From Laurie: Simon Alkenmayer is an immortal monster who is also a talented epicurean and author. He came to our attention last year and we were delighted to sell the blogged story of his adventures, complete with recipes, to Tapas Media for their mobile publishing app. It suited Simon’s twisted sense of the absurd to have his musings on the human condition made suitable for Millennials who read in “bite-sized” pieces at laundromats, bus stops, coffee shops, and such around the world. Simon’s first book, Creature’s Cookbook, debuted earlier this year and was an instant success, rising to the #1 ranking on the Tapas app. As a lead-in to its sequel, Creature’s Cookbook 2: Monster’s Mise en Place, Simon conducted an interactive experiment with his fan base, which resulted in a series of “appetizers” called Simon’s Snacks. All these delectables are available only on the Tapas app, found at the Android or Apple app stores. I am currently trying to sell his work to publishers who are intrigued enough to take a risk. Let’s listen to what Simon has to say:

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Hello. You may call me Simon. I am a monster. When I say this, I do not mean it in the figurative sense. I mean that I am literally a non-human species. And yes, I do eat people. I would say that I do it purely out of necessity, but I must be honest — the herd needs some thinning. Do not be tempted, however, to imagine a hideous countenance or obvious deformities. While I do have sharp teeth, I am a mimic; I am an expert at appearing to be as human as anyone.

I know what you’re thinking. No, not because I’m endowed with psychic powers as some might desperately hope. I am just terribly observant. You are thinking, gentle reader, “Why on earth would a monster be using a word processor? Why would he be ‘guest blogging’? This is all very amusing, but obviously ridiculous.”

It is true, in that, this situation is obviously ridiculous — the idea that something with retractable claws might learn to type. I admit, it does seem like something one would see on a television program, but that is entirely the point.

You see, five years ago, I began an experiment.

I have been around you for an exceedingly long time — how long, is not precisely known, but it has been an exceptionally tedious affair. For so long, I was kept on the outskirts of humanity, as the Church spread like a disease over the continent and then the world, propagating the mythology of witches and demons. I was herded by men with crucifixes, unfairly vilified, and even tortured. I prospered through cleverness and adaptability and fed off your plague victims and gibbet victims like a vulture. I watched as you pulled yourself out of the sucking depths of the Dark and into the Enlightenment. Since then you have meticulously debunked legends and folklore, and exposed them all as the fictions you once used to survive the world you could not understand.

There’s just one problem with that.

You no longer fear the dark.

Teenagers now fantasise about glittering immortals who sweep them up. Lycanthropy is an aesthetic. Cannibals are idols. There’s hardly a week that goes by where some pack of drunken school children staying in a cabin aren’t terrorised on the big screen for the amusement of crowds. Good on you — you’ve done away with the catharsis of gladiatorial combat or the moral commentary of the Greek chorus, but now you haven’t the survival instincts with which Nature endowed a goat.

Monsters do exist.

It occurred to me, as I watched a popular television program about supernatural events, that no one believes in us anymore. For the first time, I am perfectly normal and not a single person will challenge me. Despite all the caution with which I had learned to handle my affairs, I could at that very moment, put my truth on the internet, and not one soul would bother.

You don’t believe me, do you?

You see?

This realisation was momentous, as I foresaw what tremendous freedom could be mine, but at what cost? Humanity and I have been at odds, it is true, but I do not hate you. In fact, I am incredibly fond of you. I admit, that knowing the intimate details of all that humanity refused to acknowledge has endowed me with something of a superiority complex. I would no sooner step out of the shadows fully than to kick a puppy; it would be exceedingly rude.

So as I stared at my computer, collecting dust in a corner, it came to me — that something needed to be done. I began to write. At first, just the facts of my biology, recipes, the everyday complexities of being a monster. But soon my “work” began to bleed into my life, and I found that I preferred the honesty. What could it hurt, I wondered, to simply be a monster if the situation called for it?

That’s when I crossed paths with Rebecca and my life began to truly change. Suddenly, I had a real friend who knew precisely what I was and surprisingly, did not care. Everything began with the decision to save her life and to do it in the easiest way — as myself.

I never anticipated anyone would care about my diary. I certainly never expected to be tracked down by a literary agency, Fuse Literary to be exact, and offered representation. I was ambivalent — wanting only to continue on with my elucidation of mankind’s flawed consciousness, until I realised that the more exposure my writings had, the larger my data set would become. Now there are two books available via an intriguing app called Tapas, which allows me to watch the readers’ progress, and most importantly, interact with them directly. I can answer their questions, give them all the information they require to make their decision. This interactive quality has spawned a series of short stories telling the story of my life in direct reply to those concerns most dear to the hearts of my gentle readers. Now I have social media accounts on nearly every platform, and hundreds of anonymous enquirers, some of whom have become friends.

As I converse with them, become privy to their lives, help them cook their dinners from random assortments of frozen goods, I find that the experiment is evolving. I have learned more about the mind of man in the last five years than I ever did in almost seven hundred. I think that I now know why humanity has consumed its predators, incorporating the “other” and absorbing all its power.

You are lost and lonely. You are just like me. You are my monster. While I nip at your heels, you gnaw at mine.

The number of readers who have come to me, not to declare whether or not they believe, but to have the assistance of someone with nothing to gain, no stake in the human melodrama, and an objective perspective, is staggering. I have found that less and less am I asked about what I am, how I exist…and more and more about what makes a noble or valorous character, and how a person might achieve it. People do not seek my assistance with disposing of their enemies. They come to me to learn how to be unaffected by them.

It is humbling, and if I am honest, of great concern.

It is one thing to ignore your demons, to forget your foes, to unmake the things that go bump in the night, but to come to us for identity…

Says a great deal, I think.

What have you done to yourselves, my friends?

Creature's Cookbook 2