It’s October, and you know what that means? My favorite holiday is almost here! I’ve always loved Halloween. I mean, there’s all the candy, right? And the costumes? And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s the general creepiness. This is the time of year when a person can hang skeletons on her front porch and stick a fake severed arm on her door, and her neighbors won’t worry about her.
The truth is, I’m a big fan of creepiness year-round. One of my earliest memories is sitting with my dad on Sunday afternoons, watching old monster movies on TV. I could happily watch Frankenstein and Dracula without a bit of discomfort. No nightmares either. However, a couple of Disney animated films sent me into hysterical crying (everyone’s parents die!).
This pull toward the dark side carried over into adulthood. I teach criminal justice, including a unit on serial killers. I get gleeful over tours of prisons and the coroner’s office. I have a giant skull and crossbones on top of my car and a skull tattoo on my leg. I read horror novels. Oh, and sometimes I write scary stuff too. Sure, sometimes my werewolves are geeky architects—not scary—but sometimes my stories have real monsters (who may or may not be human).
One obvious question is What’s the appeal of all the creepy stuff? Isn’t the world scary enough already?
And my answer? Creepy stories are enjoyable because the real world is scary. Sure, we have to worry about diminution of rights, impending war, and catastrophic climate change. But at least we’re not being chased by zombies! At least evil clowns aren’t popping out of storm drains, and interstellar visitors aren’t trying to conquer the world by infecting us with toxic spores. Creepy stuff can help make our real problems feel a bit more manageable, at least by comparison.
Although many of us can feel powerless when it comes to what’s happening in real life, we have control over stories. We pick which ones to read. We can put them down when we want to—even abandon them entirely if they become too much. What’s more, we can opt to read or write romances, where despite the calamities that befall our heroes, we’re guaranteed a happy ending. Heck, in one of my books I killed off a particular character twice and still pulled off an HEA.
In sum, then, creepy stories, decorations, and celebrations can give us a little thrill while still offering comfort. As far as I’m concerned, they make a valuable contribution. And they entertain us to boot.
Now, I realize not everyone is a fan of the dark side. I recently hung a creepy-looking zombie face in the window of my office door, and my secretary and some of my colleagues keep covering him with paper. I have friends who couldn’t even be bribed to read Stephen King. And that’s just fine. The rest of us will continue to enjoy listening to things that go bump in the night.
How about you? Scary monsters and super creeps, or glitter and kittens? And if you tend toward the dark side, what are your favorite scary movies or books? On October 13, I’ll randomly choose one commenter to receive free e-books of Corruption and Clay White, the rather dark novellas in my Bureau series.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
A complete list of Kim’s books: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/kim-fieldings-books/