Tag Archives: Scream

Seriously Spooky Month: Guest Post – Jack Heath

As part of my Seriously Spooky Month I asked some of my favourite spooky authors to write a guest post for My Best Friends Are Books.  Today I’m joined by Jack Heath, author of the seriously spooky Scream series.  Jack joins me today to talk about why he loves scary stories and what led him to write books about spider armies, venus fly-traps and haunted books.  Thanks for joining me Jack!

The weirdness makes it seem real

When I heard Scholastic was looking for someone to write a horror series for kids, I stuck my hand up so fast that I ruptured my rotator cuff. I had loved scary stories since I was in nappies (which is a very convenient time to discover the horror genre, by the way).

My life as a reader began with picture books like Monster Mama by Liz Rosenberg and Stephen Gammel, which led me to The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight by R. L. Stine, which in turn led me to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. After that I discovered Crew’s 13, an anthology of horror stories (edited by Gary Crew) which included The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe and The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs. After falling in love with Frankenstein I later discovered Stephen King, and…

Pardon me. I got lost down memory lane for a second there. Where was I? Oh yes, the Scream series. I was told to write four books.

‘About what?’ I asked.

‘Something scary,’ I was told.

I’m not a brave person, so it wasn’t hard to find four things which frightened me. I started with the obvious – spiders. Big ones. I thought about the zoo in Singapore where I was invited to hold a tarantula, and I channeled all that skin-crawling terror into The Spider Army.

the-spider-armyI remembered having a Venus flytrap in my room as a kid, and uneasily watching it sit, perfectly still, mouth open, fangs wide, just waiting for an unwary fly to make one false step. This became the tingling spine of The Human Flytrap. (I was delighted to discover that the first edition literally screamed at readers when they opened the cover.)

I thought back to a holiday in Queensland when my brother and I found ourselves surrounded by lemon sharks. Being immersed in dark water, unable to scream and too frightened to move as these otherworldly creatures whipped past gave me the inspiration for The Squid Slayer.

But my favourite of the four books was a bit meta. The horror stories I loved had something in common – the monsters weren’t based on existing myths. There were no werewolves, no witches, no vampires. Instead they unleashed something completely new and bizarre, and paradoxically, the weirdness of the creatures made them more believable.

I remembered all the times I’d been reading a scary book and I’d started to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the terrifying events depicted within might actually be true. I tried to capture this sensation in The Haunted Book.

People have asked me if it’s appropriate to expose a nine-year old to the frightening stuff in the Scream series. I tell them that I read books just like these as a kid, and I turned out all right.

Then I go home to write more disturbing stories and then sleep – with the lights on.

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Filed under children's fiction, children's horror, Guest Post, Seriously Spooky Month, Seriously Spooky Month 2015, spooky

Scream series by Jack Heath

When I was a kid the only spooky books I could find were the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine.  Thankfully there are more and more authors writing seriously spooky books for kids and one of those authors is Jack Heath.  Jack Heath’s Scream series (published by Scholastic) is perfect for those kids who love R.L. Stine’s short and spooky stories.  The covers of the Scream series even look a bit like Goosebumps books.

The Scream series is set in Axe Falls, where a cargo ship ran aground years ago.  Ever since then the town has been plagued by ‘mysterious disappearances, terrifying visions and unusual events.’  The books follow four local kids who wonder what was the cargo? And will anyone survive long enough to find out?  So far there are four books in the series: The Human Flytrap, The Spider Army, The Haunted Book and The Squid Slayer. You don’t have to read them in a particular order so start with whatever one you like.  They are guaranteed to give you a fright.

Check out this video of Jack Heath talking about the series and check out his Seriously Spooky Guest Post here on the blog.

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Filed under books, children's fiction, children's horror, Seriously Spooky Month, Seriously Spooky Month 2015