As we all know by now, Halloween stems from a Gaelic festival that has evolved into what is now, for some a festival of frightening fun, a festival of WTF, an excuse to party and eat a Pumpkin-shaped bucketload of candy, or a shameless plug for the smart-assed romantic comedies I’ve written. Or the idea of a ‘festival ‘is the inspiration for writing a book series, like author Nicole Murphy has.
As you’ve no doubt guessed by now from posts in this series, we Aussies are only just getting on the Halloween bandwagon. Come this time of the year, you can find Halloween decorations available in the stores (right next to the Christmas stuff, Nicole), and I’ve got friends with kids who trick or treat. I have a vague recollection of someone knocking on my door once, but really it’s so vague I might as well say it’s never happened.
So for me Halloween is a concept, but not a reality but I like it. The thing that I really admire about Halloween (and Thanksgiving) is the idea of festival. Some cultures really get into the whole festival thing – finding an idea, a concept, a moment in history that is worth stopping the usual life roundabout to take a break, have fun, celebrate. Americans are one culture that seem to really get into this, judging by all the holidays (particularly at this time of the year).
We Aussies have traditionally been much more laid back, but we’re getting there. Australia Day has become a really interesting day (because it’s both a good and bad news story, depending upon how you view it) but people now actually get out and do something on that day, rather than just have another day off work as they used to. Christmas has always had it’s traditions. NYE has become a big one, with huge parties in the cities. And there’s the tradition of stopping everything on Melbourne Cup Day (only one part of Australia gets a holiday that day – we need to work on that).
Exploring festival in my stories was something I hadn’t really thought about, until I read Tansy Rayner Roberts’ brilliant Creature Court trilogy (http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/books/the-creature-court-trilogy-harpervoyager-2010-2012/) . Her epic fantasy/urban fantasy mash-up is based in some parts on Ancient Rome, a culture that had a mad love affair with festivals. Tansy spoke about needing to bring that aspect into her book and in fact the action in the first book starts around a festival and it got me thinking.
I’d never written a festival into one of my books – time to remedy it.
Luckily, I read Tansy’s post about festivals as I was writing the third book in my Dream of Asarlai trilogy and bam – the Festival of the Star was born. It’s kinda like Christmas for my gadda (the secret magical race I invented) where everyone, no matter where they are in the world, gets a present. But there’s also a parade in the main street of Sclossin, and a concert, and everyone just forgets all the crap that’s going on and gets out and has fun.
I loved the idea of the Festival of the Star so much (despite the horror that is perpetrated during it in my trilogy) that the sequel novella is set solely during the next year’s festival and the next trilogy (not yet published, but I have hopes) begins during yet another festival.
Since then, I’ve done a few festivals. The third book in my SF trilogy (being published by the fabulous Escape Publishing) has a festival (you’ll have to wait until mid-next year to read that though).
But, I don’t think I’ve EVER come up with a festival as good as Festivus (Seinfeld fans, laugh now). For those who have NO idea what I’m talking about – behold (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festivus) So tell me – if you were to invent a festival, what would it involve?
In the meantime – may the dead stay peacefully sleeping and may you get a bucketload of candy!
Nicole Murphy is the author of the Dream of Asarlai trilogy, a couple dozen speculative fiction shorts. Loving the Prince, the first in The Jorda Series science fiction romance trilogy, is out from Escape Publishing. Nicole writes contemporary romance as Elizabeth Dunk, and has released a collection of paranormal erotic novellas. She lives in Queanbeyan, near Canberra, with her husband Tim and their beloved budgie Freddie.