Guest Post – Point Horror and Haunted Houses by Alex Bell
Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s? The Point Horror Series was a series of young adult point horror books and was launched in 1991 by Scholastic always with the Point Horror banner on the spine and on the top of every point horror book. There were a number of authors that wrote these books for Scholastic: R L Stine, Diane Hoh, Caroline B Cooney, Sinclair Smith to name but a few.
They were basically what I was reading and enjoying as a young adult and thanks to the author Juno Dawson, who started #PointHorrorBookClub on her website in 2013, I have started to re-read these books that I used to rush to the shops every weekend and buy and sit for the whole weekend reading.
Juno announced in January 2015 that she was no longer able to carry on #pointhorrorbookclub and with her blessing I am going to try and carry it on with version 2! Juno has done a fantastic job – I hope I can keep up her good work *gulps*
For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new please click here
I know lots of people who hold Point Horror close to their hearts and one of those people is author Alex Bell ! I asked Alex if she would like to do a guest post for us all about her love for all things Point Horror! She has kindly agreed!
Check out Alex’s YA Horror read – Frozen Charlotte which is part of a new YA Horror series called Red Eye with Point Horror similarities! It’s awesome!
Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lillias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died. Alex Bell’s chilling novel is part of the Red Eye series, perfect for fans of James Dawson’s Say Her Name and Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood.
It’s very exciting to have Alex here on Tales…I feel very honoured…so thank you so much Alex!
*Hands microphone to Alex*
Point Horror and Haunted Houses
Like many 90s kids, I absolutely loved the Point Horror series as a teenager. There was always something thrilling about starting a new one – the anticipation of freaking yourself out, reading at home all alone, eagerly hoping for horrors within the pages. I didn’t come to Stephen King until much later so these books were my first taste of scary novels.
Whilst writing Frozen Charlotte, I re-read some of the tatty old paperbacks I still had on my shelf, and Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick, was still an effectively spooky, hugely enjoyable read – probably my favourite one of the series.
The story centres around a girl called Martha who moves to a new town and, as soon as she sees the house where she’s going to live, she gets a strong sense of evil from it. This is particularly the case in one of the upstairs rooms, and she later finds out that someone was murdered there.
The whole concept really strikes a chord with me. Moving house is a strange thing. Your home is meant to be the most familiar, safest place in the world but, when you first move somewhere new, there’s that weird alien feeling that lingers for a while until you get properly settled in. When I first moved house at thirteen I had nightmares for a while afterwards about discovering old blood stains under the carpets, or somehow finding out that someone had been ghoulishly murdered in one of the upstairs rooms.
There’s something particularly creepy about the idea that the haunted threat occurs in the place where you actually live because there’s no easy escape from that. You can’t just remove yourself from the haunted location and go home when you are already home.
At university I studied Law, and whilst everyone else was exploring sensible topics for their dissertation (most of them fiendishly dull) – like court remedies for breach of fiduciary duty, or how to combat online copyright infringement, or deal with shared residence orders – I decided, instead, to look at haunted houses and how property law deals with the possibility of the existence of ghosts. The American case of Stambovsky v Ackley (otherwise known as the “Ghostbusters ruling”) saw the New York Supreme Court uphold an appeal brought by the buyer of a house who objected to the seller’s failure to warn him that the property was haunted. The sale was rescinded as a result, and a new buyer had to be found for the house. I find this fascinating as it almost seems to be a recognition by the court that ghosts do, in fact, exist. After all, if there’s no such thing as ghosts, then how can a seller be penalised for failing to warn someone of them?
I’m sure many people would be unnerved by the thought of moving into a house where something terrible occurred, and Trick or Treat plays on this fear brilliantly. It’s a familiar concept, but I’m also a sucker for stories where a character arrives somewhere new and meets lots of strange and unusual people. When Martha arrives at the house, she has to share it with her new step-brother, Connor, who she is only just getting to know, and isn’t sure if she likes. There’s also a host of new kids at school, all of whom have more knowledge about the historic murder than Martha does, and, of course, we know that any one of them could be the actual killer.
This kind of format reminds me of gothic mysteries in the style of Victoria Holt or Daphne du Maurier – and definitely played a part in shaping Frozen Charlotte. As well as generous lashings of horror, Trick or Treat also has mystery, suspense, a dash of romance – and interesting characters that you really come to care about.
There’s an Octavio Paz quote that says: “A writer is the descendant of other writers.” I absolutely believe this is true. My ideas for my own books are born, to some extent, from all those books I’ve read before. I’ve always thought of the Red Eye titles as being a little messed up family – and if they are like siblings to each other, then surely they are also the demented grandchildren of the original Point Horror novels too.
About Alex Bell
Alex Bell was born in 1986. She always wanted to be a writer but had several different back-up plans to ensure she didn’t end up in the poor house first. For some years these ranged from dolphin trainer to animal shelter vet but then, at fifteen, she had an epiphany involving John and Robert Kennedy and decided to become a lawyer instead.
To that end she eagerly started a Law degree. Whilst at university, she wrote a grand total of six complete novels (admittedly there was not much of a social life during this time). The second book got her an agent with Carolyn Whitaker of London Independent Books but, unfortunately, not a publisher. The third book, written during her first summer holidays off from university, found a home with Gollancz. The Ninth Circle came out in April 2008 with possibly the most beautiful cover ever created. Since then she has published novels and short stories for both adults and young adults.
After deciding to use her Law degree for good, instead of for evil, she also works as an advisor for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Most of her spare time consists of catering to the whims of her Siamese cat.
Find out more about Alex on her website here
Or why not follow her on twitter using @Alex_Bell86
Check out my review of Frozen Charlotte here
Or a previous creepy Q&A with Alex Bell here
#RedEyeReadAlong Guest Post by Alex Bell here
Why not join in Point Horror Book Club and the discussion on the 13th of every month?
Don’t forget to use the #pointhorrorbookclub on twitter so I can see your thoughts or tweet me using @chelleytoy
Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on the re-read? Are you new to Point Horror? Has our opinion changed? Are they still as good? Do they stand up to modern day YA Horror? Or are the a whole load of cray cray?
You can find all #PointHorrorBookClub posts old and new here
A huge huge thank you to Alex for featuring on Tales and a huge round of applause for such a fab guest post!
*claps hands excitedly*
Do you remember Point Horror? Which was your favourite? Would you like to join in on #pointhorrorbookclub ?
Happy Point Horror-ing!