The first ‘sleep with the lights on’ book I read was Firestarter. It was handed to me by my father. “You’re too old for Nancy Drew. Read this.” I loved it and not just because it felt like I’d graduated to the world of adult books. For months after reading it I was glaring at everyone who annoyed me and mentally immolating them. When you’re an adolescent female in a patriarchal evangelical world, there’s a lot of annoyance.
My youngest daughter was at a birthday party once and someone from the movie version was there. I know I made a mental note to share the book with her before she watched the movie version and recognized the person she knows IRL, but her version of adolescent angst includes refusing to read books or watch movies that I suggest.
Some of my favorite scary books as an adult are The Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens. They’re filled with ghosts, corpses, murders and secrets, but with deeply southern gothic twists. They’re also really fun books to read. It’s the kind of thing that you assign all your college students to read before tasking them with writing something creepy based on their own families.