What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Trick or Treat Tuesday with Amy Rolland

Trick or Treat! Tuesday has come around again and today we are joined by the lovely and awesome Amy Rolland (or you may know her as A. Lynden Rolland), author of the upcoming Of Breakable Things. I asked Amy here today to talk a little bit about Halloween and also because I wanted y'all to get to know her a little better before her new book comes out next year because I am SUPER excited about it and can't wait to read it! (And I think y'all should all be excited too!) So please join me in welcoming Amy Rolland!

Hi Amy!

I grew up on a steady autumn diet of horror. My childhood home was nestled against a stretch of woods comprised of ghoulish trees with knobby bark and twisty branches, curling curiously toward my window like wrinkled witches’ fingers. On the other side of the woods rested a (somewhat) abandoned Victorian, infamous for its use during the fall season. The haunted house drew crowds from all over the state, due to its hideous scenes, intricate mazes, daunting illusions, and unpredictable surprises. I never lived down the experience of being escorted from a side door, sobbing, because a maniacal clown stalked me though three rooms. (Disclaimer: I was a leash baby because I would run screaming through the mall whenever the clown with the balloons came too close. *shudders*)

I was in love with the smells of fall even back then: pumpkin spices and hot apple cider, chimney smoke and new leather boots. Every fall season, I slept with my window open to enjoy the annual savors filtered by the neighboring Chesapeake Bay. However, this deliciously salty air came at a price. My autumn lullaby consisted of roaring chainsaws and earsplitting screams from the haunted house through the woods. I spent many a night sandwiching a pillow over my ears, but I wouldn’t sacrifice that fresh air for anything.

In Of Breakable Things, very few characters are actually living. It was the perfect opportunity to include my favorite season with the haunted house of my childhood. In the following excerpt, Alex, the main character, talks to the Lasalle brothers about how the newburies (newly buried) are used to create the superficial haunting of an annual fright fest.

“So what is this meeting about?” Jonas grumbled. “Besides hard labor.” Thick brown paper and pumpkin innards blanketed the tables in Grandiuse Hall. The entire student body was put to work carving jack-o-lanterns to decorate the streets of the town. Eidolon always seemed to have a marvelous charge in the air, but the Halloween season made the excitement electrifying, and consequently the Hall stunk of burnt pumpkin seeds. 

"Yes, because carving pumpkins is such hard work,” Gabe joked. 

Jonas sniffed. “Involuntary work.” 

Alex was not going to complain. This was better than another Grandiuse lecture on study habits, losing books, loitering in the courtyard, or the new consequences of bullying Rueben and the Bond twins. 

Reuben sat alone at a nearby table of chokers, a nickname for the newburies who still had difficulty coming to terms with their recent deaths. Jonas called them the “suicides.” They were the only spirits indifferent enough to allow Reuben at their table. He sat clutching a butcher knife in his pudgy hands, and his tongue stuck out from the corner of his mouth as he eyed his jack-o-lantern critically. Someone had dumped a mound of pumpkin guts on top of his backpack, which sat on the floor behind him. He hadn’t noticed it yet. 

“Do you think there will be a lecture today?” 

“I’m sure they’ll talk about appropriate behavior at the haunted house,” Kaleb replied. “You know, that we shouldn’t really be acting like ghosts.” 

“What do you mean?” Alex asked, analyzing the best angle to chip away at her pumpkin’s dangly tooth. In a way, it kind of resembled Jack Bond. “Isn’t the point of a haunted house to scare people?” 

“In theory,” Kaleb said. “But the real purpose of the Mansion of Morgues is kind of reverse psychology. If the haunting is considered a joke in this town, our presence is safe.” 

“A joke?” 

“I guess the more suitable word is scapegoat. Some towns are infamous for supernatural activity, usually because there’s some stupid Lingerer hanging out and scaring people. This has never been one of those towns. And ironically, the largest population of spirits in the United States is only a few miles away. The area is only known for superficial Halloween haunting. Pretty good diversion, if you ask me.” 

“Ghosts pretending to be people pretending to be ghosts,” Gabe murmured. 

Although the haunted house doesn’t earn a leading role in the story, it makes a strong cameo. I had fun indulging in a piece of my past but also embellishing the magical borders of the mind. Although its genre isn’t horror, Of Breakable Things contains a few scenes (particularly towards the end) that may affect readers’ pulses a bit.

Happy Halloween!

I love it when authors draw on something in their life or their past and bring it into their books, and it'll be interesting to see what kind of role Amy's haunted house plays in Of Breakable Things. I am so excited to read Of Breakable Things and to have had Amy here to talk a little about her book and of course, Halloween! And as an added bonus, here is the book trailer for Of Breakable Things!

And even more treats for you! I've got a giveaway here of Gena Showalter's Through the Zombie Glass! Make sure you enter to win, and you can tweet once a day for extra entries! Sounds like a super treat to me!
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