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T C Shelley

T C Shelley started writing novels simply to entertain her young daughter. Her daughter thought she should try and get them published – so she did! The Monster Who Wasn’t is her first novel, a strange fantasy adventure that will make you believe in monsters, be they good, bad or in between.

PK chatted with Shelley about the books she loves, teaching in outback Australia, and some backstory on the monsters in the book.

The Monster Who Wasn't



The Monster Who Wasn't

T C Shelley 

It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being 

This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underground lair where monsters dwell, he looks just like a human boy – much to the disgust of everyone watching. Even the grumpy gargoyles who adopt him and nickname him 'Imp' only want him to steal chocolate for them from the nearby shops. He's a child with feet in both worlds, and he doesn't know where he fits.

But little does Imp realise that Thunderguts, king of the ogres, has a great and dangerous destiny in mind for him, and he'll stop at nothing to see it come to pass …

Published by Bloomsbury


T C Shelley



‘All species of Monsterkind are born from a human’s last sigh and the vileness of the monster is in direct proportion to the depth of the sigher’s regret.’ How did you come up with such a fantastic idea for a story? 

My daughter asked me where monsters came from, and I thought if fairies came from the lightest, earliest and most divine aspect of humans (a baby’s laugh), then it stands to reason a monster comes from the darkest, saddest and last of us.

One particular imp boy, Samuel, never quite fits in with the other monsters. In fact, he looks more human than gargoyle. What’s your advice to anyone who, like Sam, is still trying to find where they belong? 

If you follow Sam’s journey, you will realise he’s drawn to the best type of people and inevitably he chooses what he wants. Choose who you want to be with, take your time and choose wisely. Go to places where good people go. Volunteer for something that uses your talent so you feel you’re contributing. People who freely give of themselves are very kind. If you volunteer to help, you will become that kind of person and find yourself in their midst of those kind of people. Help children, help animals and people who can’t help you back. Those like you will find you, and you’ll feel good about yourself too.

You have been an English teacher for over 20 years. The first school you taught at was the most remote in Australia. What was that like? 

It was wild and wonderful and I had many adventures. I learned a lot about my own sense of entitlement and prejudices. It expanded my world by making me realise how small I am. I also have some great photos!

Which books do you find yourself recommending to your students over and over again? 

I love the standards – C S Lewis, Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl - but I would never recommend anyone over and over. You have to match the book to the reader and some readers are into adventure, some into science fiction, some love drama. If you want a reader to read, you must treat it like a romance and find the book that suits the reader, and that means ignoring my own preferences.

If you lived in The Hole among all of the ogres and trolls and leprechauns – which monster would you most like to be, and why? 

Well, I don’t want to be an eater of humans, or a terrified lackey like a brownie or a pixie, so I would have to choose leprechauns. Gift of the gab, some level of power, not hideously ugly or carnivorous and filthy, filthy rich!

You’ve said that you’re not afraid of getting lost. Why’s that? 

If nothing goes wrong, then you have no stories to tell. Breaking down, getting lost, plans going astray means a good story; but if you’re too scared you’re not alert and watchful. You miss things. On my last holiday, we actually did our best to get lost, so we would find things we were looking for. 

What’s your favourite writing snack?

Fortunately, I forget to eat when I write. I find food such a distraction, but I do like a nice cup of tea.