“It’s got everyone’s daily requirement of creepiness and grossness,” Katy Towell says of her illustrated novel, Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow, available Tuesday, August 23rd at unsuspecting book stores everywhere. While classified for young-adults, she insists the book, a horror novel “about a group of crime-solving outcasts,” isn’t just for kids.
The Los Angeles based graphic designer, artist, and storyteller will be reading from the book and signing copies at Metropolis Books on Saturday, August 27th at 5pm.
Until then, you can follow her on Twitter, read more about the Skary Children and her other projects on her official site, and also gain a little insight into where her dark imagination comes from in our interview below…
What is your earliest memory of Halloween?
I think I was about four. This would’ve been around 1984 in the small town of Duncan, OK. My parents didn’t want me to dress up as anything TOO scary, so they dressed me up as a “scary tree.” I don’t remember how they did it, but I know the costume was composed primarily of paper grocery bags. So, I guess you could say my earliest Halloween memory is having a bag put over my head.
What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid?
Grocery bags again! When I was a slightly older little kid, my dad made costume bird wings for me. He actually drew and cut out individual feathers. Out of grocery bags! It was amazing! I don’t think any other costume of mine has topped it yet.
Can you share an experience you’ve had with the paranormal?
I had something like a poltergeist in my bedroom when I was growing up. This was after we moved to Wichita, KS. Our house wasn’t even old or on any burial ground that I know of.
Nevertheless, there were always odd things afoot. Things going bump in the night. Voices and music coming from my room when I wasn’t even there (or so my parents swear). Most memorably was my bed.
I had this day bed with big brass knobs, and one of those knobs kept popping off the bed post, hopping up into the air, and then rolling across the floor to me. It did this several times despite being glued down repeatedly, and my parents refused to believe me.
Anyway, one day, my dad was in my room talking to me when we suddenly heard a POP! And there it went! The bed knob hopped off the bed, landed on the floor, and rolled over to us. My dad’s eyes widened, and all he said was, “I believe you now.”
Not many people can say they had a haunted day bed.
What’s the creepiest place in Los Angeles?
The creepiest place I’ve ever been in my nine years out here would be the Linda Vista Hospital. It’s an abandoned medical facility in the Boyle Heights area. It’s mostly used as a filming location, these days, but it has plenty of genuine weirdness alongside the forgotten props. Although, coming out of a dark hallway and into a room with blood running down the walls is pretty unsettling whether it’s real or fake.
As an artist and storyteller writing a childrens book, what made you choose to go with dark themes?
I can’t remember ever not loving dark themes! I even used to reenact Hitchcock’s Vertigo with my Barbie dolls!
The weird and disturbing represented to me, as a curious kid with a big imagination, everything I didn’t get to see in the real world. It made life so much bigger and wilder than anything I knew in my little suburban neighborhood, and that was awesome. So, I’ve basically written something that is as much for my own inner child as it is for everyone else.
How have children responded to your books, stories, and art?
So far, kids seem to be really enthusiastic about it all. I get some really great emails, too. Sometimes they send me drawings they’ve made of my characters, or they send me stories they’ve written.
My favorite, I think, is the 6th grader who just wanted to tell me she felt inspired to write and draw… and to write and draw about whatever she wanted. She also told me about an art contest at her school that she was entering. Later, she excitedly wrote back to tell me she’d done it and had even won third place out of the whole grade! She said her classmates had all basically drawn the same thing, but she had chosen to do something different. That gave me the biggest smile.
If I could get any message across, it would be do something different. And after that, “make your teacher really uncomfortable.”
Take a peek at a video trailer for Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow: