You may not have noticed, but Halloween will soon be upon us and that got me thinking about things that go bump in the night.

What makes a really good ghost story? What is it about the way a writer tells a story that freezes our blood? How do they do it?

For me, it’s all about sleight of hand. You know what I mean, it’s when a writer has taken your hand leading you down one path while in the other hand he holds a bloody dagger – metaphorically speaking. Quite often the story is about shocking the reader too. And today I’m going to plug an amazing anthology which does just that and more! But first…..

I want to tell you about a true event – the time where I absolutely traumatized a three-year-old girl.

When my son was nine and it was Halloween he’d been invited to hang out and eat at a friend’s house and he was due home around six-thirty in the evening. I’d been shopping in the supermarket and spotted a really cool Morticia Addams long black wig with a white streak at the front. So I used a white concealer stick on my face, painted black liner around my eyes with red lids and hooker red lipstick on my mouth and put on the wig. Even if I say so myself, it looked hot.  I wore black slacks and a black polo neck sweater – cashmere (this is me we’re talking about). I also found a huge cross with red stones attached to a long beaded necklace. Everything was ready, the box of candy and other teeth rotting goodies just at the front door.

The doorbell rang and I opened the door with a deep, ‘Welcome, young man. Please enter.’

My son howled with laughter – it takes a lot to scare my son – and thought I looked pretty cool. By this time my daughters were home and we’d given out a few treats to the ghosts and ghouls who’d come to the door. And as I’d given one or two a bit of a shock I was feeling pretty damn good.

Anyway, I was just about to relax when the doorbell went. By this time I’d bumped up the make-up to look even more scary so I opened the door and screeched like a banshee from hell at an unsuspecting mother and her two young children.

I’ll never forget it.

Her three-year-old daughter almost passed out on the spot and ran screaming for her life up the drive and into the arms of her father. Her mother and older sister were stood before me clutching their hearts.

‘What on earth do you think you are doing? You terrified my baby,’ the poor woman said.

‘It’s…er…Halloween,’ I sort of mumbled trying to smile but if anything their eyes went even bigger. The screams of the three year old could be heard for miles and neighbors popped their heads out of the door wondering what the hell was going on.

There are times when I’m incredibly stupid and this was one of them. I started running up the drive to try and calm the child but she went absolutely crazy and her father yelled for me to ‘Get the hell out of here.’  I felt awful absolutely certain I’d given her PTSD. So anyway the mother and daughter were given tons of tooth rotting goodies and I waved them farewell.

I closed the door to find my son and daughter lying on the carpet, drumming their heels on the floor and crying with laughter. Once they managed to speak they said it was the best thing they’d ever seen in their lives and I was the coolest mother in the world. There you go.  Terrorize an infant and your kids think your amazing. I’ve gone wrong somewhere. Seriously.

Back to the subject at hand – TALES FROM THE MIST – an Anthology of short stories guaranteed to chill your blood, tingle your spine, make you sleep with one eye open and have a sweaty hand clutching the dagger under your pillow – just in case. There are some award winning literary big hitters among this motley crew along with new writers who have a fabulous future ahead of them if these stories are anything to go by.

I read some of them aloud – and I think they’ll work really well if you get a group of friends together with a bottle of wine, light a few candles and tell them a story. It would really help if it’s ‘A dark and stormy night’ too. I’ll leave it to you lot to sort out your own sound effects.

Here’s what some reviewers have said:

Author Aiden James, who penned the Foreword, suggests reading with the lights on.

Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Flesh Eaters and Mutated: “”Tales From The Mist is one of those rare anthologies that gets it right from the first story to the last. It’s a magnificent feast of horror from some of the most assured voices working today. From cold-blooded tales of revenge to Faustian bargains to terrifying journeys into the dark corners of our world, these stories will make the shivers climb your back.”

“Wow, what can I say? Witches, vampire rats, ghosts, a haunted house, shape-shifters and many, many more. It takes a lot to creep me out, but these authors managed it. I’m not going to add to the other reviewers except to say. Wow!”

“While horror isn’t my normal reading material, I found I couldn’t put this book down. It’s the perfect way to start out the All Hallows Eve season and is filled with paranormal stories to fit any mood. From ghosts to rats to tales retold, and things that go bump in the dark of the night, if you’re looking for a scary read – or just a really engrossing book – check out Tales From The Mist.”

So there you go. Don’t say I’m not good to you. Grab Tales From The Mist and organise your own spooky party then come back and tell us all about it it.

What’s your favourite horror movie?

What book terrified you for weeks or months? Mine was Salem’s Lot.

Amazon US: 

45 thoughts on “BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID

  1. Alright, I have to be quick. I’m taking a break from writing while my desktop pc reboots. 1st: I’m howling with laughter picturing that poor little girl and the night terrors she undoubtedly still has from that Halloween, so long ago… Does that make me mean? I think not. Have you seen the shining? Little kids are creepy. No, of course not any children of this blog’s readers. I’m talking about other people’s kids.
    2nd. Scary movie: Top of the list is Alien. The 1st one. Nightmare on Elm Street is a scary one, too. The 1st one.
    3rd. Scary Book: Whispers by Dean Koontz. Why? Twins. They are creepy. I should know; not only do I write about them, but I am one. I’m not talking about anyone reading this, of course. You and your twins are cool. I don’t mean fraternal twins, either. They don’t count. It’s the identical twins that really creep me out. Yes, I am one of them.
    Lastly: Please tell me someone took photos of you in that costume. I don’t even need to see them. I just want to know they exist.
    That is all. I have to log back in now.

    • Noooo, there are no photos of the event, but my son still talks about it. These days I keep the lights off and hope they all go away. I’ve morphed into a cranky old bat. Twins can be spooky and some little kids are spooky (I’ve known a few in my time). But my kids are lovely.

      However, I still feel very bad about the child. She was a very pretty little blonde with big eyes. Sigh. I never did find out where she came from because I would have gone round as ‘me’ and shown her the whole was unreal, but it never happened.

      The Vampire Rats were cool, Greg, a bit like your twin.

  2. Your Halloween story is hilarious, CC! I love, love, love your children’s reaction! (This kind of behaviour is usually expected of dads, not mums!) I am too much of a scaredy cat to watch horror movies or read anything in that genre. I’m still haunted by some of the characters in Kathy Richs’ and P.D. James’ work!

    • Hello,

      My children have a sick sense of humour at times.

      PD James would write a great Halloween story. Kathy Reichs work tends to be gory. Mr King’s early work like Salem’s Lot are the ones that do it for me.

  3. Poor little kid! Hahaha! Sounds like something I would do!
    Love your recommendation. I will have to check it out especially since I love to write flash fiction with at twist and am almost done with my first rewrite of a paranormal thriller. I always learn something new from reading others!

  4. OMG! I was laughing so hard at that story. I can just see the whole scene unfolding. Is it wrong that I think that’s funny? Okay – Scariest movie – IT from Stephen King. But my favorite horror movie is the original Halloween. Scariest book – oh gosh, I read so many…Cades Cove by Aiden James was scary and of course, anything by Stephen King. Whispers from Dean Koontz has stayed with me all these years. Thanks so much for featuring TALES FROM THE MIST. You seriously rock, CC!

    • Rhonda, why am I not surprised you laughed?

      It’s my duty to spread the word far and wide of tales that will petrify and keep my friends awake at night. It’s the least I can do for them!

  5. oh my I just can’t stop laughing! The poor little girl…I’m trying to picture you rushing to comfort her in your Morticia get up. I wish you’d taken a picture!

    Thank you so much for featuring Tales of the Mist!

    The scariest movie I watched in my teens was Children of the Corn. Scariest book – I think it was recently – Mourning Mansion by Billie Sue Mosiman. I wish I hadn’t read it because it’s so good it gave me nightmares.

  6. That’s so brilliant 🙂

    I have such a clear image of you running down the driveway to calm the poor kid… Oh jeez, that’s funny. The poor thing would’ve been scarred for life!

    Thanks for the very kind words about Tales from the Mist. It was one heck of a fun anthology to be involved with.

    My favourite horror movie is Scarecrows (1988). I watched it when it first came out and remember having to stop it half way through cos I was too tense. I still think it’s wonderful. There are some great scenes in it that just work on me, for whatever reason.

    What book terrified me? That’s a hard one because it’s harder for me to be scared in a book than in a film. But I’ll pick ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by WW Jacobs. Okay, so it’s a short story, over a century old now, but yeah, the ending of that one still makes me shiver.

    • Hello, Marty,

      Welcome to the insanity that is my blog! Loved your story! Shame I can’t have favourites – it just would not be right 🙂

      That’s a good point about a movie making us ‘tense’ – it’s the clutch in the gut and the palpitations that freak me out.

      Did you ever see Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The Unexpected – they were pretty twisted and clever.

  7. LOL that story is hilarious! I’ll bet that little girl now looks back, remembering the time the weird lady scared her and feels kinda stupid. I don’t really get into slasher movies, so I’m not sure what a favorite would be. Books don’t usually scare me either – too little suspension of disbelief, I guess. One that did is Pet Sematary. And I’m thinking if I’d read Dean Koontz’s Midnight after the Internet came about, I might have thought twice about logging on after reading it!

    • Hi Jennette,

      I’m not sure I’d have taken a three year old out late to trick and treat. Mine were in bed by 6.30pm at that age to give me quality time with Hugo.

      I don’t know what it was about Salem’s Lot by Mr King, but the movie freaked me out too. I think it was the vampire who seriously yanked my terror chain.

  8. don’t watch horror or read it, too scared, sorry. However, the little girl’s parents were idiots. Yeah, it’s halloween, duh. If you don’t want the kids to get scared, don’t take them. Actually I wish we would run into you and you’d scare my kids so they didn’t want to go trick-or-treating. I hate trick-or-treating, my poor feet are always aching by the end of the night. Besides, what you did is nothing-did you read about this story a few years ago?,2933,445870,00.html Talk about scary!

  9. First off, I love that you scared the holy guacamole out of that kid. I’ve got a similar story I’ll share.

    My sister-in-law grew up in suburban Denver, Colorado. Both she and her father are very tall. The father is over seven feet tall, and my sister-in-law is over six feet tall. One Halloween, the two of them set a basket of candy on their porch and hid in the shadows. When people would come up to get the candy, those two giants would jump out screaming and scare them. Eventually, they ran into people who got upset at them. But you know what? That’s the spirit of the day, IMHO. People running around and expecting free candy and puppies and unicorns are the ones who have the wrong expectation.

    We live on a dead end street. When we first moved here ten years ago, we had many trick-or-treaters. The last few years, we’ve had very few. I’ve started turning off the lights in the front of the house and pretending we aren’t home. I buy one bag of some candy that both my husband and I like in case someone catches us. But, otherwise, I no longer pass out candy.

    Scariest Horror Novel: Pet Sematery by Stephen King

    Scariest Horror Movie: Rosemary’s Baby

  10. OMG! *wiping my eyes* I can’t believe you chased her down the driveway!!! I’m sure being there was funny but the way you told it here was priceless! My brother actually put a real coffin on his porch and jumped out of it at kids. Some parents didn’t find that amusing at all, but it kept us entertained for hours. 🙂 Hmmm…scariest movie for me was Pet Semetary. I couldn’t sleep for weeks. Happy Halloween you crazy lady!

    • I was only trying to be helpful, Shannon, but made it so much worse.

      I was crying, ‘It’s okay, darling! I’m real.’

      Which had my kids almost wetting themselves because of course it only freaked out the poor little thing even more.

      Pet Semetary seems to be winning the novel awards on here today!

  11. Ha! I can see that whole scene playing out in front of me. Hmm, I wonder when that little girl will be old enough to read your books and say she was scared half to death by CC MacKenzie? I get the feeling she’ll be boasting about it one day – if she’s over the PTSD that is. Thanks for the recommendation, Christine. I’ll be getting myself a copy. Despite all my horror reading, I haven’t had a book scare me enough just yet. Films are a whole other matter. When I was a child it was Jaws. Oh, and then it was Jurassic Park (sad, I know, but I was terrified to put the lights on at night for ages after that – sheesh, blooming T-Rex). The worst film of all that took me months to get over was The Ring. Scared the living daylights out of me. I’m shivering now just thinking about it. Thanks for the Halloween fun. 🙂 x

    • Now you see this really spooky, because I’ve been thinking of you for weeks!

      Guys, this is really spooky because Lindsay writes a paranormal Vampire series and she’s finalled in a huge competition -twice. And she’s going to be on this blog when she’s signed a THREE book deal. Woo Hoo!

      Okay, The Ring did it for you? That’s just sad. You need to watch Salem’s Lot to be really scared 😉

      Am bouncing on the chair here. What’s happening?

      • Lol! Watch you don’t do yourself an injury! Contract, Christine – that’s what’s happening. Need I say more? Nearly there though. 🙂 Oh no, so did The Ring not scare you? I hang my head in shame. Ha – I haven’t built up the courage to watch Salem’s Lot. I keep saying I will and then I wimp out. If The Ring didn’t scare you but Salem’s Lot did, I could be putting myself forward to be traumatised for life! And what if it puts me off writing vampires? Nooo….. x

  12. You see now I would’ve run after her too, Terribly traumatic, But from the other side, oh so hysterical. Thanks for the laugh Christine.
    Gerald’s Game by Stephen King is one scary story that kept me searching the corners of my room!

  13. No wonder your kids were laughing. You are the coolest mom ever … and the scariest! Great story, as is Tales from the Mist. I loved this book. Lots of spellbinding stories and twisty endings.

    • Sheila,

      Hello, and how was Thor? Did he behave himself? I see you set him up with three Barbie dolls – greedy – that’s what I call his behaviour.

      Tales From The Mist is great fun. I can see us sitting in candlelight reading each story to a wide eyed audience scaring them to death. The fear would feed from person to person. Yes, I’m twisted!

  14. Oh, my, my sides are killing me from laughing so hard! My husband even stopped what he was doing to ask what was going on! That poor little girl. And your kids — LOL!

    I gotta share a similar story. When my son was a teenager he dressed up as a gorilla-like monster and sat on our porch under black lights with a fog machine running. He would sit there, head lolled over to one side, arms propped up on the porch railings, and not move. The candy bowl was sitting on a table beside our front door with a sign on it, “please take only one per customer.”

    Our neighbor’s little boy was about 9 years old, he and his friend came up on the porch, arguing about whether my son was a man in a costume or a stuffed monster. They poked the monster with a toy sword that was part of their costume. Our neighbor’s boy was convinced my son was a stuffed monster after he’d poked and prodded for about 5 minutes. So he turned and took a handful of candy. My son stood, roaring. That little boy’s butt came through our screen door! Then he started laughing hysterically and told the monster, ‘that was great!’ and went running back home.

    For the rest of the night, the neighbor boy brought everyone he knew back to our porch, pretending he didn’t know what was going to happen. Then would laugh his you-know-what off at the reactions. One of the times he returned with a whole crowd of children, my son did his thing and a little three-year-old screamed and ran for momma.

    My son took off his mask and tried to make it right. He felt terrible, he’d been so careful not to scare the little ones. He made apologies and gave the little boy extra candy. Nothing could console the little one. His parents were cool about it. And when they returned with him the next year (my son did NOT scare him that time), they told us the little boy called our house, “the Eeeee! Eeee! house.” LOL!

    The scariest movie for me was Psycho staring Anthony Perkins (oops, showing my age).

    Red Dragon by Thomas Harris was the book that kept me up with all the lights on night after night.

    • Hi Lynette,

      Deeeelighted to see you here, missus.

      LOL! Your son sounds like great fun! Aww, that kid has nerves of steel.

      Psycho – yep – an oldie but goodie. And Red Dragon – ooooh yes.

  15. LOL. You in Morticia costume is a priceless image. But poor little kid. I hope she wasn’t traumatized. We’re really missing out in Finland as we don’t trick or treat.

    I avoid horror movies and stories since afterwards I will be scared to be home alone for the next few days 😛 But Stephen King is the King of Horror. And from what I’ve read about Dean Koontz’s books, they’re seriously creepy too. The Ring movie scared me and I always fall for the cheap scares you know are coming up.

  16. That’s a story that will have me smiling all day! That poor little girl, but I can see how your kids would have found that hilarious. My brother would have been laughing until he couldn’t breathe 🙂

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