Feature & Follow is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. This week, I’m supposed to write a letter to my favorite author. I tried writing a letter to Stephen King, but it came out fangirly on a cringe-inducing level. So, I deleted all evidence of my fangirling and tried to write a letter to horror books, but that just sounded sad. You know your social life sucks when you’re talking to a bookshelf. I deleted it and tried again. I hope what I came up with is close enough to the prompt.
To all the horror books I’ve loved before:
When I was a preteen, I went through a phase where I hated every fiction book I read. I would wander the school library and come away with nothing. I’d read a few chapters of a book and then give up on it. I had a few fiction favorites that I’d reread over and over, but even those were starting to lose their appeal. At one point, I gave up on fiction entirely and just read nonfiction about animals or dead Arctic explorers. (The best books were the ones about animals and dead Arctic explorers. I knew I’d struck gold when I found one of those.)
I think my fiction problem actually had to do with my age. Being a preteen sucks. Kids at that age are going through a lot of physical and mental changes. Also, preteen girls can be vicious to anyone who doesn’t “fit in.” I definitely did not fit in. I didn’t care about boys, makeup, parties, or music. Preteen-me was a neurotic, antisocial, control-freak who incessantly quoted Homer Simpson. The other girls treated me like a deranged mental institution patient. The school environment + being bullied = massive amounts of angst for young me.
I couldn’t find many books about characters who were like me. All of the problems that book characters faced were solved neatly by the end of the story. Fictional issues never seemed too difficult to fix. There was nothing that the young characters couldn’t overcome. Preteen-me felt like my real-life problems were unsolvable, and seeing characters overcome issues so easily made me feel like I was failing at life.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, I noticed that the gifted kids in my class were reading adult books that didn’t come from the elementary school library. These were thick books with tiny font and no pictures. I was immediately in love with them. My school didn’t consider me advanced enough to read at an adult level (how rude), but preteen-me became desperate to obtain a grownup book of my own.
The problem was that the school library didn’t have adult books, and my parents aren’t readers. We didn’t have many books in our house when I was growing up. However, I knew that my parents had a few books in the bottom drawer of their dresser. One day, I snuck into their bedroom to steal myself a grownup book. (We’re getting to the horror part of this story. I promise.)
If I remember correctly, the drawer mostly contained Bibles and old college textbooks, but there were a few novels. I book I chose was The Tommyknockers by Stephen King. It was a thick book with tiny writing and no pictures.
I grabbed the book, slammed the drawer shut, ran for my life, and started reading. And . . . The Tommyknockers completely blew my little mind.
If you’ve never had the pleasure (or misfortune?) of reading The Tommyknockers, it’s about a woman who finds a huge metal object buried in the forest. She becomes obsessed with digging it up. The object slowly poisons her with radiation, but she refuses to stop digging. The woman (I think her name is Bobbi?) has some serious issues. Her problems made my problems look insignificant. School bullies were bad, but at least I wasn’t losing my teeth, bleeding uncontrollably from my lady-parts, and trying to turn my dog into a battery.
I read the majority of The Tommyknockers before my parents discovered that I had it and took it away, but it was enough to get me hooked on horror. I went to the public library and discovered YA horror—which was disappointingly tame compared to adult horror—but it fed my addiction until I had successfully whined enough that my parents let me go back to Stephen King.
Horror became pretty much the only genre I read. And I read a lot of it. Middle school and high school were even worse than elementary school, and horror helped me cope. Teenage-me struggled hardcore with depression and had a terrible attitude about everything. It probably sounds weird, but horror was one of the few things that made me happy. Horror books provided an escape from reality. They were intense enough to distract me from my problems, and they always reminded me that life could be much, much worse.
I could probably keep blathering about this forever, but I’m going to stop here. That’s my twisted love letter to all the horror books I’ve loved before. If you read the entire thing, you deserve a cookie.
The follow part of FF Friday: If you are a book blogger and you leave a link to your blog in the comments below, I will follow you on Bloglovin’. If you want to be friends on Goodreads, Twitter, BookLikes, or G+, that would be awesome, too. Click the links to go to my pages on those sites. I’m looking forward to “meeting” you.