Children believe that monsters exist.
I encourage this.
Adults don’t believe in monsters.
This hurst my heart.
Except this time, we were on our own.
An artist and a journalist, both with a passion for the macabre, and both on a mission to bring monsters into the hearts of every child. And so… Underneath the Juniper Tree was born; a monthly PDF magazine, full color, riotous artwork, and disturbing stories.
I’ve always loved monsters. When I was in elementary school, I slunk down in the school library stacks and read every chilling book I could find… Goosebumps, Ghost Stories (Hardy Boys), The Haunting of Third Grade, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Good Omens, and of course the Brothers Grimm and Edward Gorey… over and over again. I constantly watched the original George Romero Night of the Living Dead. Twilight Zone. Creepshow. Elvira…
When I was older, I always had a Fear Street book rolled up in my back pocket–reading them in between classes and dance practice. I was the girl who tried to convince her friends to spend Hallowe’en in the local graveyard.
Children are so lucky these days (yes, I am old enough to say that now). They have books and television galore that satiate their desire for horror. When I was younger, I had to seek it out. And then I had to either hide it from my parents or argue with them to the death. I didn’t care if Fear Street’s The Face kept me up at night for a week straight. I didn’t care if I had a permanent bed on my parent’s floor. That was all part of the fun. I didn’t mind that I thought my house was haunted. I thought, bring it on, you bastards!
Now that I am in my late 20’s, I realize two things: (1) monsters truly exist and (2) we control them.
A story: My dear friend and I were babysitting her 4 year old niece. Said niece wanted to go upstairs, but each time she went to turn the corner, she came back saying there was a mean monster at the top of the stairs and she was too afraid to go up there. We had a few options: (1) tell her that monsters don’t exist and brush it off, (2) accompany her up the stairs or (3) be honest with her. Suffice it to say, her mother wanted option one. Her aunt (my friend) wanted option two. And I wanted option three.
What is honesty in this situation? And how would it help her, you ask? Well, I very rudely, and quite out of turn, told my friend and her sister to be quiet for a moment. I looked this little girl in the eyes, a little girl so terrified of a monster that in her mind was as real as this post you are reading and thought to myself, “Who’s to say this monster isn’t real?”
Who am I to doubt her?
I told her to close her eyes and yell at that monster. I told her to tell that monster that it wasn’t welcome there and that it needed to go away. When she opened her eyes, I asked if the monster was still there. She looked up at me, a beaming smile, and said it was gone. She bound up the stairs and the problem was solved. But not only was that one singular problem solved. That day, she found courage and innovation to deal with her fears.
Why do we feel the need to talk down to children? Children are smarter than we are in spades. Their minds are so untainted by the daily crap we deal with, jobs, difficult relationships, money issues, etc., their purity leaves them open to ideas and intelligence we can only wish we had.
At UNDERNEATH THE JUNIPER TREE this is what we strive to do: foster the intelligence and creativity in children by giving them monsters. Sounds silly doesn’t it? Hear me out: It’s my personal motto that horror delves into the depths of the psyche and fertilizes innovation, originality, and artistry. If we shirk or shrink away from horror, we shut down a vital part of our brain. The part that forces us to take uncertain plunges.
What’s life without a few uncertain plunges?
Over the last year, Underneath the Juniper Tree has amassed twelve issues. Each issue has been no less that 80 pages, many going up into the 100s. We’ve shared original stories from some of the most talented children’s writers I’ve had the pleasure to work with. We have featured original full-color artwork from artists so talented they have no business working with our humble little magazine. Rebekah Joy Plett and I have been so incredibly blessed to work with these selfless individuals who’ve made it possible for us to bring our dream to fruition; our dream of scaring, scarring, and fostering creativity.
Underneath the Juniper Tree has decided to print an anthology which we intend to sell so that some of the best work from the past year can finally find itself in print, where it deserves to be. Because we want the anthology to look and feel as epic as the stories and art inside, we’ve started an IndieGogo account to raise the funds we need to do this justice.
We understand not everyone can donate. And truthfully, if you have read this far into this post, frankly, you’ve already done enough. But if you can’t donate, we would love for you to spread the word. We have a fantastic fan base, but we need your help to spread the word further than our Juniper Circle.
We posted our campaign yesterday at 5pm and we have already raised almost 500$. You all are my reason for living. Well, that and scaring children ;)
Issues of Underneath the Juniper Tree: http://issuu.com/underneaththejunipertree
Monsters are real
And Ghosts are real too
They live inside us