Lately I’ve been feeling the pull of dark things. Not in reality, but dark fiction. ‘Tis the season of horror, and I have been reading a lot, writing a little myself and thinking about what exactly it is that makes for good horror or thriller fiction. Of course, to be effective, horror writing has to conjure and communicate a sense of fear. I presume that when most writers go for the scary, they start with things that are personally terrifying. A bit of a twist on the old adage “write what you know” — write what you know scares the crap out of you. So I decided to do a little brainstorming about my own fears (the logical and probably universal, to some of the weirder ones that might make people say “Wha?! That scares you?”). I’ve posted 10 below, in no particular order. I am sure there are others I am not ready to face yet.
1) Drowning, asphyxiation, choking, being buried alive and any other horrifying scenario where I cannot breathe.
2) Car accidents (I saw the after effects of a deadly one on the highway last year and now the image is embedded in my brain).
3) Blindness, especially the sudden and unexpected kind. Where you just wake up one morning but everything is and always will be black.
4) Parrots (and other talking birds…actually any talking animal. Monkeys and apes that do sign language are fine.)
5) Lice, ticks, tapeworms and any other human parasite.
6) Any friend or family member getting lost or suddenly going missing.
7) Me, getting lost in the woods. Alone. I could cope if there was someone else there to help fight off the wolves, or cougars,or sasquatches or whatever. Especially if I could run faster than that companion.
8) Terminal disease or debilitating illness (I am a hypochondriac. Knowing that I am doesn’t stop me from having the thoughts).
9) Making other people sick — either by carrying some germ, or unintentionally poisoning them with some bacteria or allergen in my cooking.
10) Zombies. I am well aware this is a completely irrational and stupid fear, because I don’t actually believe zombies could ever exist. But I’ve watched too many episodes of Walking Dead, and now I’ve actually convinced myself I could encounter a snarling walker when I go to take out the garbage. And I will have, stupidly, left my katana in the house.
What scares you? Be warned though, if you tell me, there’s a good chance I might work it into a story.