Raymund and the Fear Monster - Q & A with Megan Higginson
Megan has always been an avid reader of books from all genres, but she loves sci-fi and fantasy. As a child and teenager, if she could have combined reading from horseback while galloping along Mackay's beaches, or while mustering cattle in the Queensland outback she would have. (Of course, she would have not enjoyed the thrill of adventure if she'd had her head in a book).
Megan loves writing stories. She enjoys encouraging children to read, and to write their own stories. Megan also loves to inspire children to learn to overcome life's problems in a fun and entertaining way.
What is Raymund and the Fear Monster about?
Raymund and the Fear Monster is about a young boy named Raymund who lives in a village at the bottom of an enormous mountain. At the top of the enormous mountain is a dark and gloomy forest. In the dark and gloomy forest lives a monster who roars and growls and makes terrible noises. Raymund is scared of many things. But, most of all he is afraid of the night, and of the monster that sends him running to hide under his bed. Raymund learns what fear really is, how to face it head on, and discovers what it means to have courage by facing the huge and hideous monster that smells like fish guts, rotten eggs and smelly feet.
Is there a particular theme in your story?
The main theme is learning to face your fears and what it truly means to have courage.
Was there an inspiration for your story?
In June of 2013, I went on a Mission trip with my church to Ilocos Sur Province in the Philippines. It was in Cabugao that I visited the Spirit and Life Mission House orphanage. I really connected with the children as they had many fears and I also had lived with fear my whole life. I started writing to the children when I returned home. I wrote (and wrote for a long time) short stories that entertained and encouraged the children.
We planned to make a return trip in December 2013 to January 2014. I wanted to do something very special for the children. The story of Raymund and the Fear Monster was written for the younger children of the orphanage, to encourage them to face their fears and overcome them.
What is the story behind the story?
So that really is the story behind the story. Unless we take in my own story of growing up in with a violent alcoholic father, becoming homeless at 16, pregnant at 17, and becoming sick with Fibromyalgia at 30 (I'm now 45). I got myself out of a bad situation several years ago and discovered how much fear had held me back from enjoying life and becoming all who I was meant to be, but also how fear had kept me safe by keeping me on my toes. In a way it's my story of facing my own Fear Monsters and saying, 'Enough!'
What kind of research did you do to write this story?
For this story I mainly relied on my own experiences. However, during the editing phase in more recent years, I did consult with a local child's psychologist, Jonine Naughton, as well an adult counsellor, Sylvia Fraser, to make sure I had included the most helpful strategies in the book when faced with a situation which makes us feel afraid.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to write for children?
The things I'd wish I'd known at the beginning of my journey, and besides the usual, 'read a lot, write a lot' are: Don't rush the writing. Enjoy the process. I'll quote Jen Storer, 'Have fun, be willing to play and make a mess'. Learn the rules and learn how to break them well. Be willing to get right out of your comfort zone and experiment. Let your imagination go crazy, go wild.
You can read more about Megan on her website.
Timeline for Raymund: Follow the Progress of Raymund