Today, I’m featuring a guest post by author Nicky Peacock. Thanks, Nicky for your contribution to the blog and to Women in Horror Recognition Month.
Tapping into fear.
Greetings! I’m author, Nicky Peacock and I’m here today to talk to you about…fear. Yes, fear; that cold creeping sensation that tickles your courage at the most inopportune times. Whether they are rational or completely insane, fears are a massive part of horror and instilling it in characters and readers is crucial for a satisfyingly scary outcome. Wahahaha!
As a writer I play around with a number of genres: urban fantasy, paranormal romance, steampunk and dark fantasy, but horror is one of my all-time favourites. When readers curse my name for having to sleep with the lights on, I know I’ve done a good job. Tapping into people’s fears really is the key to a good ol’ scare and I’ve learnt this with first-hand experience.
A few years ago I worked as an actor in a pop-up Halloween attraction. As a writer you’re told to ‘write what you know’ and although I have a long list of my own personal fears (which we’ll come to in a moment) I felt it would help my writing to spend some quality time scaring the crap out of people! And it really did. Dressed up in blood soaked costume, portraying the ghost of murdered little girl, it was almost addictive and definitely devilishly deviant. Everyone had different reactions to my presence. Some recoiled at the sight of me, some kept a safe distance, some screamed and ran, one brave teenager even tried to help me. The whole thing was a real eye opener in terms of horror and fear.
So, what scares a horror writer? Without going into a massive therapy session, I’m going to give you three of my fears. The first…clowns. Yes, I know it’s silly and probably only stems from the fact I read Stephen King’s IT far too young, but they truly worry me. Only recently, near my home town, a random guy dressed like a clown, created a media buzz; Google ‘Northampton Clown UK’ and you’ll see the photos. Needless to say my friends and family who lived there didn’t see me till he was ‘caught’. You often find characters like clowns in horror. Mannequins, ventriloquist dummies, jesters, dolls, mimes (okay, being attacked by mime would be more annoying than scary!) But these sorts of characters can illicit fear just by their mere presence and the fact they’re having so much fun whilst committing their gruesome attacks – well, that’s just plain scary.
One of my worst fears, and probably the most ridiculous, is getting lost somewhere. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a very organised and punctual person. The thought of not knowing where I am frightens the bejeezes out of me. This isn’t helped by the fact I have little to no sense of direction. But that ‘lost’ feeling is utilised more often that you think in horror. The whole ‘backwoods cannibals’ scenarios like in Jack Ketchum’s ‘Off Season’ Richard Laymon’s ‘Dark Mountain’ and Bryan Smith’s ‘Depraved’ all rely on main characters wandering off the beaten track and finding themselves somewhere they really shouldn’t be.
Now, I’m going to tell you third one, but it’s a secret okay, so come closer, closer, don’t be shy and promise me you won’t tell anyone – promise? It is zombies. Yes, those grabby undead relentless so-and-sos. But, I hear you cry, they’re just fiction they’re not real….well, currently they are, but if that was to change, if a drug was developed that had hideous side effects, if a nuclear bomb dropped that had unforeseen consequences, if some clever scientist decides to do a Frankenstein, if a virus develops that skips the species border, if aliens decide to have some fun and let out…okay even I think the last one is a bit far-fetched. But hey, there are a number of ways this could happen and after all, zombies are just… us. The dead are already here. Scary huh?
BIO: Nicky is an English author living in the UK. You can find her work on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nicky-Peacock/e/B007UH2ACW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_7 and her http://nickypeacockauthor.wordpress.com Her short story ‘The Red Fingers’ will be featured in The Grotesquerie anthology published by Mocha Memoirs and edited by Eden Royce.