Saturday, October 22, 2011


How To Survive A Horror Novel


I love Halloween. It has the festivity and indulgence of your typical holiday without the stress of family visits. (p.s. Mom, I love you. You know I’m kidding.)

For some perverse reason, I enjoy being scared. I love Haunted Houses even though I run through with my eyes closed and a death grip on whatever poor victim…er…friend…came with me. I gleefully attend scary movies after dark and batter my seatmate at every startling moment. And I really enjoy a good horror novel.

I scare easy because I believe whatever scary thing is happening – is happening to me. I have friends who can say, “Oh it’s just a movie” or “That guy in a werewolf costume chasing us through a maze is just a volunteer.”

Not me. When I read a good horror novel I can’t help but think, how would I survive this? After years of pondering, I’m to share my three favorite horror novels (spoiler alert!) and my best survival tips.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

How can you not love the novel which allegedly inspired George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, thus spawning an entire awakening of zombie culture?

I Am Legend is not only startlingly scary but also psychologically depressing. Imagine being the only person alive. For a chatty Cathy like myself, this is mind-bogglingly terrifying. As the book ends, you realize that the hero you’ve been rooting for is, in fact, the monster.

To survive being the last person on earth, you’re going to need to fill the time. Get a cache of books. Maybe raid a library. I also recommend learning a few dozen versions of Solitaire. No point in being stuck on one version. Take up knitting or crochet. You won’t need knitting skills because you can walk into an abandoned Chanel and grab whatever you want, but idle hands are…you know…bored. As a last resort, try ventriloquism. No, no stay with me. It’s not creepy if no one is there to see you do it.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

My parents wouldn’t let me see the movie but they figured the book was okay, because books are educational. I waited until a weekend when my parents were out of town, turned off all the lights and tucked into bed with a flashlight. By the time I was done, I was too petrified to get out of bed to use the bathroom.

To survive having your baby targeted by a demon worshipping cult, don’t get friendly with your neighbors. Avoid offers to come over for tea. Don’t accept welcome baskets.

It by Stephen King

This book scared me for the wrong reasons. I didn’t really care about the creepy clown. Although no one likes creepy clowns. What really scared me was the turning point in the book where to get rid of the creepy clown, the girl has to sleep with all her male friends.


Yeah, you read that right. If you’ve missed this classic horror juggernaut, that’s the kind of storytelling you’re passing up so get yourself a copy.

I think the most obvious solution is to surround yourself with girlfriends, and avoid the circus.

I’m always looking for good survival techniques so if you have any, shoot them my way!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Cecilia Gray lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she reads, writes and breaks for food. Her latest release, A Delightful Arrangement is decidedly unscary and can be survived by making out with the closest attractive individual who catches your fancy. You can visit her at or

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