Happy Halloscream!

Posted: 10/31/2011 in Horror, Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

Halloween has been my favorite holiday since I was a kid.  It is the one day of the year that is fraught with a spooky kind of transformative magic.  It’s the day when we’re allowed to tug on costumes and become someone, or something, else.  It’s a time for capering about in the darkness, a time for tricks and treats, a time for hayrack rides, apple cider, and spooky tales around the bonfire, a time for monster movies and a waltz with ghosts and ghouls, a time when the line between what is – and what could be – becomes just a little thin. 

Halloween also marks the time of year when we are caught between seasons; not quite within the fell grasp of winter, but a night breeze runs its bony, chill fingers through our hair and pulls at our costumes as we walk the darkened streets.   

I’ve long believed, and Stephen King has often suggested in his stories (such as It), that the mundane and rote responsibilities of adulthood drive away the innate capacity to recognize magic we have as children.  Robert McCammon explored this idea as well in the opening of Boy’s Life.  Halloween is the one day of year that gives us the latitude to let our imaginations run amok, to revel in tales of things that lurk in the darkness and go bump in the night, to sample again – however briefly – the exotic flavor of magic under the orange glow of an autumn moon. 

I write because words possess their own kind of magic.  Words have their own special rhythm and resonance, and when combined in the right order and proportion by those of us who practice literary alchemy with a pen, or a typewriter, or by the glow of a monitor, they transform into a whole much greater than the sum of its parts.  When I was a kid, I loved Halloween.  I loved dressing up and becoming someone else, if only for a short while.  As a writer, I am gifted daily with the opportunity to create and explore other realities and other lives, and to share this magic and these worlds with others.  So enjoy some magic this Halloween night, be it at a costume party, a trip through a haunted house, a stroll past the cemetery gates, a scary movie flickering in the darkness, or a creepy tale read by the pale glow of a bedside light.  Whatever you do, savor the magic, and have a happy Halloween!

  1. And a Happy Halloween to you too!
    May all your tricks be treats (or something like that).

  2. Another McCammon fan? Wow! Most people I mention him too, treat me to a blank stare! I love Boys Life. One of his best. Gone South is one of the few books I’ve read multiple times.
    Great Halloween post!

    • blackalchemy says:

      Wasn’t Boy’s Life a stellar novel? I read (and re-read) that one addictively! I also enjoyed Swan Song, but have not read Gone South (to be remedied shortly) and thanks to you I will also be checking out his werewolf tales! Wishing you a very happy Halloween!

    • Paul D. Dail says:

      Agreed on Swan Song. Loved it. Stinger was also good. As was… Blue World, I think… a handful of shorts. Haven’t read Gone South, either, but will put it on the list.

      Paul D. Dail
      http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  3. Dave Farmer says:

    Literary alchemy – that is so cool! Words do indeed have a special kind of magic, and whilst Stephen King was right, part of being a writer is keeping that window open to the magic of our childhood.

  4. I love that! Writing is like trying on different costumes. It’s a kind of magic. I love stories…the listening and the telling.

    • blackalchemy says:

      Hi, Sonia! I really like how you put that: “writing is like trying on different costumes.” The best part of writing is getting to try on those costumes every day, instead of once a year. 🙂

      And I am with you – the magic is in the stories themselves, both the listening and the telling!

  5. Paul D. Dail says:

    Nice post. Although it’s been years, I feel like Bradbury touches on this in “Dandelion Wine,” as well. “Boy’s Life” was interesting. Hadn’t read a McGammon book in years, but I enjoyed it.

    As for our “savoring the magic,” it involved scaring ourselves silly sitting around watching Quarantine on Saturday night. Tonight, well, it’s just been a long Monday at work (while the horror writer in me may love Halloween, the high school teacher in me kind of hates it).

    Anyway, happy Halloween. Got your email and will be responding soon.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    • blackalchemy says:

      Watching Quarantine makes for an excellent Halloween weekend – that movie creeped me out. Good suspense and several nice jump scares, but what interested me was I felt like for what the movie was, the character development was pretty good and so it made the horror all the better. I spooked myself pretty good watching Paranormal Activity. A lot of reviews pan those “found footage” premise horror movies, but they always get to me. I think because it is less overtly “Hollywood” it is easier for me to suspend disbelief. I think horror writers should get the week of Halloween off as a holiday. Maybe I can make it happen in a story sometime though. I am a huge Bradbury fan and adored Dandelion Wine – it offered such a glimpse back into time, and what it meant to be a kid in those long ago days. That’s another beautiful thing about books – they can be time capsules and even allow for a little time travel sometimes. I just wish we really could suspend time sometimes, at least while we are writing – there are so many other tugs and pulls and never enough time in the day. Take care, and I hope this first week of November finds you well!

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