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Author Interview: DC McGannon – Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters

September 30, 2017

This is the tenth interview in my series of Author Interviews.

Pull up a chair, sit back and relax. Enjoy reading.

I am chatting with DC McGannon – Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters series

I pick up the newspaper I find on the damp ground outside my door. Huh, where did this come from? The headline doesn’t appear to be very important. I really need to head to the coffee shop in town for my… There is a smaller headline just  under the fold. People missing? How strange. Maybe I have time to read the story…

The skin on the back of my neck crawls. I tuck the newspaper under my arm. I’ll get coffee first.


Welcome DC. It’s wonderful to have you here.

Tell me, what gave you the idea for Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters?

Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters was born out a conversation that Michael (my son and co-author) had many years ago about writing a story together. I had just “retired” from a grueling career that nearly put me out of commission as a human being, and also one where I did a lot of technical and educational writing. I was just burned by it all, and walked away from it all, just like that.


Michael and I were working together on some things and began having those “What if …?” type of conversations. This was back when I think the first or second Harry Potter had been published and I hadn’t even heard of it yet. We started asking each other, “What if we wrote a story about a group of friends, incorporate our love for monsters, folklore, and stories of old, but at the center of it all it would be about the friends and how they overcame massive obstacles in their own lives and came together to save the world somehow, reluctantly and certainly not by their own planning?”

I believe it was George Lucas who once said something to the effect that, “A special effect without a story is boring.”

The “monsters” would be the special effect, but we really wanted to write a story about the relationships between this group of friends and their families, and their enemies.

Oh I love this. I believe the concept of family and friends is integral to a good story. (And a good TV show and a good movie.) I love those moments of a team sitting around a table eating and talking. A good story is all about relationships.

Each week we began creating character after character until we had this sprawling cast, good and evil, that would then spread out over several books.

By that point, Michael was in his first year of college. He did his first two years of college while he was still in high school, and so I would ride with him each week to his night classes, sit in the parking lot and write and sketch and play with ideas for the story.

As we had the direction of where we were going down, we decided to lock ourselves in a room during a two week break from school and we wrote the first book. It was messy and we had no idea what we were doing, but we wrote it and began looking to get it published.

After working the industry side for a short bit, and realizing we didn’t like what we were seeing, even with the interest that was shown for that version of the book, we decided to step out as indies.

Wow, Brave.

Talk about scary! That was back when, if you said you were self-published or an indie author, people would throw rotten fruit and dead mouse carcasses at you. It was rough. And we still had no idea what we were doing. We got to the point where we figured out how to get the book printed and setup as an ebook, and man we thought we had made it!

Then nobody wanted to buy it, and we soon realized it sucked! Haha! We still had a lot of work to do with it. So we went back to work again. We figured out a whole lot more and kept getting better until we found a groove and felt comfortable with re-releasing the book. We’re still improving, but this series is our baby, and we have fans around the world of all ages that we touch base with us weekly and we are proud of how this baby is growing up. We now have four of the six books in the main series out, and the next two are on their way.

Woooooo two more? Terrific.

We never realized the adventure we would have with this series, but I wouldn’t change one step of it for anything (Except maybe more sales. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind selling about a million more books! Hehe.)

But not many others can say they have written a series of stories with their son, and it’s truly one of the proudest moments in my life! Not long after all this began, my second son was born. He was a surprise blessing, and when he was born, Michael and I decided we wanted to write this series for him. He was our target audience. We have kept it at the forefront of our minds that we wanted him to fall in love with these stories when he was able to read them.

Oh that is wonderful! The perfect audience.

Now, he’s reading them and loving them and is one of our biggest fans. He cries, laughs, threatens us when something happens to a character he loves, and jumps up and down cheering while reading them, and I feel we’ve done exactly what we set out to do. The real joy for us is that there are thousands of others who have joined in that expression with him, and it moves us deeply with each word we write.

Our other books are based on life experiences that either we’ve had or inspired by what we’ve seen in the world around us. Even our horror writing, which can be quite gruesome and disturbing at times, has its basis in real life experiences, some of it quite personally.

Eeeeeeep. Really? I think that can be what’s truly scary.

And, of course, being life-long lovers of folklore and mythology, a lot of our stories are born out of the stories that people have carried down through the ages.

In everything we write, we try and touch the past with the present and hope that it endures the future.

Tell me about Charlie, did you base him on anyone? What was your muse?

My muse? Ha! My muse is coffee, and popsicles, and sushi. But not necessarily in that order.

Hahahahhahaha OMG me too! Coffee could lead me anywhere!

Just kidding. I think.

Charlie is special in a lot of ways. He’s a reluctant leader, but as the story progresses he realizes he has to step up and be that leader. The consequences are huge no matter what, but he steps into those shoes with a lot of fear, questions, and humility. As with any leader, sometimes that backfires on him, and sometimes there is cause for celebration. Let’s just hope the latter is the case at the end of it all. We’ll see soon! 🙂

His makeup and history is connected to many people. There is significance in each part of his name to someone, and also his reluctance, his tendency to be a loner, his wit, and strength of character. Charlie is also inspired by what I would love to see in humanity as a whole. Sometimes we mess up, but we always get back up, and we always, no matter what, look to do what is best for others around us, with integrity, regardless of what people might think of us.

Oh this is a lovely sentiment.

You have four books in this series currently. Tell me about them.

Lets start at the start. Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: The Varcolac’s Diary (Book 1)

This is where it all started, obviously. The story begins with our main cast of characters in middle school and about the most unlikely group of characters to become friends as you can imagine.

There’s Charlie, of course, and Darcy Witherington, the mayor’s daughter and a very popular student among town. Nash Stormstepper is of Native American heritage and holds a lot of anger and tension inside, but has a softer side as well as we see him caring for an elderly resident of Hunter’s Grove, the fictional town where this story takes place.

Two reader favorites are Lisa and Liev Vadiknov, the Russian (for lack of a better term) goths. One always dresses in white, the other in black. They’re quite eccentric, yet very intelligent. Witty and somberly dramatic. Outward and inward. And on and on. It’s like watching chess pieces sometimes, but their ways often gain them the ire and discrimination of their classmates. However their love for one another as brother and sister is strong and it keeps them through many a trial.

From there, we meet a widely diverse cast of characters of adults, other students, monsters, and even people who are hundreds of years old (you’ll just have to read to see for yourself).

I am, and loving every minute of it!

The issue of bullying surfaces here and is threaded through the books. It’s an issue that Michael and I are passionate about, along with child literacy, and we often present on those subjects as authors.

Yes! I strongly believe children should be read too from day dot. They should be surrounded by books. My strongest memories are of my poppa reading to me while sitting on his knee telling him he was reading it wrong! I am the auntie who buys every kid I know a book… or several… every birthday and special occasion and for “just cause”

There’s a creepy mansion that crowns the top of Hunter’s Grove, it’s called Hunter’s Key (there’s a significant reason things are called “Hunter’s” that you’ll discover in the book), and “the Key” is a character all to its own. We purposefully wanted this house to be a central character in the book, and it plays a big role in all of the books.

This book brings our cast together and launches them into the danger that will grow from book to book. In book 1 we take time to introduce everyone and everything. There’s so much that happens in various global locations, that we felt it important for the reader to really have a grasp on who and what everyone is in the story. Everything that is introduced in book 1 plays vitally in the other books, and I guess you could say, it all comes back to center at the end!

And then there’s Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: Witch Moon (Book 2) 

This is one of my favorite books in the series. It takes place in Ireland and mixes both fictional and real locations. We dive deep into some legends and folklore central to the Old Country, and this is where you see a group of witches first introduced in book 1 take center stage. It’s dangerous, full of intrigue, and digs deep into the story.

Oooooo and then Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: Council of the Hunters (Book 3)

Council of the Hunters is where everything shifts. There is a betrayal and it literally spins everything into what will ultimately reveal in the final books. There is a great cost to everyone’s actions and many of those begin to play out very quickly in this book. A whole new level of evil is unleashed here and it sets the pace for the remainder of the books.

This is where we also see significant changes among the characters as they transition to high school and many of the issues that teenagers face during this time also weigh on their already stressful lives.

Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: The Dragon Gate (Book 4) 

If I may say so, this is where things really get jiggity! Haha! Michael hates it when I use that word. Basically things get shaken up really big here. Ultimate sacrifice and loss is experienced; separation, fear, as well as a deepening of the relationships among the main cast. It’s a wellspring of emotions, trial, and facing evil on a global scale.

This story takes us to Japan as well and introduces a very real location that you can actually visit there, which we call The Dragon Gate (again, you’ll have to read about it to learn which location it is in Japan), and it plays an important part of the history of Japan and of course in our story.

Ultimately, what takes place at The Dragon Gate unlocks a series of events that awaken the Ancients. There are six ancients, and let’s just say things go global and cosmic in a big way. A worldwide unleashing of evil happens, and alliances, friendships, trust, and belief are all challenged. It’s big, sweeping, and a book that we had a lot of fun writing.

Of course, that leads us to Book 5: Rise of the Ancients, which will be available soon. It is quite exciting! I just read another scene that Michael completed last night, and all I can say is that my blood is pumping on this one.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh yes!!! I hope soon is very soon?

Okay, so here is a question for you. Was book two, three, and four harder to write or did it all flow easily? How many books are planned in the series

I feel like they flowed pretty well. It’s a story that we have enjoyed writing together. After book 3 we took a long break as we were getting tired. We were doing a lot of traveling, speaking, and had taken some time to write a few different stories. We didn’t want to get burned out going in to book 4. It took us longer than anticipated to get book 4 out, and we really heard about it from the fans. (Sorry folks, we didn’t mean it. Please forgive us.)

I think book 4 was harder to write only because of how dangerous it was. The consequences were super high there, and we were very emotional throughout. The whole time we kept everything secret, even from my wife, reading groups, etc. So it was even more difficult to keep it to ourselves, and keep the storyline a secret for maximum effect.

The first time my wife and younger son read it, they didn’t make it through chapter one without crying feverishly. My younger son wouldn’t even continue reading the book for weeks, he was so upset. Yet, at the same time, he kept saying to me, “What happens next? Is ___ okay? What happens to ___?” And all I could say was that you just have to go read it for yourself.

Like I said, it was dangerous—for our characters, and risky for us as writers. But I believe it has paid off big.

WOW… what amazingly terrific and instant feedback. 

There are a total of six books planned in the main series, and then we have stories working for several characters who have some cool backstory that people have been asking about. At the end of our current series, we plan on re-releasing all six books in a boxed set with artwork, etc.

We have a table-top game designed with a top international artist that has been in waiting for almost four years, so there’s a lot more to come for Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters.

OMG that is sooooo cool.

You write together with your son, Michael. How does THAT go? Any arguments? What is your process?

It’s very peaceful process. I believe we really complement each other. We don’t really have any arguments. We do have a lot of very deep conversations about the story and where it is going and what considerations must be made along the way. He’s much more methodical about his writing process, while I am much more “just sit down and get it out” kind of a writer.

Sounds fun.

At the end of the day, we’ve come to realize that with as much of the writing that we share, it would be difficult at this point for anyone to know where one of us has left off and the other has picked up. I feel we’ve really become a solid writing team.

If you read our separate works, you can see the differences fairly clear, but within this series, it’s hard for even us to find the difference sometimes.

Hmmm intriguing. Separate works? I must hear more. 🙂

As a father, it has really given me a wonderful opportunity to grow with my son creatively. Again, how many others can say that? I feel blessed for it all. To be sure, he has made me a better writer, and I’m grateful for it.

You are now a publisher. Tell me about that journey?

It really was born out of the frustration we felt from within traditional publishing in the very beginning, and the more I spoke to “insiders” the more I was convinced that it didn’t need to be that way. Now, I have nothing against traditional publishing in the big picture, but I feel it’s quite volatile right now, and authors get caught in the middle a lot of times. I would welcome traditional publishing if it was right, and it would have to be right, but I’m an indie at heart. Always have been, even outside of writing.

The more we grew in publishing our own works over the years, the more we realized that there were others looking for a similar place to call home, and so we very gently began working toward that.

Not all of the writers we work with are published by us. There are some who will never have our name on their work, but we have worked with them behind the scenes to help them progress. I feel that is much a part of our job as publishers as publishing a book.

The goal has always been to help other writers be a part of a publishing family and grow right where they are. We are very much a family. We don’t have a lot of bells and whistles to offer anyone right now, but we’re working on it. Mostly, though, we wanted to take the pressure off of authors to create a wonderful story and have it published in a quality format.

Sounds wonderful.

I can tell you that we have been attacked, lied about, lied to, criticized, thrown under the bus (so to speak) and experienced about as much drama and crazy as you can imagine, even at this level, and it has really shown us just how cut-throat and desperate a lot of people are in this industry, but we have kept trucking and doing the very best we can.

Oh, that’s awful.

If our authors get picked up and go to bigger and better places, then our job is done. If they want to stay with us and grow with us, then I feel our job is done there too. We’re easy to get along with, easy to work with, and have a lot of grace in this process. Doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it sure is a lot more fun.

We now have four distinct imprints and will be adding a new one in 2018, so there’s a place for a lot of writing under our umbrella. Again, it’s not about being the biggest on the block, but as we grow, we want to focus on quality of story and quality of relationships within our publishing family. It’s been a great ride so far, and we’re taking it one step, or book, at a time.

WOW!! Four? That’s amazing. You must be so busy! 

Even in rejecting a manuscript I had an author write me and say, “That was probably the nicest rejection that anyone could have given me. Thanks!” I think we can be nice in publishing and still be successful, and it’s my intention to prove that.

How do you come up with your ideas?

People watching, mostly. Hehe. No really, it mostly goes back to life experience and drawing from that, putting those experiences into their proper context and delivering a message in the story.

I’m a visionary, and so I probably have way more ideas than I’ll ever be able to produce, but that’s the nature of being a creative. Sometimes that’s frustrating, but it can be liberating as well. 

I have nearly 30 years of working with people professionally from all over the world and in just about every background you can dream of. This has taught me a lot, and I feel I’m only just beginning to relay all that in story form. It should be exciting in the years to come.

I flesh out a lot of ideas through sketching, journaling, going for hikes or long walks, and often just picking up on very small details that are happening throughout the course of my day. It’s those in-between moments that can really light up a story, and so I look for those. An expression that flashes across someone’s face for a split second, a hug that lasts one second too short, a person arguing with someone on their cell, the way someone carries themselves down a set of stairs, the brush of someone’s hand against someone they love, the energy of a crowd at a concert, the silence in being alone, the vastness of the big questions in our universe, and just how small we are in comparison. 

It all lends to story.

What messages do you want the Young Adult readers to take away from reading about Charlie Sullivan?

You can have alone time, but you can’t do life by yourself. People need each other, and we each need people who are different from us in our lives. Truth matters. Honesty is crucial. Bullying is not a winning strategy. There is always someone to talk to. The big picture matters, but it’s the smaller moments that will get you there. Who you are when no one else is looking, is who you really are. Be comfortable with who you are, not arrogant, but trust that you are precisely who you are meant to be. It’s okay to make changes, to grow, learn, connect, but be honest about you. Learn to look in the mirror and love who you see. You may need someone’s help to do that, but it will be worth everything as you grow!

Have fun, make a difference, and don’t be afraid to talk to that person, read that book, climb that mountain, wear that shirt, or even snort milk out of your nose because something was just that funny.

Ha ha! 🙂

Keep in mind that often the walls we put up around us are only meant to see who will climb over them and share our space without judgment. Remember that, as well, when you’re looking at someone else’s wall. Be kind, respectful, but be human. Don’t compromise your values. First, however, know your values, and your value. There are true friends in this world. If you get hurt, and you will, don’t let it harden you. Become wise, but never stop loving and being teachable.

Did I mention to have fun? And eat popsicles if you like! God knows, I do.

What a fabulous philosophy

What about their parents? What would you want them to take away from this series?

Wisdom, grace, compassion—let them flow. If you don’t have those, get some. Be the example. Love, and do so in front of your children. Turn off the screens and look in their eyes. Hold them, kiss them, cheer them on, tell them you’re proud of them, and mean it. If you can’t, get help for that. That’s on you, not them.

Don’t fear making mistakes, it’s human. We didn’t get a manual as parents, and if you did, it probably wasn’t written very well. Make sure you make things right. Tell them you love them. Every. Day.

Listen to your music loud enough for them to tell you to turn it down, then take some time to listen to their music too.

Be genuine. Present. Available. Even when it’s not convenient.

Remember LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E. Spend time with your kids, you’ll figure out all the other stuff.

Oh, and read to them, and with them.

I think reading is the most important skill we can teach children. I am always harping on about it to anyone who will listen.

What do you want the YA audience to know about your books?

I hope they have as much joy reading them as I have had writing them. Sure, they have a message buried in there, but I hope you laugh, cry, get angry at the injustice, and cheer for the moments when love (or a good crack across a monster’s head) prevails.

Also know that there are some truly remarkable legends hidden in there. Read beyond these books and learn about history, folklore, mythology, kindness, triumph and tragedy. If this is your starting point for reading, I am honored. If it’s just another series you plow through because you’re one of those people who read 18,574 books a year, thanks for taking us along for the ride. It really means everything to us. Seriously.

If you haven’t gotten into the reading groove yet, let me know how I can help, or a teacher, or a librarian, or someone who cares about your future.

Reading is a key to unlocking your potential and the future you desire. Wherever you are on your reading journey is okay. Just keep walking!

If it’s not my books, find something that interests you even a little and start there. I personally love reading biographies and autobiographies of rock stars, but then I also love reading about leadership and business strategy (boring, I know), and Edgar Allan Poe, and Shel Silverstein. I also love a good graphic novel. Then sometimes I just like to draw, and eat popsicles. Hehe.

And drink coffee? I know I do. Do you have any other new works in progress?

Yes, always.

I have several short story collections coming out soon with Michael and he and I are also writing an adult futuristic thriller together too. I do have a young adult novel that I’m secretly writing alone, but I can’t say anything about it. It’s one I’ve been working on for years, and I hope to have it ready to begin reading soon. We’ll see. I have a couple more that are in the background, so I’m not sure when those will be ready.

Oooo sounds interesting. I must chat to you about all of these soon!!

We just wrote about thirty short stories in the last month and a half and those will be released first as audio narrations, probably many of them on Youtube.

Point is: Yes, always.

Holy moly… Sooooooo busy? I just don’t know how you do it. I am sure family helps.. and laughter!

A little birdie tells me you have a NEW book coming out soon. A new collection of 3 short stories coming out on Friday the 13th, called “Halloween Games: Terrifying Tales of Young Adult Horror” Tell me everything.

Well, what’s kinda cool about everything that I write, either by myself or with Michael, is that all our writings are connected at some level to the same universe. Some of it looser than others, but it’s all connected. 

About two years ago, I started writing a couple of stories about spooky games that can be played at times like Halloween, or at parties, or sleepovers. For the life of me, I couldn’t finish those stories, and then this year I just decided I wanted to finish them, but at the time they weren’t connected to our other writings. So I connected them by way of a secret character and an unseen world from another set of horror stories in our other books.

When I connected those worlds, it all just fell into place and I knew I could finish them. With Friday the 13th coming up this year during October (Halloween month!) I thought it would be fitting to share these stories, given their spooky nature.

Yes!! a great time. Oooo Should I be afraid?

One story is based on the legend of Bloody Mary, the game using the mirror, in a twisted kind of way. It’s also a ghost story of sorts, but is also about friends who’ll be there when needed.

Another story is about a Halloween party gone wrong. Very, very wrong. And another is about a haunted mansion that is a gateway to some terrifying atrocities.

One of these stories includes a backstory of something that happened to me as a teenager, but I won’t say which one. You’ll have to guess. Let’s just say truth is stranger than fiction here.


You’ll meet a certain character that is in each story, quite subtly. He’s one connection to a larger universe, as is the town where these stories take place. There will be more stories in the future to add to these that will further connect them all.

For now, though, my purpose in writing these stories is to have a set of creepy stories that people can enjoy during the Halloween season, or whatever season you like to read scary stories in the dark.

But if you read them, be sure to check in the corners, and close your closet doors. And you might want to leave at least one light on. Oh, and stay away from windows and mirrors, and by all means, DO NOT go into that creepy house on the hill on Halloween night!

Oh come on DC!! I am freaking out over here already. Ooooo my skin is crawling.

Goodness! What are you thinking?

Any advise for writers in general?

I’ll defer to the masters for advice, and I am not the droid you’re looking for. Haha! (Sorry.)

I could give you the odds, no wait

“Never tell me the odds.”


I believe it was Stephen King who said something like READ, READ, READ, and, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.

Learn the rules, but then learn how to break them, and when. Surround yourself with honest people, and keep going. Don’t stop. Most people give up too soon. If this is what you want to do, take the long view. Read deeply, widely, and learn from other writers.

There are a lot of great books, podcasts, and other resources that can help you as a writer, but don’t let it all overwhelm you. I’ve seen people get so bogged down with advice that they never type a single word.

I’ve also seen a lot of people talk about writing, a lot, but never get that first word out. Then I’ve seen some people get words onto the paper and then publish it without editing, without revisions, without following the rules of writing, especially when their breaking them.

I’ve also known people who write crap (can I say “crap” here?)

Absolutely! 😛

…and then present themselves as experts on writing (this happens a lot, which is why you should be careful who you listen to).

Look, just start writing. Get a chapter out, and then get the next one out, until you finish a draft and then your work has truly begun. At that point you need to engage reading groups, critique groups, or book clubs, or a group of friends who can help you shape your writing to the next phase. Then you’ll need to employ at least one editor, if not more and different types of editors, and then revise, revise, revise.

It’ll get easier as far as your own process goes, but always be brutally honest with yourself and give others permission to do the same (kindly).

I’ve made the mistake of not spending as much time as I should on the writing, many of us have. Don’t beat yourself up. Ultimately, there’s no right way of doing all of this. It’s whatever works, and works well. You’ll figure that out along the way. It’s never too late to get better, to start that book over, or to take a different direction until you get it right. This is a process.

Sometimes you just need to get a story on paper, put that paper in a folder, and start a new one, and keep doing that until the right one comes out.

I heard someone say recently that the best thing you can do for your creative work is to start another creative project right away. Regardless …

Let’s have fun while doing it.

Oh DC, thank you sooooo much for chatting with me today. I don’t want it to end. We shall have to do it again. (I really want to hear more about your adult futuristic thriller).

Thanks for having me as your guest.

You can get BOOK ONE here

The coffee was pretty good at this place. As DC leaves I debate ordering the Country Omelet Supreme. I stop myself only just. Now… what was that newspaper story about…


About DC McGannon

D.C. McGannon pretends to be a ninja sometimes and two of his biggest fans, his sons Michael and Nathaniel, play along with him to make him feel better about it when he does. His other biggest fan (his wife, Holly) usually nods her head in restrained agreement, walks away, and hopes nobody gets hurt.

Mr. McGannon is the author of the Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters series with his son, C. Michael McGannon. He is also at times a pirate, an alien, or simply the one who retrieves the Frisbee from the far side of the yard. D.C. lives with his family and their little Maltese dog somewhere in the Midwest. He is partial to coffee, video games, and coffee.

You can find more about D.C. McGannon at (YA Publisher) (Podcasts, stories, speaking)

Goodreads Author page:


  1. Cool interview. Loved the stuff about values. Like the song says ‘in the end, only kindness matters’. Also had a bit of a chill when I read about the Ancients in the last of the series – I’ve had this thing, like a voice in my head for more than a year now saying ‘the Old Gods are coming back’…don’t know why, figured it might be the zeitgeist, especially once recent tv series like “American Gods’ started coming on the scene.. but.. when you see that arise in more than a few places and you look at the state of the world these days you start to wonder……. 🙂

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  1. Review: Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: The Varcolac’s Diary | Rambles, writing and amusing musings
  2. Review: Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: The Dragon Gate | Rambles, writing and amusing musings

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