I wrote my first horror story when I was eight years old. Honestly I don’t know why I decided to write it. I think we had recently been creating stories in school, crafting booklets and drawing images to go with them. Maybe I decided to work on some more at home. Or maybe I was just a strange little girl who wanted to be an author before she even knew what the word meant.
I remember working on the story on a dark evening. I was sat on the floor, folding paper to make my booklet, using a ruler to create the lines for my text. The words came first, then my “illustrations”, carefully coloured with reds and greys.
My story was called The Birthday Man. In it, a rude child was told that since it was nearly their birthday, the Birthday Man would soon be arriving to deliver their gifts. But if the child was bad, instead of presents the Birthday Man would be there to punish them. A twisted version of Santa I imagine. The Birthday Man was a cloaked figure with two red triangles for eyes. You could only ever see his eyes. The child, of course, continued to be rude. But when they next went to bed, they awoke to find the Birthday Man staring down at them.
The child was never seen again.
I finished up my book, then along with my mother we stapled the pages together. It was my magnum opus. I was so proud of what I had created.
The next day I took it to school with me and asked my teacher if I would be allowed to place my story on the bookshelf. She agreed, though she didn’t read it and I doubt she would have been as agreeable if she had.
Seeing my book next to the other class favourites, I knew instantly that writing was what I wanted to do with my life. Nobody read my story of course, but that didn’t matter to me. Crafting a story and seeing it on a bookshelf, that was all I wanted.
From that day I started writing in notebooks, collecting my ideas. I was given a second hand computer for my room that I filled with plots and characters. I wrote on holidays, on napkins, anything I could find.
Writing was when I felt myself.
And it was all thanks to the Birthday Man.