October is a time for settling in with hot spiced cider, a blanket and a good book, preferably one with a with a great ghost story.
You’re seated around the campfire, light flickering over the faces of those huddled there with you, and one of your friends is telling a story--not just a story--a ghost story. That prickling at the back of your neck, the way your breathing grows shallow and you wrap your arms around yourself bumps your heart up to high. It’s a cool night, but tiny beads of sweat collect at your hairline.
It’s fear time, baby, and your body’s reacting to that familiar emotion, the one you experience whenever you’re scared by something and you’d like to pull the covers over your head or--better yet--run!
And you’re thrilled, right? Fear heightens awareness and cancels all the mundane concerns. For this moment you’re transported, you’re “alive” and “tingly.” This is one reason everyone loves a good ghost story. Another is that ghost stories try to demystify death, that one inescapable universal. This is why Halloween with its seasonal creepiness has such appeal and why this ancient Celtic celebration, steeped in ghostly myths, has continued in some form into the present day.
|What's Halloween without a CAT and a Jack-O-Lantern? Oh and I know there's a ghost at the window.
A few literary facts:
The thirteen stories nominated for the Booker Prize in 2011 were about death. Here’s an interesting link on how to get published by writing about death.
Some of the best known and loved classics in literature are ghost stories: The Raven [Poe], A Christmas Carol [Dickens], The Turn of the Screw [James].
Today ghost stories are among the favorites of young readers. Dead Connection, The Body Finder, The Ghost Sitter, Stonewords: A Ghost Story and on and on.
So I’ve written some ghostly tales. Some have been published in magazines, some are still on my C drive waiting for a publisher to find them :-), and some are still in my head. But this time of year I’m stirred to read and write about ghosts who walk in the night, about restless spirits seeking revenge, about pumpkin-evil stuff.
And you? Do you love to read ghost stories? Do you love to write them? What are your favorite ones?