I love autumn in general, but Halloween is the icing on the cake. I’ve always loved the special kind of magic that the holiday brings, as well as the odd cast of characters. Though I was perpetually afraid of everything as a kid, there was something about Halloween that made me embrace the idea of ghosts, witches, haunted houses, bats, vampires, and everything else—albeit in cute form. Mom and I would spend hours making decorations and putting out pumpkins, anchoring a giant ghost in one of our trees, making sure Marvin the Mummy sat in his proper spot at the window. The night, itself, always seemed longer to me growing up, even though I probably never stayed up too terribly late or did anything particularly terrifying. There was always the possibility, though. Plus, we always went out. It didn’t matter if it was a nice night or blustery (and sometimes the windy/drizzly nights added a lot more to the occasion). My costumes may have been homemade, but I felt transformed every time I trudged out into the streets to get candy. The dark didn’t hurt. Darkness is awesome at making costumes look fantastic and putting the idea of something in people’s heads.
I’ve always had a strange taste for costumes. After the typical animals and Princesses of Power, I came into my own with things like Harpo Marx, the Invisible Man, an elf sitting on a mushroom, a baby witch piggybacking on a mom witch (that was when my mother said I could start learning how to make things on my own). There were Jedi and Vader costumes, and other random things that people wouldn’t peg me for liking. Sometimes there was a sundry ulterior motive (I’d learned how to predict what would win me local costume contests), and other times I just went with what I happened to like at the time. Granted, it wasn’t like I was building professional-quality outfits in my pre-teens and teens, but there’s something about Halloween, especially a small town Halloween, that makes everything look awesome. There was never the option of buying costumes. That simply wasn’t a family tradition. Just as a only the decorations we really, really liked were bought, only the pieces that we needed to buy for a costume were purchased and the rest was left up to us and our imaginations.
In a lot of ways, it was my family’s DIY take on Halloween that led me down the path to theatre, costume design, and, of course, horror and dark fantasy writing. I love the act of taking bits and pieces and making new and unusual things. It doesn’t matter if it’s cloth and things lying about the house, or ideas and bits of archetypes. The stitching together into something else is the same to me, and I love parading them about and collecting people’s reactions like candy.
The possibility of Halloween is the same possibility I find in the horror genre, or in a lot of the other genres I write. The question of “What’s gonna happen tonight?” has turned into “What can I do with this?” It’s a challenge, that same tightrope walking feeling that I felt as a little kid walking down dark streets with my parents, obviously safe in our neighborhood…but never quite knowing if that was the case until we were back home again. I never quite know if an idea or an outfit I’m thinking of will actually work, and sometimes things definitely get harder before I have my answer.
Still, all that possibility and the gleefulness of creating something carries me through and makes me feel at home. It doesn’t matter if it’s a knitted ghost, a purse made out of latex skin, a troll suit, or a book I’m working on. The love of exploring all those little corners and what if’s is the same joy that wandering Halloween aisles in stores, getting the decorations out, and wondering what it would be like to explore a haunted house gave me as a kid.
Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?
Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation. In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways. Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.
Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.