Last year, for the first time ever, I carved a pumpkin. Years and years of watching kids - and adults - in the neighbourhood go trick or treating wore me down, and began to appeal to me. Especially since, after the trick-or-treaters went home, I'd then take a walk around the block (not a euphemism) and enjoying the quiet chill of the night air. Not every house had a jack-o-lantern outside, but the ones that did looked ...beautiful. Bordering on eerie.
Repeating that ritual year after year gave me the urge to finally carve one for myself - which I did last year. Not only did I carve a pumpkin, but I put it out on the front doorstep. Actually, I tell a lie - I carved two. I bought two in the first place, because the first one, while it was a carving pumpkin, wasn't terribly big. So I bought another one, hoping it would be bigger ...and it was no bigger than a tennis ball. And it wasn't a carving pumpkin either. As someone who lifts weights once in a while. let me tell you the second pumpkin took a lot of elbow grease to cut.
What I didn't realise when I put my two pumpkins out last year was that this would be the beacon which drew trick-or-treaters to the house. Now I'd sit in the room nearest the door; lights off, window cracked open, speaker facing the window, creepy laugh track on YouTube cued up. And through the dark and cold evening, I'd hear my gate swing one, whispers approaching the front door, and then a knock (and it still baffles me why people don't use the perfectly serviceable bell. One of the best excuses I've heard is 'I didn't want to disturb anyone' - yeah, well, then you shouldn't have come here. Especially if your logic has that many holes in). So each time I opened the door, my bag of sweets got lighter until it was all gone. The last trick or treaters that turned up looked glum when I had to send them away empty handed - but at least by then I realised why they kept visiting.
So I brought the pumpkins inside the house, and made a vow that this year, I'd enjoy a quiet time with a jack-o-lantern myself. After all, I write stuff where the seemingly impossible comes to life. Stranger things may happen. And if there's any time for horror to really be in its element, wouldn't it be Halloween?
What also happened from last year is where the idea for the current collection, Misery And Other Lines, started to take shape. Even before then, I want to craft a collection, as opposed to 'throw' an assortment of stories together - but that's, well ...a whole other story. Not saying there's anything wrong with such an assortment, but it didn't speak to me. Throughout out it all, I'd only let two people apart from Justin (Sinister Horror Company publisher) be privy to what was really in play. Especially when the first draft was done.
One was Kev Harrison (and you can catch his review via Ginger Nuts Of Horror here).
The other being Kit Power, who was the only person I ever really considered to write the foreword; given that he not only likes at least some of my work, but gets what/how I'm trying to convey in it. Let's just say that I'm humbled and honoured that he was not only wowed enough by the work, but also agreed to the foreword. Both men were entertained enough.
With a work centred around Halloween, I carved my pumpkin - much better than last year, but still room for improvement. Truth told, I wasn't quite happy with it (so that's one to work on). As much as I love to lap the block and enjoy the night, the stillness, and the glowing jack-o'-lanterns in the neighbourhood, I wasn't in the mood tonight (partly because the night has me so busy). But, I did have an idea; a flash of inspiration.
What if I read to the neighbourhood?
I think back on earlier this evening - it was pissing with rain. Didn't stop the trick-or-treaters though; no. Those whoops and screams aren't fear; it's excitement. Joy. And it's pretty cool (despite the fact I might quip otherwise). My disclaimer upfront is that I write horror, it's not for everybody. My brand of horror isn't for everybody. That said, there are some sections of my work that might be deemed suitable by some parent or guardian, that I don't have to be set upon by a determined band of townsfolk with torches, pitchforks and clubs. All I'd have to do is sit with a lit jack-o'-lantern and one of my books, and read. Who knows? The kids might like it. The adults might be intrigued by it.
And the lantern?
We'll think it over, and table it for now.
#halloween #horror #london #miseryandotherlines #gingernutsofhorror #jackolantern