The Washington Post

Scary writers’ plans for Halloween

What do people who scare us for a living do on Halloween? A few spooky novelists were willing to spill the candy corn:

(Knopf) (Knopf)

Anne Rice

I’ll be landing back in LA on an afternoon plane on Hallowe’en and then going to do the Late Late Show on CBS with Craig Ferguson. Then back to my apartment in West Hollywood if the entire little city hasn’t been blocked off for the big WeHo Hallowe’en parade. That’s my Hallowe’en.


(Pocket Books) (Pocket Books)

Peter Straub

Where I live, on the Upper West Side of New York, children and  trick-treaters go door to door only in their own apartment buildings,  and since I live in a brownstone, no one ever rings the bell. The gigantic Greenwich Village parade/freak show is way too crowded for me. I almost always stay home on Halloween, and this time around I think I’ll watch “I Married a Witch,” with Veronica Lake, on its nice new Criterion DVD. How I’ll stand all that excitement, I really can’t imagine.

(Penguin) (Penguin)

Deborah Harkness

I’m lecturing about the history of the witch in my undergraduate lecture on Wednesday, and then on Thursday, I’ll be dressing up in my Professor McGonagall outfit (academic robes, reading glasses, witch’s hat) for the trick or treating. When the traffic slows down, I’ll put “Bell, Book and Candle” in the DVD player. Kim Novak has to be the sexiest witch ever. As for my favorite candy, I’m a traditionalist: candy corn. I’d rather have an old fashioned cider donut — but I can’t find one in Los Angeles.

(HarperCollins) (HarperCollins)

Brunonia Barry

Costumed as Mother Nature, I’ll be partying with the pirates on Chestnut Street in Salem, Mass. First, the real Salem witches host a candlelight vigil on their way to Gallows Hill to honor those accused in 1692. Then about 3,000 tiny trick or treaters go door to door. Later, the real pirate party begins. I won’t even tell you what that entails. I’ll be here for the duration.

(Grand Central) (Grand Central)

Benjamin Percy

Every Halloween, we throw a massive party: The Monster Mash. There is a poison bar with bloody sangria and mulled cider dosed with whiskey. There is a buffet featuring such delicacies as pus-filled werewolf turds. We hang 50 ghostly white-powdered donuts from our apple tree that the kids try to bite down without the help of their hands. People carve and paint pumpkins, put together skeleton puzzles, leap into a massive pile of leaves, add sketches to a graveyard mural, and so on. But the highlight of the evening is this: When the sun sets, my friend and I put on a shadow puppet theater performance. Everyone gathers before the garage, where I’ve set up a black-curtained stage. I narrate an original story while a few others manipulate the shadow puppets. And we leave everyone laughing and gasping as darkness falls.

(Skyhorse Publishing) (Skyhorse Publishing)

Scott Bowen

My girlfriend and I are big fans of the French film, “Brotherhood of the Wolf,” so we’re dressing up as the two main characters — Gregoire de Fronsac and Mani — in 1760s-style gear: tri-corner hats, cloaks, bayonets, et al.

(Ballantine) (Ballantine)

Justin Cronin

This year, I plan to wear my usual costume: “Suburban Dad with Flashlight.”


Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.



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