Saturday, October 25, 2014

Coffin Hop: Monsters in History

Welcome to Day 2 of Coffin Hop 2014!

** Be sure to stop by the main Coffin Hop site and visit a bunch of authors, artists, etc. Coffin Hopping through Halloween. There'll be prizes, giveaways, ghoulish fun and more!  (See all the Coffin Hop books at the bookstore. Don't forget the giveaways we have on most of our posts here. See page tab at top or side logo for day one.)

This week, I and some interesting guest authors will be talking MONSTERS

Specifically, Linda S. Godfrey, author of American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in AmericaChristian A. Larsen, author of Losing Touch; and 
W.D. Gagliani  (Wolf's Trap) are among those coming up who'll talk about their favorite monsters. You won't want to miss it!

Today, I'm talking about monsters in general.

by Christine Verstraete

Throughout history, people have created monsters to help them cope with real life.

  Think Grimm's Fairy Tales.... "moral" stories that usually had a lesson presented as an evil character, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, (see Neil Gaiman's text in this illustrated version - Hansel and Gretel Standard Edition (A Toon Graphic) or the original story of the wicked stepmother (a witch) who turns the brother into a buck in the story, "Brother and Sister."

Then there are the monsters who help humans face problems or challenge their belief systems. 

  Besides being a great horror novel, several messages can be seen in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: the story could address the fear of death, challenging God, the fear of science going too far, or other themes. 

On the surface, Bram Stoker's Dracula (download a free version

at Project Gutenberg) addresses the fear of death and the desire for immortality, but  instead of a foul, evil creature like Nosferatu, he has become a noble Count, a man of mystery, an object of desire. He is the allure of the forbidden, the lure of what is behind the curtain. 

On the other hand, the zombie is the ultimate monster. It can be viewed not only as a symbol of the death of society, or the death of humanity, it can be a symbol of a lack of faith or rejection of God. 

Or in simpler terms, it can be the thing we fear the most - the thing we cannot escape, the horror that can, and will, consume us. Un-death becomes the ultimate mockery of  life and true death.

The common denominator in these classic monsters is the authors' and people's fear of death. It is the one thing we cannot escape 

That fear is becoming even more real in places like West Africa where the ebola epidemic is raging  (4,000 dead and counting since April, see chart) ,and where fear has people being label as dead before they are, giving the illusion of coming back to life. 

You hate to bring such real life fears into Halloween. Despite its pagan background, the holiday today focuses on treats, costumes, and getting scared by spooks and monsters. It's supposed to be a fun escape, an escape from reality. 

Some, however, may choose to thumb their noses at reality by choosing the topic as their Halloween costume - dressing as aid workers, or... the disease itself, reports Reuters. (Hmm, does it seem rather hardhearted and thoughtless to make light of tragedy? Comments?

Given the news of today, there are enough real life events to get scared about. It almost makes a horde of zombies preferable.

 * For a "lighter" look at monsters and what happens when a girl turns part-zombie? Becca copes with that, and more. in Girl Z: My Life As A Teenage Zombie.

* See Monstropedia for other monsters.

* Get it while you can! Halloween gift - sale 99 cents for 24 hours to 10/26. Changes to 1.99 (still a deal!) 

 ** Please LIKE my Amazon Author page!
** Comment on your fears or favorite Halloween memory to win a copy of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie. (US shipping only.) 


  1. Tragedy and monsters often go hand in hand. Some of the most enduring monsters have tragic elements; creatures like werewolves or Frankenstein's monster have a air of sadness to their stories.

  2. How true; And no one is more tragic than Larry Talbot The Wolf Man

  3. I think the best horror plays on your fears so if I had to choose to reveal one of my weaknesses, it would be Spiders! Now go watch Arachnophobia or Eight Legged Freaks!!

  4. trick-o-treating with friends

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  5. I don't have a specific memory that is my favorite, but I can remember going trick or treating with my cousins. There were 4 of us, all girls, with 3 years between us. We were like the 4 Musketeers when we were kids. We did everything together. I can remember when we were finally old enough to go by ourselves up the street. We were too scared to go up to the first couple of houses, but the candy craving caused us to cave in. We had so much fun together growing up.