Horror Writers Association Blog

Halloween [ 284 ]

“The Real Headless Horseman” By Roh Morgon


My earliest memories of our favorite holiday revolve around waiting impatiently in my homemade costume for the evening to get dark enough to go trick-or-treating. The frenzied rush from house to house with my friends, amassing our candy hoards in pillowcases, was fraught with laughter and squeals of childish terror during the spookiest night of the year.

When I was twelve, my family moved from our little Orange County suburb in California to a semi-remote canyon just thirty minutes away. We might as well have moved to the moon, as far as I was concerned. There were only two …

“When You See a Chance to Slay It…” By David Boop

Apologies to Mr. Steve Winwood, but while the arc of a diver might have been effortless, the arc of a story rarely is, especially when it’s your own.

In 2008, I began of my career as a novelist with the release of “She Murdered me with Science.” That year I also lost three people who mattered to me: a long time friend, a mentor, and a former boss. In 2009, I had started work on an outline and first draft of a second novel. That year, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and a daughter I barely knew was …

“Cheap Plastic Costumes and My Imagination” By Damian Serbu

As a professionally trained historian come horror writer, I recently reflected on my childhood and what created the writer inside of me. I concluded that some of the imagination that inspired that writer stemmed from my Halloween experiences as a child. So many horror fans loved Halloween growing up, and I was no exception. I thrilled at finding my costume, putting it on that night, and transforming myself into another being, thrusting myself into another reality, with the trick-or-treating as almost an afterthought.

Except, instead of having the time and means to create a fantastical costume and generate a look …

“The Late, Great Halloween Costume Massacre” By Maria Alexander

September 1976

Los Angeles, CA


“Sit down, girls. We’ve got something serious to talk about.”

My younger sister and I sit cross-legged on the scratchy brown carpet of our tiny apartment as Mom and Dad sit on the couch. Barely four years old, my sister Danielle yanks on the hair of her doll as she alternately slams it against the floor to what is surely the dismay of our new downstairs neighbors. I sit upright and listen. My mom’s normally moon-like face darkens as she speaks. My father slumps backward, reading his newspaper. I’m just grateful he isn’t screaming, …

“New Orleans Halloween Traditions” By Alexandrea Weis

The blending of cultures in New Orleans has left a myriad of different traditions ingrained in the eccentric psyche of the city. Perhaps the most profound occur around Halloween where the Catholic, Voodoo, Irish, and French influences converge. Celebrations for the dead begin days before the fall of Halloween. We have events such as the Day of the Dead Parade, numerous cemetery festivals, haunted houses, costume balls, and ghost tours to mark the creepiest day of the year. However, it’s the quieter and older traditions that are not as well known to outsiders.

The most sacred day in the city …

“The Spirit of Samhain” By David Sharp

Passing through the cemetery gates, I felt a strange calm juxtaposing to the hyperactivity of the city streets. The graveyard surpassed my expectations. It was huge — a vast expanse dating back hundreds of years. Autumn made itself known through a change in the air, a crispness, a different light from the overcast sky. This is the season of the witch, leading up to All Hallow’s Eve — once known as Samhain from the forgotten rites. All of my life I have been drawn to this time of year. The path underfoot was wide and lined with tombs. Leaves were …

“Falling In Love: The Second Most Terrifying Thing to Happen On Halloween” By Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall

Twenty years ago on Oct. 31, we decided to get married and start writing horror together — it was a monstrous decision.

We officially became engaged on a blustery Halloween night 20 years ago. Clark was dressed as the devil on vacation. Maps in hand, horns out, leisure shirt on. Kathleen was a zombie fairy. Glitter, tutu, bloodied face.

It seemed fitting for two people raised on a steady diet of H.P. Lovecraft and Gothic romances set on windswept moors, two people with minds quick to turn to dark and morbid thoughts, to pledge undying love on a night when …

“Truth, Fiction, or Both? Confessions of a Horror Writer” By Howard Odentz

Writers write what we know. Even if we’re writing about ghosts, or monsters, or the disturbing woman with a peeping Tom fetish who lives two blocks away and only walks in the middle of the night wearing elbow lights, our best stories always carry a grain of truth.

I’m no different.

I often use my past experiences in my stories. Sometimes I even use yours if what you’ve told me in passing is interesting, bizarre, or even humorous enough to weave into one of my tales.

My newest novel, WHAT WE KILL, premiering on the very appropriate Friday the 13…

“All Messed Up” By David Ghilardi

A hippy was standing out by the back gate. He seemed drunk, looking thru trash. I ignored him.

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”

“Stop teasing, Johnny.”

I glanced at our black and white television. The nerds were still in the cemetery.

Even though stern adult voices warned that ‘images were intense’ and admonished ‘younger viewers should leave the room’, not much was happening. The music was creepy, sure. But I’d seen worse from Vietnam War newscasts. That Walter Cronkite guy’s voice gave me the willies. Swiveling in my jammies towards the yard, the vagrant there had not moved. Looked …

“How to Overcome the Horror of Writing” By John Allen

When I received the HWA mailer asking members to contribute for Halloween I knew immediately what I wanted to write about. I wanted to share something that would help other new horror authors trying to get their stories polished and published.

Horror I feel scares some readers away and often gets confused with other genres. When I told a colleague I had written a horror novel, she wrinkled her nose up and said ‘I hate horror! I hate being scared.’ Obviously not my target audience. I’ve then read books that market themselves as ‘dark fantasy’ or ‘dystopian fantasy’ when they …

“The Angry Woman” By Marlena Frank

Back before Katrina dumped the Gulf on top of New Orleans, my sister and I decided to celebrate Halloween on Bourbon Street. We met up with four of our online friends who we had never met or spoken to outside of chat windows. This was at a time of pagers and pay phones, so it was a little nerve-wracking. Fortunately they were all awesome people, and we talked just as easily in person as we did online. We picked up our bags at the Louis Armstrong International Airport and drove down to see the hotel owner.

You see, we were …

“Who Says They Can Ban Halloween? By David B. Riley

They say you never really believe in ghosts until you’ve encountered one. Two Halloweens ago I was working in Vail, Colorado at a hotel. I worked graveyard shift. October tended to be a dead month.  There was very little going on and all thoughts were on the approaching ski season. They kept the place open, but most of the daytime staff were doing cleaning and maintenance type duties to get everything ready for winter. So, I worked on night reports and posted what few special charges there were and set about generally being bored.

I was particularly in a sour …

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