One of our Pocket Star authors who loves all things creepy is here to talk about Halloween. And for Sophie Littlefield, it’s not just about fear, costumes, and candy corn. Sophie tells us how trick-or-treating with her kids and indulging in slasher films have combined to shape the way she builds her own novels.

 

I love a good scare, never more than in October, which is especially lovely in Northern California. Somehow, the brilliant blue skies and cool temperatures make a perfect backdrop for twisted stories. By year’s end, I’ll have turned to heartwarming women’s fiction again as I bake and gift-wrap my way through the holidays, but just as a bacchanalia must precede the austerity of Lent, my own psychological calendar dictates that some truly creepy or savage horror must precede the end-of-year holidays.

When my children were growing up, I decorated for Halloween, sticking to the harmless motifs of black cats and smiley ghosts and flapping bats. I was sensitive to my children’s scare threshold. My son was an avid fan of fake blood and awesome weaponry (both banned at school but indulged on the big night), whereas my daughter usually stuck to nonviolent costumes – she was a cavewoman, a prairie girl, a sorceress. I sewed most of our costumes; for one memorable family party I made matching genie costumes for myself and my ex-husband. The dog was a devil one year and, of course, a bridesmaid the year my daughter was a little bride.

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So the creep factor was kept low in deference to my family’s sensibilities. I enjoyed those holidays, as I imagine I will again someday when it’s grandchildren I’m squiring around the neighborhood. Nowadays, however, I make time for at least one slasher movie (popcorn, cheap white wine, and my sister’s company are the ingredients for the perfect evening) and I sink into a delightfully dark and nasty read (this year it’s Mo Hayder’s POPPET – plus the latest issue of Cemetery Dance).

Given my allegiance to both sides of the creepy coin, it’s only fitting that my book that came out this month, SHATTERED BOND, explores the nasty underbelly of an otherwise lovely community. The suburb of Montair looks a lot like the one I used to live in. On the eve of a special party, the country club is lavishly lit by candlelight, the wine is flowing, and everyone’s dressed and made up to the nines. Some of the smiles are genuine; others hide secrets. As the party gets into high gear, not even a quarter of a mile away, a beautiful, poised young girl – you might not even notice that she is drunk – is lured behind a convenience store, where her nightmare begins.

I can’t resist the intersection of beauty and rage, of innocence and corruption. I like tableaus that mix hints of darkness into otherwise placid, peaceful landscapes. Have you ever seen an oil rig on a rolling plain, its barbed black tower stark and almost sinister looking, as though it was plunged into the earth by a giant hand? This was the scene that inspired the book I am finishing up now, a tale of two young men who go to North Dakota to make their fortunes on the oil rigs, then disappear without leaving a trace.

I’ll leave you with my best wishes for the season. For the even-tempered, peaceful souls among you, I wish candy corn and children’s sweet sticky smiles, scarecrows and apple cider. For the rest of you, those who are attracted to the eerie and unsettled, I wish a good scare – and a safe return from the dark side.

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