Thursday, October 31, 2013

What are you afraid of?

Congratulations to "Erin", the winner of Kay's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I was so excited when I learned I was going to be blogging here today, on Halloween—the “scariest day of the year.” I told my seventeen-year-old son about the opportunity and asked him, “What scares you the most?” 

Without a moment’s hesitation he said, “Spiders.”

This wasn’t a big surprise. My guy has been scared of spiders ever since he saw Lord of the Rings and Shelob—that giant, creepy crawly spider—over ten years ago. For months after watching that movie, he didn’t want to go to sleep at night because he claimed that spiders were “watching” him. So this arachnophobia wasn’t exactly news. A decade later, he still doesn’t like spiders.

I asked, “What are you most afraid to read about?” Again, he immediately had an answer. “Reading The Hot Zone in biology scared me bad.” He read that book….two years ago. 

For those of you not familiar with Richard Preston’s book, it’s about an Ebola outbreak in a suburban Washington, D.C. laboratory in 1989. The movie Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman was based on this true story

I asked my son why The Hot Zone frightened him so much. He said, “It’s the idea that something like that could really happen that scares me. I lay awake at night and think about that book sometimes still.” 

Two years after reading it? Hmmm…made me think: Why are some things scarier to read or see than others? 

I don’t read ghost stories or watch horror films as a rule as they’ll creep me out and I won’t be able to get to sleep the night after I see or read them. But I don’t usually think about “the scary” beyond that one evening.

When I went to see World War Z—because let’s face it, even if I’m not a horror flick fan, zombies weren’t going to keep me from seeing Brad Pitt on the big screen—I was jumpy on the way back to my car from the theatre. But I didn’t worry that undead zombies were going to climb the fence in my back yard and try to get me.

Still, I can relate to my son’s feelings about The Hot Zone. Several years ago I was reading Speak No Evil by Allison Brennan and I had to put the book down because the crimes and the villain scared me so much. No zombies, no spiders—just a horrible man who tortured his victims in a unique and awful way before he killed them. 

I couldn’t finish the book, and I love Allison Brennan’s books. Still, I couldn’t get past the third chapter because at the time I was reading it, my teenage daughter was spending the summer away from home in England and taking literature courses at Cambridge. I was uneasy to think of her so far away…and young…on a college campus. I’d made my peace with it before she left. Yet once I started this novel, I was scared silly. My imagination went wild after reading those first few chapters of Speak No Evil. Six years later I can admit that I lay awake and thought about the horrific possibilities every night till my daughter got home. 

As an aside…I had the privilege of meeting Allison Brennan a couple of years ago at a conference where I told her just how badly that book had scared the bejesus out of me. Her eyes positively lit up, as if I’d given her this incredible gift. (Yeah, I know. Writers are weird that way…just like we love to hear that our book kept you up all night because you couldn’t put it down.) Allison shared that I was not the only person who had told her something similar about that particular story.  

Even though I’ll scream when I see a zombie on the movie screen (or a spider in my empty bathtub), like my son I’ve realized that it isn’t the werewolves or ghosts that frighten me the most. But rather, it’s the things that can hurt us —for real—that keep me up at night….thinking. 

Still, after all the trick-or-treaters this evening I’ll certainly be checking the locks on my doors twice, and, no—I won’t be spending much time in my back yard after midnight. 

Hope you and yours have a safe and fun Halloween. 

We are giving away one free download after the November 12 release of Hard Target. Answer one of these questions to be entered in the random drawing: What scares you most to read about? Are there certain books you can’t read after it gets dark outside or do you love to get the shivers reading a spooky story?

In addition, you may also enter Kay's Rafflecopter contest below!

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This is a scene from the first chapter of HARD TARGET where the heroine, Anna Mercado, overhears her estranged husband, Max, talking on the phone. 

“Take Zach from the party before the guests arrive. We won’t dump her body until the designated time. It’s all been arranged.”

Anna stopped in the doorway of the Presidential suite, her husband’s words abruptly penetrating her lust-fogged brain.

“No, I’m not worried. Haven’t you heard? Mexico is the land of vicious drug cartels and random violence. My wife will be a sad statistic.”

Was this a dream?

She felt the cold Italian marble beneath her bare feet and recognized Max’s voice in the adjoining room, but she didn’t wake up. The seductive words he had whispered moments earlier on the beach still resonated in her head.

The only thing I want you to wrap yourself around is me.

She’d come up immediately when Julia had volunteered to get Zach and the cousins’ meals from the hotel’s beach grill. But on the way to the room she’d been calling herself all kinds of a fool. She and Max were on the verge of officially separating even though they’d been living apart for several months. The counseling wasn’t working. Having sex was a terrible idea. Even comfort sex.

Yet he’d been so attentive, so different on this trip. So anxious to please her, while keeping his temper completely in check. Last week she’d been considering which attorney to use in a divorce. Now she was just grateful she was standing here overhearing his phone conversation in the next room.

Her thoughts raced and her blood chilled, but her feet were glued to the imported floor. She stared across the opulent suite’s living room to the open balcony doors. The heir to the Mercado Tequila fortune settled for nothing less than the finest, even when planning his family’s demise.

An ocean breeze blew through the room, ruffling her hair like a playful lover. The Gulf of Mexico was just as blue as it had been ten minutes ago when Max kissed her on the sand, yet everything had changed. She was listening to her husband order their son’s kidnapping and her murder.

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  1. Scary does not bother me in my reading... it is when the description get really gory that I stay away... I remember one book I could not finish... the descriptions were so graphic that my stomach actually started to turn... I love suspense and even having a crime scene described does not bother me... but that book was different.
    Happy Halloween!

  2. I can relate to your son's fear. I had a class my senior year (30 years ago) called World Problems. We had to have parent permission to take it. That should have been my warning... because it showed and told, in detail, the atrocities that mankind forced upon each other. Genocide, nuclear and chemical warfare... you get the drift. We had to come up with solutions in a way that involved creating laws, punishments and hold our own "UN court". I still have nightmares from that class. Humans, some anyway, are beyond evil. So, romantic suspense and even thrillers don't bother me.
    Julie O

  3. Don't really read spooky books

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  4. I don't mind spooky books. Maybe cuz I'm visualizing it, it's not as scary for me. But don't ask me to watch any scary movies cuz I'm a big, big wuss :) Thanks for sharing and congrats to Kay on the new release!

  5. I read a lot of mysteries that have a lot of mayhem so I do read scary. For some reason or another, I get really rattled by stories where the killer is hiding somewhere in the house and the potential victim has no clue. This dates back to my teenage years when I used to babysit a lot, reading creepy books and then getting terrified. I've never gotten over this.

    Yeah, Allison Brennan scares me, does Karen Rose, Lisa Gardner, etc. I think somehow women know what gets underneath our skin.

    By the way, my husband is a microbiologist specializing in infectious diseases and Ebola scares him witless! Thanks for the post:)

    Jonettaallen77 at yahoo dot com

  6. Many years ago before I got married and still lived at home, I read every book Stephen King wrote. He is about the only author of fiction that scared the living hell out of me! The only other 2 books that I can say scared me were Helter Skelter and The Exorcist, I guess because they were really true.

  7. Thanks everyone for your posts. I got caught up tonight with Halloween festivities and just got back to my computer. Yes, Colleen, gore and vivid descriptions "get" me. I can't read them or watch them. And Stephen King scares me spitless as well, Martha! Jonetta, it's interesting what you said about female writers knowing what gets under a woman's skin a little better than male authors. I definitely find that to be true and I hadn't thought of it that way before until I read your comment. But yes, it's generally women writers I cannot read if my husband is out of town and I'm alone in the house. (women and Stephen King!) I'm a big wuss, too, Erin! : )


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