31 days of Halloween – Sara-Jayne Townsend

By Sara Jayne Townsend
When I was growing up in the north of England in the 1970s, Hallowe’en wasn’t a big deal.  In primary school it was an excuse to draw pictures of witches, perhaps.  You would sometimes get Hallowe’en parties that would feature such games as ‘apple bobbing’ – dunking your head in a bowl of water in an attempt to grab an apple with your teeth.  But trick or treating in those days was purely an American concept.  Our big Autumn holiday was Bonfire Night, on 5 November – when communities would get together and wave sparklers and eat Parkin (a cake made out of black treacle), burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on a big bonfire and watching fireworks.  That was the day we made a big deal of, not the last day of October, five days earlier.
When I was ten we emigrated to Canada, and I was introduced to the novelty or trick or treating.  The concept of donning fancy dress and trooping round to neighbourhood houses asking for free candy seemed ingenious to me, though to be honest I only got a couple of years’ trick or treating in before I decided I was too old.
My first Canadian Hallowe’en fell exactly a week after my eleventh birthday.  I think I dressed up as a princess.  My mother took my sister and me and a couple of our friends round the neighbourhood.  Being British, my mother was rather wary of the idea of having her children knock on the doors of strangers.  We were only allowed to go to the houses that had their doors open in welcome, porch lights on, a friendly face with a big bowl of candy clearly visible from the street.  Any place with no lights, that had gone a bit overboard on the Hallowe’en décor and looked a bit creepy, we weren’t allowed to approach.
Not that it mattered.  Our haul was plenty big enough.  The candy I came back with after that first trick or treating experience lasted me well into the following summer.
Since then, the concept of trick or treating has taken off a little in the UK, but not to the extent it has on the other side of the Atlantic.  In the US, everyone expects treat or treaters, they open their doors in anticipation and they get the candy ready.  It’s not embraced by everyone in the UK, and the parents that do take their young children out tend to go only to the houses occupied by people they know. 
What I do like about Hallowe’en, though, is that it gives you the chance to be something other than your everyday self.  I might be a horror writer, but in real life I’m really not that scary.  At Hallowe’en, maybe I’ll get a chance to be so, just for a change.  

Sara Jayne Townsend is  UK-based writer of crime and horror.  She has
two novels available as ebooks from Lyrical Press, Inc – SUFFER THE
CHILDREN (buy link:
and DEATH SCENE (buy link:
A collection of her short horror stories, entitled SOUL SCREAMS, is
to be released by Stumar Press
(http://stumarpress.webs.com/soulscreams.htm) in 2012.

You can learn more about Sara and her writing from her website at: