AUTHOR INTERVIEW: 'Monsterland' Michael Okon @IAmMichaelOkon #monsterland

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling is his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

His latest book is Monsterland.



Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Thank you for having me! I’ve been writing as far back as I could remember, specifically screenplays. After I learned about self-publishing, I began turning my scripts in novels under a pen name. Specifically my book Monsterland, I was watching an 80s & 90s movie marathon with my 8 year old son – The Goonies, Gremlins, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, etc… I wrote the ghost novels, I wrote the witches novels, but I wanted to write a monster novel. After watching all these films, it literally popped into my head – why isn’t there a theme park with zombies. I called my brother and told him about my idea and he flat out said no. It has to be a theme park with werewolves, vampires AND zombies. I started beating out the story that night. Two months later, I had a self-published best-seller. Two years later, I have a two-book publishing deal with a commercial publisher. It’s been quite a ride.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Writing, to me, has never really been hard. I always loved to tell stories so it was a natural fit to be a full-time writer. My book is about a monster theme park, so I had a blast coming up with this particular universe. That is probably the most important thing to make any writer’s job easier. A writer is a universe creator. You are asking the reader to take time out of their day and join you in this world you created. You have to make it fun, interesting, deep, and emotional. I have always created each universe for the book in a beat sheet, before I would write Chapter 1. I highly recommend setting up your characters, your acts, the structure, the background, basically outline your book before you start. You need a roadmap to get from Point A to Point B. Don’t walk into writing blindly.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

It’s a pretty incredible story that I have a hard time believing. I wrote Monsterland and self-published it in 2015. My mom is my publicity manager and she blitzed the bloggers with my book. That fall I was reading a book called Selling a Screenplay by Syd Field. In the book, there was an entertainment attorney named Susan Grode who seemed very knowledgeable about the publishing and film industry. I told myself, when I receive my first contract, I’m going to reach out to her to see if she could help me. About two months later, I received a post on Facebook from an agent in London who asked to represent me. I said sure and asked him to send me a contract. I emailed Susan and introduced myself and mentioned that I had someone who wanted to rep me and I was hoping she could read this contract. She told me before I sign with this London agent, why don’t I meet her friend in Brooklyn, an agent named Nick Mullendore with Vertical Ink Literary Agency. I met Nick for lunch and he signed me that day as his client. That evening, Susan brought me on as her client as well. Nick began trying to sell my book Monsterland to the big publishers and, as expected, it was rejected. Throughout his attempts of selling, he had a call with a film agent and he was pitching her a romance novel. She said she wasn’t really into romance and was looking for something with monsters. He sent her my book Monsterland, she read it over a weekend, and we had a call that Monday. She told Nick and me if we get the book published, she will get it into a producer’s hands to make into a film. Nick found a publisher called WordFire Press owned by Kevin J. Anderson, who has written all the Star Wars and Dune canon books. WordFire signed me to a two-book deal for Monsterland 1 & 2. After the deal was signed, my film agent did what she promised and got my book into the hands of a billion-dollar grossing producer who is now shopping my book to certain studios.  In two years, I went from a self-published author, to a published author with a literary agent, an entertainment attorney, a film agent, a two-book publishing deal, a publicist, and a producer who is interested in turning my book to a film. It’s been one wild ride, to say the least.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Working with a true publisher is one of the greatest things in the world. I have aligned myself with a wonderful team who really want to see Monsterland take off. It’s easier when you are surrounded with a lot of people helping you with your career, than doing everything yourself with being self-published.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

It took me a little over three weeks to write it.

Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

I took a completely different approach with the ideas of monsters. I’m familiar with the tropes that monsters are scary beings who terrorize humans. But what would happen if the monsters didn’t bother anyone and were forced to be on display for human consumption? Monsterland has a real moral message and discusses social issues that are currently plaguing our time. What makes a monster, a monster? What makes a human, a human? Those questions will be answered in the book.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I appreciate this opportunity!  It’s been an exciting ride. I’ve accomplished so much in two years, I cannot imagine what the next two years are going to be like.

About the Book:

The last couple years of high school have not been fun for Wyatt Baldwin. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An on-going debate with his best friends Howard Drucker and Melvin 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 rock out with vampires at Vampire Village, be chased by actual werewolves on the Werewolf River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?



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