What am I afraid of?
Who I might be. I revel in notions of change, reform, and the promise that I can be something different, something more because to remain static, to be only a continuation of the wrongs to precede me, scares me more than those evils themselves by a long shot. The scariest stories for me are the ones where we fight inevitable, timeless powers, and lose. My throat tightens at the thought of it.
I am less adverse to the notion of simply being an arbiter, since what is wrong with being a vessel for good? A subtler kind of horror emerges from playing with the idea of arbitership in the grey area between good and evil: genejacks and other examples of “the righteous slave”. For me, this plays out as a setting detail. I wrote a piece about it on the plane to Indianapolis.
A slow or painful death, pain in general, falling from extreme heights, ghosts, and manipulative people also scare me. In the case of that last one, fear becomes frustration and rage real fast.
I ask these questions after having started to read On Writing Horror by the Horror Writers Association, edited by Mort Castle. Is that even a real name? It sounds too goddamn cool to be a real name. His parents must have been prophets: “We shall name him Mort Castle, and he shall write horror!” Although, with a name like Mort Mofuggin’ Castle, what else are you going to do with your life? It’s people like Mort who inspire me to name my kids things like Thaddeus or Septimus or Turbojet.
I am also tremendously afraid of being a bad parent.