As many of you know, one of my favorite parts of writing The Romantics was reliving some of my best college days in Chapel Hill. And one of these was definitely Halloween. That’s us above doing, IMHO, a pretty amazing hero-and-villain thing. (We were #squadgoals before there were #squadgoals.) I went to Franklin Street that year—and every year—and I will never forget how freaking fun Halloween was in Chapel Hill.
So when I went to write a book set in Chapel Hill, OF COURSE I had to include some Halloween chapters. Without further ado, here is Gael’s experience on the very same Franklin Street (edited slightly to avoid spoilers). It includes both the Franklin Street bash and some reference to Cosmic (because no Franklin Street chapter is complete without a reference to my favorite food joint ever):
IT WAS GAEL’S FOURTH HALLOWEEN ON FRANKLIN STREET.
The street was packed, as it always was. Each year, students, professors, some high school kids like Gael, and people from colleges nearby descended on the stretch of Franklin that edged the campus. The city estimated about seventy thousand people came each year, making it one of the larger centers of Halloween revelry in the country.
As such, people took Halloween quite seriously in Chapel Hill, turning three or four blocks into a giant party packed with people wearing everything from mass- produced costumes of the Party City variety to elaborate group numbers that made you wonder just how much the UNC freshmen were actually studying for their midterms.
Gael had been no exception. At the end of September, he’d bought a couples’ costume to wear with Anika, Marc Antony and Cleopatra, but given the Mason-and-Anika situation, Gael thought it was too weird to use it with another girl. (Not to mention, Cara certainly wouldn’t have seen the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton film it was based on.) And so, a quick run to Target this afternoon had resulted in enough zombie makeup for a Walking Dead episode. It wasn’t as elaborate as his usual setup—past costumes had included the dude from A Clockwork Orange (bowler hat, eye makeup, and all) and the Joker from The Dark Knight—but it would have to do.
Now they were on Franklin, perfecting their jilted zombie walk, while Gael, unbeknownst to Cara, tried to hold it together. Lucky for him, the street offered plenty of distractions.
“Can we agree that mimes are creepier than zombies?” Cara asked, as the black-and-white troupe headed off in search of their next target.
“One hundred percent yes,” Gael said as a swarm of yellow Minions ran past them.
“Come on.” Cara linked her arm through his. “Let’s go this way.” There was a small break in the crowd, where a group of firefighters in high heels had just sauntered through.
She let go of his arm and turned to face him. “Having fun?”
He nodded forcefully, afraid she’d prod if he didn’t sound convincing. He couldn’t deal with any more serious discussions. Not now.
“I’m glad I’m here with you,” Cara said. She shivered and started to rub her arms.
“You want my jacket?” Gael asked. She was wearing a long-sleeve white shirt that they’d stained with fake blood, but had left her jacket at the dorm, complaining that it didn’t go with overall costume.
She shook her head. “I’m fine.” But her chin was shaking.
“Come on.” He started to unzip it.
“Uh uh,” she said. “Really, I’m fine.”
“Well, come here, then.” He put his arm around her,
pulling her close to keep her warm.
It was nice. It helped to quiet all the crap running through his head. A gaggle of Angry Birds and evil piggies ran past them, and he realized, suddenly, that this was exactly what he’d wanted, just a couple of weeks ago.
Cara nuzzled closer to him. “Thanks,” she said. “Looks like I’m totally unprepared.”
“Looks like you are,” he said, a bit robotically.
He nodded to Cosmic, down the street. “You want to go get some nachos?” he asked. “Try to warm up a bit?”
Cara looked up at him and smiled. “That sounds perfect,” she said. “Just perfect.”
Hope you all are having a delightfully spooky and fun Halloween, wherever you are!
Happy reading and Happy Halloween!