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Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

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Happy Friday, Dear Readers!

I’m finally back to writing after not looking at my book for a month and a half. Now I know why I needed the break.

My book scares the crap out of me.

I’m on the edge of my seat as I write, the nerves in my body so tight you could play a tune on them. It doesn’t help that I don’t know what’s going to happen any more than my characters do. I don’t control what happens in my books so much as I create people who show me what’s going to happen.

There’s a reason movies like Ruby Sparks and The Dark Half resonate with writers. Can I imagine going down to the kitchen and bumping into one of the people I’ve made? Yes, I can. And believe me, some of them I really wouldn’t want to run into.

With each novel, my writing has gotten darker. The first two books are psychological suspense, the third a paranormal mystery, and the work in progress has crossed the line into outright horror. (But I’d like to think it’s horror with depth.)

Why is my writing so dark when I’m basically an optimistic, happy person? It started out as a means to an end. I had a creative writing teacher who loathed what he called “Disney” endings. Well, the easiest way to never have a Disney ending is to write horror. In horror stories, good doesn’t necessarily triumph at the end. Scary stories are at their best when they leave you with that lingering feeling that no one is really safe.

Even though I started writing this way for a reason, I’ve always been drawn to scary stories. When I was a kid, there was something forbidden about them. I’ll never forget discovering that cache of Stephen King books under the stairs and feeling like I wasn’t “supposed” to read them. (In truth, my mom never policed what I read, which I’m grateful for.) I gave myself nightmares reading books about ghosts and monsters and alien abductions. If you can scare someone, you’re tapping into a deep primal response that won’t soon be forgotten. And what writer doesn’t want to evoke some kind of emotional response?

Writing dark isn’t easy, because if you’ve done a good job, you’re going to make people uncomfortable. Therefore, the writer will also be uncomfortable during the process.

More than anything, I write the kind of books I would love to read. Haunted cars, houses, lamps–sure, they have shock value, but nothing scares me more than the darkness in people. I want to know what makes people tick, how they end up the way they are.

I’d take a haunted car over a person with no conscience any day. Guess what scares me more?

What I am going to show you on Friday, October 18th is very dark. It is graphic. Some people will find it makes them uncomfortable.

But none of the darkness is gratuitous. It is there for a reason, and if I tampered with it to make people more comfortable, it would lose a lot of its strength. It would lose its truth.

So if you have nightmares, please don’t blame the writer.

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

9 Comments

  1. Chris

    Sounds creepy! Can’t wait. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Lisa S.

    Ooooh! Can’t wait for the reveal.
    I’ve read enough Stephen King books to scare me to this day. I’m still a tad afraid of the dark because of his writing, and some imaginary things, too (the blob in the water, evil deformed babies in closets, etc.).
    Bring on the 18th!

    Reply
  3. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks for your comments, peeps! 🙂 What I will reveal is dark, but not as paranormal-scary as my later writing.

    @ Chris – Thanks for your constant support. It means the world to me.

    @ Lisa S – He’s definitely had some scary stories. Wasn’t that thing in the water the worst? That scared me, too. But what was the evil deformed baby in the closet?

    Reply
  4. Chris

    @Lisa – Which thing in the water? Are you thinking of the oil slick thing in The Raft?

    Reply
  5. Holli Moncrieff

    That’s what I was thinking she meant. Brr…so creepy!

    Reply
  6. Boxing scientist

    I really don’t think I’m frightened by anything supernatural (much too skeptical for that). Fright isn’t quite the right word either for what you feel just before the first bell goes -more like nervous tension and adrenalin.

    The time I’ve felt most fear is walking in the Alps. A foot wide path, with a cliff on one side, and a sheer drop on the other can be seriously scary for me. One stumble and you’re dead. That’s a lot more serious than getting a bloody nose in boxing or rugby.

    Has anyone tried to write a scary novel about mountain vertigo?

    Reply
  7. Holli Moncrieff

    I know movies have been done about it. It does sound really scary. I was on a little wooden footpath above a river in Africa once and heard splashing right beneath me. I literally froze with fear (crocs are quite common). My friend had to come and get me!

    Strangely enough, I wasn’t nervous at all before my fight. That’s when I knew there was something wrong…shock.

    Thanks for commenting! Have a great weekend.

    Reply
  8. Michelle D. Argyle

    This is exciting! And scary! I personally don’t like horror at all, but I do happen to write some dark stuff that seems to make people uncomfortable (Cinders being one of those things). I like to experiment with both, it seems.

    Reply
  9. Holli Moncrieff

    Hi Michelle! Thanks for your comment. What I’m unleashing is not horror per se, but it is dark. You’ll see the kind of thing I mean when you read TW.

    Reply

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