Friday, May 30, 2014

Hallie: Writing what creeps me out...

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm on the final stretch, addressing in final comments from my editor, printing the whole thing out and making my own final pass through Night Night, Sleep Tight.  While I'm focusing on finishing, in another part of my brain a new story is opening up, and already I can't wait to get back to it.

Working title: Hush Baby My Dolly. It's inspired by my friend Mary Alice's experience cleaning out her mother's house and having to deal with decades of possessions her mother had been unable to part with. When Mary Alice got down on her hands and knees, drew back the bed skirts, and looked
under her mother's four-poster bed, she found paste boxes full of doll parts. Legs, arms, bodies, and most unnerving of all, eyes.

She told me about how her mother made her own dolls. She made their clothing, made their wigs. She told me her kids were afraid to sleep in the bedrooms with all those dolls watching them. Her mother called them "sissies." And she told me about her mother's eccentric friend who
looked like porcelain doll -- pink hair, pale skin -- who'd call her mother up and say, “Honey, would you like to come over and play dolls?” They’d have lunch and paint and sew. Mary Alice's mother would bring over her golden retriever and friend would brush the dog's hair, saving it to make hair for her dolls.

Now dolls have always creeped me out -- I was always sure mine were up and about and making mischief the minute I was out of sight. I turned them to face the wall so they couldn't watch me while I slept. So my friend's story resonated.


In my novel, the woman with doll parts under the bed will not be a doll collector. She has all those doll parts because... I haven't figured that out yet but I'm dying to find out. Her niece will come to prepare the house for sale and get freaked out by the caches of doll parts. She'll soon discover that the doll wigs are made of human hair, and their outfits made from fabric cut from children's clothing.


I've written about ten pages, most of which I'm fairly sure will wind up in the circular file. And I took a trip to Jenny Baby's Doll Hospital. The owner, "Jenny," gave me a crash course in doll repair. (I took these pictures there.)


She showed me what boxes and boxes of doll parts would look like. And she had her own share of  stories to tell.  She told me about a couple who brought a doll to repair. The woman carried the doll into the house, cradled in her arms like it was a real baby. It had a real baby’s pacifier.

When Jenny asked the woman, “Is that your favorite doll?” the woman said "This is my baby," and the man added, "My favorite baby is out in the car.”
 

Am I the only one who's still recycling my childhood fears or have you gotten past them?


44 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Okay, I'm kind of creeped out, just reading about the dolls . . . and I loved dolls when I was growing up.
Now you've reminded me of the "Twilight Zone" episode about the doll and I'm wondering why the woman has all those doll parts under the bed . . . .

I'm looking forward to reading "Night Night, Sleep Tight" . . . .

Ramona said...

Dolls are terrifying. Like the niece in your story, I'd lose it if I found a cache of doll parts under a bed. The creep factor is pretty high here!

The wigs are not much better. My great aunt (age 96) moved into a care facility not long ago. The family had to find one that took cats because she would not leave her cat behind. She also insisted on bringing a big bag of wigs--not to wear, but because she puts them in a drawer and the cat sleeps with the wigs. Is that worse or better than doll parts?

Anonymous said...

Wow! Ramona, the cat and the wig story belongs with Hallie's under the bed story. This is one I'm really looking forward to reading. Mary Moody

Ellen Kozak said...

It could be worse. They could be CLOWN doll parts.

Edith Maxwell said...

I had no idea people found dolls creepy. That's the whole story of Raggedy Ann (and the Velveteen Rabbit), that the dolls come to life. I always found it enchanting to imagine.

That said, you've found the creepiest of ideas to work with, Hallie. I love it!

Hallie Ephron said...

Clown doll parts or just clown parts -- noses wigs... Thanks for that Ramona :-) hmmm

Hallie Ephron said...

Ellen very creepy
Joan not sure I saw that twilight Zone... Or that I should
It'll probably freak me out

Hallie Ephron said...

Edith I think you must have had a happy childhood
No monsters under the bed?

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

sounds deliciously creepy Hallie! I had some doll psrts from my mother's collection of stuffed dolls for the longest time. John finally persuaded me to throw them out...

Other than that, I had Barbie dolls. Not too creepy:)

Edith Maxwell said...

Hallie, I did have a happy childhood. My monsters came from reading Sherlock Holmes and Poe. After the lights went out, I knew that speckled band was coming out of a grate in the ceiling, and I could hear the telltale heart beating under the floor! This in about 4th grade...

Deborah Crombie said...

Eeeek, Hallie! I love this! I can tell already it's going to be a wonderful book. I didn't like dolls as a child. The only one I've kept is a replica of Jo in Little Women, and I only liked her because I loved the book.

My male cousin and I used to dismember Barbies. And no, neither one of us grew up to be serial killers:-)

I have to admit, however, that I do have more stuffed animals than is probably normal for an adult...

Jack Getze said...

She kept the doll parts under her bed in memory of her father, George, who was the town butcher and kept even stranger things under his bed.

Sounds really good, Hallie. Enjoy!

Deb Romano said...

I had a doll like the ones in your photographs. It was a hand-me-down from a distant cousin. I wasn't much of a doll person, either, but I loved that particular doll because it was different. (I never had a Barbie doll; I never heard of them until my two youngest sisters each had one.)

The childhood fear I never outgrew is a fear of spiders, but a painful allergic reaction to spider bites when I was five is responsible for that!

Ramona, your relative's cat beds might give me a nightmare...

Denise Ann said...

I am afraid of dogs -- several scary childhood encounters, and the world, when I was little, of unleashed and unfixed pets. I am still unsettled by dogs, although we have had them in the family. And, don't tell me on a hiking path where your giant beast gallops toward me, "She would never hurt anyone."

Love the creepy dolls. I love dolls, and raised four girls. They never had Barbies until they bought their own at yard sales -- usually somewhat deformed, but my girls incorporated the defective dolls into their endless games.

Maybe the protagonist recreated gruesome crimes in tableaux.

Ellen Kozak said...

When I was a child, I was terrified of a striped witch that I believed came up to our apartment through the walls from the basement. My mom could never figure that out, but she mentioned it to me when I was grown, and the answer had been right in front of her nose. She used Old Dutch laundry detergent (in the laundry room, in the basement). Ever see that woman in the striped skirt, brandishing a cudgel? Her face is turned away (what could be scarier?).

As to why I thought she was a witch, the hat she wore (ostensibly old Dutch) looked like the wimples on the heads of several of Disney's evil queens (and is there anything scarier than a Disney movie made for kids? The whale in Pinocchio? Snow White's stepmother?).

I thought all witches, and only witches, wore wimples, and I would flee, screaming, from the neighborhood nuns. Thanks, Walt.

Mary Sutton said...

Ooo, Hallie, I don't have a fear of dolls and your snippet already gives me the creeps. =)

I had a few dolls, but not many. Deborah Crombie, count me in the "too many stuffed animals for a normal adult" category. My husband cut me off when we got married (mostly).

I honestly don't remember having fears as a child. I remember trying to read Stephen King before bed and having to give it up because of the resulting dreams, but no lasting fears. And I don't know as I have real "fears" as an adult either. Things I don't like (like insects with too many legs - millipedes), but not fears.

Hmm.22585594 55

Kaye Barley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaye Barley said...

EEEEK! Doll parts!!!! Under the bed!!! nooooooooo.

I'm so glad I read this early in the day and not right before bed.

But I can't wait to read your book, Hallie! It sounds delicious!

I have always, always disliked dolls and yes, I think they're creepy.

It took a long time for my parents to "get" that I did not want a doll and I would not let them stay in my room. I would pile them up outside the bedroom door if they somehow made their way back in.

I wish I had been as clever as Debs and dismembered the things.

This just kept going on and on until finally, they were all taken to the attic, but my mother (who loved the little dolls) couldn't bring herself to get rid of them and gave them to me when she and my dad made the move from Maryland to Atlanta. I immediately ran an ad in the newspaper to sell them and sold the whole kit and kaboodle to a young man in his 20s who liked to make doll clothes.

I had a very happy childhood, except for the damn dolls.

The cat sleeping with the wigs is pretty creepy too. wow.

People are odd, huh??

The only thing I remember being scared of when I was little was snakes. And I still am.
Ridiculously so. Even a picture.

Karen in Ohio said...

Ellen, your comment about the clown parts made me laugh out loud.

I don't think I ever found either old dolls or clowns creepy. The one thing I remember being absolutely horrified about, that gave me the worst nightmares, and kept me from going to the basement at night for decades, was the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The original one, in black and white, totally cheesy, with no special effects at all. I was terrified about the possibility of those pods being left in our basement, for some reason.

One of my daughters had special uses for her Barbies--"extreme" sports. There was a moment of panic when I entered their playroom and saw a dozen Barbies hanging from their ankles. My first, awful thought was "mass Barbie suicide". Then I realized they were all bungee jumping. Phwew!

Karen in Ohio said...

Meant to add: the photos of those dolls ARE supremely creepy, Hallie. Can't wait to read how you work this into a tale.

Anonymous said...

My mother in law gave her great grand daughter a doll that could eat and drink etc. That dolls eyes were so weird. I had it in the room were Trinidy stayed when she came to our home. Trinidy was only 2 at the time and didn't like the doll. No one did, there was just something about it that made you feel uneasy. My son finally talked me into getting rid of it. I'm sure it would have given Trinidy nightmare in years to come.

Katherine Hyde said...

I was never afraid of dolls, but I don't think we ever completely leave our childhood fears behind. My big ones were dogs, spiders, and my parents not coming home some night (now it's my husband and kids not coming home). I'm now able to deal with many dogs and some (very small) spiders, but I'll always be nervous around them.

Kathy Reel said...

I enjoyed having dolls as a child, but I think my mother enjoyed buying them for me more. I always kept them in great shape, and my mother was horrified when my sister's kids got hold of them. They were not so gentle. I still have my Chatty Cathy, Charmin Chatty Cathy, Chatty Cathy Baby, Thumbalina, Tiny Tears, and Littlest Angel. The Chatties and Littlest Angel are in their original boxes. And, of course, I have a blanket chest full of Barbies, Kens, Midge, Scooter, Skipper, etc. I think Thumbalina is in the laundry room up high because she really freaked my kids out. My Littlest Angel doll has one eye permanently half shut, so she can be a little creepy, too. Wow, I didn't realize I had so many dolls still. They are put up, though, not displayed, so I'm not the weird doll lady that keeps them for company. I should maybe see if they're worth something.

Now, to Hallie. I can't wait to read Night Night, Sleep Tight. When can I pre-order it? Hush Baby My Dolly already has me hooked, too. You are my queen of creepy cool, Hallie. I have a board on Pinterest entitle "Creepy Cool," and I will have to add you to it. LOL!

Ellen, clown dolls would definitely be the creepiest of creepy. Debs, I don't know why Dexter came to mind when I read your comment. Hehehe! Ramona, the cat and the wigs gave me a shudder, too.

My fears from childhood relate mostly to grasshoppers or such hopping insects, as my big brother used to torture me by putting them down my shirt in the back. Still can't stand grasshoppers or crickets.

Susan D said...

I loved all my dolls and was never creeped out by them (except, currently, those portrait dolls made to look like actual children). I had many and played with them a LOT, mostly making clothes for them. (This makes me sounds like a real girly girl, but I'm not.)

Some tiny ones are still on shelves here and there (I'm now a miniaturist) but since I could never bear to exactly part with any of my old dolls, most are in boxes in my basement, in various stages of falling-apartness, because they tended to break ankles and fingers over the years.

But my daughter tells me she finds dolls creepy. I guess she always had stuffed animals or rag dolls, not the allegedly creepy kind with real faces.

Liz Straw said...

Parts are parts as they used to say in the commercial... I don't think anything about doll parts would really creep me out. I didn't really like dolls that much as a child, but I would play with them now and them and yes, my mother saved them all for me and I hope I can sell them... Clown parts I would just toss as fast as I can. I believe I attended a small circus at some point in my childhood and a clown entered my personal space and I didn't like it at all. I don't like them I am not really afraid of them, but I strongly dislike people dressed as clowns. I think today most people who dress as clowns are aware that there are people who dislike or are afraid of them and they do a better job at not entering personal space.

I am, however, terrified of anything that flies at me or near me. I was attacked by birds protecting a nest as a toddler and am legally blind in one eye (have been sine birth) thus have no depth perception. Bats are the worst (had one in the house this week, an anomaly, but completely terrifying. Birds and moths also have the same effect.

Jackie Baugh said...

Like Liz Straw, clowns creep me out, don't know why. Also digital representations of humans, as in "Polar Express". Can't watch that stuff.

stitchkat said...

Bungee jumping Barbies! Good thing I wasn't drinking anything when I read that.

I was never afraid of dolls - I only had 2, given to me before I demanded books for special occasions. I wrote stories with my dolls as characters.
By the way, no Barbies - didn't like them at all.

All that said, I find those parts and pieces pretty creepy! Looking forward to the book.

Diane Vallere said...

I have always been a fan of dolls--even went to doll shows with my mom when growing up--so this post takes dolls to a place I never imagined. Creepy! But I'm like Lucy: mostly Barbies. And Tiffany Taylor, whose top half of her head spun around so she could be either blonde or brunette. Even that sounds a little weird, come to think of it!

Mary Sutton said...

Oh, does anyone remember My Buddy from the 80s? A doll for boys. Only doll that ever creeped me out - he looked like Chucky.

Hallie Ephron said...

Deb Romano - funny you should mention spiders. Because what freaked Mary alive out reaching under the beds for doll parts was that there could be spiders... May have to use it

Hallie Ephron said...

Mmmm diamembered barbies
My daughter and a few ghoulish friends uses to play Headless Barbie's Clothing Store :)

Hallie Ephron said...

Denise Ann My kids have never forgiven me for yard sale barbies - traumatized them along with off brand My Buddy (demonically creepy)

Hallie Ephron said...

Great story Ellen Kozak - going to find the graphic from that box now
Fascinating where childhood fears come from

Hallie Ephron said...

Lucy Burdette is champion of insects with many hairy legs - Stuff of nifhtmares in her pipea

Hallie Ephron said...

Kay we were soul sisters!

Hallie Ephron said...

Body Snatchers soooo creepy because they were so ordinary

Hallie Ephron said...

Grasshoppers! A worthy addition to the pantheon of creep!

Hallie Ephron said...

I'm with Trinidy

Hallie Ephron said...

My daughter lusters after my buddy and all I could find was a knockoff BIG mistake

Hallie Ephron said...

Liz hope you never saw The Birds

Pat D said...

My best friend and I would combine our Madam Alexander dolls so we would have Nancy Drew and her chums to solve mysteries. Later we had Barbies, but they did other things. Mannequins creep me out. They just look evil.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

No way. Too creepy.
By which I mean--wonderful

Reine said...

Hallie, please write this book. I need to read it.

Sheryl Hagan-Booth said...

I just found this blog from the post you just now posted and love it! I repair dolls in my home and I'm so excited that you are completing your book pertaining to a doll. You do not know how excited I am right now. I want to get a hold of this book and review it as soon as I can.