Guest Blogger: Chris Marie Green
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Ghosts, goblins…things that go bump in the night. As a writer of vampire books, it’s a season when I’m in my element. I have scary movie marathons. I read all the short horror stories I can get my paws on. And, loveliest of lovelies—I get some fun ideas for my own work because I’m so steeped in thrills and chills.
Actually, when people ask me how I get ideas for my Vampire Babylon series at any time of the year, I tell them about how these “things that go bump in the night” can inspire me. Okay, maybe when I’m lying in bed thinking that I hear a serial killer in my closet (as with my second Vampire Babylon book, Midnight Reign), I’m not all that cool with the situation. But in the morning, when the light spills through my window?
I’d like to tell you about one “bump in the night” element in particular though. I suppose you could even say that I grew up preparing to write vampire tales that include a touch of urban legends or folk tales because of this.
When I was a teenager, I was a legend tripper.
What’s that, you ask? Well, evidently, it’s a sociological thing where “young people” go to places like graveyards and haunted houses to prove their courage and, thus, impress whoever they’re trying to impress. Back then, I had no idea I was participating in such an activity. Sure, my friends and I (and the guys we were targeting) started off with your basic scary movie parties and visits to those haunted houses that civic groups put on at Halloween. But, after a few of those, it wasn’t enough to keep our hippity hormones hopping.
So, one nippy night, we decided we’d go to the Ol’ Mud Meetin’ House.
There was supposed to be a caretaker with one eye who watched over the scattered graves as well as a church-like building where slaves used to gather for worship. We crept past the chained gate, then snuck up the dead leaf-strewn hill, hoping to catch a flicker of a ghost.
Alas, after several visits, we didn’t see much besides beer cans--evidence of other hopeful legend trippers. So we graduated to more so-called haunted places around the area.
For instance, there was an isolated old home that was said to be a former civil war hospital. Inside, we thought we saw bloodstains on the wood floor. But outside was where the real terror was supposed to manifest: when a ghost was in residence, the window shutter would be open and, perhaps, a face would be visible.
Of course, on the night we went, it was closed.
Foiled yet again, we set off to another deserted house on a different weekend. At this location, legend had it that if you went upstairs, you’d find a chair in front of a mirror in a bedroom. And, if you looked in the mirror, you’d see the ghost of an old woman.
We never got that far, mainly because, this time, we were freaked out right off the bat.
On the first floor of this house lay a spread of toys: dolls, action figures, cars. Seriously, we had to wade through them, and the question of why they were there got to us. Where had the kids gone in such a hurry? More importantly…why?
Finally spooked, we ran out of the house. Outside to the right, I thought I saw a dark shape, and I “eeep”ed!
It turned out to be a cow, and it was the scariest bovine creature ever.
Yes, as legend trippers, we were perfect candidates for victims in a slasher movie. We were setting up ourselves to be ducks in a row for Jason Vorhees or some up-and-coming psycho who’d just escaped from a nearby facility with a hook instead of a hand.
But, oh, the research I ended up with!