I love Halloween. I mean, I love love love Halloween. Like a 1990s goth punk discovering Manic Panic hair dye for the first time, I fucking love Halloween. And as I’ve been preparing for my keynote at a tech writing conference (a content nerd dream come true—truly) that was supposed to be in New Orleans on the cusp of this most exalted holiday (a Halloween dream dashed—truly), I ended up down a couple of different rabbit holes.
The first rabbit hole—thanks to the timing of the conference—was my annual Halloween costume photo retrospective. I love dressing up for Halloween, and I love looking back at the costumes I’ve cobbled together, three of which—one that’s pretty brilliant, two that are particularly silly—I’ve included for your enjoyment below (who doesn’t love a good triptych?): Wednesday Addams, Halloween 2001; Lindsay Lohan, Halloween 2010; and Tara Reid from Sharknado (with a guest appearance from my wife), Halloween 2016.
The second rabbit hole—thanks to the conference itself, at which I’m sharing my professional and personal content journey, which is totally a thing—was digging up various writings (i.e., content) from when I was a kid. This led me to On Night’s Wings, a terrible (truly terrible) horror zine (back when zines were a thing) in which I had two stories published (“stories” and “published” should really be in quotation marks) thanks to the discerning editors of SMB Productions, who called for submissions on a Prodigy vampire bulletin board (back when bulletin boards were what passed for the internet).
I only vaguely remember when the zine editors accepted the stories, but I vividly remember writing them, on the Hyundai IBM-compatible Windows 3.1 computer I shared with my stepmother. I remember the sound the disk drive would make as it saved my adolescent words to a 5.25” floppy disk backup. I remember spending hours and hours and hours on Prodigy vampire boards, even entering into a totally inappropriate flirtation with a grown man who shut down our correspondence as soon as we (eventually) disclosed our mortal ages.
And I remember the manila envelope that held my first creative writing publication. The weight of it in my hands. The warning label that the content inside the envelope was for readers 18 and over—I was 16. And then, once that envelope was torn open, the cover art—oh, the cover art— bordering on obscene. This isn’t Twilight, my friends—this is a glorious viewfinder back to the early 1990s, of vampire fanaticism borne out of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and set free through the early days of dial-up consumer internet access.
It is so glorious, in fact, that it defies description, though the editors did their best with their “The Vampire & Horror Magazine For The Discriminating Fan” tagline (their capitalization, not mine). And who am I, dear reader, to deny you the chance of becoming one of those fans?
So, for your reading pleasure, I give you the cover of that most coveted inaugural issue and a link to scans of my stories, complete with their accompanying “illustrations.”
Happy Halloween, Daily Feelers!
All the nights, all the wings, all the hallows,
Jessica the Westchesbian
Jessica lives with her shiksa wife and geriatric cat in picturesque Tarrytown on the Hudson. Although a proud Westchesbian these days, Jessica grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, back when the opening of the Olive Garden and the 24-hour Walmart were big news. During business hours, Jessica’s a communications professional who translates highly technical concepts into clear, concise, colloquial language that media buyers and sellers can understand. Outside of business hours, she’s a poet, cat mom, wife, avid reader, and lover of questionable crime, sci-fi, and supernatural TV shows (preferably all in one), not necessarily in that order. Her poetry has appeared in Tin House, The Paris Review, LIT, and The Huffington Post, among others.