Meet the Hoffman Estates woman who makes a career out of scaring people

 
By Gilbert R. Boucher II
gboucher@dailyherald.com
Updated 10/24/2014 1:27 PM
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  • Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates plays "Skitzo," as she works with "Sin-ta the Evil Santa" to terrorize customers entering the Realm of Terror in Round Lake Beach.

      Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates plays "Skitzo," as she works with "Sin-ta the Evil Santa" to terrorize customers entering the Realm of Terror in Round Lake Beach. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Haunted house actress Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates plays an elf named "Skitzo," as she tells David Oliver of Gurnee a secret at the Realm of Terror in Round Lake Beach.

      Haunted house actress Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates plays an elf named "Skitzo," as she tells David Oliver of Gurnee a secret at the Realm of Terror in Round Lake Beach. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Haunted house actress Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates plays an elf named "Skitzo," at the Realm of Terror in Round Lake Beach.

      Haunted house actress Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates plays an elf named "Skitzo," at the Realm of Terror in Round Lake Beach. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates is a haunted house actress and the author of a collection of horror stories. She has written a paranormal novel called "Guardians of Light" and has a website that features her stories and book.

      Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates is a haunted house actress and the author of a collection of horror stories. She has written a paranormal novel called "Guardians of Light" and has a website that features her stories and book. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates wears skull earrings while working on a collection of horror stories. The haunted house actress has written a paranormal novel called "Guardians of Light" and has a website that features her stories and book.

      Jackie Sonnenberg, 30, of Hoffman Estates wears skull earrings while working on a collection of horror stories. The haunted house actress has written a paranormal novel called "Guardians of Light" and has a website that features her stories and book. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

'Tis the season for little boys and little girls to beware of evil Santa and his psychotic elf.

While area department stores are already stocking shelves with Christmas decorations, Jackie Sonnenberg of Hoffman Estates has been scaring the heck out of people as "Skitzo," a self-proclaimed schizophrenic elf, at the Realm of Terror Horror Experience in Round Lake Beach.

For the past five years, 30-year-old Sonnenberg has been creating her own frightening costumes and makeup and has storylines for her original haunted house characters that include "Boo Boo," the witch doctor, "Half Sergeant," the zombie hunter, and "Cloris McNasty," the hillbilly grandma.

"My very first job was at Extreme Hauntings in Fox Lake and I was a clown in the clown room. Someone gave me a clown costume and gave me clown makeup," Sonnenberg said. "I was just this crazy nut-job clown. I crawled into a barrel and I would rock back and forth and then I rolled out of the barrel and chased after people."

Sonnenberg's other talents involve writing. She received her first typewriter as a Christmas present when she was 6. She later majored in English, with an emphasis in journalism and creative writing, at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Recently, she started working with a local publisher and she wrote a crime book called "All That Glitters" that was published a year ago.

"Now, with all this horror, I am moving forward with the horror genre. My ultimate goal is to combine writing into haunting and merge those two together," Sonnenberg explained.

Her first venture is writing "Guardians of Light," a paranormal novel set on a college campus with ghost sightings. The 312-page book is in the editing stage.

Her horror writings and pictures of her haunted costumes can be found on her website www.jackiesonnenberg.com.

But it is her love for scaring people that makes her happy.

"Haunted houses are meant to scare you and meant to disturb you. But it is not meant to be threatening. It is actually very playful. If you can get underneath someone's skin and get inside someone's head, then they are going to remember that experience and that is what counts. We definitely like scaring people a lot," Sonnenberg said with a wry smile.

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