Fear in Writing: The Leopard Likes Its Spots

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Leopard Likes Its Spots

Do you ever feel it's too much?  The blood?  The murder weapons?  The victims?

Tuesday I had a migraine. I took medicine and slept. I slept for hours. I slept so deeply I didn't move. I also dreamed. I dreamt long, horrible, murder-laced dreams. I dreamt in full-length movies, three-act plays, beginning-middle-and-end books. I saw killings and chased murderers. I saw affairs (even participated in one) and devastation.

I woke in a confused whorl of sweat, fear, and images and I knew my sleep cinema was connected to the murder mysteries I had been reading. I knew the children involved were escaped thoughts from Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 and the social conflicts spillover from Agatha Christie's Peril at End House. But how could I stop these dark scenarios from invading my dreams? I read mysteries and thrillers before bed. That’s just what I do.

What about you? Do you ever substitute a self-help book for your usual murder mystery? Do you occasionally refresh your mental state with something lighter? Maybe regret a bit the direction in which your interests lie?

I'll move past this. The imagery and feelings will fade. I won’t keep the lights on when I sleep or worry what I’ll find behind my eyelids when they close. After all, I may not have read more of Smith last night, but I did devour more Christie.  How could I not? Call me a leopard; that’s what I do.


  1. I don't read much murder mystery, nor crime in general. I usually prefer other types of books. Russian Classics are my favorite >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  2. I've put down a couple that I thought were particularly disturbing. I love Christie, but even her books have scared the life out of me a couple of times when I was susceptible to being frightened!

  3. I dont read much murder mystery but I'm sure I'd have crazy dreams if I did. One scary movie and my brain goes into Boogieman overdrive.

  4. I read lots of murder mysteries but I have walked away from a book and sometimes an author if I found they made me too uncomfortable. Anything involving hurting children is likely to do that.

  5. Cold--I've always been especially fascinated with Russia. I just finished a documentary series, 'The Art of Russia.' Exquisitely tragic and amazing!

    Elizabeth--Maybe that's why I went back to Christie? Like going home, in a way.

    Karen--The funny thing is, I'm not usually squeamish. But keep kids safe--can't stand that!

  6. Michele - Wow, am I embarrassed that it took this long to read this post *blush*. How interesting that your dreams are so vivid and so deeply affected by what you read. You're so tuned in! I think writers write more engaging and absorbing work if they "tune in" like that...