Well the new year is almost a month old and I know I have been MIA on the blog front but I was taking a break from blogging to get my head around the home schooling and working from home thing. Now I have successfully poured my frontal lobes back in place, here we are again on the hunt for scary inspiration. This week I have author Alison Knight popping by the House of Fear to tell us all about what scares the bejesus out of her.
What movie/book scared you as a child?
I think I should start by saying that I’m a complete coward and actively avoid anything that might be scary! I can’t remember a particular book that scared me, but I do remember seeing a film when I was about six at our local library in the East End of London that still gives me the shivers. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was an old black and white film about a group of children who lived in the country and in one scene they were trapped in the loft of an old hay barn that was on fire. I was so scared, I ran out because I couldn’t bear to watch it. I still don’t know how the film ended, although with hindsight, I’m sure they would have been rescued or been able to escape. I also confess to have been one of those children who hid behind the sofa when the Daleks came on the telly.
Do you like scary movies? Which one is your favourite.
No! I avoid them at all costs!
Ghost are my go to for scares. Have you ever had a paranormal experience in real life?
I’m not scared by the thought of ghosts – I think that’s because I’ve lost people close to me and like the idea that they might be hanging around, keeping a loving eye on me. I did have an unsettling experience a few years ago when I stayed at a friend’s house in Oxfordshire. It was a very old thatched cottage with wonky floors and walls. I was just dozing off to sleep when I felt a cat land on the mattress and walk across my back. But when I looked, there was nothing there! I checked with my friend the next morning and they have never had a cat. Yet I felt the cat’s weight on my back and heard it purring.
Has a book ever scared you?
I had to read The Lovely Bones for a university course and found it really unsettling. It wasn’t something I’d have finished reading if it wasn’t part of my studies. Needless to say, I won’t watch the movie. I don’t like anything that makes me feel helpless.
In my own books, I like to build tension, but I don’t aspire to instill terror in my readers. My latest book, MINE, is different because it’s based on real events. I found that really, really hard to write but as I’m the only one left who was part of what happened, I felt I owed it to myself and my family to write it. But it scared me to write it because it meant reliving it all. I was also scared of upsetting other family members who would remember that time.
I have to say, I shed a lot of tears as I wrote it and dreaded having to write some scenes. But I also tried to balance the bad stuff with lighter moments – memories that made me laugh out loud. I know some of my family and friends who have read it said they found it hard to read because they knew what was coming but they also appreciated the lighter moments which evoked good memories for them.
In real life, what is your greatest fear?
Like every mother, I fear for my children and grandchildren. I remember thirty-odd years ago, when my son was a baby, I was at home and my husband was away on a course and someone tried to get into our house through the back door. What did I do? I yelled at the top of my voice and ran towards the door – no one was getting anywhere near my baby! I was just in time to see someone disappear over our garden wall. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised how badly that could have gone but I think if either of my children or grandchildren were threatened I’d do the same thing again.
My mother nearly drowned as a child and was rescued from a fast-flowing river. She was terrified of water after that and never learned to swim. Yet I was a real water baby and loved to swim and she would sit by the pool and watch me. It wasn’t until years later that I realised how scary that must have been for her.
On a personal level, I’m terrified of being helpless – if I couldn’t see or move I’d be absolutely terrified. Have you read The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby? He was the young, successful editor of French Elle when he had a massive stroke. It left him unable to move anything except for one eyelid. The book is beautiful and terrifying. I don’t think I could cope with something like that.
Do you use your fears when you write?
To a certain extent, yes. In my first book I featured a house fire where the heroine was trapped upstairs, so that old movie is still influencing me! I’ve also featured characters suffering from PTSD after an attack and others having to make decisions that could leave them in serious danger if they ‘did the right thing’. Sometimes it can be terrifying to do what you know is right because it will mean you make yourself vulnerable – the choice of them or me can be the scariest thing you ever have consider.
In MINE, I learned a lot about myself and my family as I relived events that I didn’t really understand at the time. Facing my fears of writing the story helped me to gain a new perspective on the people involved and how ordinary people made decisions that led them into an extraordinary situation.
Anne-Marie, thank you for inviting me to talk about my fears. Once again, I had to face my fears and, although I’m still going to avoid horror stories and movies and Daleks, I feel a little better about my fears and how I deal with them.
Thank you so much for sharing your fears with me/us it’s been great to have you here! The Lovely Bones is a beautiful and terrifying story, it really bothered me when I saw the movie – so much so I haven’t been able to watch it again. And I would love to hear more about your feline phantom!
If you want get to know more about lovely Alison, go get her book and get involved with her on social…..
Mine by Alison Knight
“What’s mine, I keep.”
Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.
Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.
Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?
Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.
Mine by Alison Knight is published by Darkstroke Books and is available from: mybook.to/mineknight
Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.
In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.
Mine, published by Darkstroke Books is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.
Alison co-manages Imagine Creative Writing with Jenny. She teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.
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