The start of October signals an open gateway for anything that creeps, crawls, and splatters.
It’s the season to be a horror fan, and especially around here, we have a lot catering to the climate of fear. The leaves are going. That’s the first portent, next comes the darkness. Then its all horror movies, horror novels, and mulled apple cider straight through to November.
Miskatonic Montreal’s offering a Shirley Jackson curriculum this year, and the silent film double feature offered at Cine Club Film Society is a combo of Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. There are Halloween parties and pre-Halloween parties, and I’m pretty sure the Fear Depot’s haunted house is open in Montreal’s Old Port.
I’m easing off a largely brutal week that resulted in a few fourteen hour days; the result of overcommitment, probably, but I’m pretty happy that I’m not yet strapped into a straight jacket and demanding bugs as my main dinner course.
(Actually, I’ve got BBQ ribs in the slow cooker and there are a mountain of Cortland apples to bake into a pie this afternoon. Really, you know, fall stuff. Definitely not bugs. I’m not Renfielding yet.)
Tibby and I are taking a much-belated weekend away in Vermont mid-October to ride some horses, do some archery, and snuggle up fireside with a copy of the Necronomicon and tell each other stories of the Elder Gods. We’re also taking a lantern walking tour through haunted Stowe. Remind me to tell you about the covered bridges later — as per usual, I was puttering and came across a couple of haunts in the area that triggered a few story ideas. Worth sharing, totally.
Welcome to Halloween Month
There are several things happening here too. The most recent is the release of Lady of the Grain (which went live yesterday, in case you missed it) and it’s already gotten some great feedback.
For those of you following the project, it behooves me to tell you that the thirteenth tale is arriving on October 31st, and then I’m burying this project. I committed to a year of free short stories, and Lady of the Grain is the twelfth. That Jack is a story about Halloween that arrives on Halloween, well, I guess that’s to be expected.
Short Fictions: The Thirteenth Tale
Jack is a cautionary tale that puts a little folklore into a candy wrapper. I’ve been playing with themes of tradition a lot towards the end of this collection, and Jack digs into the pagan observances of Samhain. It’s not a pagan story, exactly, but it does give a tip of the hat to ancestral recognition: the Dumb Supper and keeping the jack o’ lantern lit to stave off bad spirits in the night.
Jack arrives October 31st, 2016.
Haunted Hotel Showcase
Jolene Haley is hosting the Haunted Hotel showcase this month at her site, and though I jumped on the bandwagon a little late, I did send off my story two nights ago — eeking below the deadline.
About The Haunted Hotel Showcase
The Haunted Hotel is a writer & illustrator’s showcase of short stories and drawings that are dark in nature, macabre, or horror themed that takes place in the middle of fall, somewhere in New England, at the Thornewood Hotel.
The Thornewood Hotel is a seven-story hotel, complete with attic and basement, built in the 1800s. There are 666 rooms throughout and rumor is, there’s a lot of strange things that happen there.
While my release date has yet to be confirmed, I wrote a short story called The Skeleton and the Corpse Candle. I’ll post the release date to Twitter when I’ve got it.
More books! I’ve got at least three YA Horror novel reviews and one classic coming down the pipe this month for those of you looking for something creepy to read. Look out for the following book reviews in the next couple of weeks:
- And the trees crept in by Dawn Kurtagich
- The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
- One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards
The Midnight Society
I’ll be posting twice this month for #SocietyScreams — our month-long tribute to Halloween and horror.
Pretty sure I’ll be talking pumpkins. Pretty sure we all need to talk about pumpkins right now — but particularly, the origins of the innocent-looking carved jack o’ lantern that you set on the front porch at Halloween. Seems fitting, given the season. (But if we’re talking pumpkins, you should probably figure I’ll be talking turnips too. TURNIPS. Sidenote: I hate turnips, but I’ve got Irish in me, so I better talk about ‘em in conjunction with the pumpkins. Gourds, okay: Smashing them, cooking them, keeping the malevolent dead away with them.)
Currently working on a piece about John William Polidori and his work, The Vampyre, but whether that ends up here or at The Midnight Society has yet to be determined. Depends how idiosyncratic the article gets before I post it. Let me offer some context: I read Mary Shelly’s biography recently, and it’s birthed an obsession with Villa Diodati — the mansion in Geneva where the summer of horror took place in 1816. Basically, this was a retreat that suffered inclement weather for a couple of days that had the likes of Lord Byron, Percy Shelly, Mary Shelly, and John William Polidori trapped indoors. Lord Byron went and challenged everyone to write something spooky, and while Mary Shelly produced Frankenstein as a result, Polidori wrote a much-overlooked staple for the vampire canon in the long legacy leading to Dracula. You can’t really call The Vampyre a seminal work (because like most critics will tell you, “it’s just okay.”) but a critical one that’s contributed to the evolution of the monster as a character that could be considered sympathetic by the time Bram Stoker took a crack at it.
Guest Post: Loren Rhoads
The imminent Loren Rhoads is joining me at the blog this month to talk cemeteries and her favourite books about them. You might not know this (hell, I don’t think even Loren knows this) but she’s responsible for for triggering my interest in the Highgate Vampire. Why is this relevant: because I’m writing a trilogy that legend trips the Highgate Vampire into something new that originates from an article that Loren Rhoads wrote ages ago at Dark Echo.
Way back in the day, I stumbled across an article about Highgate West and the entity that supposedly haunted it. Granted, I didn’t remember the author of the article, but I was familiar with Loren’s work because she was editing Morbid Curiosity (a journal which I still have a couple of copies of someplace.) So in this hilarious loop de loop that time and memory does, I’m starting research for a cemetery piece for her blog a month ago, I come across that same article that started my obsession from so many years ago — imagine my surprise when I realize she wrote it.
And now she’s October’s guest blogger. Yup. I don’t have enough kowtow in me to express my not-worthiness.
(Also, I don’t think I could write a better piece about the Vampire of Highgate, so my Cemetery Travels submission’s subject matter is changing. You should check out the original article on Dark Echo here.)
I’ve been working with Brooke Stant at Villainess Soaps for just over a decade doing her product packaging design. Part of the reason I’ve been so busy this week is because of freelance design work for her Halloween collaboration with Julia at Arcana Soaps. It’s a big collection of soap, body scrub, and moisturizers this year that are all about monsters.
Let me tell you: if you need a luxurious bar of soap that smells wicked, these two ladies are the answer to washing your naughty bits. Creepy, elegant, and unique — the Villainess/Arcana Halloween collection is super exciting for any horror fan.
Decorating (or, “fuck it, I’m putting halloween decorations on my homepage.”)
Here’s a lesson learned from my career in design: web traffic rarely lands on your homepage. They find you through your blog or social media accounts first, or maybe, if you’re doing your SEO right, organic traffic comes through a landing page that’s loaded with keywords.
Does that stop me from redesigning for the season? NOPE.
It’s all fall colours and hidden Halloween scenes in the blood splatters. Check it out.
Of course, I’ve got some other stuff up my sleeve this month geared towards the things that creep, crawl, shamble, drop body parts, and make eerie noises in the dead of night. I’m not going to tell you how and when they’ll manifest, though I do recommend leaving a light on just in case.
Happy month of Halloween, guys and ghouls! Let the haunt begin.