My inspirations were books about supposedly true hauntings and the fact that there was a “haunted house” in my neighborhood . . . right next door, as a matter of fact. But I actually was a big fan of science fiction, and I was doing those kind of stories too, as well as “war stories” starring kids in my classes. Those made me fairly popular because everybody either wanted to survive or die as heroes, and I had their fates in my hands.