Full moon rising over Austin, TX – May 3, 2015, photo by Carie Juettner
More than once in my life, I’ve been told, This isn’t the right time for a horror story. Apparently some people think you can’t read a ghost story unless it’s midnight on Friday the 13th and you’re in the middle of an abandoned farmhouse with only a half-burned candle for light. And wolves howling outside. While I agree that’s probably the ideal setting for a spooky tale, I also believe that sunny days at the beach, front yard hammocks, and picnics are also excellent settings for horror stories. If a story is truly going to give you the creeps, it’s going to do it no matter what the time or temperature.
Having said that, it’s SPRING TIME! The skies are blue, the birds are chirping, the wildflowers are blooming, and… it’s time for some horror updates. :)
Something New, Something Old,
Something Published, Something Bold
The hubby and I have started watching a new (to us) show—Bates Motel—and I’m really getting into it. I decided to give it a try based on Annie Neugebauer’s recommendation. (<– It’s really hard to read her enthusiastic rant and NOT feel compelled to watch it.) The show is currently in its fourth season and we’re only halfway through the first, but already it’s become a favorite. Of course, we had to start by re-watching the original Psycho. Anthony Perkins is unbeatable as Norman Bates, but I think the casting of young Norman in Bates Motel is excellent.
[Fun fact: While we were watching Psycho, a huge daddy long legs crawled over my husband’s head. Hee hee. That spider had perfect timing.]
I recently re-discovered this cool book I got when I was a kid. GHOSTS: A Classic Collection, Illustrated by Walt Sturrock, was published by Unicorn Publishing House in 1989. I don’t actually remember when or where I got it, but chances are it was a gift for my thirteenth birthday. (It certainly looks like the perfect Halloween-birthday gift.) The collection includes nine classic ghost stories, such as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes” and “The Monkey’s Paw” (an all time favorite). In addition to the stories, there are thirty illustrations by Walt Sturrock, and they are beautiful and disturbing. You can see most of them on Sturrock’s website. This is the cover and one of my favorite pictures:
Ghosts: A Classic Collection cover and “Was it a Dream” illustration by Walt Sturrock
As a kid, I admit, it was the illustrations that I cared about. I wasn’t actually a big reader when I was young and the stories were too long and too old fashioned for me to get into. But I loved the pictures and the book itself—a heavy black hardback with the headless horseman on the front and a silver skull on the back. Eventually, I did start reading the stories, but I’m honestly not sure I ever got through the whole thing. So I’m reading them now. Even the ones I already know, like “The German Student,” I’m reading again because I want to read them in this unique volume.
If you can find a copy of GHOSTS: A Classic Collection, grab it. If you’re a fan of horror, the stories may not be new to you, but the experience will. Also, it makes a great gift for the young horror-enthusiasts in your life, even if they just want to look at the pictures for now.
I’m excited to announce that my short story, “The Girl in the Attic,” has been accepted for Growing Pains, a new anthology coming soon from Sinister Saints, an imprint of Horrified Press.
From the Horrified Press website:
Growing up is never easy. But what if the growing pains experienced are unusual, fantastical … or the stuff of nightmares? How will your main character react to these changes? What about their friends, family and society at large? What are the consequences for all those involved?
For this anthology, explore the challenges and mental trauma experienced by those struggling to deal with their unexpected life changes. Delve deep into your imagination to deliver twisted tales from all avenues of horror.
Here’s the catch—these stories must incorporate a YA as a main character, and must be appropriate for the YA audience. They can be told from any vantage point, and can be first or third person. Dark fairy tales, bizarre fiction, horror, surrealism, and dark science-fiction are all cool here.
They’re still accepting submissions through the end of the month, so if you have a YA horror story you think they might like, check out the guidelines on their website.
This Thursday, I’ll be heading to Atlanta for WORLD HORROR CON! This will be my first horror-themed conference, and I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. In addition to meeting amazing authors like Jonathan Maberry, Kami Garcia, and Lisa Tuttle (just to name a few) I will also be rooming with two fellow horror-writing friends who I normally only get to hang out with in the online universe. (Annie Neugebauer and Ashley B. Davis, I can’t wait to see you!) Look for lots of tweets this week about my conference experience. #WHC2015
[And yes, I do realize that three women who barely know each other sharing a hotel room at a horror conference actually IS the perfect setting for a horror story. I’m willing to take my chances.]
One Last Thing…
Sometimes people are surprised to learn that I write creepy stuff. Just last week someone said to me, “You’re too sweet to write horror!” HA! I have three things to say about that. First, you’ve obviously never seen me when I haven’t eaten in a while. I’m not sweet then. I’m like a Snickers commercial on steroids.* Secondly, you don’t have to be a horrible person to write horror. My fellow horror writers are some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Their stories might scare the poop out of you, but they’re a friendly bunch. And third, I think it’s kind of fun to surprise people. Maybe if I were an old hag with long gray hair and a hunchback and warts on my nose and thin, gnarly fingers and a raspy voice**, people would expect me to write horror, but then I’d miss out on the fun of showing up to critique groups looking like my normal “sweet” self and handing out stories full of ghosts and demons and murder and mayhem. I enjoy this.
* Ashley and Annie, don’t worry. I promise to eat during World Horror Con.
** I fully intend to fit this description some day. I say if you have to get old, do it in style.