Continuing on yesterday's post about my love of all things Halloween, here is a little background.
Halloween is commonly thought to originate with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which dates back to the 10th century. Samhain, which was celebrated November 1, featured feasts, bonfires, and visits from the spirits of the dead. Not all spirits were malicious - many were family members, and food and drink would be left out in their honor.
But Halloween also originates from the Christian holy days All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2), which date back to the eighth century. These holy days honored the souls in purgatory who had not yet got into Heaven, and were doomed to wander. Again, these were family members - except for the few who took one last chance to get revenge before going to the next world.
So this time of year has been noted by more than one culture as a time when the wall between this world and the next gets a little thin. Death was closer to everyday life in ancient times; wise people put charms and wards over their doors so the spirits could not follow you in.
When I wrote AN INQUIRY INTO LOVE AND DEATH, I set it at the end of October, just before Halloween. The story is set in a tiny, remote English town where a legendary ghost named Walking John haunts the surrounding woods and the bay. At this time of year, Walking John gets a little... restless. And it's really best not to go out of doors. My working title for the book, by the way, was "All Souls".
So, I want to know. What's your favorite scary book? The book that gives you chills? The book you read to your kids this time of year?
The book you read when you were a kid yourself, scaring yourself as you read it late into the night?
Me - I read Stephen King FAR too early (thanks to my older brother's bookshelf), and I found a copy of Poe stories at age thirteen that I read to tatters.
What about you?
In honor of All Hallow's Read, I'm giving away my own creepy, scary books - THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE and three special ADVANCE copies of AN INQUIRY INTO LOVE AND DEATH, which does not release until March 2013. Both of them are ghostly reads that I fervently hope will both entertain and chill you, and (perhaps) scare your socks off if you read them at night. The giveaway ends on Halloween day and you can enter on my Facebook page.