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Joel Arnold

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Member Since: May, 2010

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Blogs by Joel Arnold

Trying to Figure Out What Scares Me
3/21/2011 10:09:38 AM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

Before I sat down to write my novel Northwoods Deep, I’d come to the realization that not much scared me anymore, at least in terms of horror fiction. Don’t get me wrong. I love the genre. Always have and always will. But while horror fiction could thrill and excite me, it rarely scared me. I hadn’t experienced that goose-bumps-on-the-arm feeling in a long, long time. Why? Had I grown jaded? Too cynical? Was I just not reading the right things?

So as I plotted my novel, I asked myself what scares me? It wasn’t vampires or werewolves or mutant jackrabbits. Sure, those can be vehicles for good scares when handled correctly, just as they can be vehicles for romance or comedy or angsty-teen novels. It wasn’t gore, even though I appreciate a well-written gore scene as much as the next fella.

What scared me?

I wracked my brain and eventually realized that my biggest fear was loss. Loss of family. Loss of my faculties. Loss of the control of my body, of determining my destiny. And what if I’d been responsible for the loss of someone I loved? How would I deal with it? Could I deal with it? That’s where the character of Jack came from; a man responsible for the loss of his mother in a drunk driving accident.

Jack’s sister Carol also suffers from loss; the loss of control amidst the chaos of an abusive ex-husband who refuses to leave her alone no matter what she does.

And Allen, their father, suffers from the loss of not only his wife at the hands of his son, but also suffers from the loss of his ability to cope with reality.

When this family – the Gunderson family – finds something hidden deep in the woods that hints at a new reality, although one merely hallucinatory – how much are they willing to sacrifice for it?

So…loss scares me. And while there is suspense and gore and even an evil entity in Northwoods Deep, these are not what make it a horror novel – at least not to me. These are not the things that really scare me. The thing that really scares me is that simple universal fear of loss, and of things never again being the same.

What scares you? If you want to write an effective horror novel, try to figure that out. Sure, you can use vampires and werewolves and mutant jackrabbits, but remember that they’re merely vehicles through which we can provide the scares – not the scare themselves.

And okay, I lied. Mutant jackrabbits really do scare the crap out of me.

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More Blogs by Joel Arnold
• The Sucking Suckathon of Suckiness - Monday, May 21, 2012
• Mississippi Pearls and a Car Biding Its Time on the Ice 'til Spring - Thursday, December 29, 2011
• One Decade, One Story - or how One Thing Leads to Another - Wednesday, December 28, 2011
• Racing Minnesota-style! - Wednesday, December 28, 2011
• This Here Minnesota Horror Author was a Big Old Scaredy-Cat - Thursday, December 22, 2011
• Jack the Blob Killer - Monday, December 19, 2011
• Death Rhythm - Tuesday, September 20, 2011
• More Writing What You Know - Monday, September 19, 2011
• How I Interpret 'Write What You Know' - Wednesday, August 03, 2011
• Blessings - or - What I write after having one too many... - Wednesday, August 03, 2011
• 120 Miles in a Canoe - Monday, June 27, 2011
• On Stephen King - Thursday, June 23, 2011
• Why Horror? - Wednesday, June 22, 2011
• Zen & the Art of Swearing - Friday, June 10, 2011
• If Coffee Shops were Run by Airlines - Thursday, May 12, 2011
•  Trying to Figure Out What Scares Me - Monday, March 21, 2011  
• My Confession - Tuesday, March 08, 2011
• Going Indie with my novel Northwoods Deep - Friday, March 04, 2011
• How I Envision Conflict When Writing - Thursday, March 03, 2011
• Wall Drug - why it's one of my favorite places - Wednesday, February 02, 2011
• Jonesing for a Road Trip - Wednesday, February 02, 2011
• Snowmapocalyptopalooza - Tuesday, February 01, 2011
• How Do You Remember? - Thursday, January 20, 2011
• When your parents are librarians... - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• The genesis of a novel - the first 6 days - Tuesday, January 04, 2011
• Searching for Truth - Characterization - Thursday, December 16, 2010
• Control - and a little more about Northwoods Deep - Monday, December 13, 2010
• Bukowski - Wednesday, December 08, 2010
• Flies, Flies, Spam, and Flies - Friday, December 03, 2010
• Naivete and the Young Writer - Thursday, December 02, 2010
• For Writers looking for some Adventure - Wednesday, December 01, 2010
• My usual rider for family/friend appearances - Tuesday, November 23, 2010
• Writing and Me - a dramatization - Wednesday, November 17, 2010
• Writing Tip o' the Day (now with vitamin C!) - Tuesday, November 16, 2010
• The Power of Music - Tuesday, November 16, 2010
• To All the Bookstores I've Loved Before - Monday, November 15, 2010
• The Care and Feeding of Writers - Sunday, November 14, 2010
• Rudiments - Thursday, November 11, 2010
• Writing Tip o' the Day - Wednesday, November 10, 2010
• Tragedy - now with 50% more pathos! - Tuesday, November 09, 2010
• Perspective - Monday, November 08, 2010
• The Daunting Dauntiness of Tweeting on Twitter - Saturday, November 06, 2010

Grail Tale by J.S. Bradford

The Holy Grail inexplicably surfaces in a rehab clinic in Los Angeles...  
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