|A tin jack-o'-lantern the blogger bought at a thrift store and put up in his living room. This mini pumpkin was made and hand-painted by an unknown Indian artist.|
Photo Credit: Steven Rose, Jr.
Tomorrow is my favourite day of the year as a fantasist and so I have been extra busy preparing. I meant to do several blog posts leading up to the holiday but got so busy with other projects and even non-writing duties that I decided it would be best to write one big Halloween post. That includes Day of the Dead which is 2 November.
Halloween Horror Fiction I’m Writing
For this Halloween, I’ve been revising a short horror story fitting for the season. I actually wrote it last year about this time but it was too close to the holiday so I didn’t bother revising it until just this month. It’s a juvenile story. I say “juvenile” rather than young adult in this case because I’m trying to target it at a tween audience as well a teen one. Yet I’m hoping it can be enjoyed by adult readers too. Who knows, if you check here at the Fantastic Site tomorrow you may be able to read it for free as a Halloween treat! So check back tomorrow. If I don’t finish it in time, then I’ll try to have something here for you so you don’t feel like you wasted your time checking.
I’ve mostly been revising the story for character and am realizing how hard characterization and development can be. For example, I don’t know all the names of the clothes that today’s tweens wear and so I had to do my research on that. But the challenge was finding out the generic names for the clothes and ways to describe them so as not to use trademarked brand names and risk infringement. Most of this research I’ve done on retail stores’ websites. I’d go into other details of the challenges in revising this story but I don’t want to create any pumpkin spoilers.
Just this Tuesday I wrote a new horror short story. It was for my writers’ club that I’m a member of. The story is based on a special Halloween prompt we were given to write on. It’s not particularly a Halloween story, even though it is set during that time of year. It plays on the evil eye myth. The twist? Well, it’s kind of a twist: the eye has no body. As soon as I revise it fully I’ll publish it somewhere either in my next collection (that I haven’t really planned out yet but am getting ready to) or in another source. Whichever, I’ll let you know once it’s published.
Halloween Meets Day of the Dead
Something that has been making Halloween better each year is the apparent merging of the holiday with the Mexican Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). Though the purposes for celebrating the two holidays are different, the two have many similarities that depict the myths of the afterlife and netherworld that are so iconic in the skeleton. Because the two holidays fall only within two days of each other, Day of the Dead has even influenced the stores: there are actually Day of the Dead skull masks you can buy at party stores and even general retail chains such as Target. (Although I do not condone the extreme commercialism of the holiday.)
As a Mexican-American, what really makes me proud of this holiday growing in popular in the U.S. is the new animated movie that director Guillermo Del Toro helped produce, The Book of Life. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to see it myself but am sure to. However, this movie is great at introducing to people the Mexican holiday that, like Halloween, celebrates skeletons and ghosts (this second one many of whom our relatives have personally known!). But I’m so amused at how Day of the Dead is becoming more popular and mainstream each year to the level of Halloween that I decided to do a sketch of how I see the compatibility of the two:
And this is no joke. I really do see the two that way.
Halloween Book List
Last time I said that I might have a list of my Halloween horror fiction reading. Here it is:
The Manitou, Graham Masterton: This 1976 novel about an evil spirit of a Native American medicine man was made into a movie later in the decade. The movie was far underrated in my opinion. I talk a little more about it in my previous post.
“Alive-Oh”, Lisa Morton: This is a short story about a man who goes to a Halloween haunted attraction which turns out to be more than he expects. Much more than he expects. It’s a very meaningful story with a social message while the story doesn’t try too hard to convey that message. It takes a really good twist on the haunted attraction horror story. In this one, the real horror may be very near to where we are sitting as we read it. You can check it out for free at The Horror Zine.
“Storyteller”, Nicholas Dahdah: Another short story from The Horror Zine. This one is Lovecraft-inspired but don’t worry, it’s not another Cthullu fan fiction piece. Even more, it’s far from amateur. This one actually features Lovecraft as one of the characters. Read the story and find out why.
The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre: The above Lovecraft-inspired story inspired me to read a couple of Lovecraft’s stories and so I decided to read them from this collection. One is “The Picture in the House” and the other “The Silver Key”. The first one has its own characters and storyline while the second is from the author’s Randolph Carter series of stories which are really good and can get really mind tripping.
Isaac Asimov’s Magical Worlds of Fantasy 2: Witches, edited by Isaac Asimov (and others): I haven’t read all the stories in this book yet, but the one I recently read for the season is “The Witch” by A.E. van Vogt. It’s about a seemingly helpless old woman cared for by a young couple. But the husband has his suspicions.
And these are stories I’m planning to read for Halloween:
The October Country, Ray Bradbury: This is the late Bradbury’s book of dark supernatural tales of which I try to read at least one each Halloween season.
An Edgar Allan Poe tale: For us avid readers, Halloween just wouldn’t be complete without one, right?
That’s it for now. And, as I said, I’ll have a Happy Halloween something for you tomorrow. So until then, take scare!