Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Musings: How Halloween plays into writing and those who celebrate differently

Happy Sunday Everyone.

We're getting closer and closer to Halloween, but not everyone celebrates this night of unease. Today Musers are sharing how Halloween plays into their writing as well as offering us their own celebrations for this time of year and its meaning.

When writing it's always good to remember that not everyone celebrates the same, believes the same, and that you may just find something new which speaks to your writing or your heart.

Halloween doesn't enter into my writing, or it hasn't as yet.

My mother thought trick-or-treating was a form of begging, so we never went out or otherwise celebrated the day.  Also, there was no way we could afford even the cheap costumes available then.

However, Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day, a holy day, and I attend the vigil Mass.  That brings me out in good time to see the small children in their costumes.  In my neighborhood, those are usually marvelous and highly imaginative.  The little ones are truly adorable.

Our former pastor used to dress up as well and stand on the rectory steps so the children could have their pictures taken with him while collecting their candy.  The giant carrot was good.  The best was when he was a great white shark (complete with :"victim).  His golden retriever Penelope was sitting beside him dressed up as, of course, a dog fish.  He should have charged for those photo sessions, because he was mobbed.  A lot of the people were adults, and many of them were not parishioners.

My kids are grown, so we lay in a supply of candy for the neighborhood kids. We might also haul out a few of the Halloween decorations (spouse is big on holiday decorating).

I actually have a good answer to this. Last year around Halloween, I wrote a short novel called Shubiao's Girls. It's original working title was Strange Bedfellows, but I didn't want people to get the wrong idea. October arrives and my brain takes anything as sinister. Creaking door? Probably a murderer. In the shower with suds in your eyes? Girl, scrub them out and peek through the shower curtain because you are a damsel in dire distress. Closing a window at night? There's definitely someone waiting in the darkness so do it quick. I woke up one morning at college, groggy like I hadn't slept at all. At that moment, I had the weirdest thought: what if monsters didn't really live UNDER your bed? What if they lived...IN your bed? What if you woke up tired because you hadn't been sleeping? Or...something was stealing your sleep? Your LIFE? Wikipedia told me about all kinds of life-stealing beasties, including Chinese mouse spirits which sat on your face and breathed in your sleep, effectively stealing your life. The spirits stopped aging and took human form--but only for a day. Then the process repeated, the mouse using a sleeping human as a host. Mice on your face is enough to make most people cringe and freak out, but a mouse sitting on your face, stealing your life, and then morphing into a girl with black eyes and see-through skin? Pretty creepy. All of my Halloween vibes went into making this story: a demon who steals peoples' names in order to eat their souls (names are very important in Chinese mythology) comes into play, and the two main characters try to hide at a crazy Halloween party. All these taboos and old superstitions are used and it was all-over delightful to write.

I'm writing a YA story about a boy growing up in the Texas hill country in the 60s. There's ghosts and voices and things that go bump in the night. This is the first time I've had a chance to write about Halloween, and I'm loving it. The time of year, the holiday itself, everything about it. Ghosts, strange voices and things that go bump in the night.

Halloween is a glossy, American import. I am the type of person who turns off the lights and pretends not to be home! Last year hubby and I went to a double showing of Alien and Aliens at the local multiplex which counted to me as an appropriate celebration.

What I am interested in is Samhain, the pagan festival that pre-dates Halloween. Samhain is the most important of the four annual festival days in pagan culture. It denotes a time of year when the nights are getting darker, the harvest has been completed and animals are slaughtered for the winter months.

There is natural transition at this time of year from the plenty of summer to the scarcity of food in the winter that has echoes of life and death. In Scottish folklore it is believed that Samhain is a time when the veneer between the real and the supernatural is at its thinnest with the potential for monsters and creatures to walk amongst us. The bonfires and costumes that we enjoy today were originally designed to scare off any wandering ghosts or ghouls! My novella, Dark Waters of the Heart, is set on Samhain and centres on a young reporter who encounters a kelpie – a water horse taking the form of a handsome man.

Scottish mythology provides a rich tapestry of ideas that naturally seep into my writing.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

1 comment:

J.Q. Rose said...

Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. I do love to see the kids dressed in costumes. When I taught third grade, we had a great time parading through the classrooms and showing off. Even the teachers dressed up and switched classes so the kids didn't know their own teacher. Great memories.