Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Francesca Zappia’s new book, Eliza And Her Monsters, centers on high schooler Eliza Mirk’s public (Eliza) and private (Lady Constellation) personas. And are they ever different! Eliza is the perfect embodiment of that painfully shy, strange and darkly clothed person all teens know. As Lady Constellation, she’s the anonymous creator of the extremely successful web comic, “Monstrous Sea.” Early in the book, Eliza’s homeroom teacher asks Eliza to show new student Wallace Warland around the school. We soon learn that Wallace is one of the biggest Monstrous Sea fans in the world and creator of Monstrous Sea fan fiction. The development of this relationship from first meeting through learning of their shared interest and finally the public revelation of Lady Constellation and the effects of that revelation form the arc of the novel.
Zappia is a writer’s writer. Classes could be based on the mechanics of Eliza and Her Monsters. Her short personifications of characters give us just enough interesting tidbits to understand them and prepare for their role in the book. She uses several forms of writing. There are the classic first person narrative, e-mails, Internet posts, captions for the cartoons and internet messages. Zappia always finds the perfect word for the situation. For example, Dad doesn’t “walk” down the hall. He “marches.” Everyone remembers that sensation from their childhood. In this book, she creates not one, but two totally believable worlds. What a feat! In addition to the superlative writing, Zappia illustrates the book with images from the “Monstrous Sea” comics.
Will Eliza be able to deal with the monsters created by the revelations? Will she be able to successfully meld the two personas? You need to read the book to discover the answer.
Early in the book, Eliza states:
I didn’t make Monstrous Sea to be a phenomenon—I made it because/It was the story I wanted. I make it now because there’s something/Inside of me, crushed around my heart, that says I must do it. This is what /I was put on Earth to create, for me and for my fans. This story. This/Is mine, and it is my duty to bring it into the world.
Is that really the voice of Zappia? If so, we are fortunate that she birthed this book.
Zappia was chosen from hundreds of nominees as a finalist for the 2017 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Emerging Indiana Author awards and it was well deserved. Meet her at Bookmamas on Wed., Aug. 30 at 7. Bookmamas is located at 9 Johnson Ave.