How to Read Horror/prepare yourself for reading AMITY by Micol Ostow
I must confess, I’ve never given much thought to the how’s of reading horror; mostly, it was (and still is!) something I just did. First off, there’s the fact that my mother has always been an avid horror fan. One of my most consistent childhood memories is of the constant presence of a library-bound Stephen King hardcover on her nightstand. (The book itself rotated, obviously, as she tore through his oeuvre). I wasn’t allowed to read them myself, but they were tempting! (Those ‘70’s covers!) So I guess that makes the first step:
1. Cultivate an interest.
Once the seed has been planted, the question becomes one of access. Like I say, my mother didn’t want me reading Stephen King at the ripe old age of eight – go figure – but there were ways around her Draconian ruling. She took me to the library every Saturday morning and dropped me in the children’s room. Unfortunately for her, once she was lost in the grown-up stacks, it was easy enough to slip away and off to the adult fiction section unnoticed. That was how I first came to read the early pages of The Shining (around the same time that I lost my first tooth).
2. Demand access (dedicated readers will always find a way).
In the face of such illicit literary pursuits, number 3 should be obvious:
3. Read quickly.
You want to finish the book before your parents figure out what you’re up to.
*(If you’re attempting to read horror and you’re officially “of age,” I’d still say to read quickly – because you need to know how the bogeyman is vanquished. Good horror is always a breathless read.)
Immediately after I finish a scary story, I generally need to scrub my brain clean. That brings us to number 4:
4. Watch a funny movie or tv show to reset your creep-meter and bring your heart rate back down.
It’s part of the ritual, every time. Personally, though, I often find that no matter how many reruns of “The Office” I loop, after the very best horror read, there’s still a fifth step I can’t skip:
5. Sleep with the lights ON!
Micol Ostow has written dozens of books for children, tweens, and teens, but Amity is her first foray into horror. I turns out, writing a ghost story is almost more terrifying than reading one. (In a good way.) Her novel family was called a “Favorite Book of 2011” by Liz Burns at School Library Journal, and her illustrated novel, So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), was a
Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens. In her spare time, Ostow blogs with the National Book Award-winning literacy initiative readergirlz.com. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, her (utterly fearless) daughter, and a finicky French bulldog named Bridget Jones. Visit her online at www.micolostow.com or follow her on Twitter @micolz.