REVIEW: Hocus Pocus: Books vs Movies

Hocus Pocus has always been one of my all time favorite Halloween movies. Yeah it’s cheezy, some of the acting is terrible, and doesn’t have much of a scare factor to it, but it’s just a lot of fun, has a pretty cool soundtrack, and c’mon who doesn’t love the Sanderson Sisters. It has always been a movie tradition that my sister and I shared, made even better when my nieces came along and we got to share it with them.

When I found out about Hocus Pocus 2, I could not wait. And with it, I created a new tradition by sharing the movie (and the original, since she had not seen that) with my mother.

Go big or go home is my motto haha… So of course I had to get a bunch of Hocus Pocus paraphernalia for our evening’s fun…

And with it some yummy treats…

A couple of years ago, I found that the first movie had been turned into a book, and with that book, the story of Hocus Pocus 2 was included. Now, I know that there are some good and bad reviews out there about the book, and truth is that it is HARD to turn a good movie into a good book without missing out on nuances that people who loved it will want included, but for a short, fast, fun read, the book is worth taking a look at. I think they could have done more, of course, and I think some of the descriptions did not do the actions of the movie justice, but it will always be a beloved book on my shelf.

I was even more intrigued by the second story “The All-New Sequel” because, as with most of the books and movies I enjoy, I had always been curious what happened next. What happened between Max and Allison? Did Dani grow up to be the cool girl I expected her to be? How long did it take “Ice” and Jay to be released from the cages? Were the Sisters really gone? (Though I knew the answer was no based on the way it ended.)

The book brought back so many of these characters I loved and shared a new part of their story, years later, with Max and Allison married – with a kid – and Dani definitely the aunt everyone wish they had. Of course the story was out of what happened that night, but most didn’t believe. Only the people who LIVED it knew the real truth. And during the book we were able to see how that night left its toll on each person, and how that toll invaded its way into the lives of their children. And, of course, in that book, the Sisters come back to wreck even more havoc.

So, of course, excitement for the second movie, wanting to see how they turned that story into another cult classic.

Except it wasn’t that story.

It was completely different.

Let’s try to look past Midler’s very plastic face, Kathy’s weight loss (that left her looking beautiful in real life but left her just looking wrong as Mary), and Sarah’s weird eyebrow thing. Oh and the iffy soundtrack.

The second book centered around Poppy, the child of Allison and Max, with them, and others from that Halloween night as part of the story, including her parents, along with a few new characters. Like Poppy’s two friends, one of which she has a crush on. They find themselves bored at a party, and because Poppy wants to impress her crush, she takes her to the Sanderson Sister’s home and… well… the Sisters come back to life and they have to save the day from the problem they caused in the first place. (Sound familiar?)

The second movie did not include them at all. Instead we have some neat Sisters backstory, which makes the end make complete sense, and a new batch of people for the Sisters to rail against based on that backstory. We see a new side of Winifred and an understanding of how much her sisters mean to her, and what she is willing to do to be the most powerful person… or to get revenge… which both seem to go hand in hand with her. And we see where her anger and revenge gets her. We also meet three young ladies who go to school together, two of which felt abandoned by one, but the story brings them together, as all good wholesome endings do.

They should have taken more time with the story. But then I’ve always thought that about movie number one as well.

I’m a bit disappointed with the end, but as always with Disney movies, a lesson is learned. For everyone, if I’m honest.

The end left us with potential for a third movie, though without the Sanderson Sisters (they would not make it another 30 years) – ya know, like Ghostbusters did without Venkman, Ray, Egon, and Winston. And I’d probably watch that one as well.

Would I watch it again? Yeah. But I would still feel wanting for more…

like the story I expected based on the book.


Meghan: Hey, Katie! Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. It is so nice to have you here today. What is YOUR favorite part of Halloween?

Katie: I love Halloween, it’s really difficult to pick a favorite part! I love so much about the holiday, I love decorating the house, I love the events around Halloween, especially the rise (at least in the UK) of live action events with actors, etc. I love the excuse to eat too much sugar and to dress up.

But if I had to pick a favorite thing, it would be the coziness. I love spending Halloween night curled up on the sofa in some kind of cozy costume (I was a shark last year) with my partner, the lights down low, lots of tasty snacks, the cats curled up dozing and something blood curdling on the TV. The only interruption being the doorbell every so often as we’re invaded by tiny monsters come to partake of our snacks.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Katie: This entirely depends.

I’m unbothered by hyper violence, I very much enjoy a good psychological horror but rarely find them overly frightening but when it comes to certain types of horror, I’m a bit of a wimp. I suppose supernatural horror is most likely to scare me.

So, if you show me people being scary, I’m less likely to be bothered, show me something inhuman and I scare easily.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Katie: I found the movie Paranormal Activity (the first one) terrifying. The idea of something threatening being in the house but you couldn’t perceive it. You couldn’t see, smell or touch it but it could touch you and had malicious intent. Burrrr. The level of vulnerability I felt for the characters really got under my skin.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Katie: The ending of Eden Lake. I was cheering for Jenny and when she got away from the woods and you thought she was out of danger only for that to happen to her… ugh, makes my skin want to crawl off and hide.

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Katie: Can’t say there ever was, the more freaked out I am by a trailer the more likely I’m going to want to see the film.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Katie: It’s not a movie but I’d choose the Netflix Haunting of Hill House Series. I’d totally fix up a super Haunted House that eats people.

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

Katie: I’d be Tree Gelbman from Happy Death Day, hunting a murderer in a ground hog day like scenario. Each day full of new opportunities to kick the villains head in.

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Katie: Probably a ghost.

I love the mystery element behind most ghost stories, I also feel most afraid when I can’t see or touch the threat but I can see or touch me. Most of my favorite horror films are ghost stories. Ever since I was young and watched the Lady in White a 1988 horror film about the murder of a young girl.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Katie: Decorating the house with all the spooky decorations. I put my decorations up probably a week earlier than I should and even then, it’s only through epic self-control that keeps me waiting that long. I love making my house look like somewhere Winifred, Sarah, and Mary from Hocus Pocus would feel at home.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Katie: It’s a tie between ‘This is Halloween’ from The Nightmare Before Christmas and Thriller by Michel Jackson.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Katie: When I was young my mum used to read to me before I went to bed. Sometimes she would make up stories, sometimes she’d read children books and fairytales to me. Then one day she came into my bedroom with a copy of The Thief of Always by Clive Barker.

It was my first experience of horror and I remember feeling super unsettled but also utterly captivated. I was gutted when the book finished and went on my own little crusade to find horror books that my mum would let me read.

Even now when I occasionally re-read this book, I feel the way I did when I was little.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Katie: My partner and I were on our first holiday together. We went to Boscastle in Cornwall, an absolutely beautiful village in a glorious part of the country. We stayed in an old fisherman’s cottage down in the harbor. One evening I was upstairs, in the bedroom, faffing about while my partner was downstairs. I heard the tap in the bathroom turn on.

This tap was the kind where to turn the water on you lift a lever and to turn it off you push the lever down. So, it turning itself on was bloody odd. I went and turned it off. I went back into the bedroom and continued my faffing. The tap turned itself back on.

This happened multiple times during the holiday, I’d wake up during the night to the sound of water running. It got to the point where I just left it alone. If spooky ghosts want to wash their hands, who was I to stop them.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Katie: Oh, this is an easy one, mass disappearances.

The Roman 9th Legion, Aztalan Indians, Moche Civilization, ghost ships, there’s too many to list. But cases where large numbers of people vanish up in smoke. Usually suddenly.

If you enjoy those kinds of mysteries as well, I would recommend the book and film Phantoms by Dean Koontz, the video game Man of Medan and the very recent film directed by Jordan Peele, Nope.

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

Katie: I love Creepy Pasta for this kind of thing. It’s impossible to name just one, but the No Sleep Podcast and Reddit pages are an absolute goldmine for great ghost stories.

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Katie: I really struggle with this.

A shotgun would be great but bullets are not infinite. So, some kind of melee weapon, maybe an axe, something heavy and weighted because I’m not particularly strong so if I need something to give weight to my attacks.

The downside with a melee weapon is that I’m also pretty short and I don’t have much in the way of reach.

So, with that in mind, I’d probably go with my car. My car is big, heavy and I can squish things with it with very little effort on my part. If I had unlimited resources I’d trip my car out with window armor, big spikes and junk. I’d probably also have an axe and a shot gun on the passenger seat.

Meghan: Okay, let’s have some fun… Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?
Katie: Vampire. I don’t need fleas on top of everything else. Also, I’m pale and have red hair so I’m used to avoiding the sun.
Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?
Katie: Zombies, aliens would be smarter than me. Zombies I think I’d be on a more even keel with.
Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?
Katie: Grim. I guess eat dead bodies, provided they’ve not been embalmed cause that’s toxic.
Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?
Katie: Poltergeist house, it was a great film with a strong sequel. Though I’d get annoyed that the ghosties like moving my furniture. I’m particular about things being tidy.
Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?
Katie: I’m intolerant of spicy food, it literally makes me sick. Whereas I like cheese, so I guess I’m eating maggots.
Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?
Katie: I’ll have the witches brew please, hopefully she’s put some kind of adult beverage in there.

Katie Marie is a horror enthusiast and writer from Norfolk, England.

She has been published in several anthologies and magazines, and her Novella, A Man in Winter, was recently released by Brigids Gate Press.

Katie started writing while studying for her Law Degree at Aberystwyth University in the early 2000’s and several years and stories later she received her Masters Degree and published her first novel.


Arthur, whose life was devastated by the brutal murder of his wife, must come to terms with his diagnosis of dementia. He moves into a new home at a retirement community, and shortly after, has his life turned upside down again when his wife’s ghost visits him and sends him on a quest to find her killer so her spirit can move on. With his family and his doctor concerned that his dementia is advancing, will he be able to solve the murder before his independence is permanently restricted?

A Man in Winter examines the horrors of isolation, dementia, loss, and the ghosts that come back to haunt us.


Meghan: Hey, Jeff. I decided to wait and have your day as the last one in this year’s Halloween Extravaganza, so it’s been a wait, but I’m glad you’re here today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Jeff: I loved taking my young girls out for Trick or Treating. The fresh mystery of experiencing this unique adventure through their eyes, well, it reminded me of my youth. It was a joy dressing up in costumes, visiting stranger’s Halloween-bedecked houses, and asking for candy.

[Spoiler alert] Nowadays, I like watching the interesting variety of movies that come out on television during the Halloween season. I’ll sometimes also deep dive into my personal stock of scary movies.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Jeff: As you know, I like watching scary movies, but along with that, I like splurging on a accompanying buffet of finger food, ice cream, and candy. Essentially anything contraband that violates common sense, my diet, and long-term health. Just sayin’, this includes chicken wings and home-made candy apples.

I haven’t done this yet, but I think going to haunted house events would be fun. I appreciate great acting and stage work.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Jeff: As a child, Halloween was second best, right behind Arbor Day Eve. Just joking, we didn’t worship trees. Much. The idea of getting Halloween candy was mind blowing for a kid. I’d run from house to house, carrying a shopping bag in each hand, nearing exhaustion but determined (can’t stop now). When I made it home, my loot was cross-examined by a board of family experts (hmmm, that large candy bar looks unsafe, we’d better eat it for you). After that, I was free to gorge myself silly into a weeks-long sugar frenzy.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Jeff: Black cats, ladders, step on a crack, nope, nope, nope, no superstition.

I really don’t think I’m superstitious about anything, but I’m very interested in seemingly unconnected patterns in the way things turn out. There are too many coincidences beyond direct cause and effect. It’s almost as if we’re tapped into a greater connectivity, aren’t fully aware of it, but it keeps reminding us from time to time. Resorting to a thermodynamics explanation, our planet is essentially a closed system, so everything affects everything else in various degrees of effect.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Jeff: I think Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Cenobites are interesting. They were once ordinary people. Turned into demons, their real selves were trapped inside, undoubtedly in a state of perpetual torment. Kind of like working in a dead-end job? All this happened because they were insatiably curious about something best left alone. How often does the voice in our head warn us about things like that for no real discernable reason? Maybe we should listen to it more? Ya know, like, take a pass on solving extradimensional puzzle boxes?

Dexter on Showtime is fascinating. He protects the innocent by killing evil murderers. Despite being a monster, lacking in many emotions, he does care about people in his own way, and he’s shocked at the depth of evil in this world. Essentially, he’s dealing with a great chasm of emptiness inside him. When he was young, he was troubled about feeling nothing. This apparently can be just as bad as feeling too much. That is the path he has chosen – seeking a way to be emotionally connected to others.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Jeff: The original unsolved case – Jack the Ripper. The killer terrorized the dark alleys of Victorian England, wielding medical instruments with great precision… crazy, dangerous, and unstoppable. It was the modern genesis of pure, unspeakable evil. What sickness would drive someone to do that?

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Jeff: This is more like a rural legend – the Night Hag – this scares me the most. The legend is part of my Newfoundland heritage. Hearing about it firsthand made it personal to me. Imagine a creature that attacks you when you’re most vulnerable: asleep, paralyzed, and helpless, but aware of everything happening to you.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Jeff: I don’t idolize serial killers. I’m fairly sure they don’t idolize me either. Well, maybe they could idolize my lifestyle, thinking, “Wow, I wish I could be boring too, maybe if I cut back on the killing, get myself into a good 12-step program.” But, all that said, I do find serial killers to be interesting. Evolution probably required sociopaths who could be fearless and unemotional. Good for dealing with sabre tooth tigers, telemarketers, and such.

For me, the most intriguing serial killer is John Wayne Gacy. He was an upstanding citizen in his community, yet he held such a horrible secret life. It’s frightening to know that we live alongside so many crazy people. Googled it – guesstimates ranged from 1 in 7 to 1 in 100 sociopaths amongst us. It’s quite likely you passed by one when you were at work, out and about, shopping, walking the dog… Hmm, might be a good idea to try your best to get along with people lest you anger the wrong one.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Jeff: First movie: Wizard of Oz. That’s uncut street-grade horror for a 5 year old. Flying monkeys. Haunted forest. Wicked Witch. Shiver.

When I was about 9, I started reading horror comics, but it took me until 13ish before I read my first horror book. To date myself, it was a short story anthology edited by Karl Edward Wagner. The pace of the stories was slower back then. That allowed for a bigger buildup of suspense that didn’t seem rushed or artificial. All the better to intrigue me…

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Jeff: City Infernal by Edward Lee. To actually experience what hell would be like is as disturbing as it is interesting. It’s like watching a slow train wreck – you can’t pull your eyes away from the overwhelming tragedy.

For cosmic level horror, most H.P. Lovecraft stories give me a lasting chill.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Jeff: The Exorcist. I’m spiritual, so anything intensely supernatural can have a lasting effect on me. I do watch many supernatural movies, sometimes out of curiosity or a face-my-fears kind of challenge.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Jeff: I never did this, but they have realistic skull faced masks now. Sold by King Trends. When going Trick or Treating, I’d wear a simple, black hooded cloak for simplicity, and keep my face hidden until greeting someone (then, the full skull face reveal). Of course, not in front of kids – don’t want to traumatize anyone.

Remember the clown frenzy a few years ago? Online, it almost appeared to be a supernatural manifestation. Think about this… If something evil wanted to appear to be harmless, a silly clown outfit would do the trick. Fodder for nightmares.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Jeff: Disney’s Haunted Mansion CD of sound bytes. It brings back fond memories of Disneyland. For truly scary, the classical Night On Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky is thought provoking.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Jeff: White chocolate covered Reeses are the bomb. The worst comes from the past – wax bottle candy, liquid sugar-fueled shots, instant manic energy with a subsequent crash and burn quicker than a paralyzed falcon falling from the sky.

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by. Before you go, what are your go-to Halloween movies?

Evil Dead, old and new
The Thing, old and new
The Aliens series
The Witch
Sleepy Hollow
Demon Knight

Family movies:
Hocus Pocus
The Addams Family series
The Haunted Mansion

In addition to his two short story books, The Captivating Flames of Madness and Algorithm of Nightmares, Jeff Parsons is published in The Horror Zine, The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories, Aphelion Webzine, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 4, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Dystopia Utopia Short Stories, Wax & Wane: A Coven of Witch Tales, Thinking Through Our Fingers, The Moving Finger Writes, Golden Prose & Poetry, Our Dance With Words, The Voices Within, Fireburst: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group, Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018, SNM Horror Magazine, and Bonded by Blood IV/ V.

The Captivating Flames of Madness
This book’s title comes from the reality that – like a moth to the flame – we’re all just one event, mishap, or decision away from things that could change our lives forever.

What would you do if fate led you astray into a grim world where you encountered vengeful ghosts, homicidal maniacs, ancient gods, apocalyptic nightmares, dark magic, deadly space aliens, and more?

If you dare, why not find out?

Read for yourself the twenty-two gloriously provocative tales that dwell within this book – but be warned, some of my dear readers have experienced lasting nightmares…


Meghan: Hi, Gayle. Welcome to this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. Thanks for joining us. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Gayle: Please don’t make me pick just one! I love the candy, of course (seriously, who doesn’t?), the costumes, the cartoons, and the movies.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Gayle: It used to be trick-or-treating. When I was a little girl, that’s something we looked forward to every year. There was a woman in our neighborhood who would even make homemade cookies or popcorn balls.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Gayle: I love Halloween because it brings out the kid in all of us. Dressing up as superheroes or monsters, eating too much candy, getting scared just for the fun of it.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Gayle: The number 666. If I’m at a store, and my total rings up $6.66, I’ll buy something else. I recently read Greenlights and learned that Matthew McConaughey is superstitious about that number too. LOL

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Gayle: I love Dracula. I once played Lucy in an off, off-Broadway (my high school was about as far from Broadway as you can get!) production of Dracula.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Gayle: JonBenet Ramsey

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Gayle: Although I hate to say ”favorite,” I find Ted Bundy really interesting. I read The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, and it was fascinating how he maintained such a strong friendship with her despite being a murderer. At one point in the book, she said that when she’d have to leave work at 2 a.m., he’d walk her to her car. She said the policemen in the building might watch her from the window, but he’d walk her out because “you never know who might be out there.” If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Gayle: I saw Psycho when I was about thirteen. Even though I thought the movie was great, and have watched it again, at the time it scared the daylights out of me. I always made sure someone else was home and that the bathroom door was locked when I showered. But I did have reservations about someone in my family going crazy and killing me, so… LOL I can’t remember the title of the first horror book, but it was something about demons. I have apparently blocked it from my memory. LOL

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Gayle: The one about the demons whose title I can’t remember. LOL

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Gayle: The Birds. Every time I see large flocks of birds gathering in the fall, it makes me want to get in the house and cover my head.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Gayle: A flapper.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Gayle: Scary – Legend of Wooly Swamp; Funny – Monster Mash

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Gayle: Fave: Anything chocolate (Reese’s, Snickers, M&Ms, Peppermint Patties) Most disappointing? Sour gummies

Meghan: It’s always a pleasure getting to talk to you, Gayle. Before you go, what are your three go-to Halloween movies?

Gayle: 1) Tucker and Dale Versus Evil – it isn’t a Halloween movie, per se, but I love it. It’s a comedic horror movie that is fantastic. 2) Hocus Pocus 3) Practical Magic – not sure it’s a “Halloween movie” either, but I really liked it.

Gayle is a Southwest Virginia based author who is working on the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery series. The first book in the series, MURDER TAKES THE CAKE tells the story of Daphne Martin, a forty-year-old divorcee who returns to her fictional hometown of Brea Ridge, Virginia to start her life over. She has left behind an ex-husband who is in prison for an attempt on Daphne’s life, a dingy apartment and a stale career. She has started fresh in a new home with a new career, Daphne’s Delectable Cakes, a cake-decorating company Daphne runs out of her home. She is thrilled to be living closer to her beloved niece and nephew, although being close to other family members brings up lifelong resentments and more than a couple complications. Daphne is also reunited with childhood friend, Ben Jacobs, a full-fledged HAG (hot, available guy). Daphne’s business hits a snag when her first client turns up dead.”

Ghostly Fashionista 1: Designs on Murder
Amanda Tucker is excited about opening her fashion design studio in Shops On Main, a charming old building in historic Abingdon, Virginia. She didn’t realize a ghost came with the property! But soon Maxine “Max” Englebright, a young woman who died in 1930, isn’t the only dead person at the retail complex. Mark Tinsley, a web designer with a know-it-all attitude who also rented space at Shops On Main, is shot in his office.

Amanda is afraid that one of her new “friends” and fellow small business owners is his killer, and Max is encouraging her to solve Mark’s murder a la Nancy Drew. Easy for Max to want to investigate–the ghostly fashionista can’t end up the killer’s next victim!

Ghostly Fashionista 2: Perils & Lace
A murderer outwitting a quirky flapper ghost? Seams unlikely!

Budding retro fashion designer and entrepreneur Amanda Tucker is thrilled about making costumes for Winter Garden High School’s production of Beauty and the Beast. But when the play’s director Sandra Kelly is poisoned, Amanda realizes there’s a murderer in their midst. She’s determined to keep herself and the students safe, so when her ghostly fashionista friend Max suggests they investigate, Amanda rolls up her sleeves and prepares to follow the deadly pattern…

Ghostly Fashionista 3: Christmas Cloches & Corpses
Bodies are dropping like gumdrops off a gingerbread house!

Max’s nephew, Dwight, is in a nursing home; but instead of the holiday season being a time of goodwill, several of Dwight’s friends have died under mysterious circumstances.  Is the facility merely suffering a run of bad luck, or is there something sinister going on?

Either way, Max, the Ghostly Fashionista, is determined not to let her beloved nephew be the next victim and enlists Amanda to help keep an eye on him. But someone drugs the cake that Amanda gives Dwight, and Amanda is banned from visiting him again. It’s going to take a Christmas miracle for Amanda to clear her name and stay out of the killer’s line of fire…

Ghostly Fashionista 4: Buttons & Bows

The note, typed on a manual typewriter, is Amanda Tucker’s first introduction to the second ghost she’s ever met.

When retro fashion designer Amanda learns that Violet, the sweet little old lady from whom she bought antique buttons, has been murdered, she’s dismayed—especially when she realizes the murder occurred the evening after Amanda had visited Violet’s shop. Now the ghost who was enamored of the victim is demanding that Amanda help him bring the woman’s killer to justice.

It certainly isn’t an ideal time for Amanda’s parents to be visiting her from Florida for the first time. In addition to Max, the ghostly fashionista, Amanda now has another sassy specter to deal with. Will this one haunt her for the rest of her life?


Meghan: Hi AJ. Welcome back to Meghan’s House of Books and our annual Halloween Extravaganza. It’s always great having you on. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

AJ: I’ve always loved Halloween, the scary movies, the costumes and makeup, the candy and scaring people, but for me, Halloween is the last fun day before the holiday season starts in November. It’s also the time of year I visit a friend’s grave. He died on Halloween in 1995 and my wife and I visit his grave on Halloween every year. We take a candy bar and toast our friend, then we eat the candy. It’s kind of sombre but it’s tradition for us now.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

AJ: Watching It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. I’ve seen it every year as far back as I can remember. I love that show.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

AJ: It’s the one day and night you can celebrate the creepier things and not have someone look at you like you’re cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. It’s the one time of year that people actually talk about scary things. I like scary things, creepy things, monsters and things that go bump in the night. It’s the single most awesome day of the year.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

AJ: I’ve never really been superstitious. A lot of members of my family are/were, but I thought some of the things they were superstitious about were silly. Never let a black cat cross your path? I’m going to pick that cat up and pet it. Don’t walk under a ladder? I’ll walk under it. So many people make superstitions out to be scary, but I never thought they were. I write stories about them.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

AJ: Whew, that’s a good question. For monster, I’ve always thought Pennywise the Dancing Clown from Stephen King’s IT was terrifying. But he’s a monster and monsters have weaknesses. However, I find human bad guys far more terrifying than the monsters. For villain? That’s The Joker from Batman, hands down. He’s maniacal and you never know what to expect from him. He’s terrifying like nothing else.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

AJ: The Jack the Ripper murders. There are so many theories about who committed the crimes, but nothing definitive that actually points to a culprit. I don’t think it will ever be solved.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

AJ: Honestly, urban legends, like superstitions, don’t scare me. They fascinate me and I’ve gone to a few places here in South Carolina where a ghosts is seen on a certain night or lights will chase you or your car will die on a railroad track only to be pushed to safety by a bunch of unseen children. But I have never gotten scared by them. If anything, I always hope to see a ghost or something in those places.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

AJ: Wow, that’s another tough one. Ed Gein. Leatherface and Buffalo Bill (from Silence of the Lamb) are loosely based on him. But other than that, I’m not so sure Gein was all together there in the head. I’m not entirely certain his mental capacity was like that of a ‘normal’ individual. That makes his case more fascinating.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

AJ: I was nine and the movie was Salem’s Lot, a miniseries. There was a scene where the Glick Brothers ran through the woods and one of them was snatched up and killed. He later showed up at his brother’s hospital window and scratched on the window. “Let me in. Let me in,” he said and when the brother opened the window, he killed him. That scared the s#%t out of me, not because it was particularly scary, but because my older brother and I always cut through a set of woods on the way home from school. He also would leave the house in the middle of the night when he was nine and ten and eleven. When he came back, he would tap on my window and say, “Jeff, let me in, let me in.” A few nights after watching the movie, he skipped out of the house and came tapping on my window. I grabbed my pillow and clutched it so tight to my chest it was almost a part of me. But I didn’t get up and I didn’t open that window… and he got in a lot of trouble when Dad caught him.

I read King’s Carrie when I was eight. I loved it. I thought it was mean how they treated Carrie White and I loved how she got revenge on her tormentors, especially her crazy mother. It’s really the book that propelled me to a love of horror fiction more than anything else.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

AJ: I don’t know if I would consider it a horror novel, but The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks was disturbing. The story itself is great, but when you get to the end and Banks revealed what he had left little hints about along the way, it blew my mind and made me think ‘oh wow, this is worse than I thought.’ Masterful story telling.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

AJ: Salem’s Lot is the only horror movie that ever scared me and that one scene… whew… that one scene still haunts me.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

AJ: I’ve always wanted to dress up as a zombie, but I never have. I wouldn’t want to be one of those painted green zombies, either. Make me like one from The Walking Dead.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

AJ: This is Halloween by Marilyn Manson. I sing it throughout the year.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

AJ: Favorite? Candy corn. Most disappointing? Black licorice. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by. Before you go: What are your go-to Halloween movies?

AJ: Hocus Pocus is a fun movie, and as I mentioned before, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is my favorite Halloween themed movie. Also, put Monster House in there as well. As you can see, I really don’t find many horror movies that great. Give me a good, enjoyable story. Most Halloween movies and books don’t do that, at least for me.

A.J. Brown is a southern-born writer who tells emotionally charged, character driven stories that often delve into the dark parts of the human psyche. Though he writes mostly darker stories, he does so without unnecessary gore, coarse language, or sex. More than 200 of his stories have been published in various online and print publications. If you would like to learn more about A.J. you can check out his website, Type AJ Negative. You can also find him on Facebook and on Amazon Amazon Author Page.

Five Deaths
Andrew Colson never intended to kill anyone. The dead that haunted his childhood had other plans.

The first ghost to appear to him was Billy Jumper, a four-year-old special needs child murdered by his stepfather in a drunken fit. Billy was followed by Sarah Lockingham and Janie Whiteside, then the one person who he loved most, his father.

After the death of a close friend, Andrew learns what the ghosts want from him and sets out to fulfill their needs. In doing so, Andrew discovers a devastating truth that may push him beyond setting things right for the dead. It might lead him to revenge.