Multi-award winning author Lynn Chandler Willis was the first woman in a decade to win the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best 1st P.I. Novel competition with her novel, Wink of an Eye. She lives in North Carolina where she spends her days babysitting 8 of her 9 grandchildren while simultaneously plotting interesting ways to kill people. There could be a connection. Learn more about Lynn at her website.
What Scares You the Most?
It's that time of year again when ghosts, goblins, and witches decorate yards with dying grass. Scarecrows standing tall beside a bale of hay are now threatening. Crows remind us of ravens and everywhere you look, there's a zombie.
Television networks begin running horror movies back to back in horror-fest marathons. And even though we know how it's going to end—and usually not good—we continue to watch. We read Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and now Blake Crouch. And if you really, really, really want to be scared—read Bram Stoker's Dracula. Trust me, there's no sparkly boy in the original vampire tale. But there is fear, pure and heart-clutching.
Why do we do it? Why do we like being scared? From riding large, swooping roller coasters to watching a terrifying movie or reading something that can induce nightmares, we're active participants in our own horrors. Some researchers believe it to be linked to our “fight-or-flight” instinct, triggering an adrenaline rush. Whatever the reason, some people enjoy being scared to death.
I'm not necessarily one of them. Well, maybe to a point. I don't enjoy the “slasher” movies. The Friday the 13th franchise, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre...not my cup of tea. Given my choice, I'd take a Hitchcock movie any day over the blood and gore that dominates today's cinema.
Monsters don't really scare me. Vampires, Frankenstein, werewolves, and even zombies don't really do it for me. I find Vampires interesting more than terrifying. With the exception of the original—Mr. Stoker's is quite frightening. Maybe it's my penchant for bad boy characters? Vampires are often portrayed as tortured souls (if they had one!) and a little more on the sexy side than we're comfortable with. While Frankenstein, on the other hand, doesn't mean to do the things he does, so he's a little misunderstood. Werewolves? Nah. Recent literature has made them sexy, manly-men, take-me-under-the-moonlight antiheroes and who's scared of that?
But a human who’s a tad “touched” in the head—absolutely terrifies me. The psychology behind the horrors they commit is scarier to me than any freak in a hockey mask or mutant with a chainsaw. Yes, I know, the slasher movies almost always star a crazy, murdering, monster of a person but they're so over the top exaggerated, they become fun. In a really twisted sort of way.
The AMC hit show The Walking Dead is a great example of what scares me. And it's not the zombies. Look beyond the snarling, lumbering, flesh-eating things roaming the woods and pose the question to yourself—what would I do? What would you do if you woke up one day and the world you knew was gone? Forget the zombies. How would you survive?
The one that scares the bejeezus out of me is an oldie, but a goodie. In the 1944 George Cukor film Gas Light starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, a husband attempts to convince his wife she's going insane. The mental manipulation used by the husband in the movie is the basis for the psychological term gaslighting. Now that, to me, is true terror.
What scares you?
Wink of an Eye
Twelve-year old Tatum McCallen hires reluctant PI Gypsy Moran to prove his father didn't kill himself. Gypsy, on the run from his own set of problems, soon finds himself in the middle of a case involving eight missing girls, a cowardly sheriff, and hostile deputies. Aided by a sexy reporter, Gypsy begins unraveling secrets buried deep in his tiny hometown of Wink, Texas. Secrets so deep, exposing them threatens the only woman he's ever loved, and the very life of Tatum.