Lisa's November 2017 Newsletter (#11)
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In this issue:

Hi Gang!

First off, many of you are here for the first time, so welcome! Just as an introduction: every month I talk about movies I love, writing I'm working on, Halloween (of course!), and there's always a giveaway. I hope you'll enjoy it all and stick around as I try to make these things fun every month.

Pant pant pant...I'm still recovering from October. For me, that month is always a whirlwind of interviews, appearances, more interviews, putting together my own yard haunt, more interviews, and the usual amount of writing deadlines. This year's interviews (did I mention that I do a lot of interviews in October?) included CBS Miami, and a talk show on SiriusXM's Insight Channel.

I hope your October was full of autumnal joys and Halloween fun, and here's to a great last two months of 2017.

Still Life
In which I rhapsodize about favorite movie photos from my collection
Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies.

I have an interesting history with this movie: I first saw it at a sneak preview a month or so before the official release in 1982 (I even kept my preview card - see below). Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott attended that screening; I worked up the courage to congratulate Ridley after the screening, and he was kind and receptive.

Then I saw it on opening day - a matinee in Westwood with two friends. We stayed through all of the credits. On the way out of the theater, an older man approached us in the lobby and asked us what we thought of the movie. We chatted with him for a bit before realizing he had a rather intense interest in our answers, so we asked him if he'd had something to do with the movie. "Yes," he responded, "my name's Bud Yorkin - I'm one of the producers."

The third time I saw Blade Runner was a year later, again in Westwood - a one-night-only kind of screening. The instant the film started we knew something was strange. It turned out the studio had accidentally sent a work print. We saw a version of the movie that at the time no one else had seen. Parts of it played very differently.

As a born-and-raised Angeleno, one of the things I instantly loved about the movie was the way it captured my Los Angeles. Whether it's the use of the Bradbury building downtown or the way afternoon sunlight filtered by smog streams into the offices of the Tyrell Corporation, Blade Runner bottles the soul of L.A. better than any other movie I've ever seen.

That's one of my disappointments with the new Blade Runner - it looks like it could be anywhere. There are no recognizable L.A.-specific elements, no Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, no iconic tunnels. I never had the sense that I was watching my hometown thirty years in the future. I had other problems with Blade Runner 2049, too, but that very distinctive sense of L.A.-ness that it missed was my own personal letdown.

The lobby card I've chosen is from the German release of the film. I like this shot because it captures some of that L.A. sense - the crowded street, the sense of diversity among the pedestrians, the traffic jam, the haze. So L.A.
Read more about the new Halloween movie
The Halloween Spirit
Tips for keeping it going all year 'round
It's November now.

Time to put away the haunts and the costumes, and bid farewell to Halloween merchandise as the stores move into Christmas mode. But you don't need to dread the following 329 days until October comes around again, because I've got some good news: there are still days related to Halloween to celebrate over the next month – four, in fact! This means you don’t have to give up the Halloween spirit until…well, almost Christmas.

NOVEMBER 1All Saints’ Day. In the past, the word “hallow” was another word for “saint”, so “All Hallows’ Eve” – or, as we know it now, Halloween – was the evening before All Saints’ Day. So, what’s so special about All Saints’ Day?

Exactly one state in the U.S. – Louisiana – has an official state holiday for All Saints’ Day, but it’s still celebrated throughout much of Europe. All Saints’ Day is usually commemorated with visits to cemeteries, where the graves of deceased loved ones are cleaned and decorated. In some places, it gets spookier – the spirits may return to the household so it’s wise to leave out food and drink for them.

NOVEMBER 2 All Souls’ Day & Dia de los Muertos. The Catholic Church added All Souls’ Day as a sort of follow-up to All Saints’ Day when parishes reported that people weren’t happy only honoring dead saints, but also wanted to honor their own dead loved ones. But this remembrance took a turn for the weird when the idea of Purgatory was introduced, and it soon became about praying for the souls of any loved ones trapped in Purgatory, unable to move on to their heavenly reward. Beggars began going from house to house, offering prayers for those in Purgatory in exchange for food. Bonfires were lit in the belief that the smoke represented souls rising to Heaven. And witches might be abroad on this night.

Dia de los Muertos is Halloween with the Celtic influence replaced by Mayan and Aztec. It’s celebrated in a similar fashion to the European All Saints’ Day, with visits to cemeteries and laying out food for the returning spirits, but it has an additional element inherited from the Aztecs: it both pays homage to and mocks Death, so the holiday is decorated with calaveras – skulls – and skeleton imagery. Thanks to an influx of Mexican immigrants, more and more U.S. cities are now organizing Dia de los Muertos events, complete with traditional pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”) and folkloric dance. However, these urban events are rarely held on November 2nd; but you can still hold your own Dia de los Muertos by creating an ofrenda (an altar or offering) to a deceased loved one.

NOVEMBER 5 - Guy Fawkes Day/Eve. In 1605, a gentleman named Guy Fawkes was caught beneath the Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder that he’d been planning on using to assassinate King James. Parliament soon made November 5th a national holiday, and it came to be celebrated with bonfires, fireworks, kids smearing soot on their faces and begging money for firewood (“a penny for the Guy” is the traditional request), and general partying (in fact, it kept the late autumn spirit going when the Church of England decided to tamp down on All Saints’). Although building bonfires in 2017 isn’t a great idea, you can still raise a glass to the failure of the Gunpowder Plot.

NOVEMBER 11Old Halloween. Yes, really – Old Halloween. You see, Britain was slow to accept the change-over from the old Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, a switch that resulted in a difference of 11 days. What this meant is that throughout parts of Ireland, November 11 – which is also Martinmas, or St. Martin’s Day in the Catholic calendar – was celebrated as either “Old Samhain” or “Old Halloween”, so those clever Irish figured out a way to get two Halloweens out of the deal. I figure if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for us, right?

Enjoy your All Saints’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, Guy Fawkes Night, and Old Halloween! May these additional days help to stave off some of that post-Halloween depression.
Strange Fruit
The weirdest thing I've recently uncovered in my research
Alaska P. Davidson.

Not a name you'd pick for the first female FBI special agent, is it?

But in 1922, at the age of 54, she became Dana Scully's predecessor, assigned to work mainly on sex trafficking cases. Unfortunately, Alaska's superior considered her to be "very refined" and such work was increasingly considered to be unsuitable for her. When J. Edgar Hoover took over as the Bureau's Director in 1924, he felt that women had no place in the FBI, so Alaska and two other women who had followed her as Special Agents were forced to retire. Women wouldn't be allowed to join the Bureau again until 1972, following Hoover's death.

At least Alaska has secured a place in history now!
More on the FBI's first female special agents
Behind the Screams
About a Story
"Eyes of the Beholders" from Adam's Ladder
Oddly enough, I grew up reading not much horror, but mainly science fiction. My writing gods were Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Frank Herbert (Philip K. Dick came a little later).

That's why I jumped at the invite into a cross-genre science fiction/horror anthology.

The idea behind Adam's Ladder was evolution. I'd been thinking for a while about revising an old story of mine, something that was one of the first stories I'd written, but that had never been published. The story was a straight horror piece about a man who becomes obsessed with the notion that his body is imperfect and, to seek his ideal, he begins carving parts of himself away. At the end of the story he is an armless, legless torso, and he is pleased with this terrible transformation.

I saw a way to take that story and turn into a forced evolution - a future world in which all of the human inhabitants seek this "perfection". A few colonists whose attempt to create a new home on a distant world has failed and return to earth where they must confront both notions of evolution and their own prejudices.

I had a great time writing this story (and yes, I'd like to create more cross-genre work in the future), and I hope you'll enjoy reading it.
Order Adam's Ladder
My current works-in-progress
I'm currently working on a chunk of Stephen Jones's "mosaic novel" The Lovecraft Squad. The first volume in this ridiculously fun new series came out in October. What I'm working on now - and yes, it involves the research I cited above about female special agents in the FBI - is set in 1975, and intertwines Lovecraftian elements, spies, the FBI, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the Manson Family. My brain is boiling.

The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats

The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats is now available in e-book and print from JournalStone. It collects four novellas, ten short stories, a new introduction by Nancy Holder, and new notes about the stories from me.
Keep Halloween Going!
Ghosts: A Haunted History
My acclaimed book Ghosts: A Haunted History is now available in an affordable trade paperback.
Haunt Yourself
CD Select: Lisa Morton
CD Select: Lisa Morton is a mini-collection gathering together four tales chosen by me, with accompanying notes. Available in either e-book or signed & limited hardcover edition.
Reserve Yours Now!
The Art of Horror Movies
The Art of Horror Movies is Stephen Jones's stunning follow-up to his multiple-award-winning The Art of Horror. I wrote the chapter on "The Evil 80s".
Dive Into the Art!

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. The anthology received a starred and boxed review in Publishers Weekly, as well as raves from Rue Morgue, Locus, and many others.
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!
Unspeakable Horror 2
Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire is the long-awaited follow-up to the Bram Stoker Award-winning first book. Includes my story "Ofrenda".
Get Unspeakable
Congratulations to Christa Carmen, who won the big October giveaway of a signed copy of Haunted Nights and a bag of Halloween treats

Let's keep the Halloween vibes chiming with this month, and offer up a print copy of my Halloween-themed collection The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats! If you haven't see a print copy of this little beauty, trust me when I say it's hefty and gorgeous.

To enter, just click the button below, and GOOD LUCK!
I Want to Win The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats!
  • 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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