'For me, horror is inextricably linked to comedy, so I loved writing the icky replantation scene.'
Meet Stuart Wilson, author of the nde middle-grade thriller-horror series, Prometheus High. The first in the series, Prometheus High 1: How to Make a Monster is out April 2022.
What inspired you to write Prometheus High?
Without a doubt, it was my fascination with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, arguably the first modern science fiction story. I wanted to take the classic idea of a mad scientist toiling away in their remote laboratory, and put them in a more public setting that actively encourages such experimentation.
Which part of the book was the most fun to write?
For me, horror is inextricably linked to comedy, so I loved writing the icky replantation scene. I find it hilarious that most of the class wouldn’t bat an eyelid at stitching together body parts. Since they are all there to make monsters, it stands to reason that they wouldn’t be squeamish! My aim with Prometheus High has always been to strike a tone that I call ‘middle grade macabre’, so expect to see more hilariously horrifying moments in the future!
There’s more than a passing nod to Frankenstein and the Prometheus myth. What is it about these stories that made you want to tell a reanimation story for young readers?
For me, practically every science fiction story is a retelling of the Prometheus myth – humans trespassing the realm of the gods (stealing fire/creating artificial life/cheating death) and then being punished for it. Prometheus High was designed to be a melting pot of the many types of reanimation myths that humans have told throughout the centuries. I wanted to interrogate the moral conundrums that would inevitably pop up, whilst writing an action-packed and comedic tale, so middle grade seemed like the perfect fit.
Do you have a favourite character in the book?
Goodness, it’s hard to decide. Mx Hollybow is a stand-out. They dominate every scene they’re in, and I love the fact that Prometheus High’s resident witch is ludicrously powerful yet also the friendliest and most laid-back of all the teachers. A perfect foil for the rigid and solemn Major Stein.
Moving forward, however, Marceline is quickly becoming my favourite. You don’t see much of her witty and sardonic side in How to Make a Monster, but in Book 2 she really surprised me, often upsetting my plans for key scenes!
Are there any other pop culture influences or nods to horror classics we should look for?
I’m going to have to restrict my answer to a few choice elements, since I could go on all day. Doctor Singh is clearly inspired by The Absent-Minded Professor, whilst the sympathetic portrayal of the monstrous Creations has Terry Pratchett’s fingerprints all over it, particularly the Discworld’s approach to Igors and the novel Feet of Clay.
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