Editor’s Note from Kristen Beverly, HPB Buyer:
What do you get when you mix Scooby-Doo and Stranger Things together? Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero. It’s a rare gem of a book, having a perfect blend of mystery, humor, intrigue and wit. In Meddling Kids, a teenage detective group reunites over ten years later when suspecting that a long-solved case may not have been solved after all. So begins the descent into the nightmares that have haunted them all since they were teenagers. The monsters from their nightmares come alive and this time they have to solve the case for real. We caught up with Edgar to find out more about the book, his writing process and what will be coming up next from him.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing?
I remember jotting down ideas since I was a child- stuff I hoped to develop properly when I learned to draw comics or had my own cartoon show. I don’t know when I settled with just writing them in prose. Maybe at 17 or so, when I realized it was the easiest way to share them.
Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
Easy one. I used to enjoy Enid Blyton’s child detective novels as a kid; I enjoyed the cosmic horror of Lovecraft & friends’ as a young adult; I wondered what would happen if those two genres clashed.
Do you have any rituals or anything special that you do while writing to get into the right mindset?
Not really. But both walking and showering help me figure out the first sentences. Since I moved to New York, I need to find a third ritual that doesn’t get me wet.
There is a lot of talk of necromancy in this novel. Did you do any sort of research into the subject while writing this book?
Where would I research? The good thing about writing about the supernatural is that anyone claiming to be an authority in the matter can be safely ignored. Just take everything you vaguely recall from every horror book/movie/game you enjoyed, and mix well.
How do you balance action, humor and moving the storyline forward in your books? It’s very difficult to do all three well and you seem to have mastered it!
I’m glad it looks so. It’s a necessary skill for me since I can’t seem to keep the humor out of my novels, no matter the subject. I don’t take my own ideas too seriously.
I’ve heard it said that this book is a mashup of Stranger Things and Scooby-Doo. Are you a fan of either of those shows? What TV show have you been binge watching lately?
I was a big fan of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?—to the point where I remember learning to draw by copying the baddies from the TV screen. And Stranger Things is officially my Show I’m More Invested In Than I Ever Planned™—and that’s considering I was bound to grow attached to it, because (squeak) Winona Ryder. Both of them have become comfort shows for me now.
There are lots of vibrant characters in this book, especially Andy, Nate and Kerri. Do you ever base characters in your books on people you know in real life?
Very often. I like to have very clear pictures of characters in my head, to know their faces, voices, body language. I think this way, even if I don’t describe them, the bits and pieces that seep through their speech and actions form a congruent composite. However, I don’t recall anyone in MK being based off people I’ve met personally. Yet.
I absolutely loved the presence of Tim, the Weimaraner, throughout Meddling Kids. Do you have a dog and do they go on adventures with you?
I wish I had a canine companion, but my adventures involve sitting in front of computers half the day; few dogs would enjoy that. But yes, Tim was based on a real Weimaraner I do know in person! Sadly, I don’t have permission to post her pictures. She’s awesome, though. 13/10, would write a sequel for.
At times your writing can read like a script for a play or a movie. Have you ever written scripts before or are you considering it?
I have! I worked for TV in Barcelona, and I was actually writing my own pilots before I wound up in that business. I try not to dismiss any ideas based on the format: Sometimes you come up with a story that works best as a play or a TV drama, and yes, that’s way more complex and expensive than a novel, and maybe it has zero chances to be produced, but if you’re a writer, if you’re a professional, you can write the script. You can take it this far. So I do it. It’s better to make stuff, to have something to show, than to just store ideas and bore people with hazy pitches.
What are your favorite books to recommend to friends?
I don’t usually recommend books to friends, because I already test their friendship enough by showing them my manuscripts, so I make a point of not controlling what they read in their own time. For our readers, however, I can wholeheartedly recommend the last two Advanced Reader Copies I read, both coming out in 2018: Blood Highway by Gina Wohlsdorf (release date 8/7/18) and My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (release date 11/13/18).
What can you tell us about your new book, This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us, coming July 31st?
That I’m super excited it’s being published! I originally wrote This Body in Spanish in 2013. In Spain, no publisher wanted it. After Doubleday bought MK, I started working on something new for the American market, but neither my agent or my editor liked the project. As a sort of palate cleanser, I translated This Body to English and shared it with them. They said, “This is the best sh*t you’ve written.” (I’m paraphrasing; my agent surely didn’t say sh*t; she has class.) I can tell you This Body is also about genres clashing. And genders merging. And the main characters made a brief appearance in Meddling Kids (that we expanded for the paperback edition), which all looks like we’re building a shared universe of sorts. Or probably not, because I’m too disorganized for that. But I think it is a very fun ride and I hope you’ll like it!
Edgar Cantero is a Spanish writer and illustrator currently residing in New York. His first book written in English was The Supernatural Enhancements, and was followed by the horror/action/comedy Meddling Kids, which is a New York Times bestseller. You can find him on Twitter @punkahoy and on Tumblr as @punkahoy. His latest fiction novel Meddling Kids is available in Half Price Books stores and online at HPB.com while supplies last.