Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baby, I Was Born This Way

I was never what one would call normal. Apparently when I was six-weeks-old my mother gazed down at her bundle of joy only to find that joy staring up at her with fierce determination (her words, not mine), and Mom got a chill. Even as a babe I was scaring people. It got worse as I got older. When other girls were playing with My Little Pony, I was making She-Ra Princess of Power and her minions go on quests to stop slavery and conquer my brothers' He-Men and Transformers. Growing up with only brothers did not help me find my inner girlie girl. I don't think I ever had a tea party or played house (unless it was a fortress made of skulls), but ninja princess and assassins were standard after school. (I have been killed approx 124 times by various brothers who loved to come up behind me, run their finger across my throat or point a Nerf gun to my head, and inform me I was dead. Don't worry, I gave as good as I got.)

Then at the ripe age of about eight I got into horror movies. It all started with Tremors. For those of you not into cult classics, Tremors is a movies staring Kevin Bacon where giant underground words attack a small desert town. It's way better than you think. My best friend's brother showed us this film, and I spent the next five years sleeping on the top bunk in case the worms happened to show up in Virginia and Florida in search of a little girl Happy Meal. (It could have happened!!!) It scared the beejepers out of me, but started my love of the gory and horrific. (Thank you Ned and Susan Hannon). Horror is my favorite genre of book and movies. Zombies, Freddy Kruger, demons, I love them all. As you may have guessed my parents are pretty liberal when it came to their children. As long as we weren't in physical danger to ourselves or each other we could explore the world and learn the consequences. (See top bunk incident). They got a lot of crap from other parents and relatives for my strangeness. My grandmother actually pulled my mother aside to voice her concern about me "going over to the darkside." She even put this concern into painting form, which still hangs in my hallway to show how close I came to being engulfed by the darkness. (Yeah, me and Darth Vader) .

I got the last laugh, though. My first book features zombies, werewolves, vampires, and a machete. I still watch horror movies, I still do more masculine activities like shooting and going to comic book stores with my bros. So the strange child grew into a strange adult. With a book deal. Sometimes going over to the darkside can be a good thing. I did not become a serial killer or suicidal cutter as they worried least not in real life. Yet.

My favorite movies age 3-8 and some of my biggest influences today:

The Monster Squad

Big Trouble in Little China

The Princess Bride

Adventures in Babysitting

Return to Oz

Howard the Duck


Romancing the Stone

What were some of your biggest influences? Did anyone treat you strangely for wanting to spend your days thinking up ways to murder people? Discuss.

Jennifer Harlow, Mind Over Monsters


Deborah Sharp said...

Good post! I used to like horror movies (we called them scary movies back then), and one of my earliest memories is watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The next year, we drove through tobacco-growing country, and I was convinced all that rolled up crop in the fields were people pods, ready to hatch. Now, I like light, comic books and movies ... life is too often dark and scary enough.

Robin Allen said...

I love your grandmother's painting, Jennifer. She must have been more than a little worried about you.

Lois Winston said...

Now that you mention it, I think I was plotting murdering all those people who "done me wrong" way back before kindergarten. Always in my mind, though, and now in my books. As I've said before, getting even is the best revenge, especially when you can do it without fear of prison. ;-)

Darrell James said...

Nice post, Jenna! I've always loved horror. From the early Dracula movies to The Exocist. My favorite classic was "Day of the Trifids" by John Wyndham (maybe more sic-fi), later made into a movie.

Hope you never lose your inner child!

Shannon said...

For as long as I can remember I've gone to sleep by telling myself stories. I've the protagonist, kick-ass tough, genius smart, and beautiful. So yes, I guess I've been making up horror stories forever.

Cricket McRae said...

fun post! One of my guilty pleasures is Tremors. It was a shame when they tried to extend it into a franchise, but the original movie is definitely a cult classic.

Lady Gwen said...

LOL, Jennifer - I love this post. I never plotted murder and didn't like scary movies. But my parents DID think I was strange. I liked nothing better than to stick my head in a book and read. So much so, that sometimes they had to make me go outside and play. Don't get me wrong, I was a complete tomboy and could run like the wind! But my favorite thing to do was read. I still love to read, but now I love to write, too!

Keith Raffel said...

Jennifer, what a Freudian slip. You were scared by "giant underground words." No wonder you're a writer!

Beth Groundwater said...

Love your post and your grandmother's painting, Jennifer. I was a huge Edgar Allen Poe reader in my teens--a good predictor of my future murderous tendencies, I'd say!