Tuesday, 27 October 2015

THE TOXICITY OF FAILURE - GUEST POST BY C.J SKUSE (MONSTER BLOG TOUR)

Hi everyone,

Today I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for MONSTER by C.J Skuse, and sharing a guest post by the author herself!

You can follow C.J on twitter @CeejaytheAuthor, and add the book on goodreads. More information about the book and the author will be at the end of the post.


In Monster, my protagonist Nash is an over-achiever and very hard on herself. She’s a perfectionist with immaculate deportment and a deep care for her school. She wants to succeed at everything, to be in control of everything. Her ultimate aim is to become Head Girl.

So when a silly mistake overrides every other good thing she has done and she loses the Head Girl badge, this is truly when Nash loses the plot. She has been unsuccessful in her quest to obtain the only thing she really wanted: so in her eyes, she’s a failure.
As Chuck Palahniuk once wrote, Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything. Nash considers herself a failure at school and because she believes she has also lost her big brother, reported missing on his travels in South America, she begins the process of letting go. She begins to stop hoping for good news. To stop taking care of herself. She starts friendships with both the school’s Public Enemy Number 1, Maggie Zappa, and convicted felon, Leon Pfaff. Worst of all, she begins to lose her self-control.

Which actually, weirdly, ends up saving her life.

This book grew out of my own ‘monster’ if you like. I suffered a loss that can only be likened to a tiny bereavement: I was made redundant from my job. A job I was proud of. A job I really loved. The worst part about it was I couldn’t see where I had failed. It was just unfair, whatever way I looked at it. But as the sadness started to dissipate, the anger started to grow. And the lock on my own monster cage was weakening.

When a person has tried hard at something and you effectively tell them they’ve wasted their time, a toxicity begins to spread. They start to give up. They start to let go of that decent person they were trying to be. They become something else. They harden from the inside out until they begin to stop caring. I’ve seen it in myself, in my friends and in young people I’ve worked with – an attitude of why should I care about anything if nobody cares about me? Why should I be good at anything if nobody ever tells me I’m good? Why should I work hard when it’s so unappreciated?
And the lock on the monster cage is broken.

So where can this lead? Well, best case scenario it can lead to anger and resentment and a bit of storming out. Worst case scenario? Chaos. Rebellion. Large-scale anarchy. Vandalism. Theft. Depression. Self-harming. Alcohol. Drugs. Teenage pregnancy. Joyriding. Manslaughter. Even murder.

We see it in our own lives and on the news time and time again. These are the things that people can turn to, these are the things people can do, particularly young people, when all else fails them. When the world marks you a failure, you start failing the world. It can be as simple and as toxic as that.

When I failed to keep my job, I got a bit sad for a while but then I did what I usually do when a bad thing happens – I poured my monster out in words. And it has helped me more than words can ever say.

And it’s helped Nash too I think. In not becoming Head Girl, however minor that failure must seem in the grand scheme of things, she begins a transition into a much more interesting character. I plan to return to her in my next novel, where I hope to show that once that toxic little monster’s out there, uncaged, it’s almost impossible to recapture.


And if you thought the ending of Monster was bloody, you ain’t seen nothing yet…

ABOUT THE STORY:
At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she’d face. Until her brother’s disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory’s assorted misfits. As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild. Yet when the girls’ Matron goes missing it’s clear that something altogether darker is to blame – and that they’ll have to stick together if they hope to survive.
MONSTER was released in September by Mira Ink.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
C.J. SKUSE is the author of the Young Adult novels PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC (Chicken House) and MONSTER (Mira Ink). She was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels, works as a freelance children's fiction consultant and lectures in Writing for Children at Bath Spa University. C.J. is currently working on her second novel THE DEVIANTS for Mira Ink.

C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and murder sites. She hates carnivals, hard-boiled eggs and coughing. The movies Titanic, My Best Friend's Wedding and Ruby Sparks were all probably based on her ideas; she just didn't get to write them down in time. Before she dies, she would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Ryan Gosling present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

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