Scary Stuff

I couldn’t let Halloween week go by without acknowledgment. This week, we share the books that scared us 🙂 Robin: I stayed up all night to read The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty because I was too afraid of nightmares or things going bump if I stopped reading to go to sleep. Paula: I avoid scary stories, since the few I’ve read continue to terrify me decades later. Stories like Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, which I read as a kid and still haven’t gotten over yet. The last scary book I read—because Michele Dorsey made me— was Tana French’s Broken Harbor. I had nightmares for a week afterward. Tracee: Thank you Paula for having a fright level on par with mine. A bookseller recommended Jo Nesbo’s The Thirst to me when it was new, and since the bookseller was hosting my event and was so enthusiastic I bought it. I was literally up all night reading because I was too afraid to put it down. I finally- at 4 am- skipped ahead 40 pages to the final 50 and when finished went to sleep. Awoke (alarm ringing) two hours later… and went back and read the pages I’d skipped. Susan: I cannot watch scary movies, but scary books don’t really bother me. Except for It by Stephen King. I read it once, decades ago. Will not read it again. Will not see movie. Don’t like to walk by drains. Michele: Without question, the scariest book I ever read was Helter Skelter. I was terrified by it, but could not stop reading until I was done. I was horrified mostly because it was TRUE! I’m more frightened by real human behavior than I am by sci-fi or fictional horrors. I think that’s may be why Paula reacted to Tana French’s Broken Harbor. What was scary there was how the human mind can break down and result in the unthinkable. I do stay away from horror or scary books and movies. I had to leave the room toward the end while watching “Jagged Edge” with my husband years ago. I stood in the hall and called in to him, “What’s happening now?” I just couldn’t watch. Stephen King’s books (On Writing excepted) scare the sh*t out of me. Alison: Count me with the scaredy cats! Even though I completely love dressing up as something creepy for Halloween, I can’t bring myself to read scary books or watch scary movies. Alexia: The scariest book I’ve read was actually a short story–“The Boogeyman” by Stephen King. King didn’t fill the story with blood or gore or explicit violence. You never even saw the monster clearly. You just knew “something” was there and that whatever it was, it was bad. The sense of anxiety and dread is what made the story stick with me over the years. It’s one of the few that’s ever gotten to me enough that I don’t want to re-read it.I’m always more frightened by what I imagine is around the corner than what’s actually around the corner. It’s the same with horror as with tests. I was the one who worked herself into a pre-test anxiety frenzy, complete with stomach cramps, appetite loss, palpitations, and frequent trips to the bathroom. Then, the moment I sat down to actually take the test, I was fine. Even if I was guessing at answers, I wasn’t anxious or afraid–until I had to wait for the test scores and the anxiety level skyrocketed until scores were posted. Blood and guts and evil people don’t phase me (thanks, med school). “Jump scares” are more like jump startles (not really scary) and are disappointing about 3 seconds after the adrenaline rush wears off. I’m like, “Is that all you’ve got?” What’s in my head is far worse than what’s in front of me. Knowing brings relief (and the release of tension/suspense). That’s why I prefer horror that doesn’t show me what the monster looks like but, instead, tells me the monster is there and drops some serious hints about how dreadful the monster is, then lets my twisted imagination do its worst. I used to read H.P. Lovecraft and found his stories were as terrifying as Stephen King’s but then I learned what a POS Lovecraft was and I can’t bring myself to read him anymore. There’s a horror series that’s Lovecraftian, I can’t recall the name of the series now but I read it in high school, featuring a woman who was sweet and charming and loving on the surface but literally a monster underneath. That series is the second most frightening thing I’ve read, for the same reason. I imagined what the woman was capable of and wondered why the characters in the novel couldn’t see what I saw. The uncertainty about whether the characters would get a clue before the woman got them meant high anxiety for me. How about clowns, Susan? How do you feel about clowns? 😉 Susan: I don’t mind clowns, Alexia, as long as they are not hiding in trains and trying to grab my foot! Paula: I’m still trying to get over Killer Clowns from Outer Space, Which my BFF from my reporter days John Waters made me watch. Robin: And now I’m picturing Paula hanging with John Waters and wishing I’d been there. Happy Halloween! 

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