I had to rely on what scares me, and my worst fear is loss or abandonment. This does not make me unique; abandonment fears go back to childhood, when we only had our parents to take care of us. When I was a little girl, I was afraid of the dark. Worse? The feeling that no one would care that I was afraid.
Fear has its uses, going back to our primitive ancestors. Now, in our civilized age, we get a thrill from horror movies and books. I've always liked the scary stuff, and I'm drawn to it as a writer because the dark side is a handy place to explore all the mysteries; sex, death, life, grief, anger, and even love. Fear can lead to some of the most important, dramatic decisions we make in our lives. We're not in perfect control, life is unpredictable, but Freddy Krueger can only get you if you fall asleep. Jason can only get you if you go to Camp Crystal Lake. And we all know that Chucky is just a doll and Michael Myers only comes around at Halloween. I grew up on these movies, and horror was 'safe' because it never felt real, in spite of all of the attempts at censorship and the oppression of the MPAA. I didn't grow up to be a bad person because I liked scary movies. The writer, artist, or filmmaker is like a dark magician; juggling the mysteries, their characters wearing different masks, making one character disappear while another levitates or blows fire out of his mouth. The artist doesn't scare himself because he is in control of his dark little world, no matter what happens. Nothing gets away from the writer; even in the most feverish moments of inspiration, the writer owns every word. Genre fiction can still be a place of self-expression, not just poetry or literary fiction. Why would the writer want to bother with any story if they couldn't bring something of themselves into it? The writer would quickly grow bored with anything less, I would think. A writer doesn't scare herself; she only fears writer's block or the horrors of rejection or a bad review. Horror fiction writers are very resourceful; they have to pull the terror out of everyday life, not just through monsters like vampires or serial killers. Ghost stories are rich in psychology. Symbolism is everywhere; however, the intent is simple, because the writer wants to thrill her reader, and readers get their thrills from fear of the unknown. We live in uncertain times, but change is inevitable, and we're bound to bump into something or someone we don't understand. Uncertainty existed in the Dark Ages, the Black Plague, and during all of the wars in recorded history. When the Vikings got on their wooden ships, their destination wasn't exactly mapped out. No GPS. They could run into a bad storm or an enemy. But no guts, no glory; so they went off on their jouneys to rape and pillage.
I know I should feel flattered when anyone asks me how I get my ideas or if I scare myself. I'm not overly sensitive about having dealt with depression or taking medication, because I know I am not alone. I take in various events and people like anyone else, but I have to admit that I'm very likely looking and listening when someone might not be aware, while I'm collecting grist for the mill. I work at a K-Mart store; and the things I've seen and heard could easily inspire horror fiction. Working in customer service for minimum wage? Now that's scary.