The story about Tommy Wharton and I Kissed A Ghoul actually started with the publication of another book called Rusty The Robot’s Holiday Adventures, a science fiction kid’s book I co-wrote with Sherry Decker. I had a lot of fun writing RUSTY and decided to write a Young Adult Book.
Shortly after Rusty The Robot’s Holiday Adventures was published, I jumped right into it and wrote I Kissed A Ghoul. I had a lot of fun writing the book, several times I had to stop, because I was laughing so hard. This was going to be my tribute to both horror writer Richard Laymon, and my years at West High School in Davenport, Iowa.
I sent I Kissed A Ghoul off to my first publisher and they accepted. It was a dream come true. Noble Young Adult accepted the publication and gave me a nice advance as well. I had my friend and collaborator Ken Lillie-Paetz (who co-wrote a tale with me in A Little Help From My Fiends) and Monkey Pharmacy Studios do a groovy cover of Tommy going to his prom with a sexy vampire gal.
Horror writer Bentley Little even wrote a great introduction for the book, and Gerard Houarner wrote the afterword. Not only did I get my first YA published, the ebook ended up on the Bram Stoker Final Ballot for “Superior Achievement for Young Adult Novel Category”.
I was happier than a chubby chaser at a weight loss convention.
Then the dream quickly became a nightmare. The book didn’t win a Bram Stoker, and the publisher went out of business a week later.
And to top things off … I was laid off from my job at the college, where I worked for 15 years.
Normally, such a situation would be discouraging. But I believed in Tommy Wharton and the book.
I ended up sending the book out to another publisher, Curiosity Quill Press, and they ended up publishing the book on Groundhog Day, February 2, 2015.
(The cover for Noble Young Adult)
Like YA paranormal with a kick? This book was just plain laugh out loud fun to write. Plus, it’s got it all: Werewolves, vampires and a succubus. They ain’t got nothing over wannabe-cool teen Tommy. Forget Buffy the Vampire Slayer, here’s a regular Joe hero who falls down, kicks butt & keeps trying to get some.
You would think that being the mayor’s son would automatically make you popular. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for Tommy Wharton. As a matter of fact, he gets picked on for being overweight. However, there are some perks, like using his dad’s campaign van and credit card.
(The CQP cover)
People have asked me, why I’d want to write a YA book about an overweight teenage boy who is a nerd and tries to score all the time. I watched Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Sabrina The Teenage Witch and thought: These characters are the 1%: Cheerleaders, Football players, the Class President, Etc. I wasn’t interested in yet another book about a popular skinny teen. I wanted to write a book about the rest of us: .. the weirdos, the geeks, the freaks, the stoners, the loners, the losers, and the dreamers. My message, if there is a message to learn from the book is: It is okay to be different, you don’t have to be popular to be cool, just be yourself. I wanted to have a Regular Joe for a hero – and that it was about time in the genres! I hope the readers find it a great message to send to teens as well.
It has been one long, strange trip with this book. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Welcome back from the grave, Tommy Wharton.
(Artist Larry Nadulsky’s inspired artwork from the book)
The Curiosity Quill Press edition has went out of print a few years ago…. will Tommy Wharton rise from the grave again? Maybe … I have some publisher interested in digging him up again.
Stay tuned for more details….