Interview with Adam-Troy Castro, Author of Gustav Gloom and the People Taker

From Indiebound: Fernie What finds herself lost in the Gloom mansion after her cat appears to have been chased there by its own shadow. Fernie discovers a library full of every book that was never written, a gallery of statues that are just plain awkward, and finds herself at dinner watching her own shadow take part in the feast!

Along the way Fernie is chased by the People Taker who is determined to take her to the Shadow Country. It’s up to Fernie and Gustav to stop the People Taker before he takes Fernie’s family.

Darkly funny and at times outright creepy, Gustav Gloom is already on my list of all-time favorite children’s horror novels (right up there with Neil Gaiman’s Coraline). Luckily, Adam-Troy Castro‘s new series will span six books, each digging a little deeper into the mysterious Gloom mansion and the Shadow Country. That means more gorgeous illustrations by Kristen Margiotta to look forward to as well – this is one of those covers you have to see in person to really appreciate how weirdly beautiful it is.

Adam was nice enough to talk to share a few thoughts on writing middle-grade horror, favorite books, and shadow food here at From the Mixed-Up Files.

While you’re an accomplished sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writer, this is your first middle-grade series. What’s your favorite thing about writing MG, and what do you feel is the biggest challenge?

My favorite element is that whimsy is a plus, not a minus. The biggest challenge — since this is a horrifically-tinged series — is edging right up to the limit of what’s appropriate, and not going over. Generally, I accomplish this by going exactly as far as I have to, and then retreating if I must.

What were your favorite books as a kid? Which authors inspired your own writing?

I was earliest to the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Sheckley, Richard Matheson, and Harlan Ellison. They were the folks I always shot for, from the beginning.

At age 18, penning horror stories, I was told by one dismissive person that, “This is almost as bad as Stephen King,” and thus learned about him for the very, VERY first time; the criticism was made to break me, but sent me to the library, and I emerged pleased.

Gustav and Fernie become friends despite their very different personalities. What were you like as a middle schooler – outgoing and pajama-loving, or more the quiet outcast with no shadow?

The outcast, definitely — the kind of outcast who attempts to be the class clown and only succeeds about a quarter of the time. When I was funny, I was drop-dead funny. When I was not…oy vey.

The Gloom mansion is filled with strange rooms – a library with all the books that have never been written, a gallery with extremely awkward statues, a room filled with seemingly normal chairs that are not-so-normal…are there any rooms in the mansion you wish were in your own house?

The library, of course – provided I had the capacity to read it. I also wouldn’t mind wandering around the Gallery of Awkward Statues, a little bit. There’s a room coming up in Book 2, important to Gustav’s past, that is downright delightful…and another in Book 4 with an artifact that turns out to be gamechanger, and boy do I want one of those.

What’s your shadow’s favorite food? (And what’s yours?)

My shadow just loves quiche. I’m a hamburger guy.

Michelle Schusterman is the author of the I HEART BAND series (Penguin, 2014). She’s currently living in Queens, and she blogs, tweets, and Tumblrs.

Michelle Schusterman
1 Comment
  1. I cannot wait to read this book. It looks delightful and fun. Love the cover art also!