Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Scares You?

As an author I'm often asked, "Where do you get your ideas?"

It's one of my favorite subjects, so if you decide to ask me on our next exchange, pull out a chair and settle in. It's hard for me to stop talking about it once I start.

In previous articles, I've mentioned how life in general (news, friends, movies, etc.) can inspire story lines. Today I'd like to discuss how my fears drive my plots.
Allow me to open up right from the beginning and tell you what scares the hell out of me.
1) Losing my wife, daughters, grandkids, or other family members (including pets)

2) Being caught in a fire (hey, I didn't say my fears were original, did I?)

3) Drowning

4) Heights

5) Bad guys

6) Plane crashes (if I'm inside)

7) Tornadoes

8) Floods (and a subsequent drowning)

9) Snakes. (shudder)

10) Being in a bad accident in a massive snow storm

11) Falling under the ice and not being able to get out

12) Geez! Isn't 11 enough?

As I analyze this long list of fears, I realize I've used those themes over and over again in my twenty-one books. Those twists on all the themes have given my characters fits on a number of occasions. In Double Forte', Gus nearly drowns, his daughter is threatened, his grandson disappears, and he goes off the road with said grandson in the vehicle in a bad snowstorm. Uh huh. Looks at all those fears!
In Upstaged, Gus has to deal with a big snake, he's terrorized by a psychotic maniac, and his fiancee's beloved dog is kidnapped.
Mazurka opens with a near plane crash, Gus and Camille are hunted by Nazis, abandoned unground in the Parisian Catacombs, almost drowned when their car plunges into an alpine lake, and are imprisoned during a fierce fire. Oh yeah, Mazurka hit a lot of them.
In Tremolo: cry of the loon, we do the handcuffed-to-a-bed-in-a-roaring-fire bit, the being-attacked-underwater-and-almost-drowning-bit, and also have Gus misunderstand and think his mother died. Phew. That was a bad one, too.
So I won't go through Firesong, which includes many of the above as well, but believe me, fears are intertwined in all the books. And facing those fears by writing about them is good therapy. It's also a good way to get your readers' hearts pumping, for you can be assured that many of your fears are shared by them.

And now that I’ve written my first love story, The Seacrest, I realize that I’ve utilized many examples from the first two on the list above – Finn loses his mother, father, grandfather, sister ten years before the story opens, and then he has another huge loss in chapter 1, which starts in 2013. Not to mention the fire! Wow, it’s pretty amazing when you analyze your own work from this angle.
So, writers. What scares you?
Aaron Paul Lazar


Amanda Ray said...

I have to agree with you, one of my biggest fears is loosing my husband or son (of course, then this leads to the fear of being alone). I am terrified of spiders, snakes, mice or really any creepy crawley critter. I am absolutely petrified of heights and will send myself into a panic attack (so not fun, believe me).

Sheila Deeth said...

Losing one of the kids. That's definitely top of my list. Not being able to write is somewhere in there. And spiders...

Dennis Higgins - Author said...

I could just repost most of your list as my scares, except I have a strange fascinations with tornadoes and have written them into my stories a few times. Growing old and being alone scares me., also known as scares me too, but that's a story all in itself. Rampant secularism scares me and some exorcism movies.

Unknown said...

Hi Aaron, thanks for making it easier to post a comment.
I'm scared of all the things that scare you, but I don't possess your gift of imagination to use my fears as triggers for writing a whole novel. I deal with them in writing poetry or just a short prose snippet. I can't tell you enough how much I enjoyed "Tremolo:cry of the loon". I intend to read all your books.

Cheryl said...

Great post, Aaron. I have to admit, I have a list of fears and phobias a mile long, but I think part of that is because I have a very vivid imagination and can see these things happening.

Something awful happening to the kids or the hubby if definitely top of the list, but I'm so afraid of water I can't stand splashing water anywhere near my face. Sure makes taking a shower tough. The thought an elevator might get stuck between floors, traveling over bridges or through tunnels, and flying are some other fears.

Looking forward to reading your latest book.

Unknown said...

The question should be "what am I not afraid of"?
That list would be really short lol

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Great list of fears, everyone! I should update my list - you've reminded me of plenty that we all share!