The Monsters of Marymount Mansion: A Brilliant Book!

In 2013 I was at a work meeting in Florida when I received a tweet notification that @GregoryGAllen tweeted about buying my novel White Picket Prisons to read on his Kindle while waiting for a doctors appointment. I had no idea who Gregory G. Allen was, until I looked him up and discovered that he is an award winning actor, writer and director. As it turned out he is also an all around nice guy and one of my longest tenured social media friends.

Gregory and I a few years ago when I was in his neck of the woods and we met for dinner

Gregory has a new book, available for pre-order now and available everywhere tomorrow,  and it is garnering accolades like few books I’ve ever seen! It’s a brilliant young readers book with lessons about courage, individuality and acceptance. Here is my interview with Gregory about that book,

TPF: I saw in one of your social media posts that you actually started this book some time ago. What kept you from finishing until this past year?
Gregory: So actually…it was a musical I wrote in 1984 for a children’s theater company. I was a sophomore in high school and was part of this great company where the artistic director allowed us to write, direct, and act. I wrote a show called Dracula Bites at Dusk (yup….you can see where I got that title) all about Dracula and other Halloween characters having to live in the basement of a hotel and only going out on Halloween each year.
Jump ahead to the past ten years as I travel to schools with my kids’ books about not fearing people who are different and I had an Oprah “ah-ha” moment: I’ve been sharing this message since I was 14. So last fall I wrote on social media that I was going to do this book and get it out by this Halloween. I had no script from ’84…only a VHS tape that I can’t watch. So, I sort of started over. At first, I wrote it as a picture book like my three other kids’ books, but it needed to be longer so it became a chapter book instead.
TPF: The reviews for The Monsters of Marymount Mansion have been off the charts good. What surprises you the most about the incredible response?
Gregory: First off…I am so grateful for every single good review…you know how that is! I think what surprises me most is what different people get from the book because we bring our own lives to books as we read it. So now I’ve found through reviews that there are even more messages in the book that perhaps were not at the forefront when I was writing, but are just as important.
TPF: Your book, led by main character Toby, has a wonderful lesson about bravery and acceptance. Is the character of Toby based on a real person or persons?
Gregory: I think Toby is a little bit of me as a kid…but he’s any child that isn’t afraid to be themselves. The kid who wants to do something different and take a chance. For me…I wanted to perform: and for a kid that can often mean bullying. But I enjoyed singing on stage and getting that applause so I stuck with it. Is that bravery or ego. haha
TPF: Have readers uncovered or interpreted more messages or themes in the story than you intended?
Gregory: Yes! Wow…I answered this question before without even knowing it was coming. I will say a great one recently was by an author/dad friend of mine who saw the story as parents letting go and allowing kids to step out on their own. I loved that interpretation since I wasn’t looking at it from the point of view of the adults in the story.
TPF: You’ve written several books, some are young reader stories like Marymount and others have adult characters. Are you working on a sequel to Marymount? Or do you have other books that you’re working on?
Gregory: I’m not sure if this one will get a sequel. I guess perhaps we’ll see how it does before I decide. However, my first book which is now 12 years old always had a sequel in my mind. Shortly after I finished that book, I started the sequel and then life took me in different directions. I’ve actually gone back to it and it’s becoming a YA novel. I think it will be very exciting to challenge myself to go from adult books to kid books to now young adult.
Gregory, thanks again for letting me feature you and your books on my blog again. It’s always a pleasure to speak with you!
Here’s my official review: I wish that I had this book to read with my kids when they were young readers. I think every kid and their parents would enjoy this book. Five stars!

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