Horror novelist Gina Wohlsdorf comes to The Bookworm, Oct. 27
If you go …
What: Gina Wohlsdorf, author of “Security.”
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27.
Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Riverwalk at Edwards.
Cost: $10, includes appetizers
More information: Call 970-926-7323, or visit www.bookwormofedwards.com.
From haunted houses and scary movie marathons to the upcoming election, there’s plenty of ways to add a touch of terror to your life during Halloween week, and The Bookworm of Edwards has one more event to add to the pot. Today Gina Wohlsdorf will be at The Bookworm to discuss her new horror novel, “Security.”
Manderly is a resort hotel days away from an opening party. Built by an incredibly superstitious owner, the hotel elevator goes up to floor 20, yet skips the nonexistent floor 13. Tessa has been working tirelessly to fine tune the details of the grand opening, and readers are introduced to her as she is going on one of her many rounds.
She passes floor 15, unaware of the maid who has found a curious red stain she is attempting to get out of the carpet. At the same moment Tessa passes the 7th floor, the killer is washing his hands in one of the rooms. The story continues with most of the staff oblivious to any misgivings while the intruder sets about picking them off one by one.
Wolhsdorf’s language throughout her story suspends the reader as gore and terror sweep through each page. In “Security,” the author describes different scenes concurrently, with the page split into two to four different columns, each describing simultaneous happenings in varying locations of the hotel.
The narrator is completely detached throughout most of the story, watching it unfold yet not acting to save anyone. This unknown keeps readers guessing until they meet this narrator in the most unfortunate of circumstances.
Wohlsdorf never intended to write horror novels. In fact, she tried to stay far away from anything remotely scary in her youth.
“I had a pretty sheltered childhood,” she said. “I was a huge movie fan and was big time into books, but I could not handle anything scary. Not even the ‘Gremlins’! There is a scene in that movie that used to relentlessly haunt me.”
An unexpected turn
However, Wohlsdorf’s view on what was considered terrifying changed after an unexpected event.
“At age 13, I was hit by a car,” Wohlsdorf said. “This car hit me and I went flying into the air. I landed and broke my arm really badly. I remember looking at it and completely freaking out but then discovering this weird inner calm. After that experience, I had this thought. It didn’t make much sense to be afraid of the ‘Gremlins’ when you’ve just been hit by a car.”
From that moment on, Wohlsdorf couldn’t get enough. Plowing through books and movies she had always avoided, Wohlsdorf had finally discovered a niche she never expected to enjoy. She had always written, even as a child, so her newfound love eventually made its way to the page.
“‘Security’ came together though many different things,” Wohlsdorf said. “I knew I wanted it set in a hotel, so I mapped that out. After I finished that map, I put it in an idea folder and left it alone.
“Later on, I got this job with a crazy boss. I learned she bugged the break room in addition to installing video surveillance. This always gave me a very strange feeling. Then, in grad school, I was assigned to read a very strange novel that was told with this deeply detached voice. When all three of those things came together, I had my story.”
Sarah Taylor, longtime bookseller at The Bookworm with a longtime aversion to anything remotely scary, said she wound up enjoying “Security” more than she thought.
“Gina can’t handle Gremlins, I couldn’t handle Oompa Loompas,” Taylor said. “To this day, I cannot watch anything scarier than Disney. But I picked this up in preparation for Gina’s visit. I cannot tell you how enthralled I was.
“Yes, I was terrified. Yes, there were moments where I felt sick. And yes, I made my cat sleep right next to me for a week. But I flew through the pages, trying to figure out what was happening. There are things in Gina’s writing that are absolutely brilliant, and for that, I am glad I picked up her book.”
“Security” is certainly not for the faint of heart. There is no candy corn sugar coating the horror within the pages. But it does offer something unique.
“It offers a different idea of what horror is,” Wohlsdorf said. “One of the more horrifying moments of ‘Halloween’ is when Jamie Lee Curtis is on the street having temporarily escaped, shrieking for help. She is in this place that should be riddled with help, but no one wants to be bothered. It offers this moment of loneliness.
“This is the type of fear I tried to capture in my book. The reader doesn’t have the ability to move. The reader can only stick around to see who, if anyone, is still with them at the end.”