REXBURG — Josh Allen, a professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho, has written created a new book titled called “Out To Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe.” His book will be available Sept. 3.
Allen’s been writing professionally for 18 years but his love of writing came at an early age. He said when he was young he had notebooks full of tales he wrote himself and it was a kind of hobby that grew into a passion for writing.
About five years ago Allen focused his writing on stories for children. He said choosing to go with a scary story theme for his first book to be published was natural. He’s always had an interest in monsters, the creepy, and macabre so it wasn’t too difficult a decision.
“I think that children today live in a pretty frightening world, there’s a lot going on that is difficult to deal with and fear is an emotion that they’re going to have to encounter,” he said. “This book allows children to experience fear in a safe way. They can encounter those emotions with fiction and can be better prepared.”
And, Allen said, writing spooky fiction for children is “wildly fun.”
“It’s the shiver you get down your spine. I loved it as a kid and I want to carry on that tradition,” he said.
These stories include everyday items that the average middle schooler might see. Like school crossing signs, paper towels, and stains but in a creepy and unsettling way.
“It’s best described as a ‘Twilight Zone’ for kids,” Allen said. “Since I wrote it with children in mind, there’s no blood, no gore, and no profanity anywhere in the book. Instead it’s full of zany and weird stories. For example, there’s a story about the boy and the girl who are trapped in the school crossing sign. And there’s one about a haunted paper towel dispenser in the boy’s bathroom. There’s one about a book report gone terribly wrong and another about an eerie stain on the cafeteria floor.”
Allen has taught creative writing at the BYUI for 15 years. He has a bachelor’s degree from BYU in English and a Master in Fine Arts from Old Dominion University in Virginia.
He’s written several short stories and essays for adults. And has been published in magazines that include Cricket and JuxtaProse.
When writing the book there were times he struggled and his family helped him along the way.
Allen said he often went to his children for advice.
“They would tell me which parts were funny and what jokes weren’t funny,” he said. “They would tell me if it was too scary because sometimes it was too scary. I guess you could say I sometimes used my kids as test subjects.”
Allen said his kids even helped him with the structure of his sentences and the book including one time his 16-year-old son, Taylor, advised him to write a joke at the end of one of his stories.
“They’ve been very supportive,” Allen said.
He said there were times when he thought he wouldn’t finish the book.
“My wife, she’s incredible,” he said. “She’s been so supportive and she’s encouraged me to write on days that I just wanna give up, when I think that it’s too hard. She sort of smiles at me and keeps me on track.”
The book is being published by Holiday House, and can be purchased at Barnes and Nobles or on Amazon. The book can be pre-ordered through Amazon now.