To me, January has always seemed like the longest and most boring month of the year. After all the excitement of the Christmas holidays, January comes in with a bang and then falls as flat as a tire running over a spike-strip. So I have been passing my time this January by doing something new to keep myself occupied.
I’m writing a thriller – a novel I’m hoping will scare people right out of their thermal underwear.
The idea for the book came to me when I was walking the dogs one day. I thought of a great beginning and a real shocker of an ending – the kind of ending I just knew would leave people’s mouths hanging open – the kind of ending that would rival the one in the movie, “Planet of the Apes,” where Charlton Heston thinks he’s on some strange, freaky planet run by apes, then winds up on a deserted beach where he sees the Statue of Liberty’s crown, torch and arm sticking up out of the sand… and realizes he’s been on Earth the entire time.
The only problem with my great idea for my thriller was I needed something to fill the 200 or so pages in between the enticing beginning and the shocking ending. But I felt pretty certain that as I wrote, the words would come to me – that they’d just magically flow from my fingertips and onto the keyboard.
So at the end of the first week of January, I sat down with my trusty old laptop computer and started to write. Too soon I discovered that after writing humor for over 20 years, I knew about as much about writing a thriller as I did about writing a training manual for astronauts.
Surprisingly, the writing actually went pretty well, and plot ideas began popping into my head as quickly as I could type them (which actually wasn’t all that fast, if you ever saw me type). My best ideas, however, always seemed to come to me in the dead of night, for some reason – and they soon began to wreak havoc on my already overworked imagination.
It was close to midnight one night when I was writing about a woman who woke up because she’d heard a noise in her bedroom that sounded like heavy, raspy breathing. In the darkness, she reached to turn on the lamp on her nightstand and ended up touching a man’s icy hand.
I succeeded in scaring myself so much, I turned on every light in the house and left them on until daylight.
Then the other night while I was writing, I kept hearing creaking noises in the basement. I thought it was my imagination working overtime again, but one of my dogs walked over to the furnace grate and growled down into it. That did it. I was convinced some prison escapee or alien creature was hiding in my basement. And even though the basement door that opens into the house has a lock on it, I propped a chair under the doorknob, just to be doubly safe. I haven’t gone downstairs since, for fear that something with tentacles and four eyeballs is lurking under the staircase, just waiting to pounce on me. And if I need something from the basement, like mailing-boxes or bubble wrap, I figure I’ll just go out and buy it instead.
The weird thing about me when I’m writing is I have to be watching TV at the same time. When I try to write in a completely quiet environment with nothing but my book to think about, I fall asleep.
So a couple Saturday nights ago during a snowstorm, I was writing on my thriller while simultaneously watching a movie called, “Flowers in the Attic,” where a mother intentionally was feeding her children donuts dusted with rat poison in place of powdered sugar. That in itself was creepy enough, but I was writing about a woman being murdered in her bathroom. So I was feeling twice as spooked.
That’s when the power, probably cackling with fiendish glee, decided to go out. I froze, my heart racing. Was it the storm, I wondered, or had something human – or, heaven forbid, inhuman – deliberately caused the blackout?
Even when my automatic generator kicked in (thank goodness) and all of the lights popped back on, I still wondered if that brief period of total darkness had allowed someone to gain access to the house.
After that, I couldn’t enter a room without checking behind the doors. I even got down on the floor and looked under the beds, expecting to find something with yellow glowing eyes lying there staring back at me. I didn’t find anything scary under the beds – unless you count the dust bunnies, blanket lint and clumps of dog fur. I made a mental note to dig out my dust mop.
To date, I’ve written 36,000 words on my book. Last night, as I was writing, I noticed that a steak knife from the kitchen was lying next to me on the sofa cushion. I jumped up, certain it was a sadistic clue from a killer, who probably was hiding right behind the sofa.
Then I remembered the knife had been on my plate while I was eating dinner on the sofa earlier. It must have fallen off when I took the plate out to the kitchen.
The main character in my book is a woman who has haunting, evil-looking green eyes, so I decided I’d like to feature those eyes on the cover of my book. Out of curiosity, I checked all over the Internet for the perfect eyes, but nothing really struck me. Finally, it dawned on me that I have green eyes.
I got out my makeup kit and made up my eyes to look “evil.” Then I shoved my camera in my face and snapped a photo (a flash photo, mind you) of them. When I could see again, I thought the eyes in the photo definitely looked evil. In fact, I can’t even look in the mirror now without scaring myself.
You know, I’m seriously thinking about sticking only with humor writing from now on.