by Jennifer Hillier
Halloween was my third most favorite day when I was a kid. Third place might not sound like much, but when you’re competing with Christmas (1st place) or my birthday (2nd place), Halloween did all right. It certainly kicked the Easter Bunny’s ass.
As a grown-up, Halloween is now officially my favorite day of the year. (Christmas now feels a bit expensive, and I stopped liking birthdays the day I turned 29). I love everything about Halloween. I love that it’s in October, when the leaves are orange and red and yellow, partly on trees, but mostly in fluffy piles beside the sidewalk. I love all the faces carved into pumpkins, smiling or grimacing at me as I walk home. I love the smell of the cool dry air, and the way it flushes my cheeks. I love seeing little kids dressed up, toothy or toothless, saying “Trick or treat!”. I love having neighbors that decorate their lawns to look like cemeteries.
But mostly, I love that it’s the one time of year where we celebrate being scared. And on that note, here’s what I do to celebrate the month of October and Halloween:
I drink chai lattes.
For a few years, I was totally on the pumpkin spice latte bandwagon, only to realize – with some surprise – that I don’t actually like the taste of pumpkin spice. It kind of tastes like soap. I know. Don’t hate me. I have, however, always loved chai lattes, and for some reason they taste best in the fall. So that’s pretty much my beverage of choice for the entire month of October.
I choose a pumpkin from the local pumpkin patch.
But I almost never carve it myself. Despite my third book being called The Butcher, I am not good with cleavers, knives, box cutters, scissors, or any other sharp objects. I may write about killers who have finesse with blades, but I have no skills whatsoever. I’m clumsy. Hell, every time I slice an apple I know I’m risking losing a finger.
I eat all my candy and chocolate in “fun size.”
Nothing thrills me more than walking through the Halloween aisle at Target and seeing all my favorite chocolate in miniature. Because gigantic bags of mini-food surely means less calories, right?
I re-read Stephen King’s IT for the umpteenth time.
Still my favorite novel ever. I always read it in paperback, even though the printed book is fat and clunky and 1100-plus pages long and would be much more convenient to read on my Kindle. It’s about seven children who discover there’s a monster in their small town who can morph into whatever their greatest fear is – from giant spiders to mummies to werewolves, because kids have very active imaginations! – and who walks around disguising itself as a clown. I’ve read this book almost every year since I was 11 years old, the same age the kids are in the story. Each character is distinctive, the setting is atmospheric, and the monster feels terrifyingly real. Every time I read IT, I discover something new.
I marathon Hannibal Lecter.
Three of my favorite movies of all time are Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal. Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter is the greatest fictional serial killer ever (with Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter Morgan being a close runner-up). A perfect weekend is me curled up on the couch watching Dr. Lecter do his thing, while enjoying a bowl of fun-sized sweetbreads and a glass of chianti.
Jennifer Hillier writes about dark, twisted people who do dark, twisted things. She’s the author of Creep, Freak, and The Butcher. Her newest standalone, Wonderland, is out now from Simon & Schuster/Pocket Star. Find her on the web at jenniferhillier.ca.