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Shaun Hamill Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

A Cosmology of Monsters (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Shaun Hamill was born in Arlington, Texas. His fiction has appeared in such places as Split Infinitive and Carve, and he holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Anybody truly looking to embarrass him, should check out the short films that appear on his IMDB page.

He got interested in writing from an early age. While in the fourth grade, he penned a storybook for “Young Authors Day” at his school and other kids in the class enjoyed it. Something inside his head clicked and it never really unclicked. For inspirations in reading, he enjoyed Nick’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark” anthology series and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” books. The Universal monsters, especially the “Frankenstein” films with Boris Karloff, made a large impression on him, as well as the “Ghostbusters” movies and cartoons.

When Shaun read Stephen King’s “IT” for the first time, he experienced a watershed moment as a both a writer and a reader, since it was the first adult book he just wanted to disappear inside of. It was a totally immersive and truly frightening read, but just deeply in love with its characters and wondrous. Since then, he has been chasing this particular high as a reader since. It is a novel he has read about four times and is still amazed by both its sophistication and heart.

During his twenties, he visited a bunch of haunted houses, and was just always curious what it would be like in all of those places once they would close up for the night and the employees took off their makeup and costumes. It made for a fun idea to explore and wound up being a useful setting for his characters, with the Turners being a haunted family, and their business an impressive and ever expanding manifestation of their own trauma.

Shaun started penning “A Cosmology of Monsters” late in 2014 and completed his first draft of it during summer of 2016. He revised it with his agent until the fall of 2017, before he sold it to Pantheon, and spent parts of 2018 on more revisions with editors. It was a four year process from start to finish, although with time off for waiting on notes from his editors, recharging his own batteries, things like that.

Shaun’s original plan for the novel was for it to be a more traditional family saga, a tragicomic epic that spanned generations. It was also meant to be a love letter to horror without any supernatural elements. While he was writing, however, the monsters began scratching at the walls and windows, and he believed it was best to just let them in and allow them to just get comfortable.

The first draft of the book was a door stopper at over two hundred thousand words, with the published version being a much trimmer one hundred thousand words. The story was slower-paced and more detailed. Noah was less sympathetic and a darker character and the mythology was more explicit. His agent was unsure if an epic horror novel from a debut author would sell easily, so he and Shaun worked on getting the story shorter to something more propulsive and manageable.

After selling the book, he and his editors talked a lot about how much of the mythology to keep mysterious and how much to explain. Shaun is very happy with how it turned out. He believes the finished novel moves at a good pace and creates a nice air of dread without getting too bogged down in the world building.

A lot of the ethos found in the novel could be traced back to an epigram found at the start. It speaks about Lon Chaney, who was one of the great monster character actors from the silent film era, and how Chaney’s performances reflected our deepest fears about ourselves. Secret shames that we believe make us unworthy of affection or unlovable.

When Shaun writes, he likes to write out one thousand words per day, right at the top of the morning. He likes to do it out longhand, since he is able to type faster than he is able to think, and likes to immerse himself in the story and just slow down. It usually takes him two hours. After, assuming he has time, he likes to go out on a walk, listen to some music, daydream, about the project he is working on, or future projects.

After Shaun has finished the first draft, he will type around two thousand words each day, revising and read all at the same time. He is able to type out more, but two thousand words seems to be the outer limit before he finds his attention begins to wander and his fingers begin making mistakes. When he has finished this round, he has a pretty polished second draft.

Assuming he is happy with the draft, he sends it to his first readers: his wife, agent, etc. If he is not, he prints it out and begins rewriting it by hand, and go back and start the process over again and again, until he feels he has got it right. Then it goes to its intended readers. Here he gets feedback and starts it all over again.

This game of draft-tag continues, with revisions getting progressively smaller, going from major structural stuff to the individual scenes, even to words and sentences. It ends when his editors inform him that the book is done and he can head outside and play for a bit.

“A Cosmology of Monsters” is the first stand alone novel and was released in the year 2019. Noah Turner sees monsters. His dad once saw them, and even built a shrine to them with an immersive horror experience operated by the entire family, called The Wandering Dark.

His practical mom has been able to catch glimpses of horrors, but keeps refusing to believe in monsters at all, as she is just too focused on keeping the family from falling apart.

His oldest sister, Sydney (who is vulnerable and dramatic) will not admit to seeing anything, just the beckoning glow of the spotlight. That ends when it swallows her up. Noah sees monsters. Unlike his family, however, he chooses to allow them in.

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