I’ve always been afraid of things that go “bump” in the night.
I’ve never liked dark rooms, shadowy corners or scary movies. Just the mere thought of ghosts, or spirits or specters or disembodied voices was enough to set my pulse racing from the time I was a kid up until a few years ago. It sounds ridiculous, like a kid being afraid of the monster under the bed, but I just could not get a grip on this phobia (phasmaphobia, if you wondered). I would not go into our basement alone. I would not sleep without the hall or bathroom light on. I certainly wouldn’t get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom if I was in a strange place, and just flipping channels and coming upon the advertisement for a show about ghosts would have me up all night with the covers pulled over my head. Every noise, every shadow, every cool breeze had my crazy writer’s brain imagining all kinds of demons and spirits coming to get me.
And then a few years ago, I decided I was tired of being afraid. I had kids by that time and what was I going to do? Have my three year could scope out my close to make sure there were no ghosts hiding in there every night before I went to bed? I’d seen enough daytime talk shows to know that the only way to overcome a fear is to face it.
First I enrolled in Ghost Hunting 101 offered by a local paranormal society. That was an interesting group of people, let me tell you. But the end result was that the conversation was opened for me. I didn’t say a lot during the discussion, but it made me feel less crazy and marginally safer. I mean, a lot of these people had had paranormal experiences (or believed they had) and had lived to tell about it. They talked about spirits as real things, not something that was just in my imagination. For some reason, that made me feel better.
Then I started watching Ghost Hunters on A&E. I liked that show as opposed to some others because they were skeptics at heart and explained everything in logical terms—there was no sensationalism to be had. After a while I was able to watch these shows and look at it as a scientific phenomenon, not fully understood or explained, but nothing to spend my days worrying over, either.
And then I decided I would write a ghost story. “Hart & SOuls”, which releases later this month, was the result. I wrote about a ghost hunter (actually a ghost relocator)—someone who knows spirits exist, interacts with them on a daily basis and then finds herself in the unique position of falling in love with one of her projects (and getting it on with him—it is erotic romance, afterall J).
I can’t say that I never get the heebie-jeebies. And I would never intentionally seek out spirits like real ghost hunters do. I still prefer the light on when I sleep, too, but overall, I’m a lot calmer and spend a lot less time worrying about bodiless people. I even attend a retreat each year with some RWA chapter sisters at a very old house in the woods that is reportedly haunted. I’m not saying I sleep well, but I do manage to get to sleep. That’s a lot more than I would be able to tolerate just a few years ago.
I’m really happy that fear doesn’t have the power over me it used to and even more happy that “Hart & Souls” came out of it—it’s always been one of my favorites and I’m excited Whispers is publishing it for the first time as a stand-alone short.
So what are you afraid of or what phobias have you been able to overcome?