distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

Guest Post: A Book That Scares Courtney Summers

(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)

By Courtney Summers, author of FALL FOR ANYTHING

When Nova invited me to participate in her Halloween guest blog extravaganza, there were two prompts to mine a potential entry from: What’s one of the creepiest books you’ve ever read? and What makes a story scary for you? I didn’t even have to think about it before I had my answer to the first question and, as luck would have it, it answered the second as well. Yay!

One of the creepiest books I’ve ever read is also one of the first creepiest book I ever read and I am pretty sure it lead to my interest in horror.

That book is this one:

I am serious.

So from the ages of nine to twelve, like lots of girls, I was obsessed with The Baby-Sitters Club. I mean obsessed. I joined the fan club uh, more than once. And before the official guide came out, I might have written my own. Okay, it was just the biographies of every sitter in a tiny notebook decorated by glitter glue but OH WELL. I was also on the cusp of becoming a massive horror movie fan. How fated that the BSC super mysteries (not your average mysteries!) were released around that time, pushing me into the realm of loving all things creepy and terrifying for the rest of my life? Thank you, Baby-sitters Club!

The plot to Baby-sitters Beware is right there in the tagline: Someone’s stalking the BSC! (Is it just me or does everything happen to those girls?) BUT WHO? AND WHY? I won’t spoil it because the reveal is not as interesting as the events leading up to it. And those events are pretty darn scary—especially when you consider this is a BSC book we’re talking about here.

Guys, this stalker wasn’t playing. The ways in which he terrorized the girls included but were not limited to: peering in their windows as they peered back, attaching threatening notes to the collars of their pets, hiding Stacey’s insulin, trying to run over Stacey with a car, trapping Stacey in a suspended ski-lift during a really horrible snowstorm—apparently the stalker really hated Stacey.

But anyway. The whole story blew my mind. It was just so crazy to me that the members of the effing Baby-sitters Club were not protected from the extreme crazies of the world. That is what I found deeply disturbing about the whole thing. What was going on in this book was well within the realm of possibility. People cross these kinds of lines all the time in real life! We are all capable of truly terrible stuff, which means that everything that is familiar and safe to you has the potential to become unfamiliar and dangerously terrifying at ANY GIVEN MOMENT. It gave me chills just to think about it. It still does.

Around this time, I also started reading the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. I actually think I had just come off the mind-blowingness that was Baby-sitters Beware when I picked up this book:

And while there is something terrifying about Slappy that I grow to appreciate more and more the older I get, then I just felt his whole story paled in comparison to Baby-sitters Beware because it was so preposterous. A talking dummy? R.L. Stine, what do you take me for? my nine-year-old self thought. I am not joking. (Did I mention I was not only on the cusp of becoming a massive horror movie fan but also a pretentious one as well?) I strongly believed that scariest things had to be the things that were most possible. A haunted ventriloquist dummy was JUST NOT POSSIBLE! Therefore, it could not be scary.

This led to fourth grade Courtney doing an entire book report based around this question: Which is scarier? Goosebumps or the Baby-sitters Club? Using Baby-sitters Beware and Night of the Living Dummy as my examples.

I am serious.

I made a case for realistic horror and polled my entire class and Goosebumps won. Consequently, I would look down on them for the rest of my elementary school career. Also I only got a B on my report because I decided to use magic markers and style my handwriting after various members of the BSC and apparently my teacher found i’s dotted with hearts hard to read but whatever.

I love creepy stories. Books, movies, television. There is nothing more satisfying than a good scare (and as Sheriff Brackett says, around Halloween, we’re all entitled to at least one). Baby-sitters Beware was the first truly creepy book I ever read and it shaped my idea of what I considered to be truly terrifying for years to come.

The older I’ve gotten (in case you can’t tell, I’m a 100 now), the more my definitions of what makes a story scary have expanded. My younger self would be totally disappointed to discover that I think Slappy is terrifying as hell and that I also enjoy being freaked out by the fantastical as well. But I will never turn down a creepy story based in a reality that doesn’t feel so far removed from my own because those are the ones that make me sleep with my lights on.

Thanks, Ann M. Martin!

And thanks for having me on your blog, Nova!

Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada. She is the author of Cracked Up to Be, Some Girls Are, Fall for Anything, and This is Not a Test (June 2012).

Visit Courtney at courtneysummers.ca.

Follow @courtney_s on Twitter.

Comment on this guest blog and you’ll gain an extra entry for the big Halloween giveaway on October 31, containing prize packs of signed books plus books and ARCs donated by my publisher Penguin Teen!  

You can keep track of all the “What Scares You?” guest blogs with this tag.

47 responses to “Guest Post: A Book That Scares Courtney Summers”

  1. Great post Courtney! That book would have scared me too, especially since when I used to babysit, I had “friends” that thought that looking in windows & scaring me after the kids went to bed was funny. It wasn’t. BTW, I can totally picture the 4th grade you doing that report! If I were the teacher, I would have been impressed and totally trying not to laugh (sorry).

    p.s. The scariest part of this post is, “The older I’ve gotten (in case you can’t tell, I’m a 100 now), …” because that makes me about 150 years old!

    p.p.s. Great idea for a blog series Nova! ❤ it!

    • I suspect I’m about as old as Ani up there. The very first BSC book came out when I was seven and the super mysteries didn’t start coming out until I was (or maybe should have been) too old for those meddling kids. =D But I loved them all, just the same!

  2. I was obsessed with the BSC and Goosebumps, but for some reason I never read a BSC super mystery!! It honestly might be because the realistic nature of those scary stories was too much for me. I’ll have to go give them a read!

  3. I definetly agree with courtney, some of the scariest things are those that are really…well, real. 😀 Serial killers all the way! Also, I really want to read This is not a test, because it looks amazing!

  4. Hands down, creepy stalker is WAY scarier than talking dummy. I mean, those dummies give me the creeps, but the people WORKING the dummies are much scarier.

  5. I never got into Goosebumps for exactly the same reason: what the rest of the kids in my class found terrifying, I found ridiculous. By the time kids my age were reading them, both of my parents had been shipped off to war, my mother was stalked and then assaulted while I watched from the sliding glass door on the phone with police, my parents got divorced, and my grandfather had died. Talking dummies? Despite serious fear of clowns, I found real life much more terrifying.

  6. What a great point about the BSC. They did always seem so sheltered, and that totally would have heightened the tension.

  7. This is an AWESOME kick-off to a terrific feature that I am excited to be reading!

    And now the final piece of the Courtney shaped puzzle has locked into place- the formation of a horror junkie!

  8. Ahahahahahah! Omg, if only I had read the BSC Super Mysteries, I might never have jumped the Stoneybrook ship for good old Christopher Pike! Putting notes on the babysitter’s pet collars? Stealing Stacy’s insulin? That is LOW, even for a stalker.

    VERY SCARY, Courtney and Nova! Can’t wait to follow the rest of this series! 🙂

  9. Oh, the memories! I never read the BSC super-mysteries (and man, was I apparently missing out!!) but I did read Goosebumps. I do agree that stalkers — especially stalkers who look in your windows are you’re peering out! — are much scarier than talking dummies. I never could take Chucky seriously.

  10. I wasn’t into scary/suspense books when I was younger…. but I do know that whenever I would pick one up I couldn’t stop reading! Now (more than ever) I want to start delving into this genre that for me is virtually untouched. SO– Thank you Nova for this excellent blog series to get me started and for Courtney’s fabulous post! =) I was so intrigued about “This is not a Test” from the cover that I went to read the synopsis— OH MY! OH MY! OH MY! OH (SUPER INTENSE) MY! (That’s all I can say at this point…)

  11. I love that you actually did a book report facing the two series off against each other and am incensed that you only got a B.

  12. Courtney, I would’ve given you EXTRA CREDIT for marker and heart-dotted i’s 😉 Also, way to incorporate MATH in your book report via the class poll. (MORE EXTRA CREDIT). Let’s retroactively make that an A+.

    AND even MORE extra credit for writing a scary post that wasn’t too scary for me to read ❤

    Nova, I love this series — even if I'm slightly terrified of it 😉

  13. I absolutely adore this post, and you know why?? The book that freaked me out and terrified me soooo much was The Carnival Ghost in Sweet Valley Twins super thrillers. Seriously. I think even if I read it now at night, it would bring back all the memories of it. So I can definitely relate. I remember reading that Babysitter’s one too, and the front cover of that Goosebumps one is scary enough without reading the content!

  14. I wasn’t into scary/suspense books when I was younger…. but I do know that whenever I would pick one up I couldn’t stop reading! Now (more than ever) I want to start delving into this genre that for me is virtually untouched. SO– Thank you Nova for this excellent blog series to get me started and for Courtney’s fabulous post! =) I was so intrigued about “This is not a Test” from the cover that I went to read the synopsis— OH MY! OH MY! OH MY! OH (SUPER INTENSE) MY! (That’s all I can say at this point…)

    (Sorry, I put my e-mail as my name for the first post…. opps)

  15. I have totally kept all the creepy books from my past…I couldn’t bear to part with them! Courney’s post has inspired me…I think I’ll have to write a post about them too!

    And DAMN, WHAT MUST I DO TO GET MY FINGERS ON HER NEXT BOOK? Waiting is not an option with a cover that great and a writer so fantastic!!!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  16. Sweet! I have to get my hands on one of Courtney’s books. It’s totally awesome that she made a bio of all the sitters. XD

  17. Lol, Courtney. That is too funny. I read TBC, also, but I don’t remember that one. Great post!

  18. When I was younger I read a couple Goosebumps, but I wasn’t much into them. My favorite “scary” book was What Eric Knew by James Howe. I also remember some suspenseful Bill Wallace books, like Trapped in Death Cave.

  19. Great post. I was a BSC fan as a kid and this book totally scared me. I remember reading this book while I was babysitting and having every light in the house turned on and jumping at ever sound. I wonder what the parents thought as they turned off all the lights I’d left on.

  20. OH man, the BSC totally takes me back. I think this book might actually be in a box under my stairs still. This book and Christopher Pike’s The Babysitter made babysitting a panic attack inducing event. I was the only babysitter in the world terrified of the phone ringing.

  21. This post made me laugh, because I was TOTALLY into Goosebumps and Baby-Sitter’s Club when I was that age too. I remember reading those super mysteries and being scared out of my mind! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  22. This makes so much sense… of course the scariest books would be the ones about actual, plausible situations. I loved this post!! (Oh, and I was also obsessed with the BSC when I was younger).

  23. That BSC book didn’t scare me, but I did read it a lot all amped up every time. And read basically every Goose Bumps book. And watched The Exorcist alone at 1 am when I was 10 and thought it was awesome. I think I was doomed from the start?

  24. I remember reading Goosebumps books as a kid. Surprisingly, they didn’t scare me as much as I thought they would. This post was a brilliant trip down the memory lane (;

  25. i was a big bsc fan but never read any of the super mysteries. how did this happen? i did read all the summer specials, though. now i must find this super mystery book and read it. i never read goosebumps but i did read the fear street books. i don’t know if i can handle that dummy cover.

  26. Excellent post! I love that you did a book report comparing the two. Your teacher must have had no imagination ;).

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

  27. Huh…so if you are 100, I am 200…dang it! I knew I was getting old, lol! House of Usher was my scariest read when I was a kid. Oh and Murders on the Rue Morgue…and your baby sitter club was my Trixie Belden. Looking forward to your next book!

  28. I remember that book! It was definitely creepy. I was a huge BSC fan from the ages of 7 to 12. Loved it. The scary stories that the BSC crew told in the Winter Lodge in one of the Special Editions was creepy too! Cannot wait for your new book!

  29. Oh my god! Babysitters Club and Goosebumps… you’ve just described my childhood! Dude, Goosebumps scared the CRAP out of me. Especially those doll ones. :shudders:

  30. Mary D [M.A.D.]
    Would you believe I’ve never read any of The Babysitter’s books?! On the other hand, I am drooling to get a copy of This Is Not a Test 😀

  31. I loved the BSC, but I don’t remember that one. How did I miss it? I did love Goosebumps when I was a kid though. Thanks for the post.

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