Stories for a Walk in the Woods


No better inspiration for spooky stories than a walk in the woods in the fall

I went for a walk yesterday morning in a park nearby my house. It’s a pleasant little park, long lanes up to a small castle (there are zillions in the CR) and crooked paths through the woods. The ground was padded with golden, yellow, and red leaves. What was left on the trees was still colorful as well, so the place was eerily inviting.  

Given the choice of walking on a patted-down lane or a forest path, I chose the forest path. Again, really just a meandering lane that doesn’t get too far from the main road. I walked for a while and just took in the crisp air, the blue sky. I am thinking about stories today. More specifically, the stories I want to read at Halloween.  

I am a very moody reader. Around Christmas time I want funny stories about dysfunctional families. It’s the time of year I deal with the joys and stresses of family, so that’s what I feel I can relate to then. In the spring and summer I want a good adventure novel. It’s because this time of year is when I want to go on an adventure myself. So the idea of Huck pushing off on a raft or Frodo and Sam stepping off towards Mordor have real appeal to me.

In autumn, it’s mystery and spookiness. It’s getting darker daily, the air is crisper and the warm comforting time of year is at an end. I want stories that poke at my anxieties and which force me to leave my comfort zone. I want to read about places called Sleepy Hollow and Godric’s Hollow and Haddonfield.

Not only does it dictate what I want to read, but also what I want to write. As I wander these leafy back paths with swaying trees I see visions of quaint cottages with a secret and potential stories of adventurers, ghosts, and rogues. It’s these stories that first attracted me to writing when I was young and I constructed fairylands in closets and had some boys’ forest tree fort under attack by legless forest ghouls.

It’s no doubt that part of the joy of autumn and Halloween comes from the freedom. It’s the time and one day a year when we are encouraged to give in to our natural wonder and fantasy, to be what we want, to allow ourselves to be taken on adventures. We wear masks and talk to strangers, we take candy from them. Perhaps most astonishingly, we open our doors to strangers wearing masks and give them candy.

Everyone who writes learned at some point that it involved more than writing out a story. That’s at the base of it, for sure, but there comes a time when they realize there’s more happening that simply a nice little story. While this is true, I at times feel as though I have had that wonder of storytelling beaten out of me by the professional realities of writing.

So with this wonder, spookiness and mystery in mind I sat down and wrote a story. I wrote what I wanted. I allowed the story to take me for a ride and I didn’t worry about or consider publication at all (none of my short fiction gets published anyway).

The result is a novelette called The Second Ghost. It’s a take on Dickens’ Christmas Carol but at Halloween, which I always thought would be a fun tweak on the original story. The story is told from the perspective of the Ghost of Halloween Past (the Second Ghost). I always wondered what happened to those ghosts when they finished with Scrooge. I also felt awful for Jacob Marley. So I guess The Second Ghost comes from wanting to help all lost souls at this fantastical time of year. You can buy it at the hyperlink on the title, it’s a buck. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

And even if you don’t read it, do take a walk on some leafy path in the forest and think about all the stories you want to read and write and the adventures that you want to take.

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