These Books Made Me

These Books Scar(r)ed Me: Spooky Special

October 26, 2021 Prince George's County Memorial Library System
These Books Made Me
These Books Scar(r)ed Me: Spooky Special
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

These Books Made Me... scared? This week's bonus episode explores the scary side of literature. From Goosebumps to fairy tales to straight up horror, we take a look at the books that haunt us. We discuss horror as a genre and try to identify why it often appeals to women not only as readers, but also as writers. We reminisce about our own creepy encounters with books and get some listeners to chime in with their favorite scary stories. Jelan even created a spooky remix of the theme song!

These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped us and is a product of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System podcast network. Stay in touch with us via Twitter @PGCMLS with #TheseBooksMadeMe or by email at TheseBooksMadeMe@pgcmls.info. For recommended readalikes and deep dives into topics related to each episode, visit our blog at https://pgcmls.medium.com/.

Hawa:

Hi, I'm Hawa

Heather:

I'm Heather.

Kelsey:

I'm Kelsey I'm here.

Hawa:

And this is our podcast, These Books Made Me today. We're taking a terrifying peak into the books that scared us or scarred us as children while we're technically on inter-season hiatus. We'll continue to bring you some bonus content for only warning as always. This podcast contains spoilers. If you don't know what AGH....

Kelsey:

All right, well, it seems Hawa might be indisposed at the moment, maybe abducted by aliens, unclear. So for everyone else, how do you feel about horror? Were you in a horror reader growing up as, as a child?

Hannah:

Uh, kind of accidentally, I didn't identify as a horror reader, but I read all sorts of different things and horror was definitely sprinkled in there.

Heather:

I think I went through periods, but I don't know that I focused ever at any point on children's horror books. Like I read Goosebumps sporadically. I had a Stephen King phase in middle school for sure. But yeah, I don't, I don't know that I would ever say that I was just reading horror like that I had a horror era.

Kelsey:

I am and always have been a giant wimp. So I did not decidedly did not read horror unless it was like a spooky special, which I'll talk about a little bit later, but I remember my cousin donated like a, gave us a huge box of goosebumps books and my mom put them in the basement and I would not even go into the basement while they were in there and this smile and say cheese (Say Cheese and Die!), One was on top. And I saw at one time and I was, I had nightmares for weeks. So I was not really a horror reader.

Hawa:

That's so funny that you say that Kelsey, because I was kind of the exact opposite in terms of like being scared by the books anyway, like I didn't read much, honestly, probably Goosebumps is probably like the, really the only horror that I read, but like I would read it and I'm just like, so how do these words or the, even these images make people scared, like the covers didn't look scary to me. So like the fact that you were running away from them, I'm just like, oh, okay, this is cool. I guess

Kelsey:

There were skeletons and stuff

Hawa:

And stuff. [Laughing]

Heather:

I think monster books were not scary to me. I do remember. And I think this is a function of being Catholic and having a Catholic grandmother, things with possession or exorcism. Those were scarier to me because I think when I was little, I was under the impression that that could happen. Um , I remember my grandmother getting rid of a Ouija board that my cousin and I were given, because she said it could like let spirits or demons into the house. Like it was, we could get possessed by it. So I think things like that, like if it was a book, like the Exorcist was a much scarier thing to me than like Pet Sematary or like Frankenstein.

Hannah:

This is reminding me of the time. Um , I had a friend come over to play and I, like I didn't know them very well. They were like sort of more of an acquaintance than a friend. And like, they, they played with a stuffed animal of mine that had like these realistic glass eyes and told me was haunted by a demon. And I've just never forgotten that. [Laughter]

Kelsey:

I mean, I think all dolls with realistic glass eyes are probably haunted by something.

Heather:

Well. And any of the like animatronic kind of dolls, I don't know, Teddy Ruxpin may have been before.

Kelsey:

Oh, I had Teddy Ruxpin

Heather:

Well, my brother had a Teddy Ruxpin and we had these books, you know, cause he would, you could put the cassette in to make him talk along to the Teddy Ruxpin books or whatever, but you could put in other cassettes and he would move his mouth and stuff he would turn on. So I used to put like inappropriate cassettes and then it would just start going and my brother would get freaked out

Hannah:

Bonus points. If you can terrify your siblings.

Heather:

Absolutely.

Kelsey:

Ideal.

Hannah:

Hearing all of us, talk about the things that scared us or didn't scare us. It's so individual, like what , um, what you find horrific.

Kelsey:

The toy that I had that scared me the most was I had like a three foot tall Grinch doll.

Hannah:

Yikes.

Heather:

That sounds scary.

Kelsey:

It was terrifying. And I would always put at the bottom of my toy chest.

Hannah:

That's fair.

Heather:

All right. Well, after our digression into scary toys, which I think are a very prominent feature in some of the books that we'll look at later, possessed toys are a thing in horror. Um, I did do a little research. I've got some context on horror as a genre. Horror has long been a genre defined by women authors and audiences. The 18th century author Ann Radcliffe was a pioneer in Gothic fiction and brought the genre to the masses with foreboding supernatural romances that centered female characters as protagonists with agency, she was the highest paid author of the 1790s netting, 1300 pounds for her works, The Italian and The Mystery of Udolpho, and both of those were like supernatural romance books. She was groundbreaking for the genre, female authors and author pay during her time. And her books influenced such authors as Jane Austin and Christina Rossetti. Following in Radcliffe's footsteps. We had Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein in 1818, and she completely redefined the boundaries of Gothic horror and created science fiction. As a genre with that book, the genre continues to be embraced by women, both as authors and as readers with notable authors, such as Anne Rice, Carmen Maria Machado, and Octavia Butler blurring the boundaries of genres and embracing horror as a genre in which to explore gender issues. Women's centered erotica, adult fairy tales and science fiction.

Kelsey:

So I wanted to dive in a little more and just talk about like knowing all this history that Heather just very kindly shared with us and the horror genre more broadly, like what are kind of our, our bigger thoughts about what it means, how we've connected with it over the years? What, what, what our takeaways are, especially from like a feminist womanist perspective.

Heather:

I mean, I think part of why horror works well for women is because we experience some element of that loss of agency all the time, right? That's always a fear for a woman being physically smaller, being more likely to be victim of certain types of crime. So I think that notion is always somewhat in the back of your mind as a woman and then kids of course have like very little agency in a lot of ways. So that's probably also very like internalized. And I think horror really is about kind of controlling that feeling. So you're reading something where the character might not have much agency in they're being pursued and stuff, but you have control over whether you close it and you make it stop or you finish it and you find out what happens. Um, I think it's like an illusion of control thing is part of why we're drawn to horror because it lets us sort of deal with that emotion of feeling like scared fear loss of agency, but in a controlled setting. That's my thought.

Hannah:

Yeah, totally. And I think also, you know, like the daily mundane horrors that we might experience or feel kind of looming over us sometimes it's, I dunno, you get tired of that. And having supernatural fictional horror feels almost like a welcome break, like a release valve for the stress of it. And then like you said, you close it or you turn off the film and it's cathartic somehow.

Kelsey:

I think part of the reason I didn't like horror is because I was very conscious of my own mortality in a way that like, you probably shouldn't be when you're 10 or so, but I was like thinking back able to watch things like Scooby-Doo that, like have some like scary elements in them because there was always a logic behind what was happening. And like that was comforting that there was always a reason why the thing was happening. You could always explain like how they rigged the haunted mansion to have the ghost. It looked like a ghost, but it was really a dude running around flipping lights or whatever it was. And I think for me that was comforting to have something scary, that resolved

Hannah:

That makes total sense. I'm flashing back in this class, I took in college, it was like mythology. I'm an English department. And we were talking about a curse at one point. And our teacher pointed out to us that the idea of a curse that like stalks, a family or people somehow more bearable to the human psyche, then bad things just happen. And it doesn't mean anything sometimes almost having like something to ascribe it to is more comforting than just random horror.

Kelsey:

A hundred percent.

Hawa:

I think. Um, I think like the stories that are like almost more realistic in a way are the ones that are probably like the scariest to me, because it's just like, you really think like, wow, like this could actually happen to me, especially like, as a woman, like kind of like what Heather was talking about earlier. So I think that's interesting. So I think it's kind of cool to like for women to have such a like influential part in like the history of it, even dating back to like the 1790s,

Kelsey:

I was just thinking about as an adult, I've pushed myself to read a little, some scarier stuff recently, and there's some really cool things that authors are doing with like using horror to bend genres as, as Heather mentioned in the history, but also like speak to social problems as a horror. So , um , Alyssa Cole's when no one is watching, which is about gentrification and , um , Stephen Graham Jones, who's not a woman, but like talking about Native American experiences and using cultural elements from his tribe to create a horror story that is like really , uh, Only a story that he and his family and friends could tell that's really creatively done and like terrified me. I think there's something really and is all about like , um , climate change and, and not respecting the earth. I think that's really cool. And I think car really allows for those kinds of innovations in a way that some other genres don't because you can bend the rules in some way that can like unsettle you, but then you can also like add some logic that tells a greater story. There's just a lot of places you can go if your goal is just to like scare an unsettled someone.

Hawa:

Agreed. I like that. Um, you know, once you really start talking about it and really getting into it, it's not just, oh, ghosts and monsters and all these other things. It's like these real life situations, like in the history, Heather had mentioned , uh, Carmen Maria Machado, which , uh, she wrote her body and other parties with is a short story collection, which I actually read. And I thinking back, I was like, I didn't really think about it as horror but like it absolutely makes sense. Especially some of the stories that were mentioned in there. So that was a good one.

Hannah:

Yeah. I love that book.

Hawa:

So good.

Hannah:

Yeah.

Hawa:

I randomly picked it up at like a baby shower. Cause like it started with like the guests of honor weren't gonna get there until like three hours after it started. So I started,

Multiple speakers:

[Laughter]

Hawa:

going through my phone, I started reading it on Libby and I was just like, well okay, I'm just sitting here reading.

Heather:

Oh my god It sounds like its own horror story. A three hour plus long baby shower.

Hawa:

Honestly

Heather:

Yeah. I think that's an interesting point. Horror really does allow for a lot of social commentary and you can really push the boundaries because you take things just one step farther. It's like satire in some ways, right? Like, you know, you look at a movie like Get Out or in the kids section, we have a book that's called Zombie Baseball Beatdown, which, you know, the cover is a zombie head. That's been hit with like a baseball bat. So it appears to pretty squarely be in the horror genre. But the things in the book that are actually terrifying, aren't the zombies like Bacigalupi looks at GMOs. So that's a whole thing because the cows have like sort of mutated because of the way that this plant has been treating things, he looks at the immigration crisis and like how horribly the undocumented workers in this town are being treated. He looks at political corruption. He looks at environmental issues. So like the cover makes you think, oh yeah, it's going to be like a goosebumps book. There's a scary zombie. And it's chasing people is not really bad a bout at all. There's so much nuance to the text. So I think horror does allow for a lot of exploration of like real issues. But yeah. Then I think the resolution to things is always, they can be cautionary tales, but you have a resolution it's not open-ended. So if you are taking aim at something that takes place, like in our society, there is a resolution to it at the end. One way or the other

Kelsey:

Yeah, I think for kids that's so important for adults. I feel like the genre doesn't always provide that cause the goal is to make you feel like bad almost in a fun way. But I think for kids it's so important that there's some feeling of like, you've gotten some, like you're talking about agency back in the situation, otherwise you're like, what did I read that for?

Heather:

Yeah.

Hawa:

I love that you mentioned the difference between that for adults and children, because I do feel like, especially, I, I, especially like in movies, I know we're talking about like books, but especially I think in movies also when it comes to like adult content, a lot of the times part of the suspense or part of the what's so scary about it is that you really don't know if there's going to be like a resolution. That's going to be like positive. Like sometimes the story just ends. Some people are dead. So people go back to living their lives. It's just, it just it's over. And I think that's what keeps me on,

Kelsey:

and it could happen again.

Hawa:

And it can happen again. Exactly.

Heather:

I do want to bring up true crime as a genre as well, because it is another genre that women tend to gravitate towards more than men as readers. And it was certainly something like, I read a ton of true crime again when I was a kid, you know, late elementary and middle school, especially. And those books really unsettled me. You know, I remember reading in cold blood and being like really scared about someone breaking into my house and like piling up like blankets on top of me in the bed, just in case somebody came in that that will like somehow like shield me from a stabbing, I guess.

Kelsey:

just give yourself a little air hole though.

Heather:

Exactly you just kind of snorkel out one little thing. But yeah, I do. I do think there is something there about women, especially like gravitating towards genres that are scary.

Kelsey:

It's almost like the devil, you know, it's better than the one you don't, but there, it has there has been a lot of interesting conversation going on around, like, are we maybe being too flippant about true crime recently? Like have we gotten to the point where it's like more commodity than like actually remembering that it's true. So these are real humans that have been affected. And what is the cost of sensationalizing their story? I think that's a challenging question because I too love, especially a true crime podcast and it can be challenging to find like what the line is or what's appropriate versus like taking advantage of the situation.

Heather:

Well, and also it's media. I think this kind of to some degree maybe ties into something that Hannah did some research on with a horror trope, the stories that media will sensationalize that are true crime. They're the ones where the victims are pretty, they're young, they're white, they're often very photogenic. So those are the stories that get constant airplay, even though that's certainly not the only people on the receiving end of crime or violence. And I'm wondering how much that does sort of connect to the final girl idea that Hannah kind of looked into because horror as a genre does often center this sort of like damsel in distress idea. That is the young pretty relatable. I don't know. Hannah, did you want to talk a little bit about what you found?

Hannah:

Yeah totally. I think what you said is really interesting and I kind of want to do some more research into that, like maybe the potential connection between, between those two concepts. Um, but let me just give a quick description of the Final Girl Trope. Although I've spent a lot of people are familiar with it, but , um , I'm going to start off with the brief definition from Merriam-Webster because apparently they defined this, which I love, the final girl is a trope in horror movies, referring to the female protagonist who remains alive at the end of the film after the other characters have been killed when she is usually placed in a position to confront the killer, according to TV tropes, which is a site I spend way too much time on, the term was coined by Carol J Clover and her 1992 book Men, Women, and Chainsaws gender in the modern horror film and TV show was also notes that the final girl can be interpreted in a couple different ways and film theory. On one hand, the character seems to be the living embodiment of stereotypical conservative attitudes of what women quote should be. And the other feminists have noticed that through this device, the males in the audience are forced to identify with the women in the climax of the movie. So it's clearly like a multi layered complex concept. But I mean, with that, we can think of examples of the final girl in almost every horror film we've ever seen

Heather:

With true crime. And then also with horror as a genre like we're talking about, we've kind of mentioned that as women, we can relate with the woman in peril or the kid in peril and a book, because there is some element of that for us in real life. Whereas our men relating to that because it gives them distance from it like, oh, I enjoy this because it's happening to someone, you know, weak quote - unquote weak, right. Not to me, a man. So I don't know. There's, there's something to that again, like the news will play constantly something about, you know, a young, pretty girl that's missing or has been murdered. It wouldn't give nearly that kind of coverage to, you know, middle-aged man.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Heather:

That something had happened to, I think, I don't know,

Kelsey:

Or a non-white woman who is probably far more likely to experience a crime like that.

Heather:

completely

Kelsey:

and it's kind of a double, I don't know if double-edged sword is the right word, but like, it's almost like those women get attention because it's it's, you don't expect it. It's like, oh my god, this could never happen to her, a most recent example of this happening in the media, talking about, you know, lots of indigenous women going missing. And there's not really the same level of coverage of their stories and experiences. I don't know. It's like a self reinforcing bias that happens because it's getting so much coverage that we all feed into. It it's like a media machine that we're all creating together.

Heather:

Well and is it also because we're, we are talking about this idea of like a monster or something being a lot there's that remove that you don't have if it's just people, you know, right. The kind of fear that you have generally, it's a lot easier to deal with if you're scared of, you know, a monster or a stranger, right. You know, doing violence. So the news picks these, you know, very infrequently occurring statistically kinds of deaths where it's stranger grabbed a girl off of the street, child abductions, things like that. But they don't give that same attention typically to, okay, this case of domestic violence that happened, or this guy shot another guy over a drug deal gone wrong. They're not going to get that kind of exposure because maybe that's a little too close to home. And we prefer our fear to be sort of manifested in a way that we put it on, you know, a big, bad, rather than like this person that lives with me. Right. I don't know. I think it's interesting kids books don't typically in the horror genre, focus on parents being the villains, right? It is usually it's a ventriloquist dummy and in a Goosebumps book or it's the big, bad monster or corporation or it's, it's always something with some remove to it.

Kelsey:

mm hmm

Hannah:

The haunted doll taking us back to scary toys. I'm thinking of Holly Black's Doll Bones Book. I love all..

Heather:

Oh yeah Doll Bones is great.

Hannah:

God, it's such a, I love that scene when they're in the diner and they have the doll in the backpack and she's a little doll with blonde hair, which is relevant in a second. And like, there's like three of them, two or three of them, I can't remember. And they order like french-fries or whatever. And then the waitress asks, does your little blonde friend, what, anything too, you know, so apparently that she was seen the doll as a little girl. That scene gives me chills. I love it.

Kelsey:

We have asked some of the staff at the library and teens in the community, different kinds of folks to tell us about what books scared them as a kid or scarred them or both. And so I thought maybe we could just quickly talk about each of ours and then we will throw it to our audience submission,

Hawa:

Goosebumps. This is like classic that I think every, a lot of people will relate to just from reading. Kelsey was scared to see the covers , um, that wasn't the case for me, but you know, they were good stories that caught my attention. They were quick to flip through. I think for me, my issue was having a hard time, like visualizing what like actually would happen. But like I also remember, and it's funny. I didn't really think of it being like scary until , um, Heather was talking about like the missing girl story. But I don't know if you all are familiar with like the Pretty Little Liars. I know if you aren't familiar with the books, you probably familiar with the show having that, having read those and having that, that show come out. Even though that was a little, I was a little older. I was like in high school by then, it's still kind of gave that visual. And that was kind of scary. So that's my, that's my take.

Kelsey:

Pretty Little Liars terrified me, but I did love them.

Hawa:

I randomly started re-watching it again recently. And I was just like, there's a lot wrong with these stories, but that's for, that's a different episode.

Heather:

I think Hannah and I have a shared one to talk about. Um, yes, we tend to start kids really early in horror because fairytales are essentially at heart, right? The kids usually come out victorious, but there's witches. There's, you know, scary forest there's fear is a big element of fairytales generally. We've always read when we were little, this German set of fairytales , um , in German, it's called Der Struwwelpeter. And when it was translated, ends up being Sloppy, Peter or like, like Crazy Hair Peter, it's a book that was written in like the 1840s, I think by Heinrich Hoffmann. And it's lots of fairytales. Like the title in German, the subtitle specifically says it's meant for three to six years old. It's not, it's terrifying. They're all cautionary tales in which children do something wrong. And then something horrible happens to them. So like there there's a child who likes sucks his thumb all the time. And then he keeps being told, stop sucking your thumb, stop sucking your thumb. It's really bad. And he doesn't listen. He keeps sucking his thumb. So then this tailor comes and cuts his thumb off. So there's also one with a kid that doesn't like, want to eat. What's served to him. He, he won't eat his soup. He won't eat his soup. And then he eventually just like waste away and dies because he refused to eat the soup. So they're like really horrifying tales with like really scary illustrations. I mean, Hannah, we've talked about this book like multiple times before the illustrations in particular horrifying. And we should put them in the blog.

Hannah:

Yes, absolutely. You really need the visual. It's been a long time since I read it, but I think I remember vividly the one where there wasn't there a child picks his nose and his fingertip gets bitten-off by some sharp mouth thing, his nose somehow it's just, you know, like you do X bad that things happen.

Heather:

Yeah. The girl that plays with matches burns up like alive.

Hannah:

It's very Edward Gory.

Heather:

Yeah its its…

Hawa:

What a lesson to send the kids. Don't play with matches. If you want it, you don't want this to happen to you.

Heather:

And the illustrations have her you know immolating it's,

Hannah:

But this, this isn't really any worse than like, you know, those afterschool specials that, you know,

Kelsey:

do drugs once and die.

Heather:

Everyone ODS gets in car crashes. Like...

Hannah:

I remember watching one as a kid where there was one like tiny pocket knife and it killed all the kids hanging out and I'm like, well, this is what happens with knives.

Kelsey:

Never have one knife. I did not read many Horror books, but I did make exceptions for any of the like mystery or scary versions of the book series that I read. So like, I definitely read a lot of the Baby-Sitters club mysteries, which terrified me, but the one that sticks out vividly in my mind is the Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller, Number five, The Curse of the Ruby Necklace.

Heather:

Oh no. What happened to Elizabeth and Jessica

Kelsey:

I can, I'll read you the summary. They land small parts in a movie being made in sweet valley about the mysterious death of a 12 year old. Jessica finds an old necklace near the mansion that the 12 year old died in and puts it on. And that very night she has a nightmare about the girl falling to her death and can the necklace hold the secret to the murder?

Heather:

That's intense for a Sweet Valley High.

Kelsey:

Yes. And here's the most embarrassing part. It's not a Sweet Valley High. It's a Sweet Valley Twins, which is the younger version

Multiple speakers:

[ Laughter].

Heather:

Oh no!

Kelsey:

And I was so afraid. Like I couldn't be in the same room with it. I, I remember like almost not being able to finish reading it, but I had to like force myself to cause I was hoping maybe it would be, you know, like resolving answer and I don't think it was, and it was very upsetting and I was very traumatized by that book for a long time

Hawa:

Plot twists.

Hannah:

So I'm going to tell you something embarrassing about one of the books that most terrified me when I was a kid, has anyone read Bunnicula?

Heather:

Oh yes!

Hannah:

I was terrified of that book. I loved it, but it terrified me and I couldn't sleep. My parents were like, what? It's vegetables,

Multiple speakers:

[Laughter]

Hannah:

the rabbits going after vegetable. But I'm like, it's too much, too much. I also was terrified by a Spider - Man comic because I used to read the comics every day. Like even the ones I didn't like or understand, I would read them all every day, but they had a whole plot line about a vampire, like Spider - Man is fighting a vampire for some reason. Like that terrified me too though. The vampire was like barely in frame is usually just, Spider - Man trying to figure things out.

Hawa:

That's hilarious. My boyfriend is a huge Spider - Man fan. So after this episode, I'm going to be like, yeah. So vampire Spidey.

Multiple speakers:

[Laughter]

Kelsey:

I'm kind of surprised. None of us said what's the one with the girl with the green ribbon? And like all those stories, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the classic it's like so classic. I think it almost goes unsaid about how amazingly terrifying it was

Heather:

It's iconic and those books are like so inspiring to so many people that work in film now in the genre. So I think like when you have a kid's book that Guillermo Del Toro wants to adapt, I think you've hit on a winner.

Kelsey:

I think. So

Hawa:

I think from what I've heard, you all talk about The Girl with the Green Ribbon in , uh, Carmen Maria Machado book , uh , Her Body and other parties. I think she has like her version of that story there.

Kelsey:

Yeah

Hawa:

So just throwing that out there,

Kelsey:

Wait you haven't read it?

Hawa:

I haven't read the girl with the green ribbon. No. I haven't read that.

Kelsey:

You got to read that book.

Hannah:

It's a showstopper of a story.

Hawa:

Is this, where can I find this?

Kelsey:

I think we have it on the shelf downstairs.

Heather:

The Alvin Schwartz book, scary stories three in the dark. I think it's in the first one, right? Not the second one.

Kelsey:

Yeah I think so.

Heather:

And the illustrations from those books, those are like iconic things that I think stuck with a lot of people as well. And really, I think illustrations in kids' books very much add to the impact and like how much recall you have for scary stuff

Hawa:

That helps gives a visualization. I was talking about.

Heather:

yeah

Kelsey:

When I was in high school, we did like for Halloween one year we did like oral storytelling of scary stories. And someone told a story about this woman. Who's like driving home and a man starts like following her. And she she's like, oh, why is this guy following me? And so she's like trying to evade him and he keeps following her and he follows her all the way to her house and she doesn't know what to do. And finally, she just like stops in the driveway and he runs up to the window and you're so scared. And then he's like, I've been trying to tell you this whole time that a man got in your car right before you got him, he's in, he's in the backseat.

Heather:

That's a whole other thing for kids. So scary stories like oral tradition that you have this like whole genre of horror stories that you tell at sleepovers, you know, there's, I know where you are and I know where the baby is phone call one. There's the hook-one with the guy with the hook hand, which I think bleeds into the, the guys in the back seat. One there's Bloody Mary. Of course, I didn't have a sleepover where it was like, go say into the mirror three times, bloody Mary.

Hannah:

horrifying.

Kelsey:

We didn't do that at sleepovers. We did it and the really spooky bathroom of my elementary school, but specifically the one that was right next to the gym, that was the Bloody Mary bathroom.

Hawa:

I definitely did those at , uh , sleepovers at my cousin's house. Like me and my sister, we were just do it. And I'm just like, but when I was by myself, it didn't feel as scary, but it felt scary when I was with them. Maybe because they were just screaming just because

Kelsey:

It's about being hyped up.

Hawa:

Yes. Absolutely.

Hannah:

If anybody needs to relive that experience, you can watch season one of Supernatural has a Bloody Mary episode. It was just me. I'm afraid of vampire rabbit. So, you know,

Multiple speakers:

[Laughter]

Hannah:

I'm not a reliable narrator

Kelsey:

Or a vegetarian,

Hannah:

Right but like, there's that episode, like I could not sleep for a long time after I watched that episode.

Heather:

There's also genre of like urban legends for anywhere. Somebody grows up where you hear the stories as a kid. So like around here, Goatman, we also had like a version of Goatman, when I was a kid too, I feel like everywhere. There's either a story about something with train tracks, where like, if you park here and you put powder on your bumper, there will you'll get pushed off the track. There'll be ghostly fingerprints or there's a Goatman.

Kelsey:

I recently went to Louisville. There's a Goatman in Louisville who lives under the train trestle.

Heather:

Yeah see...

Kelsey:

So there you go both in one

Heather:

The Goatman in San Antonio, I think also lives under train tracks,

Kelsey:

makes sense.

Heather:

Yeah.

Hannah:

Do they ever get together, like all these different Goat Man...

Kelsey:

Goatman Convention

Hannah:

Yeah a family reunion and they like talk about what they've been, who they been haunting over the past year like...

Heather:

Goatman here hosted at crybaby bridge and finds all of his goat relatives.

Kelsey:

All right. Well this was a lovely trip down memory lane. I'm so excited to hear what our guests have to share. So let's throw it over to them.

Alanna:

My name is Alanna Scott. This isn't really a book, but it's more of a poem instead. So this poem was the Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. And it scared me a little because of all the chaos that he was going through because of all like the images that he kept seeing and how he kept on freaking out over things that surrounded him in his house. And it was kind of scary to picture him doing all that. So that's like something that scared me back to then it did make me more interested in more of his poems and other scary things cause it was like a bone chiller. Yeah. It just made, it made me more interested in like scary poems or any type of scary reading in general.

Christine:

My name is Christine and I'm 13 years old and I'm in eighth grade. One of my favorite library books would have to be Wish by Barbara O'Connor. I read this book back when I was in fourth grade, the story is about a girl who goes to Raleigh, North Carolina to be her aunt and uncle because her mom wasn't, she was in her life, but she couldn't emotionally be there for her because she was always on drugs. And her dad wasn't in the picture it was more her mom, does her mom and something else that's stood out to me. Was her mom constantly being on drugs, alcohol. It wasn't, it wasn't present in her life. And that book kind of just made me appreciate having my parents, but I really was kind of scared. Like how would I feel having my mom or someone really close to me, not being able to be there for me because they were on drugs or alcohol. And then the girl she while, she would put her aunts and uncles. She would see people who recognized her, who she didn't even know, which was really scary to me because I wouldn't know how to react with someone I've never heard about before seen before to randomly come up to me and say that, you know me because of my mom who isn't present in my life. So that's well m y, my favorite books.

Jayden:

Okay. My name is Jayden Diaz, I remember there was this one Goosebumps book where it was like, I don't know if you're ready, but it was like in the basement of stuff, they were like a whole flower garden. Right. And in the story, there was like a, basically like a grass type of monster. It would really like freak me out because not only did I read the book, but I also like saw the film of it too. So when I would go over to my aunt's house, she had a basement and I would not go down there because I felt like, like a monster gonna come out and get me. I was really little, I don't really know what I was thinking. The covers were scary. I can't believe those were kids' books. Yeah. For the time being, I think I was done with horror, I haven't really gotten back into horror until like last year, being like a 16 year old, it really gets your imagination running more. Like, I feel like when you're scared of something, you think about it more than, you know, something that you enjoy, like a book in terms. Cause you know, your books, they want to capture you. So I feel like if they capture your fear is gonna intrigued you more.

Nicole :

Uh, Nicola Ray I'm from New Carrollton. So it would have to be Struwwelpeter and I don't know the author, but it was a German book. We had a big German book that had all sorts of quote unquote fairy tales in each tale was creepier than the next, one with the, cat's , a girl who couldn't, who played with matches. And the cats just watched her and then cried afterwards and a kid who didn't want to eat his soup. And so then he died of starvation, a boy who, who , uh, sucked his thumbs, a very common issue with kids. And then a guy with really, really long scissors came and chopped off his thumbs, thumbs. And the blood was very obviously described , um, depicted in the pictures, the ones, the cat and the, and the scissors were the ones that, and I think some, one of them fell off a cliff because he wasn't paying attention. These were not ones that have had happy endings. Now it was creepy to me then. And it was just really bizarre. It was this book that was kept in the living room, but you know, we could get to it, anytime we wanted, my sister and I didn't really understand why we had this book. My mother is, was German. And so I came from heritage, but we didn't know why, why this was the book that she chose to have for us. We were not raised on Disney. We were raised on Grimm, but I mean, this is way creepier than anything else. Any other fairy tales i've ever seen.

Maria:

Hi my name is Maria and I'm with the Hyattsville branch at Prince George's County Libraries, Hi I'm Yesenia I'm from the Bladensburg branch, what we wanted to talk about was Fear Street, but for me more than anything, I think it was the, the Fear Street Saga Trilogy that , um , actually made the biggest impression on me. And these are the books by R.L. Stine. And I think it was the betrayal from Fear Street. That was the creepiest for me as a 12 year old and as a girl actually, because it explains a lot about the beginning of , um, the cursed fear family, which is what the street and the series is named after. So it does take place in the puritan era. So you go back and forth between 17th century and the 19 hundreds. I don't know if you're familiar with that saga Yesenia, but as a 12 year old reading about the witch trials and how they'd drag them out and burn them alive. I think that definitely freaked me out. And it was just the basis that one of the guys that the girl fell in love with that was dragged out Susannah Goode. The guy was actually the son of one of the rich families there and was a fear. So at that point it was just like terrifying that this guy she fell in love with was not the ones that it's like, your family doesn't want you guys together. So you're a witch. So it was definitely a big thing for me as a 12 year old reading this. Which Fear Straight,. do you remember most?

Yesenia:

I was going to talk about the , um, the Slappy series. Oh my god! That one was the one that did it for me. Like those are the ones I was like, okay. I read the first one. It scared the living daylights out of me. And then they started coming out with more and more and more. And I was like, I'm gonna keep reading them. I dunno if it's this, the, the adrenaline of being scared. I just thought it was like a really good series overall. And we used to have so many Barbies in my room when we were growing up where it was like, I would read the books with my sisters and then we'd be like, okay, when I'm all over that, all right, time to go to sleep, all the lights, you'd be like, give us one moment. And all the Barbies will go into the closet because it was just like, we're not sleeping with these out here. And the book would go under the bed. It's just like, no, we're just going to hide this and pretend we never read it until the morning. And it was just the fact that the, that the dummy would start off as just like a regular, I guess it was more of a child's version of Chucky that made it so intriguing with like, okay, you're not allowed to watch Chucky, but you can read the Slappy series And I kind of starts of as the same, like, you know, oh, this is just a doll. It's just a dummy, it's a ventriloquist dummy. And then it slowly starts coming to life. And then it's slowly does like these evil little things. And it's just like, they're not that evil, like Chucky, but it's enough where its like thats scary.

Maria:

Yeah, no, and that's true. And I think that's the bigger difference with the Fear Street Sagas, because those were meant for older teens. Um, which I did not know at the time when I picked it out, it was the cover for me that actually pulled me in because it was this young girl with this like silver necklace and blue jewels on it, which is like a big significance in like the curse within the fear street family. They were all meant to be for older teens. So they were more gory. They were more violent. And which is the case here. When we see with late with Slappy and even like the witch trials, they were pretty graphic for, for a younger adults. And like even now, like R.L. Stine has released new books in the series in 2014, which I mean, young adult literature nowadays is definitely a lot more violent than it used to be when we were growing up.

Yesenia:

I think as far as I ventured into adult horror is like now, recently I read , um, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed and it's like very short stories that are kind of ordinary, not necessarily scary. The premise is kind of like disgusting, disgusting and gory, not necessarily scary. Just really, you can definitely see the track where that led from reading R.L . Stein, and then going into this was just like, okay, the R.L. Stine stories were still short stories, small books, and then reading The Dangers of Smoking in Bed still has the short stories and then the same scary premise.

Maria:

Yeah. I think, I think it's a little similar. I, I tend to stay away from the gory stuff, but I can definitely see how this particular series, at least with the romance and the horror of it, it kind of led me into like Gothic horror and , u m , just like typical like classics like Frank, like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or even like Jane Eyre, like those creepy with like some kind of romance typically in the middle of it. And it's like, I think that's definitely where Stein led me with that series. I think that's the most, otherwise I can't, which is probably like, even like the conjuring movies, like I think because I love the way that the scripts are done, but the romance of it is actually what brings me back to that series

Yesenia:

l think we all need to be scared of something.

Maria:

Yes. It definitely helps as we get older and we have to like do mandatory readings because there are some, some interesting works out there. Um, or even if you go back and like read Dracula, I think for sure Stein would be such a great starting point.

Yesenia:

I agree.

Will:

Hi, I'm Will from the South Bowie branch library and a book that scared me as a child was The Witches by Roald Dahl. The main reason it scared me was Roald Dahl said this was true, a true story. He, he said, you know, you know about the witches of fairy and folktales, but let me tell you about real witches. And I think that really sort of stuck with me and the plausibility of there being, you know, these more covert, which is, was very scary in addition to being a child and being the witches number one victim , uh , they were on the lookout for me. This was an enemy that I had that I had previously not known about. So I was grateful obviously to get the knowledge, to protect myself from this book, but also very scared that there were these , um, women that were after me potentially to do me great, great harm. Oh, also not everyone makes it out Okay in that book, it wasn't a close, you know, close call that was escaped. It was, there was some real damage dealt. And I think maybe at the time that was a little jarring for me. I thought if the story was about you, you were pretty much safe, but that was not the case. Definitely a scary book. And now I'm going to pass it over to Traci Montgomery at Hyattsville.

Traci:

I want to talk about these books that me, when I read it, when I was younger and it was In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories, the story in here that scared the living daylights out of me for years was called The Green Ribbon. Um, and it's about a girl who wears agreement, but around her neck and she meets her boyfriend. And like, they live happily ever after. But the whole time he asked her why she had the green ribbon and if he can take it off and she says, no. And then when they're really old, she says, I'll tell you all about the green ribbon now. And you can untie it. And when he dies, it, her head fell off. Um, and as a kid, I was terrified of this. Um, and I grew up when those thick necklaces, like of the little wire that were like super stretchy were on your neck. And every time I saw them, I was like, oh, that person should never take it off because their head's gonna fall off. Um, and this has followed me into my adulthood. So I just wanted to share the scary story that I read when I was younger. That scared the living daylights out of me.

Hannah:

We are going to play a game by which I mean, take a quiz. Uh , this is from Penguin Penguin, the publisher, and it's called Which Literary Monster Are You? All right, Question one, Of the literary monster quiz is, You're mate and you have just had a big disagreement. You sock them in the face, tell them it's fine. But secretly spite them later, scream at them from across the street, freeze them out and stop talking to them for days or attempt to bite them. Because you smell blood in the water.

Hawa:

I think for me, I'm going to go with, tell them it's fine, but secretly spite them later.

Kelsey:

That's what I also will be doing.

Hannah:

I am going to attempt to bite them because I smell blood in the water.

Kelsey:

I love the idea of just like, even though they are they your flatmate or just your mate. Cause I love that you just run into them in the street and you're just screaming.

Multiple speakers:

[Laughter]

Hannah:

I'm like, I feel like there's a lot of it. Just the British slangy quiz, because some of the language they've put into the responses.

Kelsey:

Yea it's British.

Hannah:

Yeah. I like that. Like to spite someone as a verb. All right. Question two. Is violence ever the answer, your answer choices are almost always, maybe down the line. If I'm angry, maybe. I don't know. No. Yes. Quiet domination will do, or I will bite you.

Hawa:

I'm going to go with I will bite you.

Multiple speakers:

[Laughter].

Hannah:

Me too. Can't go wrong with that.

Hawa:

You, But I'm not really one for violence, but biting just seems like a passive way of I'm very passive aggressive. So that's what I'm gonna go with.

Kelsey:

I think I'm going to go with quiet domination.

Hannah:

That's a good response too. Alright. How do you deal with criticism? Lashing out quietly, accepting it, but plotting their device, getting a bit frantic. You will not tolerate this. You can't hear criticism underwater.

Multiple speakers:

[Laughter]

Hawa:

Um, I'm going to go with getting a bit frantic.

Kelsey:

I'm like, what is the real answer? And what do I want the answer to be?

Hawa:

Right

Kelsey:

Honestly, I'd probably just get a bit frantic, but I would like to plot there demise. So I think I'm gonna do it.

Hannah:

I think I'm no longer doing any real answers that I'm just going to go with. You can't hear criticism underwater.

Kelsey:

You're going to be Jaws.

Hannah:

Your ex texts you, your response is to immediately send back the most rude, hurtful reply you can, pretend to be friendly, but spread a nasty rumor about them. Go berserk. Tell them you side of things. But if they accept it as truth, ghost them, swim up from below them and attack. When they're least expecting it

Kelsey:

I'm going to goast them in the theme of Halloween,

Hawa:

I'm going to go with swim up from below them and attack when they're least expecting me, keep them on. I can't swim, but I liked the way that I sound the best. So we're going to go with that.

Hannah:

I am going to go with go bezerk just because I'm trying to confuse it a little bit and not make it certain that I will come up as Bruce from Jaws. If you could have a villainous superpower, it would be, incredible strength. Shape - shifting, flight, mind control, or lastly, the ability to leave the water and breathe above ground. So I guess to be a land shark,

Kelsey:

oh my god. Flight.

Hawa:

I'm gonna go with shape-shifting. I was torn between shape - shifting and flight, but I'm gonna say shape-shifting because if I could shape shift, I could shape-shift into something that can fly.

Hannah:

That's true

Kelsey:

Wow. That's 40 chest right there.

Multiple speakers:

[Laughter]

Hannah:

Solid reasoning.

Heather:

Yeah, I agree. I would pick shape - shifting as well.

Kelsey:

I regret my choice. I was hasty

Hannah:

I'll pick fly and join you on the flight side.

Kelsey:

Okay.

Heather:

You could create so many problems for everyone. If you could shape shift, honestly, because you could just pretend to be them and then be horrible and ruin everything

Hannah:

You would be like that goose from the horrible goose game. But like you could shape-shift into different animals. You could create so many problems on purpose,

Heather:

Just total chaos. It would be great.

Hannah:

it would be amazing, Which is the ideal scenario to enact vengeance ,with brute force, deviously, unexpectedly and suddenly, and the icy lonely cold of winter, or in the salty waters of the ocean where humans dare to swim.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to go with in the IC lonely cold of winter.

Speaker 3:

Vengeance is a dish best served cold.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I would say unexpectedly. And suddenly you have to have the long game. It's the whole, like the mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small. You got to let somebody get comfortable before

Speaker 4:

You then yank the rug out from that .

Speaker 3:

I'm going to go deviously

Speaker 4:

I'm also going to do deviously. There is one cupcake left in the fridge, but three of you want it. How do you get it? Do you push the others out of the way? Do you disguise yourself as an impartial arbiter of who gets it, steal it? Do you take small bites out of it that are in perceptible until it's gone? Do you quietly whisk it out of sight for eating later? Or I don't eat cupcakes because I'm a bloodthirsty shark . I think

Speaker 3:

Sharks eat cupcakes.

Speaker 2:

Uh , shark would totally eat a cupcake, especially if it was surrounded by delicious person. Shell is actually

Speaker 1:

Personally, I'm going to go with, take small bites out of it that are in perceptible until it's gone. Cause that's just like really evil.

Speaker 2:

He really liked the rabbit in my garden. I took one bite out of every single radish we planted and ruined the whole patch. That's just cruel. It really is. I'm going to whisk it out . Its sight fruit later, I'll just disappear the cupcake. But what I would really do is shapeshift into somebody else, steal it as them and then let them take the fall for it.

Speaker 4:

Good use of powers. I am going to, I don't eat cupcakes together . I'm a bloodthirsty shark , even though I do, but I don't realize that I'm eating cupcakes

Speaker 3:

Because they're in someone's stomach acid being

Speaker 4:

Dissolved. I'm just thinking about the salty human shell. Delicious. What else should we know about you? I can be quite violent. I can be quite manipulative. I can be quite chaotic. I can be quite cold. Literally. I don't know how to make this clearer. I am a shark.

Speaker 3:

I was just about to say, I want to be chaotic and pick literally. I don't know how to make this clear. I'm a shark, but then I realized I should pick. I can be quite chaotic.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I think is no surprise to anyone who knows me. Chaos is awesome. So

Speaker 1:

Chaotic is also definitely what I was going to say. I

Speaker 4:

Also have to go with chaotic

Speaker 1:

Also. I feel like the other ones are low key problematic. Like I'm manipulative. And I know that I am like, no, I'm not admitting that on the podcast. I'm sorry.

Speaker 3:

I'm not admitting it, but it is true, but I'm not.

Speaker 4:

I have to admit.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. What an actual associate path like admit that they were associate path on podcasts . Probably not. Unless

Speaker 3:

I would get them something.

Speaker 1:

So are we going to read our responses? Yes . Okay. So mine says you're the birds from the birds, the birds, the birds don't need weapons to kill you. They were born with beaks spills, nebs and mandibles. If they were capable of complex emotions, you'd call them angry, but they're not capable of complex emotions. They're driven only by an affable compulsion to pecky to death because you're a human in the air, birds like the hoards of birds. You're straight up chaotic and unpredictable best to stay on my good side. Yeah . You better stay on my good side. I've never

Speaker 2:

Heard birds at many time. In one times in one , a lot of spurts . And also maybe the birds are so just really mad because they were told they were incapable of complex emotions. Right? We don't know. You don't know they're attacking because they're upset by that comment. Right ? Don't dismiss the birds

Speaker 4:

That you not only shape shifted into a bird, but multiple birds.

Speaker 2:

How has now a murder of crows? Okay. I got your Tom Ripley from the talented Mr. Ripley. You too . Yay. The real horror inside Tom Ripley is that he's so polite. Likable and charmingly. Starry-eyed you find yourself willing him to succeed in his campaign of remorseless, manipulation, murder and identity theft. You're not as bad as him, but you have a single-minded manipulative streak. That's unsettling.

Speaker 4:

I have not checked seeing them. Is that movie terrifying? I've never seen it. No.

Speaker 2:

Okay .

Speaker 4:

Well I am the shark from jaws.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 4:

Man. You're biting people and smelling blood in the water. You're you're just a shark. The teeth of the sea, the Munster, the deep blue, the whole king massive murderous flesh . So arrived suddenly from the dark and Tara people limb from limb because that's just what evolution is. Hardware are you to do dismiss it. It's fine. You're a shirt . Well, I feel like that revealed some deeper truths about ourselves. Okay .

Speaker 1:

I should . Any of these books? Well, I guess these are these books or movies or this characters ,

Speaker 2:

Their books. Some of them have movies on them, I guess. Cause they're good.

Speaker 1:

I haven't read any of these, but I think I'm going to look into the burgers or good

Speaker 2:

Or whatever. Yeah. Whatever. No, I read jaws. Jaws was actually a pretty good book.

Speaker 4:

I can't remember if I read it or not. I definitely saw the movie. I might've

Speaker 2:

Read the book . The movie is also pretty good. Yeah. Classic film. SQLs. Not so much.

Speaker 4:

Never saw any of them. I think I'm going to steer clear.

Hawa:

Well, that's it. For this episode of These Books Made Me, we'll be back with more miscellany during the hiatus, keep your eye on the feet and join us next time. Feel free to drop us a tweet. We're @PGCMLS on Twitter and hashtag these books. Maiden, you can also send us your questions@thesebooksmademeatpgcmls.info for historical deep dives and read all like check out our blog, which is the episode notes.

Intro, but spooky
How do we feel about horror?
Haunted toys
The horror genre is spawned
Women and horror
Genre-bending and social issues
Real-life horror
Horror for kids
True crime
Final girl trope
What books scared us?
Urban legends
What books scared our guests?
Which literacy monster are you?
Outro