I am not what most people would consider “normal.” I’ve been blessed -– or cursed, depending on how you choose to view it –- with an overactive imagination. Okay, so that part isn’t uncommon. The uncommon part is that my imagination skews to the Dark Side, and I mean Stephen King-level and beyond. It’s a great resource when you’re a writer…and a guy…not so much when you’re considered “a good girl” in the South.
My love affair with all things dark and disturbing began at an early age. I was six when I saw the 1932 film adaptation of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. Vampires instantly fascinated me. The next time Mom took my brother and me on our monthly pilgrimage to the library I checked out as many books on the subject as I could, including a copy of Bram Stoker’s novel. From there I progressed to werewolves, demons, ghosts, fairies, aliens… You name it, I probably read about it.
As I got older, my interest in the supernatural continued, but I also developed an interest in psychology, particularly abnormal psychology. I read books on psychopathy, sociopathy, serial killers, cults –- pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I also read books on history, anthropology, and religion. This is all in addition to reading the fiction of Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft.
Books weren’t the only fodder for my imagination. Films sparked all manner of ideas, especially when I was younger. My older siblings let me watch scary movies when our parents weren’t around. Not a good idea. The Exorcist gave me nightmares for months, and after seeing Poltergeist, I was convinced there was a dimensional portal to Hell in my closet. (That was three weeks of hell for Mom that much was certain.) Then there was that unfortunate clown incident at the circus…
So, where does the twist come in to all this? The twist is that all these little things have accumulated in my brain over time and made me who I am.
For example, my husband and I live in Mobile, Alabama but my family lives in Mississippi. When we travel from Mobile to visit my family, the route we drive takes us past a couple of very lovely marshy areas. Mark, my husband, sees these marshes and says, “That would make a cool photo.” I see them and say, “That would be a cool place to hide a body.”
Another example: An innocent trip to the home improvement store takes a dark turn when I’m around. Others see common household and garden tools. I see murder weapons.
Even a walk through the toy section of a discount store gives me ideas. All those plastic ties that hold dolls and action figures in place in their packages? Others see annoyances that have to be removed quickly in order to stifle the demanding screams of a child. I see effective restraint points for a psychopath to use during a torture session.
My mind never completely shuts off, and I’m constantly composing scenes in my head for whatever book I’m working on at the time. The smallest thing can spark a full-blown creative fit. Does this make me “a bad person?” No, I don’t think so. Maybe a little creepy, but not “bad.”
So if you ever have an opportunity to meet me, and I seem to space out for a second or two, it’s nothing personal. I’m probably just thinking of ways to hide your body.