Halloween is a time to spook yourself and others, to let your imagination run free, and most importantly pull down the “what if” walls on the supernatural. For some this is almost impossible, for others it is a way of life. When I was eleven I stumbled across a genre of books that changed my entire life. For some reason, one that I still don’t understand, a teacher handed me Stephen King’s IT when I was in the fifth grade. I read it in two days, and never looked back.
Since that moment I have devoured anything about monsters, spirits, ghouls, vampires, werewolves, and even the pure evil of humanity. My parents never stopped me; I don’t think they understood where the books took me, and I am not quite sure anyone ever will. But it unlocked something within me and I needed to continue to read, but reading the stories just wasn’t enough—I had to find out where they all started.
And that of course brought me to the classics, the original monsters that creep into the dark spaces of our minds when we are alone, the ones that make us walk just a little faster up those basement steps, and the ones that keep us from looking out the window to prove that it really is a branch scraping the window and not long, dirty fingernails. The modern vampire story has twisted and torn itself into many storylines. The animalistic vampire, the emo vampire, the sexy CEO vampire, there is no end to where vampires can fit into our society. Monsters have taken many forms over the years and the popularity of the living dead still holds pop culture tightly in its grip. But could these exist now if Bram Stoker had not brought us Dracula? If Mary Shelley had not thought up Frankenstein? I often wonder that when reading or listening to the story — wondering where would my favorite genre be today, or would it even exist today if not for the pioneers that put our fears into action.
My love of this genre, especially the classics, has brought me to where I am today. I studied writing in college and now work in the publishing world. I do still dream of writing my own take on the monsters that have terrified me since childhood. I am still waiting for them to find their voices for me to put to paper.
In the meantime, catch up on the classics that should give you goosebumps for the Halloween season, or any season for that matter! Tantor Audio is currently offering two free downloads for the month of October, both downloads come with a free ebook.
Read Ryan Britt’s examination of the novel during the Tor.com Monster Mash.
Read Emily Asher-Perrin’s examination of the novel during the Tor.com Monster Mash.
Cassandra McNeil: speed walking up basement stairs since 1985.