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NEW BOOK RELEASE: Halloween Nation. Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night by Lesley Bannatyne
“A sophisticated yet playful celebration of all things macabre, morbid and marvelous . . . Bannatyne makes a great case for celebrating Halloween everyday, all year long. . . . It’s an energetic, thorough and breathless salute to everyone’s favorite horror holiday.”
—Chris Alexander, editor-in-chief, Fangoria magazine
Halloween Nation is the first book to delve into the popular culture of 21st century Halloween through the eyes and words of its celebrants. An illustrated collection of interviews and essays, Halloween Nation looks at what makes Halloween one of America’s most popular contemporary holidays.
It took two years of investigative work for Halloween author Lesley Pratt Bannatyne to add a fifth book to her collection. Traveling across the country, she visited and talked with horror fanatics and fang makers, professional haunters, registered mediums, psychologists, and Halloween enthusiasts ranging from NPR’s Garrison Keillor to Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger and The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” writer Mike Reiss, to find out what the increasingly popular holiday means to people and how they celebrate it.
“So much that’s been written about Halloween has been about the holiday’s history or about how to decorate, cook, and costume for it (guilty, all counts), but there’s not been much written about what it is today, who makes Halloween, and why,” writes Bannatyne in the book’s introduction.
Through the course of her research, Bannatyne hunted ghosts with paranormal investigators, participated in a Samhain ritual gathering, World Zombie Day march, the Village Halloween parade, and several off-season gatherings of Halloween fans such as the Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Convention (HAuNTcon). Diving right into the heart of how fear turned into a form of entertainment, she asks: What kind of community does twenty-first-century Halloween create? How does the 21st century relate to Halloween’s icons—ghosts, witches, jack-‘o-lanterns, monsters—and what is that makes Halloween so relevant for so many adults today?
Bannatyne is an author who writes on folklore and popular culture. She is also a freelance journalist, covering stories ranging from local druids to relief aid in Bolivia. One of the nation's foremost authorities on Halloween, Bannatyne has shared her knowledge on television specials for Nickelodeon and the History Channel ("The Haunted History of Halloween"), with Time Magazine, National Geographic, and Slate, and has given talks at venues as diverse as the 2000 Halloween Convergence in New Orleans and the St. Louis Art Museum. She contributed the Halloween article to World Book Encyclopedia. Recently, she, with many compatriots, held the Guinness World Record for "Largest Halloween Gathering," from October 2007-09.
Halloween Nation is available now through online bookstores or direct from the publisher.