Since he was a junior in high school, John Juettner knew he wanted to write. Now as a MU alumnus, the Chicago writer recently published his first long-form work of fiction, a novel titled “The Mother Who Loved Halloween.”
“The Mother Who Loved Halloween” is a mystery thriller that tells the story of three main characters who all become connected on one Halloween night when a boy goes missing. The first character is the boy’s mother, who has to deal with his disappearance and the aftermath of the event; the second is the detective who tries to figure out what happened; and the third is the person responsible for the disappearance.
An extra layer is added to the story from an underlying force of evil. Juettner said the intangible force is at the more literary end instead of the more plot-driven end.
“It’s my own little literary device to try to look at some different aspects of how human nature works,” Juettner said. “But it’s always kind of present, driving these characters one way or the other.”
Juettner said his desire to write was solidified after he attended a writer’s week at his high school. When he started seriously considering colleges, MU seemed like an attractive option; he decided to major in journalism with the hopes of getting a full-time job as a sports reporter and writing novels on the side.
Juettner ended up deviating from his original plan — he now works for a law firm in downtown Chicago, but still manages to write in his spare time. He said the hour-long train rides to and from work offered a good time to work on the novel.
The idea for “The Mother Who Loved Halloween” was born Juettner’s sophomore year at MU, during a creative writing class. One week, he got an assignment to write a free-form poem. The poem he wrote for the assignment became the starting-off point for the novel.
“(The poem) kind of turned into a rough outline of one of the more important scenes in this book,” Juettner said, “so really the genesis of the idea for this novel started while I was in that poetry class at Mizzou because if I wasn’t in there, I don’t know, maybe the idea wouldn’t have come.”
Juettner said the reception he has received has been positive. He got many responses in the first seven to ten days after the book was released, meaning readers finished the e-book fairly quickly.
“People have said they were reading it in two or three days or a weekend or something like that,” Juettner said. “That’s the kind of story I wanted it to be. I wanted it to keep the pace going really, really fast and keep the pages turning by throwing in enough suspense and mystery and action to really keep the plot moving forward.”
“The Mother Who Loved Halloween” can be purchased through various e-book suppliers, including Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Apple.