Thursday, October 31, 2013
My son is very excited about Hallowe'en this year. He's quite a sensitive soul and last year he was a bit worried by the holiday: all the fake blood, the skeletons, the pumpkins carved into leering faces. It was too scary for him. He dressed up as a cat and he wanted to carve our pumpkin into Peso, the medic penguin from The Octonauts, who is kind and helpful.
This year, he is nearly seven and he is all about the gore. He's painting himself green and dressing up as a zombie, pretending to gnaw on a plastic severed hand. He made sure our pumpkin (above) was very toothy indeed. When I asked if I could make it smile, he said, 'Okay Mummy, but give it an EVIL smile. And put in MORE FANGS.'
This is, of course, awesome. And I'm encouraging it like crazy. Though truth be told, I'm not keen on the plastic severed hand and asked him to take it off the table during dinner.
I love scary stories. Being from Maine, I'm a huge Stephen King fan. I love so many of his books, particularly the early stories, but the one I like best is Misery. It's not a supernatural story, and it's not full of action; the main character spends most of his time tied to a bed. The horror comes entirely from character, which is how I like it. This year, for my delicious thrills, I'm reading an advance copy of The Girl With All the Gifts by M.J. Carey, a zombie story with a difference, and although it's got plenty of gore and thrills, it's the character and emotion that sucks me in.
Meanwhile, I'm facing some heebie-jeebies particular to a writer: I sent my latest book to my agent yesterday, and she's reading it even as I type. (I know this because she keeps sending me emails to tell me so.) It's pretty scary. But also...it is awesome. I'm so lucky to have this sort of terror.
Being scared when you know you're safe is wonderful. It gives you a thrill, and makes you feel even more grateful for the warm bed, the locked door, the loved ones nearby. I think of people who are genuinely frightened, who fear for their loved ones and themselves, who are under threat or in pain. Who live, in this country and in others, with the real horror of poverty or sickness or prejudice or injustice.
And I am thankful that we can play at being scared.