How I Spend My Halloween: Stephen Graham Jones

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 Stephen Graham Jones, whose novel My Heart is a Chainsaw took the horror genre by storm last year and will, in true slasher tradition, be followed by at least two sequels.

(Interview conducted by Blu Gilliand)

photo of author Stephen Graham Jones
Stephen Graham Jones

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


What are some Halloween traditions you observe each year?

I usually dive into one of the horror franchises, burn through whatever series — all the Halloweens, Friday the 13ths, Elm Streets, Screams. Or, if they’re all still too fresh, if I’ve been already watching them, I’ll cue up a lot of haunted house movies, or possession ones.

Do you decorate your home? A lot or a little? 

A lot. We’re the Halloween house on our block. Got a thirteen-foot skeleton, a Nightcrawler animatronic that lunges out at anyone who comes close, and skeletons and the like hanging all over the place.

Do you dress up each year? If so, what’s your favorite costume you’ve worn? 

When Halloween’s on a weekday, I dress up for class. When it’s not, I dress up anyway. I have so many masks, so many costumes. But the one I always come back to is Jason Voorhees. I like looking at the world like a pissed-off goalie.

What is your favorite Halloween memory?

Where I grew up, there used to be an abandoned convent. When I was about twelve, we snuck onto the grounds, were messing around in the cemetery, scaring ourselves, when this tall white dude jumped out from behind a headstone. And, I say “white” not because he was, but because this dude was seriously pale. And about six and a half feet tall. It was the best jumpscare ever. And once we recognized him — he was two or three years ahead of us in school — it got even scarier, as this dude was not someone to trust. Being alone with him in any place without teachers or coaches or parents . . . anything could happen. Luckily, that night it didn’t. Other nights, though, we maybe weren’t so lucky.

Are there any local (or national) haunts/tours/haunted houses you attend or would like to attend during the Halloween season?

I go to a lot of the haunted house attractions around Boulder and Denver, each season. Though, since I usually go with my kids, and they’re both now in their twenties, are out doing their own things . . . I don’t know. It’s more fun with someone, right?

What stories, books, and movies best encapsulate Halloween for you?

All the spooky ones. I often fall back into The Shining around October, I guess.

Do you have stories, books or movies that you watch every year?

Still from "Mr. Monk Goes Home"
“Mr. Monk Goes Home”

I always dial up the “Mr. Monk Goes Home Again” episode of Monk. It’s set on Halloween night, and’s a wonderful little cozy mystery. You probably have to know the series and the character to really lose yourself in that episode, I guess. But? I do. Always works for me.

Since we’re talking about Halloween: what’s your favorite movie in the Halloween franchise?

Hard call, wow. Probably 1978. But I really like Halloween Kills, too. And 2018. Excited for Halloween Ends.

Have you written any fiction or nonfiction involving Halloween?

My most recent novel, The Babysitter Lives, is set the night before Halloween. Done a few stories, too. “Thirteen” is Halloween, I think. “Universal Monsters” for sure is — think that one’s in a Cemetery Dance anthology, October Dreams II.

What projects are you working on currently, and what are some recent releases of yours you’d like to tell people about?

Just wrapped the third in the My Heart is a Chainsaw trilogy. Can’t say the title yet. Don’t Fear the Reaper, the second Chainsaw book, is out February 7th. The Babysitter Lives, read by Isabella Star LeBlanc, just came out in August. My comic book with IDW, Earthdivers, is out here in October.

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