My Spooky Influences

Hello, my fellow Spooky MG readers!

I’ve been waiting so patiently to have my turn come up again in the rotation. I was supposed to go a while ago, but Kim Ventrella told me that since I forgot to bring the hors d’oeuvres to our last Spooky MG party, that my punishment was to have my turn skipped. I don’t blame her, since everyone was looking forward to my famous Sweet Pea Pesto Crostini, and I let them down. FYI, they’re to die for.

Anyway, today I’m here to write about several of my spooky influences growing up. While there were several movie influences, today I’ll stick with the literary ones. Don’t worry, I’ll cover the cinematic ones a different day.

The power of a good story is that it stays with you. Inspires you. And many of my influences are old. One of them, a couple of hundred years. Did I build it up enough? Well, then let’s get right to it!

Perhaps more than any other story, the one that’s inspired me the most is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. When I was a kid, this terrified me. I’d have to rank the Headless Horseman as among the best characters ever created. I know the mythology came from before the book, but the book immortalized the character.

Just having a headless rider with a flaming pumpkin head was terrifying. Even that Disney cartoon was scary. I always pictured walking through the woods and having him lurking somewhere. When I visited Sleepy Hollow some years back, I could definitely picture Irving’s thoughts as he wrote it. This is definitely one of the top influences in my life.

Next, we have another author from a different time. The works of Edgar Allen Poe. Poe, himself, is such an intriguing, spooky figure. Even the circumstances surrounding his death are still so mysterious. But, with spooky stories such as The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Cask of Amontillado, Poe’s work is still relevant nearly one hundred-and-seventy years after his death.

To me, he’s one of the biggest influences of any horror writer and still a spooky figure to this day.

I know, I know. How can I have any list of spooky literary influences without including Stephen King? Well, the answer is, you can’t. And I was influenced by him as well. There were two in particular. I probably read and saw The Shining at much too young an age. And boy, did it stay with me. So creepy and scary. But, the one that got to me the most, was IT. I hate clowns. Just hate them. And this book was one of the reasons why. Admittedly, I didn’t have this fear as a very young child. I even had a papier mache one hanging in my room, and there were never any problems. It even did creepy things, like no matter how we turned it, it always turned back to face into the room. I tried everything, including turning it from the hook in a different way, but it turned back to face the room. So, I wasn’t bothered by clowns . . . until I saw Poltergeist. That clown was awful. Suddenly, the one in my room, was no longer cute or funny. It had to go. I got it out of my room. At least I thought my clown phobia would go into remission, but then came IT. That book brought back every clown fear, and it has stayed with me until this day. Did I mention that I hate clowns?

Next on my list is R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. Even though I wasn’t a kid anymore when this came out, I loved them. I bought one book after another, and loved the combination of humor and horror in all of them. That series influenced me, perhaps more than anything else. As you know, I love injecting humor into horror. The two genres work soooo well together. It’s fun to poke fun at the horror tropes with some self-referential jokes. Humor is also a release from what’s going on in the story. Goosebumps really got me to think about combining the two genres.

Anyway, my Spooky friends, that’s my list of influences for now. There are many more, but these are the ones that came to me.

So, until next time, let me hear who’s influenced you?

Jonathan

WELCOME TO SPOOKY MG!

Hello Spooky MG lovers!

Welcome to our new site dedicated to all things spooky in Middle Grade!

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I’m so excited to be a part of this! To give a brief history, a few weeks before Halloween, several of us Middle Grade authors of spooky stories decided to get together for a Spooky giveaway. It proved to be very successful, and we had so much fun doing it, that we figured we could keep the show running a little longer, which led to group Skype visits. Well, I’m happy to say that the group continued to click, so we decided to continue with this all year-round!

For me, personally, it’s been such incredible fun to be able to join like-minded people. During our Skype sessions and discussions about this site, we all got to know each other, and discovered that we had so much in common. Also, I’m not going to lie, it’s been great being able to be part of a group without my mom having to write other parents to ask them to include me. But, that’s a different story, entirely.

Throughout the life of this site, we’re going to champion Spooky MG books and discuss why scary books are so good for kids. We’re going to do giveaways, book school and Skype visits, and have fun events for readers to participate in.

We hope you enjoy, and by all means, we hope you reach out to discuss all things spooky with us! We’d love to hear from you!