In honor of Halloween, I’d thought I’d share what scares me … (originally posted at: http://toddrwrite.com/blog/2011/what-scares-author-sarah-woodbury.phtml)
When I was a little girl, I had an army of stuffed animals to protect me at night. Cuddly the bear, because he was the biggest, would nestle next to my right shoulder. Yellow-hopper (the yellow bunny) would buttress my left shoulder, and Mr. Octopus and Raggedy Andy would sit sentry on the pillow. I stationed all the rest—bears, bunnies, horses—facing the window.
I had a big bed too—a double—with a wooden headboard and a gaping foot-high empty space underneath it.
That’s where the monsters hung out.
Every night, I lay flat on my back, perfectly still, so that I wouldn’t make any noise and my movements wouldn’t bring them out. I also had a big closet that loomed along the inner wall. I always kept the doors closed, lest the monsters in there sneak out through the cracks.
My Mary-had-a-little-lamb night light did its best to cut through the darkness and I would stare at it, narrowing my eyes against the light, praying its little light bulb would last another night.
I don’t remember when I grew out of those fears (though I slept with Cuddly through college). But I think part of the reason stories with monsters and demons, vampires, zombies, and undead of every stripe and hue have stuck with us through the millennia is that they call upon these deeper fears—of the unknown, of powers that are beyond us—that manifest in children as fear of monsters.
As adults, our fears are far more specific: unemployment, thieves, death and taxes. Loss in all the ways we fear to lose.
And what counters that? Stories that make us forget these prosaic, every-day fears, in favor of ones that make us shiver.
My book, The Last Pendragon, tells a story about a King of Wales who becomes a sidhe and has to face down other gods and demons—and a Saxon menace that threatens the very existence of his people. But really, it’s about standing up to fears that threaten to bring you to your knees.
Really, it’s about finding the courage to turn off that night light.