As we all know, the only thing that can stop a werewolf is a silver bullet. But in the nightmare that inspired his new young adult monster adventure novel Sunshine And The Full Moon (hardcover, paperback, Kindle), writer (and my former coworker) Jon Robinson imagined one of these furry fiends being stopped by a little girl and a plaster cast. In the following email interview, Robinson talks about the nightmare that inspired this story, as well as his plans for some more scary adventures.
To start, what is Sunshine And The Full Moon about, and when and where does it take place?
Sunshine And The Full Moon is a modern-day Goonies meets werewolves adventure. A girl goes on a geocaching adventure and discovers a werewolf den. The mystery and monsters unfold from there.
Where did you get the idea for Sunshine And The Full Moon, and how, if at all, did that idea change as you wrote it?
Some people dream of lollipops and cotton candy, I dream of monsters. Seriously, I’ve had nightmares my entire life. Vivid dreams of werewolves and vampires and hideous giant creatures.
Anyway, I had a dream that a werewolf was chasing my daughter, and when it went to bite her, she defended herself with a cast. She’s luckily never broken a bone in real life, but in my dream, for whatever reason, this cast saved her, and I was stuck on this image of a werewolf biting down on a girl’s cast and that visual really sparked something creatively. I worked backward and then forward from that spot to work out the plot, but that’s where it all started.
I assume the nightmare is why, but besides that, is there a reason you made this book about a werewolf as opposed to a vampire or a mummy or some other kind of monster?
I’ve always been obsessed with werewolves. Ever since I watched the old Wolf Man movie in black and white, there’s something about the mythology that completely won me over. I remember when I was 12, I wanted to be a werewolf for Halloween, and there was this super cool mask that extended down the chest with hair, and I bought these claw gloves to go with it, and my mom told me, “This costume is so expensive, if you buy this, we will never buy you another costume again.” Ha, perfect. I was happily a werewolf for Halloween from that point forward.
It sounds like Sunshine And The Full Moon is a horror story, but one that’s more thrilling than scary or gross. Is that how you’d describe it?
When I was a kid, I loved movies like The Goonies and The Lost Boys and Stand By Me. So I wrote more of a werewolf adventure with thrills and chills than anything gross.
Sunshine And The Full Moon is also a young adult novel. Did you set out to write something for young adults or did you start writing this story and realized it worked for young adults more than regular adults or old adults?
Since I started thinking about the book because of my dream, I decided to go all in and base the main character of Sunshine around my daughter’s personality. It’s funny, because people love the dialogue in the book and Sunshine’s sassy attitude, but I give all the credit to the real Sunshine sitting right here next to me.
It’s been my experience that some YA novels are for young adults, and some just don’t have anything in them that’s inappropriate for young adults. Where does Sunshine And The Full Moon fall?
I like to think of the book as being appropriate for young adults, but any adult who like werewolves or monsters or cool characters will also enjoy reading. Just because the main character is 14 doesn’t mean the book should be limited to that audience. As an adult, I loved reading books like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, and, hopefully, readers of all ages will appreciate the mystery and monsters I’ve created in this world.
Now, while this is not your first book, it is your first work of fiction. Are there any writers, or specific stories, that you think of as having a big influence on Sunshine And The Full Moon but not on anything else you’ve written?
Honestly, I read everything from mystery to true crime to YA to sports to CIA spy books. I think that’s why Sunshine And The Full Moon also has a little bit of everything. It’s a strong female YA lead who loves everything from k-pop to baseball, setting out on an adventure to uncover the mystery behind a series of werewolf attacks in a small town in the California Gold Country. There’s action, sports, mystery, and monsters all wrapped into one.
How about non-literary influences; was Sunshine And The Full Moon influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
I’ve worked in the video game industry for over 20 years, so you could say that the storyline almost feels like an RPG in the making. Throw in some geocaching on the map screen, mix in a werewolf, and I think we have a hit.
Those other books you wrote were all about wrestling. How often, when writing Sunshine And The Full Moon, did you have Sunshine take the werewolf down with a suplex, only to realize that would never work, the weight differential is all wrong?
Ha! Now you’re on to something! Yeah, no way a 14-year-old girl is going to piledrive a werewolf, but there are some other fun wrestling callouts throughout the book, don’t worry.
Now, supernatural stories are sometimes one-and-done and sometimes they’re part of a larger series. What is Sunshine And The Full Moon?
Sunshine And The Full Moon is just the first novel in the series. I’ve already started working on the sequel: Sunshine And Eternal Darkness. The more I started to flesh out the characters and the storyline, I knew I didn’t want the ride to end with just one book. Halfway through writing Sunshine And The Full Moon, I already worked out the plot to the sequel and how it ties into the first book.
So, what does your daughter think about the book?
It’s funny, she’s starting to realize as more and more people say how much they love Sunshine’s personality that they are really talking about her. She really is one of the funniest people I know, and her stamp is all over the book.
And what about your son, what does he think of the book? Or is he too busy pitching you stories about him fighting Godzilla or whatever?
My son is 6’3″ and could probably be a WWE superstar if he wanted to. I think he’d rather take on Roman Reigns than Godzilla. At least that way he’d get a shiny gold belt.
Earlier I asked if Sunshine And The Full Moon had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. But I’d like to turn things around and ask if you think Sunshine And The Full Moon could work as a movie, show, or game?
I think the storyline and relatability of the main character lends itself to all three. I can definitely see it as a series of movies, though, with a different movie being made for each book in the series. That’s the dream!
And if someone wanted to make that dream a reality, who would you want them to cast as Sunshine, Em, and the other main characters?
Sunshine is 14 and Em is only 12, so we could be talking about casting some fresh faces in these roles who would then grow on screen as we progress through the books. I also see someone like Mckenna Grace, who was in Gifted and is going to be in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. She has the attitude and intelligence I’d be looking for in the character.
Finally, if someone enjoys Sunshine And The Full Moon, what similar monster story would you suggest they read next while waiting for Sunshine And Eternal Darkness to come out?
Let’s keep things in the werewolf world and go with City Under The Moon by Hugh Sterbakov. What’s crazy is, back when I was still in college, I used to write for the video game magazine GamePro. I used to write under the name Johnny Ballgame, and Hugh used to freelance for us under the name Boba Fatt. Now here we are, both writing about werewolves. Crazy how things work out.