Written by Gregg Hurwitz
For every Halloween from kindergarten through third grade, I was Evel Knievel. The costume was not particularly sophisticated. There was a stuntman helmet with a logo and a jumpsuit that was vaguely Evel Knievel-y (and, alas, vaguely pajama-y). It didn’t take much to thrill me but thrill me it did. I imagined jumping my stunt motorcycle across vast ravines or tanks filled with live sharks. Generally, in my mind’s eye, I stuck the landing, but now and then I broke a limb or bruised myself in aesthetically pleasing fashion and humbly basked in the accolades and adoration of my fellow students.
It wasn’t just a costume. I was practicing being a daredevil. Without actually having to, you know, jump a stunt motorcycle across ravines or tanks filled with live sharks.
As I got older, I tried on various characters. Cowboy, bandit, Batman, the Punisher. I dressed up as heroes and villains and antiheroes, and for one glorious day each year, that’s who I was—and even grownups had to pretend to take me seriously.
I didn’t realize it at the time but I wasn’t just dressing up. I was practicing being an author. I wrote my first thriller in fourth grade (Willie, Julie, and the Case of the Buried Treasure), and when I embarked on that not-so-glorious tome, I learned how to try on different characters, just as I did on Halloween. After all, that’s what writing is. It’s putting on costumes, looking through the masks of your characters, and experiencing the world through their eyeholes. You see what they see and feel what they feel—and then you try to capture those sensations as best you can for your readers.
As an author, you dress up as heroes and villains and antiheroes—and even grownups have to pretend to take you seriously.
Kids and teenagers need less help when it comes to imagination. That’s why I always knew that at some point I would write a YA thriller. When I started The Rains, I had two goals. I wanted to let my imagination run wild. And I wanted to live inside these characters and let them tell their story.
So I guess you could say that The Rains is the culmination of all those Halloween nights of playing pretend and make believe, of thinking like a hero, plotting like a villain, and keeping a nervous ear out for things that go bump in the night.
In The Rains, there are plenty of things that go bump in the night. I hope it gives you that feeling in your gut that I used to get when I pulled on a new costume on Halloween and trudged out into the dark, peering over my shoulder, sizing up the other gruesome outfits, and approaching haunted houses with caution.
I suppose that’s the great thing about writing and reading. We don’t have to wait for one special day a year. We get to do it whenever we want.
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(This is a rerun of a post that originally ran on the Tor/Forge Blog)