Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat, with Jess Lourey

samhainHalloween is one my favorite holidays because I love a good masquerade. The holiday originates from the old Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"). The Celts believed that the new year occurred on November 1, when the summer harvest was over and the cold winter was settling in. The night before the new year, October 31, the boundary between the living world and the dead became blurred, allowing the dead to walk the earth and the living to access a wider range of their powers.

When Christianity hit the land of the Celts in the 800s, the Church piggybacked on a lot of their rituals and altered them slightly so they became church-sanctioned. The Celts' new year became All Saints Day or All-hallowmas (from Middle English "Alholowmesse," meaning "All Saints' Day"), and the night before became All Hallow's Eve. From that came what we now know as Halloween, where our little demons and ghouls walk the earth and collect candy to appease their souls.

Whee! In honor of the roots of Halloween, I offer you a trick and a treat. First, the trick, and I warn you that it's a really scary puzzle and you shouldn't do it if you have a heart condition. You need the sound turned on to hear the directions, and the link will take you to a new site where the maze is located in the center middle of the page (I don't have copyright clearance to post it here).

Now for the treat. A librarian just informed me of the HowDunit series, bodytraumawhich I'm ashamed to say I've never heard of but if you are a mystery writer, appears to behowdunit indispensible. The series was initially published by Writer's Digest and is a series of books written for crime fiction writers. There's a book on poisons, a book on crime scene investigation, a writer's guide to weapons, a writer's guide to private investigating, and my personal favorite: Body Trauma: A Writer's Guide to Wounds and Injuries, featuring such gems as, "What the Glasgow Coma Scale is, and why it's important," and, "The Dirty Dozen: dreadful-but survivable-chest injuries." How have I been writing mysteries this long without this information?

Oh, and here's one more treat. A friend of mine got a Wonder Woman wonder womancostume for Halloween when she was 10 years old, which would have been about 30 years ago. She'd don the red, white, and blue swimsuit, the white pleather go-go boots, the gold circlet on her head and the bullet-repelling bracelets, and strap on her golden lariat and wear it for days after Halloween had come and gone. She slept in this costume, and she got so good with the golden lariat that she actually roped one of her much-older sisters. My friend, Heidi-cum-Wonder Woman, said to her sister, "You must be honest with me as you are now ensnared in the Lasso of Truth." And her sister said, "You're a dork." See? The lasso worked.

Happy Halloween! What tricks or treats would you like to share?


jbstanley said...

Wonderful - two books to put on my Christmas list - thanks Jess and have a spoooooky Halloween!

Felicia Donovan said...

Loved the maze game, Jess! Got to level three, but got bumped out when I touched the wall. Oh well. Others should try it, though, it's lots of fun. Happy Halloween!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Fun post, Jess. I've been a devotee of the Howdunit Series for years. I have the two books you mentioned (the poisons is my fav), along with one on cause of death and another on weapons. Word of caution, folks, some of these books, such as any on investigations and police procedures, even forensics, can become outdated quickly with new technology, so make sure you are using current or revised versions of the books.

G.M. Malliet said...

So, it's thought to be unusual to sleep in a Wonder Woman costume?

I learn so much from this blog.

Jess Lourey said...

Ha ha! It is okay to type in those though, Gin, so strap the boots and lasso back on. Felicia, that third level IS a killer. Good advice, Sue Ann, and Happy Halloween right back at you, JB!

Jess Lourey said...

Hey, have any of you seen USA Today's list of the top-selling books in the last 15 years? A friend just emailed it to me:>

It's an interesting snapshot of U.S. culture.

Julia Buckley said...

I have the book on poisons. Sometimes, when I'm angry at him, I read it in front of my husband, making sure he can see the cover. :)

Jess Lourey said...

Ha! He's a lucky man, Julia, and I bet he knows it.