Sunday, October 11, 2009

What Scares You?

copyright 2011, aaron paul lazar

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 recent 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 fourteen 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 snow storm. 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.

So, writers. What scares you?


See a complete list of my books.


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

For years I had this recurring that my grandson was looking up at me from beneath the ice. I mentioned to a friend once and she told me to have a pick handy the next time I dreamt this. I did.

I have more fears than this window will allow. I've been forced to face many of them. Those I haven't, I use in my books. I also use my rage, the rage that no one ever sees, the one that is illegal to express. I've had friends and family say they still can't equate my books to me because I'm so cheerful.

Great post, Aaron. And congrats on your books. You should be so proud.

s.w. vaughn said...

An excellent list. :-) I'm currently working on overcoming my fears for real, not just in writing, so this is good timing.

I've started small with spiders. I can now swat one without screaming and dancing around as though my hair is full of them (except for the other day when I went to leave my office and there was a HUGE one on my door, right in front of my face... uck).

Flying is going to be a huge one. I might need drugs to survive that. :-)

Kim Smith said...

LOL I so see myself in that list, Aaron! I am with SW too, about the spiders. EEK!

Maybe I should make a list as well and just go down it for heart-stopping thrills in my books?

Great post!

Marta Stephens said...

I've faced a few of my worse fears and my list changes as I age. Here's my latest:

1) Concern for the well-being of my husband and children is tops. I want them close, safe, and happy.
2) Losing my sight.
3) Losing my ability to reason.
4) War and the actions of others that are totally beyond my control yet could affect me.
5) Hights--definitely don't want to fall off a cliff.

That's about it.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, Ladies! I'm back from my romp in the Adirondacks and glad to see other writers' fears are alive and well and (hopefully)inspiring new great plot lines!

Hugs to all - Aaron

vlfair said...

Hey! Has anyone mentioned being afraid of Clown??? Clowns are evil and scare the heck out of me.