Halloween Guest Blog: Justine Graykin

Guest author Justine Graykin

Guest author Justine Graykin

My earliest influences were October writers like Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, and H.P. Lovecraft.  I read Harlan Ellison and collected horror anthologies.  I was into dark and dystopian, quoting Nietzsche and planning for the apocalypse.  How in blazes did I wind up the author of Archimedes Nesselrode, which has been described as an exquisite raspberry sorbet with which to cleanse the pallet in between weighty, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, literary best-sellers and Oprah books?

Because I also grew up with Star Trek, and in the end, Star Trek won.

As a part of growing up we all need to deal with the dark side.  Halloween is a metaphor for that phase of our lives when we confront Death, try on masks as a way to figure out who we are, laugh uneasily at the shadows lurking around us as we watch summer chill into the season of hardship.

I lost my mother unpleasantly, to cancer, when I was twelve.  That’s when my Halloween came.  My way of dealing was to walk right into the shadows and plumb the depths.  Heavy metal music, drugs and nihilism, much to the consternation of my grieving father, who had no idea what to do with me.  Poor man.

But after a few years of rebellion, of punk and snark and pissing off authority, I got tired of wearing black.  Nihilism is fine for the young, whose instinctive sense of immortality keeps them just one defiant shout ahead of despair.  But nihilism is exhausting.  There had to be something beyond wearing masks, of every day being Halloween.

I went back and reread Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked.  Like a spider web breaking across my face, invisible and delicate, I realized I was alive.  I realized what an amazing, ephemeral miracle that was.  Happy New Year.

So what began to interest me, almost obsessively, was understanding what it meant to be alive, particularly how to be alive in a world where there is death and suffering, stupidity and cruelty.  And that’s the direction my writing went.  Finding meaning in the darkness, the warm orange glow of the grinning jack o’lantern.

That’s why I write with humor, with optimism, with delight.  Not because I’m avoiding or ignoring the horrors of the world, but exactly because I acknowledge they are there.  I am staring the hag of despair in the face and disempowering her with laughter, with joy, with hugs and gentleness and compassion.

Come, smile with me, and believe in hope, in the goodness lurking in people’s hearts and the beauty that can be found in the world.  Come, have a bit of fun!

ANcoverLarrythumbJustine Graykin is a writer and free-lance philosopher sustained by her deep, abiding faith in Science, Humanity and the belief that humor is the best anti-gravity device. Author of Archimedes Nesselrode, a book written for adults who are weary of adult books, she is producer of the BroadPod podcast.   She lives, writes and putters around her home in rural New Hampshire, occasionally disappearing into the White Mountains with a backpack.  Find her on her website at JustineGraykin.com.

The Wicked, Weird and Whimsical Words Halloween Blog Tour runs every other day October 23-October 31.  Join us all five days for Halloween fun!  Be sure to say hello on any post to be entered in a giveaway at the end of the tour!

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