I laughed, but, yes: I am the authorial April Ludgate, because this is going to be about Things. All of them run a wide range: from shows and movies, books, and plays to music and games. Some of you may remember my paying homage to The 7th Guest a few years ago. This wasn't my gateway to all things creepy and spooky - we'll get to him, believe me - but to start things off, I think I'll share someone else who helped my love of the supernatural bloom around the same time.
A lot of my younger readers will say that their first dose of horror were R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books - or, if they were my age, his Fear Street series. A few even mention L.J. Smith, author of The Vampire Diaries. I never really got into either of those ... the sheer backlog of Fear Street by the time I clued in was intimidating. No... I was a hardcore Christopher Pike gal. Fellow writer and Pike fangirl Emily Hainsworth did a tribute blog to Pike, too, and I must graciously credit her for taking a photograph, somehow, of what my bookshelf looked like back in 1996:
I'd already started dabbling in fantasy at that point - we'll touch on that in a future blog, which will likely explain why so many of my characters spend so much time eating - but Witch showed me that fantasy could be modern, without being flat out horror like Monster had been.
Here's the thing about Christopher Pike that I have to admit: his YA stuff is about as formulaic as an episode of Scooby-Doo, from what I remember. By my sophomore year of high school, even I was cluing in to that fact: probably because I owned everything he'd put in print up to that point. Waldenbooks even special ordered some of the oldest titles for me. (If you don't remember Waldenbooks. it was a wonderful place of magic, and I pity you.) To come back around to it, though, I did say farewell to Mr. Pike and gifted my collection to a friend who enjoyed his books but had not read all of them yet. The swath of neon left my shelf and went on to have a new life giving the heebie-jeebies to someone else who would love them as much as I did. And for a long time, that was the end of it: until I discovered paperback editions of these same two books at Goodwill a couple of years ago. Fifty cents each was a bargain, so I snapped them up, hoping for the chills and thrills of my youth.
For someone who graduated to Thomas Harris, King, and Gaiman, the value was purely nostalgic. The descriptions are bland unless Pike's really dishing out the creepy or gory stuff: that's when he goes to town. It's still pretty timeless, though: I could see a teenager reading these with just as much zeal as I did. They're perfect as what they are: young adult stepping stones to decent darker stuff.
I know I don't brand myself as a flat-out horror author, but parts of the genre still found their way into Lines of Power: I dip into it whenever the plot makes it appropriate to do so. I still remember how it felt to crack open that paperback, curled up in my orange-and-black armchair, and see the words in black and white:
It began in blood.
It would end the same way.
Angela Warner was on the couch finishing her third beer when Mary Blanc entered Jim Kline's house carrying a loaded shotgun.
It was a busy Sunday night at Charlie's Bar, and if any of the patrons noticed Buster Heywood, they made no noise about it. Most of them wouldn't even know the gangly, well-kept brunette by name, let alone that he'd been sitting in a corner booth nursing a rum-and-Coke for the last hour. That suited Buster just fine: he was content to sit and stare into his drink as the ice cubes melted. Though his eyes were calm behind his black-framed glasses, his mind was racing laps around the body cooling in the trunk of his gray Jetta.
- "From the Desk of Buster Heywood"
Until then, I remain your hostess,