They say that there are only seven stories and that Shakespeare wrote them already. Really? I must have missed the one he wrote about a family of circus freaks breeding their own brand of deformities. Or how about that girl who shot half her face off to gain attention that her parents lavished on her brother who it turns out is… Billy? Oh, I know! There was that one where the guy shoots his best friend over a girl, only to find out that it was really him. Well, okay, I’ll give you that one, but only if Romeo and Juliet occupied the same mind.
No ghosts or goblins in those. Fear is most effective when it enters the reader’s comfort zone, what they see every day, their own flesh. A good horror, thriller, or suspense book should have you scared to approach the toaster in the morning, afraid to start your car, terrified to walk on the grass. And God only knows what horrible fate is ready to spring out from under your bed, or through the ceiling vent.
Humanity itself is a breeding ground for terror. It can rip the veil off your complacent life in a single word. Finding out that your husband is really a … or your wife. How about your child? What lurks in your every day relationships, in your household items, at the ball game, or at work?
What do you really know about that nice manager at the grocery story who always helps you load your car? How about your kid’s teachers, your co-workers? How could protect yourself if something went wrong on the train? Is any vacation really safe? Okay, so you’re a trained operative, but you weren’t trained for this one at the hostage SEAL camp. Better yet, what if you wake up some day to a complete societal breakdown?
I don’t want to hear about what has you too scared to turn off the lights at night. Sure, that’s fun but what I’d really like to know about is this. What evil has you frozen in fear in broad daylight? It’s not about what has you biting your nails, it’s about who’s biting them. What’s got you scared?