Thriller authors Lisa Joyce and Lin Oliver are putting monsters back in the closet: The authors of “All Hallows Eve” and “Happy Halloween” have teamed up for “The Curse” (Tor Books, $26), which follows a comatose woman named Lila, who awakens in a haunted house after waking up on a morning the family has just forgotten.
“I was reading about a big old mansion in upstate New York and this thought was in my head, ‘Oh my God, where is it really? I’d like to see this,’” Oliver said.
“What was incredibly cool is that that area is incredibly haunted. There’s a great university right near the house in Albany, and I saw a whole bunch of ghost stories on the internet. I was fascinated by the reports and thought, I need to get inside this house because one of these days I’m going to be married to one of these people who was around this place. I was curious how it would actually feel to spend time there.”
Joyce, who’s now focusing on children’s books, had written Halloween stories for years before Oliver asked if she’d make a paranormal adventure, but only this year did the best of intentions go horribly awry.
“I guess I’ve always been scared of scaring myself, and I’ve never been scared of them (the monsters in the stories),” she said. “I think the biggest difference is that we took the ‘scary person’ bit of Halloween and made it a bit scary.”
It wasn’t just the books that captured Oliver’s imagination. She and Joyce explored the creatures of the world around them, and “The Curse” features a whole batch of bigfoots, werewolves, groovy ghouls and creatures that invite one to visit the south. (“It’s a Southern Gothic kind of book that’s sort of not that scary at all, but there’s a devil in every book,” she said.) And though the village that houses the haunted mansion, her characters referred to as The Witch’s Asylum, has been sort of a death camp in the past, Oliver and Joyce took it to heart when they were shooting the scene of the nasty fire that breaks out at the mansion.
“We thought, maybe we should depict a small town that is, quite literally, in ashes,” Oliver said. “That really exists in the imaginations of a lot of people.”