TONIGHT I PULLED UP outside the Acorn Public Library in Oak Forest, IL and the white-lit sign outside proclaimed: Horror Author, October 27, 7 p.m.
Wow…there it was, my name up in lights…oh wait a minute – my name wasn’t there. Oh well, I knew it meant me! I walked in and found my hostess, who gave me a wonderful introduction to the small, but appreciative audience, and she also found a way to turn the lights down so the whole thing could be more “spooky” as I read. There were 8 or 9 adults and an equal number of kids 8-10 years old. The kids didn’t last through the whole presentation, but the adults were very into the session.
This week, I was prepared for kids. Last week, when I visited the Homer Public Library to “read some spooky stories and talk about writing horror” I wasn’t really ready for a room full of young teens. We had fun, don’t get me wrong — I read “The Right Instrument” from Vigilantes of Love and a new story, “The Pumpkin Man,” but I was nervous the whole time that I was going to read something “too extreme” for the younger kids in the audience. Plus, I had gotten to Homer a couple minutes late because I’d been caught at a police line near the Cal-Sag canal and thought for awhile that I was going to miss the show entirely — a junkyard fire had closed off the only road going south into Homer from my house…so when I got to the library, finally, I was a little rattled.
This week at Oak Forest, I was better prepared for the kids, if not bizarre traffic problems (since I already had done “The Right Instrument” and “The Pumpkin Man” without inciting a parental riot, I was more confident this week that they were ok to read). Tonight I gave the group a quick synopses of how I got started writing, and what led to my three books, and then read “The Right Instrument.”
There were several “ahhhhs” and “Twilight Zone” comments at the twist ending, and after answering a couple questions, I read “The Pumpkin Man.” This one lost the younger kids, but the rest of the crowd loved it, and we talked a little while afterwards about it and some of my other work. Then I asked if they wanted one more ghost story and everyone seemed eager, so I read “The Tapping” from Spooks! My voice was a little dry at this point (I’ve been fighting a headcold all week) but I got some good laughs at the early funny bits, and the room was quiet as a crypt for the building creepiness of the story.
After a few more questions, we called it a night, and the group filed out after buying a couple books and taking some bookmarks and “writers tips” sheets that I’d brought along. It was really a fun night! The crowd was small, but definitely into the experience of sitting down and listening to some ghost stories — they seemed to really enjoy the tales, which made it all the more fun to perform them.
Next up on the Halloween Tour…Frugal Muse Books on Saturday!