Hello June…I am going all Jackson Pollock on You

It’s June!

It’s time to get a little crazy, go a little wild, ride the winds…

I am going all Jackson Pollock on this month!

As stated last week… “I am going to do more than play Hookie with Tattoo. I am going to have a full-blown affair with Tattoo. The urge to write must take control over the urge to edit. I cannot wait for that delicious feeling of playing hookie and that first blush of the first draft.”

For the first time in months I am going to be flinging my creative ink at the canvas of my new WIP without thought of editing and embracing the freedom and unadulterated joy in WRITING that First Draft!

“A dripping wet canvas covered the entire floor … There was complete silence … Pollock looked at the painting. Then, unexpectedly, he picked up can and paint brush and started to move around the canvas. It was as if he suddenly realized the painting was not finished. His movements, slow at first, gradually became faster and more dance like as he flung black, white, and rust colored paint onto the canvas. He completely forgot that Lee and I were there; he did not seem to hear the click of the camera shutter … My photography session lasted as long as he kept painting, perhaps half an hour. In all that time, Pollock did not stop. How could one keep up this level of activity? Finally, he said ‘This is it.’

Pollock’s finest paintings… reveal that his all-over line does not give rise to positive or negative areas: we are not made to feel that one part of the canvas demands to be read as figure, whether abstract or representational, against another part of the canvas read as ground. There is not inside or outside to Pollock’s line or the space through which it moves…. Pollock has managed to free line not only from its function of representing objects in the world, but also from its task of describing or bounding shapes or figures, whether abstract or representational, on the surface of the canvas.”

– Hans Namuth 1950

I love the first blush, the illicit intimacy and the head-rush of a First Draft. First Drafts are all about the Writer, the Creative, the Artist. I love simply getting lost in a first draft and a new story. I love meeting the new characters and watching their scenes in my mind’s eye like a movie. I love that the story can and will go anywhere and everywhere.

What do you love about first drafts?

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In other exciting News just in from this weekend…The anthology that could…

WooHoo! I am now a contributor to an AWARD-Winning anthology! “Tales for Canterbury” just scooped the 2012 Sir Julius Vogel Award in NZ for the Best Collected Works in Speculative Fiction-SciFi/Fantasy/Horror. This is a national award awarded annually at the NZ National Science Fiction Convention to recognise achievement in Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror.  Congrats to our editors: Cassie Hart and Anna Caro on scooping the win! The editing team did a brilliant job in pulling together a great crew of authors, who all contributed incredible stories all for an amazing cause. Once again, I am so proud and pleased to be part of a fantastic crew of authors and editors who helped get this anthology  out there.
There are still print copies available on the current print run of Tales for Canterbury. You can buy them here. *All profits* will be donated to the NZ Red Cross Earthquake Appeal. See talesforcanterbury.wordpress.com for more details. (* ie after we’ve paid any applicable transaction fees, printing, and shipping costs – neither Random Static nor the authors are keeping a cent)
A little background on the Sir Julius Vogel Award: The awards are named for Sir Julius Vogel, a prominent New Zealand journalist and politician, who becamePrime Minister of New Zealand in the 1870s. He also, in 1889, wrote what is widely (though erroneously) regarded as New Zealand’s first science fiction novel, Anno Domini 2000 – A Woman’s Destiny.[1] The book — written and published in Great Britain after Vogel had moved from New Zealand — pictured a New Zealand in the year 2000 where most positions of authority were held by women – at the time of writing, a radical proposition. In 2000, New Zealand’s Head of State, Governor General, Prime Minister, Chief Justice and Attorney General were all women, as was the CEO of one of the country’s largest companies, Telecom.

Shivers down my spine…

We all have had those moments of spine-chilling fear…when the shivers of chill make their way slowly down our spine, every hair on our body rises, our bones seem to turn to water and the back of our necks prickles. Our bodies surge with adrenalin and we fight the instinctive response to flee or fight. Fear is one of the core base emotions. We all know what it is. We all know when it has struck…

Sleep, those little slices of death, how I loathe them. – Edgar Allen Poe

I am a part of a stellar group of authors called TESSpecFic ** We are “The Emissaries of Strange: A Speculative Fiction Writer’s Collective” is a group of writers whose fiction fits under the speculative fiction umbrella. Our captain, the lovely Marie Loughin set us a question that stirred in each of our hearts this week: What is Horror?

This is a question that I faced at the end of 2011 when I was getting ready to pitch my WIP to an agent. Genre can be a tricky question. Especially these days when there are so many variations on the classic genres and so many sub genres to further muddy the genre waters. When I set out to write my WIP, I was not thinking in terms of genre. I was thinking STORY and CHARACTER. I wrote the story that poured forth and decided to leave the question of genre until it was absolutely necessary to come up with an answer.

Right up until the moment that I sat before the agent, I was second-guessing how to genre-alise* (Yes, it is a term I made up.) my story. The days before my pitch I researched other stories similar to mine to see how those authors had genre-alised their stories. One term kept on cropping up: Horror.

There is a quake that rips the soul asunder. . . it is the pain of remembering. – Nrb

The day of my pitch arrived and as I sat before the agent and she asked me what genre the WIP was, out came the word: Horror. She allowed me to continue with my allotted 10 minute pitch and then kept me talking because she was intrigued and wanted to know more. After I had basically given her the synopsis, she sat back, clicked her pen on the table-top between us and told me that though she could see how I genre-alised the plot into HORROR, she thought it would sound better as a Paranormal Historical. She was concerned that the term HORROR would limit the marketability of what she thought was a very marketable story.

We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones. – Stephen King

Mmmh I wonder what Stephen King  would have said if someone had told him HORROR would make his market limited? Seriously, who has not heard of a Stephen King story  whether in books or movies. I think the HORROR genre has served Stephen King very well and he has done more than ok with finding a market for his work.

So what is HORROR and why are so many people afraid of that term? Pun intended*

I think Hollywood and B-Horror movies have given us a vision of blood, gore, guts and general grossness. But that is just one variation of HORROR. Below is the Dictionary.com definition of HORROR…

horror |ˈhôrər, ˈhär-|noun1 an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust: children screamed in horror.• a thing causing such a feeling: photographs showed the horror of the tragedy | the horrors of civil war.• a literary or film genre concerned with arousing such feelings: [ as modifier ] : a horror movie.• intense dismay: to her horror she found that a thief had stolen the machine.• [ as exclamation ] (horrors) chiefly humorous used to express dismay: horrors, two buttons were missing!• [ in sing. ] intense dislike: many have a horror of consulting a dictionary.• (the horrors) an attack of extreme nervousness or anxiety: the mere thought of it gives me the horrors.2 informal a bad or mischievous person, esp. a child: that little horror Zach was around.ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from Latin horror, from horrere ‘tremble, shudder’ (see horrid) .

I think the very origin of the word answers the question: What is Horror? Horror is an involuntary trembling and shuddering from sheer terror. For me however, true horror is those scenes that play with your mind. Psychological fear is far more intense and horrific than mere physical fear. The mind is a scary place. It’s capacity for imagining the worst and the darkest is scary. Think of your favourite horror movie, the imagined monster behind the shadow at the foot of the door that is ajar is far scarier than the monster that is seen and can be fought. What is unknown is far scarier than the known? For me, that is true HORROR.

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe. – Johann von Goethe

So I take the stand on my trilogy. It is HORROR Paranormal Historical. It deals with death, ghosts and revenge. There are scenes that gave me the creeps as I was writing them. There are scenes that I still don’t like reading after midnight because they literally have me seeing the ghosts I have written become real.

It is dark. You cannot see. Only the hint of stars out the broken window. And a voice as old as the Snake from the Garden whispers, ‘I will hold your hand. – John Wick

Horror is the difference between the UNKNOWN vs the KNOWN and the UNTHINKABLE vs the IMAGINED. Horror is those shivers down my spine, that prickling on my skull and the bone-deep chill that makes my heart want to stop.

This is how Stephen King defines Horror:

“The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…”

What is Horror to you? Is it a misunderstood and misaligned genre-alisation of a core human instinct? Is HORROR just a label or is it more a style of story-telling?

Join my fellow TESSpecFic members on their blogs below as they delve into: What is Horror?

Schedule for blog tour: What is Horror?

Marie Loughin – Wednesday, 9th May

Jaye Manus – Thursday, 10th May

Paul D. Dail – Friday, 11th May

Aniko Carmean – Sunday, 13th May

Jonathan D. Allen – Monday, 14th May

Penelope Crowe – Tuesday, 15th May

What happens after The Day the Sun Stops Shining…Find out what could here!

26.12.11 - 31.12.11 End of the Year...Blog Hop...Click on the bullet to join up.

Christmas has ended… The gifts unwrapped, the tree lights dulled…

Not a sound stirs until midnight on the 26th…

The stars fall from the midnight sky and the moon rises…

It is the time for the Moon to rise...the sun has stopped shining

This moon does not disappear at dawn nor does it pale…

The sun has stopped shining…

Day has deserted the world…

What happens now?

Join me and other Indie Authors for “The Day the Sun Stops Shining” Blog Tour.

It starts 26.12.11 and ends 31.12.11…

There will be giveaways, interviews, contests…

Do you write or read dystopian, fantasy, paranormal, horror or science fiction?

Follow this tour…sign up if you are a writer…

Don’t miss out…it might be your last chance…before the sun stops shining…

End of the year? End of daylight? End of the sun?

Let us tell you what might happen after The Sun Stops Shining…

Enhanced by Zemanta

#CoffinHop | Something creeps across the floor boards….

the gory details:

1) HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME!
2) INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND SPREAD THE WORD!
3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, October 24, 2011 at Midnight (PST)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 31, 2011 at Midnight (PST)
Winners will be drawn and posted November 1, 2011
4) MEET AND MINGLE WITH THE AUTHORS! EXPERIENCE A NEW DESTINATION AT EVERY STOP! PARTICIPATE IN EVERY SITE’S CONTEST AND BE ENTERED FOR CHANCES TO WIN MULTIPLE PRIZES! EVERY BLOG VISITED IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!
5) PARTICIPATION AT ALL SITES IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. THE MORE SITES YOU HOP, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES.
6) DID I MENTION TO HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME?
***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this tour is subject to these rules***
________________________________________________________________

My Contest – Prize Time

My next WIP is a psychological thriller and it involves psychological twists and a cold-blooded killer. This killer curdles my blood. Already the killer haunts my dreams. But the worst thing about this character is that I am struggling to name him. He does have a moniker that he will be known by in the story but he does need a name.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a psychopath. He is exceptionally cruel and sadistic. He is also a perfectionist who never leaves any trace of himself at the crime scene. He is fastidiously clean, almost surgically I would say. He preys on people that he feels are “fallen”. He is incredibly alluring and seductive. He is hard to say “no” to. By the time his victims realise he is the final person they will see, it is too late and they are taken by surprise. This man could be anyone. He might be your friend, your brother, your father, your lover, your husband or your colleague. He stalks you like a silent lioness. Do you know his name?

So…this is where you blog-hoppers come in. I need you to put your creative hats on and spin me a first name and surname for my sadistic killer.

The best name will win three ebooks by three phenomenal authors. (I will be announcing the names of the authors and their books closer to Halloween but believe me you will want these ebooks.) 

The best name will also become the name of my sadistic killer.

You need to be subscribed to this blog to enter (so join up if you are not already) as well as leave your best answer (along with your email address for winner notification) in the comments on any of this week’s posts on this blog. You also need to have visited and commented on at least 5 of the CoffinHop bloggers.

The winner will be announced on this blog on 5th November. Multiple entries are welcome.

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Thursday = Terrifying Fears

Even the bravest of us have strong, irrational fears that are almost instinctive in nature. These are fears that literally petrify us to paralysis. They say facing you fears will conquer them but not these fears. These fears, however irrational, are the exception to that proverb. So I thought this hop was the perfect opportunity to explore those crazy phobias that paralyze us: Why are we scared of them? Is it a common fear? Where does the fear originate from in society? I am going to share my phobias with you – but only if you promise to not use them to paralyze me or cause me to have a heart attack. So this blog post is very much a trust issue. I trust you to go gently with my phobia and you trust me to not hit you with something if you do try to use these phobias against me. I am also going to share some common phobias and some very odd phobias. 

Firstly, here are a couple of my irrational fears:

My #1 Phobia = Scelerophibia

I battle this fear every night of my life. It is the fear of burglars or bad men.

This fear may be rational in some cases but in most cases it is irrational. But this fear can spin out not just from being scared at night but by being scared to be in a house by yourself during the day. I battle with both night and day.

My phobia stems from numerous brushes with armed house burglaries from the age of eight. I grew up in a country where burglary and armed break-ins are commonplace and barely feature as news. But that first attempted armed break-in when I was eight is the one that has stayed with me the longest. This phobia is so scary for me that I will not go into the details of the armed break-in. I am just thankful that nobody in my family was harmed in any of the armed break-ins we have endured. Now I live in a much safer country but I will still obsessively shut all windows and lock/double lock all doors. I will also check on those windows and doors at least three times in a short succession just to make absolutely sure they are locked. It has led me to years of insomnia. I am a very light sleeper and have a very acute sense of hearing so every noise at night makes me jump. I have called family members to drive in the middle of the night to my house because I heard what I thought was someone on the roof. This phobia is paralyzing and yes it is life altering. I never feel 100% safe in a house at night and never feel 100% in a house during the day if I am alone.

My #2 Phobia = Chiroptophobia

No, I am not afraid of Batman. I am terrified of Bats. That is why I put this image up. There are hundreds of images of bats to be found on google but I seriously want to throw up from fear if I see them. It was difficult enough to get this one. Luckily for me it was at the top of the gallery so I only caught glimpses of the horrid creatures….I actually just had all the hairs on the back of my neck raise at that.

The roots of this fear dates back centuries and they are fueled by the Dracula stories, Halloween and Hades. Which brings us of course to the legend of the Vampires. Undead men who are able to change into bats and feed on the blood of humans – usually beautiful young people.

As for my fear. It’s roots are from when I was six years old and my cousin and I were playing in our farm barn. She was a little older than me and a terrible tease. We were playing hide and seek amongst the hay bales. She was hiding and I was the seeker. I had been searching for her for close to half an hour – which for a little kid is like half a day – and was getting a little nervous as it was nearing dusk which made shadows creep across the floor and walls of the barn. I told her I had enough and was giving up. Still no answer. I was a little worried at this point. So I decided to leave the barn and walk back up to my house. As I left, I heard a sound that I could not quite place. Then just as I was hesitating on the threshold of the doorway, pebbles started flying in my direction. I thought it was my cousin until she came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. The pebbles now came at both of us. We were tripping over each other to get out of there and I fell. The next thing I knew I heard another sound, turned and it slammed into my face. A bat. It clung to my face. I was looking into its face and I thought it was looking into mine. I could not even scream. I was that petrified. I had never seen anything so horrendous in my worst imaginings at that point. (Nor since then, looking back in hindsight.) My cousin ran back and was screaming and trying to pull this bat off my face. It took her about ten minutes before the creature finally let go. Then she had to drag me up to the house as I was completely incapacitated from fear.

Ever since then I cannot even look at a picture of a bat. I hate going into caves and dark places where they may be resting. But now if I do come across a bat, I run like hell and do not look back until I am safe. That was actually horrible to write about. I can still see that bat. Now, I will probably have nightmares about bats tonight.

My #3 Phobia = Selachophobia

I am afraid of sharks in the dark patches of a swimming pool. This is one of the reasons I do not like aquariums. Strangely enough I am not afraid of sharks in the sea.

The roots of this phobia are psychological and are either linked to a fear of darkness or linked to a buried childhood trauma.

The roots of my fear is that a girl I knew drowned in a swimming pool when we were both three. For years I blocked all memory of her until years later when I was about sixteen I was talking to my parents about phobias. They had always known I was scared of swimming in a pool by myself. Although I loved swimming in the ocean I had never really enjoyed swimming in pools and would never swim by myself. I told them that for some reason my mind told me that sharks were in the dark patches in the pool and if I was swimming underwater, I would fear the same thing that there were sharks behind me just waiting to attack. Then they told me about my little friend and it all made sense where that fear came from.

So those are my top three phobias. I am sure if I went through a list of phobias I would find others but these are the three that I have had for most of my life stemming from roots in childhood.

So what petrifies you to a stand-still? What makes your hairs stand on end and your heart thunder in your chest? What is your irrational fear? What is your phobia and do you know the roots? 

Some fears seem funny to others and some seem downright strange but at the end of the day to the person who suffers from this phobia, there is nothing funny about it. As horror, thriller and suspense writers we often play on common phobias that are our own or those of people we know. But phobias are real fears. Who are we to judge a person’s bravery when we may suffer at least one phobia. Does that make a scared person a coward. To quote the great Mark Twain:

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.  Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave.  ~ Mark Twain,Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, 1894

Here is a list of well-known phobias:

Arachnophobia = The fear of spiders.

Achluophobia = Fear of darkness.

Acrophobia- Fear of heights.

Aichmophobia- Fear of needles or pointed objects.

Agoraphobia – Fear of open or crowded spaces and fear of leaving a safe place.

 Aquaphobia – Fear of water or drowning.

Astraphobia or Astrapophobia- Fear of thunder and lightning.(Ceraunophobia, Keraunophobia)

Aviophobia or Aviatophobia- Fear of flying.

Claustrophobia- Fear of confined spaces.

Coulrophobia- Fear of clowns.

Dentophobia- Fear of dentists.

Hemophobia or Hemaphobia or Hematophobia- Fear of blood.

Misophobia or Mysophobia- Fear of being contaminated with dirt or germs.

Ophidiophobia- Fear of snakes.

These are some fears that would make what we as writers do very difficult:

Allodoxaphobia- Fear of opinions.

Atychiphobia- Fear of failure.

Bibliophobia- Fear of books.

Doxophobia- Fear of expressing opinions or of receiving praise.

Epistemophobia- Fear of knowledge.

Graphophobia- Fear of writing or handwriting.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words.

Ideophobia- Fear of ideas.

Logizomechanophobia- Fear of computers.

Logophobia- Fear of words.

Metrophobia- Fear or hatred of poetry.

Mythophobia- Fear of myths or stories or false statements.

Onomatophobia- Fear of hearing a certain word or of names.

Phronemophobia- Fear of thinking.

Verbophobia- Fear of words.

Lastly here are a few odd phobias:

Autodysomophobia- Fear of one that has a vile odor.

Basophobia or Basiphobia- Inability to stand. Fear of walking or falling.

Chromophobia or Chromatophobia- Fear of colors.

Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.

Genuphobia- Fear of knees.

Koinoniphobia- Fear of rooms.

Lachanophobia- Fear of vegetables.

Linonophobia- Fear of string.

Octophobia – Fear of the figure 8.

Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons.

Panophobia or Pantophobia- Fear of everything.

For more on phobias, click on the Phobia List

Related posts in my hop

#CoffinHop | Undead poetry chills your blood…

Click on the full moon to hop into the coffin tour...

the gory details:

1) HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME!
2) INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND SPREAD THE WORD!
3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, October 24, 2011 at Midnight (PST)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 31, 2011 at Midnight (PST)
Winners will be drawn and posted November 1, 2011
4) MEET AND MINGLE WITH THE AUTHORS! EXPERIENCE A NEW DESTINATION AT EVERY STOP! PARTICIPATE IN EVERY SITE’S CONTEST AND BE ENTERED FOR CHANCES TO WIN MULTIPLE PRIZES! EVERY BLOG VISITED IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!
5) PARTICIPATION AT ALL SITES IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. THE MORE SITES YOU HOP, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES.
6) DID I MENTION TO HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME?
***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this tour is subject to these rules***
__________________________________________________________________________________

My Contest – Prize Time

My next WIP is a psychological thriller and it involves psychological twists and a cold-blooded killer. This killer curdles my blood. Already the killer haunts my dreams. But the worst thing about this character is that I am struggling to name him. He does have a moniker that he will be known by in the story but he does need a name.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a psychopath. He is exceptionally cruel and sadistic. He is also a perfectionist who never leaves any trace of himself at the crime scene. He is fastidiously clean, almost surgically I would say. He preys on people that he feels are “fallen”. He is incredibly alluring and seductive. He is hard to say “no” to. By the time his victims realise he is the final person they will see, it is too late and they are taken by surprise. This man could be anyone. He might be your friend, your brother, your father, your lover, your husband or your colleague. He stalks you like a silent lioness. Do you know his name?

So…this is where you blog-hoppers come in. I need you to put your creative hats on and spin me a first name and surname for my sadistic killer.

The best name will win three ebooks by three phenomenal authors. (I will be announcing the names of the authors and their books closer to Halloween but believe me you will want these ebooks.) 

The best name will also become the name of my sadistic killer.

You need to be subscribed to this blog to enter (so join up if you are not already) as well as leave your best answer (along with your email address for winner notification) in the comments on any of this week’s posts on this blog. You also need to have visited and commented on at least 5 of the CoffinHop bloggers.

The winner will be announced on this blog on 5th November. Multiple entries are welcome.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Undead Poetry

 Come take a walk with me and other undead poets as we explore the darker realms of humanity, nature and the ether. This is a place where poets of all walks come together to celebrate the visceral rawness that is poetry. 

raw

stay

You walk away,

I wait

Gone

The world breaks apart

The groaning earth cracks 

The heavens tear asunder

running,falling

Eyes burning with the sting of salt

My chest aches, the muscle of my core cracks

Bile rises up in me

Rivulets of Blood flow in a cage of ribs

Claws of Malice grasp into the beating muscle

Spilling my life through its talons

Terrible keening fills the air , something is dying

Eyes drowned in tears

I stumble in a half run 

seeking the dying creature

The agony of its violent pain deafens me

Crowds surround me, mouths moving, mute

their faces are blank, deaf to the cries of the dying

Talons are clawing  at the broken muscle struggling in my chest

I fall, My mouth is open, my heart pleads in agony

The broken thing  lies fallen, curled in a womb 

Cries as old as the earth tear out of my mouth – echo tears in my heart

The  heart struggles in weakness, 

Salt crystals grate into my cheeks

I watch as the hand tears open from within me 

hollow

heart lies next to me, dull and grey

curled in a womb

the tide of tears from the grotto deep within

rises in a flood out of me, drowning the shadow of my heart

silence – cold, hollow finally stills the creature

soft whimpers are the only echo

lying, a curled up husk in a womb

sorrow covers its naked form in heavy layers

blanketing the creature complete

the stitching of sorrow is the thread of your love

pulled tight through the needle of your cruelty

yours are the talons rending my core into shattered remains

my heart lies without, torn from me

dull, greying muscle 

– a heart dying

– a husk curled in hate’s womb

– a creature hidden in sorrow’s quilt

love

______

hate

raw

An original work by © All rights reserved Kim Koning 

…take a walk into my heart and soul through my other soul photographs

Thrill me | Chill me | Don’t kill the MC

Thrills / Chills / Kills

The Boogeyman…The ghosts around a campfire…Vampires….Hansel & Gretel’s witch…The evil step-mother…Monsters

Our childhoods are filled with tales that thrill us with adrenaline and chill us with fear. We grow up being told fairy tales of witches, evil killer step-mothers, red shoed witches and monsters of every shape and ilk. Our teen years are filled with ghost stories told around a camp-fire, scaring each other in the dark, continuing the tales of terror, visiting horror shows in fair grounds and roller coaster rides.

What is it about our morbid fascination with all things scary? Why are thrillers and horrors the biggest box-office hits in cinemas world-wide? Why are the scariest rides the most popular at fairgrounds?

When we are faced with things that terrify us we get a giant kick of adrenaline that surges through our bodies and electrifies every single nerve fibre in our body. Adrenaline pushes us to action. Whether we decide to run for the hills or stand our ground and fight the terror, we are forced to act. Our emotions are kicked into hyper-drive and we feel more alive than ever. So there is no great mystery why things that scare us draw us in time and time again. We crave that adrenaline hit. We crave that singing feeling that sends our nerve ends buzzing with an irresistible energy.

Throughout life we dare ourselves and each other to face our fears. In every culture there is a facing of fear task that needs to be overcome to get to certain stages of maturity. Facing our fears and overcoming them turn us from children into adults.

Whether it is ghosts, the dark, different phobias – we all understand fear and its features. But human beings are the only creature that seeks out the things it fears. Perhaps it is our search for adventure that is an antidote to the mundane and normal. But unlike animals, reptiles and birds; we run after things that scare us.

It is more than just the adrenaline. It is also a need to feel connected and feel raw emotion. Fear is one of the most basic and instinctual of all emotions. But fear is not necessarily always a bad emotion. Fear can help us reach the strongest parts of ourselves and resort to acts of courage that we would ordinarily not find. Fear can push us to act rather than just react. Fear also makes us feel completely alive and gives us a rich appreciation for our own survival. Fear casts a harsh light on the fragility of the human condition but it is also forces us to count every second as precious. 

What makes a story scary? 

The setting can be a huge part of setting your reader / viewer up for fear. It could be a graveyard on a misty night, a darkened alleyway, an abandoned house, an office building at night, a creaking floor and opening door…all of these would immediately put you in the seat of fear.

Characters can be another set up for fear. Creepy old people, a child that seems to look into your soul, a menacing individual or the guy/girl who seems just too good to be true…

But for me the scariest scenes are those that could happen and that might happen. When we read something and watch something and believe that it could happen. When the normal suddenly degenerates into the bizarre and twisted. These are the ideas and stories that really scare me. Monsters don’t scare me but vengeful spirits/ghosts do. Vampires don’t scare me but sharks and snakes do. 

Watching or reading something scary makes me appreciate safety and security. It makes me feel alive and immeasurably grateful to be alive. There is a lot of things and people in this world that are truly scary but to know the light we sometimes need to confront the darkness. Another reason why I love reading and watching thrillers is that the good guys always triumph, it may be by the skin of their teeth, but they do triumph. The bad guys always end up on the worse end of the tale, either being killed, destroyed or caught. 

A great thriller walks a close line between the bizarre and normal. It brings out the flaws and fears in the characters and forces them to new levels of strength, fortitude, courage, survival and the most basic levels of humanity. 

I am often asked why I not only read and watch thrillers but write them too. I am drawn to the ultimate fight between good and evil and in every good thriller – book or movie – good trumps evil. I write dark fiction because it helps me balance emotions. I also love pushing characters into terrible spots that they have to get out of to survive. I love writing that is filled with conflict and tension. There is no way that one can hide from darkness in this world but we can teach ourselves that light can triumph over that darkness. After all, it takes only one small match that when lit can light up a whole room. Darkness flees from light. That is the natural order of things. The night can be long, dark, cold and threatening but eventually the sun rises with dawn and the warmth of a new day brings hope. 

This is why I write dark fiction. I write it to remind myself that there is darkness in the world and there are dangerous things, people and situations. But there is also light and goodness. There is also courage and human compassion. Writing dark fiction allows me to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and courage over fear. Writing a believable antagonist that fills me with fear and foreboding makes me write a believable protagonist that fills me with hope and courage. Writing dark fiction allows me to acknowledge darkness and fear but more importantly it allows me to celebrate light and courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon