Writing Playlist: Haunting

I fervently love the month of October. Yes, autumn is great, and we’ve had a surprisingly lovely fall in Chicago so far, but I love October because I cut my teeth on horror from a very young age. I was raised by a young mom who also loved horror movies with a passion, and she didn’t really think to shoo me out of the room when she watched Halloween or Friday the 13th or Chucky. (As an adult, I am horrified by this; my mother just shrugs and says it was the 90s, and you turned out fine. Okay, I mean I guess, but I also had a lot of nightmares from it.)

I picked up my dad’s (technically stepdad’s) hardcover of Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes when I was nine, and although I didn’t read most of it just yet (too boring and adult for my Goosebumps-loving tastes), I came across the one short story with an accompanying photo: a house rising from the street like a rocketship. That caught my attention, and so did the opening line:

“Although she was only five, and the youngest of the Bradbury children, Melissa had very sharp eyes, and it wasn’t really surprising that she was the first to discover that something strange had happened to the house on Maple Street while the Bradbury family was summering in England.”

A protagonist with my name, and roughly my age. I was a young kid with a new stepdad my mom had married just the year before. The Bradbury kids in The House on Maple Street had a new stepdad they didn’t trust, and they lived in a house that was actually a spaceship, which gave them the perfect avenue for revenge and escape. I was hooked, to both King and to reading horror.

I’ve already done a proper horror writing playlist, so let’s tap into some of the other emotions that this season can wring from you. One of my favorite horror subgenres is paranormal, so this playlist will evoke the supernatural; that which you can feel but not see, can see but not touch. Places and situations that are unsettling, ominous, and creepy, and yet…perhaps hauntingly beautiful and arresting at the same time. Difficult to look away from. Whether you’re reading a novel about a haunting or writing a ghostly scene, let these tunes enhance the chilling experience for you.


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