When I was a kid, my uncle and aunt threw FANTASTICAL Halloween parties. They lived (still live) on a wooded mountain in Maryland. It was my very favorite place to go. I’d stay at their house as often as my parents would allow it. (I would have moved there completely, but don’t tell my mom because her feelings would probably be hurt.)
My uncle first got me into horror movies when I was probably 7 or 8. They were the old horror movies that started with “The”. Y’know, The Fog. The Thing. We’d eat chocolate chips and raisins, mixed in just the right ratio in our mouths. (This was before I realized there was an actual boxed candy called Raisinets.) I felt brave. I felt cool. Watching those scary movies and then having to sleep in that creaky old house in the middle of the pitch black woods really girded up my kid balls, making me a little tougher. Though not too tough. I still scare fairly easy.
Every Halloween a grand Halloween party was thrown. Many of the people in the small town (most of the people lived at the bottom of the mountain) came up to the celebration. It was a biggish deal. There were costume contests and pumpkin carving contests and food and candy and crafts. And then there was the big event: the spook alley. Some years it was in their house, some years it ran a path through the woods. Other years it was a hay ride through their apple orchard, and another year it was in their big barn. They mixed it up. They kept it fresh. And scary as hell (at least from a kid’s perspective). The makeup and costumes were good. It was glorious. I went home every Halloween night hopped up on fear-fueled adrenaline and pounds of sugar.
Those are some of the very best memories of my life.
The fact that I grew up to enjoy writing creepy and magical things seems pretty natural. Earlier this year I published my first volume of horror short stories titled Tragic Tales of Strange Girls. (You can win a copy later this month with our fun contests!) A little of me and my childhood can be found in each tale. The first story in that collection, The Pact, features a stone wall that winds through the forest.
A crumbling stone wall exactly like one that runs through my aunt and uncle’s property.
Because everyone says we write what we know. And I know scary can be fun, creepy can be beautiful, and dark can be lovely.
Please share some of your favorite Halloween memories with me! And don’t forget to use the hashtag #everydayishalloween all this month!