Creating Your Vintage Hallowe'een is one of my favorite Halloween books this year. I reached out to author Marion Paull, an English editor and writer who has worked in publishing for many years, to learn a little more about the book, and her take on Halloween.
Señor Scary: This is an utterly charming Halloween book. What do you enjoy most about Halloween?
Marion Paull: The history, first and foremost, which is tied in with how the traditions came about. I love trying to trace it all back and discovering what we really know, what are assumptions, more or less likely, and what’s in the realm of fantasy. I don’t have a problem with any of those – imagining how life may have been, based on what facts have come to light, seems quite valid to me, so long as interpretation is not presented as rock-solid fact.
Señor Scary: Even though Halloween is considered to have Celtic origins, it has a long, celebrated history in America. How did you settle on this particular subject matter?
Marion Paull: Celtic origins – or possible Celtic origins – are always a draw for me. And the vintage artefacts of Hallowe’en are so enchanting – the postcards and greetings cards with their rhymes and delightful artwork, wonderful costumes and masks, and loads of other ephemera there was no room to mention. These are all American. Turn of the century America was fabulous for Hallowe’en.
Señor Scary: Halloween is often considered the quintessential American holiday. Is Halloween celebrated in England?
Marion Paull: Yes, in the last few years it has become more popular. Up until then celebrations were very low key. It was still thought of as an old-fashioned affair with not much going for it. But then all the jazzed-up American celebrations looked such fun, I think the younger generation realized we were all missing out. So Hallowe’en has been revitalized – lots of trick-or-treating with adults supervising their kids (sensibly, for safety’s sake) and joining in with dressing up. Our street was full of jack o’lanterns last year, which I haven’t seen before.
Señor Scary: The book is exquisitely illustrated in full-color and published as a hardcover. This kind loving care is not often given to Halloween books. How did this project come about?
Marion Paull: Cindy Richards, Cico’s publisher, came across some old illustrations at a vintage craft fair in New York, loved them, and had the idea for a book on vintage Hallowe’en. We chatted about it and I went away and came up with a structure and synopsis and we took it from there.
Señor Scary: What is one of your favorite Halloween memories?
Marion Paull: When I grew up in the south of England, Hallowe’en was no big deal, but I always remember, after tea, sitting round the fire – real one, flames, flickering firelight, shadows, dark corners (no spider’s webs, though – that would’ve been serious fear!) – with my mum and my sister, and my dad reading us ghost stories. I was an imaginative child, so the shivers down the spine were all for real! That put Hallowe’en firmly on the map for me.
Señor Scary: After this book, you will likely have a large following of Halloween fans. We are an ardent bunch, so it begs the question: Any plans for a follow-up book?
Marion Paull: I’d love to do one and have a few ideas floating around. As I said, the turn of last century in America was a great time for Hallowe’en and there’s a lot more history to discover, the connection with the ragamuffins of New York for example. Then Celtic myths and legends from way back are fascinating and could do with some more delving and retelling – and right through medieval times up to all those lovely, gothic Victorian ghost stories.
A sincere THANK YOU to Ms. Marion Paull for entertaining our questions, and to Yvonne Doolan of CICO Books for facilitating our conversation.