First, the cat. We had a black cat who loved to mess with people. She’d sit at the glass door and watch while we handed out candy to trick or treaters. Everyone thought she was the coolest decoration, and then she’d move and make them scream. Her timing was impeccable. Yeah, that’s the kind of creepy I like this time of year.
As for the writing, the dark side of my muse gets fed with all the great energy around changing weather, bright colors and the spookier side of Halloween. It’s kind of weird since I never learned to appreciate horror movies and only enjoy haunted houses now that I’ve worked in one.
But there’s just something about October that sparks the creepy side of the paranormal books I write for both adult and young adult readers. Something about October makes me more willing to get swept along into the eerie moment, to feel the chill of a ghost nearby, or otherwise gently freak out my readers or myself. Typically, this is the month when I write a bunch of short stories to work with the rest of the year.
When I started the Hobbitville series of short stories for my first publisher, it was a way of writing a bit lighter and for a younger audience in between the releases of my darker Shadows of Justice novels. There are five short stories in the Hobbitville saga so far, and while I love them all, The Shadow Stone is one of my favorites because it takes place during Halloween.
In the garden known as Hobbitville, the statues are actually portals to other gardens all over the world. Of course not everyone can use them. In this excerpt Lana meets someone who promises to help her learn the secrets of jumping through statues:
Her mind kept spinning with possibilities. No one but the band was supposed to be in here and no one from the band had a voice to match his…unless…her internal debate landed her right back at the conclusion that he’d jumped into Hobbitville from another garden at the request of her friends.
“Just tell me where you’re from.”
“It’s no secret you want to jump.”
She imagined the fading bruises and scrapes made it obvious to anyone who knew about Hobbitville that she’d been throwing herself at a variety of statuary. Embarrassment had her grateful for the poor lighting.
She laughed, growing more certain this was all a prank engineered by the Pixies. She’d get even by Christmas. Earlier, if she could master the jumping thing.
“So you’re here to share the secret?” She shoved her hands into her hoodie pocket and rocked back on her heels. “It’s not like there’s a magic word.”
“Of course there is. The garden is full of secret measures and magic phrasing. I’ll whisper what you’ve been missing in your ear tomorrow. Meet me back here.” He paused and in the silence she heard a shoe crunch on the gravel path behind him. “You should go now.”
She wasn’t ready to leave, her mind still sorting out the musical references in what he’d said. Measures and phrasing? He had to be a band geek like her. “I’ll follow you out.”
“Not tonight.” A soft breeze brushed cool across her face. She shivered despite herself. Trembling really undermined the tough girl image. She waited, almost a full minute, but he didn’t say anything more.
“Hello?” She pulled out her flashlight, the one she carried in case of emergency, not because she was scared, and flashed it over the arbor. Invasive, sure, but she had the right to know who she was dealing with.
The arbor was empty.
While I understand there are plenty of fans of the gross out, blood and guts side of Halloween, I really prefer the mind game or ghost story type of creepy. What’s your favorite kind of spooky for Halloween?
Live the adventure!
Regan Black writes action packed paranormal and urban fantasy novels so readers of all ages can savor a fantastic escape from the daily grind. Raised in the Midwest and California, she now lives with her family, three retired greyhounds, two cats, and four finches in the South Carolina Lowcountry where the abundance of history and legend fuels her imagination.