BS Chick: I know what you’re thinking, a day late and a candy bar short, chickie. Halloween was yesterday! Oh, how wrong you are. The Day of the Dead falls over the first two days of November so I’m totally in the clear, and therefore forgiven for my inability to properly plan these things without factoring in life (and a whooooole lotta book boxes). So, give a warm welcome to Jennifer Estep, who talks about the scariest thing of all: real life.
Jennifer Estep: I don’t like to read scary books. Don’t like to watch scary movies either. By scary, I mean traditional horror by the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and others. Or movies like “Child’s Play” or “Nightmare on Elm Street.”
Now, give me a steamy paranormal romance about sexy vampires, and I’m in.
Shape-shifting werewolves searching for their soul mates? Totally cool.
Epic fantasy? I’m so there.
Serial killers? Sure.
Heist books and spy thrillers and mysteries? Love ‘em all.
But true ghosts and goblins and blood-sucking ghouls who eat people’s brains? Not so much. And don’t even get me started on aliens. Shudder.
So why don’t I like scary books when I’ll read just about everything else? My reason is this – there are plenty of scary things in the world already. Things that are real. Things that could actually happen. Today. When I sit down to read, I want to escape. I want to go to an entertaining world where the good guys win, people have terrific sex all the time, and everyone gets exactly what she deserves. Or some version thereof.
I just don’t want to read about psychiatric experiments gone bad and cursed souls being tortured for all eternity and rabid dogs who want to rip out my throat. I have enough to worry about without wondering whether my old stuffed animals are actually maniacal puppets who are going to invade my brain when I go to sleep. Hmm. Now that I think about it, their beady little eyes seem to follow me wherever I go …
But sometimes, the scary stuff sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Like Kiss Me While I Sleep by Linda Howard. I read this about two years ago. It’s about a rogue CIA assassin who uncovers a scheme to release a deadly strain of bird flu on the world. It was an entertaining read, although I found the plot a little far-fetched. Bird flu. Yeah right. Like that could ever happen.
Then, a couple weeks later, I start hearing that word again – on CNN. Then, on the evening news. Then, people in my hometown are talking about it. And doing drills to prepare for it. Now, everybody knows what bird flu is – and Howard’s book doesn’t seem so far-fetched any more. And that makes it scarier than anything that Stephen King could ever write. At least, to me.
Some people like being scared. They love the feel of goose bumps rippling up and down their skin. Love the adrenaline rush. The heart palpitations. The sweaty palms. Some of them even like to scream. I’m just not one of those people. I like romance and action and adventure – not being scared out of my mind.
For me, Halloween isn’t about chills and thrills and things that go bump in the night. It’s about something much more important – candy. Hershey kisses and M&Ms and Snickers, oh my! And lollipops and gummy bears and everything else that’s sugar-filled and oh-so-bad for me.
But wait. I’ve just had a thought. An idea for a book. How about a novel where there’s no more Halloween candy? There’s none left. It’s all been eaten. It’s all gone. Every last M&M. Every last Hershey kiss. Every last bit of Godiva. Gone. Forever.
No more candy? Now that would be really scary.
Jennifer Estep is an award-winning journalist. Her first book, Karma Girl, will be released in May by Berkley Books. It’s about a newspaper reporter who exposes the secret identities of comic-book superheroes – until she falls for one. It’s not the least bit scary – unless you have an aversion to spandex.