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Roseville native grapples with monsters in first book

School in ?Monster Town? modeled after Woodcreek
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Roseville native Garrett Vander Leun is always going from one exciting project to the next.

He's currently in Argentina making a documentary with his fiancé about the country's Dirty War from 1976 to 1983 when the military took up arms against its own people.

But Vander Leun, 29, still finds time to promote his young adult novel, "Monster Town," released in late April. The school in the book is modeled after Woodcreek High School, which he graduated from in 2000.

The book is about a teenager named Bobby who lives in a small town containing the worst monsters of America. On his 13th birthday, an attack leaves Bobby the only one capable of saving all of humankind - and monsterkind.

The Press Tribune connected with Vander Leun, via email, to learn about his first novel.

How did you come to write "Monster Town"?

I came home in the summer of 2006 to make a film with some buddies, and the first idea I threw out was a small town - an area not unlike old Roseville and the rural areas around Dry Creek - where monsters and humans lived in mild-harmony. It wasn't the idea my friends went with, but the idea stuck with me when I went back to L.A. (where I now live).

How did you come up with the idea?

I've always been a big fan of monsters, thanks to my dad. We've read comics together our whole life and he turned me onto tons of old fantasy and science fiction stuff very early on. We had this creepy Bernie Wrightson illustration of all these monsters crawling out - I don't know where they were going - I assumed it was my neighborhood, and had plenty of nightmares because of it.

The inscription below said, "From ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night - may the good Lord protect us." How scary is that?

The show "Unsolved Mysteries" fueled my nightmares (and) I was always taking home books on ghosts, aliens, Bigfoot from the (Downtown Roseville) library.

The setting of a town full of monsters was just a wonderful canvas to paint all the experiences of being an odd child and going through such a painful transition into adulthood.  

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I've always felt a need to share. I lived for show-and-tell at school. I really wanted to make other kids understand why my things mattered to me. ... I found theater in high school, and that was even better than show-and-tell. (That was) the first safe harbor I found.

When I moved to L.A. without any contacts, I found that writing was the only thing that brought me that same sense of security. I can't not write. It never stops.

Tell me about some of your other interests and projects.

I do a lot of artwork. I do a lot of T-shirt art for (Sacramento) weirdo rock band Tera Melos ... I collaborate with my friend Matt Oates. He made a movie locally called "Farewell Bender," or as the Weinstein Company decided to re-title it, "Wasted."

I want to host "Saturday Night Live" once, want to be on Letterman, want to meet the Muppets - that sort of thing.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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To purchase "Monster Town," visit www.monster-town.com.