I'm kicking things off, not with my latest book, but with one that's so appropriate for the season. The leaves are blowing and the air is turning crisp. That can only mean one thing -- Halloween is in the air! Naturally, you can host a Halloween book club for any book, but why not read a Halloween book like THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE?
Surprise! This isn't something one usually plans for a book club, but what fun to come in costume! Hats and boas, Happy Potter glasses, witch tights, kitty faces, and vampire capes. It's all in good fun.
There are plenty of Halloween decorating hints in THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE. If you're worried that they'll all be complicated Natasha-style ideas, don't worry. It's easy enough to set up a table with a few elements that will scream Halloween. An orange or black tablecloth. Black candles! What? Your silver candle holders are tarnished? All the better. Add a pumpkin or two and it's ready. When you talk about the book, be sure to turn down the lights and discuss it by candle light. (Note: I am not responsible for things that might go bump in the night.)
I've made it easy for you. They're on my website right here. But feel free to make up your own questions, too!
If you're part of a group that goes all out, then by all means make Dead Man's Bones. They are simply delicious. Add Ghost Potatoes and a salad and you've got a whole meal.
Reader Lisa Jennings Perry made these mummies for an office party a couple of years ago. So cute and always popular. The recipe is in THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE.
If you're more inclined to sweets, you can't go wrong with my Autumn Spice Cupcakes. They're everyone's favorite. Skip the cute lion faces. Make mini cupcakes and pop one piece of candy corn on top of the frosting to decorate.
Dips are always great for a group, too. If time is at a premium, buy hummus and add the carrot fingers as described below. Or make Caramelized Onion Pinto Bean dip, which is gluten-free and appropriate for vegetarians and vegans, too.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small to medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
five gnarly carrots
five almond slices
Saute the onion in the olive oil slowly over low-medium heat. Give it time to caramelize and flavor the oil. Set aside to cool. When cool, add the onions and olive oil to a food processor along with all the other ingredients except the garnish. Process until creamy, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Peel five carrots and cut to finger lengths plus an inch or so to stick in the dip. Add a dab of the dip to the tops as "glue" for the almond slice "fingernail." Insert in dip.
Serve with carrots and your favorite crackers.
And just for fun, here's an excerpt from THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE. It takes place during a seance. Madame Poisson is communicating with a spirit.
When I sat down and joined hands with Bernie and Jen again, Madame began to hum.
She stopped and muttered, “Good heavens! What are you doing? I don’t know what that means.
Charades? We have to play ghost charades? Okay, look, I watched Ghost about fifty times, but this isn’t anything like that. You’re going to have to give me some help.”
Maggie appeared to be the only one with her eyes closed. “Please, Patrick. Tell us the name of the vampire!”
“Aha. Good,” said Madame Poisson. “First name. No? First word? You look like you’re doing the YMCA dance. How about this? I’ll ask questions and you answer by knocking. Once for yes, twice for no.”
She cleared her throat. “Was it a man?”
Mars and Jen broke into smiles. We waited for a response, everyone, except Maggie, gazing around as though we expected to see spirits.
To my complete amazement, we heard a tiny ping in the sun room.
Mars leaped to his feet.
Madame Poisson motioned him to sit. “Do not disturb the spirits. Is he here with us tonight?”
I found myself holding my breath. When we heard another ping in the sun room, Bernie leaned over and whispered, “How is she doing that?”
I shrugged. I had no idea. Even worse, only nine of the people sitting in my living room were men, and I could eliminate everyone except Leon, Dash, Ray, Karl, and, I supposed, Blake. Of course, we all knew that the pings didn’t mean anything. Still, they were very odd . . .
Madame Poisson breathed heavily. She swayed ever so gently, her eyes closed. Beads of perspiration broke out on her brow, she lifted a hand, her head tilted back, and she slid from her chair onto the floor with a thump.