“The Mothman is coming to get you.”
From first recollection, these are the words that once haunted me. Most would substitute the above phrase with the words, “Barbara, they’re coming to get you,” and it would have the same effect on them as this did on me. But not I–It was the Mothman who was oftentimes inflicted upon me, not zombies.
The above stated quote comes from my own experiences as a nine year old girl. The setting was a darkened car on a road trip with family; I was sitting in the back seat near the window. The words themselves came from my father, who was in the driver’s side seat. I’m quite certain my mother must have been giggling from the passenger side, but being filled with terror I couldn’t possibly remember everybody’s reaction. At the same time, I’m pretty certain that my massive squirming around the backseat left my siblings ready to give me to the Mothman at any time. Alas, even more terrifying words echoed out from the front seat.
“Christine, did you know that the Mothman usually goes for any children sitting near the window?” my father would ask.
At that, I would immediately squirm out of my seatbelt and jump in between my two less-than-amused older siblings. My mother and father were probably giggling up front. No, by now, I’m certain it was full-blown laughter. Once they saw that I had switched seats, despite thinking I was now safe, the words would continue.
“Oh, I must have been mistaken,” my father would say, “The Mothman usually goes for whoever sits in the middle seat of the car.”
As you can imagine, I squirmed out of the middle, trying to find a place of safety and solace. This went on and on for quite a bit of time from what I recall. Most families might play games regarding license plate associations or sing PG-rated family tunes in the car. Oh, not my family. Actually, this sort of teasing went on and on no matter where we would vacation. Whether we were driving through West Virginia and the Mothman was the subject of the scare or if it was to Fort Ligonier, where the headless horseman and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow would surface; or on road trips out to Montana, where we were frequently told that giants lived in all of the green forests on the way and that we just couldn’t see them because the trees were too high.
This terror and the imagery was, in part, an actual blessing for me. Most parents tend to censor their children at an early age, but I am quite thankful that mine did not. Now, I have all of these early beginnings to look back on and be thankful for because they made me into a woman of horror.
Despite the memories of the past, I feel that they were an essential and enormous expansion of the imagination. In addition, those moments have essentially left me far less than terrified of monsters. From this early age, I was also granted permission to actually watch these horror films and, at such an early age, I spent a great deal of time watching them, most notably Nightmare on Elm Street, Fright Night, Dark Shadows, Critters and so many more.
Another vivid memory of mine occurred at a sleepover that I once attended with about a dozen other girls my age. At that time, I was approximately ten years of age and I recall telling my friends a scary story. At the end of it, most of the other girls were crying and terrified. When I look back at it now, I do not think I was even trying to scare any of them; it was just simply natural for me to tell a story like that. I almost feel bad now for not realizing that others hadn’t grown up in a similar way, but at the time, I just simply hadn’t thought anything of it.
As the years continued on, I never strayed from my addiction to fiction. Even in my early teenage years, our aunt introduced us to books that were probably a bit too old for us. These exceptionally long books were predominantly by Dean Koontz and Stephen King. By the age of thirteen, I had read a great many books by Dean Koontz, many of which I can still recall in detail. This imagery also assisted in shaping what would later become my own desire to be an author. I recall that at times, when I was sitting in class, I would think of some of the stories in the books I had just read. They were so much more exciting to me than anything else in the classroom. I even recall the day when my teacher asked me about one of the books I was reading. I told her that it talked about the end of the world. She said, “Oh, no honey, that’s not real, it’s just in the book.” I vividly remember stopping and in that moment thinking, “I do know this.”
I wasn’t quite a smartass, but I was a teenager and did know the difference between what I was reading and what existed in real life. Stories were fun, yes, but they were not real.
As I look back now, I think about how well the influx of imaginary concepts has assisted in formulating my creative side. Granted, at this stage of life, being a woman who prefers to watch horror movies over any other genre is probably a bit strange to some but I could never be anything more than grateful for who I have become.
I remember just last week, I was in class for my Science Masters when one of the students said that she was always afraid of clowns. Another student claimed that she could not watch horror movies at all. I sat there and thought about it, which was when I realized and said out loud, “Wow, I’m not afraid of any of those. Well, dolls are a bit creepy because you don’t expect them to come to life at any moment and terrify you, but really, I’m not afraid of those either.”
It was then that I shared with them my life of being conditioned in a horror-esque fashion.
When it comes to utilizing those horror skills, I wrote my first horror novel in 2003, which is entitled, The Demon’s Fog. It was the second book I ever wrote and became an experimental moment for me, as its genre also lies along the lines of supernatural thriller. Thereafter, I composed a number of others, including short story books A Dark Kaleidoscope and Estranged Decisions, which were certainly filled with my favorite things to conjure up such as witches, vampires, the devil himself and other monstrous moments. A co-created project Final Moon inevitably also came to the front through a screenplay version with Matthew T. Veltri, and a book version adapted by me. Matthew had also created a short film version of the screenplay. From there, my writing became a bit more diverse, leading into the realm of fantasy, poetry, more horror, women’s fiction, travel articles, non-fiction, environmental science and so forth. One day last summer, I was doing a reading from Final Moon at Eljay’s Used Books when I happened to read a horror phrase and then unintentionally giggled at it. Thankfully, the audience was amused by this morbid musing of the mind.
In 2010, I experienced my very first film acting experience, which occurred in a horror role for the movie A Chemical Skyline through Jason T Swinchock and E-Nertia Global. With such a fantastic experience of being dragged through a barn and inevitably eaten by a zombie, I developed an even greater love for the horror genre. From there, I also acted as an extra in Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera several months later and a short skit called How to Interview a Vampire, a creation by Fred Fleet in which I was also an extra.
But the horror doesn’t stop there. I also found horror conventions such as Horror Realm along with a whole wide network of people who love the horror genre. At times, I do want there to be even more ladies in the field, but I am thankful for those I know such as Sandy Stuhlfire of Horror Realm and Chris Rickert of Eljays Used Books. I can only hope to meet plenty more in the future.
An upcoming horror genre project to keep your eyes open for is, “Midnight Kiss,” part of the Necrology series, a film co-written by Jason T Swinchock and me. This mystical tale weaves one of the most powerful types of women into the world of horror, mixed with several other fantastic tales.
Oh and before I forget, last but not least: Happy Women In Horror Month to all! Stay scary!