MARISA FIFE – A Halloween Story

Marisa Fife is a registered nurse, medical editor, and public health writer. She holds a BS in Pre-Veterinary & Animal Science from the University of Massachusetts and a BSN in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University.
Her work experiences have led her from monitoring songbirds for biological surveys, to rehabilitating wildlife, to caring for oncology patients on bone marrow transplant floors. Her first fiction novella, The Woman in Brown, was published in 2022. Her first children’s novel, Will and the Clan of Shadows, is now available.

She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and Sisters in Crime (SINC) professional writing organizations.”

Crisp, tart, red apples. Cool nights. Slinking black cats. Orange, red, and gold leaves. Melted caramel, sweet spices, and chocolate perfume the air. Warty, squat, saffron-hued pumpkins with shriveled, twisting green stems lurk on mossy brick steps. Hulking, angular Victorian houses filled with creepy shadows, their front yards decorated with enormous plastic skeletons. (My favorite display was a life-sized plastic skeleton horse pulling a cart filled with cheerily waving faux human skeletons).

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. There’s just something playful, mischievous, and youthful about the season that I love. The costumes crack me up. So do the purple frosted cupcakes with candy monster eyes, bat-shaped sprinkles, and raspberry filling designed to look like blood. As a child, I loved movies like The Addams Family (1991) and books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. Vincent Price enthralled me as much as Alfred Hitchcock, and I still adore the film Dracula (1931), even if Castle Dracula is infested with armadillos. There are no armadillos native to Transylvania, alas. Perhaps Dracula had an affection for delightfully odd, armored, nocturnal pets with the ability to spread leprosy and dig deep holes in his garden.

Growing up in New England, with Salem and its witchcraft history close by, Halloween was an all-out event. Trick or Treaters, young and old, would gallop, skip, and walk the leaf-littered sidewalks dressed as werewolves, witches, and Wednesday Addams. Colorful candies would fill our pillowcases as we went house to house in the dark. The stars would sometimes burn bright, and the air buzzed with anticipation and magic. If we were lucky, a full moon would grace us with a ghostly silvered world, and the wind would play tricks by making the shadows move––or was there some thing actually lurking there?

I always hoped it was a thing.

I became enamored with Halloween when I was small, helping my mother prepare our carved pumpkin. She cut a spooky face with a knife, and I scooped out the pumpkin’s slimy innards. We toasted the seeds and ate them by the window while watching the trick or treaters go by before we went out in the night ourselves in whatever costume we had begged our parents for that year.

These experiences were the inspiration for my newest novel, The Curse of the Devil’s Purse Inn, a paranormal mystery for ages nine and up. The Sanglier family plans a relaxing vacation in Witchville, Massachusetts, but encounters eerie incidents at the ominous Devil’s Purse Inn. I wanted to write a book that captured things I love about Halloween: magic, mystery, mischief, and fun. And, of course, it also includes lots and lots and lots of candy.

I must leave you now to set up my life-sized skeletons in the front yard. This year’s theme is Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Wishing you all a fantastic Halloween season.

Best site for book purchasing/links to me: https://www.marisafife.com/

 

4 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    Great description of what makes Halloween so special to so many. Best of luck with your new book.

    Reply
    • Marisa

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you, appreciate it! And Happy Halloween 🙂

      Reply
  2. Brian

    You sold this at “warty, squat, saffron-hued pumpkins…” ! Like a character.

    Reply
    • Marisa

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you so much for your comment! I love this type of pumpkin and get a kick out of describing them in writing.

      Reply

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MARISA FIFE – Registered Nurse / Medical Editor / Public Health Writer

MARISA FIFE holds a BS in Pre-Veterinary & Animal Science from the University of Massachusetts and a BSN in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University. Her work experiences have led her from monitoring songbirds for biological surveys to rehabilitating wildlife to caring for Oncology patients on bone marrow transplant floors.

Her first fiction short story, The Woman in Brown, was published in 2022.

The Woman in Brown is a historical suspense short story set in America in the 1930s about two damaged people on the run trying to escape the clutches of a cold-blooded killer.

Do you write in more than one genre? I like exploring many genres, my favorites being mystery, suspense, fantasy, romance, and westerns. I also love a good horror-comedy. I also enjoy writing for different audiences, such as adults and children. Everything’s fun to explore, really.

What are you currently working on? A quirky contemporary fantasy/mystery novel and a historical mystery novella. Then revisions, revisions, revisions on my 2022 writing projects.

Who’s your favorite author? Laurie R. King, author of the Mary Russell series, the first of which is The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I’ve been hooked on this series since I was a teen and can’t recommend it enough.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I do a little of both as needed. When I first start writing a story, the planning stage involves a lot of brainstorming and organic free writing. I add in structure with an outline, but I’m not afraid to switch up that outline as needed, depending on how the story is proceeding. This allows me freedom while also keeping my feet on the ground.

What kind of research do you do? If I’m writing about a real-world place, I try to go there and take in how it is and what perceptions I have while I’m in it. Then most of my research moves online. I review newspapers and magazines and try to keep to verified historical sources when seeking facts about a particular time or place. If it’s a story set in contemporary times, I’ll watch news clips from the last few years to see what’s going on in that area or read first-hand accounts from people who live in that location if they are available.

If it’s not a real-world place, I base my fantasy settings on a mashup of actual places in the world or someplace made up that pops into my mind based on my experiences. Movies are also a fun place to find possible fantasy settings, characters, and storylines. Lastly, I read a few current books in whatever genre that I’m writing in to get a feel for what’s trending out there and why it trends.

What is the best book you have ever read? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I think it holds a warning to humankind that is still relevant today in our age of ground-breaking scientific and technological innovation.

Groups I belong to:
Mystery Writers of America
Sisters in Crime
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

How do our readers contact you?
Readers may contact me at www.marisafife.com.
My short story, The Woman in Brown, is available on Amazon as an ebook, audiobook, and paperback here.

6 Comments

  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Marisa, it came as no surprise to me that you ‘explore’ so many genres in your writing after reading your bio. You have ‘explored’ so many professional careers in your professional life! This post was great fun to read. Are you thinking of expanding the WOMAN IN BROWN to novel length?

    Reply
    • Marisa

      Hi Pamela,

      Thank you for your kind words! And yes, I was thinking of doing a story with the same characters following THE WOMAN IN BROWN, or it could be a full novel. I will think about that! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you have a lot of really cool ideas about subjects to write about. Bless you for caring for the ill and for the injured animals. I’ll have to check out the Woman in Brown. Good luck.

    Reply
    • Marisa

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you so much! I’ve been very fortunate to be able to work in these fields. I hope you enjoy the story 🙂

      Reply
  3. Karen A Phillips

    What a fascinating career Marisa Fife has had! And her book “The Woman In Brown” sounds equally fascinating. I will add it to my TBR list.

    Reply
    • Marisa

      Hi Karen,

      It has been fascinating! Thank you very much, and I hope you enjoy the story. 🙂

      Reply

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