From Jay Raven:
It never fails. Whenever people hear I write horror books, they invariably ask: “You frighten people for a living, you know how to put a chill down readers’ spines, understand what secret terrors haunt our dreams. So give us a hint. What scares you?”
They then look expectantly into my face expecting me to say vampires or werewolves, or the thought of a zombie plague sweeping across the nation. And I must admit I’m tempted to say something like wax works dummies coming to life or sinister Victorian dolls singing creepy nursery rhymes at the dead of night.
Yet the truth is none of these gives me the chills. They are the stuff of other people’s nightmares and while I love writing about them, these supernatural totems don’t make me quiver.
Even ghosts fail to spook me. I’ve lived in a succession of old houses and never heard a moan in the night – maybe I better rephrase that. I’ve never heard a ghostly moan in the night. Or seen a sheet floating down the corridor.
What gives me the heebie jeebies are much more mundane. And top of the list are dogs. I am petrified by canines. Big, small, fluffy, fat, thin, big teeth, little teeth – I can’t see a pooch without swallowing hard and backing swiftly away.
It all dates back to when I was about eight. The housing estate I lived on in Glasgow was plagued by a pack of over-excitable dogs.
One day they cornered me. All I remember is four creatures jumping up, teeth bared, clawing at me. They were as tall as I was and I thought they were going to knock me to the ground and savage me. Luckily, I got away but the terror of terriers has stayed with me ever since.
The other thing that gives me the shivers is water – not the fizzy stuff in glasses, but big, deep expanses of H2o. Again, when I was about eight, I got big scare at the local swimming pool. I foolishly listened to a friend who told me the best way to learn to swim was to jump in at the deep end. Not surprisingly, I plunged to the bottom like a stone.
How I managed to get back to the surface and scramble to the side of the pool, I’ll never know. But despite later having proper swimming lessons, I’ve never quite shaken the dread of being out of my depth.
So if I really wanted to scare the life out myself I’d pen a story where a horror writer is thrown into a deep, dark, murky lake – and forced to do the doggy paddle!