The title says it all. I am absolutely fascinated by fear. And not just any fears, but my own in particular.
Here’s a quick story. When I was choosing my original college major, marine biology, it was on a whim. Through a friend of a friend, we toured a school’s marine biology labs and I thought, okay, I guess I could study this. There was one, teensy little problem though.
I am terrified of the ocean. You know, an integral part of marine biology.
Still, for two and a half years I learned about currents and creatures, and I did find it all generally interesting. But what I really loved were deep sea creatures.
Anything with big teeth, dead-looking eyes, or a freaky defense mechanism (hello, mucus excreting hagfish!) was my cup of tea. I can spend hours looking up pictures of the creatures that dwell in the bathypelagic and abyssopelagic zones until I scare myself so senseless that I’m afraid to get in the shower (this story is a literal fear).
However, it wasn’t that fear that ultimately ended my marine biology education, but a general feeling of “meh” about everything that wasn’t creepy. Of course, there are other, more complex reasons, but this was a large part of it. I entrenched myself in a program I didn’t have a major interest in because, in part, I was drawn to my own fear of it.
This translates into my writing quite often. Beyond Fearful Flash Fiction—basically a catalog of my many fears—I’m far more intrigued by the morbid and personally anxiety-inducing than other genres.
For instance, I just finished a beginner-level fiction workshop course. Nearly every step of the way, if I was given the choice to get dark, I did.
Write a description of a house? Let’s make it a rotting old Victorian.
Write a conversation? Let’s make it about a relationship fraught with condescension.
Write a full-on short story? Let’s make it about death!
This is just where my head goes. Decay freaks me out. So do conversations with negative subtext. And death is, well, death.
As with anything, there are exceptions. Neither of my two publications are morbid, and I do have a story here on the site that’s chill. And yet, I continually find myself drawn to the darker sides of both literary and genre fiction.
I think what it comes down to is this: I enjoy writing most when I am emotionally charged. Fear is what gets me there.