From the beginning, I was told, “write what you know.” I don’t know much, at least I didn’t when I was starting out. I know a little bit more now, but still need to know more.
When I decided what genre I wanted to write – paranormal suspense – I guess what helped get me there was my general knowledge of that subject matter – the paranormal part, not so much the suspense. I’ve always been fascinated in all things paranormal, even though we never referred to it as paranormal in the good old days. I grew up calling it ESP (The Amazing Kreskin), we read about crop circles (remember Chariots of the Gods?) and the Bermuda Triangle, our vampire was Dark Shadows’ Barnabas Collins (not the Johnny Depp version, either), and Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster were only seen in fuzzy photos taken with Instamatic Flash Bulb cameras by tourists with shaky hands.
We didn’t have psychics all over television helping us to get in touch with our dearly departed, we didn’t have Ghost Hunters, and we certainly didn’t tell anyone we believed in the Wicca faith. They weren’t still burning witches at the stake at that time, but you couldn’t be sure…some maniacs were still wearing long white robes and rounding up the “colored people” for special bonfires. Thank goodness we’ve come a long way since then!
In the old days, paranormal was something scary and evil. We didn’t know what to think about it and we were sure ghosts, vampires, zombies, werewolves, and witches were all products of the devil. You had to stay away from them or you’re going straight to Hell.
Nowadays we like to chase after anything and everything paranormal. Over half of all movies and shows on television are based on the paranormal, as far away from accepted reality as possible. We like to have our escapes from reality, and why not? Reality sucks.
Does reality let you fly through the air and jump from tree top to tree top, never worrying about crashing to the ground? Will it give you super human strength to vanquish your enemies when they’ve exhausted their usefulness to you? Has reality ever made all your silly dreams come true with little or no effort on your part?
I think not.
I claimed that over half of everything on TV was paranormal (only a guess, I didn’t actually research the numbers), bet you can’t guess what the other half-ish is playing on TV? They call it “reality” TV, but from what I’ve seen I doubt very much of it is real reality. If it is, I have a bad feeling about the direction the world is taking.
Just think, at some point in time, many years from now, this will be “the good old days.” I’d like to think we’d look back on it fondly with a smile and say, “Ah, yes. Those were the days.”
So I write paranormal suspense, mostly about psychics or contemporary witches. I like to think of my characters as superheroes without the capes. They have to possess special powers (as does a superhero) and in a roundabout way find themselves doing do-gooder things (uh…sounds like a superhero to me). They have problems to work through, human weaknesses, and societal issues that get in their way, but they find an inner strength to help them rise above and battle the beast (even if the beast is only the mental or emotional angst they’ve created internally).
The suspense develops on its own, even I don’t know where the story is headed until we get there. Thus, suspense. Edge-of-your-seat, twisting-turning-rollercoaster, boat-ride-through-the- dark-tunnel-and-hoping-you-come-out-into-the-light-at-the-other-end stuff.
Like I said, I know a little bit about paranormal suspense.
What I don’t know…hmm, it is fiction, after all. Let’s make it interesting…