When I’m done with my current project I’m going to try my hand at a horror novel. The problem is, I’m having a hard time thinking of what is actually scary.
What scares me?
When I was a kid, I would see all kinds of shadows in my closet at night. That was scary. I had to have a nightlight.
When I lived by myself in West Palm Beach, I had an apartment, but I was in an apartment complex – so there were lots and lots of other people around. And while I never really felt like I was isolated or alone, because I was certain if I called out, others would hear and come to my aid, I also felt like if somebody actually broke in that front door I was gonna have to jump off the balcony to save my own life. So it wasn’t as scary as much as it was more of a feeling of responsibility. What I was probably most terrified of at that time was my credit rating.
When I got married, we got a dog and then a cat, and all of a sudden things that would bump in the night didn’t even wake me up. Because everything in a house with a dog and a cat and a wife goes bump in the night. Everything. The air-conditioner kicks on, the dog hears… whatever dogs hear, or the cat comes in and decide to – at three in the morning – sing a serenade. You just get over it. What scared me most was my evil asshole of a boss at work. (I’m tempted to reveal Satan’s name to you, but I won’t – not because I’m polite, but because you don’t know her and it won’t matter to you. One day, though…)
When our daughter came along, oh, a WHOLE NEW wave of terror came upon me: Things That Could Happen To Her.
Crib death. Being abducted by a crazy person who put the ladder up to her two-story window. Drowning in our pool (of course we put a giant fence around it so that couldn’t happen) Falling down the stairs and cracking her head open on the tile floor below. Car wrecks. Poisoned Trick Or Treat candy. Who knows? The list was practically endless, and although some of those concerns go away (she’s five, so crib death came off the table but psycho terrorist gunman shooting up the school came on). My friends took the liberty to assure me until I my take my last breath on this Earth, there will be things that I worry about regarding my child. That’s comforting.
So the question comes down to… maybe not what scares me, because a snake that jumps out when I’m mowing the lawn that might scare me, or the spider that comes down from the ceiling in the morning when I am trying to work on my computer scares me…
There were lots of movies that scared me over the years because a movie can jump out and say “Boo!” That’s very hard to do in a book. And since I don’t write movies, it makes sense that maybe I would look at what books scared me.
Or more specifically, what books scared you?
I will tell you straight up The Amityville Horror scared me when I read it. The Shining, I thought was intense and eerie but not so much scary. The movie The Shining scared the hell out of me. The book The Other, by Thomas Tryon, I found to be very scary and eerie, and the movie also scared me.
In fact, most books that would have scared me turned into movies that really scared me – and after seeing and watching both, it’s hard to figure out which one it was that truly scared me.
So I’m not gonna try.
Instead, YOU DO IT. Tell me what books, and specifically books, scared you. (Not movies.)
My plan is to read those books, find the scary parts, and then try to figure out how to write a really scary as hell book.
When you name your book below in the comments, if you think about it, also think about what it was about that scared you. Was at the fact that it was a little kid you got to know who suddenly became in peril, like The Shining, or was it just somehow the author jumped out and said “Boo”?
You can list as many as you want.
Tell me: what books scared you?