Today, I am pleased to present a Halloween-worthy guest post from Teresa Flavin, author of The Blackhope Enigma Trilogy. The Shadow Lantern, the third and final book in the series, came out earlier this year — and the entire trilogy makes for a perfectly spooky read leading up to Halloween.
Learn more about the series below, but FIRST check out a great guest post from Teresa about SPOOKY READS! Thanks for stopping by, Teresa.
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A Guest Post by Teresa Flavin
It’s Halloween and you’re crossing an overgrown cemetery. Fallen leaves are swirling around old gravestones. Dusk is descending and shadows are growing longer. Soon it will be completely dark. Suddenly something crackles behind you. A twig falling, a cat on its way home – or something more ominous? Your heart beats a little faster as you turn around but nothing is there. You walk faster and something crackles again, closer behind you. This time you don’t look around. You’re too busy racing away.
I nearly got palpitations writing that even though it’s full of clichés. Why? Because I have an overactive imagination and I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat. I can’t take gory, violent stories and movies but I love ghostly, mysterious ones.
What makes for a spooky read? I think the best stories start with a character that we can identify with and put him or her into a situation that may seem quite ordinary at first. Then something subtle happens to suggest that all is not quite right. Perhaps there is a presence or the character feels he is being watched in a particular place. Or something appears in the corner of his eye and when he tries to pin it down, nothing is there. Do we believe this character or is something wrong with him?
The great stories ratchet up tension in the character and in us. A brooding atmosphere unnerves us but even a bright, sunny setting can be freakish if we fear something frightful is watching our hero. The author may tease us with tiny bits of new information about a terrible tragedy in the past or a person who vanished into a certain forest or maybe a house no one dares go into. We begin to connect these tidbits with our feeling of trepidation. Perhaps at that point the author eases off, distracts us and makes us think we were just dreaming. As we relax, the author ambushes us with a new revelation. That old lady our hero asked directions from? Why, she’s been dead for ten years. He couldn’t possibly have spoken to her.
And those footsteps the hero heard overhead? Impossible. There is no floor above his room.
How did that stone statue get closer to our hero? Statues can’t move! But it has moved. Our imaginations go into overdrive. The creepiest images are in our own heads. Yes, witches, vampires, ghouls (and, for some people, clowns) are scary but nothing gives me the shivers as much as a force which remains unseen and unexplained. And yet, many ghost stories ultimately arouse our sympathies too. Often there is a great personal tragedy to explain why a spirit haunts a certain room or walks a particular location.
When I was researching the final book in my trilogy, The Shadow Lantern, which is set in a Scottish castle at Halloween, I learned that All Hallow’s Eve is the time in the year when the barriers between our world and the ‘unseen’ world are thinnest. The idea that dark forces cross into our space on that night is universally spooky but we enjoy the thrill because we know that dawn will conquer the night and push the ghosts back to where they belong. And we can happily shiver to the words of a supernatural story while we’re cozy beside a campfire or tucked up under our quilts while the autumn wind howls outside.
Thank you to Novel Novice for hosting me today and Happy Halloween to everyone!
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About Teresa Flavin:
Teresa Flavin was born in New York and studied art in Boston and at Syracuse University. After moving to Glasgow, Scotland, she was awarded the Scottish Arts Council New Writers Bursary. She has illustrated a number of picture books. Her first novel, The Blackhope Enigma, was nominated for a Cybil Award. Teresa Flavin lives in Scotland.
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/112373948785537399170/posts — Tumblr: http://teresaflavin.tumblr.com/
About The Shadow Lantern:
Sunni and Blaise face their most dangerous challenge yet in their third and final adventure.
When a mysterious oil lantern and a box of painted slides appear at Blackhope Tower, Sunni and Blaise are drawn back to the place where their adventures first began. When they discover that the slides conceal secrets about artist-magician Fausto Corvo, the pair find themselves once again caught up in a deadly pursuit. An old enemy is still tracking Corvo and will stop at nothing to find him. Sunni and Blaise must fight to protect Corvo’s secrets and rid themselves of Soranzo’s evil threat once and for all.