I was thinking today, as one does when one is an onanistic as I am, about my writing, and about how hard it is to write a really scary story. I don't think I've ever managed it – please let me know if you disagree. In fact, I don't think I've even managed scary.
Which is unsettling, because I am firm believer that fear in a story occurs in direct proportion to empathy for the characters within it. Does that mean I'm dreadful at characterisation? Well, that's a door I don't particularly want to open.
I'd like to think I've managed disturbing, but that's relatively easy.
Now, I'm wondering if it's because my stories tend to grow the seeds of a particular image or a sentence that starts spinning around in my skull rather than a particular intent to produce one emotion or another. The few pieces I've begun with the desire to create a scare are ones I've never managed to sell.
Perhaps it's just that I scare easily. All you need is a long hallway, or a loud noise behind a door, and I'm begging off to do the washing up, or hiding behind the couch. Sad but true.
Still, I'd really like to one day create the feeling of must-lift-feet-up-onto-the-couch-so-that something-doesn't-grab-my-ankles dreadery that first reading H.P. Lovecraft's Colour from Space or Stephen King's Gramma gave me. Or, better yet, the still haunting – that way lies madness - image of the shifting curtain in Terry Dowling's truly fabulous story Beckoning Nightframe.
So, who's writing stuff that terrifies you? Who am I missing out on?