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Interview with Lila Guzman


by Lois June Wickstrom

These newsletters feature interviews with Nessie Watchers, like last week's Jan-Ove Sundberg, and Nessie fans from around the world. This week's Nessie fans are Lila Guzman, her son Daniel, and her daughter Rookh. Lila is the author of "I Killed Santa's Reindeer" (available on her home page) and the forthcoming young adult American war novel, Lorenzo's Lambs. Lila's home page is

(answers in parentheses are from Daniel and Rookh.)

As an author, do you like to write about scary creatures?

Most of my stories are based on historical events. Since they are based on fact, there aren't any scary creatures. However, I'm writing a novel now about three literary characters who fall out of their books and land in modern-day Texas. They are Lazarillo de Tormes, Alice in Wonderland, and the Jabberwock. The Jabberwock is scary. It flies and tries to attack Lazarillo and Alice. Lazarillo wounds it with a sword and the Jabberwock drips purple blood.

Do you like mysterious creatures?

(Because it's fun to figure things out about them. Because you don't know about them. You don't know their weaknesses and have to find it out.)

Do you equate monsters with UFO's and other phenomena that many people don't think exist?

(Daniel said that they are all hoaxes. Rookh said aliens aren't monsters.)

Do you think monsters make good metaphors?

Yes. I like to read stories that have two levels. One, where a monster is menacing the hero/heroine. On the second level, the monster can teach a lesson.

Every religion has people overcoming some sort of monster or devil. Does this archetype mean anything for you? Can you give a special example of a monster in your own life?

Not really, and this may be why I prefer to write about real events. I have been very lucky so far and haven't encountered many monsters. All my monsters have been small and easily conquered.

Do your children enjoy monsters?

(If they're nice ones, yes. If they're mean ones, no. Godzilla, Rookh says, and monsters that look like animals are entertaining.) When they were little enough to be read to, one of their favorite series was MY PET MONSTER. It taught the lesson not to judge by appearances.

Do they battle monsters in their lives?

(Yes! they answered resoundingly--and in unison, I might add. Homework!) I can't think of a way they battle monsters, except the small stuff. Rookh was just complaining that someone had been mean to her. I guess you could say she battled that monster by ignoring him.

Do they think monsters belong in good story telling?

(Yes. A monster makes the story better. Rookh wants nice monsters to win. Monsters add excitement to the story)

From a mother's POV, I have never encountered a story that had a monster too scary for the kids, at least not in a kid's book. There have been a few videos that we've rented that were too intense for the kids. Rookh went through a Godzilla phase when she was 4 and saw every Godzilla movie ever made.

Rookh is writing a chapter book called RABBITLAND. She said she might write a chapter about a monster coming to Rabbitland.

I was raised in a background where stories were important, but they were stories that had no magical realism. They were about real events that had happened, like the bear chasing my brother and my uncle barely shooting the bear before it clawed my brother. My father had a rattle from a rattlesnake he had killed and he had a dandy story to go along with it.

Being raised in the country, I think our monsters were real threats--rattlers, copperheads, water moccasins, and other dangerous animals.