Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: John Everson

Meghan: Hey, John! It’s been awhile since we sat down together. What’s been going on since we last spoke?

John Everson: Hmmm…. Well, let’s see… I bought a classic 1980 Galaxy pinball game by Stern for my basement last winter. Over the spring I read maybe the first autobiography I’ve ever read (John Fogerty. He’s amazing). I’ve spent some time in San Diego, Las Vegas and New Orleans travelling for my day job. Oh… and I finished a new book for Flame Tree Press called The Devil’s Equinox, that came out at the end of June!

Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?

John Everson: I am a lot of things, I suppose, but most importantly I hold the titles of husband, father, and “flock-leader” (I have a cockatoo, cockatiel and parakeet). I’m an obsessive music lover, pinball hobbyist, and baseball (Chicago Cubs!) fan. I’m also a hot pepper nut and beer aficionado (some say “beer snob”). I love discovering new breweries and finding great IPAs. I am at the core an incessant creative – aside from writing fiction, I love to garden, cook, write music, create digital art, do occasional woodwork projects… as long as I’m making something, I’m happy.

Meghan: How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?

John Everson: We all make choices. I let them make theirs!

Meghan: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

John Everson: It’s absolutely a gift. The ability to put yourself in the shoes of all sorts of characters helps develop a level of patience, empathy and understanding for the people around you. It’s increasingly easy in today’s obsessively Me-Me-Me Society to swim in a self-reflective shallow pond. Writing tends to force one to see and try to understand other viewpoints, other ponds. Writing also offers an escape from a world that is increasingly problematic to stomach with the endless political bickering and my-cause-is-more-righteous-than-yours posturing. A writer can disappear into his or her own world and characters and shut out the unwanted noise of the real one.

Meghan: How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?

John Everson: I grew up in an ultra-conservative Catholic home and went to parochial school for 13 years. My mother was a flag-waver for anti-abortion and religious causes and forced the family to march along with her. The end result of those years was a divorce, a couple of house and school moves, and an estrangement from my dad for many years. Not surprisingly, thanks to those repressive years, as an adult I am a skeptic, support no overt “causes” and believe that virtually nothing is black and white, but rather shades of grey. I don’t believe in absolutes or heaven and hell. I believe we make our own fate and the best possible world-view is to “live and let die.” At one point in time, I was considered a liberal, but based on the painfully “politically correct” rhetoric I hear from liberals these days, I don’t suppose I’d be called that anymore by many. In any event, certainly the destructive effects of divorce, narrow-minded religious “cultism” and other obsessive mindsets have impacted who I am and how and what I write.

Meghan: What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?

John Everson: If you were stretched out on a rack and one of your arms was ripped off at the shoulder from the force, is there a possibility of survival or would you bleed out before it was possible to staunch the flow?

Meghan: Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end?

John Everson: Beginnings are hardest for me. The first chapter or two is easy… but then you have to build the characters and set all of the plot issues in motion. You have to introduce people and round them out with things the reader can identify with, while trying to keep some energy moving in the story. To me it’s like a rollercoaster. Ratcheting everything up to that first big peak is hard, slow and often frustrating. But once the cars tip down that peak and begin to careen towards the first big dip and flip – well, that’s the fun part. At times during those rollercoaster plot twists, the book really just writes itself if you’ve set things up right.

Meghan: Do you outline? Do you start with characters or plot? Do you just sit down and start writing? What works best for you?

John Everson: I have to outline – because that’s how I sell my next book to my publisher (here’s what I’d like to write, what do you think? Will you contract it?). It’s not my favorite way to write, because it pushes you into a bit of a paint-by-numbers feeling, and the fun of writing for me is to tell myself a story. But usually my outlines have lots of room for unpredicted plot twists and changes, so it’s all good. And it does help to have a general roadmap to help ensure that you’re moving toward the right destination and not detouring into a dead end. As far as how it happens? Usually I brainstorm a few different story ideas at a time. Later I decide what I want to develop and will sit down and spend a few hours trying to plot out how the story might work. So I generally start with a situation/conflict and spin the story out from there.

Meghan: What do you do when characters don’t follow the outline/plan?

John Everson: Well, that’s a conscious choice that you as the writer make. I typically don’t make that choice, though I also leave my outlines open enough that there are various ways certain situations could go. I know some writers say “well, my characters decided they didn’t want that” and it always makes me laugh. Unless you’re schizophrenic, you control the characters and every action they make. Hopefully you write the characters so that they seem alive to your readers, but… they’re not. They can’t make choices themselves. You may decide you don’t like what you originally outlined and skip it… but the characters aren’t making those decisions – you are!

Meghan: What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?

John Everson: I sell an idea and get a contract – with a hard deadline date on it! When I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of responsibilities and writing was just an enjoyable pastime that I did on weekends to pass the time. Fast forward 30 years and just finding an hour or two at night to do this interview is challenging. So, to make sure that I actually DO still write, I try to get each project contracted, with a deadline. I’m a former journalist, so I’m used to the motivation that real deadlines drive. Without a real deadline, I could let weeks or even months go by and never sit down at the computer to really work.

Meghan: Are you an avid reader?

John Everson: I used to be… it’s why I became a writer. Sadly, the past few years, I’ve only managed to read a handful of books a year. I’m always working on one thing or another, and having the time to just sit in a chair for an hour or two and read just never happens. I’m looking forward to conquering the ginormous TBR pile in my bedroom once I retire (though that’s another decade away!)

Meghan: What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?

John Everson: Fast, fun stories that yank you out of this world and take you on a crazy ride somewhere else. Growing up, I was a sucker for golden age science fiction. As an adult, my tastes skewed more to horror and dark fantasy. Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s novels about a family/community of people who can harness magic kept me enthralled. I’ve read a many Edward Lee horror novels that sucked me in and didn’t let me go until the book was over. It’s incredibly rare for me to have the time or interest to read an entire book in a day, but things like his City Infernal and Succubi or Incubi are literally the blueprint for how to write a book that keeps you entranced page-after-page. He’s one of the few authors whose books I’ve read start-to-finish in a day.

Meghan: How do you feel about movies based on books?

John Everson: There should be more of them! Hollywood keeps recycling the same movies, and yet there are thousands of novels – fresh, unfilmed stories! — published every year. While usually you will feel that a movie version doesn’t do justice to your favorite books, I think they do provide a different look at the story… and there are millions of people who will never read the book version, but would watch the story if it was to unfold on the screen.

Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?

John Everson: Maybe?

Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?

John Everson: No… and that’s why you have to ask yourself during “difficult” scenes if you’re “pulling punches”? Are you being too easy on them because you like them and don’t want the situation you’ve set up to really impact them like it should?

Meghan: What’s the weirdest character concept that you’ve ever come up with?

John Everson: I once wrote a story about a lesbian relationship between an alien described as a cross between “a horse and a centipede” and a human woman who she meets as part of a human “sex circus.”

Meghan: What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received? What’s the worst?

John Everson: Don’t quit your day job. Don’t quit your day job.

Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?

John Everson: Everything! They’re why I write. Without readers… what’s the point of telling a story?

Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?

John Everson: This is digging back a ways, but one of my favorite characters growing up was Poul Anderson’s Dominic Flandry. He wrote several books about Flandry: Agent of the Terran Empire, a kind of intergalactic 007. One of Flandry’s favorite sayings was, “What is the point of living in a decadent age if you don’t know how to enjoy the decadence?”

Meghan: If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?

John Everson: I actually started an apocalyptic collaboration with W.D. Gagliani and David Benton a few years ago and I’d love to finish it… because I want to know what happens! One of these days we’ll all dig in and make it happen!

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

John Everson: I’m currently working on a book called Voodoo Heart, set for release in October 2020. It’s a book I’ve wanted to write for 15 years because it’s set in the world of the title story from my 2nd fiction collection Vigilantes of Love. When I wrote the original “Vigilantes of Love” pastiche, it was a very slight “flash fiction” scene about a particular voodoo curse in New Orleans. My editor convinced me to expand it to more of a real story for that book… and ever since, I’ve thought that it could really expand into a novel-length story. I outlined it a decade ago and finally started working on actually writing it while I was in New Orleans for business in the spring. I am hoping to finish it by the end of the year.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

John Everson:

Website
BookBub ** Goodreads ** Amazon
Facebook ** Twitter ** Instagram
Newsletter

John Everson is a staunch advocate for the culinary joys of the jalapeno and an unabashed fan of 1970s European horror, giallo and poliziotteschi cinema. He is also the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of eleven novels, including his latest occult thriller, The Devil’s Equinox, and last year’s The House By The Cemetery, which takes place at a real haunted cemetery — Bachelor’s Grove — in the south suburbs of Chicago. His first novel Covenant, was a winner of the Bram Stoker Award and his sixth, NightWhere, was a finalist for the award. Other novels include Redemption, the conclusion to the trilogy begun in Covenant, as well as Sacrifice, Violet Eyes, The Pumpkin Man, The Family Tree, Siren, and The 13th. Over the past 25 years, his short stories have appeared in more than 75 magazines and anthologies. He is the founder of the independent press Dark Arts Books and has written novelettes for The Vampire Diaries and Jonathan Maberry’s V-Wars universe (Books 1 and 3), which will appear as a 10-episode series on NetFlix in 2019. He’s also written stories for The Green Hornet and Kolchak, The Night Stalker anthologies. He has had several short fiction collections, including Needles & Sins, Vigilantes of Love, Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions, and most recently, Sacrificing Virgins. For more on his obsession with jalapenos and 1970s European horror cinema, as well as information on his fiction, art and music, visit his website.

The Devil’s Equinox

Austin secretly wishes his wife would drop dead. He even says so one boozy midnight at the bar to a sultry stranger with a mysterious tattoo. When his wife later introduces that stranger as Regina, their new neighbor, Austin hopes she will be a good influence on his wife. Instead, one night he comes home to find his wife dead. Soon he’s entranced with Regina, who introduces him to a strange world of bloodletting, rituals and magic. A world that puts everything he loves in peril. Can Austin save his daughter, and himself, before the planets align for the Devil’s Equinox? FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

The House by the Cemetery

Rumor has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumors won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumors down. There are noises in the walls, and fresh blood on the floor: secrets that would be better not to discover. And behind the rumors is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfill. Because while the witch may have been dead… she doesn’t intend to stay that way.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Ramsey Campbell

Meghan: Hi, Ramsey! It’s great to have you here today. Thank you for agreeing to take part in my sixth annual Halloween extravaganza. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ramsey Campbell: I write horror, and have for more than half a century. For me writing is a compulsion, driven by the pressure of untold tales and unwritten prose. Jenny is my first reader, partly because she’s among the few who can read my handwriting. She’s also the best part of me, and we’ve been together for nearly fifty years.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Ramsey Campbell: If you ask me my favourite composer I’ll immediately say Beethoven, only to feel that Johann Sebastian Bach is equally essential. My favourite film is probably Letter from an Unknown Woman. Over the years I’ve often listed ten favourites, but while the list changes, it has never included a horror film – they’re crowded out by other titles. (For the record, I’ve loved Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon ever since I saw it most of sixty years ago.) Jenny and I watch a film almost every day, once I’ve finished work about mid-afternoon. I very much enjoy dreams – free surrealist films, they are.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Ramsey Campbell: When I was two years old and apparently horribly precocious, reading a tale of Rupert Bear gave me my first taste of terror in fiction. One of the many presents I found in a bulging pillowcase at the end of my bed at Christmas 1947 was a copy of More Adventures of Rupert. The tale that haunted my nights was “Rupert’s Christmas Tree”, in which Rupert acquires a magical tree that decamps after the festivities and returns to its home in the woods. Perhaps this is meant as a charming fantasy for children, but the details—the small high voice from the tree, the creaking that Rupert hears in the night, the trail of earth he follows from the tub in his house, above all the prancing silhouette that inclines towards him, the star it has in place of a head—are surely the stuff of adult supernatural fiction. I think I got my start in the field right there, and many of my preoccupations must derive from my early childhood.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Ramsey Campbell: A study of The Three Stooges for production information as I work on a monograph about all six or more of them, and I’m revisiting Agatha Christie from my childhood, The Murder at the Vicarage, just now.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Ramsey Campbell: That would depend what image they have of me, and how would I know? On the assumption that their view of me is severely limited, perhaps W. E Bowman’s hilarious comic novel The Ascent of Rum Doodle, which parodies mountaineering books.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Ramsey Campbell: I never really decided to be a writer – I was at it by the age of five, writing doggerel that appeared in the children’s corner of the local Liverpool Echo (perhaps because my mother, prolific but almost entirely unpublished, encouraged me to make the effort). At eleven years old I was already writing my first completed book, Ghostly Tales. The stories in it were patched together like Frankenstein’s monster from fragments of fiction I’d read. My writing had yet to catch up with my appreciation of the genre. Let me quote a single representative sentence from Ghostly Tales: “The door banged open, and the afore-mentioned skeleton rushed in.” It must have been out of a mixture of desperation and maternal pride that my mother encouraged me to submit the completed book – the only copy, handwritten and illustrated in crayon – to publishers. Sometimes it ended up with a children’s book editor, one of whom told me it made her feel quite spooky sitting at her desk. (Childish the book may have been, but it wouldn’t be for children even now.) By far the most positive response came from Tom Boardman Jr in August 1958. While Boardman was one of the few British houses to publish science fiction in hardcover, they didn’t take ghost stories, but he concluded: “We should like to take this opportunity of encouraging you to continue with your writing because you have definite talent and very good imaginative qualities. It means a lot of hard work to become an author but with the promising start you have made there is every possibility that you will make the grade.”

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Ramsey Campbell: Always here at my desk on the third floor of our Victorian semi. You’ll find me here well before seven every morning, by which time I’ve prepared the first sentence or sentences of the day and probably scribbled in my notebook other ideas for the day’s session. I can certainly write elsewhere – if we go away while a work is in progress, it goes with me and I work on it – but as I age I do prefer to take less taxing work with me, rereading a first draft prior to the rewrite, or proofreading.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Ramsey Campbell: I never sit down to write without having composed at least the first sentence of the session. I always write the first draft of a piece of fiction longhand in a spiral-bound exercise book, using a basic Parker cartridge pen. Rewrites are done onscreen, and I work on non-fiction directly on the screen – perhaps it’s a way of keeping the fiction process separate. New fiction is my morning work, non-fiction (such as this interview) waits until the afternoon.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Ramsey Campbell: The early stages of creating a new tale, where the characters have no names and I have no idea what they do in life, and only the vaguest sense of what the tale will contain. Ideas (for me at least) are the easy part, but then comes the task of development. Often enough it feels like groping about in the dark for items I need but can’t even identify. So far, or at any rate mostly, I eventually reach that magical place where things begin to come together.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Ramsey Campbell: Perhaps my recent (and only) trilogy, which I think multiplied the energy novels generally generate for me while I’m writing them and gave me an unusual amount of scope to develop various themes.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Ramsey Campbell: Cry Horror, the first British paperback collection of Lovecraft’s work, was crucial when I was fourteen and set me on my path. M. R. James demonstrated how to show just enough to suggest far worse (and both of them exemplified careful choice of language and structure). Fritz Leiber’s crucial development of urban supernatural horror Smoke Ghost, where the everyday environment is the source of the uncanny rather than being invaded by it, pointed me towards my subsequent work. I’d just turned seventeen when I read Lolita, which was a great revelation and liberated my style and approach to narrative (as did all the other Nabokov books I immediately devoured). Graham Greene’s precision and impressionistic conciseness was another influence. I’d also cite Buñuel’s Los Olvidados and ResnaisMarienbad, two films that deeply impressed me and prompted emulation.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Ramsey Campbell: If I thought about that I might lose my instinctiveness, which is how I write.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Ramsey Campbell: That’s not how I approach it. I simply want to believe in the characters as human beings and present them as honestly as I can. I’ve never required characters I read about to be sympathetic, and so I don’t create them in that way either. If they are, fine, but I think fiction is a good place to met people you would ordinarily cross the street to avoid.

That said, I’m quite fond of a number of my characters, not least the family in Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach – they seem like people to me. I was disconcerted by how many readers protested that one of them (Julian) was unsympathetic. He is, but what of it? At one point we glimpse a reason why he’s how he is, not that this excuses his behaviour. However, I concluded long ago that the writer can’t control the reader’s response, and I haven’t tried for many years.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Ramsey Campbell: Several, representing different stages of my life. I’d include the narrator of “The Chimney”, Peter in The Face That Must Die and to some extent Dominic Sheldrake, the narrator of the trilogy, which however is less autobiographical than some readers have assumed.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Ramsey Campbell: Generally a cover by itself won’t put me off a book. PS Publishing in particular often ask me for suggestions for images, and Flame Tree routinely do.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Ramsey Campbell: That you can always improve as a writer.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Ramsey Campbell: Just about the whole first section of Midnight Sun, where I felt I wasn’t engaging sufficiently with the material – only the scene where Ben Sterling tells his tale of the ice spirits seemed to come alive, inspiring me as much as him. Even so, once I’d finished the section I seriously considered abandoning the novel, such was my apparent lack of inspiration. I reread what I’d written – again, something I virtually never do these days until the first draft is completed – and decided there was just about enough reason to continue. The first part was very considerably rewritten and condensed later. All this said, I recently reread the book for a reissue and found it wasn’t as much of a failure as I recalled.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Ramsey Campbell: That’s for readers to decide. I simply hope the books are literate and truthful – authentic, if you prefer – and that some convey at least a hint of uncanny awe while others offer some psychological insight.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Ramsey Campbell: It should grow naturally out of the material. Sometimes a working title is supplanted by a better one. I’m fond of using titles with multiple meanings – Needing Ghosts, Thieving Fear – but then I like ambiguity of language in the tales as well. Perhaps my favourite of my titles is Think Yourself Lucky, which only reveals its significance some way into the novel.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Ramsey Campbell: Generally a novel or even a novella, given their scope and their ability to surprise me in the process of writing.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Ramsey Campbell: I write horror, ranging from the psychological to the supernatural (which are often inextricably bound together), from the uncanny to the gruesome (again, not mutually exclusive), from comedy of paranoia to bids to achieve awe. My audience is anyone who likes my stuff, and I hope it enriches their imagination and makes us – me included – look at things we’ve taken for granted.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Ramsey Campbell: The first draft and indeed the first rewrite of my 1980s novel The Claw (aka Night of the Claw) was several kinds of a mess. Although the central issue was a young girl in increasing danger from her apparently possessed parents, there were (incredibly) no scenes from her viewpoint. I deleted about a dozen chapters, including a redundant subplot about a cult in search of the titular talisman, and substituted scenes seen through her eyes. Some of the deleted material is included in an afterword to later editions.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Ramsey Campbell: I’ve several uncompleted novels from before the start of my career, and didn’t expect ever to see them into print, but the last one – a pastiche of John Dickson Carr with Lovecraftian interpolations, Murder by Moonlight – I recently resurrected as the foundation of a book for Borderlands Press. I use the adolescent narrative as a lens to look at how I and my parents were when I wrote it, and it will appear as The Enigma of the Flat Policeman.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Ramsey Campbell: Flame Tree Press have a new supernatural novel, The Wise Friend, for the spring. PS Publishing have an immense two-volume retrospective collection, Phantasmagorical Stories (note the initials). Electric Dreamhouse will bring out my collected Video Watchdog columns, Ramsey’s Rambles, and that Stooges book. I’ve recently completed the first draft of a novel, Somebody’s Voice.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Ramsey Campbell: Facebook ** Twitter

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Ramsey Campbell: I hope you may see me as an element, however minor, in the literary continuity of our field.

Photo Credit: Tony Knox

The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes Ramsey Campbell as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”. He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association, the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild and the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015 he was made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University for outstanding services to literature. Among his novels are The Face That Must Die, Incarnate, Midnight Sun, The Count of Eleven, Silent Children, The Darkest Part of the Woods, The Overnight, Secret Story, The Grin of the Dark, Thieving Fear, Creatures of the Pool, The Seven Days of Cain, Ghosts Know, The Kind Folk, Think Yourself Lucky, Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach, and The Wise Friend. He recently brought out his Brichester Mythos trilogy, consisting of The Searching Dead, Born to the Dark, and The Way of the Worm. Needing Ghosts, The Last Revelation of Gla’aki, The Pretence, and The Booking are novellas. His collections include Waking Nightmares, Alone with the Horrors, Ghosts and Grisly Things, Told by the Dead, Just Behind You, Holes for Faces, By the Light of My Skull, and a two-volume retrospective roundup (Phantasmagorical Stories). His non-fiction is collected as Ramsey Campbell, Probably and Ramsey’s Rambles (video reviews). Limericks of the Alarming and Phantasmal is a history of horror fiction in the form of fifty limericks. His novels The Nameless, Pact of the Fathers, and The Influence have been filmed in Spain. He is the President of the Society of Fantastic Films.

Ramsey Campbell lives on Merseyside with his wife Jenny. His pleasures include classical music, good food and wine, and whatever’s in that pipe. His web site can be found here.

Halloween Extravaganza: JG Faherty: Halloween & My Writing Career

I love these blog posts because I can let the authors pretty much do what they want. In this one, JG tells us about a Halloween that led him to be the author he is now. A great read.


Hello, there! My name is JG Faherty, I’m a horror and dark fiction author, and I’ve been granted free reign for today’s blog. So strap and in prepare yourself for some Halloween-themed brain musings.

I thought long and hard about what to discuss today. The topic of Halloween offers so many options – the history of the holiday, childhood memories, what Halloween means to me, things I’ve written that deal with Halloween.

In the end, I decided to do something of an amalgam and talk about not just a strong Halloween moment but how that moment impacted me as a writer.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Halloween, all the way back to when I was a little kid dressing up as Spider Man, trick-or-treating with my friends, and watching the Great Pumpkin. Back then, it would only be on once the whole month of October and I made sure to never miss it. As I got a little older, two things happened – I added the juvenile pranks of Gate Night/Mischief Night to my celebration (shaving cream, soap, flaming dog poo, all the standards!) and I discovered a book: Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury.

Wow.

To the 12-year-old me, that was possibly the most amazing book ever. Better than Poe, Shelley, Stoker, or Verne, the classic writers I’d been reading up to that point. Better than the Hardy Boys. Better than James Blish, who was writing a lot of Star Trek tie-ins that I enjoyed so much. Better even than Heinlein, who I’d recently discovered.

I fell in love, not just with the book, and Bradbury as a writer, but with how it spoke to me. A kid from a small town in the country who loved scary stuff and carnivals. (Did I mention we used to play in the local graveyards?)

I probably read that book three times before I got into high school, and another three times since. It didn’t start my life-long infatuation with all things horror and Halloween, but it did give me a particular fondness for small-town terrors, Halloween-themed stories, and coming of age stories.

Which leads me to the year 2001.

Yes, we’ve jumped forward quite a bit. 2001 was the year I started writing fiction. The previous year, I’d gotten a side job writing study guides for The Princeton Review, 4th and 5th grade, mostly. English, Language Arts. Each book was about 100 pages long and I had to write the practice reading assignments plus all the questions and answers. Although I’d always had a deep desire to be a writer, I’d never thought I had the ability, and other than 1 very abortive attempt in college, I never tried. I did a lot of writing for work, as a research scientist and laboratory manager, but never fiction.

Until those study guides. And I discovered it was fun. And it came easy to me. I’ve talked about how this led to me writing my first fiction in other blogs, so I won’t repeat that here.

By 2001, I had 2 short stories published. A few others in the works. And then it happened.

The dream.

A bunch of college students stuck inside a Halloween carnival, run by a demon. They had to go through every room in the haunted mansion, where all the monsters came alive. A cool dream, right?

But there was more.

I dreamed an entire novel, from beginning to end. And not just one story, but a whole series of them. I saw not just the haunted mansion, but also all the other rides, the side shows, the games. The monsters behind the masks at every booth. How the carnival appeared every Halloween since the dawn of time, never in the same place.

When I woke up, I immediately grabbed a notebook and pen and started writing. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. For two weeks, I wrote in the morning, at lunch, and after work. I wrote on the weekends. And I finished that novel in record time. Not an outline, the whole damn novel!

Then I transcribed it into the computer. 137,000 words. I proofed it, got it down to 129,000.

It didn’t sell. I was young and naïve then, I knew nothing about the publishing industry or how bad the quality of a first novel is. Over the next few years, I honed my skills, kept rewriting that book, took the Borderlands Writers Bootcamp and had famous writers critique it. I got a mentor through the Horror Writers Association and she helped me.

And in 2009, I sold it. Carnival of Fear. Published in 2010. Still available (feel free to buy it!).

But remember how I said I dreamed of more?

There’s a lot more.

I wrote 3 short stories based on that carnival. And a novella, which was published by Samhain Publishing a few years ago. Plus some poems. I have the sequel to Carnival of Fear half-written in my computer, and the only reason it’s not complete is because I’ve worked on other books before it. During that dream, I saw the sequel, the spin-off stories. I woke up with ideas for what could happen on every ride, under every tent. I knew which ones would be short stories and which ones longer pieces.

Never in my life had I ever experienced anything like that, and never since.

Although I have, and will, write about other things, every couple of years in one way or another I come back to the world of Carnival of Fear and pluck another story from my dream memories.

What is it about the Carnival of Fear universe that is so vital to me I keep going back to it?

It’s my Something Wicked. In the past, I’ve said my book was an homage to Bradbury’s. And it is. Teens, haunted carnival, strange carnies, bad things happen. But it’s more than that.

Because I identified so much with Bill Halloway and James Nightshade, I created characters like them for my stories. Ordinary boys, girls, men, and women caught up in something they don’t understand. Small town people, because where else would a mysterious carnival pop up?

People like me. Like my friends and family.

Bradbury wrote with a simple, everyman style, and all my favorite authors write that way. Do I like them because of him? Probably. Folks like King, Keene, Wilson, Koontz, Hamilton, Collins, Maberry.

Did Bradbury play a part in shaping the way I write? How could he not?

After I found Bradbury and read everything I could by him, I discovered other writers who focused on that small town or country vibe. Manly Wade Wellman. Karl Edward Wagner. People who made any story feel like a cold October night in upstate New York.

Bradbury has written a lot of stuff, but for me opening any of his books always makes me feel like I’m opening the door to Halloween, that it’s the season where anything can happen.

When I wrote Carnival of Fear, I wanted my book to be just like that for a new generation. Not just frightening, but exhilarating. I wanted people to remember what Halloween was like as a kid, as a teen, when they turned those pages. I wanted them to smell the popcorn and cotton candy, taste the candied apples and French fries and hot dogs.

Remember what it was like to pal around with friends or hold hands with someone special and breathe the crisp October air.

I wanted them to feel the way I did when I read Something Wicked This Way Comes for the first time.

And that’s my Halloween story for you.

Happy Halloween!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty has been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award (The Cure, Ghosts in Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time), and he is the author of 7 novels, 10 novellas, and more than 75 short stories. His next novel, Hellrider, comes out from Flame Tree Press in August of 2019. He grew up enthralled with the horror movies and books of the 60s, 75, 70s, and 80s. Which explains a lot.

Carnival of Fear

The carnival is in town… What was supposed to be an evening of fun and laughter for JD Cole and the other students of Whitebridge High turns into a never-ending night of terror. Trapped inside the Castle of Horrors by the demonic Proprietor, good friends and bitter rivals must band together to make it through the maze of torturous attractions, where fictional monsters come to life, eager to feast on human flesh. Vampires, zombies, werewolves, and aliens lurk around every corner as JD and his friends struggle from one room to the next, fighting for their sanity, fighting to survive, fighting to escape … The Carnival of Fear.

The Cure

She was born with the power to cure. Now she’s developed the power to kill. Leah DeGarmo has the power to cure with just a touch. But with her gift comes a dark side: Whatever she takes in she has to pass on, or suffer it herself. 

Now a sadistic criminal has discovered what she can do and he’ll stop at nothing to control her. He makes a mistake, though, when he kills the man she loves, triggering a rage inside her that releases a new power she didn’t know she had: the ability to kill. 

Transformed into a demon of retribution, Leah resurrects her lover and embarks on a mission to destroy her enemies. The only question is, does she control her power or does it control her?

Houses of the Unholy

In this new collection of stories, genre favorite JG Faherty takes you on a tour of unholy houses, where you’ll find: 

– A man struggling to discover why all the people in his life are disappearing when he falls asleep. 
– An accident in a mountain pass that turns into a deadly encounter with a mythical beast. 
– A man who learns that the only thing worse than being a passenger on the train to Hell is being the engineer. 
– A town where the dead coming back to life isn’t the worst thing that can happen. 
– A young couple who uncover a terrible secret in the town that has ostracized them for their sins. 
– A science experiment gone wrong that could spell the end of mankind. 

The collection also includes “The Lazarus Effect,” a chilling post-apocalyptic story where survivors face off against godless undead, and a brand new novella-length sequel, “December Soul.”

Hellrider

After being burned alive by a gang, the Hell Riders, he used to belong to, Eddie Ryder returns as a heavy-metal spouting ghost with a temper that’s worse now than when he was alive. At first he is nothing more than a floating presence, depressed he has to spend eternity watching his teenage brother, Carson, and ailing mother struggle without him. Then he develops powers. And he can control electricity. He can conjure the ghostly doppelganger of his motorcycle, Diablo, and fly across the sky, but he can’t escape the boundaries of his hometown, Hell Creek. 

Eddie decides to exact his revenge on the bikers who killed him. Before he can do more than scare some of the bikers, however, he discovers something even better: he can posses people. He uses this ability to get the gang members to attack each other, and to deliver a message to the current leader, Hank Bowman: Eddie’s Coming. 

Spouting fire and lightning from his fingers and screaming heavy metal lyrics as he rides the sky above the town of Hell Creek, he brings destruction down on all those who wronged him, his power growing with every death. Only Eddie’s younger brother, Carson, and the police chief’s daughter, Ellie, understand what’s really happening, and now they have to stop him before he destroys the whole town.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: JG Faherty

Meghan: Hi, JG. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

JG Faherty: Let’s see. I’ve been writing fiction since 2000. My first novel was published in 2010. I write primarily in the areas of horror, supernatural thrillers, YA, and paranormal romance, plus a little dark science fiction and fantasy. My hobbies are playing the guitar, watching bad sci-fi movies, visiting wineries, and reading. I own a rescue dog, I’m married, and I live in a very haunted region of New York State.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

JG Faherty:

  • I studied herpetology in college and used to own more than a dozen venomous snakes.
  • I have built four guitars.
  • I have been published three times in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.
  • I used to write an advice column many years ago.
  • I enjoy exploring abandoned buildings.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

JG Faherty: Try as I might, I can’t remember the very first book. I know I started reading at a young age. I know that by the time I was 7 or 8, I was already checking out books on dinosaurs from the library and I was reading short stories by Poe. My first novel was probably either Frankenstein or Dracula. And as a young kid, I also read all the Hardy Boys mysteries (I still have the whole collection!).

Meghan: What are you reading now?

JG Faherty: I just got back from a vacation and I read Demons, Well-Seasoned: Book III in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy by Patricia V. Davis (it’s a cozy supernatural mystery) and The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories, edited by Stephen Jones. I recommend both of them!

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

JG Faherty: Hmmm. Probably something outside of the horror genre, like Snakes & Snakes Hunting, the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, or Lucy (an anthropology book by Donald Johanson).

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

JG Faherty: When I was young, I wanted to be a comic strip writer. But I can’t draw well enough. In college, I tried to write a horror novel, but it was terrible and I didn’t know at the time (this was before the internet) that you had to practice, have editors, etc. So I just stopped writing. Then, in 1999, I got a job writing test preparation books for The Princeton Review, and that required writing fiction for the reading passages. I really enjoyed it, and it came easy. I tried my hand at a short story, and got some good comments from editors I met at a horror convention. So I kept at it, and started getting published. I began writing in 2000, and my first professional publication was 2001, a 2000-word short story. Little did I know it would be almost 3 years before my next one, and not until 2005 until I’d start getting published on a regular basis.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

JG Faherty: I always write at my desk, on my computer. No laptop for me. Hate them. If I’m on vacation, I bring a journal-type notebook and write long-hand. Usually, that’s how I work out story problems or put down ideas, but I’ve also written some short stories that way. Interesting fact – my first novel, Carnival of Fear, was written entirely long hand and then I typed it into the computer later. Only time I’ve ever done that.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

JG Faherty: It has to be absolutely quiet. No music, no noise. I don’t mind music when I’m editing, but it distracts me when I’m writing. Same with TV, people talking, etc.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

JG Faherty: All of it. It’s hard for me to maintain a long attention span, and usually I think everything I write sucks. It’s not until the editing phase that I start to think the book is good.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

JG Faherty: My first novel will always be the most satisfying, because it proved I could do it. Every novel since then is satisfying because it means I overcame all the obstacles and did it again. And, of course, being nominated for several industry awards has meant a lot.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

JG Faherty: I particularly have always enjoyed writers who have a down to earth style – Stephen King, Brian Keene, and several of the science authors I enjoy. While I’ve never tried to copy anyone, I think that my style is also down to earth, casual, and realistic in terms of dialog. I like characters that seem real, like people you’d meet.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

JG Faherty: A good story should have a plot that makes sense, move quickly into the action, have a strong middle, and a strong ending. Too many books are great right up to the last 30 pages, and then they don’t make sense. Or worse, there’s no ending at all. Most of all, a good story keeps the reader interested from page 1 to the last page.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

JG Faherty: For me to love a character, they have to seem real to me. I have to be invested in them emotionally, whether they are good or bad. They have to make me laugh, or cry, or shout, or all three. I can love a character whether they are evil or good – we all love Hannibal Lecter and Dracula, and they aren’t good at all. And that’s what I try to do with my characters, both protagonists and antagonists, and even secondary characters. Put the reader in their shoes, so that when good or bad things happen, they are feeling what the characters are feeling.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

JG Faherty: Wow. That’s a tough one. I try not to put too much of myself in any character, because I’m always trying to be in other peoples’ shoes, to think like my characters would. In terms of how and think and feel, perhaps JD, the main character in Carnival of Fear. But I don’t come from the wrong side of the tracks like he did, and I don’t have an old football injury. I’ve put a lot of other people into my books, though, under fake names. I’ve never told them, and they’ve never let me know if they’ve noticed!

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

JG Faherty: I am incredibly turned off by bad covers. I’ve had a couple of books where I hated the covers and I couldn’t wait to put new ones on them once I got the rights to the books back. I firmly believe those bad covers are partly responsible for poorer sales than I anticipated. As my career moved along, I have made sure to be as involved in cover art as possible, and to that extent my time with Samhain Publishing and now Flame Tree has been very rewarding, because in both cases the staff artists were/are astounding and I’ve had to fill out lengthy cover art worksheets detailing my ideas, plot, character descriptions, and more for the artists. And the result has been 9 books in a row with covers I love. And that readers tell me they love, too.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

JG Faherty: That writing is hard! Also, that, like my mentors in this biz have said over and over, your first idea usually is either not good or it’s already been used. You have to look beyond the obvious, find twists, make a story your own. Don’t rewrite Dracula, create something that’s never been done before. Also, that I have no idea of what is scary. I keep trying to scare myself with my stories, and it never happens. But my readers say the stuff is way scary. So I’ve learned not to trust my own judgement.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

JG Faherty: Military horror is kind of tough for me, because it requires non-stop action. In Hellrider, I had to write a scene where a character threatens a minor with physical and sexual violence, and we had to make sure it portrayed the character as bad but didn’t step over the bounds of what you’d normally expect in a grindhouse story. In Carnival of Fear, I had to write a death scene that was supposed to be tragic, and I kept working at it until finally I re-read what I’d written and I started to cry. That’s when I knew I’d nailed it.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

JG Faherty: They’re by me. My style, my words, my ideas. No two writers are the same. I’ve written a lot of ‘classic’ horror, the kind with supernatural bad guys and people trapped in impossible situations. Same as King, Mary Shelley, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, and a thousand other horror writers. But none of it’s the same. There’s really no other way to say it. My haunted carnival novel is not the same as anyone else’s. My novel about a veterinarian who can cure animals by touching them (The Cure) is not like anyone else’s novel about curing with a touch. My novel about six friends reuniting to stop a supernatural terror (Cemetery Club) is not like IT once you get past the one-line description. And Hellrider is nothing like Ghost Rider, even though they are both on motorcycles. My story is more like Sons of Anarchy with ghosts, if Robert Rodriguez directed it.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

JG Faherty: I think the book title is very important – it has to convey the basics of the story to the reader, even if they don’t know it at the time. Can you imagine if The Shining was called Danny’s Life? Or if Dracula was called Harker’s Journey? Or if Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus was called Experiments in Anatomy?

For my own books, I’ve always put a lot of thought into the titles. Carnival of Fear – a demonic, haunted carnival. The Burning Time – an evil entity incites a town to extreme violence during a summer heat wave. Cemetery Club – a group of outcasts form a club that meets in a cemetery that sits over haunted ground. The Cure – a veterinarian can cure with a touch, but more than that, the whole book is about her trying to ‘cure’ her own feelings of inadequacy and her loneliness.

Hellrider has a quadruple meaning – Hell Riders is the gang Eddie belongs to, Hell Creek is the town he lives in and he’s a ‘rider,’ his last name is Ryder and he comes back from Hell, and Hellrider is also the name of his favorite song.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

JG Faherty: I love writing short stories. That’s how I got my start. I still think that a short story imparts the most emotional impact because it has to hit hard and fast, no wasted words. Novels are great for delivering grander stories, expansive plots, and deep concepts. Personally, I feel that the novella is the best length for a book – long enough to have secondary characters and a subplot or two, but short enough that you can read it in one sitting and still get hit hard by the story. I’ve written 10 so far, and I look forward to writing more.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

JG Faherty: Well, I think I’ve covered the books in answering previous questions. My novels and novellas range from downright traditional and scary (The Burning Time, Cemetery Club, Death Do Us Part, Winterwood) to thrillers (The Cure, Fatal Consequences) to YA (Ghosts of Coronado Bay) to grindhouse (Hellrider) to Lovecraftian (Legacy, the upcoming Sins of the Father) to suspense (Fatal Consequences). My target audience is really just people who love an entertaining story that will send some shivers up your spine and keep you at the edge of your seat. When they’re finished, I’d like them to say, ‘wow, that was cool, and maybe I won’t turn the lights off tonight.’

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

JG Faherty: There’s not really a lot. Things get cut out of every story when you’re writing it, but usually if it’s not good enough to be in the published version it’s not good enough to create a later, unabridged version! One exception would be with Carnival of Fear – I cut that one from 120,000 words to 90,000, and I saved the excess to use in the sequel that I plan on writing someday. It was a sub-plot with some characters that don’t appear anywhere else in the book and so eventually they’ll get their own story.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

JG Faherty: My trunk is about the size of Fort Knox. I have at least 7 half-finished novels, a few novellas, and a couple of dozen finished short stories, plus unfinished ones. I write in a very OCD style, so if I get stuck working on one project, I’ll root through the old ones and see if something strikes my fancy to work on for a while.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

JG Faherty: My next novel, Sins of the Father, is currently in the pre-editing phase with Flame Tree Press, so I imagine it will come out some time next year. My collection of short stories, Houses of the Unholy, and my current novel, Hellrider, are both available now. Beyond that, who knows?

Meghan: Where can we find you?

JG Faherty: Twitter ** Facebook ** Website ** Amazon

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

JG Faherty: For fans and readers, I just want to say thank you, you are the ones we do this for and you make it possible for people like me to do what we love. And if you read a book you enjoy, please leave a review on Amazon and tell your friends – spreading the word is what keeps writers able to write.Beyond that, remember, Halloween is right around the corner, so read something scary today and tell your kids a scary story tonight!

A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty has been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award (The Cure, Ghosts in Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time), and he is the author of 7 novels, 10 novellas, and more than 75 short stories. His next novel, Hellrider, comes out from Flame Tree Press in August of 2019. He grew up enthralled with the horror movies and books of the 60s, 75, 70s, and 80s. Which explains a lot.

Carnival of Fear

The carnival is in town… What was supposed to be an evening of fun and laughter for JD Cole and the other students of Whitebridge High turns into a never-ending night of terror. Trapped inside the Castle of Horrors by the demonic Proprietor, good friends and bitter rivals must band together to make it through the maze of torturous attractions, where fictional monsters come to life, eager to feast on human flesh. Vampires, zombies, werewolves, and aliens lurk around every corner as JD and his friends struggle from one room to the next, fighting for their sanity, fighting to survive, fighting to escape … The Carnival of Fear.

The Cure

She was born with the power to cure. Now she’s developed the power to kill. Leah DeGarmo has the power to cure with just a touch. But with her gift comes a dark side: Whatever she takes in she has to pass on, or suffer it herself. 

Now a sadistic criminal has discovered what she can do and he’ll stop at nothing to control her. He makes a mistake, though, when he kills the man she loves, triggering a rage inside her that releases a new power she didn’t know she had: the ability to kill. 

Transformed into a demon of retribution, Leah resurrects her lover and embarks on a mission to destroy her enemies. The only question is, does she control her power or does it control her?

Houses of the Unholy

In this new collection of stories, genre favorite JG Faherty takes you on a tour of unholy houses, where you’ll find: 

– A man struggling to discover why all the people in his life are disappearing when he falls asleep. 
– An accident in a mountain pass that turns into a deadly encounter with a mythical beast. 
– A man who learns that the only thing worse than being a passenger on the train to Hell is being the engineer. 
– A town where the dead coming back to life isn’t the worst thing that can happen. 
– A young couple who uncover a terrible secret in the town that has ostracized them for their sins. 
– A science experiment gone wrong that could spell the end of mankind. 

The collection also includes “The Lazarus Effect,” a chilling post-apocalyptic story where survivors face off against godless undead, and a brand new novella-length sequel, “December Soul.”

Hellrider

After being burned alive by a gang, the Hell Riders, he used to belong to, Eddie Ryder returns as a heavy-metal spouting ghost with a temper that’s worse now than when he was alive. At first he is nothing more than a floating presence, depressed he has to spend eternity watching his teenage brother, Carson, and ailing mother struggle without him. Then he develops powers. And he can control electricity. He can conjure the ghostly doppelganger of his motorcycle, Diablo, and fly across the sky, but he can’t escape the boundaries of his hometown, Hell Creek. 

Eddie decides to exact his revenge on the bikers who killed him. Before he can do more than scare some of the bikers, however, he discovers something even better: he can posses people. He uses this ability to get the gang members to attack each other, and to deliver a message to the current leader, Hank Bowman: Eddie’s Coming. 

Spouting fire and lightning from his fingers and screaming heavy metal lyrics as he rides the sky above the town of Hell Creek, he brings destruction down on all those who wronged him, his power growing with every death. Only Eddie’s younger brother, Carson, and the police chief’s daughter, Ellie, understand what’s really happening, and now they have to stop him before he destroys the whole town.

Halloween Extravaganza: Hunter Shea: The Ghost of Halloween Present

After reading this guest post by the amazing Hunter Shea, all I can say is… I wish I lived closer to him because he’s definitely a house I would stop at on Halloween.


It used to be, I was happy when a Halloween consisted of me dressed up as either a hobo or vampire (I remember being a hobo, complete with packed bindle, was all the rage – not so PC now), a couple of hours to trick or treat, a visit to my grandparents, and a few mom inspected and approved candies before bed. If I was very lucky, my trick or treat bag wasn’t laden with old pennies and unwrapped circus peanuts.

For once in my life, I don’t long for the days of yesteryear. Halloween today in the Shea dungeon is a day long affair filled with indulgence and wicked fun. I tell people what our Halloweens are like and they don’t believe me… until they come and see for themselves. And once they do, they come back for more year after year.

We have the distinct pleasure of having become part of a kind of trick or treat alley. It consists of one suburban block where kids and adults from far and wide descend. On this block, the houses are decorated (One family sometimes changing the entire front façade of their house for that year’s theme. Last year it was a rocket ship. The year before, the bow of a pirate ship). Music drifts along the chilly air. You might hear some creepy horror movie tunes, or maybe some riotous Rob Zombie, and always, always, the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

We prep for the night by loading up the cooler with lots of beer. It used to be just pumpkin ale when it was hard to find, but now that it’s everywhere, the allure has worn off. First beer can be cracked open at any time, be it morning or night. Well, we never wait until night. My daughters will dress up, as will the adults, all the way to grandma and grandpa. Sometimes, if my creative daughter gets the urge, she’ll pull out her makeup effects kit and adorn our necks with bloody slashes and wounds. She’s been known to do it for random trick or treaters, too.

A carved pumpkin sits on the table, spewing massive chunks of green. That would be homemade guacamole and it’s delicious. With extended family and friends present, the first trick or treaters start to trickle in. It’s always the very young ones at first with their moms and dads. At our house, everyone gets a juice box – because trick or treating is thirsty business – and a bag of treats. Once night falls, the neighborhood is transformed into a spooky Mardi Gras, the sidewalks and street packed with people of all ages, shapes and sizes. There have been flash mobs, wedding proposals, screeching when people are scared by one of us, and even the occasional flash for a drink, which makes it all the more feel like we’ve been transported to New Orleans. By the time the night is done, we’ve usually handed out treats to over 600 kids. Adults will get beer and cigars. And a hangover to come.

One year, I dressed up as a trailer park version of Elvira. I called myself Elmira and talked like Wendy Williams, asking everyone who came by, “How you doin’?” Don’t ask me why. It was all inspired by Patron and Sam Adams. People loved taking pictures with the often lewd Elmira. Last year, I bought a giant crying baby mask from Five Below. Slipping into a pair of footie pajamas, I walked around looking tres disturbing. Turns out, moms like to hug crying babies, even if they are almost 6 feet tall and dancing around like a serial killer in his basement.

People we see just that once a year come by to hang, pizza is delivered, and the party doesn’t stop until the treats and booze run out. When all is said and done, I always vow to watch a horror movie, something special I’ve saved for this moment. Inevitably, I pass out before the first act is over. It sure beats the Halloweens of my youth. It may be why I look forward to it more now than ever. So if you ever need a juice box or something a little stronger on Halloween, come on and join the party.

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books, and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Crytpozoology Museum. He’s a bestselling author of over 25 books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. You can find him each week on the Final Guys podcast, as well as the long running Monster Men video podcast. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. Become a true Hunter’s Hellion and follow him at his website.

Slash

Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith. 

With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains. What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims. The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.