This week, I’ve been dog sitting for a 7 month old pitsky named Levi. He’s adorable, and a bit of a handful. He has all the puppy energy, and then the added husky energy. He barks at you when you’re sitting at the kitchen table because he thinks you have food — even when you don’t.
It makes writing pretty difficult, to be honest.
This is not me complaining about my job, or one of them, as truly this is one of the best jobs that I have. I get to spend time with an otherwise very sweet and cute puppy, in a house in the hills. We got to watch the Dodgers win the World Series together and snuggle at night, or sit on that gorgeous patio and watch the sun move over the hills.
All of this to say that it’s been pretty hard to write a proper #FictionFriday post for today, and that’s my fault. I may have taken on too much this week, again, and underestimated how much mental energy I would have to give to other jobs. And with this being Halloween Eve, I really wanted to write a proper scary story — or attempt to — to pay tribute to my favorite time of year. That didn’t pan out because I’m still working on this whole “running my own blog” thing and learning how to plan out what I want to write - definitely skills that I need to build up.
So this week we’re going to lean on the old sitcom trope of clip shows to get us through. I’ve decided to collect a round up of the spooky stories I’ve written throughout the past month or so, so you can find them in one place, and maybe gush a little bit about my favorite creepy/spooky/suspenseful/scary fiction I’ve loved recently. This is the perfect time of year to get outside of my comfort zone and explore something creepy that I wouldn’t have normally watched, and everything I have experienced this year and in the past has left me better for it as I’ve expanded those horizons.
So I’ve gotta share what I love with everyone, because that’s who I am as a person.
But first, the fiction I’ve written:
A Witch And Her Wolf and The Stolen Book are stories that involve a witch named Aggie Carter, who has moved from New York to a small town in Oregon to get away from the city and maybe the trouble that seems to follow her and her boyfriend, a werewolf named Dennis (or Denny if he likes you — and he probably doesn’t). That trouble seems to have left them alone, for now, but the book she stole from another witch’s shop in New York might have other plans for them, and Aggie in particular.
When Magic Comes Back to Los Angeles sort of set the stage for Aggie, before I moved her to Oregon instead of LA. That just means I get to create a new character that lives here in magical Los Angeles instead! LA always has been a magical city, bringing in dreamers and their dreams, creators and their creations, and inspiring all kinds of people. There has to be magic here, and maybe it’ll come back one day.
The Spook In the Speakeasy Off Of Hollywood Boulevard was inspired by one of my favorite bars, No Vacancy, that is indeed off of Hollywood Boulevard. It was my attempt at writing a proper Halloween ghost story, because we all know that the end of October is when the veil between our world and the other is thinnest. Ghosts like a good party too, after all.
As for fiction that I’ve loved recently, I’m still working through Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, slowly but surely. Most of my time has been spent trying to find new television shows to watch, or movies, when it is easiest to just sit with my laptop for a little bit and tune out (which you would think a book would help with but no).
I just finished watching Gravity Falls for the first time, though, and let me tell you. It is two seasons of weirdness and joy. It was an animated show on Disney XD and can be found in its entirety now on Disney+ if you’ve shelled out for that subscription — which is worth it for the complete collection of The Simpsons alone. Gravity Falls follows a pair of twins, Dipper and Mabel Pines, who have been sent to the small town of Gravity Falls, Oregon for the summer to live with their Great Uncle Stan. Stan Pines runs a local tourist trap called The Mystery Shack, full of the type of weird roadside attractions one would find in a small town off an interstate. Dipper and Mabel quickly discover, though, that their Gruncle Stan’s fake attractions are only a cover for the real weirdness in the town. It is a really a fun coming-of-age tale of family, secrets, the supernatural, and even with everything crazy going on in the world figuring out what matters most. It was truly the perfect salve for what’s been happening in the world, and with a pretty exciting voice cast to boot.
Earlier this year, when the pandemic shut everything down, a couple movies were released to streaming platforms instead of theaters and The Invisible Man remake with Elisabeth Moss was one of them. I avoided it originally, because it looked like an outright scary movie, until one of my best friends convinced me to watch it with her. She had already seen it, having purchased it as soon as it was released because she was planning on seeing it in theaters anyway and then that became… well, what it is. Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia, who leaves her abusive ex Adrian - Adrian is a top optics expert and has been working on a suit that uses lights and cameras to render the wearer invisible. What follows is a suspenseful story of gaslighting and recovery, where the audience can never really tell what the whole story is, and who is truly in control. It was the perfect kind of suspense, and victory, that really does give you that creepy unsettled feeling in your stomach, but in a good way.
And finally, we have Lovecraft Country. One of my favorite shows of the year, it’s based on the book of the same title by Matt Ruff. The show premiered on HBO a few months ago, and follows Atticus Freeman as he returns to his hometown of Chicago after receiving a letter from his father that tells him to “come find him and claim his birthright.” This simple letter starts a chain of events that includes Lovecraftian magic, ghosts and exorcisms, monsters, Indiana Jones style adventures, and time travel as Atticus, his childhood friend Leti, and the rest of their family get tied up in figuring out their family history and how it intertwines with a family named the Braithwhites. Set in the 1950’s South side of Chicago, it’s an amazing, layered story of race, monsters and the people who are monstrous, family secrets (again!), and taking back power. If you have HBO, HBOMax, or a pirated stream (I won’t tell), I urge you to spend 10 hours watching this series all the way through. It became appointment TV for me in a way that few shows have, and I’ve even deep dived in the Lovecraft Country Radio podcast, hosted by writer Ashley C. Ford and television writer Shannon Houston, the latter of which is a writer on the show. I am desperate for a second season, although I have no idea where it would go after the events of the finale, and if it would be worth it. I just want to live in this world a little longer, however terrible it seems.
Fiction has always been my escape, ever since I was a kid. When things get too overwhelming, or I’m under-stimulated, it has always been the easiest place for me to find myself — or what I always wanted to be.
So this year, this unbelievable 2020, with a pandemic and maybe the most significant election of our generation, I have been so lucky to find a safe space in the good fiction we’ve been given. Even if it is creepy and too close to the events of real life, I can let myself go for those few minutes or hours, enjoy a different world and root for different characters who - eventually, somehow - will prevail. It may not be in the way that we want them to, or the way that we hope for them, but the one thing they have in common is that they do prevail over the evil in their lives.
And that’s really all I can hope for in this world, that the good will ultimately win out over the evil in our lives.
If not, there is always fiction.