Plus, hidden gems about the Civil Rights Movement ✊🏾
|Hi there! Is there anything spookier than a haunted house? How about a malevolent puppet? For readers who can’t handle evil dolls, we’re highlighting Civil Rights Era historical fiction you might’ve missed.|
|Haunted Houses, Haunted Families |
When her parents die unexpectedly, Louise is forced to leave her daughter with her ex and fly back across the country to deal with the family and the house she’s been avoiding for a decade. But when she arrives, she finds that the house brings up unsettling memories she planned to never revisit.
Grady Hendrix’s unbeatable knack for combining irreverent humor with terrifying scares has landed him on bestseller lists and awards podiums—it’s hard to imagine anyone else writing a scary story set in a haunted IKEA. We talked to Grady about his new novel and the puppets that are currently occupying all the space in our nightmares.
You wrote How to Sell a Haunted House during the pandemic. How did your pandemic experience shape the novel?
Grady Hendrix: If it wasn’t for the pandemic, this book wouldn’t exist. I missed my family, so I decided I’d make up a family to hang out with for a while. And, of course, if I wanted to write about a family I had to write about a haunted house because haunted house stories are always stories about families, their secrets, their histories, and their homes. I know everything about the Joyners and being able to immerse myself in their lives made me feel a little less lonely during those long months when we were all so alone.
The puppets are truly terrifying. Why puppets? (Seriously, WHY?)
GH: I’m so sorry about the puppets. So very, very sorry. We all have weird, unexplored relationships with inanimate objects. We yell at our cars, we beg our laptops not to crash, we say “sorry” when we step on our kids’ stuffed animals. Haunted house stories are all about the things families leave behind — memories, furniture, photographs, curses, even their ghosts — and so I knew I’d be writing about this weird relationship we have with objects, and puppets and dolls are the only inanimate objects that can make eye contact, and puppets are dolls turned up to 11. So I had no choice, honestly.
Like your other books, How to Sell a Haunted House is horrifying but funny. What draws you to the combination of horror and humor?
GH: It’s not just me! I can’t think of a single horror movie that doesn’t include a fair dose of humor. John Carpenter’s The Thing is relentless but it has one of the greatest laugh lines of all time. We all remember The Blair Witch Project as this grimdark hiking trip, but the whole opening 20 minutes when they interview the locals is a really funny send-up of documentaries. Humor and horror both want to get a full body reaction out of the reader, so they go great together.
Check out three books that scare Grady:
|The Only Good Indians |
|GH: "The Only Good Indians has a scene in it that shocked me so badly I had to go back and read it twice to make sure it was real."|
|Survivor Song |
|GH: “Survivor Song is about an airborne coronavirus pandemic (written before we actually had one) and it features the best/worst impromptu surgery scene I’ve ever read.“|
|When Darkness Love Us |
|GH: “When Darkness Loves Us is two novellas and the first one gets dark, then darker, then you think it’s as dark as it’s going to get, and nope: still darker.”|
|20 Words: Guess The Novel|
|A young woman falls for her boss, but their relationship is threatened by a significant pest problem in his attic|
|Answer in footer|
|Historical Fiction Hidden Gems |
|Most readers know Martin Luther King, Jr’s most famous speech, but there’s much more to the Civil Rights Movement than “I have a dream.” In The Two Lives of Sara, unwed and pregnant Sara flees a troubled life in Chicago for Memphis, where she finds both joy and sorrow. The novel explores the vibrant Black community in Memphis during the heyday of the Civil Rights Era. Like West’s novel, these other historical stories offer an intimate, if fictional look at the struggle for civil rights.|
|Lies We Tell Ourselves |
|This gripping look at school integration follows Sarah, one of the first Black students to attend her high school, and Linda, daughter of a violent anti-integrationist, as they navigate an unlikely friendship during their senior year.|
|Confessions in B-Flat |
|A Southern boy working as part of MLK’s nonviolent movement and a young acolyte of Malcolm X fall for each other in Harlem, 1963.|
|Fire in the Streets |
|In the months following the assassination of MLK, 14-year-old Maxie joins the Black Panther. When the group suspects a mole in their organization, she’s determined to find out who is sharing information with the Chicago police.|
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