Monday, October 1, 2012


I’ve long insisted that Halloween is my all-time favorite holiday.  “The wax lips!” I always say.  “The candy corn!  The plastic hatchets!”
But my Halloween love is actually about far more than that.  Just as my love of ghost / scary stories is about far more than the fake blood.  (While we’re at it, when I say I love horror stories, I’m actually more of a fan of a psychological thriller than a complete slash-and-dash bloodbath…)

It’s recently occurred to me, though, that the real reason I love Halloween is a pretty writerly one: it gives me chance to make stuff up.

Catherine Ryan Hyde smartly commented on a post at my MG blog, Smack Dab in the Middle, that one of the biggest misconceptions about novelists is that they consistently write thinly-veiled autobiographies.  Like our own Catherine, I also write completely fictitious, invented works—none of the situations or characters featured in my books are ripped from my own life.  I get a serious kick out of making stuff up.  Creating a whole world completely of my own invention.

Yep—grape-flavored bloodshot eyeballs will always have an incredible amount of charm.  But even when I was little, the costumes were always what I loved most about Halloween.  I loved figuring out—usually by mid-summer—how I was going to dress up.  And I don’t really mean that I looked forward to being someone other than me.  I mean I loved figuring out how to create a mummy or hobo or bobby-soxer.  (Only one year in all of the—ahem—fourteen that I trick-or-treated did I have a store-bought costume.  Looking back, it was by far my least favorite.)  I loved the getting-to-make-it-up.

But that’s what we get to do every day as writers.  On the page, we get to dress up and become a fictional “I.”  We get to look at the world through someone else’s eyes.  We get to invent. 

Ditto for the horror flicks.  I’m a complete sucker for the tension-filled scenes you know so well: the protagonist is standing on one side of the door; a strange noise has just erupted on the other.  The protagonist begins to breathe hard, slowly reaching for the doorknob.  At this point, my mind always goes into overdrive as I imagine what is on the opposite side of that door. 

Again, as is the case with Halloween, I get to make it all up.  Until the opposite-side-of-the-door is revealed, of course.  But I love those who-know-what’ll-happen-next moments.

…I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to be yet this year, what I’m going to wear to greet the trick-or-treaters who will ring my bell.  Right now, I’m having too much fun imagining the possibilities, making up a hundred different scenarios, imagining this year’s who-knows-what.


  1. Okay, this comment has nothing to do with Halloween, but I just finished reading A Blue So Dark and I have to tell you how much I loved it. So beautifully written and so heartbreaking and yet uplifting at the same time. I love the end--the discussion about art and the creative process. It's one of the things I've had to learn over and over--that you've got to go "all in" with your writing and hold nothing back, no matter how strange it may seem or, in some cases, how dark.

    1. Thanks so much for such lovely and kind words, Jody.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...