I have always loved Halloween. I love the costumes, the night, and the candy. Gotta love the candy, but only specific kinds. Like the holiday itself, I am drawn to the darkest of chocolates with something unseen and unexpected underneath.
Mostly I like the surprises. The shocks. I love carving pumpkins—turning something familiar like a pumpkin into something unanticipated. I love the fall air and the turning of leaves and the dried up piles of them scratching along the sidewalk and collecting against curbs and tree trunks. I like spooky ghost stories, dry ice fog, fake blood and spicy mulled cider.
As a kid I would construct elaborate costumes. Once I was a tightly wound mummy, which left me breathless. Another year I was a bag of jellybeans. That was bad because I couldn’t go to the bathroom without liberating my beans.
Once I made a giant column out of chicken wire covered with papier-mâché. I used newspaper headlines as vertical lines to indicate fluting around the column. I was a newspaper column!
Another year I was invited to a surprise party for a friend whose birthday was on Halloween. I wore all black and then wound fuzzy yellow boas around my neck, waist and hips. I had wings and a tiara. I was a queen bee.
When I got to the party, the door opened was greeted with a room full of laughter. No one else was dressed up except one French maid and a Dungeons-and-Dragons guy who greeted me merrily from the far side of the room. They were very happy someone else came dressed up.
It was a Halloween shock and surprise of a different sort. “Didn’t I tell you it was costume optional?” my friend said.
What is it with Halloween?
I am loathe to give it up. This is a good thing because for a writer like me, it’s always Halloween!
Every day I launch into something scary. I push back the chattering of voices that whisper and howl of worries and possible rejections and disapprovals. I light my tiny candle in my crazy pumpkin and shine out into that night. And just like Halloween it scares me, but I love it.
If not for the fear of it, the reality would not be nearly as surprising and thrilling.
A four-time Emmy Award-winning writer for "Bill Nye the Science Guy," Lynn Brunelle has over 25 years experience writing for people of all ages, across all manner of media. Previously a classroom science, English and art teacher for kids K-12, an editor, illustrator, and award-winning author of over 45 titles, Lynn has created, developed and written projects for Chronicle, Workman, National Geographic, Scholastic, Random House, Penguin, A&E, The Discovery Channel, Disney, ABC TV, NPR, The Annenburg Foundation, World Almanac, Cranium and PBS.
A regular contributor to Martha Stewart Radio as a family activity consultant and a regular contributor to NPR's Science Friday, she is the creator of Tabletop Science—videos that make science fun and accessible. She has also written for several children’s and parenting magazines. She is a member of the Seattle 7 Writer’s group and is active in teaching and raising literacy.
Her newest book, a memoir called Mama Gone Geek, was released this month from Roost/Shambhala Press.