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What’s Falcon Quinn about?

Falcon Quinn is the story of a thirteen year old boy who finds himself turning into a monster. He’s taken to the Academy for Monster in the Bermuda Triangle, where he and other “aberrations” are taught how to imitate human beings, so they can survive in the world. The question at the heart of the book is: What’s the right thing to do– to pretend to be something you’re not, in order to fit in? Or to accept your true self, if your true self is, say, a zombie?

Falcon makes many friends, including Max, the Sasquatch, and Megan, a wind elemental. Other students include Sparkbolt, a poetry-writing Frankenstein, Ankh-hoptet, a mummy from Cairo, Illinois, Destynee, a girl who turns out to be a giant enchanted slug, and Jonny Frankenstein, a rebellious young man who can play electric guitar by plugging his instrument directly into his own neck. Falcon, however, is not sure what kind of monster he’s turning into–and may not be turning into a monster at all. What will his friends do if it turns out that Falcon turns out to be–a human being? Or something worse?

Cecily von Ziegesar, author of GOSSIP GIRLS, says, “A nightmare and a fairytale all rolled into one, Falcon Quinn is an action-packed adventure full of slimy, terrifying, heart-wrenching and hilarious moments. Mostly though, it’s about letting your monster off-leash and learning to trust it.”

zach and sean boylan in 2004

How was Falcon Quinn written?

In the fall of 2007, author Jennifer Finney Boylan had a conversation with her sons Zach and Sean around the dinner table one night about the school bus. The boys– then in 8th and 6th grade– said that on the bus, everyone sat according to “what group they belonged to,” with the” athletes in one place, the emos and the Goths in another; the skateboard punks in the back; the members of the band in the middle.” At this point, someone said, “Yeah, and the Frankensteins sit in the front, and they won’t talk to the mummies, and the mummies don’t talk to the vampires.” There was a long and funny talk about what middle school would be like if everyone was a different kind of monster.

On Halloween of 2007, Jenny published a story on the op/ed page of the New York Times. Over at HarperCollins Children’s books, editor Brenda Bowen read the piece–was about growing up in a house that was supposed to be haunted– and phoned Boylan at home and asked, “Have you ever considered writing for younger readers?” Boylan said, “Not until this exact second.”

Boylan began sketching out and writing the rough draft of what eventually became Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror. Each day, her sons would get off the school bus, run up the driveway, throw their backpacks on the floor, and say, “So. Did you do any work on the monster book today?’ Jenny writes steadily, usually about 1000 words a day, and each afternoon she’d read that day’s work to Zach and Sean, who quickly became the hardest critics imaginable. Zach was the “idea man,” who came up with many of the characters, their names and “monstrosity;” Sean was the “logician,” who, according to the family joke, “would explain why Zach’s ideas wouldn’t work.” Sean was in charge of “continuity,” of making sure that the characters were consistent, and that the Falcon Quinn universe was perfectly self-contained.

For Jenny Boylan, the most powerful part of writing Falcon Quinn was the way it brought her family together; there were long periods where it seemed as if “the monster book” was all anyone talked about. And it was a rare opportunity for what she does as a writer to connect to the lives of her children. Everyone should be so lucky.

Is Falcon Quinn supposed to be a metaphor or a symbol of anything else?

First and foremost, this is a book about monsters, and should be read for the sheer pleasure of hanging out with Sasquatches and chupakabras and mummies and vampires. Of course, the whole point of the book is that “monsters” are in conflict with humans and the monster-hunting race called the guardians and–above all–themselves. So the book is about conflict between groups, and about finding that, in the end, the things that we have in common are more important than the things that make us different. And the questions that Falcon has to ask himself–What am I? What am I becoming? What will the future bring me?–are questions which everyone–and not just middle schoolers–ought to ask themselves.

If you have a question about Falcon Quinn you’d like to ask, click here. Other questions from readers–and answers from Quimby, the fortune-telling head-in-a-jar–are posted on that page.

  • FalconQuinn revise2
  • Falcon Quinn is a new series from HarperCollins books about a young man who finds himself turning into a monster. Falcon and his friends find themselves taken to the Academy for Monsters, where they're taught how to imitate human beings, and thus survive in the world. Raising the question: What's the right thing to do-- to imitate something you're not, in order to survive? Or to embrace your true self, if your true self is, say, a zombie?

    The series is written by national bestselling author Jennifer Finney Boylan, and the artwork is by legendary book illustrator Brandon Dorman.