For those of you loving sweaters and pumpkin spice everything, happy October! For those of you dreading the snow and plummeting temperatures—enjoy October while you can. And for those of you (like me) who miss summer already, just be glad it’s not winter quite yet—and “we are closer to spring than we were in September.”
Despite the sorrow of packing away flip-flops and swimsuits, I do enjoy the chills of October, especially the metaphorical ones. To me, October has a “twilight” personality—the purple feeling at the end of the day with just a prick of dread that darkness is coming. Something about the chill in the air warns us to prepare. But for what? Is it something baked into our biology? Something about stocking up for the winter?
Since we’re fortunate enough to live in a world that manages to function even in the deep of winter, there’s not a whole lot of preparing to be done—check on that old snow blower, buy salt or sand or ice melt before everyone else does, air out those blankets from the attic…
But our biology still pricks us at this time of year, tries to scare us a little bit. Thus, the propensity for scaring ourselves. We love seeing jack-o-lanterns and ghosts, spider webs hanging from trees, glowing purple and orange candles in the window. We love the sweet scent of leafy decay, the crunch of leaves and the plunk of acorns, the chill in the air that makes it feel so good to wrap in a comforter and sip mulled apple cider.
When I wrote Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive, I channeled my childhood experiences with Halloween and autumn. Adam’s imagination wanders much as mine did. The spooky time of year tickles the suspicious parts of his brain. He wonders, as I did, if his neighbor was secretly a witch. And on Halloween, he endures a terrifying ordeal when a white van attempts to kidnap him—or at least pretend to. This is incredibly frightening—as I know from experience. That Halloween when I was growing up is seared in my mind… the way the white van pulled up at the edge of the driveway. The way the side door seemed to open on its own. The way a creepy voice called out to us in the damp mist of the dark: get in.
Luckily, things turned out okay for me (and my fellow trick-or-treaters), though the evening ended up with some very concerned parents and police officers meeting with us in the living room of a friend.
Writing Faulkner’s Apprentice, I had a darker fear in mind: the fear written about by Sophocles in Oedipus Rex and anyone who has ever written a tragedy since then—the fear that we may unwittingly bring about our own downfall. To me, this is the scariest possibility of all—that despite the fact that we (like Oedipus) try to be good and do the right thing, we may be forging the path to our own demise. I wrote about this dark fascination through Lorelei, the main character in Faulkner’s Apprentice, a tale that questions the cost of over-ambition.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the chill in the air!