“H” is for “Horror Addict” – An A-to-Z Blogging Challenge Post

H

For the A-to-Z Challenge 2017 I’m writing all about myself. Every post will be some random fact or bit of information about me that you may or may not have already known. Maybe you’ll learn something! Feel free to let me know! ^_^


Let’s get one thing out of the way right here and now: when I was a kid I was an epic wuss. The scariest thing I used to watch was “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, and the scariest things I used to read were the “Goosebumps” books, and both would occasionally give me nightmares. I enjoyed kid-level scary stuff, but in general I couldn’t much handle horror. I remember I once, when I was about 8 or 9, I walked in on a friend of mine while she was watching Child’s Play, and I was absolutely petrified of dolls for months afterward.

That said, as I got older I got a little bit tougher and a little bit tougher…and then I started dating Jason, and things went from 0 to 60 real quick. You see, Jason was, is, and probably always will be, a horror aficionado. One of the first dates we had, he got me to watch Evil Dead 2 with him, and things just progressed from there. Before I even knew what was happening I’d seen more horror movies than most people I know combined. We went to the theater to watch them, we rented them (back when you still could rent movies), we picked them up on VHS when old rental places were getting rid of them, and bit by bit we amassed a collection of them on VHS, DVD, and Bluray, which now numbers in somewhere between 4- and 500 (I’ve lost count).

On top of that, being thrust so fully into the world of horror movies, I found myself gravitating more toward other forms of horror as well. I fell in love with Stephen King, among other horror authors, and began writing horror of my own. Jason and I would even play horror video games together sometimes, and although I’d become a little less sensitive to the genre by that time, playing Fatal Frame 2 nearly gave me numerous heart attacks.

Over the years I’ve become so desensitized to horror that very little really genuinely frightens me anymore, and believe it or not, I’m not necessarily happy about that outcome. Although it wasn’t the greatest being a little wuss who had nightmares all the time, the truth of the matter is that it can be very fun to be scared sometimes, under the right conditions, and I hardly ever experience that anymore now. There have been a few movies to genuinely freak me out in more recent years – Shutter, the original version from Thailand, scared the crap out of me – but there have also been plenty of supposedly super-scary movies that didn’t faze me in the slightest.

Mind you, that doesn’t change how much I’ve grown to love horror. It’s a part of me now, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change. Everything from the genuinely terrifying to the absolutely ridiculous (I’m lookin’ at you, Apocalypse Cow) tickles my fancy, and I imagine it’s going to be that way for pretty much the rest of my days.

Blood-curdling Books

Movies, television shows, and video games are all awesome, but for me there’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book, and that goes double for a good horror book. I love a book that can give me the chills, which is how I got into writing about monsters myself. Some of my favorites, which may have even influenced my writing style and preferences? So glad you asked.

When I was a kid I loved spooky stories, especially the ones about ghosts. I had a number of scary books for kids, but as many kids from my generation would tell you, it was all about Goosebumps. If you never read a Goosebumps book as a child, you’ve definitely missed out. The series by R.L. Stine featured short novels about every kind of ghoul, goblin, monster, and creature a kid could imagine. Some of my favorites included the killer ventriloquist dummy, and the Halloween masks that came to life and took over kids’ bodies. And then there were always the “choose your story” editions in which you got to choose how the story progressed by jumping back and forth between the pages (I usually died four or five times before finding the correct path). Those were the bomb.

Every kid I grew up with has read this book.
Every kid I grew up with has read this book.

But if you want to get a little bit creepier – while still maintaining the illusion of reading a “kid” book – you should take a look at Coraline. The short Neil Gaiman book appears, for all intents and purposes, to be a book for tween-aged kids, but it’s a lot creepier than you might imagine. Maybe it’s just the subject matter of a young girl traveling to an “Other” world and being essentially kidnapped by a creature with her mother’s face. Or maybe it’s the creep-factor of all the “Other” people having buttons for eyes. Or maybe it has something to do with that childhood pain of having something awful happen and no one believes you. Either way, the story is actually a lot deeper, darker, and more disturbing than you would ever assume by simply looking at the book cover. Trust me; it’s worth giving it a try.

Honestly, I really did think it was a kid's book...@_@
Honestly, I really did think it was a kid’s book…@_@

Of course, you knew that eventually I was going to bring up Stephen King, since you can’t really talk about horror books without mentioning him. Well, the whole and honest truth is that yes, I do think King is an amazing writer, and some of his books have seriously scared the pants off of me. But the thing is, how do you pick just one? King currently has published something like 55 novels, plus nearly 200 short stories (which are compiled into book collections). Of those some-255 stories, over 20 of them have been made into horror movies. So yeah, clearly he’s got something going on, right? Well I haven’t read all of his books by a long shot, but if I’ve got to pick one today I think I’ll go with Cell. I know that it’s not a lot of people’s favorites, and I’m definitely not saying that it’s King’s best book or anything, but I really enjoyed it. It’s a different take on zombies, and I really liked the not-quite-concluded ending of the story. In fact, Cell is what I was reading when it suddenly occurred to me that, “Hey…I could totally write a zombie novel!”

Yep. This was the face of my inspiration.
Yep. This was the face of my inspiration.

And, of course, you know where I’m going with this. (I’m the master of the segue, admit it.) Maybe it makes me sound a little full of myself, but how can I honestly not talk about my own horror novel in a post specifically talking about horror novels? There were times when I wanted to throw the manuscript for Nowhere to Hide out the window, but I can honestly say that I do love the story and I’m very proud of it. I tried to work in as many creepy, gross, and disturbing moments as I could while still focusing on the whole point of the piece…survival. And because I love the book so much, and because I love all of you so much, for Halloween day only the digital copy of Nowhere to Hide is going to be free! So even if you aren’t sure you’d like it, why not try it out anyway? It’s free! So click the link and check it out quick, because by the time all the trick-or-treaters are in bed tonight the promotion may be over!

Freeeeeeeeeeee!
Freeeeeeeeeeee!

Do you enjoy scary books? Why or why not? What’s your favorite horror book? Favorite horror author? Have you ever had a book genuinely scare you? Please share!

A to Z Challenge Day 6: Freddy Krueger (the Nightmare Demon)

Ffreddykrueger

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I was a kid I was a right awful wuss. I watched shows like, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, but I did so through my fingers as I cowered from the corner of the couch. I read books like Goosebumps, but I’d have the light of a thousand suns burning in my room while I was doing so. I loved scary stuff and yet hated it at the same time. It was the silliest thing, really. I wanted ghosts and creepy ruins and all manner of monsters, but the second I had them it was like my heart said, “Okay, that’s enough, bye!”

It wasn’t until I started dating the man who would become my husband that I really started getting into horror movies, because he was a connoisseur of them, particularly the older ones, and the ones of the B-movie variety. It wasn’t until we were firmly seated within our relationship that I saw my  very first Nightmare on Elm Street movie. That’s right, in the year 2006 or so, I had never seen a movie starring Freddy Krueger. What the hell, right?

As it turns out, the Nightmare on Elm Street flicks were some of my hubby’s all-time favorites, and within the span of a few months I wound up watching every single one of them. Now, I’m not going to say that they were all cinematic masterpieces or anything. In fact, some of them are downright god-awful. However, since my hubby first began the slow process of completely desensitizing me to all things that go bump in the night, Freddy became quite possibly my favorite of all the horror movie icons. Why? Well for one thing, he’s creative. Being a nightmare demon has it’s perks, and a big one is that he gets to do or become effectively anything he wants. How totally cool is that? For another thing, Freddy is evil as hell, and I like that in a demon. I mean, come on…he’s all about killing kids. That is messed up. And finally, one of my favorite things about the Freddy character is that he was created because of the evil that exists even in innocent people. Spoiler alert, if you somehow have never heard of the story of Freddy Krueger before, but he became an immortal nightmare demon because he was burned alive by angry parents after he escaped child molestation charges on a technicality. There are other aspects to the story that are revealed in further films in the story, but the main plot point is that the parents of Elm Street, in their rage, took a child molester and turned him into a mass murderer who kills kids in their dreams. How screwed up is that for the adult characters, knowing that their vigilante justice ultimately got their kids killed?

Call me a psycho, but I’m a sucker for a good, creepy, outrageously uncomfortable-feeling-making back-story, and that Freddy Krueger has in spades.

sup_atoZ

Young Me’s, Meet Older Me’s!

Occasionally I find it interesting to look back at my life, to mentally stack up the “Me”‘s from throughout history and to compare them. I find it interesting to look back and see how things have changed, how attitudes and interests have shifted…or how they’ve stayed the same, because some things never change.

An example of something that didn't change: I STILL get my hair in a ponytail this way.
For example, I STILL use this method to get my ponytail straight, even though it makes me look like a nut. 

When I was a kid I loved the winter. Now that I’m an adult with many daily concerns, I loathe it. I still love December because that’s Christmas and I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving Christmas no matter how old and crotchety I get. But as soon as the New Year rolls over I am officially DONE with winter, and then it’s just suffering for the next few months. When I was a kid playing in the snow was the best thing ever. Now it’s fun watching my daughter play in the snow, but only until my nose gets cold and then I’m bribing her with everything under the sun to convince her to come back in the house. I hate the wind, I hate the slushy crap that winds up everywhere once a bit of snow melts, and I hate the fact that it seems to last forever in Eastern Canada. There’s nothing worse than the first day of Spring when there’s still snow on the ground.

When I was younger I was an enormous scaredy-cat. I loved watching the “creepy” shows that YTV used to play on Friday night – Are You Afraid of the Dark? was my absolute favorite – and I read tons of scary books like the Goosebumps series, but underneath I was a total wuss. I’d hide my eyes during parts of the shows, and I’d have a hundred lights on around me while reading my books. I gave myself nightmares on a regular basis. And as I got older and was dragged kicking and screaming into more “adult” scary stuff, it got more pathetic. I couldn’t watch a horror movie without nearly having a heart attack. These days I couldn’t resemble that scaredy-cat girl any less. I partly attribute this to my husband who, while we were dating, subjecting me with a metric ton of horror movies, both good and bad, both genuinely frightening and only frightening in how ridiculous they were. At this point I’ve become so desensitized, it’s almost disappointing. I enjoy being scared now, but it happens very rarely. And these days my nightmares do not involve monsters, ghosts, or evil creatures; my nightmares these days involve my daughter having an accident, my husband leaving me, or my house burning down. Dammit, I’ve become such an adult.

In a twist, I was significantly more into video games as an adult than I was as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I loved video games when I was little. I had an Atari when I wasn’t even in school yet, I treasured my very first Nintendo Entertainment System, and I only know one or two people who logged as many hours as me into Chrono Trigger. But video games were not my life when I was a kid. I played them, and I loved them, but I also spent a lot of time outside, riding my bike or my roller-blades. I spent a lot of time writing and drawing, and “building” things (have I told you about the entire closet that I devoted to creating a dollhouse?). Truth be told, I did not spend nearly as much time playing video games during the first 18 years of my life as I did in the five years following those. Maybe that was because I got lazier and wanted to spend more time just loafing around. I don’t really know. But in my early twenties I definitely spent a lot more time on video games than I had at any other point in my youth. These days things have slowed down simply because I have a lot more responsibilities on my plate, but my Playstation Vita has been reigniting a spark in me, and don’t think for a second that I wouldn’t spend every waking second playing games if I weren’t able to convince myself that I have more important things to do.

I’ve always hated to cook. I really don’t think that’s ever going to change. There have always been a few things that I didn’t mind making. When I was a kid I’d whip myself up some English Muffin pizzas, and when I was a little older I’d fry up some hot Italian sausages and hash browns (a totally under-recognized meal, in my opinion), but for the overwhelming part the task of creating edible, enjoyable meals has always been one that gives me a twitch right above my eye. I enjoy eating. I hate cooking. I don’t mind baking so much because it’s usually very formulaic – add ingredients, stir, pour into pan, bake – but there’s only so much sugar you can serve to your family. I don’t think I will ever enjoy cooking. It’s just not my thing, and I screw up often enough that even the eating part isn’t always enjoyable.

                                                                                         

Some things change, some things don’t. Some changes (or lack thereof) are quite surprising. Who else wants to share? Look back at yourself… What differences pop up in your mind and give you a little chuckle?

My Inner Child (Reader)

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

100. Favorite children’s book

This is akin to asking a chronic gamer what their favorite game is. I read so many books as a child that I would need a time machine and a complicated cataloging system to even have a chance at possibly narrowing my favorite down to one.

As we speak my parents’ attic is overrun with children’s books. When I was a child the local gas stations would always have limited-sell collections of short children’s stories and poems, of which I have one of every damn one. The local Sobeys also did the same thing with Disney books, so I have stacks of them as well. I also purchased at least one book (but usually three or four) from every Scholastic catalog that appeared at my grade school for the entire seven years I was there. Every time my parents took me with them to the mall, I returned home with at least one book. There is a garbage bag – a garbage bag – in my parents’ attic with literally nothing but Babysitter’s Club books. And even if you forgo all the books that my parents purchased for me, when I was a kid I was forever in the library that used to be outside our grade school. I would participate in Read-a-Thon competitions during the summers and absolutely demolish whole shelves of books during those two months.

You see, to say that I read a little as a child is a bit of an understatement.

So while I can’t really narrow it down to a single favorite, I can make a couple of suggestions for books that I loved that I think are great for kids.

For smaller kids, I like The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. Princess because it’s a cute story about how girls can be the hero, not just the damsel in distress, and Mouse because it’s just plain adorable.

For older kids I definitely suggest The Babysitter’s Club series by Ann M. Martin and the Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine. Babysitter’s is an awesome series that is primarily about friendship, but also has lots of little lessons about growing up and lots of fun nonsense as well. Goosebumps is an awesome series of kid-based horror stories that are super-creepy and fun.

Really, I think that any book your child wants to read (within reason) is a good one. Read, little mini-people! You’ll be better for it in the future!