Halloween ranks among favorite holidays for many a mystery reader—so we gathered some of our favorite characters from the anthology MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES around the fire pit tonight to share tales of their favorite Halloweens, past and present. Grab a mug of cocoa or cider and pull up an adirondack chair—we’ll start with our favorite talkative ghost. . .
Marmaduke Dodsworth (It Takes a Ghost/Karen Cantwell): My favorite Halloween story, you say? Well, yes, that is a most fascinating question to ask a ghost, now isn’t it? First, let me introduce myself: My name is Marmaduke Dodsworth. I was born in Dartford, England in the year eighteen hundred and eighty-four. I lived a mostly content life until 1915 when I traveled to the United States of America where I was struck by a car and killed. I would not say it was a good death, but oh well, as you Americans say. One Halloween, not so long ago, I joined my living friend, Sophie on a haunted house tour. There, I met a fellow spirit by the name of Myrtle May. Myrtle tutored me in the fine art of moving objects through space. Some may consider that this is a feat which comes easily to ghosts, but I assure you, this is not the case. Myrtle, ah, fair Myrtle. She had a gift and she taught me well. In no time at all she had me levitating tea pots, tea cups, spoons, and even a lamp. Why, you should have seen the faces on the tour patrons! Wide eyes, fallen jaws. We had them trembling in their boots! Yes, it was a fine Halloween indeed.
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Cherry Tucker (Vigilante Vignette/Larissa Reinhart): My favorite Halloween memories are not from childhood since I was the sole kid wearing a handmade costume. Not that my third grade Chiquita Banana suit wasn’t brilliant—although it did cause a bit of a mess—but you have to understand when I was growing up, Pinterest didn’t exist so homemade costumes were not in vogue.
But even after Shawna Branson played Monkey in the Middle with my bananas (literally), I grew to love making costumes. And now handmade costumes are in vogue. I even get paid for them. When you’re an artist, you hustle for any kind of job.
My particular favorite was a recent Halloween party at Red’s County Line Tap. Painted a Renaissance landscape backdrop in ochres and siennas, cut a big hole in the canvas, inserted my head, and went as the Mona Lisa. Luke wore a dusty pair of Wranglers, boots, and a western shirt. In the crowded bar, Luke’s cowboy had found my Mona Lisa smile and pulled me into the gents’ bathroom before our friends and family could notice. We’re the Romeo and Juliet of Halo, if you didn’t know.
Actually more like Hatfields and McCoys.
Before we could talk, my brother-in-law Nik had kicked in the bathroom door.
His kick alerted my brother, Cody. Who, misinterpreting our bathroom cluster, threatened to kill Luke.
Which led to my sister, Casey, pitching a fit for all to hear.
And then Red booted us all from the party.
But I’ve had worse happen. I just may reprise that Mona Lisa costume yet.
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Jackson Bell (Salad Days, Halloween Nights/Eleanor Cawood Jones): I don’t talk about it much, but a big part of the reason I love dressing up for Halloween as an adult is because there were a couple of years as a kid when I didn’t get to put on a costume or even enjoy any candy. My foster parents were good to me, but strict, and Halloween wasn’t on their radar.
So when I became Chef Jackson Bell, opened my own restaurant, and Halloween rolled around, I couldn’t wait to decorate, dress up, and throw a party for new customers and their kids on Halloween eve. It started small, but now we sell out every year. We carve pumpkins, admire costumes, eat treats and pumpkin pie, and laugh a lot.
My favorite Halloween was five years ago, when I first invited all the kids in foster care in our little city to come to their own party at the restaurant. It’s an annual event now. We provide costumes and masks, and the kids trick or treat at the tables and in the kitchen, enjoy Halloween lunch, and take home a bag of treats and a little pumpkin apiece. I love it!
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Nichelle Clarke (Frightening Features/LynDee Walker): I haven’t had much luck with Halloween the past couple of years—my late Octobers seem to be stuck in a “recovering from a life-threatening injury” rut that leaves me parked on the sofa with a bag of Oreos and Anderson Cooper on my TV. But sometimes, that’s not as bad as it sounds.
I’ve always loved this holiday—costumes and spooky stories are such fun, and my mom had the only “Halloween Tree” in our neighborhood when I was a kid (we got an old Christmas tree from Goodwill and spray-painted it black. If only we’d decided to sell them, we’d be holiday millionaires today.) These days, I have a teeny one that sits on the table behind the sofa, and this year, my boyfriend (still pinching myself a little on that one) camped out to play nurse/entertainment director, and it turns out he’s pretty good at it. He even dug out my spooky light up witch and the “Munchies for Monsters” candy bowl, slicked his dark hair back and popped in some vampire teeth for the trick or treaters. And, when he wasn’t manning the door, he gave a wicked foot massage. It may just be my favorite Halloween yet, healing surgical wound and all.
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The Black Cat (Weeping Moon/Maria Grazia Swan): Halloween is a canine conspiracy. The word Halloween is a dead giveaway. Try saying it slow and with a high pitch. . .get it? It’s the sound of a dog howling. . .
Ghosts, witches and goblins is what makes the day fun they say. Ah! Is what they aren’t mentioning that matters. Black cats. . .yes, black cats.
Every witch has a black cat. I’m not saying that Lella, my human personal assistant, is a witch, although there are days—but in general she pays attention to my needs and I heard her say a firm no to some neighbor kid who wanted to ‘borrow’ me, Flash, for Halloween.
Borrow. Is that even legal? And tonight is Halloween. I get to sit and watch the parade of loud kids wearing silly costumes that will be obsolete in the morning. And what for? So they can go door to door to beg for cheap candies? Take the costume money and buy your own candies I say. So everyone would stay home and my human could rub my belly instead of wasting time opening and closing the front door.
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Samantha Sweet (Spellbound Sweets/Connie Shelton): Prior to one very special Halloween, Samantha Sweet was a 50-something woman who broke into houses for a living. Covering the bills was a stretch and she baked pastries at home to fill in the gaps. Early one autumn, she encountered a dead body in one of her break-in houses, clashed with the very handsome deputy sheriff, and was handed a magical artifact. Those three events set her life on a new course and led to the first mystery she ever solved.
Halloween will always hold a special place in Samantha’s heart because October was the month in which she finally realized her dream of opening her own pastry shop, Sweet’s Sweets, and Halloween was the first crazy-busy holiday for her new business. Each year, as autumn rolls around, the witches come out of the woodwork and when costumed kids stop by Sweet’s Sweets for decorated cookies, Sam readies for the holiday with her best baked goodies of the season.
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The Kitchen Witch (No Time to Witch/Morgana Best): “You’re kidding me, right?” I asked.
Thyme, my closest friend, shook her head. “Every Halloween, an evil demon, repelled only by pumpkins, manifests the very worst fears of the townspeople.”
I wasn’t sure if she was pranking me. “Worst fears, like snakes, spiders, being buried alive, getting peanut butter stuck on the roof of your mouth?”
“All that, and more.”
I disabled the smoke alarm and threw the burned remains of my latest attempt at baking into the sink in one fluid motion. “Mine is that my cupcakes make someone spontaneously combust.”
“I can understand that. Anyway, last year, a man forgot to place a pumpkin, and he. . .” Thyme paused to wipe a tear from her eye. “Amelia, do you have a pumpkin outside your house?”
“No!” I exclaimed, as I heard a knock at the door. “Be right back.” I opened the door, using one of my charred cupcakes as a doorstop.
The hideous demon standing there struck terror into my very soul. As he stretched out a gnarled black hand to my throat, I threw my cupcake at him. He dissolved into flames.
Thyme gasped behind me. “How did you kill the demon?”
I shrugged. “It was a piece of cake.”
You can catch up with these characters plus other favorites in the limited-edition anthology MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES, which includes all-new stories by Ritter Ames, Carolyn Haines, LynDee Walker, Larissa Reinhart, Karen Cantwell, Maria Grazia Swan, Morgana Best, Connie Shelton, and Eleanor Cawood Jones. Tell us about your favorite Halloween below, and you could win one of two kindle copies! The giveaway ends November 6, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!
Thanks so much for having us today, Dru!
All comments are welcomed.