I'm very excited to welcome Robin Jarvis to the blog today as we kick of the Haunted blog tour. I've been a massive fan of Robin Jarvis since I discovered his Whitby Witches, Deptford Mice & Deptford Histories trilogies as a young teen. They were books I read over and over again and I still have the original copies that my Dad bought for me back in the early 90's (yes that does make me feel old lol).
The Haunted blog tour is to celebrate the release of the Haunted anthology, this is a perfect Halloween read containing scary stories from some fabulous writers - Susan Cooper, Joseph Delaney, Berlie Doherty, Jamila Gavin, Matt Haig, Robin Jarvis, Derek Landy, Sam Llewellyn, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve & Eleaor Updale. I'll be posting my review of Haunted on Halloween so make sure you stop by then to read it.
HOWLING in the night . . .
A BLACK DOG at your door . . .
COLD HANDS dragging you down . . .
Some of the best-loved children's authors have come together to bring you this terrifying collection of ghost stories:
There's a lost ghost child trapped in a mirror and wanting to pull you in; an evil Soul Eater waiting for its next victim; a ghost walk with a haunting twist; and the spirit of a drowned boy who needs to be put to rest. These and many more spine-chilling tales will make you scream, shiver and gasp.
Open if you dare . . .
Visit the Anderson Press website for more information
Picture of Robin Jarvis & me (taken at the HarperCollins Afternoon Tea)
So without further ado I'm going to hand over to Robin Jarvis who is going to talk about what Halloween means to him . . .
Hallowe’en is a special time of the year for me. Growing up in the north, we always bobbed for apples, ducked for chestnuts, tangerines and pennies and begged to hear the family ghost stories repeated. Of witches we spoke in soft voices, whilst casting wary glances at the dark sky. Even though my young eyes scoured the night and never saw one, I knew they were up there.
The most magical and thrilling part of Hallowe’en however, was the making of the lantern. A fearsome face, lit by flame, was needed to guard you during that eerie, dangerous time when the worlds of the living and the dead touched and malevolent spirits went a - roaming.
Pumpkins are rubbish. There, I’ve said it. They belong to the Disneyfication of an ancient Celtic festival that was steeped in blood and terror and illuminated by fire. The time has come to champion the only true vegetable from which to make a Hallowe’en lantern – the turnip. Okay, I call them turnips yet somehow, over the years, they’ve been re-branded as “swedes” but they’re still turnips to me. It may sound odd to everyone else in the world but, in my opinion, there’s a deep, earthy magic to a turnip and I can understand why it was the natural choice for turning into lanterns before the gaudy orange usurper crossed the Atlantic. Turnips grow in the ground, the same soil the Celts associated with the underworld and into which they interred their dead.
Hollowing out a big turnip is a serious undertaking. People prefer the easy, soft scoop version of pumpkins, but that isn’t really the point. Turnip gouging is and should be a ritual. It requires concentration and effort and takes a flipping long time! It’s worth it in the end though. When the candle stub is lit within that golden flesh and a thread of smoke rises from the hole in the lid, suddenly that ferocious purple face is alive. That’s a genuinely magic moment.
I still make a turnip lantern every year and visit different supermarkets and grocer’s stalls in order to find the correct one. There’s a lot of character and variety to turnips. There are fat, round faces and sharp pointed ones, some have square chins or fibrous beards, others already have noses sprouting to show you where the front is. I know what I’m looking for, because I’ve been carving the same face for decades and only the right shape will do.
So you can keep the vastly inferior, dreary pumpkin. It’s got all the charm and enchantment of a fibreglass theme park castle, compared to the solid Stonehenge of a turnip. When He is on guard, I know its safe to scour the dark sky again and yearn to believe.
The young boy Bram, in my short story, “The Beach Hut” really needed the protection of a turnip lantern. But it was the height of summer, at the seaside, and his thoughts were filled with rock pools and ice cream. Besides, malignant ghosts don’t go haunting then – or do they?
Thanks so much for a fabulous guest post Robin, I actually carved my first ever pumpkin last year & really enjoyed doing it. I guess I should be buying a turnip to carve this year though - although it sounds like there is much more work involved in carving them!