The week before Halloween is a time of television horror films which I don’t like, so I retreat to my office and do something useful. Like writing a mystery novel.
I don’t like being scared--never have--since childhood when I was taken to a movie theatre to see a film called THE BLACK CAT. I don’t know how old I was and perhaps, today, I wouldn’t have been allowed in the theatre. But I was part of a group including my sister and five cousins, all older than I was. I still remember clutching my oldest boy cousin and burying my face in his coat.
Later I went “trick-or-treating” and then had children who did the same. My most vivid memory of those days is the one in which my youngest son refused at first to participate in the ritual. He said it was for little kids and he was too old for that, although he was probably nine at the time. He refused to let me buy a costume for him, or even suggest ways he could disguise himself. But, finally, that very afternoon, he abruptly changed his mind.I think he realized he’d miss out on gathering a bag of candy.
“It’s too late to buy a costume now,” I told him. “What do you want to do about that?” He didn’t answer, just went upstairs and when he came down I saw him wearing a long black coat of his father’s. He had painted a thick mustache and eyebrows on his face with my mascara and held a large round ball point pen in his hand as if it were a cigar. A large black hat completed the look and he went forth with a paper bag in his other hand. I followed a little way behind and watched him approach our neighbor’s house. When she opened the door and saw him, she said, “Why if it isn’t Groucho Marx!” I had no idea how he knew what Groucho looked like, but he acquired more candy than usual that year.
Movies are spookier than books, but after reading Stephen King’s THE SHINING, I haven’t read another. On the other hand I love mysteries, especially cozies. It’s the puzzle that interests me, and I like to try to figure out “whodunit” before the end.
I write mysteries too--as yet unsold--and also romantic suspense. I enjoy the challenge of creating a group of characters who might be the killer, and then hiding the truth from the reader as long as possible. As E. L. Doctorow said, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”