For my ongoing Spooktober blog exchange, meet Bob Herold, author of some creepy books and stories!
My Love Affair with Haunted Houses
By Robert Herold
Haunted Houses and I go way back. I used to set up a haunted house display in my parents’ garage and enlist my brothers and friends to play the roles of various monsters as I, as a mad scientist, led other neighborhood kids through the chamber of horrors. The tour would end with me dissecting a monster in a serio-comic way, removing all manner of things from its abdomen (such as a pop bottle, an old shoe, and a dirty sock). At the conclusion, the creature’s arm would swing out at the other kids, courtesy of a little fishing line, and send the frightened kids running from the haunted garage.
After college, I took a job in a nursing home as I dipped my claws, er, toes, into the writing life. At the nursing home I reprised my earlier passion for haunted houses and got other members of the staff and the management to buy into the idea of putting on a haunted house for the patients. People were encouraged to retrieve a treat from the bottom of a bowl of intestines (OK, it was pasta). There were opportunities for (geriatric) boys to meet ghouls, and gals to hang out with all sorts of unsavory monsters. The conclusion, once again, was me as a mad scientist werewolf (showing my true colors) who would operate on a monster and once again pull out various things from its abdomen (this time it included a bedpan – I’m such a wit). As an adult, I also jazzed it up with beakers of dry ice and colored liquid bubbling away behind me on repurposed bookshelves. The pièce de résistance was me (as the ersatz wolfman/mad scientist) throwing the breaker switch (OK, it was a sponge mop handle) and causing the creature’s eyes to light up. At this point, the creature’s arm would swing out, as before (remember the fishing line trick?) and grab one of the patients. As I look back on my cavalier sensibilities, I realized I was damn lucky I didn’t cause a heart attack.
When my older son was in kindergarten and first grade I resurrected the haunted house motif, this time for my son’s birthday parties. I used all the same ideas to great success, perhaps too great. After causing one little girl to pee her pants, I realized I had ridden this horror express perhaps a little too far.
The haunted house that left the biggest impression on me I encountered when I was in high school, I participated in a spooktacular haunted house that was sponsored by a local rock music station. I helped with the construction, mostly as a gofer, and got to be a werewolf (oh, the joy) once the place opened. This haunted house was not for kids and had many a frightful room that we repurposed in an old home before it was to be torn down. I, as the wolfman, was in a room with Dr. Frankenstein and the monster, and we all jumped at folks and delighted in their screams. Then, toward the end of the evening, in a moment of werewolf abandon, I decided to jump up onto the wall and grab the bars on a window to howl at the moon. Much to my chagrin, and pain, the iron bars were actually wooden dowels that broke off and I crashed down onto my werewolf tailbone. I howled in pain. People loved it! I, however, too embarrassed to admit my pain and mistake, limped the three miles home that night instead of begging a ride from someone with wheels. My lesson: One must suffer for one’s art!
Speaking of art, I have two series and a sale that might be right up your dark alley. N. N. Light Book Heaven recently declared that “The Seattle Coven Tales is the must-read paranormal series of the year.” The third in the series, “The Devil’s Dregs,” will be released today, Friday, the 13th. To celebrate this, I have the first in the series, “Witch Ever Way You Go,” on sale until the end of October, for just $0.99. (All the Seattle Coven Tales are free with Kindle Unlimited.)
The Eidola Project Series follows a team of 19th-century ghost hunters who become ensnared in deadly investigations of the supernatural. The Paranormal Romance Guild recently awarded these novels First Place as an Outstanding Horror Series. The books are available through all major online retailers, and bookstores may order them for you through Ingram Book Service.
If you would like a free short story, “Ghost Doll,” an early adventure by the Eidola Project team, contact me at
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