Days of the Dead

I’m holding my annual Days of the Dead blog tour celebrates Halloween, Samhain, Dia De Los Muertos, All Hallow’s Eve—you get the picture!  It’s an online party—with downloadable party favors—and you’re invited!  You can see where I’ve spread the goodies out across all my partner sites at 

The Stuff of Nightmares

I write what sometimes gets classified as “dark fantasy.”  Depending on whose definition you use, that tends to mean it’s mostly adventure but with many of the darker elements that used to be reserved for horror.  That can include malignant magic, gruesome deaths, supernatural monsters, and a sprinkling of natural disasters.

So it’s a logical question to ask: which scenes that I’ve written creep me out the most?

Ah, where to begin.

Writing is a cheap form of therapy.  The trade-off is that when you’re published, it’s also public, kind of like putting yourself on the couch in the display window of a department store.  If an element doesn’t bother me, I’m not likely to put it into a story, because I won’t be able to rely on it moving a reader.

Luckily, I’m not in danger of running out of material, as I’m rather easily frightened.

I really don’t like driving or walking around alone in the dark.  I’d like to think that I’d be a lot braver if I were a martial arts expert or a Navy SEAL, but the truth is, unless you’re fully encased in body armor and heavily armed, bad things can happen to you when you’re alone in the dark.  So of course, my characters find themselves in situation after situation that requires wandering through dangerous territory in darkness.

Serial killers creep me out.  (And if they don’t creep you out, please don’t tell me, because then I’ll be a little creeped out about you.)  The Buka character in The Sworn and The Dread was a Ripper-esque psychopath who terrorized a city that was already on its last nerve.  He was important to the plot, but I can’t say I enjoyed writing his sections.

I’m a mom, so I really hate it when bad things happen to kids (or dogs). The scenes in my books where innocents get hurt are the scenes that I find most disturbing to write, but they’re necessary to establish the stakes of the game, and to evoke the reader’s understanding of why the hero will go to extremes to eliminate the perpetrator.

I think that writers write about things that scare them as a way of gaining control over the unknowable.  And I suspect that readers read about things that frighten them because it imparts a sense of vicarious victory when the good guy beasts the evil in the shadows.

So here’s to the things that creep us out, without which stories would be a whole lot safer—and much less interesting.

Please enjoy this excerpt from “Among the Shoals Forever,” my short story in The Mammoth Book of Women’s Ghost Stories:

And an excerpt from “Buttons”, my short story in the Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane here:

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