It’s Spooky Season!

When I was a kid, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. But it wasn’t a big deal. Stores didn’t stock massive numbers of spooky decorations; we had to make our own costumes; pumpkins were carved but also eaten. When we went trick-or-treating we stayed in our own neighborhood, walked with friends (parents in tow), and generally laughed our way through the experience of surprising someone with a good costume rather than caring about the treats.

Today Halloween decorations come out in August (and to my horror – seriously – I’ve already seen Christmas décor for sale). Consumption seems to rule, whether it’s candy or decorations. We Americans are really into Spooky Season. So much so that the town of Salem, MA, home of the famous Salem witch trials is inundated with tourists (100,000 a day at last count) who don’t realize that it’s an actual town, not a theme park.

What Is It About Spooky?

I’ve written two middle grade spooky stories, and I’m a member of Spooky Middle Grade, a collective of authors who write these kinds of books, which range from real horror to mildly ghostly. Why do I write spooky? Honestly, it’s just plain fun.

Yes, and reading spooky stories can be an experience. I remember reading the original DRACULA by Bram Stoker, one winter night alone, sitting in a high-backed chair before the fireplace, and feeling like I didn’t want to leave that chair because it gave me protection from whatever might be behind me. Yet I kept reading, feeling the chills, savoring the masterful building of suspense.

When I listen to my fellow authors during our school visits, I nod in agreement with this: scary tales are useful. By reading about things that scare us, we can face down those fears. After all, we can put the book down and walk away; but we can also learn how to master fear, how to cope with “monsters”, how to even laugh at the things that seemed so terrible before we read about them.

I do believe in limits to spookiness for middle grade readers. I would never write true terror (I don’t read it, either), or bloody scenes, or violence. I happen to think the best horror, the scariest stuff, comes from inside and is psychological, and that, too, needs boundaries for middle grade.

Want To Write Spooky?

If you want to write spooky books for middle grade, here are a bunch of great books to read. Spooky is definitely having a day – kids love it, teachers and librarians are searching for it, and well-written spooky books last a long time on the bookshelves. Scare the kid inside of you silly and you’ll find your way into a fun book to read and write.

And Last Chance for This Spooky Giveaway!

My ARTIFACT HUNTERS companion booklet, SECRETS OF THE SAIU, will disappear at the stroke of midnight on Halloween. Don’t wait to get yours today!

Send me those secrets before it’s too late!

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