Sixth grade mystery-solver Will Allen may be one of the smallest boys in Ashford Middle School, but he's also one of the smartest. But even with all of his cleverness, he is still powerless when MONSTERS come calling!
But in a fantastic stroke of luck (or IS it?), a mysterious business card appears, instructing him how to summon Bigelow Hawkins, the Great Monster Detective. With Bigelow's help, Will must conquer his monsters and uncover the secret of the dreaded HIDDEN BEAST in time to save his town from a terror beyond imagining!
About the Author
Jason Edwards is an educator, storyteller, and producer of educational enrichment programs with over 30 years of experience developing innovative ways to entertain, instruct, and inspire children. Even his Chronicles of the Monster Detective Agency book series is designed to be slyly educational, providing progressively challenging reading levels, and topics that confront many difficult and timely issues in a non-threatening manner. Jason’s books have been honored with the Mom’s Choice Award for Family Friendly Media, and his Monster Hunt Library Skills-building Adventure and Destination: INSPIRATION InterACTIVE StoryCrafting Workshops have earned accolades at over 100 schools and libraries across the nation.
Jason lives in New York with his wife, daughters, and a rabbit named Bunniford who never comes when he is called. Find out more about Jason on his MonsterAuthor website.
Jeffrey Friedman ia an artist and educator whose work has appeared in everything from children's books to billboards. The Chronicles of the Monster Detective Agency series represents his first published works.
A Brief Author Interview with Jason Edwards
How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve always liked to write, but for much of my life, I wrote only for self-expression and my own amusement. It was kind of like singing in the shower, minus having to shake water out of your ears. Then, when my daughter was born, I made up stories to amuse her. I didn’t actually set out to be an author until I was inspired by – a toilet.
Allow me to explain. At the age of 4, my eldest daughter developed a powerful anxiety when she was traumatized by the roar of a loud, automatic toilet that flushed repeatedly while she was sitting on it. I wanted to help her develop the ability to confront her fears, so I created a world in which the characters learn to do that.
In general, how does an idea for a book come to you ~ does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
A little of both. The main ideas, themes, and key points for a book usually strike like a bolt of lightning, but then it takes time to percolate and develop them into a coherent piece of work.
Give us an idea of the plot of your books without giving too much away.
Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective is the story of a boy beset by fears that have literally come to life and how, with some very special help from the Great Monster Detective, he learns to conquer them. Its sequel, Will Allen and the Ring of Terror, picks up where the first book leaves off, with Will becoming a monster detective himself and working to solve his first case. But he quickly discovers that he still has a lot to learn, and needs plenty of help from his best friend and partner, Jeannine Fitsimmons, to solve the case and defeat the monster.
What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?
Face your fears, or they will take over your life. And wash behind your ears (well, that one isn’t actually in the book, but I just thought I’d throw it in there anyway)
What was the most difficult scene to write, and why?
The most difficult scene for me to write was the one in which Will confronts his hidden beast (his secret, buried fear), which turns out to be his father. Will’s anguish, caused by the fear that his father’s emotionally distant behavior indicated that he did not care for Will anymore, was emotionally brutal for me. I guess that was so because I have some unresolved family issues myself.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
The same one. It has a poignancy that still pierces me deeply as an adult, and yet young children can relate to it and be touched by it as well.
Which character do you identify with the most in your book?
Will Allen, mostly because he is very much an idealized version of myself as a boy.
How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in the book?
A whole lot of myself, right down to the marrow. I tried to make every character real to me, so in order to relate to them as individuals I ended up making them represent different aspects of my own personality (yes, even the girl with the rainbow-striped hair). Creating dialog then became easy, since I’m semi-schizophrenic, and the characters began to talk to each other in my head.
What did you learn about yourself while writing this book that you may not have expected?
That I’m a sentimental sap who cries watching Mary Poppins…no, wait, I knew that already. Mostly I learned that I love to create. It’s like the joy of becoming a daddy all over again, minus getting a sippy cup tossed at my head.
Who are your favorite authors and who influenced your writing?
Some of my favorite authors are Michael Crichton, J. K. Rowling, and Kenneth C. Davis. My writing has been influenced by Bill Watterson, Rod Serling, MAD magazine, and Marvel comics.
Can you offer a glimpse into your “real life” and share with us a bit of your personal lifeOutside of writing, what’s important to you?
This is my real life. But over and above this and everything else, I am a devoted father and husband. I’ve also always loved baseball. I spent 14 years at the famed Ted Williams Base Camp as a player and coach, and I still play ball and coach to this day. It was actually working at the camp as a coach that led me to realize that I enjoy working with kids, which led to my first career: teaching.
Tell us an interesting/crazy thing about you.
I had asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia as a child, but I overcame those shortcomings to become an accomplished athlete. I ran two NYC Marathons, won a gold medal in track at the NYS Empire State games, and once won the not-so-coveted ‘Most Hustle’ Award at the famed Ted Williams Baseball Camp.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always loved baseball, and I also play basketball, and I do a lot of running and weight training to stay in shape for sports. I enjoy movies, especially science fiction and fantasy (go figure), and books including the Twilight series, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Harry Potter, and Ultimate Spiderman. Additionally, I can often be found with a newspaper or science magazines in my hands. Finally, I love writing, illustrating, and cooking (though my family prefers to call my endeavors in the kitchen experimenting).
Family, Political/Social Issues, the Sciences, sports.
Tell us something surprising about you and/or something very few people know about you.
I hate running. That alone is not shocking, but the reason people are surprised by this is because I have completed two New York City Marathons, and won a gold medal in track at the New York Empire State Games.
Don’t ask me to explain it: I’m a writer, not a psychiatrist.
What has been one of your biggest struggles and/or successes (professional/personal) and what have you learned from it?
Biggest struggle? Getting published.
Strangely, almost all of my struggles and successes alike have taught me the same thing: to achieve anything I set out to accomplish, it is necessary to go above and beyond my original expectations of what is required. There is not one mere singular event that confirms this - It has always been true, whether I was struggling to find a job, find a date, find a publisher, or even find my socks.
Have you ever had a nickname? Tell us about it.
Lots of them. As a kid I was Pee Wee, because I played ball with my older brother and his friends, and was one of the smallest kids in the games. In college I was Silent Stan, mostly due to my lack of social skills. One of my softball buddies dubbed me Digger, because I carried a shovel to games, and on another team I was called Honey, because my girlfriend (now my wife) would always yell out ‘way to go, honey!’
Who is your biggest fan?
I have one?
Seriously though, I believe that my biggest fans are the kids from the Cherry Hill School in River Edge, NJ. I did my Monster Hunts and StoryPlays for the students there, and for some reason, they seemed to become especially enthusiastic about the programs, and about me. Must be something in the water there.
What was the best advice you’ve ever receiveddo you follow it?
I’ve received lots of great advice over the years including ‘don’t pick at your pimples’ and ‘come in out of the rain’. I’ve never followed any of it.
What is your favorite literary turn-of-phrase / quote?
Offhand, I can think of two:
“For every complex problem there is a simple solution…and it’s wrong.”
“A ship in the harbor is safe…but that is not what ships are built for.”
What’s next for you ~ Anything else you’d like to offer?
I’m currently writing and producing more books in the Monster Detective Agency series. You see, Will Allen and the Monster Detective Agency crew have taken on a life of their own. Now I just need to get one myself.
Best and worst part of being a writer?
The best part: It’s like being a proud parent, knowing that you have brought something good and beautiful into the world (and did it right for a change).
The worst part: It’s a very solitary, isolating endeavor - plus sitting in a chair for hours on end turns my back into spaghetti.
How do readers get in touch with you? Website Address? Email?
E-mail is usually best. I have always answered every single letter I receive, and hope to always be able to do so. My e-mail address, Jason@RogueBearPress.com , is listed in every book, on the MonsterDetectiveAgency.com and RogueBearPress.com websites, my Facebook page, and my personal website.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom's Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS's Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, and New York Times best-selling Author; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom's Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.
The book has positive messages intertwined with laughter, mystery, and suspense to make for one fun, exciting, uplifting story. I would recommend this book for any parent to read with their children in fourth and fifth grade as well as teachers in fourth and fifth grade who want something positive for their classrooms.
Will Allen And The Great Monster Detective was a fun and entertaining book. As a mother of two children, I found this book to be very enjoyable for both my 7 year old and 12 year old. And I had fun reading it with my kids too! Can't wait for the next one to come out!!
This book was an incredible learning experience for my children! It helped them with how to deal with their fears, in a very enjoyable way! My kids absolutely loved it! I even found myself reminding my kids about how Will dealt with certain things in the book, and how they can deal with their issues. I can't wait for more books from this author.