Or…why I chose to set 12 Hours of Halloween in the year 1980.
A reader recently asked me via email why I chose to set 12 Hours of Halloween, my coming-of-age horror novel about three friends who battle supernatural forces on Halloween Night, in 1980 instead of the present day.
There are two reasons behind this choice.
First of all: there’s the generational factor.
What I mean by this is: I know my limits.
Although 12 Hours of Halloween is a supernatural tale, it is also a coming-of-age story. This means that it involves getting into the “head space” of the story’s adolescent protagonists.
Some aspects of adolescence are universal. But others are heavily dependent on changing generational factors.
I’m a member of Generation X (born in 1968). This generation reached the early teen years of adolescence around 1980—the year in which 12 Hours of Halloween is set.
I figured that I could depict the adolescent experience in 1980 most accurately, because I actually lived it. (I turned 12 in 1980.) I’ve written before about the perils of middle-age adults writing about the present-day teen experience: During the 1980s, most of the teen films were written by Baby Boomers; and certain aspects of these movies seemed anachronistic, because the scriptwriters were actually writing about the teen experience of the 1950s and 1960s—even though they thought they were writing about the 1980s.
Another reason I chose to set 12 Hours of Halloween in 1980 is: The past is haunted.
The year 1980 is now 40 years in the past. (1980 was 35 years in the past when I published 12 Hours of Halloween in 2015.)
That is recent enough to be accessible to most readers, but distant enough to be surrounded by a certain haziness.
That year is not quite like our own. After all, in 1980, there was no Internet, and no cell phones. We had television, but cable TV was still a “new” thing.
It isn’t difficult to believe that in 1980, wayward spirits and vengeful supernatural creatures walked the earth in one Ohio suburb—just like in the book.