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ZRINKA JELIC: Nightmare Influence
My worst nightmare didn't really influence my work, however it has a honorable mention in my debut novel "Bonded By Crimson" where a heroine says to the hero that he has no idea how much those dreams scared her. Though they weren't really dreams, more like head games he played with her since she was little and he sensed that she's sensing his presence. He would chase her through the abandoned streets of her medieval town, but she didn't know who was behind her. When her fears squeezed her throat and she fought for every breath, he'd wake her up by placing his hand on her shoulder. And that was all she ever saw of him, his hand on her shoulder. Until the day he decided to show himself to her.
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A Path of Fear
What scares me? Hmmm. As a horror writer, most people think that I am either scared of everything or completely fearless.
I also think it very much depends upon the age of the writer in question.
I am 62 years old.
But let’s track my fear path up to the present.
When I was a small child, I disliked the dark, but I was terrified of the Wicked Witch of the West; however, my mother loved The Wizard of Oz, so every Easter (it used to be shown on television every year around that time), we were watching. My mother knew the movie so well, that, after the first time I watched it and didn’t sleep for two days, she would warn me when the witch was about to make an appearance, and I would leave the room. When I heard, “She’s gone,” I knew the witch was history—at least for a little while.
The next focus of my cravenness would be, believe it or not, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. All I had to do was see the opening credits with what, to me, was some pretty scary animation, and I was out of there. Oddly enough, it is now one of my favorite comedies.
When I was sixteen, and oh-so-far-above being frightened by anything except a poor grade on my report card, I volunteered to babysit for Mr. Bilderback, my Chemistry teacher. He lived in this marvelously gothic house, which was fine during the day, but got a tad creepy at night, and this particular night, a thunder storm was raging outside. At any rate, after I put the kids to bed, I went up to the top of the house to watch television, since there wasn’t one downstairs. I flipped on the TV, searching for a movie, and guess what popped up? Psycho. I knew, from the opening credits…from that blood-dripping font that the movie title was in…that I had better turn it off as fast as possible, and just spend the rest of the evening trying to read and listening to the footstep-like creaking of the old house.
After that movie, I was never happier to see my Chemistry teacher, and showers, for the next three years, were unbearable for me, unless I locked the bathroom door.
Jump to Night of the Living Dead and you have my zombie fear for the next four or five years. They creeped me out more than any other monster because they are quiet. Brrrrrr.
But these days, at my age, I have much more pedestrian fears. I fear losing my husband, who is my best friend. I fear living alone and dying suddenly—but I’m not afraid of my own demise. The fear is of all my pets starving to death with no one to feed them. I fear that I will not be remembered for my writing. I fear blindness and paralysis.
Come to think of it, I guess horror writers really are afraid of a great many things. It’s just that what we are afraid of changes as we age. It seems that, as we get older, if I am any indication, that fictional monsters scare us less and the realities of life scare us more. Fascinating, don’t you think?