A blog that goes bump in the night – why is October scary?
On a cold, fall evening, Lisa Rayburn, the protagonist in my suspense novel, She’s Not There, wonders why fall is scary. She’s right, but why? It can’t be because of trick-or-treating. Today’s costumed tots go out surrounded by friends and protected by parents; nothing scary about that. (I could mention that in my day, children were able to go out alone, which was scary, but that would reveal my age – and that’s truly scary!)
In a creative writing class, I wrote a short story in which I tried to define what was actually spooky about fall. I described bare trees with branch-tentacles grasping at lone walkers after dark. So, bare trees outlined against a full moon – kind of scary. The air suddenly cool and crisp – a little scary. But frightening enough to paint the month evil? Hardly.
We all enjoy the thrill of being terrified. The legend of the Hallow’s Eve of folklore permits us to celebrate fear every year when, on October 31, witches gathered to mark the seasonal transition.
In a frenzy of fear, by the end of October our lawns sport the grim reaper, giant spiders, ghosts, coffins and Frankenstein’s monster. We throw parties attended by guests dressed as everything from football players to Count Dracula. (I’ve heard that this year zombie costumes will be the rage.)
Ghosts are a popular fright on Halloween. My house has a ghost. Honestly, it does and others have experienced it. He’s neither a wicked ghost nor a friendly one. He’s just here, the man who built this house. He had a sad, unfulfilling life and remains disturbed. We co-exist; he’s not scary.
In fiction and in movies, for me, when it comes to hair-raising, less is more. In Cujo, Stephen King mastered nail-biting foreshadowing and underlying tension of the horror to come. And a movie that left me with a creepy feeling for weeks (and even now and then when I walk past the woods) was the Blair Witch Project. Some people hated it, but I find what I don’t see to be much more frightening than a slasher flick with buckets of blood shed in every scene. Subtle horror, like humor, wins out for me every time.
I find reality scarier than either fiction or the paranormal. The night I read Helter Skelter, the true crime account of Charles Manson and his followers, I was awake all night; and not just because I was engrossed in reading. The idea of people capable of such atrocities creeping around my house while I slept, scared the crap out of me.
What scares it out of you? Come on, share it in a comment. I’ll send a coupon for a free ecopy of She’s Not There to the most interesting answer. So think about what really frightens you and spill it. Then sleep with the light on!
Thank you Marla! Ever since watching the first Halloween movie (with Jamie Lee Curtis I think) it put me off knives for life. I use them, obviously, but I won’t have a knife block on display in the house. As one of the ‘organisers’ I’m not in the running for the free eBook by the way folks so please do tell. 🙂
Marla Madison works part-time doing arbitrations for the State of Iowa and the Federal Mediation Service. Working full-time as an author, Marla is busy penning her second novel of suspense. She’s Not There, her first, is now available as an ebook. At home in Northwestern Wisconsin, she lives on Prairie Lake with her significant other, Terry, a beloved shelter-dog, Skygge, and Poncho, an opinionated feline from the same shelter. Some of her favorite things are playing duplicate and tournament bridge, golfing, reading, pontooning, and taking long walks with her dog. You can find Marla via her blog, Twitter and Facebook.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).