Two years ago in Lake Charles, LA I met an artist known as Jason Hardy. It was during our time at Bayou Con that we began sharing our fandom of Halloween. With his many works of art that contribute to the genres of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi, he also features pieces that are Halloween themed. On the side, he writes and I have been lucky enough to enjoy his book of Halloween poetry. As we approach the witching hour the night before Halloween, I present to you Jason Hardy.
Mr. Hardy describes his life as, “I was born one Halloween night which is why my mom still screams a lot. While it would be awesome if the preceding was true I may burn in the hockey stick store if I don’t admit it’s not. I was born on JFK’s birthday. Or maybe it’s on the day he was shot which may account for my occasional paranoia. Flash forward to today and I still live about three blocks from where JFK, I mean the doctor, yanked me out. I’m a high school teacher living in my hometown of Kaplan in the heart of Cajun country in Louisiana. I am at present 54 years of age which is a lot of mileage but my dip stick still gets the job done. I drive a pickup truck which fits rather well in my Mayberry sort of town. I graduated from LSU a horrifying number of years ago. In my free time outside the classroom I am an artist and poet (though an inordinate amount of people don’t know it…that was a gratis rhyme to show I can do it). I always wanted to be a professional writer or artist but I ended up teaching kids instead which is fine. As long as they can draw a dandy stick figure and correctly spell my name below it I’m good. I have published one poem in my lifetime in Ellery Queen Mystery magazine many years ago. It paid $30 so it’s really no mystery why I did not immediately head for Vegas. As is obviously evident my writing and art is generally humorous. I don’t do landscapes unless they are on Venus or a convenient graveyard. I have done an occasional bird. Which sounds dirty but isn’t. Despite not being a Halloween baby (see above) it remains my favorite holiday. Pumpkins oddly enough don’t frighten me, although a pumpkin boy named Linus might. When I retire from going to school nearly my entire life in a few years I plan to write young adult fiction. Since I’ve been around them so much and survived. Maybe with an evil nun tossed in to commemorate my Catholic school days. I have a black cat named Raven after Mr. Poe who threatened me with an injunction if I did not mention him. He is deweinered but not declawed so I tend to listen. I live in a house built in 1945 but only dated Rosie the Rivetor briefly. In closing, it still pisses me off that we have to pay the Russians to get off the planet earth. I love to collect books and statues which makes me feel better about the Russians.”
What does Halloween mean to you?
Halloween means nostalgia to me. Takes my frequently addled adult mind back to a more innocent, fun time. Lots of good memories. Back to a time when the only terrorists were the kids brave enough to throw eggs at someone’s house or light the infamous poo-bag.
What is your most memorable Halloween?
Most memorable moment was ironically the last. The dreaded night when because of advanced age I was banned from trick or treating. Oh, the horror! So what’s a kid to do? Sneak out, that’s what. Pathetic costume: knit NFL team hat and football. Desperate strategy: Quick end runs to the closest houses for that final, forbidden candy fix. Approximate age: fifteen give or take a tootsie roll. It was bittersweet, clandestine fun. Although I couldn’t spell “clandestine” back then.
What was your best Halloween costume?
Given the time period, probably a hobo of some sort. Down and dirty. Back then we mostly wore the classic plastic store bought masks with the elastic string that would sting your ears.
What was your worst Halloween costume?
It wasn’t on me. A kid I knew and probably subtly bullied in the neighborhood dressed as a blue UPS mailbox one year. With the slit to see through. Actually very creative at the time. But we pushed him over mercilessly since his visibility was marginal. We thought about but did not actually pee through the slit. Nobody likes wet mail.
Some believe Halloween is negative. Why do you believe this is so?
Obviously because it began as a Catholic holiday and soon became much darker. To me it’s just fun. No religious motif involved for this boy. Oh, and the legend of the razor blades didn’t help.
What do you do on Halloween to keep the ghosts and ghouls away on Halloween?
I leave my porch light on. Which in the old days would have made me the mean-ass old man of the neighborhood who would rather pay his light bill than spend a dime on candy. Of course with today’s wussy Halloween, even if I leave the porch light off only a few kids would bother to show up. And even then it’s still daylight!
What scares you?
I find myself occasionally scared by spiders, lack of toilet paper, Opera, Little Debbie going out of business or continuing to shrink and the disappearance of thongs from the world. Mostly spiders.
What are your favorite scary movies?
Monster Squad, Alien, Something Wicked, Trick R Treat, The Thing, The Innocents, Scared Stiff.
What are some of your favorite horror books?
Something Wicked by a wicked mile (again nostalgic for me), Nightmare Factory, Our Lady of Darkness, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shining.
Do you prefer fast paced or slow burners?
I prefer moderately paced books that threaten to burn my butt. Which thrills me.
Who are your inspirations?
I’ve been inspired over the years by HPL, REH, Fritz Leiber, various movies and memories.
Do you plan to contribute to the horror genre in the future?
I may have another horror story in me. If I not drained dry by a horny vampires first. Which in the long run may not be too bloody terrible. I plan to write more when I retire. At the moment I continue to write generally humorous horror poems for fun. I would love to be published in Weird Tales before I die so that when I run into HPL and his black cat someday I can say, “Me too, beee-acch!”
Where can we find your work?
My art can be found lurking on my Facebook page at the moment. Also all over the floor of my “art studio” where my black cat can lounge his lazy ass all over it as a feline critique. My humorous poetry books can be found in a rather lonely corner of Lulu online. When I sell one I feel closer to retirement, but only marginally so. Which is spooky.