I am terrified of spiders.
I’m working on the sequel to Gatekeeper, a fantasy horror novel. The second book is Chaos. Both books have scary spiders.
I’m not fond of autumn. I don’t like the sound made by blowing leaves or tree branches rubbing together. Especially at night.
I think dry leaves moving in a breeze sound like animals skittering through the forest. Not friendly animals like squirrels or raccoons. Spiders. Really big spiders. Bare branches moving in the wind sound like bones rubbing together. And how would that happen? Some creature that has just finished eating something is gnawing on bones that clack against each other. Like a really big spider that ate a squirrel. Or a raccoon. Or a person.
You can tell where my mind is. I love horror stories and movies – even B movies like the Saturday night sci-fi flicks, despite their bad animation. I love the Sharknado movies. But they’re not serious horror.
I’m a visual learner. I learned that well into my adulthood. Movies enthrall me because they rely on images. I could turn off the volume in a good horror film and still be just as scared. Books compel my attention if an author has a good handle on descriptions.
Take Stephen King’s Pet Semetery. I read it a couple years after it came out. My husband was gone to a conference. I settled into his recliner and was going to watch a movie, but I remembered I had just gotten the book. Instead of my movie, I started to read.
Around ten o’clock I called the dog from his post at the foot of the stairs where he was guarding my son, age six. I figured if some monster was after the kid, the dog would let me know. I wanted the protection of a 90 pound dog right at my feet.
At eleven o’clock I went through the house – with the dog beside me – and turned on every light and made sure the doors and windows were locked. Back in my chair I covered up with a comforter. One large enough to fling over my head so I’d be safe.
By midnight my palms were sweaty, and my heart skipping. But I couldn’t put the book down. I read it in one sitting and finished in the wee hours of the morning, which was a mistake, because I had to go upstairs to bed, and I’d forgotten to turn on the light in the bathroom. I sent the dog in first.
It wasn’t the premise of the story that was so frightening for me: that an animal could come back to a sort-of life if buried in a certain plot of ground. That was fine with me. Revived, dead pets could dig their way out and go about their business. It was the idea that these creatures might come back to us.
There would be a scratch at the door. A rustling in the darkness. Dry branches rubbing together? Or leaves blown by the wind? Not in my fertile mind. Having been terrified of spiders all my life, those sounds could easily be made by spiders coming after me.
So, naturally, the scary creatures in my book, Gatekeeper, became spiders. Large ones, dog-sized. And one called an Old One with human intelligence who could control the smaller ones.
How did she get that way? Saying more would be a huge spoiler. You’ll have to read the book to find out. There’s a new revised edition on Amazon. You’re welcome to buy it now, but if you wait a while it will be free.
But do not read the book if you’re afraid of spiders. Fair warning.