I’m pleased to welcome Michael Okon to the blog today. Michael is the author of Monsterland, the recently released fantasy and magic, coming of age story focused around a monster-inspired theme park!
Read on to find out more about Michael Okon and his plans for Monsterland.
FD: Welcome, Michael! Tell us where you’re from.
MO: The North Shore of Lawn Guyland. (Long Island, New York! 😀 )
FD: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
MO: I’ve been writing since kindergarten but I started taking it seriously when I was 15. Then I got really into writing screenplays in college. Then I started taking those screenplays and turning them into novels in my 20s and 30s. I got my first publishing deal at 39 years old.
FD: What inspired you to write your first book?
MO: I have dozens of books out under various pen names (Michael Samuels and Michael Phillip Cash), but for my first published book, Monsterland, it’s quite an interesting story. I was binge watching a classic movie marathon with my son. You know, the good ones, The Goonies, Gremlins, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, etc…. I have always wanted to write a monster book but couldn’t settle on which monster I wanted to pursue. It was while watching all these movies, that I came up with the idea, why isn’t there a theme park with zombies. I called my brother immediately and told him my idea. He said, no – it has to be a theme park with werewolves, vampires, AND zombies. I started beating out the story that night.
FD: Who designed the cover?
MO: My brother. He wanted the convey the promise of the premise for Monsterland. It’s simple – werewolves, zombies, and vampires.
FD: What genres do you enjoy reading and what are you reading now?
MO: I’m actually a big self-help guy. I love law of attraction books. I also read a ton of screenplays and books on the history of Hollywood. I find all of that fascinating. Right now, I’m reading Our Ultimate Reality by Adrian Cooper, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, Rounders the Screenplay by David Levien and Brian Koppelman, and Powerhouse: The Story of The Creative Artists Agency.
FD: How do you relax and have fun?
MO: I love to gamble, but haven’t lately because I have kids. I’m a big poker and craps guy. I love watching movies with my kids, especially Disney and Marvel movies. My son and I are really into WWE wrestling (I haven’t watched it since I was 9, his current age). I cook dinner for my family every night. My wife and I go on one date night a month to our favorite restaurant. I also exercise a lot and have been lifting heavy weights. Best shape of my life. I also love Disney World, my family and I vacation there as often as we can.
FD: What’s one thing from your bucket list you’d like to experience or accomplish?
MO: To have Monsterland made into the next big franchise summer film. I think that’s closer than further away.
FD: What are your current projects?
MO: Monsterland 2 is coming out on my 40th birthday – May 26th, 2018. I’m knee-deep in Monsterland 3. I’ve already started beating out Monsterland 4 & 5. It seems I’m going to be writing about monsters for the foreseeable future.
FD: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
MO: Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.
Wyatt Baldwin’s senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.
But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.
With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?
FD: Where can readers find you online?
FD: Many thanks for visiting with us today, Michael. Continued success to you!
MO: Thank you! That was super fun!!
Read the three exciting excerpts from Monsterland, then scroll down ↓ and enter Michael’s giveaway for a chance to win a SIGNED copy of Monsterland, or scroll up ↑ and purchase your digital copy today!
TWO lucky winners will win a signed copy of Monsterland! Enter Today!
~R A F F L E C O P T E R ~
A howl erupted from his throat, followed by another, and then another. Grabbing handfuls of dirt, he tried to fight the awful change, but, as the sun set, the moon took control of his life, and the unnatural force tore through his unwilling body.
Reason fled, his heart raced. Falling on his hands and knees, Billy let loose a keening cry as his face elongated, his body changing into a canine, fangs filling his mouth. He raced in a circle in a demented dance, knowing his fellow pack members did the same thing.
Slowing, he regulated his labored breathing, forcing the icy calmness he needed to keep some semblance of reason. He peered through the dense brush. Lights from the search party bobbed in between the thick reeds. The odor, the stench of humanity, filled the clearing. The enemy had arrived.
He turned, digging furiously on the ground, throwing dirt on the campfire flames, hiding their existence. Discovery would ruin everything. No one could live with their kind.
Humans brought disease; humans brought anger; humans brought hatred. They were there; he could smell them, see their clumsy bodies splashing through the bog.
“They’ve found us,” he growled in the unique language they used after transformation. “Run!” he barked as he turned to his pack, watching his friends’ naked skin transform until it was covered with the same silvered fur.
They cried out in unison at the pain, howling with the injustice, and then ran in fear from the interlopers threatening their habitat.
The boat stalled and then drifted. The attendant pushed his intercom frantically. He flicked the ignition, and the boat roared to life once again.
Melvin reached up, his face filled with wonder.
“Sit down!” the driver ordered. “Now!”
“Mel!” Wyatt called, breaking his trance. “Sit.” He turned to the guide. “Is this part of the show?” he asked frantically. “Is it?”
The man ignored him, his face solemn. Wyatt felt a mixture of fear and the niggling doubt that he was being made a fool.
Melvin slid silently into his seat.
They traveled under the ledge, so close they could hear the uneven panting. Drool dripped onto the boat floor not protected by the canopy.
Jade made a noise, moving so close she was practically underneath Wyatt. Slowly, the boat slid through the water.
Wyatt turned around. The animals were gone, but he felt his scalp tighten. He knew they were watching. Peering through the thick leaves, he searched the foliage but could see nothing. Sean looked back at him nervously.
“That was creepy. Right, Melvin? Mel?” Sean cried.
Melvin was gone.
The world narrowed to the two of them, and the hunchback laughed hard then as if he knew something that Howard didn’t. Howard felt panic return, his stomach tightening in his gut until the only thing he felt was the beating of his heart in time to the pounding drums.
A roar exploded behind the teens. They twisted to the rear; their jaws dropped when a vampire wearing huge rawhide wings soared over the arena in a graceful arc.
Wyatt pointed to the other side of the theater and yelled, “Look!”
They turned to see five more vampires gliding toward them, their leathery wings creating enough wind to cool the overheated crowd.
People were screaming and gasping, some were laughing. The flying vampires were skimpily clad females. Howard wondered how they had the strength to pluck members of the audience up and bring them airborne to the stage.
Screams of “Take me!” filled the air from the spellbound audience.
Underneath their feet, the ground shifted, and the entire amphitheater began to vibrate, as the floor circled in one direction and the stage moved in the other.
The boys grabbed each other’s arms as they moved slightly off-balance. Howard and Wyatt felt a tug and stared slack-jawed as Theo was snatched from his spot by one of the flying vampires. Theo’s sneaker slammed into the person’s head in front of him as he was dragged to the revolving stage.