I’ve always loved spooky stories. Give me a monster, a pair of old bones, or a cracked grave stone, and I’m hooked… as long as I can close the book if I get too scared. 😉
When I wrote THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST, I didn’t set out to write a spooky book. I just followed the story to see where it would take me. When birds began to lengthen and snap, trees began to twist and grab and a beast began to thud and drool, I relished in the tension — and the fun.
Spooky stories are fun. We love to be scared. That’s why roller coasters are a huge business and trick or treating is one of America’s favorite pastimes, and spreading around the world. That’s why new horror movies are made every year, and school librarians tell me that spooky books are their most requested genre.
Kids know that spooky stories get their blood pumping and spine tingling, which is so so fun. 🙂
But the wonderful thing about reading scary stories is that through them, we can test our boundaries for fear — and we can stretch our boundaries too — in a safe place. If a story gets too scary for us, all we have to do is close the book and we’re safe. When we gather up more courage, we can open the pages again and read more, knowing that safety is always available.
There is so much that’s scary in the real world, and kids feel that even more than adults. Kids don’t have the independence or agency of an adult. They must rely on a grownup to keep a roof over their head, food in their belly, the boogey man at bay. But what if an adult isn’t around when something scary happens? What if the kid is at school, in a park, or walking home? What if what’s scary is an adult?
Just like books teach children empathy and understanding, spooky stories teach them how they can make their own courage and face their own fears.
This is the crux of THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST. The boy is alone and has nothing to help him. He even has an inner bully telling him he’ll fail at everything he does. But as he gathers his courage to unearth out what happened to him, battle the beast and find his way home, so can readers. (I know that I got a lot of courage while I wrote the story, and that’s why I helped to create the Make Your Own Courage Art Therapy Project.)
So, when I was asked to join a group of authors to share our love of spooky stories, I said the fastest YES. I’ve been so excited to connect with authors Kim Ventrella, S.A. Larsen, Patrick Moody, Jonathan Rosen, David Neilsen, Victoria Piontek, Janet Fox, Lindsay Currie and others.
Even better, we’ve expanded our group to take spooky stories into classrooms and homes. We’ve been doing joint Skype visits, answering students’ questions about writing, and today we’re launching the SpookyMiddleGrade.com website, where we’ll share our thoughts and more about everything spooky middle grade. You can also find great teacher resources and sign up for your own free Skype Q&A.
We’ll also have regular giveaways throughout the year. So, Take our Spooky MG Reading Challenge for your change to win fun prizes, and sign up for our monthly enewsletter to get spooky crafts, recipes, writing prompts and more.
What do you love about spooky stories? I’d love to hear. Tell me below…