Happy Birthday, War of the Worlds!

I first heard the original War of the Worlds broadcast in Sister Barbara Jean’s 8th grade reading class. The first ten minutes or so gave me goose bumps and sparked my love of old time radio. It made such an impression on me that I set my first mystery, The Darkness Knows, in October 1938 to coincide with the original Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast on October 30, 1938 (a character is actually listening to the live broadcast near the end of the book).

Do yourself a favor and listen to the original (It’s brilliant and so far ahead of its time.):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzC3Fg_rRJM

One of my current favorite radio shows, Radiolab, did a fascinating episode around the psychology of the broadcast – why it worked so well and what happened when it was repeated (spoiler alert – bad things): Radiolab War of the Worlds Live Episode 

There’s also a PBS documentary on the subject: American Experience War of the Worlds

Old Time Radio Wednesday – Halloween #6 Snow Shadow Area

I’ve saved the creepiest of the lot for last. Today’s program is another not-so-old-time radio production. Snow Shadow Area is an episode of the Canadian show Vanishing Point from 1986. I’m not sure what draws me to horror stories about people being stranded by snow (see my earlier entry in this series, The Porch Light), but this one is by far the freakiest – especially because of the ambiguous ending.

Listen and hear for yourself.

Old Time Radio Wednesday – Halloween #5 Valse Triste

Lights Out is head and shoulders above all other horror old time radio, in my opinion. It’s so original – and so dark.

I’ve previously shared an episode of Lights Out called It Happened. Today I’m sharing an episode from December 29, 1942 called Valse Triste that is the horrific story of two young women that get lost in the woods and come upon a hermit’s cabin. The hermit… well, he has plans.

Old Time Radio Wednesday – Halloween #4 The House in Cypress Canyon

This episode from December 5, 1946 is a bit hard to describe, so bear with me. It’s a story within a story about a notebook found in a house that was just recently built telling of what happened to the people that lived in it before. That’s right – before. It’s truly spooky, and Suspense is just the best. Sidenote: The star of this episode, Robert Taylor, was the physical inspiration for hunky Graham Yarborough in my books. Hubba hubba.

Old Time Radio Wednesday – Halloween #3 The Porch Light

Here’s another entry that’s radio drama but not really “old time”. This spooky tale is from a 1980s Canadian series called Nightfall.

There are so many chilling episodes of this series, but this week I’ve chosen “The Porch Light” about a couple newly moved into a remote farm house. They’re stranded by a heavy snowfall when a mysterious visitor comes to call.

Click here to listen.

*Last week’s horror share was Three Skeleton Key.

Old Time Radio Wednesday – The BBC’s “Pet Sematary”

I had originally planned on sharing four shows during the month of October in honor of Halloween, but I love horror radio drama so much that I couldn’t settle on just four.* So I’m starting the horror before October so I can squeeze six + in. With my first selection, I’m also breaking my own rules by recommending a radio drama that isn’t “old time”. These recordings are 20 years old now though, so I think they’re officially considered vintage.

I think this three-part version of Pet Sematary produced by BBC radio in 1997 is better than the movie. I’ve never read the book (one of the very few Stephen King books I haven’t read), but this adaptation seems closer to the feel of a Stephen King book than the movie. I don’t know about you, but movie special effects have got nothin on my imagination.

Click here to listen. 

You can also download all 3 parts from this site to your phone and listen on your commute (like I did).

*I’ve already shared 4 of my scary favorites – The Ravine, Zero Hour, The Creeper, and It Happened.

Little Free Library Love

I started noticing them a few years ago – one at a petting farm last summer and one in Mt. Horeb, WI (the troll capital of the US). I thought they were cute, but there weren’t any near my house or any that I passed on a daily basis. Then I realized I had 2 boxes of leftover ARCs of The Darkness Knows (and a new book coming out in less than a month), so I pulled up the old little free library map. I started to go hunt out LFLs I could visit on my lunch break at work, but there are only so many of those.

Then this past Saturday I found myself with a whole day of not much to do and some beautiful weather, so my 8-year-old and I went on a little free library scavenger hunt in southern Wisconsin. It was a blast – and truly a hunt, since we had to find most of them by GPS coordinates. I left a signed TDK in each and picked up many middle grade books for Kate (along with a few books for myself). I think we’ll do it again next weekend. I’m also seriously considering getting a little free library of my own. Now I just have to convince the husband that it’s a good idea to have strangers stop by our yard…

You can find LFLs near you on this handy map.

And if you’re inspired to get your own you can build your own from plans or order them fully assembled or in kits.

If you have an LFL and you’re in NE Illinois or SE Wisconsin let me know. I’ll stop by with a book!

 

Old Time Radio Wednesday – Suspense “Sorry, Wrong Number”

In honor of my upcoming birthday (next Monday), I’m featuring my absolute, hands-down favorite old time radio episode of all time – “Sorry, Wrong Number” from my all-time favorite radio show, Suspense.

This episode features Agnes Moorehead (You probably know her as Samantha’s interfering mother, Endora, from Bewitched) as a sickly woman who overhears a menacing telephone conversation. That’s all I’m going to tell you. I don’t want to spoil it.

This episode originally aired August 21, 1943 and was repeated several times throughout the twenty years Suspense was on the air.

The story, by Lucille Fletcher, was turned into a 1948  movie starring Barbara Stanwyck (one of a my favorite sass-mouthed dames). The radio show is far superior, in my opinion, due to the restrictions of the medium. It makes it so much scarier to not be able to see anything that’s happening…

Anyway, I hope you love it as much as I do.