I’m a big fan of Halloween, although not in the classic sense of dressing up, going to parties, and hosting trick-or-treaters. (Although as a kid I loved trick-or-treating. Picking my costume was the highlight of my year.) As a writer of fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal, I love that it’s the one day where my interests aren’t considered strange. I can talk about demons, aliens, and mythological creatures and no one gets upset or wants to have me institutionalized for being crazy.
I also love that it’s one of those days where it seems like anything is possible. We all intellectually know that most of the things we see on Halloween aren’t real, but it’s still fun to imagine and wonder about all of those things that are just inexplicable. Everything from ghosts to Great Pumpkins could really be out there, even if for just one night.
I don’t participate in trick-or-treat any more or even decorate much beyond a garden flag and some knick-knacks inside. I don’t even give out candy. It’s not out of any sense of Grinchiness about the holiday, it’s simply because we now live too far off the main path to get any kids coming by. And most of my friends are introverts like myself, so parties are few and far between. (Work from home and you don’t even get work parties.) So I have to find other ways to play.
So in the spirit of fun, my regular writing post is replaced this week with some of my Halloween favorites!
As with TV and Movies, I tend toward books that aren’t gory but are more suspenseful, creepy, or thrilling. I prefer books that mess with my mind or tell a fantastic tale more than ones that put on a slasher show.
- Harry Potter (The whole series.)
- A Discovery of Witches and the other books in the series, by Deborah Harkness
- Dracula, by Bram Stoker
- The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
- The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
- Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
- The Passage, by Justin Cronin
- Stories by Edgar Allen Poe
- Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle
- Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux
- A Great and Terrible Beauty and The Diviners, both by Libba Bray
- Any of Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series
- The Fever series, from Karen Marie Moning
Favorite Board Games
The other thing I like to do is play board games. Of course, I like to do that all year long, but at Halloween I get to drag out all the horror, witch, and zombie themed games I want and no one says, “Not that stuff again.” The more theme the game has, the better. I can recommend any of these to anyone looking for a Halloween-themed game. Nothing is too scary or demonic. Most of it is all in good fun and only marginally creepy. There’s nothing like getting a few people around the table and battling vampires or demons on Halloween. Unlike slasher flicks, nothing too scary sticks with you and keeps you up all night. If anything, you only remember the fun.
- Transylvania: Curses and Traitors
- Betrayal at House on the Hill
- Dead of Winter
- Witch of Salem
- A Touch of Evil
- Eldritch Horror
- Vampire Empire
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Game
- Smash Up: Monster Smash
Candy is candy and there isn’t much I’ll turn down, but like anyone, I have favorites. In no particular order:
- Candy Corn
- Caramel squares
- Tootsie Rolls
- Milk Duds
Favorite Movies/TV Shows
I spend the week leading up to Halloween shoving all my Halloween-themed DVD’s into the player and streaming whatever I don’t own. It’s a never-ending marathon of fun. I don’t like anything too gory. I prefer to keep my Halloween more fun and silly than scary, but if it’s not Halloween-themed, you won’t find it on TV in this house in the week or so leading up to the big day.
- It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
- Nightmare Before Christmas
- Hocus Pocus
- Monsters vs. Aliens
- Monsters, Inc.
- Haunted Mansion
- Harry Potter
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
- Sleepy Hollow (Both the TV show and the movie)
- Wallace and Grommit, Curse of the Wererabit
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
- Addams Family
- Ghostbusters (old or new)
- The Village
- Halloween episodes from comedies like The Simpsons, The Middle, Home Improvement, etc. and any other TV specials that get aired.
The other thing I like to do at Halloween is bake. Of course, anything with pumpkin spice or limited edition “fall” flavors is a given. I also enjoy decorating Halloween cookies and cupcakes, almost as much as I like decorating Christmas ones. It doesn’t feel like a chore or work. It’s creative fun in the kitchen. Painting a jack-o-lantern’s face on a cookie or making a cupcake look like a dragon is all in good fun. And then I get to blow my diet and eat the results, guilt free because, hey, it’s a holiday!