19 October 2010

Haunted Halloween: Lish McBride + A Giveaway!

Dark Trails & Spooky Tails
By: Lish McBride

Like most children, I had a monster in the closet. Usually, it was Jabba the Hut, or for a few days, my stuffed ET, which, after a series of panic and sweat filled nights, I buried in the swamp next my dad’s house.

Sometimes it was an unspecified fiend, a creature of tentacles, maybe claws, or bits of shadows with teeth. I’d hide under my sheets until it got too stuffy and I had to surface, gasping for breath before diving back under. I didn’t sleep much, sometimes reading until dawn, the whole time imagining my parents finding me in the morning, pulling back the sheets to discover a bleached set of tiny bones.

When you’re a kid, your imagination is a thriving, living thing. And as a kid, you don’t realize what a gift it is. For most people, imagination withers and dies as you get older. Invisible friends stop sitting at your dinner table, capes no longer make you fly, and you stop believing in faeries. But while you’ve still got it, anything is possible. I’ve spent my whole life trying to hold onto mine, even though my imagination has always been more nightmare than fairy dust.

I’ve been thinking about scary things that happened to me lately, and there’ve been plenty—wrecks that left my Subaru a twisted metal pretzel, sailing trips through storms and rough seas where the ship was tossed around like a toy while we played the tiny people inside calling mayday on the radio and watching the water pour in through the hatches. And a long dark drive through Mississippi trying to beat a hurricane while wondering if friends and family were going to get far enough or if they’d have to chop their way through rooftops and swim for safety.

Terrifying, dark moments all.

And yet…nothing quite scares me the way the monster in the closet used to. He’s always there, that monster. Whether I’ve moved, whether I even have a closet, he finds a way in. But now I’m too old to hide under my brother’s bed or bury myself under a pile of stuffed toys. And now, in theory, I’m old enough to know better, to know that sometimes the monster is just a shadow, the outline of a discarded Halloween costume in the closet or a jacket thrown carelessly over a chair, our eyes playing tricks, that gift of imagination turning traitor.

So when I began sifting through memories, one popped up over all those others.

I was maybe nine, and it was Halloween. I was going as a cat, black, to be specific, as I had been for the last five years running. My costume was spectacular—black fur, sewn by my step-mom, a long curved tail that I’d used to threaten a cop a Halloween or two before. On the way into a school carnival, I’d spotted a policeman, and afraid that he might mistake my brother dressed as a mental patient for a real mental patient, I’d gone on the offensive. To my parents’ horror, I walked up to the cop and told him to leave my brother alone or else…until I realized I might not have any good threats, being that I was a tiny little thing and not very scary to an officer of the law. But then it came to me—and I grabbed that wicked, curved, stuffed tail and shook it at him, telling him in my fiercest voice that I was “a hooker” and he’d better watch out. I feel that this interaction is typical of the way I face things—trying to be loyal and fierce, but in reality more comic relief than hero.

That long, tightly stuffed, hooked black tail was my favorite part of the costume, even though it got me into trouble. Quite a few times, actually.

So, back to the Halloween when I was about nine. We lived in the woods. And I don’t mean there were a couple of trees by my house. Picture dirt roads, no neighbor in sight, primordial darkness, chock-full of things that go bump in the night. Our chickens carried off by horned owls, our one attempt at having pet goats ended as a coyote’s dinner, and I had to walk a mile just to get somewhere a school bus would consider stopping.

You know, woods.

And this dark October night, I was walking in them. I was with my brother and a handful of other kids who had decided to take a short cut. Honestly, I can’t remember where we were going or why. Maybe a last house for candy? But then again, houses by us often didn’t have candy. Who trick-or-treats in the sticks?

I remember trying to be tough. The gloomy woods scared me, but I was with older kids. Ah, the universal fear of being outed as a crybaby.

October air is crisp in Washington, and if I’d had light enough to see my breath, I would’ve been able to see the moisture turn to mist when it made contact with that chill air. Leaves crunched under foot and my eyes kept darting off to the side, looking into the shadows twisting around the bases of trees. I’d lived there long enough to know those shadows were never empty. Maybe that twig breaking was just an owl shifting weight.

Or maybe not.

I slipped closer to the kid in front of me, trying to look nonchalant about it just in case someone was keeping tabs. I pretended like I wasn’t crowding closer out of fear. Our giggling was hushed—but frequent—and nervous. I now know that I wasn’t the only one whose imagination was getting the best of them.

The hand clutching my pillowcase-turned-candy-bag was getting sweaty, the adrenaline and fear besting the crisp air. We moved as a unit now, a ball of jittery energy, ears strained for anything dangerous: the shuffling of a big creature, the grating spin of a lunatic’s chainsaw. My brain was whirring now, regurgitating every scary movie image, every imagined nighttime noise, and all the scary stories I’d been told over the years. And I have two older brothers. I’ve been told a lot of scary stories.

We heard something then—a real noise—what sounded like the pop pop pop of gunfire. Our tight knit unit broke and started hurtling down the trail, back the way we came. On our trek in, we’d been careful, keeping an eye out for tree roots and debris, anything that might have tripped us up.

Not so on the way out. We screamed as we pelted pell-mell down the trail, arms flailing (but not dropping our candy—it would take more than a few gunshots to loosen our grips on that. We were scared, not insane.), the sound of thudding footsteps competing with the hammering of our hearts.

We didn’t stop until we hit asphalt, saw the one streetlight marking our community center and a few winking house lights. We paused then, or at least I did, out of breath, a stitch in my side. I remember laughing again, flushed with the victory of escape.

Sometime during that feeling of rush or elation, not to mention rampant speculation as to who had been shooting in the woods, we realized the true source of the gunshots—someone had stepped on my wickedly curved tail, violently ripping the stitching, which had made the pop pop pop sound of protest as it went. We felt a little silly, but not enough to make any of us regret running. And certainly not enough to make any of us go back up the trail. Instead, we started the long, dark, walk home.

So much trouble, that tail. Next year, I went as Garfield. My mom made my costume. The new tail was short, orange, and floppy. It was the kind of tail that’s just for show. And we hit one of the preplanned neighborhoods, with brightly lit cul-de-sacs and watchful parents on every block. No more trails with all those things going bump in the night.

Parents, lights, sidewalks, crowds, all were designed to keep the darkness at bay, and something we pretended would make a difference. A forced peace treaty on the monsters lurking in my own mind, a way to make the nightmares behave for just a moment and let me think that I was in charge. At least until the next time I tried to go to sleep.

Title: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Synopsis: Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

Available now from Henry Holt and Co!

Order Online here:

Amazon | Borders | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

From Lish Online:

Website | Twitter

Book Trailer:

Check out this book trailer too:

Fun extras:

Wallpapers can be downloaded HERE. Available in all different sizes!

ONE winner will receive an ARC copy of
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer!

Here are the rules and how to enter:

You MUST complete the form to enter. No entries in comments please they won't count. Comments are welcome, so share your love with Lish!
You must be at least 13 years old to enter.
This contest is open to US only. Sorry!
Contest ends: Nov. 2nd, 2010


Good luck to everyone who enters. If you have any questions, please see my policy page or feel free to email me with any questions.

Lish, thank you SO much for your time and story. And thank you to Henry Holt and Co for the donation which made this giveaway possible.

Check out Jessica's Haunted Halloween post with..........

REMINDER: *If you are interested in the COMMENT CONTEST, remember to include your email address with your comment for an extra entry.
Please ready full entry rules HERE.

*I am not compensated at all for any of the links within this page.

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  1. Interesting story. Book sounds awesome. Haven't read a necromancer book yet.


  2. Haha thats a cute/scary story. This book sounds good too :)


  3. Great story! I love me a good necromancer book! Some time ago when I was telling people I read books other than vampire ones, I mentioned necromancer and they just looked at me with a "like what?" expression. Love doing that to people! ;)


  4. Looks like a good book! Great story!


  5. Loved the story and the book sounds really good too! Would love to read it! :)


  6. I've never met a necromancer that I didn't like! This one looks like no exception. Thanks for the giveaway.

    mrsderaps @ hotmail . com

  7. This story is really intriguing to me. I'll be adding it to my TBR list. :)

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com


  8. I'm with you. I've scared the crap out of myself plenty of times when there was probably nothing to be scared of.

    romancebookjunkiesdanielle at yahoo dot com

  9. Interesting story, especially since it turned out to be nothing more than everyone imagination getting the better on them. Hold Me Closer Necromancer sounds awesome. Thanks for the giveaway. ^_^

    hauntingorchid (at) aol (dot) com

  10. I haven't heard too much about this one, but it sounds really interesting and I love Sherman Alexie's blurb.

    Thank you for sharing your story Lish and for the giveaway :D


  11. Good story. Thanks for sharing! Great giveaway.

  12. Now I have the song Hold Me Closer "Tiny Dancer" going through my head!! BAH!!!

  13. Great story. Thanks for sharing! Its amazing really how nothing is ever as scary as those fears we had when younger.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  14. I love the line about being comic relief instead of hero. Classic.

    jlynettes @ hotmail . com

  15. I can't enter the competition as I don't live in the US, but I just had to leave a comment about how awesome yous website it. It's fantastic! Well done!
    Best wishes
    Suzy Turner (writer, YA author & blogger)

  16. Great story! Thanks for the chance to win!

    Don't forget to check out my giveaway.


    Ashley's Bookshelf

  17. I've been watching to read this one so thanks for the giveaway. Also yay Garfield! I love him.

    nalynboni AT gmail DOT com

  18. Haven't heard of this book- I need to add it to my TBR list.

    I remember getting the rush after a good hard run when I was spooked as a kid. Nothing beats it ;0)


  19. I can't believe the getting in the policeman's face part. Too funny.


  20. Sounds like an interesting book. Never read anything about a necromancer book before! Thanks for the giveaway :)

    booksoverboys at hotmail dot com

  21. Sounds like a great story!


  22. Ha ha! Loved the part about the candy--it's so true! Oh, and great title/cover!


  23. I, too, loved the part about not letting go of the candy! After all kids go through to get it, they are NOT letting it go! Thanks for the story and the chance to win!

    Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

  24. Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for the giveaway!


  25. Very interesting story. The book sounds really great!

    twilightforever.edward at gmail dot com


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Hi, I’m Lisa and I'm a proud bibliophile.

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