Lisa's October 2017 Newsletter (#10)
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Hi Gang!

It's here at last - OCTOBER! And of course we know what happens on the last day of October...

It promises to be an especially busy October for me. My Octobers have been busy for a few years - I usually get a lot of interview requests in this month, especially during the last week when radio shows from L.A. to London want to have a Halloween expert on live at some ungodly hour of the morning (can you tell I'm not a morning person?). But I never mind talking about my favorite holiday.

This year, though, I'm also promoting the release of Haunted Nights (on October 3rd), and - big reveal! - the release of my own Halloween-themed collection, The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats. This is my second full-length collection (the first was the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Monsters of L.A.), and the first one to collect previously-published material - see below for a listing of the contents, and a look at the incredible cover! This will be out from JournalStone on October 20th.

There are also a couple of new short stories coming out this month (including one that's free to read), so be sure to check the "New Stuff" section below.

I hope your Halloween is creative, spooky, and full of autumnal joys. See you again on the other side.

Still Life
In which I rhapsodize about favorite movie photos from my collection
Halloween. C'mon, like I was going to do some other film this issue.

I've already spoken at length elsewhere about Halloween, about how it's one of those rare movies that has impacted popular culture beyond cinema. Before Halloween, the holiday was in transition, veering away from a night primarily for children to something that was being reclaimed by adults, mainly counterculture groups (LGBTQ, Wiccans and pagans). But this one film reinstalled the night's fearful element, and steered it firmly into a future of haunted attractions and adult celebrations.

Here's what I had to say about it in Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween:

After 1979, Halloween cinema was dominated by John Carpenter and his seminal slasher Halloween. The film’s original title – as conceived by producer Irwin Yablans – was The Babysitter Murders, but the canny move to change the title was undoubtedly a huge part of the film’s success (and successful it was – its investment of $300,000 earned back over 50 times that). Yablans also compared Halloween to horror radio:
"I grew up with radio, Inner Sanctum, Lights Out, radio horror shows ... and I said I want it to be like a radio show. I want it to be spooky, scary, but leave much of it to the audience."
Halloween was an immediate surprise hit, and also received critical acclaim as well. Roger Ebert gave the film four stars and noted, ‘Halloween is an absolutely merciless thriller ... If you don't want to have a really terrifying experience, don't see Halloween.” Genre movie expert Kim Newman praised the film’s "eerie jack-o’-lantern mood", and also suggested that Halloween started the first exploitation cinema trend to deal primarily with women. And slasher scholar Adam Rockoff, in his comprehensive overview Going to Pieces, had this to say:
"It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Halloween. Many of the conventions which have become staples of the slasher – the subjective camera, the Final Girl, the significant date setting – were either pioneered or perfected in the film."

About the above still: this is a German lobby card from the original release. I have no idea why it seems to show Michael Myers offering us a flower. I guess even cinema's greatest slasher has a soft side.

In October 2018, we'll be getting a sequel to Carpenter's original that returns Jamie Lee Curtis to the role of Laurie Strode, the first (and, for my money, best) Final Girl.
Read more about the new Halloween movie
The Halloween Spirit
Tips for keeping it going all year 'round
It's October at last!

One of the questions I receive most often in interviews is, "How do you celebrate Halloween?" Usually I come up with something quick and glib as an answer, but since this is my newsletter (and my first October issue!), I'm going to give you a Top Five list instead and hope that you might find something fun here to try yourself.

Five things I love to do in October:

1) Shop for Halloween stuff - If you've read earlier issues of this newsletter, you probably know that I have a major weakness for Halloween kitsch. MAJOR. Srsly - the goofier, the better. My favorite stores to hit every October include Target, Big Lots, Pier 1, CVS, 99-Cent Store, and (of course) Spirit Halloween. I love stuff with names like "Squishy Light-up Mummy". Speaking of which, don't forget to enter my giveaway this month - part of the prize is a selection of my favorite crazy Halloween geegaws from 2017. 

2) Eat pumpkin-flavored food - Every October there seem to be more pumpkin spice-flavored foods out there, and I'm a sucker for - well, not quite all of them, but a lot. Trader Joe's in particular seems to have gone nuts with the pumpkin flavoring - I just bought a container of Pumpkin Cream Cheese and a surprisingly-tasty bottle of Pumpkin Hard Cider. However, I remain wary of the Pumpkin Spice Latte Peeps

3) Make yard decorations - If I had time, I would hand-craft an entire yard haunt. It's ridiculously fun and not that hard to make some truly memorable Halloween decorations. This year, for example, I'm creating a figure for my porch which could be a trick or treater...or could be a gigantic spider in disguise, waiting to pounce. I formed the body out of chicken wire (or, as it's called in the hardware store, "poultry netting"), draped an old sheet over it, bought a cheap fuzzy spider at Target for the arms, a plastic jack-o'-lantern treat collector at Walmart, some fake severed fingers from Halloween Express, and, for that extra-special finishing touch, a pair of  red LEDs that connect to a 9-volt battery for the eyes (I found this on ebay). This figure already looks surprisingly creepy, and will have cost me about thirty bucks.
4) Watch videos of haunted attractions - I wish I had time to check out all the haunted attractions in the L.A. area. We've got some amazing ones around here, including the converted amusement parks (Knotts Scary Farm, Universal's Halloween Horror Nights) that were influential in the development of the whole haunted attraction industry. Given my schedule in October (and...well, okay, my impatience with crowds and long lines), I just don't have the extra evenings to give away...but that doesn't mean I can't still enjoy the haunts whenever I can squeeze in a few minutes from home, thanks to the wonders of YouTube and some excellent groups (like Theme Park Adventure) that are dedicated to recording the haunts and posting their professional-level videos every year. Here, for example, is a video of a brand new maze - "Dark Ride" - that premiered this year at Knotts: Dark Ride.

5) Drive around and look at stuff - Okay, I know that sounds really lame (as in, REALLY lame), but there's a whole bunch of folks out here in the world who love this holiday as much as we do, and who start decorating early, and some of 'em must be nuts to come up with the crazy stuff they stick in their yards. Here's a tip: most metropolitan areas have a neighborhood where all the kids go for trick or treat (here in SoCal we've got, for instance, Toluca Lake), and although those neighborhoods can be more congested on Halloween night than a Los Angeles freeway during Monday morning rush hour, they usually start decorating a few days early and you can swing by then for a sneak peek. Some of the best Halloween stuff I've ever seen was glimpsed a week before the holiday in some suburban yard. The ghost in the photo below, for example, was spotted hanging from a telephone pole in Studio City, and the photo ended up as the first illustration in my book Ghosts: A Haunted History.
Strange Fruit
The weirdest thing I've recently uncovered in my research
2018 will mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein

There's a chance that (ahem) I might be working on (cough cough) something related to that. Maybe even a couple of somethings.

So I've been learning a lot lately about the writing and initial publication of Mary Shelley's classic, and one of my favorite stories centers on a book called Fantasmagoriana. This was a collection of ghost stories that Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary, Dr. John Polidori, and Claire Claremont shared in the summer of 1816, as they vacationed at the Villa Diodati in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. They were inspired by the eerie tales to create their own, and that inspiration led to Mary's immortal creation (as well as Polidori's The Vampyre). 

Most of the stories in Fantasmagoriana (don't you love that title?) were later translated into English by Sarah Elizabeth Utterson for Tales of the Dead, which can be read for free online (see button below). The stories retain their eerie quality two centuries later, and it's easy to see how telling these around a fire at night in a lakeside villa could have inspired a gifted young author in her own creation.
Read stories from Fantasmagoriana
Behind the Screams
About a Story
"Hallowe'en in Blue and Gray"
This story was inspired by an 1870 short story by Helen Elliott called "Hallowe'en" (you can read that work here). That story was published at a time when the U.S. was still recovering from the horrors of the Civil War, but it was also when Halloween was starting to catch on in upper middle class homes, thanks in large part to short stories like this. The mid-nineteenth-century had seen great advances in printing technology, magazines were all the rage, and stories of quaint Halloween celebrations inspired American Victorian matrons to re-create them.

There were two reasons I wanted to write "Hallowe'en in Blue and Gray": first, it's a time period that's rarely done in contemporary Halloween fiction; and second, the original stories from the 1800s all focus on the non-supernatural. What if, I wondered, a more modern supernatural theme was applied to the basic structure of one of these stories? And what if that same story viewed the War as an appropriately devastating and horrific event?

I also worked in some of my research into Spiritualism from Ghosts: A Haunted History. Spiritualism, with its central notion that the dead could be contacted, exploded in popularity in the United States after the Civil War, when so many grieving parents, spouses, and children sought any means of communication with deceased or missing loved ones who'd fought in the War. I tried to make this piece as realistic as possible in its presentation of methods that were in use at the time for establishing contact with the dead.

Thanks to Jeani Rector at The Horror Zine for giving this story a home.
Read "Hallowe'en in Blue and Gray"
My current works-in-progress
There is a LOT of stuff going on right now! There usually is in October, but this year it's an especially frantic month, as I both prepare for finished work to come out and dig into new work (all while also juggling the seasonal interviews and appearances). 

I'm currently awaiting word back on several new anthology proposals; these would be heavily annotated editions of classic works, so don't ask if you can submit! But both would give me the opportunity to work with a fantastic co-editor and are subjects I would love to explore at length.

I just completed an essay for Kevin Wetmore's upcoming anthology of academic papers on Stranger Things (why am I - a non-academic - doing this? I know - crazy, right?). Next up is a longer work of fiction for Stephen Jones, and I probably shouldn't say anything more about that right now.
The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats
Here's one I've been hinting at for a while, and I'm thrilled to be able to finally announce it!

The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats will be out from JournalStone on October 20th. It collects four novellas, ten short stories, a new introduction by Nancy Holder, and new notes about the stories from me. Here's what you'll find inside:
  • "Pumpkin Rex"
  • "The Devil Came to Mamie's on Hallowe'en"
  • The Samhanach
  • "Finding Ulalume"
  • "Alive-Oh"
  • Summer's End
  • "Tam Lane"
  • "The Halloween Collector"
  • The Devil's Birthday
  • "The Legend of Halloween Jack"
  • "Sexy Pirate Girl"
  • Hell Manor
  • "The Maze"
  • "The Enchanted Forest"
Click the link below to pre-order your copy!
Start Your Halloween Early!

CD Select: Lisa Morton

Cemetery Dance is now offering my mini-collection in a signed and limited edition . The four stories included are "Joe and Abel in the Field of Rest", "Pound Rots in Fragrant Harbour", "Black Mill Cove", and the Bram Stoker Award-winning "Tested".
Reserve Your Copy NOW!
Ghosts: A Haunted History
My acclaimed book Ghosts: A Haunted History will be available this November in an affordable trade paperback.
Haunt Yourself
Dead Ends
Dead Ends: Stories From the Gothic South gathers new tales from some hot names in mystery and suspense. Includes my ghost story "The Perfect House."
Get Lost!

Haunted Nights

This anthology of all-new Halloween (and Dia de los Muertos/Devil's Night/All Souls' Eve) fiction features sixteen stories by some of the genre's hottest authors. To be released on October 3rd, 2017. Stay tuned for announcements of signing events, launch parties, and giveaway celebrations!
Haunt Your Nights!
Halloween Carnival Volume One
Halloween Carnival includes my novelette "La Hacienda de los Muertos", plus fiction by Robert McCammon, Kevin Lucia, John R. Little, and Mark Allan Gunnells, and it's only $2.99!
More Halloween Goodies!
Open the pages of Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders and step into the world of "LaRue's Dime Museum", about a young photographer's encounters with some very special people. 
Step Right Up!
It's Halloween month at last! Which means it's time for a very special giveaway. There are two parts to this month's prize:
  1. A copy of Haunted Nights, signed by me and at least four of the contributors.
  2. A surprise trick or treat bag of some of my favorite Halloween toys, figures, candies, and geegaws!
Because I'd like the winner to have this by Halloween you only have until October 15th to enter, so click that entry button NOW, and good luck!
I Want to Win The Halloween Prize!
  • Sunday, October 8th, 4 p.m. - Signing Haunted Nights (with a bunch of the contributors) at Dark Delicacies
  • Sunday, October 29th, 4 p.m. - Signing The Art of Horror Movies (with other contributors) at Dark Delicacies
  • Sunday, November 12th, 2 p.m. - Signing Haunted Nights (with some of the contributors) and The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego
  • Thursday, March 1st through March 4th, 2018 - StokerCon in Providence, Rhode Island!
Copyright © 2017 Lisa Morton All rights reserved.

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