Spooky influences

I’ve been busy lately, I know, but I wanted to squeeze in at least a couple posts here and there on some Halloween-ish type stuff this year. After all, tis the season…

Last year I talked a lot about different creatures and archetypes…this year I’m focused on different types of horror.

At the moment, I’ve been in the grips of nostalgia-mania, and I’m sure those around me and a few librarians think I’ve finally lost my mind completely. Last month I got into a conversation with some friends over titles I remembered fondly, which led me to remember that for a while I was keeping an underground library of dark fiction out of my locker in middle school, which led me to wondering why I’d ever gotten rid of those titles….which led me to borrowing a stack of them from the library. Although I really never considered myself a horror junkie until I was in college, it’s obvious that I had some early influences.


RL Stine – Although I was too old for Goosebumps (though I’ll admit I read a few of them vicariously through The Sibling, as well as watched the TV series when we thought we could get away with it), I did read his stand-alones that were popular when I was in middle school. I’ll admit I probably didn’t read a lot of them all the way through, but it was because I was a chicken and was too nervous to take them home so I read them as fast as I could when I could…even if this meant running to the display aisle at Kmart and reading a chapter at a time when we went shopping. The Babysitter books specifically stand out for me, possibly because I have a horrible, perverse love of urban legends, but that’s another post altogether…

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Oh Man, do you remember these books?! These things were the best of the best…not only were the stories shudder-worthy, but the illustrations were drawn from the blood of nightmares. Seriously. You will never fully convince my inner child that the illustrator is a well-adjusted human being and not an eldergod (although I’m sure he’s a lovely guy, just the same). As it happens, I’ve been rereading these three lately, and maybe it’s because I’ve heard a lot of these over and over through the years, but these have me wondering why I was so freaked out by them. Seriously, I was nervous to even page through them…and for what? They’re creepy, sure, but they’re a lot of popular urban legends and folk tales…

It’s a little frightening to realize that the stuff that terrorized me as a kid is now stuff that I’m very, very well-versed in. Oh, the irony.

My Teacher is an Alien – I’m not sure if I read all four of these books, but I know I read and loved the first two. I recently listened to the first one on CD, and it definitely holds up. Love that the main character is a smart, scrappy girl, I love that the kids in this book sound like kids, I just plain love the whole thing. Seriously, you youngin’s…this is how middle grade/ya fiction is done….in my day we didn’t read about vampire love…we read about how it’s okay to break into your teacher’s house if you think he’s from another planet, so you can figure out a way to get him to peel his face off in public.

…I mean that’s bad. Please don’t break into anyone’s house, even if they happen to be from another planet. Co-existence is great and no one really wants to use you for experiments.

The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids – Okay, okay, these were way after my time…I got into them via The Sibling, but to my credit they’re really cute. Basically you have your cast of four kids trying to figure out in each book if the new adult in their lives is actually some sort of creature (The first being Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots). I love Mrs. Jeepers, the teacher, the kids amuse me, and while as an adult the plots are obviously linear and clipped…I still love them. I can see why kids go nuts about them – if these had been out when I was like seven or eight, I would have loved these.

– Southern Fried Rat and Other Gruesome Tales – Yeah, this is totally an inspiration, for better or worse. I know I had this one hidden in my locker.  This is mostly urban legends, and all the disgusting and hair-raising ones, at that. This and others like it may be why I was so paranoid as a pre-teen and such a nervous sleeper…oh well, it was worth it.

– The Monster’s Ring – I vaguely remember this one, and I remember it more as a cartoon than a book, but I definitely remember enjoying it. I mean, come on, turning into a monster when you’re a kid? Awesome.


Add to this all the RL Stine wannabes and the fact that even the Sweet Valley High books were branching into spooky titles…plus before this I was obsessed with the witch books by Normal Bridwell and any other picture book that involved “nice” haunted houses and the like…is it any wonder I turned out the way I did?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s