Sunday, October 16, 2011

Author Interview with Chris Kullstroem

Chris at Loch Ness.
Joining me today is Chris Kullstroem. Chris is going to talk about the books that she has written including her latest publication, Deadly Roles, and of course, about Halloween as well. 

1. Please tell me about the books you've published and what led you to write them? 
My first publication, Making a Monstrous Halloween, was inspired after years of painfully hearing people say that Halloween was a children’s holiday. Whenever I heard this, I knew what people were really saying: that they didn’t know how to celebrate Halloween beyond trick-or-treating. In 2005, I wrote a few articles for Halloween websites describing ways that adults could celebrate Halloween. They included making themed yard displays and turning them into walk-through displays and home haunts, planning monster-themed parties, weekend outings and holding fall festivals in the community. With each article I wrote, more ideas came to me and I got more excited about sharing them with other Halloween buffs out there. I knew I wanted to put together a whole book of ways adults could celebrate the holiday, not just in September and October but throughout the year. I wrote the first half of Monstrous Halloween with events for the Halloween season, and the second half for ways to celebrate “the spirit of Halloween” the rest of the year. This included activities like Full Moon parties, dark-themed vacations, murder mystery parties, graveyard explorations and ghost hunting. 

My next book, Monster Parties and Games, developed from Monstrous Halloween. Its “Party Nights” chapter was one of my favorites to work on, and I wanted to create more games for people to have Halloween-themed party nights throughout the year. I chose my favorite horror, science fiction and dark comedy films and created games based off them so players could take on roles of the characters in the films. I started with card games and board games and expanded on to murder mystery parties and other role-playing games with detailed character descriptions. The interactive games were also Halloween-based in that readers were given suggestions for decorating their house in haunted attraction-like atmospheres.

My latest book, Deadly Roles, is another series of interactive games that allows readers to do this. Only with these party games, players are also given background stories to learn about myths, legends and dark history that have contributed to modern-day Halloween customs. They include the plague, death rites, witchcraft superstitions, underworld legends and alchemy. The dark settings that readers can create for the games include a house of plague survivors, a witch’s home, funeral home, cemetery, a house in the Underworld, an alchemist’s laboratory and the home of a paranormal investigator.

2. Why Halloween?  Tell me what you love about it?
I’ve loved Halloween since I was a kid. My favorite memories of trick-or-treating are approaching the neighborhood houses that went all-out with decorations. There would be jack-o-lanterns along the walkways, cemeteries throughout the yard, monster pin-ups in the windows and the owners would come to the door as witches, scarecrows or classic monsters. Some even pretended to be stuffed dummies on their porch until we came to the door and they suddenly jumped to life and scared us. Those people completely transformed the neighborhood into a magical world of play pretend for the kids and our parents. As an adult, I love being able to delve into that magical world in all kinds of ways: going to haunted attractions and horror theme parks, going on ghost tours and to the seasonal Halloween stores, and putting together big displays at home and for the gang at work.

3. What challenges did you encounter when writing/researching your book?
When I was researching Monstrous Halloween, I was really surprised that there weren’t other books out there that focused on what I was trying to do: provide adults with ways to celebrate Halloween outside the realm of trick-or-treating with their kids. There were a few books on the history of the holiday and dozens on children’s crafts, but pretty much nothing strictly for adults. I specifically wanted adults to be able to enjoy Halloween as much as they did when they were kids – especially since for adults, the options are limitless! But I decided that this shouldn’t be seen as a challenge, but as an opportunity to put something like that out there. Doing research for Deadly Roles was pretty much the same thing: there are plenty of murder mystery game kits available, but none that allow readers to transform their house like they do for Halloween. So I was also glad that I could provide something like that to haunters and Halloween buffs.

4. What were some of the most interesting things you've discovered? 
 The best thing I discovered through researching and writing about Halloween is how much joy it brings to people who are passionate about it. Growing up, I sometimes felt like an outsider because none of my friends thought about Halloween all year like I did. But when I began meeting with haunt owners in my early 20’s, I met people who were as excited about it as I was, and there was a big comfort in that. Haunters and Halloween enthusiasts have a very close bond and understanding for one another. That connection got me more excited writing about Halloween than anything else. I loved knowing that what I was writing was specifically directed towards an entire community that loved to celebrate Halloween - not just in October but year-round.

5.  What will you be doing this Halloween?
On Halloween night, I always look forward to seeing trick-or-treaters approach my house with the same wide eyes I had as a kid. Each weekend in October I eagerly run to haunted houses, go on ghost tours and enjoy other monstrous outings, but Halloween night means getting to bring that magical world that I indulge in all year to the neighborhood. The best part is when kids completely look past the cauldron of candy in front of them because they’re captivated by the monsters, graveyard and glowing pumpkins all around them. I can only hope that my house has a lasting effect on them in the way the houses in my hometown did on me. With any luck, they’re future Halloween enthusiasts in the making!

Happy Halloween Chris and thank you so much for this wonderful interview! I agree that Halloween people have a close bond with each other.

To purchase any of Chris's titles from B&N click HERE.
To purchase any of Chris's titles from Amazon click HERE.

Chris is the author of Making a Monstrous Halloween, Monster Parties and Games and Deadly Roles: Interactive Games of Murder and Mystery. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2004 with a degree in English and Philosophy and is currently working towards a Masters in Philosophy. She lives in Norwich, CT and her website can be found at


Missie, The Unread Reader said...

These books like they provide very creative ways to celebrate Halloween. I'm always looking for adult ways to relive my childhood. LOL

Thanks for the interview.

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

These books sound great! I'm bookmarking her site. =O)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview! I never really stopped to think about the fact that there isn't a lot out there for adults. I'll have to look into her books! I know a lot of adults in my area have tons of fun with Halloween--making their backyards into pseudo-haunted houses is one of my favorite things!

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