Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What Makes a Monster?

I'm not a big fan of Halloween. We lived miles from anyone when I was growing up and we never went trick or treating. Not even once. As a mother, I never gave my children candy when they were little, and none of them developed a taste for it. Still I took them around the block to trick or treat but most of the candy ended up at school, given to my students. Costumes were always a chore for me, probably because I have no enthusiasm for the holiday. I played the good mother and tried to make sure my kids found costumes they'd like. They always wanted to be heroes, nary a monster or goblin among them. Ninjas, Power Rangers, Batman, Superman, whomever the hero  de jour.

Zombies are a popular choice for monster apparel in recent years and I expect we'll have some of them knocking on our door next week. And other monsters. As I prepare for the release of my fantasy novel, First Dragon, I've taken a bit of time to think about what really makes a monster. The second novel in The Morbunda Saga delves into that question as the characters in the series are forced to fight battles that seem to have no winner and sometimes no clear sides of good and evil.

What monsters are scariest. Physically imposing predators, without mercy for their prey? Beastly killers with no capacity for humane mercy? A being with unstoppable magical powers? A technology with cold, superior intelligence and no warmth of emotions? Are monsters ugly or perhaps possessed of a beautiful exterior hiding the evil within?  Is a great white shark a monster because he kills without mercy, driven by instinct? Or is a human killing with forethought and planning the monster? Is what drives the monster the measure of his evil?

In First Dragon, monsters of many types make an appearance. Some know they are monsters and others fear that they are. Some behave as monsters and believe themselves heroic.

I think I would find a magician who could do mind control to be a very, very frightening thing. What kind of monster do you think would be scariest? What Halloween costume was your favorite or your children's favorite? Do you have a favorite monster movie?


  1. I don't know about 'monsters,' i.e as hideous creatures but to me the most scariest are the ones who look normal.

    As a child what scared me was the once that appeared on Dr Who. Nowadays I dress up for the Goth Festival in Whitby North, Yorkshire where we see such amazing outfits.

  2. One without mercy scares me. It would stop for nothing.

  3. The scariest monsters are those in real life with no regard for human life.

  4. The most frightening are the ones that strike at your deepest fears. It might be different for each character, which would leave the door open for many, many monsters to come in.
    I love the idea of a character fearing he's a monster! Looking forward to reading it.

  5. I'm not a fan of Halloween either. Never have been, not even as a kid. But I love monsters and scary things.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  6. the scariest monsters for me were the ones when i was very young--the mummy ---werewolf all those kinds!

  7. Anyone or anything that would harm a child would be the scariest monster for me.

  8. My son is going to be a rocket ship this year. His idea of monsters are those on Sesame Street or in Monsters Inc. For me, the scariest monster wouldn't be physically imposing, but one like that magician of yours. To lose my will would be terrifying.

  9. The sociopath is scariest in real life. That person does things without regret or remorse. Those people often become killers because they just don't feel about doing it.

    Joss Whedon's vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were monsters simply because the act of being turned cost your soul. A soulless being that relies on blood for life, and human blood is best, would certainly qualify for a monster. Angelus was one of the worst of the worst. In the 1800s a group of gypsies cast a spell returning him his soul. Imagine the torment of still being a vampire, having the cravings, and all of the memories of what you did when you were without a soul. Yeah, it makes for great story. It's how Champions are made.

  10. I remember you saying you weren't a Halloween fan, me, LOVE it. Even though I don't care about the candy. Never really did, but the spooky movies ... oh man, so much fun.

    Don't know what the scariest monster is. Right now my husband is home sick and snoring in the other room. He sounds like a monster with that snore going on.

    Cheers and boogie boogie.

  11. "Zombies are a popular choice for monster apparel in recent years and I expect we'll have some of them knocking on our door next week."

    How did you know I was going to be a zombie this year? :)

  12. I was just the opposite. I loved making costumes for my kid, but he hated Halloween. I made him dress up as Spongebob, a Hershey bar, an astronaut, and an Indian chief over the years. He finally said enough!

    And monsters...they do come in all shapes and sizes. Intentions of ill will toward others is probably the common DNA they all share.

  13. We rarely went trick or treating either. My mom was always too worried and we didn't live in a suburb area. Once I got older we went with friends and it was fun just running around at night. But I've never been into the scary/gory stuff that's so popular with Halloween nowadays. It's really taken a step off the deep end if you ask me.
    Monsters? Werewolves always scared the bleep out of me when I was a kid. But I loved it!

  14. Paula, I'm glad I didn't watch Dr. Who as a child. That show has a really high body count.
    L. Diane and Alex, you have it right. I guess that's why I read so much suspense. Real human monsters.
    Thanks, Cate and Shelly, people after my own heart.

  15. Lynne, I was always afraid of the mummy movies. Very creepy.
    LD, I can't even read books where kids get hurt.
    Christine, rocket ships are great costumes.
    David, I knew you would be a zombie.
    Robin, I'm working on the soul less thing in another of my books.
    Ivy, you might be the biggest Halloween fan I know.
    LG, you must be one of those clever moms I envy who come up with cool costumes.
    PK, my kids enjoyed trick or treating especially when they could go on their own with the neighbors like you said. Fun in the dark without mom and dad.

  16. In the gamers circle I travel in, in blogger world, I am just one of many. The writer bloggers though, don't seem as excited.

    Love this time of year, all around. Even now, it's cold, raining and a great spooky fall evening.

    LOVE IT.

  17. Someone else mentioned sociopaths as being the scariest of all monsters, and I have to agree.

    I loved Halloween as a kid, but I can take it or leave it now. I try to keep it fun for my kids' sakes though.

    Have a good Thursday. ☺

  18. Yes, sociopaths. You can't reason with them and you can rehabilitate them.

    I like Halloween though we haven't celebrated in years.

  19. Sociopaths get a lot of votes. Now give them some magical powers or great physical abilities and you have a really scary monster. Of talent with technology combined with sociopathology and it gets scary.

  20. Such great monster questions, Sue. Love it. I can't decide which is scariest. Probably because I'm terrified of everything!

  21. Really interesting and thought-provoking questions here. Personally, I find the cold, heartless, ruthless monsters much scarier than the big burly ones. The ones with a beautiful exterior are also terrifying. But sometimes you don't know what will reach deeply into your subconscious, and terrify you. When I watched Pan's Labyrinth, and got to the scene with the awful skeletal monster with the eyes in its palms, I felt like someone had plucked that image out of my worst nightmares. I didn't even know I would be afraid of it, but there it was.

  22. I used to like Halloween a great deal more than I do now. The scariest monsters are the real humans with deep darkness within. People who don't care about anyone and ultimately not even for themselves.

    Favorite monster movies? Creature from the Black Lagoon series is one that I enjoyed. Godzilla was another because that beast symbolized more than something that was a monster and has become an icon of modern society.

    Tossing It Out