the affection of one young man but two. Usually these strapping gents dislike each other. Now, guys, wouldn't you? Both of these beefcakes are as different as oil and water, and for that reason the girl is attracted to both for very different reasons. Picture it. One of these strapping boy choices is a warrior or hunter, fierce and strong. The alternative love interest is a poet with a silver tongue, as good with words as his rival is with a bow or sword, a gentle and sensitive soul. Commence the mooning and the moistening of the knickers! How will the heroine ever choose?! Typically her decision is made all the more problematic by pesky inconveniences… An oppressive government trying to suppress her people. Time traveling paradoxes. Blood feuds between Native American werewolves and vegetarian vampires. Oh, bother!

I never intended to write a love triangle into The Our Monster Chronicles. If anything, my intent was to show how stupid teenage boys can be about love and relationships. Let's be up front... If you've read the first book, "Our Monsters", then you know Jon (the main POV character and hero of the series) has no damn clue that his childhood best friend—Mikaila—has the hots for him. All he sees in her is a good friend he can share his secrets with, laugh with, enjoy a good Star Wars marathon with. When Mikaila is asked out on a date by the biggest horse's-ass in school—and accepts—Jon is pissed. Why? He might think the horse's-ass is going to try getting into the pants of his sweet, kind movie-marathoning friend. Yeah? I'm not sure. You decide. Read "Our Monsters" (clickhere).

Point is this: Jon's an idiot. Most teenage boys are. I was one. Damn straight I was an idiot! My brain was always in the clouds and my compass' needle tended to point to the nearest pretty set of eyes. I didn't understand what love was. Lust? Desire? Obsession? Sure! Hero or heroine, the protagonist of any YA novel doesn't understand love either. He or she is a raging torrent of hormones that could sweep Dorothy to Oz and impregnate her. They're drunk on romanticized ideas of courtly infatuation. Love at first sight. Balconies. Whispered sweet idioms at masquerade balls. Twittering blue birds. You can thank Walt Disney for most of these images. Characters must mature in order to understand love. This journey is why readers are drawn to love triangles. Readers crave the conflict, sure—the stumbling, the awkward glances, the misunderstandings, the breakups and makeups. Love triangle conflicts create debates between the Team-this and Team-that. We authors love fan debates. But in the end, I think readers turn the pages to see the protagonist grow towards making the 'right' decision about who to love and why. When that decision is made, there is usually more debating about the 'right'-part, but authors love fan debates.

Now, teenage male protagonists don't tend to play ring-around-the-rosy with two girls. Not often anyway. There are not too many YA novels with love triangles centered on the boy. This is probably because most boy books are focused on adventure, sword play, slaying creepy, fire-breathing things that eat heroes.

For this reason, I never intended to give Jon romantic complications, only to highlight how stupid young Romeos can be. After all, I wanted to draw boys and girls toward The Our Monsters Chronicles. Then I started writing "Bad Monsters" and I created a new character… Devonne Booker. Without giving anything away—read the novel's back cover and you'll understand my intent—Devonne presents future problems for Jon... and Mikaila. Devonne is pretty. She's witty. She's a real spitfire. Going toe-to-toe with Alice is not an easy feat and Devonne does well on more than one occasion when she bumps heads with the former head cheerleader. I wrote Devonne so Alice would have some opposition in the group while Mikaila was backstage in the wings. Turns out, Jon is more than a little inebriated on hormone juices in "Bad Monsters" and he falls for Devonne. Thing is, Mikaila is still in the picture, waiting for me to bring her back on stage (that's no secret). Conflict! Whether or not Jon's feelings for Devonne are mature is another question. As I've said in numerous articles on this blog tour, read "Bad Monsters" and come to your own conclusions.

A love triangle with a teenage boy in the middle is rare, as I said before. Harry Potter never had these problems. He was done with Cho way before Ginny came along. However, Percy struggled with his feelings for Annabeth and Rachel. Jason was pulled between his old life represented by Reyna and his new life with Piper post-amnesia. Those are the only YA boy-girl-girl situations that come to my mind... Wow, that sounded dirtier than I intended.

On Goodreads I've seen fervent, hair-pulling debates over Percy-Annebeth or Percy-Rachel. About as heated as those between the Team Jacob and Team Edward factions. So there exists a passion for a male protagonist torn between two loves, the passions seems to come from the female reader side, though.

Male readers? I don't think boys would take part in these loud debates, not even whispering debates. We men/boys have to maintain our macho-facade and argue about sports and first-person shooter video games. That insecurity prompted publishers to not focus on boys as a viable reading market. So most of the YA novels when I was young were for girls, they dealt with issues of growing up, divorcing parents, puberty, first-time sexual experiences. Boys don't talk about that stuff. We awkward idiots pretend that those issues don't both us but they did/do. YA novels for boys told stories about the champion hero using a big sword to slay a dragon spitting fire. Is there a princess somewhere that needs rescuing? Who cares about her! Over there is a building-sized snake that needs stabbing. Priorities.

Recent children's and YA novels like the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan and the Beyonders trilogy by Brandon Mull have done well to move past the adventures and show the growth of the young male hero. And you know what? Boys love these new stories!

"Bad Monsters" is in that category of new story. I want Jon to deal with issues of what is family, distrust, loss, love. I want Jon to grow from a stupid boy in a spitting contest to a hero who can save his friends and the world (and who can get the girl, the 'right' girl).

There's just one question left I guess... Who are you rooting for Jon to pick as a dear love? To help you decide, read "Our Monsters" and the newly released sequel "Bad Monsters". Are you Team Mikaila or Team Devonne?


When Clinton D. Harding is not busy wrestling and taming wild Scottish Terriers in the wilderness of Oxnard, California, he's using a magic pen he pulled from a stone to craft new worlds filled with fantastic beasts and evils that need fighting. He is also the author-publisher of The Our Monsters Chronicles, a YA series of novels that combines fantasy/sci-fi elements with horror chills. For more information about Harding and his creations visit his website, like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or become a fan at Goodreads.

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