Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hallopalooza Day 3: Guest Blogger Melissa Francis Says "Fangs for the Memories"

I was an avid reader as a child. By junior high, I was reading adult books because I hated the condescending tone of most of the YA out there. I just wanted to be entertained. I wanted mystery, I wanted romance, and sometimes I wanted to be a little scared.

A friend of mine turned me on to Stephen King with The Talisman. I was intrigued by the 12-year-old protagonist, the concept of traveling between parallel worlds, and the size of the book. At 748 pages, it would be by far the largest book ever for me at that time.

I devoured that story. In less than 3 days I was begging my mom for more Stephen King. And so my new obsession started.

I read and read and read, never tiring of King’s tales. Carrie, The Stand, The Shining, Cujo, Christine, The Dead Zone…I couldn’t stop.

One day my friend handed me a King book I hadn’t read before: Salem’s Lot. My heart stopped when I read the title.

No, I hadn’t read Salem’s Lot, but, at 10 years old, I had tried to watch the miniseries. And it had scared the bejeezus out of me. Actually, I had to stop watching it after this scene:

But I was up for the challenge. I loved Stephen King books. Sure it would be scary, but so was The Shining, and I had read that one twice. Reading Salem’s Lot would be like eating cake.

I took the book and was immediately pulled into the story. Until the beginning of chapter 12...

"Something had awakened him. He lay still in the ticking dark, looking at the ceiling. A noise. Some noise. But the house was silent. There it was again. Scratching. Mark Petrie turned over in bed and looked through the window and Danny Glick was staring in at him through the glass, his skin grave-pale, his eyes reddish and feral. Some dark substance was smeared about his lips and chin, and when he saw Mark looking at him, he smiled and showed teeth grown hideously long and sharp. 'Let me in,' the voice whispered, and Mark was not sure if the words had crossed dark air or were only in his mind."

Now, the excerpt itself wasn't that scary. What had me freaking out was the scratching on my window.

Scritch, scritch, scritch

I tried to ignore it and read on but there it was again.

Scritch, scritch, scritch

I couldn't make myself get out of bed and look outside. I was sure it was the wind, but the scratching was so patterned, so deliberate there was only one explanation. Danny Glick was after me.

Immediately, I threw the book across the room. And here it is 25 years (give or take a year) later and I still haven't finished Salem's Lot.

The irony of all this? I write YA Vampire fiction. Oh yeah. It's true. I'm a glutton for self-inflicted punishment.

My YA debut BITE ME! will hit the shelves in time for Halloween 2009. I can't promise there won't be a few creepy moments, but I can promise you a snarky teenage vampire heroine who would rather worry about not kissing her ex-boyfriend turned step-brother than where she's gonna get her next dose of hemoglobin.

You can find out more about Melissa Francis and her books online at:

BITE ME! HarperCollins, Fall 2009
LOVE SUCKS! HarperCollins, Spring 2010

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Blogger Kristen Painter said...

I can't read Stephen King or watch his movies. Unless they're the unscary ones like Green Mile or Hearts in Atlantis.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 9:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Mel Francis said...

it's funny...cuz I'm a bit of a chicken now. I'm not sure I could reread The Shining or IT (ew clowns) without having nightmares for weeks. But as a kid, I ate that up...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 9:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Cinde said...

I always liked his book of short stories with Cat's Eye and Trucks (remember the Emilio Estevez movie Maximun Overdrive?!) and of course I like Pet Cemetray when my pals told me is was lame. Can't wait to read your book!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 9:37:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jia Gayles said...

Stephen King has always given me the heebie jeebies. If you want to keep you kid from being Coulrophobic (thanks wikipedia)...don't let them watch "It." Bleech. Clowns.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 9:43:00 AM EDT  
Blogger MariaGeraci said...

Your post is scaring me! All that scratching and stuff. Stephen King would be proud of you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 9:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Wendy Toliver said...

I was asked to read an excerpt from Carrie for a writers' conf and I loved getting into her character. I've read SK here and there but I do want to read more someday. Fun post, Mel. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 10:00:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Deb Logan said...

Oooo...great post, Mel. I've got goose bumps all over!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 10:24:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Adelle said...

My 13 year old daughter is trying to convince me she's ready for Steven King. She's an avid reader. I think I'll let her read this post and ask her if she really is ready LOL Great post! Happy Holloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 10:49:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Mel Francis said...

Cinde, one of my clearest memories is when undead Rachel opened the kitchen door...Pet Cemetery was one of my favorite books. But it sure skeeved me out!

Jia, I'm with you on IT. I hate clowns with a passion and it became worse after I watched the movie. (of course, I watched the movie knowing it was about a creepy clown...I had already read the book. I iz not smart.)

Thx Maria. I think King should be proud of himself for freaking me out.

Wendy, there's some really good King out there. Pet Cemetery is one of my favorites and it ranks high on the creep-o-meter.

Thx for stopping by Deb!

Adelle, there's some really good NON-Scary King out there. My 10 year old is a voracious reader, and I'm letting him read The Stand. Might be a good place to start for your teen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 10:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger sm2 said...

Stephen King is responsible for so many fears I still carry with me...drains, clowns, dead pets coming out of the grave! I can't read his stuff anymore.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 10:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Gerb said...

I love Stephen King. He is the master of making the mundane terrifying.

That scene from Salem's Lot would be laughable (the corny floating and overwrought music) but that skritching!!!! Makes my insides curdle! No wonder you never read past that scene.

Adelle, King's short stories are suitably creepy without being overly frightening. You might let your daughter dig into those.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 11:28:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Chi said...

Okay, now I'm freaked out by that scene. I too became enamored with the King early on and I did enjoy Salem's Lot -- Sure, vampires make great heros, but oh, the days when vampires were just plain bad. I miss them sometimes. :)

Looking forward to the timely Halloween release!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 11:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Louisa Edwards said...

The only Stephen King I've ever read was his book on writing, which was wonderful. Yes, I'm a bit of a puss. But that won't stop me from devouring Bite Me!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 11:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Crystal Jordan said...

I'm such a wimp, I've never been able to pick up anything by King. You're a braver woman than me!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 12:09:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Keri Ford said...

Mel, I'm so happy for you! Congrats and I love your titles...but you can keep your King! *shudder*

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 12:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Lillian Feisty said...

Me, too Louisa. I read his book on writing, but then the whole accident thing freaked me out...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 12:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Pamk said...

I either love or hate SK books just depends lol. But you book sounds like fun.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 12:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kate Pearce said...

I can't stand to be scared so no creepy movies or Stephen King for me! The only book I've read of his is "On Writing' which strangely enough I loved!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 12:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Arkansas Cyndi said...

I can't read Stephen King. Haven't read him in a long time. Nightmares and I have an agreement. No scary books. No visits from the nightmare monster! :)

and Mel, you MUST MUST MUST go do this.

http://www.kensavag maze-game- challenge/

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 1:02:00 PM EDT  
OpenID melissablue13 said...

I've read On Writing and that's the only Stephen King I'll read.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 2:52:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous gwen hayes said...

I hear Danny Glick is still looking for you, actually.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 3:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Mel Francis said...

Thanks everybody for stopping by! Wanna hear something funny...On Writing is one of the few King books that I haven't read. LOL

And Gwenny...that's not very nice. I'm going to have nightmares tonight. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 4:36:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Dana Belfry said...

I haven't read Stephen King since IT. (Scared the heck out of me).

And I'm with Kristen. I prefer my stephen king awesome like Shawshank Redemption.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 4:42:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous RFLong said...

I had a similar experience reading Pet Semitary as a teen. And I still freak out over IT.

Going to crawl under the duvet now... *brr*

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 4:54:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Lia Morgan said...

I watched my first vampire movie before I could read. The House of Dark Shadows, appropriate since my mother actually named me after a character from the show.

I read Bram Stoker's Dracula when I was 10. Salem's Lot at eleven. I have to admit that one scared the crap out of me. Since then I have pretty much read every book and watched every movie about vampires produced in the English language.

Is it really any wonder that I write about them? Or that while picking out my Halloween costume today, that I picked up one that can be accessorized with fangs. Which I also happen to own.

But you are right, the "scritch, scritch" gets me every time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 5:32:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Katie Alender said...

The same thing happened to me when I tried to watch "The Day of the Triffids" in college. My air conditioner started making a noise it had never made before, and it sounded exactly like a blood-sucking plant dragging itself through my apartment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 8:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Marley Gibson said...

The only Stephen King I ever read was THE STAND and still, to this day, any time anyone sniffs anywhere near me, I get a little skeeved out. LOL! = )

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 9:34:00 PM EDT  

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