Campfire Tales, How “Cabin Twelve” was Born

“Cabin Twelve” wasn’t the first story that I wrote for the NGHW Campfire Tales challenge. I started with an entirely different concept about a lake monster that lured victims into the deep using the reanimated bodies of its previous kills. While I still think there is a good story lurking in there somewhere, no matter how many iterations I went through, it never felt right for the challenge that had been set. I wanted to end my story by giving the reader a sense of danger, as if their fate could be the next one told in hushed voices around the fire.

In the end, I scrapped that text (not really, never really—I save everything) and went back to what I knew best. Horror writing allows me to confront my own fears from real life in a safe, secure environment. I drew on my own experiences as a camp counselor to write “Cabin Twelve.”

There are stories more horrifying than those told around the fire to scare the kids. Counselors really don’t tell the campers about the real dangers: drowning, injury, exposure, loss. We want to frighten them, but only with things in the realm of the impossible. The true horror stories of camp are those of children’s lives cut short. As a counselor, my biggest fear was for the safety of the children under my care. I wanted to bring that out of the shadows in “Cabin Twelve.”

Campfire stories always have an element of the unexplained, a bump in the night, a monster that comes from shadows, things that should be dead, but persist. This spurred the idea of featuring the children that had died at camp through the years but somehow stick around. Once I had a group of children, I loved the idea of them all staying in a ghostly cabin just like the other campers.

I fell in love with the kids from “Cabin Twelve.” I want to work with them more, show more of their story. I think they lend themselves to a horror/comedy setting. Maybe I’ll write a series of short fiction that follows these strange, grim children through their immortal childhoods.


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Dear Reader,

You’ve been invited to a very special night of Campfire Tales, hosted by HorrorAddicts.net. Meet us at Old Bear Creek, just past Dead Man’s Curve. Dress warm. We’ll be waiting.

Four scary tales told by Next Great Horror Writer finalists and woven together by a trek through the woods you’ll never forget.

“Cabin Twelve” by Daphne Strasert
When a camp counselor goes on patrol, she finds an extra cabin in the woods that no one knows about…or do they?

“The Face” by Naching T. Kassa
An ailing mother and her daughter are terrorized by a disembodied face.

“When the Wind Leaves a Whisper” by Jess Landry
Girl Scouts in the 40s experience a frightening occurrence in the woods.

“Goose Meadows” by Harry Husbands
Two friends out drinking at night discover the real horrors of Goose Meadows.

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