Throwback Thursday from 1963 – 2 Days Until Halloween

halloween 1963 newspaper-1There were heavy trunks full of old records in the work shop, the oldest from the 1930’s.  They were stored in newspapers that tracked with their
eras, or the eras that my parents collected the albums.  Amongst them, I found an old Halloween ad for the Harvest House Cafeteria.

Details on Harvest House Cafeteria are limited, but reports from that time say the food was good.  And they had clowns that did magic.

A Monstrous Love – 4 Days Until Halloween

In the movie Crimson Peak, Lucille Sharpe (the dark sister who holds the keys to the family manse) tells the gothic heroine, “It is a monstrous love. And it makes monsters of us all.”  Her version of love is menacing and possibly mad, as the best monsters are.

My favorite monsters pursue their victims with a deliberate and threatening drive.  In a presentation at the Florida Writers Conference, Sidney Williams posited that a monster is only frightening until you see it, and I think this is true.  You know it is there, that it will come, that it is hunting the others. The anticipation is suffocating. You squint into the darkness trying to see if you can make out its silhouette.  You wait behind the door with the gothic heroine, the original final girl, listening hard for its approach, desperately wanting to bolt, trying to hold your breath so you won’t be heard.

You want the monster to find her, so the final girl can face it and survive.  But the monster is never more threatening than right before that breathless moment.

#Arachtober – 5 Days Until Halloween

Florida huntsman spiders hide behind curtains and boxes pushed against the wall.  They’re velvety brown and large, nearly the size of your hand.  Their legs tickle if you let them crawl over your fingers.

You’ll see them when you pull back the shower curtain or move something from under your bed.  But they’ll skitter away, shy around humans.  For every one you see, many more are still hidden.

The Little Man – 6 Days Until Halloween

The Little Man
by Victoria Nations

There’s a little man
crouching by the fence past the stop sign.
He’s bald and wearing a shapeless coat,
and he reminds me of Uncle Fester,
but he’s grinning a little too wide.
His teeth are very long.
And he looks much too menacing to be an Addams.

He’s shaking the split rail fence.
Maybe he’s trying to pry one of the boards off,
though it would be easy enough to crawl over
or even through the fence.
But perhaps he’s just doing it to get my attention.
He’s catching my eye, and he’s grinning wider now.
And he’s pulling the fence with greater force.

Bang.
Bang.
Bang.

He pauses for a moment and looks to see if I’m reacting.
I’m trying to hold my face still.
I’m trying to look as if I’m not watching him.
And I’m wishing that I could drive past him faster.
He’s obviously tracking me. He knows what I’m doing.
His head swivels around, and his smile is wider.
I can see the gums above his teeth.

I lose him in my blind spot as I pass closest to him.
When I look in the rearview mirror,
he’s not at the fence anymore.
The board is still in place.
I can’t see him anymore,
and it’s worse than watching him follow me.
I wonder how fast he can move, or jump.

I think about him clinging to the roof,
his face raised to the wind.
It’s causing his lips to pull back from those long teeth.
I think about him waiting there.
He’s waiting for me to get farther down the road.
I hear his grip shift on the roof, before trying to pry it off.

Bang.
Bang.
Bang.

Throwback Thursday – 9 Days Until Halloween

Dr. Paul Bearer was the host of Creature Feature, a self-declared “horrible old movie” double-feature that aired in the 1970’s and 80’s in the Tampa area.  In my memory, I’m laying on a floor pillow on orange carpet, in the living room of our family cabin, and watching Attack of the Mushroom People with him on a Saturday afternoon.

At commercial breaks, Dr. Paul Bearer brought out ridiculous props and made amazing puns, like his box of “Kellogg’s Mourn Flakes” cereal.  He pretended to play Poisoning Pigeons in the Park by Tom Lehrer on his grand piano.  He was brilliant.

Hallow-WriMo – 11 Days Until Halloween

NaNoWriMo begins at midnight on November 1. I’m often up then, closing down the house after the last trick-or-treaters and eating Halloween snacks in front of a late night horror movie. I’ve usually gotten most of the makeup wiped off, and I’ve transitioned to ghost socks. I’ll be dreaming of starting my NaNoWriMo story.

I’ve actually already started because it’s been building in my head for several weeks now. Characters are fleshing out, and I am starting to see how they look, though they haven’t all revealed their names yet. A few locations are coming together.  The antagonist is starting to talk and he’s pretty grumpy. The main character is pretty antagonistic, herself.

My writing will begin later on November 1, after the sun has come up, but I’m excited about it already. I want to get to that scene I see in my head, where the main character is exasperated about cleaning up the blood. I can’t wait to hear her pitch a fit as I write about her.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, look me up and send me a note at “Leaves and Cobwebs.” I’d love to hear how your stories are going, too.

Quiet Horror – 12 Days Until Halloween

I grew up reading Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, and I still adore them. Some day their language is overblown, but I love how their lavish descriptions overwhelm me. Their stories are more horrifying for how they make me feel crushed beneath moldering walls and surrounded by alien angles.  Something monstrous is usually threatening to overtake their narrators, and I hold my breath waiting for it to come.

When I see old buildings, their windows covered, my mind runs with the possibilities of what could be lurking behind them.  The buildings may be abandoned, but somehow they don’t seem empty.  I want to see the curtain twitch.  I want to see a shadow move behind them.

One of the presentations by Sidney Williams at the Florida Writers Conference was on quiet horror, those stories with a feeling of creeping terror.  It’s the form of horror fiction that I love to write (and read).  I want a reader to sense something is off, something wrong is happening. They’ll sense something is waiting for them to come closer, but they won’t be able to identify it in time. The unknown, the inability to escape, will make it even scarier.

Sunday Chores, Again – 13 Days Until Halloween

Two of my favorite sessions at the Florida Writers Conference were today.  I spent the morning delving in to how characters respond to supernatural elements and geeking out over writing horror so it fills a reader with dread.

But there was time this afternoon to check off a Halloween task: pumpkins!  They were so bright, so huge, and in all different shapes.  These will be very good jack-o-lanterns.