While today’s post does not contain claustrophobia, the FBI, home renovation, peanut butter or cookies, it does contain author Amanda Ashby, who may or may not be full of chocolate when she’s not writing about zombies, which you know are full o’ awesomesaucy Halloweenie goodness.
Normally when I write a Halloween post it simply involves a few zombie jokes and a recount of how ridiculous it is to take your kids trick-or-treating at six at night in the Southern Hemisphere when the sun is still high in the sky (well, in those places that have daylight saving). However, Sandra seemed to think it would be a good idea to relate this back to our books, which if you ask me just smacks of hard work. However, since I don’t want her to know just what a slacker I truly am (though I’m sure she’ll find out in time) I realized that this blog post would require a bit of deep thought. Oh, and anyone who knows me and finds this concept amusing, please keep your laughing to a dull roar!
So, down to business.
Growing up in Queensland in the seventies and eighties meant that Halloween wasn’t a big deal to me. There were a few boys who would go around dressed in white sheets armed with eggs and flour but that’s about the extent of my Halloween memories. However, as a writer, the 31st of October has always played an important part in my life—and not just because I write paranormal novels that involve such things as zombies, killer fairies and dead girls who get stuck in someone else’s body.
It’s because to me Halloween doesn’t just represent creepy costumes and free chocolate (though don’t get me wrong. Free chocolate is everything) but rather that it offers up the possibility of other worlds. According to Samhain mythology, this is when the veil between worlds is at its lowest, which is why fae and spirits from the otherworld can cross over into ours.
And seriously, there is nothing about this idea that I don’t love!
For a start it suggests that something is normally hidden from sight, which is what paranormals are all about. A strange element that is happening in the normal world. Plus, it suggests a threshold that must be crossed over, which is at the heart of all story telling. And finally, when I think of Halloween, it doesn’t just represent a duality in the world but within a person as well. Think about it—people shedding their normal skins to dress up as someone else—that is definitely a way of letting the world see a second face.
These three elements are things that I’ve really tried to explore in my latest YA book. Demonosity is a story about a teenage girl who reluctantly has to protect an alchemist artifact from two time travelling Demon Knight brothers who both want it for very different reasons.
When I started the book I had a very clear idea of which was the good demon brother and which was the bad one but as the story went on, I became more conflicted because I could see that that there was darkness and light in both of them. I even managed to have a Halloween party scene where the heroine is attacked by one of the sword wielding demons, but of course everyone just thinks that someone has a really stellar costume. I also explored the morality of crossing between worlds and what the consequences of those decisions could be. Of course, I’m still the same lazy author who loves free chocolate so don’t worry, the book is still wrapped up with lots of ridiculous characters and silly scenes but there is definitely a strong Halloween influence in there.
And now that’s all done and dusted, what does a zombie get when he’s late for dinner? The cold shoulder. (You didn’t think I was going to waste a good zombie joke did you?)
Amanda was born in Australia and after spending the last twenty years dividing her time between England, Australia and New Zealand, she’s finally settled in the gorgeous Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand. When she’s not moving country, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to eat chocolate, watch television and sit around doing not much, but let’s just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we?). She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Find out more about her and her books at amandaashby.com.