Marcus Sikora, who is 25, has just published his first book for children: Black Day: The Monster Rock Band. We caught up with Marcus and his mother, Mardra who collaborated with him on the project, to find out more.
Brad is a paper boy who wants to be a rock star, so when he discovers the band Black Day playing in old Professor Hammer’s garage, he really wants to join. But the band’s monsters have a different idea and send him away, “No humans!” Brad sets out to change their minds…
That’s the story line behind Black Day, an illustrated children’s book brought to life by 25-year-old Marcus and his mother, Mardra, after Marcus started imagining himself as the lead singer of a monster band.
“It started with the band,” Marcus explains.
“Years ago Marcus had a band in mind for himself called Gold Day,” says Mardra. “When he started talking about a band of monsters, who all lived in a house together, I asked him – ‘What’s the name of that band?’ and he said, ‘Black Day.’ I thought that was a perfect name!
Marcus and Mardra have been writing together for some time, setting Sundays aside to come up with new ideas for stories. But there was something about Black Day that kept bringing them back to it. “I knew there were some really great gems in this idea,” Mardra explains. “And more kept showing up as it developed.”
Working closely with the book’s illustrator, Noah Witchell, Marcus and Mardra spent over a year developing Black Day. “Me and Mardra wrote the story,” says Marcus. “We all worked together. Noah and my drawings, then he animated himself.”
Mardra points out that everyone involved in the project followed Marcus’ lead. “It started with his great imaginative story, and Noah made sure to keep Marcus’ vision of the story and characters as a top priority,” she says.
Many of the characters in Black Day are based on people in Marcus’ own life. “I got Frankenstein based on Quinn (my dad), the drummer,” he says. “Brad also, Quinn’s best friend. And I’m the singer.
“Skeleton Pumpkin Head is my favourite. And my favorite part is, ‘This kid has a one track mind’.”
Skeleton Pumpkin Head is Marcus’ alter-ego, Mardra explains. “As with any story-teller, I can see Marcus in every character, but Skeleton Pumpkin Head is the one he identifies with the most.
Asked how he found the writing process, Marcus says, “Fast. Not hard.” Publishing is not for the faint of heart, but Marcus says it was worth all the hard work. “I love it when the people love the book so much. A lot!” he exclaims. He already has plans for a sequal. “Black Day Two through Five,” he says.
To celebrate Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week (20-26 March) we will be giving away a free copy of Black Day: The Monster Rock Band on our Twitter and Facebook. To enter, simply look out for the post and comment!
(The prize draw closes on 26 March at 10am. The winners will be chosen at random after this date and notified via social media. Books can only be posted to addresses in the UK and no cash equivalent or alternative prizes will be offered. This prize draw is not associated with Facebook or Twitter).