I write scary stories. If I had to categorize my fiction projects, which I’m loathe to do in general for fear of painting myself into a proverbial corner before I actually have a pay cheque from my writing, I would say I write mostly thrillers. I haven’t had much time for working on my fiction since I started teaching, but I have a plan to create some wiggle room in my schedule in the next few years.
I know the idea of me granting readers a bracing dose of the heebie jeebies seems strange. After all, here at Blue Speckled Pup I’m the lighthearted woman who jokes about dog farts and frizzy hair. At work, I burst into song and tell bad Chuck Norris jokes; kids come visit even when they’re not enrolled in one of my classes because I’m zany and hilarious (according to them). I know you don’t know this, since this is not a vlog and my voice is only available in text, but I sound like a cartoon rodent when I speak. I’m the type of person you’d expect to write children’s books about anthropomorphic guinea pigs and untidy bedrooms.
How, you ask, does my happy-go-lucky personality fit with writing thrillers? I’m not too sure to be honest, but I know that since I was a kid I’ve been plugged into the other wavelengths of the universe. I’ve seen dead people for years (although never anyone who wasn’t friendly) and I sometimes get “slideshows” of images in my mind that relate to people and events –particularly in certain places. Since puberty, I’ve been quite psychic and I often feel compelled to call people to tell them about a feeling I have.
One summer, when I’d lived away from home for about a year, I called my mom to tell her I knew her house was going to flood. It was the end of a very rainy week, but she scoffed and reminded me that their home is built on top of a huge hill and any rain that came down could not possibly flood their house. I insisted that things would be under water soon, and she needed to secure a pair of water wings for my non-swimming father. Still, she didn’t believe me.
“Hi Momma,” I chirped on the phone at a reasonable time the next morning. “What’s up.”
“Not much,” she sighed, “I can’t talk now. I’m mopping up water.”
“House flood?” I asked. I’m a good daughter and I did not giggle.
“The bottom seal let go on the washing machine,” she explained. “Flooded the whole top floor and down into the basement.”
Momma believes me now when I warn her about something.
Anyhoo, over the last few years my fiction has grown darker and more twisted. At first I tried to fight it, thinking that freaky literature didn’t fit well with my regular personality. I’ve noticed that my writing improves when I just let stuff come out, when I write the ideas I know will work rather than trying to sculpt them to adhere to the kind of writing I have convinced myself people expect of me. I don’t have a terrifying side, and I truly despise scary movies –I won’t even watch a horror film because they scare me too much– but I’m finding my plotlines get darn spooky if I just let them flow.
I’m currently writing a novel set in a small Alberta town during the Great Depression. My original plot idea, after a long hibernation, has risen from the hollow log in my brain where I stashed it with greater depth, detail, and events that make the hairs on my toes stand up and tingle. Who knows. Perhaps it’s just cathartic to release all the negativity a person is exposed to in the process of living. Maybe letting my work evolve into a darker place will help me carve the foothold I need to move upward and get published. That would be awesome.
Either way, I’ve installed some night lights in the dollhouse. Sometimes my ideas are way too much for my lily liver.
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