October 1, 2019: Poe-tober at a Li-scary

Halloween Season activities go in two directions. There are those activities you do purely to enjoy them yourself, and those you do to help others enjoy the season (but are still enjoyable for you). Examples of the latter include building haunt attractions, throwing Halloween parties, running a tractor zigzag through your cornfields. Those are big examples, of course, but the act can be as small as hanging a Halloween flag on your porch. Every time I drive by your house, Halloween Flag Porch Hanger, you make my season a little better. It’s the difference between eating a caramel apple and making a caramel apple for someone else to eat (which reminds me, I haven’t had a caramel apple yet this year).

Tonight, I got to open the spookiest month of the year by talking about the spookiest dude on the planet, Edgar Allan Poe, at the Tewksbury Public Library in Massachusetts. So hopefully I helped somebody in the audience feel the Halloween Season just a little bit more than they otherwise would have on this random Tuesday night.

I arrived in Tewksbury earlier than I planned, so I strolled the grounds at the historic Tewksbury Hospital next door, which I hadn’t seen since I visited its Public Health Museum some five years ago. Then I went to a garden nursery because they had thrown a giant inflatable spider on a gazebo roof and an inflatable ghost on top of a bunch of pumpkins. Slam brakes. Hard left turn. Skid marks across its parking lot.

Meanwhile, I was preparing for the stomach-horrors. I’ve written about that before when it comes to my talks.

Finally, I arrived at the library, and, instead of checking in with the librarian, was immediately drawn to a glass display case set in the wall that was full of handmade spooky dioramas that I guess was a class project-type deal. Although they were good enough that if they were actually a contest among the librarians, I wouldn’t be surprised.

They reminded me of that second segment from the first episode of the new Creepshow series on Shudder, which we watched two nights ago. It was written by Josh Malerman and involves a little girl watching the small doll family in her dollhouse go through a violent haunting. A really great concept that was genuinely eerie in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. A little bit of a whiff on the ending, but those things are hard.

Then I went to the room where I was giving the talk, and there were enough people in the room already that it chased away whatever was left of the stomach-horrors after being distracted by tiny plastic skeletons and paper graveyards. Plus, I saw a friend there, so that made it way easier.

And the event itself went great. And what I mean by great is a big turnout and an enthusiastic response afterward (I can’t tell you if the talk was any good). About 70 people filled the room, they bought up all the copies of Poe-Land that the local bookstore stocked for the talk, and some brought their own copies for me to sign.

So I went home elated, which I always do after a talk, usually just because it’s over, but this one was a particular satisfying experience. Then I drove home to the comfort of my own Halloween decorations.

I don’t know what all this October holds (I mean, I have some clues, but haven’t yet solved the full mystery), but I can’t wait to find out. Happy spooky month, everybody!