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Friday 13th – NOT the scariest night of the year . . .

TheSleepover Friday13th not the scariest night of the year?

Along with February 14th, April 1st and December 25th, Friday the 13th is one of those dates so deeply ingrained in our collective unconscious that the mere mention of it conjures up an array of troubling images. You’ve heard of the movie; you know all the superstitions. This is the day you avoid walking under that ladder … when you feel a slight frisson of dread as a black cat crosses your path.


However rational we like to believe we are, there is still a little voice inside our heads that warns us not to mess with dark forces: not to tempt fate by thumbing our nose in it … not to book something important on this apocryphal date. No one wants to get married on Friday 13th; no one wants a job interview that day. Because bad things might happen, right?


So, my question to you, the reader, is: Would you let your child have a sleepover on Friday 13th?

If your son or daughter begged you to let them go, would you succumb to superstition – just to be on the safe side – and refuse? Or would you dare to defy ‘all that mumbo jumbo’ and let them go without a second thought?


When 12-year-old Nick pesters to join his friends for a Friday night of fun and friendship in my novel, The Sleepover, his mum Izzy doesn’t register the date at first. All she thinks of is that it’s a year to the day since her son was bullied so badly, he ended up in hospital. Only after Nick disappears does Izzy’s mind turn to the significance of the date – and fear, followed by panic, begins to set in …


In truth, though, bad things can happen on any day of the year, and in setting my book on Friday 13th, I wanted to highlight the deceptive ordinariness of an everyday event most of us wouldn’t think twice about arranging. A Friday-night sleepover: what could be more normal, less terrifying?


But for me, true terror arises not out of superstition and demonic legend, but out of this very ordinariness. Do we know who our children talk to online? How well do we really know their friends? Are we too complacent in trusting the people around us – friends, neighbours, teachers? What questions should we ask before letting our children stay in someone else’s home?


I set The Sleepover on Friday 13th not because it’s the scariest night of the year, but because it isn’t. Threat can lurk around the corner at any time; danger doesn’t always appear dressed in a clown mask. It can catch us unaware, when we least expect it, and that was the nightmare I set out to explore in my novel: Who would you trust with your child?