Your fears and mine

You wake to see the shadow in the doorway. Unmoving, its silhouette breaks the illusion of safety. Your home no longer belongs to you. 

You shift position and realise the thing at the door was simply a trick of the light. The shadow of an object so mundane it makes you laugh (a jacket, a bag, something hung on the door handle).

You pull the covers back over your head and enjoy the warmth. Snuggled tight, you try to enjoy your silliness, to laugh off the fear. 

But the fear won’t go easily and the memory of that spector in your doorway plagues you. Hiding in the fringes of your vision and at the edge of your dreams. It will not be an easy night.

I’m writing a horror book and it’s given me a new found respect for R L Stine. Stine is the author of the infamous ‘Goosebumps’ series of children’s horror books (among many other titles) and he is very good at what he does.

There appears to be a tightrope to walk when writing horror for children. It wobbles between thrills and frights, and a true sense of horror. I walked the tightrope for the first eight chapters and then I fell in.

This new book is not for kids.

The difference became apparent when a main character takes in the reality of what they’ve done. That depth of responsibility, the reality of remorse somehow made things grow a lot more ‘adult’.

This made me wonder if there is a fundamental difference in what can terrify a child and an adult. We will overlap in the basic self-preservation fears, those that make us run from the monstrous (we all want to stay safe after all). However, do adults find a different kind of horror in recognising the monstrous in themselves?

Is the deep end of horror found in the place in our brain where our own monster lives? I’d love to hear what you think so please leave your own ideas in the comments section below.

As always, thanks for reading, all the best, John

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