What frightens you and how does it influence your writing?
Both of us have always enjoyed hearing and telling good spooky stories. It was a basic part of our growing up experience. We don’t remember a time when we weren’t telling spine chilling tales. We vividly recall lying awake for hours as children after hearing a horrifying saga told right at bed time; thinking that every creaking noise, every whisper of the wind, was the latest monster coming to eat us alive.
Once, as small children, we heard some mysterious thing scratching on the window screen of our bedroom, which was an extra room, shared by three brothers, built on the back of the house. All of us dived under the beds, screaming for help. Turns out, it was our mom, bringing clothes in from the line, who had stopped to pick up a stick to scrape across our window screen.
Our mom was not above scaring her own children, or anyone else for that matter. Once, when still a newlywed, she snuck up the basement stairs and flung the kitchen door open, shouting “BOO!” startling her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and two-year-old niece. Grandma Washburn was not fond of such hijinks. Pointing an accusing finger at my mother, Grandma exclaimed, “For Shame!” By the time my father got there to see what was going on, everyone in the room was in tears.
That did not cure my mother though. She loved to scare anyone and everyone. One Halloween when Andy was in junior high, an older brother and sister, Allen and Linda, received permission to throw a Halloween party for their high school friends. There were treats, soda, and games in which all could participate. But the culmination of the party, its climax, was a scary story told by Mom. It was a story our mother made up on her own, as she often did. She said she woke up at about 2:00 am and the story just came to her as she lie in bed.
Andy recalls the story had to do with a band of outlaws that terrorized our high-desert countryside during the nineteenth century. The way Mom told it, the ghosts of those outlaws were still plundering and pillaging. She told several snippets about people running into the ghosts and the results of their awful meetings, like something about a man hanging by his feet from the ceiling with half his head missing.
Mom sat on the hearth of the fireplace. All the teenagers, about twenty or so, sat on the floor around her feet. The lights were off. Only a few rays from the outside streetlight found their way into the room. Telling the story in a hushed, grim voice, as if every word was true, Mom spoke as if she were sounding a deadly-serious warning.
Soon, some girls started to whimper. The boys were “obviously” too brave to complain, but at one point, an older boy suddenly got up and left the room. He didn’t come back until the story was over. One girl called out during the story, claiming she saw someone sneaking by the windows. Of course, when she hollered, everyone else did too, even though they didn’t know why.
She was correct! She had seen Allen sneaking around the side of the house to where he had unlocked a window. Just when Mom reached the zenith of horror in the story, Allen opened the window and started to climb into the house. He was wearing a full-head mask, colored with glow marks along the dark-red gore painted on the distorted face.
The screaming and crying was glorious. Even some guys screamed. Finally, one yelled, “It’s Allen! It’s Allen! I know it’s Allen!”
It took a minute to get everyone calmed down. By the time Allen removed his mask, many had tears streaming down their faces.
How much fun was that? The best Halloween EVER!
So, you could say our love for scary stories is nothing more than a chromosomal phenomenon. However we came by our fascination for horror stories, we love them, and hope to keep telling them for a long, long time. If Mom were still here, she would be so proud.
About Mojave Green
Mojave Green will be available October 7th.
About The Brothers Washburn
Each has authored legal materials and professional articles, but after years of wandering in the wastelands of the law, their lifelong love of fiction, especially fantasy, science fiction and horror, brought them back together to write a new young adult horror series, beginning with Pitch Green and later Mojave Green. They have found there yet remain many untold wonders to be discovered in the unbounded realms of the imagination, especially as those realms unfold in the perilous wastelands of the Dimensions in Death.
You can find them on their blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.