Why Do We Read Scary Books?
Halloween is over, and after a long season of zombies and ghouls, you're probably ready for more heartwarming topics. Family feasts and twinkling lights and mulled cider by a crackling fireplace.
I am. But I'm still plugging away at my book, which can be far from heartwarming.
I'm taking inspiration from Charles Dickens.
He wrote the one of the best Christmas stories of all time, and his book can be pretty scary. Ghosts, starving children, death, et cetera. These dark details set the more cheerful themes of "A Christmas Carol" into relief and make the book more satisfying.
Why read scary stories at all?
Author Lou Morgan wrote a fascinating article about scary stories in The Guardian last week. In it, she posits:
Books let us pour our fear into them before we have so much of it sloshing around in our heads that we drown in it. Stories that frighten us or unsettle us—not just horror stories, but ones that make us uncomfortable or that strike a chord somewhere deep inside—give us the means to explore the things that scare us.
I don't seek out scary stories often, but thanks to my family history, I found myself writing one. And finally exploring the dark rumors has been both chilling and cathartic. Lou Morgan's words ring true on both accounts, in not only the reading of scary stories but also the careful crafting of them.
Now pass the damn pumpkin pie.