Hauntingly Good Stories: Wait Till Helen Comes(ft. Mary Downing Hahn, Chantel Acevedo, & J.A. White)
There is much to be learned from stories, whether they feature ghosts, witches, or monsters, even when they scare us. It is the lessons learned in the face of darkness that make supernatural stories important for young readers. And, it is telling, that stories of ghosts and graveyards stay with us. They might cause us a bit of grief, but when we face them, we face ourselves, our fears, and our histories, and in confronting them we learn collaboration, problem-solving, empathy, and companionship.
In this episode, we dredge up some Halloween spirit and examine our favorite graveyards and the ghosts that haunt them. J.A. White and Chantel Acevedo join the Queen of Tween Screams, Mary Downing Hahn to appreciate her supernatural classic, Wait Till Helen Comes. A self-proclaimed scaredy cat, Mary shares how the dysfunction of the family at the center of her book served to create an opening for a ghost to entice itself into a renewed existence. Mary, J.A., and Chantel unearth the dark secrets and histories of villains and ghastly beings to help readers understand that whatever haunts their nightmares just may hold an important lesson.
To learn more about Mary Downing Hahn’s, J.A. White’s, or Chantel Acevedo’s books, visit harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/mary-downing-hahn
Do you have a story about how a classic book changed your life? Tweet @readingpod or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at rememberreading.com. And, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.
[1:58] Mary shares the frightful churchyard revelation that became/inspired Wait Till Helen Comes.
[4:01] Chantel reflects on how Mary succinctly portrays the complex yet simple way many children think about death.
[6:51] J.A. White believes the supernatural elements of Wait Till Helen Comes only add to the existing tension of the underlying family drama.
[7:38] Mary shares how writing about a blended family adds conflict and makes her story relatable to young readers.
[11:34] In The Curse of Spectacle Key, Chantel’s young characters are encouraged to feel free from the pressures of growing up and that loving and being loved is enough.
[16:30] J.A. White loves the idea of budding young authors identifying with the plight of Alex from Nightbooks, and Gravebooks.
[19:46] In their books, Mary, Chantel, and J.A. all explore the lurking pasts of their villains and how that history shapes their fears and actions.
[21:21] In The Curse at Spectacle Key, the main character Frank has a mission to break the curse of the island and expose the hidden history of orphaned ghosts.
[25:27] Mary recalls the many different responses she has received about Wait Till Helen Comes from 1986 when supernatural books were a point of debate.
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“It speaks about death in ways that are emotionally complex but also simple to grasp.” — Chantel Acevedo, author, The Curse on Spectacle Key
“Sometimes I forget who I am writing for when I am caught up in writing. When I really get into the book it is almost like the story is telling itself.” — Mary Downing Hahn, author, Wait Till Helen Comes
“She uses all these supernatural elements to augment the tension that is already there. I think that is my favorite type of supernatural story.” — J.A. White, author, Gravebooks on Mary Downing Hahn’s Wait Till Helen Comes
“A ghost is the ultimate outsider.” — Mary Downing Hahn, author, Wait Till Helen Comes