Illustrator, writer and all around nice-guy Evan Munday stopped by to chat about his supernatural diet, his favourite Halloween treat and his latest book, The Dead Kid Detective Agency (ECW Press). Evan’s book follows a girl named October as she tries to solve the murder of her high school teacher… Oh, and she has a team of teenage ghosts helping her out.
Danielle: Welcome Evan! Let’s dive right in, shall we? What influenced you to write a book about teenage ghosts?
Evan: Hmm. I can’t remember how it started. Most of my ideas begin almost as dares to myself. Often, they’re ideas that sound great, conceptually, but might be terrible in practice. So it was with The Dead Kid Detective Agency. The title came first, then I tried to think of the best possible realization of that title.
I wish I could say the books were inspired by great literature, but I had two television shows in mind when I started writing: Veronica Mars and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. The book was a fusion of the two, and that fusion naturally involves high school students and the supernatural teaming up to solve mysteries. With ghosts, I felt I could also include some Canadian history edutainment, which was the other thing I had in mind when first writing the book.
D: How did you decide which time periods in Canadian history you wanted your ghosts to be from?
E: When deciding when the dead kids would be from, I chose eras of history I thought were rife with excitement and drama (the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, the start of World War I). United Empire Loyalists are kind of key in Canadian history and I couldn’t leave out the Underground Railroad. I also wanted to make sure I spaced the kids’ deaths out far enough that I’d cover most of Canadian history from 1776 to 1990.
But the truth is most eras of history are rife with excitement and drama. For instance, the second book (see question 5) revolves around Morna’s death in 1914, and in that year alone, I include suffragettes, World War I, Titanic survivors and the Chinese immigrant experience in Canada.
D: Have you always been interested in mysteries/the supernatural?
E: Yes, almost too much. As a young child, I obsessively took out books on unexplained supernatural phenomena from the library—I read everything I could on things like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, aliens, the Jersey Devil and so on. (Unsolved Mysteries,with Robert Stack, was also a regular part of my television diet.) That continued as I aged and started reading books by John Bellairs, the Scary Stories series and (later) Christopher Pike and Stephen King.
The supernatural interests me more than the mystery genre, I’ll admit. I read mysteries from time to time, but not as often as books that delve into the supernatural. And the treatment of the supernatural with some humour especially appeals to me. Really, The Dead Kid Detective Agency is probably more influenced by Scooby-Doo than any work of literature.
D: What is your favourite treat to get when trick-or-treating?
E: I’m a big fan of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but anything aside from Tootsie Rolls or boxes of raisins is fine by me!
D: Can we expect more adventures from the Dead Kid Detective Agency?
E: Yes, you can! The book is actually the first in a series. There will be three books for sure… Potentially as many as seven! The second book, titled Dial ‘M’ for Morna, is due in bookstores in 2013, and will see October and the dead kids investigating the mysterious death of Morna MacIsaac, the Scottish immigrant who died in 1914.
Evan Munday is a writer, cartoonist and publicist from Toronto, ON. You can find him online at: http://www.idontlikemundays.com/
Want to meet Evan in person? Evan will be drawing (and scaring) at the Pre-Halloween Bash going on at Chapters in Guelph on October 13th! Details here.
This post is part of the month long feature Happy Hallow’Read! Don’t forget to check out more Happy Hallow’Read posts and the spectacularly spooky giveaways! (Details here.)