Spider or Snakes (We’re leaving the Snails and Puppy Dog Tails out of This . . . )

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…that’s what scary novels are made of.

While not a horror novel, I wanted to weave in thrilling/tense elements into the new novel.  Then I started to think of what scares us.

One of my favorite scenes from the movie “Something Wicked this Way Comes” is the one where the spiders are creeping up on the kids while the boys are in their bedrooms. There’s something about slow deliberation that drives us, the viewer, crazy. Especially, when there isn’t just one, but tons of the things.

Spiders look so alien to us. Maybe that’s why they scare us. That and they bite. The hairy legs and the slow creep are enough to drive anyone nuts. They can either strike like lightning or with a slowness that’ll make anyone jump up and run.  It’s like the killer in the slasher flick that doesn’t have to run to get you.  He’s going to catch up to you no matter what you do.

But snakes have that certain, wicked charm. They don’t move like us. They slither. Also, they don’t always bite. But there’s just the thought of them biting and the poisonous ones can kill us.

Rattlesnakes, most of all, are interesting. They give us a warning before they get us. The shake of the tail that says, “Um, hey, buddy, I’m here.” The sound scares us, but it’s more of a warning than anything else.

I’ve come across rattlesnakes before. There’s something about the shape of the head, something that’s so foreign to us, that makes the thing look evil and not like us.

Religion, most of us, latches on to snakes, not spiders. There’s the snake in the garden of Eden and the devil as a serpent. All interesting things to play with in the new book.  And the whole thing about snake-handling REALLY fascinates me.  Music is used as well as movement.  But most of all, many of those poisonous snakes were raised from infancy by the handlers and are practically tame.  But just the thought of someone tempting fate, holding something that could kill them, having it twist in their hands.  That’s an image I’m trying to capture.

So, what’s scarier? Spiders or snakes?

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