How I Spend My Halloween: Hailey Piper

banner reading How I Spend My Halloween

If you know anything about Cemetery Dance, you know that the arrival of October…The Spooky Season…is a very special time of year for us. To celebrate, we’ve invited some of our favorite spinners of spooky tales to share their favorite Halloween traditions and memories with us.

Today we’re joined by Hailey Piper, who is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Queen of TeethThe Worm and His KingsYour Mind Is a Terrible ThingUnfortunate Elements of My Anatomy, Benny Rose, the Cannibal King, and The Possession of Natalie Glasgow. She lives with her wife in Maryland, where their mad science experiments are secret.

(Interview conducted by Blu Gilliand)

photo of author Hailey Piper
Hailey Piper

CEMETERY DANCE: When does the Halloween season begin for you?

HAILEY PIPER: Horror folk are often celebrating spooky stuff all year, but Halloween is a special time since everyone else gets in on it. For me, it begins on the first day of autumn. The moment the calendar turns and that wind starts in, we’re firmly in Halloween time all the way to that first November morning.
What are some Halloween traditions you observe each year?
Much of the yearly celebrating comes in what we watch and read. It’s become difficult these days to join parties, hayrides, and haunted houses, but we make the yearly trek to a Spirit Halloween; its wonders only open this season.
Do you decorate your home? A lot or a little? 

I have horror stuff up year-round, so it can be difficult to distinguish, but we try to add a few autumn colors and spooky bits to the existing monstrosities.

Do you dress up each year? If so, what’s your favorite costume you’ve worn?
Not anymore, unfortunately, but back when I did, I think my favorite costume was as a grim reaper. There was a veil inside the hood to hide my face, which made it extra spooky.
What is your favorite Halloween memory?
There was a haunted hayride up in New York one year that would travel out at night. And while it had the usual people in masks or side road skits, a moment that awed me was when we were passing a field where three giant glow-in-the-dark skeletons were sitting. As the truck was passing, one of them bounded to its feet and chased after us. It was a giant marionette puppeted by someone in black below so they blended in at night. It was a wonder and I loved it.
What stories, books, and movies best encapsulate Halloween for you?
hailey piper's decorations
Photo courtesy of Hailey Piper

I’m supposed to say The Nightmare Before Christmas, but I kind of see that as a Christmas movie (it’s the holiday the characters focus on). Certainly the original Halloween feels rich in the holiday. Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree is a crash course both on the holiday and humanity’s association with death. Also the anthology Haunted Nights, edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton.

Do you have stories, books or movies that you watch every year?
My wife and I ring in autumn and the spooky season each year with the 2013 mini-series Over the Garden Wall. Its autumn aesthetics, monsters, themes, and parable quality about death and thin spaces makes it a perfect Halloween time opener. We often watch The VVitch this time of year, though not every single October.
Since we’re talking about Halloween: what’s your favorite movie in the Halloween franchise?
Probably the most predictable answer, but the original Halloween. It’s a comfort movie, even something I put on when I’m sick. But I also really enjoy Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
Have you written any fiction or nonfiction involving Halloween?
Oh yes! My book Benny Rose the Cannibal King from Unnerving Books is my love letter to the holiday, about teen girls, a prank gone wrong, and a ghostly urban legend come to life. And there are a couple short stories, like “Demons of Particular Taste” in my collection Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy, where a woman possessed by a demon seeks her girlfriend’s unorthodox help. Autumn and Halloween are a ripe time for ghost stories.
What projects are you working on currently, and what are some recent releases of yours you’d like to tell people about?
Right now I’m working on a few short stories, editing a novel A Light Most Hateful coming from Titan Books in 2023, and working on a new book about a haunted seaside town. And most recently my horror, noir, dark fantasy novel No Gods for Drowning released from Polis Books.

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