With the release of a new Halloween movie that’s getting everyone reinvested in the franchise, it seems like the right time for me to really dive into something I’ve always been curious about but never found much information on; namely the Halloween Novels! Yes, there were three books written about Michael Meyers that weren’t adaptations of the movies, and what’s probably the most interesting thing about them is that, outside of co-creator Debra Hill, they are the only official Halloween media I can find that was created by a woman. Now I don’t this to come off as diminishing Debra Hill’s SIGNIFICANT contributions to the franchise (not to mention Jamie Lee Curtis as well as Danielle Harris who played Jamie Lloyd) but the director’s chair as well as writing duties outside of the first two films have ALL been held by men, so it feels at least SOMEWHAT significant that between 1997 and 1998 Kelly O’Rourke was tapped to write The Scream Factory, The Old Myers Place, and The Mad House; all three starring the one and only original slasher villain and all three are EXTREMELY hard to find! No seriously, if you want to read these you’re gonna have to drop some serious cash as listings go in the hundreds and none of them are available in any digital format.
Sadly this means that actually READING them is pretty much a no go, but we at can gleam a few details from a few sources out there with the best I’ve managed to find being Lair of Horror which has a really good amount of information about each of the books, so let’s look at them one by one!
The Scream Factory
First things first, while the books seem to try and fit themselves within the continuity at the time (this would be 1-6 since H20 hadn’t come out yet to reboot the franchise), there’s almost not connections to the previous films. No Laurie Strode, Jamie Lloyd, or Doctor Loomis in sight even though they all take place in Haddonfield. This first book is about Lori Parker and her friends who have been tasked with turning City Hall into a hip and happening hangout for all the cool kids on Halloween night which basically means they’re setting up a Haunted House for Michael Myers to start stabbing people in. One of the more… fascinating details (yeah, let’s go with that word) that I’ve been able to find is that Michael Myers kills and eats a dog which frankly seems a bit much, but then again it DOES answer the question as to whether or not he ACTUALLY needs to eat! I mean sure most of the movies take place in one night and you can probably skip a meal if you’re busy with something like MURDER, but Michael’s near immortality has always felt a bit like a gimmick and I like it whenever they give him just a little bit of human weakness.
The Old Myers Place
In this one, the parents of Mary White make the SAME MISTAKE that the Strode’s made in Halloween 6 (outside of being in that movie at all) by moving into THE OLD MYERS PLACE which I can only assume happened because there was a great deal on it. I haven’t read the book so I can’t confirm if this is the case, but from what I’ve gathered it has quite a few allusions to the first film such as Mary hiding in a closet like Laurie did and an ambiguous ending where he manages to evade capture and is still out there to stab another day. That’s about all I could find on the story, but it at least sounds like a better Haunted House story than Halloween Resurrection.
The Mad House
Christine Ray is the editor of the Haddonfield High School Paper who wants to do something exciting this summer and finds the perfect opportunity when a local film crew is going to the abandoned (I think?) Smith’s Grove Sanitarium to make a documentary about Michael Myers who unbeknownst to them is crashing there after escaping in The Old Myers place. Similar to their tenuous connection to the franchise itself, these books seem to take place in the same continuity as it seems that the book starts with Christine writing an obituary for the victims of the Old Myers House Massacre. I like the idea of them taking the story back to Smith’s Grove as it’s the second most significant setting in the franchise, but it feels like a really big lost opportunity to have Loomis come back into the story as instead we’re stuck with some dude named Dr. Blackwell; no doubt a distance relative of the ridiculously over the top Dr. Sartain in the newest movie. Based on the kill lists I’ve found on Lair of Horror, Kelly O’Rourke really stepped up the deaths in this one with a lot more kills and most of them done in rather unique ways such as surgical knives to the brain, electrocution, and a truck explosion.
Who is Kelly O’Rourke?
That’s about as much as I could find about the books themselves short of taking out a loan to buy them myself, but there’s more to the story than just that! First, the author Kelly O’Rourke has no other credits to her name other than these three books. Were these really the only novels she ever wrote, or could the name possibly be a pseudonym? Well as luck would have it, I managed to find an archived web page for HalloweenMovies.com from all the way back in 2006 where she gave an interview for the site, and you can read it in full at the previous link which is great because despite HalloweenMovies.com still being up, the interview itself is nowhere to be seen.
Now that interview is REALLY good and covers a lot of the details I was mostly curious about when researching these books (unfortunately I couldn’t find any specific credit there for the interviewer), but the key detail here is that we can say once and for all that Kelly O’Rourke isn’t a made up person and she has written more books than just these three, albeit under the name Kelly Reno. That said I’m still a bit unsure of what books she’s actually written. Kelly Reno isn’t the most OBSCURE name out there and it doesn’t help that she shares the name of a somewhat famous child star, so whenever I look up that name I feel I should take a few of the results I’ve found with a grain of salt before proclaiming them to be from her; especially with many books that lumped together under that name being of vastly different subject matters and writing styles.
Really, the only one I’m one hundred percent confident is from her is the one she mentioned in the interview; Misadventures & Merfolk. So what did I do? I went ahead and bought it! Hey, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying the Halloween books!
Misadventures & Merfolk
It’s pretty good! I mean I’m only two thirds of the way through it, but I enjoy a lot of what she brings to the story which is primarily how well she writes flawed characters. The protagonist as it were is Brendan James who writes travel books that chronicle his snarky and insufferable takes wherever he winds up. His first book was a smashing success but his follow-up doubled down on him being a total jackass and became a total mockery which means that the new book he’s working on, chronicling his travels around the British Isles, is his last real chance at staying relevant. The thing is, despite the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head, he just can’t get over his own cynical attitude to take in what he’s looking at and is just talking shit about everything around him; even when he gets to a village that has everything he could hope for! Wacky local customs, blood feuds, stories about mermaids actually being among them, and even with all THIS he never willingly engages with any of it outside of the beautiful Christine who just might happen to be one of those mermaids everyone is talking about! And the thing is, he’s not over the top or EXCEPTIONALLY EVIL in any way; he’s just a prick and Kelly Reno really seems to grasp that kind of awful mindset. It reminds me of American Psycho where Mary Harron manages to find the creeping sense of danger in a character who under most other directors would have unintentionally come off as BADASS or COOL (*cough* Tyler Durden *cough*). Kelly Reno finds the monster masked behind layers of cool bad-boy affectations and does a great job of conveying it throughout the story.
Having not finished the book though, I can’t say if it works all the way through. The thing that keeps nagging at me is that the story walks perhaps too fine a line between it’s bad characters getting what they deserve or at least being clearly understood as bad, and maybe trying a bit too hard to sympathize with them. I mean this guy should have gotten AT LEAST a half dozen ass kickings by the point I’m at in the book, but characters still seem to be cutting him more slack than he really deserves without him ever doing anything to improve his behavior. Hopefully we’ll get a nice Jacobian finale (maybe not as over the top as The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover), but even if it ends up squandering the ending I found enough to enjoy in this book, from the mermaid mythology being presented to the various characters who have their own issues hiding behind seemingly perfect masks, to recommend giving it a shot. Then again, I’m not a book critic and have no idea where this stacks up with other mermaid themed novels.
Now outside of the book itself, what we can we learn from its publication history and will it answer a few more questions about Miss Reno? If nothing else, can we confirm what other books may or may not be hers? Well the copyright page gives us a few details. The book was published by Victorian Essence Press which is a publisher under Reeds Press, however neither one of them turns up anything significant in a google search. What ended up helping a lot more was the website for the book.
Sadly the actual website is no longer up, but thanks to the magic of The Wayback Machine I was able to find an archived copy of the site. It didn’t provide A LOT of insight, but it did get me to a contact page which confirmed that she has written at least thirteen books.
So taking into account the three Halloween books and the nine books I was able to pull up from earlier, we’re STILL a book short and this is basically where I hit a wall. The only other thing I was able to grab from the archived site is an old e-mail address, so I sent one and am honestly not expecting anything from it, but if I hear back from her or anyone else I’ll certainly let you all know! The most recent thing I’ve been able to find about her is that she attended Mer-Con 2011 in Las Vegas according to this blog post I found from another author; KL Parry.
So What Now?
As far as the Halloween books, I’m not sure what can really be done if you want to read them, but at the very least we can let the publisher know that there IS a market out there for them however small it may be and that it would be nice if we could get them re-released as eBooks which hopefully wouldn’t be TOO arduous of a task. The books were published by The Berkley Publishing Group which is a division of Penguin Publishing, and their contact page can be found here. Personally I sent an e-mail to BerkleyNALpublicity@us.penguingroup.com, but that was just a guess on my end and if you think one of the other addresses would yield a better result (no response after almost two weeks for me!), then send a respectful message letting them know you’d like them to make the books more readily available which if nothing else will undercut the scalpers trying to hock these things for LUDICROUS prices. Other than that, I guess keep an eye out for them at your local flea markets and book fairs. You never know what you might stumble across!