Chip MacGregor

January 13, 2014

A Fabulous Beast is Born




One of my earliest memories is of sitting in a darkened cinema and wailing, “But I don’t want to see his head explode, Mommy!” My parents loved scary movies and didn’t want to pay a sitter. I was doomed.

Nightmarish creatures haunted my childhood dreams. In an effort to tame the monsters, I invited them to tea parties. I’d lower the blinds in my room, close the curtains and lock the door. Then, pretending it was midnight, (so both Dracula and the Wolfman could make it) I’d host elaborate festivities.
I grew to love my monsters. After all, it was the monsters in the movies that made people pull together and rise above their petty agendas. (Bloodlust is a powerful organizational tool.) It was monsters that made us human.

So while I was mentoring middle schoolers and waiting for a new book idea, I read a book on the psychology of fear and monsters. I was surprised to learn that scholars consider Aristotle to be the father of Monsterology. (Or, as my PhD scientist friend, Jodi, says, “Cryptozoology.” Then she rolls her eyes and changes the subject.)

But Aristotle was also considered to be a major influence on Christian theology. Why was such a brilliant man mixed up with monsters? Unfortunately, Aristotle’s monster hunting days were cut short…he died under mysterious conditions. Then all his books were destroyed. (The writings we have of Aristotle today are mostly his lecture notes.) What happened to him? What secrets about monsters did he take to his grave? I clipped a picture from the book of an ancient, legendary monster and slipped it into a box for safekeeping.

Unsure what to do with this mystery, I got on with life. I like to read fitness magazines, especially if I’m avoiding exercise. One day I read about a respected triathlete, who is disabled. She described picking off all the fake flesh from her prosthetic leg when she was a kid. She wanted to reveal the metal structure underneath. Fascinated, I clipped her picture to drop it into my idea box.

And there I saw the picture of that forgotten monster. Now the girl’s image rested next to it.

The book FABULOUS BEASTS was born.

I’m fiercely protective of middle school kids. We live in a world that makes those kids feel like freaks. Their most primal fear is that they are the monster. They’re too fat, or skinny, or their teeth are bad, or their face has pimples. Kids today need monsters more than ever. And who better to teach us that truth than a great man of theology, that old monsterologist, Aristotle?

You see, sometimes, we don’t go looking for our next book. Sometimes it comes looking for us. Sometimes it sneaks up on us while we’re serving others. And if it happens to be a beastly terror that walks in the night, even better.

Ginger Garrett is the author of numerous novels which explore the lives of historical women (including Reign, Desired, Chosen, Wolves Among Us, and In the Arms of Immortals) as well as several nonfiction books. Ginger also frequently works on TV and radio, when not busy teaching writing, chasing her dogs, and corralling her three children. She is widely recognized as being one of CBA’s best writers, and MacGregor Literary is proud to represent her work.

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