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Vanessa Len interview

Hello, booklovers! I’m here with a interview with the brilliant Vanessa Len! Before diving in it, I present you the AWESOME BOOK!

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.
But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.
As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .
. . . she is not the hero.

Only a Monster is out: 1 February 2022 in Australia and New Zealand (Allen and Unwin); 17 February in the UK (Hodderscape), and 22 February in the USA and Canada (Harper Collins). 

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First of all, thank you so much for this opportunity. I loved your book so much and I can’t wait to hold and hug a physical copy!

Thank you so much!!!

1) Only a monster is the first book in a trilogy, set in a world where monsters exist and they can time travel stealing other people’s (humans) time and where the main character is not the hero… What inspired you to write this original and captivating story?

ONLY A MONSTER is told from a monster girl’s point of view, and it blurs the lines between good and evil by humanising the monsters and depicting the hero as a threat.

The inspiration came from my own experience of loving big blockbuster action films as a child. They often have very clearly demarcated ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys, but when I was growing up, there weren’t many heroes who looked like me in them. Instead, I would sometimes see myself in the ‘bad guys’. Sometimes, the only Asian characters onscreen would in the fight scenes, getting beaten up and killed by the hero.

I have a line in the book about how in movies, the camera follows the hero after the bad guys have been killed. But I know that in my own viewing experience, I can find myself aware of the few people who look like me onscreen, which sometimes means being aware of people lying dead on the ground as the camera moves away.

I thought it would be interesting to write about that feeling when a good, upright and decent hero – like the ones in the films I’d loved – is fighting against you rather than for you.

2) If you were a monster, what family would you belong to and would you use your powers or would you feel guilty/conflicted about them?

The Hathaway family has a special affinity with animals, and they can take their pets with them when they time travel. In the book, it’s described by one of the characters as ‘the most useless family power in London’, but I love the idea of being able to travel with an animal friend!

Having said that, I wouldn’t time travel if I were a monster haha – I would feel too terrible about the cost. But then again … if I were faced with the same dilemma as Joan … I’m not sure what I would do!

3) What’s the character you feel is the closest to you and why and who was the most difficult to write?
I personally loved Joan and Aaron! (Okay, I love them all, it’s impossible not to, but they are my favourites!)

I suppose I feel the most affinity with Joan because she’s the protagonist, but I like aspects of them all – Joan’s resourcefulness, Nick’s tragic backstory, Aaron’s haughty exterior and soft interior, Ruth and Gran’s amorality, Tom’s under-the-radar intelligence, and Jamie’s stoicism. Nick was the most difficult to write because he’s concealing so much at the beginning, and Ruth and Gran were the most fun to write!

4)If you could choose one time period to live, what, or better, when, would it be?

I would like to live in a time period when the pandemic is just a memory!

5) Could you tell me more about your writing process and future projects? Maybe a little bit about the sequels?

My writing process is different for each project, but right now I’m editing the sequel to ONLY A MONSTER, and for this one I figured out the plot beforehand, and then wrote the manuscript after that.I’m really excited to be back in this world – it’s been so much fun to delve deeper into the characters, and to pay off what I’d set up in book 1.

Thank you so much for this opportunity!

Thank you so much for these great questions!

Vanessa Len is an Australian author of Chinese-Malaysian and Maltese heritage. An educational editor, she has worked on everything from language learning programs to STEM resources, to professional learning for teachers. Vanessa is a graduate of the Clarion Workshop in San Diego, and she lives in Melbourne.


What you should know about me is: I'm in love with books. I love diving in them, living my heroine's and heroes' adventure, discovering new worlds and characters. I've always loved reading and writing. The idea of creating is thrilling and scary at the same time. 'I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still."


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