Friday, September 4, 2009


Spider I’m a mystery writer, but my books are only minimally scary. They’re more about the puzzle and the characters.

But I think it would be fun to try something different.

The other day I was doing some yard work and noticed a HUGE spider. It was one of those zipper spiders, the kind that’s pictured above. The funny thing is that I’m not even scared of spiders. But I was scared of him. He was beautiful, but I didn’t realize he was so close to me. I had accidentally bumped his web and for a split second he raced down it, thinking he had a goody in there. I don’t think he’d have been able to handle me, but he was big enough to have considered it.

Cozy mysteries don’t ordinarily have a lot of scary scenes. But I’d like to incorporate something frightening with one of my next books. To me, the scariest things are the things we’re suddenly startled by---like the huge spider in the bushes that I didn’t realize was there.

One of the scarier movies to me was the first Halloween movie. The part that scared me the most? When Michael stood on the sidewalk and watched the girl he was stalking in broad daylight, then slipped behind the bushes when she spun around to see if he was there. It was scary because it was a sunny, beautiful fall day…and there was a psychopath right there in the middle of it.

Hitchcock was a master at making ordinary things frightening. The Birds was one of those movies. And Rear Window, where a bored voyeur spots a horrifying crime (or the evidence pointing to one having been committed.) Vertigo took a fear of heights to a whole new level.

Clearly, thrillers are best at delivering fear to the reader. But that’s not appropriate for my genre. I’d like to do it more subtly and work it in. Have a scary surprise.

What ordinary things do you find scary? Do your books have frightening aspects to them?