Do you want to see something really scary? Remember that classic line from Twilight Zone: The Movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPip-WKOXBo way back in 1983? My mom took me to see it at the dollar theater and we laughed all the way home at my imitation of Dan Akroyd.
Do you like being scared? I can answer that with a resounding Yes! For many of us, being scared is fun. It’s exhilarating. Thrilling, even. That brings me to my next question. What scares you? What scares the living hell out of you?
Even as a kid I loved being scared. Ghost stories. Seances. Camping out in the woods. You name it and I was game. I grew up in a one hundred and sixty-eight year-old sprawling farmhouse that had once been a stagecoach stop and later part of the Underground Railroad. There was a grain silo and two massive red barns on the property. The place was surrounded by cornfields and woods. Of course, there were rumors that the old house was haunted. According to rumor, a hundred years earlier, when the place was a stagecoach stop, a man, distraught over gambling debts or perhaps a woman, went up into his room and hung himself. That room was my older sister’s bedroom (thank goodness my room was downstairs!) But I loved that story and couldn’t get enough. My dad was quite the ghost story teller and indulged me (much to my mom’s chagrin.)
One of my favorite places (aside from the barn) was the attic. It had a narrow, winding wooden staircase. There were old shoes and newspapers. I was really too young at the time to appreciate the place for its true historical significance. I was much too busy enjoying all of its scary treasures. Looking back, I think that old house had an impact on me. All of those stories and places to explore nourished my imagination. It may have helped me become the writer I am today.
My parents sold the old place when I was about seven, and shortly thereafter, it was demolished. A few months later construction began on the Dayton Mall. Last summer I went back to Ohio on tour with PRAY FOR SILENCE. I drove past the Dayton Mall and there’s absolutely no sign of the old farmhouse and barns that once stood where the parking lot for Elder Beerman is.
Another thing that scared me when I was a kid was George A. Romero’s movie NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. That movie scared me so intensely, I can remember hiding beneath my covers at night, despite the summer heat, utterly certain if I looked at the window of my bedroom, I’d see the silhouettes of flesh-eating zombies wandering around the back yard. Silly, I know. But I think Romero really tapped into some primal human fear with that movie. That said, I am a zombie fan to this day.
One of the scariest books I’ve ever read is Stephen King’s PET SEMATARY. http://www.stephenking.com/library/novel/pet_sematary.html . I was about twenty-four years old at the time and living on my own for the first time when I read it. I was terrified to turn out the lights in my apartment at night. Did I stop reading it? What do you think?
If you’ve read my books, you know most of them contain scenes some folks would consider scary. There have been a few times, when I was writing a particularly disturbing scene when I’ve actually scared myself. A few years back, I was writing a murder scene where I was in the point of view of the victim. At the time I had a recliner in my office and my Labrador Retriever loved to curl up in the chair and hang out with me. I was so caught up in the scene, I forgot she was in the chair. I was pounding away on the keyboard when I heard a sound directly behind me. I turned and caught a glimpse of movement. I screamed and scared the heck out of the dog.
There are times when being scared isn’t fun at all. A few years ago a twenty-four inch high pressure natural gas pipeline exploded in the middle of the night less than half a mile from our home. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6704530.html . Flames shot seven hundred feet into the night sky. The sound was like nothing I’d ever heard–a thousand jet engines on full afterburner. I remember setting my hand against the glass of the kitchen window. I was vibrating and warm to the touch. One house burned to the ground that night. Luckily, only three people were injured and they are doing fine now.
And so, while it’s fun to be scared, even us horror junkies have our limits.
Would you like to see something really scary?
Check out Linda’s website here: www.lindacastillo.com . Here’s a peek at her June book:
Linda Castillo’s debut thriller was hailed as “gripping” [People Magazine] and compelling [USA Today]. Now, with BREAKING SILENCE , the third installment of the series, the New York Times bestselling author takes readers back to the small Amish community of Painter’s Mill, Ohio, where Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a horrific accident on a peaceful Amish farm.
The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a tragic accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated manure pit. But in the course of a routine autopsy the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound, before death and it becomes clear that foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaugh’s children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of particularly vicious hate crimes against the Amish?
Having grown up Amish herself, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other attacks are designated as hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together they search for the link between the crimes–and discover a dark secret at work beneath the placid facade of this idyllic Amish community.
How about you? Do you like to be scared? What scares you the most?