Halloween is the strangest of holidays, the day we actually invite the creepy, the spooky, the downright scary into our lives — as if we aren't surrounded by enough horror, with many of us just now emerging from the very real, unwanted terror of Hurricane Sandy. But there is something strangely alluring about having control over your own fear, to make it into a fantasy, whether it involves walking through a haunted house, or dressing up for a costume party, or watching horror films, knowing that you can hide under your coat, run out of the theater, or hit STOP.
We've asked six of our favorite writers to open up and tell us what freaked them out when they were younger — and what scares them now.
The essays include (click on the title to read each piece):
"Real-Life Body-Snatchers," by Peter Trachtenberg
The author of "The Book of Calamities" sees body-snatchers. All the time.
"The Horrors of Aging," by Kate Christensen
The PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novelist used to love Halloween. But now every dangling skeleton and rotting pumpkin in the neighborhood is reminding her of her own mortality.
"Fearing Fear Itself," by Jennifer Gilmore
Why would anyone actually want to be frightened, wonders the acclaimed author of "Something Red."
"My Lifelong Pursuit of Ghosts," by Julie Klam
Will this haunted-house-hopper (and famous dog magnet) ever encounter a real ghost?
"The 4:30 p.m. Matinee," by Meg Wolitzer
The celebrated novelist says adulthood isn't seem half as scary as that late-afternoon TV movie.
"Pretending Fear Doesn't Exist," by Jonathan Lethem
Can a genre-bending novelist like the author of "Motherless Brooklyn" and "Chronic City" build an immunity to fear?