Halloween: Publishing Style

Although I’ve spent the last couple of weeks fighting the urge to start celebrating Christmas (the SPAM christmas tree will be going up on December the 1st), that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about Halloween. How could we, when there’s not one, but TWO spooky Hot Key books out this month!

If you’re wondering, those are edible eyeball cakes. Of course.

As publishers, we are downright obsessed with stories. You might have noticed. So quite obviously we wanted to spend our Halloween immersed in the creepiest, most TERRIFYING stories possible…

Yes, that is a raven on Gareth’s shoulder.

Which started with a trip to the Museum of London. Gareth entertained us over lunch with a ghostly event in the Victorian Walk, getting us all involved in his scary story as the audience chose the characters’ fates. And of course, the day wouldn’t have been complete without a rendition of the Constable & Toop song!

Telling a spooky story to a group always makes it seem that much more frightening (possibly due to mass hysteria). And later, when we asked twitter to help us tell a horrifying tale, things definitely got, um, hysterical…

We started each story with a line from UNDER MY HAT: TALES FROM THE CAULDRON.

And what we got back ranged from the scary to the downright hilarious.

“I looked deep into his eyeless sockets, saw a centipede crawling in his brainmeat and shuddered #undermyhat@mattlibrarian spooked us

“Despite his rotting flesh, he looked damned sexy. Oh no, wait. Scary. Yes, he looked scary (though well-dressed) #undermyhat” @RebekahBooks had us in stitches

“I screamed and struggled but it was no use! Wit a roar he threw me to the ground.#undermyhat” Things got dark @_AnnabelleH_

“His grey face spread into an unbalanced grin. One bony claw clutched my shirt collar,wrapping my fate in his hands. #undermyhat” and darker still… @kellylou

“Next thing, he was whizzing away to a flat field of windmills with villagers eating rounds of Gouda cheese #undermyhat” and then downright hilarious! @WeSatDown

The crazy, insane and SCARY story that you helped us come up with is up on Storify  for your reading pleasure… or not…

Thanks everyone that took part, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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One response to “Halloween: Publishing Style

  1. Gretchen’s Grub

    Aunt Gretchen (her real name was Mary, but liked to be known as Gretchen) was eating slugs again! I don’t know why I should sound so surprised. She had been in the garden (as usual) all morning with her slug bucket. She picked them up one by one, until her bare hands were dripping with slug slime. She was I have to say very careful with them. Placing them gently inside so as not to bruise them and keep them fresh. Each of them destined to be inside Aunt Gretchen’s stomach within the hour. Aunt Gretchen looked quite like any other middle aged woman. A little thin with grey hair in parts and too much red lipstick, she watched all the TV soaps. I never understood why she didn’t eat normal food like the rest of the family. But she said egg and chips, Sunday roasts or any other type of NORMAL food was foul and repulsive. And she much preferred living food. I know, it’s disgusting, but she was adamant that’s what she liked. She was very clever, and whenever I tried to tempt her with a chicken nugget dipped in ketchup she would say.
    “If you eat one of my slug treats I will eat one of your chicken tasties”. And place on the tip of her finger a slithering, slimy helpless black creature with its antennae’s poking towards us. Of course this worked every time, I wasn’t brave enough to take up her challenge I shuddered at the idea. She just smirked and shrugged her shoulders. ”Well if you don’t try a slug or two, you will never know how delicious they are. Will you? And you will never grow into a big strong man”. I knew this was a silly thing for her to say as I was only ten and I was fairly sure I had plenty of time to grow. Strong or otherwise.
    When it was winter time and very cold the slugs hid away, waiting for the spring warmth to come. Aunt Gretchen would have no choice but to dig up worms instead. Or maybe black jack beetles and wood lice that she would crunch and crackle between her teeth. But for now there were still a few slugs around.
    You might think Aunt Gretchen a woman capable of eating slithery slugs and bugs. Was a witch and equally capable of performing magic. But no! She had no interest in magic, not in the slightest. She simply enjoyed eating mini-beasts, straight from the compost heap or off the garden rockery. Today she had collected a great mixture of slugs, bugs and worms. With a splat she tipped them out onto her favourite plate. In fact it was her plate as no one else in the family would eat from it after it had been covered with creepy crawlies. She crushed the beetles first sucking out the juice from their tiny bodies and belched loudly. Then one at a time, starting with smallest first, she slurped the worms down like spaghetti. I had seen eating her nasty meal many times before, and after a few years I had stopped feeling sick at her odd diet and simply watched. Now today she had found the biggest slug I had ever seen and I am certain by the look on Aunt Gretchen’s face she hadn’t come across a slug as big as this one before now. It was enormous, a full eight inches long (sixteen centimetres in metric) and as thick as a German sausage. I gasped in surprise.
    “Wow, what whopper,” she cried, “I am going to enjoy this”.
    “Aunt Gretchen, you can’t possibly eat a slug that big. It will choke you to death it’s a monster,” The slug was a deep black, pulsing movements of its muscles ran down its sides and it left a wide trail of slime as it moved.
    “Nonsense Stupid boy” She declared.
    “Steady on auntie, there is no need to be rude”. I was a little annoyed at being called stupid. Aunt Gretchen ignored me and readied herself to devour the colossal slug.
    “I am going to eat this one tail end first”.
    Picking up the giant between her fingers she pushed it carefully into her mouth, making sure it was all in. Well I have to say this slug had spirit and was not going to allow itself to be swallowed. Not a chance. It squirmed inside her mouth pushing this way and that at her cheeks. Then it huge poked its head back out between her lips. Aunt Gretchen sucked hard, but the slug fought back. Aunt Gretchen pressed it in with the flat part of her hand, still the slug wanted to be free. With great effort Aunt Gretchen managed to clamp her mouth tightly closed with the slug trapped inside. And with a gulp Aunt Gretchen forced the slug down her throat. Aunt Gretchen looked pleased at her victory. But the fight was by no means over. The slug was determined to get back out into the fresh air. Aunt Gretchen began to cough and retch as the brave creature worked its way back up her gullet. Aunt Gretchen’s eyes watered and she looked as if she was about throw up. The slug had slithered up the back of her throat and out of her nose. First its antennae appeared then a little of its thick body and suddenly with a pop it burst free, dropping onto Aunt Gretchen’s dinner plate. The slug had won the battle.
    “Shall I let this one go Auntie?” I asked casually. “Or do you want try eating it again” With a glare Aunt Gretchen stood up and flounced out of the room.

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