Most of the time, Halloween costumes in my household were not particularly scary (they were usually random pop culture references, like the "Mac Tonight" Moon or a giant Rubik's cube I remember my parents painstakingly covering with multicolored stickers) but we got our macabre on during the rest of the year. Even well after candy corn season passed, my sisters and I (and whatever friends were around) used to make "haunted houses" in our basement. The best part was coming up with the design—we'd spend the better part of an afternoon making ghosts out of Kleenex, stringing up rubber bats and tarantulas, painting our faces to look sufficiently ghoulish. There would be some hard-boiled eggs or peeled grapes that would feel just like eyeballs and other combinations of household goop that we'd make our hapless guests touch. And always, always, a tour guide with a flashlight under the chin for mega-spookiness.
Problem was, the haunted house never ended up being as scary as I wanted to be. I felt constrained by our lack of special effects. There was no good way to replicate the Disney World Haunted Mansion's stretching paintings, for instance. And most of the time one of us would crack up before we could jump out of the darkness to truly freak anyone out. Either that or someone would end up crying. But it was all good morbid fun.
My debut young adult novel PRETTY CROOKED (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins) will be released in March 2012. Even though I had to extensively research pickpocketing techniques to write it, I remain a law-abiding citizen. I live in Philadelphia with my husband Jesse and cat Beau a.k.a. Bread. When I'm not writing for teens, I'm cooking and/or writing about food for The Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications. I'm a proud member of The Apocalypsies.