Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Wendy got us started with her own Fantastic Scary Books List, but with Halloween only a week away, this seemed like an appropriate time to share all our best recommendations for favorite spooky reads. What are your favorites for this mystical season?
Lee Laughlin: Nope. Nope. NOPE! Not for all the nopes in nopeville. I don’t do scary. Years ago, someone gave me a Copy of Steven King’s Pet Cemetery. I had just finished my last graduate school class for the summer and was totally looking forward to some reading for fun. To top it off the book was in large print, a rare find in those days. I read the first chapter and stashed the book in the very bottom, back corner of a storage trunk . Eventually I gave it to a visually impaired friend. My imagination is too active and too pervasive. I can not handle scary books at all.
Julie Hennrikus: I’m with Lee. I aspire to read Stephen King (huge fan of his On Writing), but I tried a short story and it freaked me out. I can’t watch scary movies either. The closest I came to was some true crime, but even that is something I can’t deal with easily. I am a wimp, which is surprising for a mystery writer, but there you go.
Lisa J. Jackson: Well, not to scare my fellow bloggers here, but I love reading (and writing) dark fiction. I devoured Stephen King and John Saul books starting in my teens. Pet Sematary is definitely one that sticks in my head, as I had so so many pets growing up (a lot of open space and cats always came into the family). I missed my pets when they died, like the concept of the ‘sematary’, but wouldn’t use it myself!
It (also by King) is another one that sticks with me. I think it was when I saw that book become a TV mini series that I realized reading horror/dark fiction is a lot more fun (scary) than seeing the stories on the screen — although Tim Curry as ‘It’ was a delight to watch. I can enjoy the Freddy Krueger and Scream movies at this time of year, but horror flicks like Saw and others — well, I’m not a fan. I want to let my imagination run free and, wow, some books can really creep me out.
There is/was one book, The Fog, that got right inside my head (like those red glowing eyes in the Amityville Horror tale), that I couldn’t sleep easily for weeks. I was scared each time I picked it up to read it, but I had to finish it (during daylight hours) so I wouldn’t be left wondering how some of the town’s people survived. I can vividly recall the texture of the book and its pages, and how I never read it right before bed (after the first time). Any story, horror or not, that can pull me in so deep I have physical reactions, is amazing.
Jamie Wallace: I’m with Lee and Julie – scary is not my thing. I tried to read a Stephen King novel once. My aunt loaned me a copy of It, and I naively cracked open the cover and began to read. I think I made it maybe a quarter of the way through the book before I had to give up because of the terrifying and frequent nightmares.
Since then, I steer clear of anything scary, but I did listen to the audio version of Ray Bradbury’s novel, The Halloween Tree, last year; and I think I discovered a new, seasonal favorite. From Audible:
On a Halloween night, eight boys are led on an incredible journey into the past by the mysterious “spirit” Moundshroud. Riding a dark autumn wind from ancient Egypt to the land of the Celtic druids, from Mexico to a cathedral in Paris, they will witness the haunting beginnings of the holiday called Halloween.
Ray Bradbury’s evocative prose and imagery will send shivers of delight—and spine-chilling terror—through listeners young and old, long after the last candle has died in your jack-o’-lantern.
The story is a lesson in history across many cultures, but it is also a tense tale fraught with suspense and a containing a beautiful portrayal of friendship. I remember reading it for the first time as I rode the commuter rail back and forth to a writing class at the Salem Athaneum. It has stuck with me, and is beckoning me to come back for a second read. I just might give in.
Diane MacKinnon: Like many of my fellow bloggers, I’m not a big fan of scary stories. I have seen too much real blood and gore to enjoy reading about it or watching it on TV (forget the big screen. I once took my Little Sister and a friend of hers to see a horror movie and I lasted about 5 minutes. I sat in the lobby for the rest of the movie, thankful I wasn’t still in the theater.) The one Halloween story I really love is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. There’s no gore and every version I’ve read of it has been satisfying. I also heard it read once on NPR and I got a copy of it for my brother years ago. I wonder if he still has it?
Not a big fan of scary. Every year, when my friend Archer Mayor comes out with a new Joe Gunther police procedural, I have to block out enough time to read it in one sitting, even while telling myself, “It has to end well, or Archer won’t be able to write another.” Currently, I’m reading my friend Suzanne d’Corsey’s first novel, The Bonnie Road, which has spooky elements – as in spirits in Scotland. Just started it, and I’m intrigued.