Why Fall? Why Halloween? Why Michigan? And what does this have to do with these stories and books?
Let’s start with the great state of MICHIGAN. I consider myself lucky to have been born and raised in Michigan; a state I consider to be the absolute best in the country. I was born in Hastings in the early 70s, and then when I was about 18 months old, my mother, sister and I moved to the charming small town of Ionia. My mother was originally from Ionia; in fact, my grandparents owned and operated a locksmith and bicycle business there, started in the 1940s. My child-rearing years were spent living in town, living on a farm and living in a trailer park until I graduated high school. I had a good childhood, a typical childhood where my imagination was able to run wild.
Once I became an adult, I moved around quite a bit; Kalamazoo, Lake Odessa, Grand Blanc, Pewamo, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Middleville and on and on. I’ve had the pleasure of driving all over the state visiting beautiful and wonderful towns like Petoskey, Holly, Munising, Harbor Springs, Mackinac City, Lexington, Flint, Fenton, Port Austin, and Grand Haven to name a few. All of these towns have left lasting memories, thoughts and ideas for me because they each offer unique sights, architecture, people and history.
Living in Michigan my whole life not only have I seen some amazing cities, towns, parks and beaches, but I have also heard many of its spooky legends, ghost stories and tales about its many haunted locations. I thought to base a series of spooky stories and books that included actual Michigan locations would be an excellent way for me to pay tribute to the people, places and things. As I said, it is the greatest state in the nation!
Nothing on earth gets my mind, body and soul aroused like the season of FALL. I get excited about the three months of September, October and November more than a person probably should (But I know I’m not alone). I look forward to the fall season every year and have since I was very young. And every year and I get asked, “What is it about fall you love so much?”
First, I call it fall; always have, always will. Some people call it autumn. I guess it depends on who you ask or where they’re from. I love the word autumn, but most people I know say fall. I guess for me, it doesn’t really matter what you call it, what matters is all that comes with it. It’s a laundry list of things that come with the season that gets me excited and makes everything in the world seem…right.
It’s the chill in the air and the crisp clean cool breeze, wearing warm cozy sweatshirts or my favorite flannel shirts, making s’mores over a bonfire with family and friends, drinking cider and eating donuts from a visit to the local cider mills and orchards, picking out those perfect pumpkins at the pumpkin patch to carve Jack O‟ Lanterns or just place as decorations, driving around taking in the sights of the beautiful colored leaves, drinking hot flavored coffee or hot cocoa on the porch, tasting all of the fall seasonal craft beers and hard ciders, the smell of burning leaves and wood burning in fireplaces, not having to deal with those pesky summer bugs, crock pot slow roast dinners, chili cook-offs, and yes, even the pumpkin spice everything!
To me, there’s no emotion and sensation like what I get and feel during the fall months. Even though I know the dreaded winter will soon follow. Still, I embrace the season for all it’s worth and bask in the pure comfort on how everything about it makes me feel. I could go on, but I’m sure you understand.
Everyone has their favorite holiday. Sure, I love Thanksgiving for the bounty of delectable food and watching the traditional football game. Christmas with the pretty lights, gifts and more delicious foods and even St. Patrick’s Day isn’t too bad with a cold Guinness in hand. But, for me, hands down, the best holiday is HALLOWEEN.
For starters, it’s smack dab in the middle of my favorite fall season. Second, it’s just so much fun, has so much tradition and you get to dress in costume to become anything and anyone you want…even if it’s for just one night. Oh, then third; the candy. Lots and lots of candy!
Yes, even as an adult I like, nope, love the candy.
Granted, I don’t go Trick-or-Treating anymore, but I thoroughly enjoy decorating the house and handing out candy to all the little ones in the neighborhood. And if I have candy left in the bowl at the end of the night…so be it. Halloween is just fun and it can make us all remember what being a kid is all about.
I have enjoyed celebrating Halloween since I was a toddler. I love and appreciate the folklore behind it, the traditions, the parties, and the creatures and costumes. I’ve always admired and respected the classic tales of Dracula, Frankenstein and the myths and legends told by friends and family…especially real-life ghost stories. I look forward every year to watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and movies like Sleepy Hollow, Trick R Treat, Hocus Pocus, Young Frankenstein, Underworld, Zombieland, The Lost Boys and so many others. So bring on the bats, skeletons, black cats, witches, Jack O‟ Lanterns, ghosts, ghouls and goblins, and creatures and monsters of all kinds!
So why this book? Why now?
When I started writing articles and stories years ago, I never envisioned myself as a horror writer or any kind of scary story writer. Then one day in the fall of 2017 I was talking to my wife and kids about scary stories and then immediately got an idea in my head for one. That idea eventually became the Stone Hollow story. Funny enough, written about the very subdivision that I live in.
Once I wrote that first one I got hooked and couldn’t stop writing. The ideas and thoughts were pouring out of my head faster than I could type. I had notepads and pieces of paper strewn everywhere with ideas. I finally created a document called Ideas and it was just that; all kinds of story ideas, characters, partial paragraphs, locations, dialog…everything to keep my thoughts together so I wouldn’t lose them. There’s nothing worse than having a great idea and then forgetting it later.
Once I had a dozen full stories together, I wondered what to do with them. I thought about trying to enter writing contests and submit some to anthology books (which I did a few), but then I thought maybe I would just put them in book form and do things my way. My hope was that people would read them and enjoy them as much as I do.
Heck, I know there are hundreds of horror writers out there and I know my stories may not be made into blockbuster movies, but I'm going to let my imagination run wild and do the best I can. The plan is to make Michigan Monsters & Macabre a series of books; perhaps 5 to 10...if I’m lucky.
...add now it has really got my gears moving and I'm excited not only to write scary stories but to write other short stories and books as well. Looks like I have a lot of work ahead of me. I better make a few pots of coffee...it’s going to be a long year!
Wicked Harvest: Michigan Monsters and Macabre
Jerrod S. Smelker
Genre: Fiction, Horror
Publisher: Last Leaf Publishing
Date of Publication: Sept 24th, 2018
Number of pages: 193
Word Count: 36,600
Cover Artist: BookDesign
Welcome to the Wicked Harvest: Michigan Monsters and Macabre spooky short stories books.
Inside you will read 10 chilling haunts of encounters with terrifying creatures, cursed fountains, the undead, an abandoned asylum and other creepy and frightening things.
All stories take place in and around Michigan cities and towns and transpire during the delightful season of fall and the greatest holiday of Halloween.
These startling tales are fictional stories of course…or are they?
About the Author:
Jerrod S. Smelker is the owner/operator/writer for Last Leaf Publishing, Our Michigan Travels and Wicked Harvest MI. Author of “Vigilant in Today’s World” series of crime prevention books, “Wicked Harvest: Michigan Monsters & Macabre” series of spooky short stories and books and numerous other short stories. He is a proud member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. He grew up in Ionia, a quaint small town smack dab in the middle of Michigan between Grand Rapids and the state’s capital, Lansing. He enjoys history, writing, reading, fine cigars and pipes, craft beers and hard ciders, coffee, and Michigan road trips. He currently lives in Grand Blanc Michigan with his wife, kids and cats.