What Scares You?

Alex Kimmell grew up in Los Angeles, California during those heady days when kids could still trick-or-treat outside instead of walking around from store to store inside the sterile safety of shopping malls. He and his friends could run and play without any thought of being shot or kidnapped, leaving riderless skateboards spinning their lonely wheels.

Though he grew up in that relatively safe environment, the nightmares still came to find him every night. Pulling the covers over his head, he welcomed them. He enjoyed reading stories of monsters and ghosts lurking in the shadows. He loved the terror and suspense of good scary movies, constantly daydreaming that something horrible awaited him around every street corner of this beautifully manicured suburban neighborhood.

When he wasn’t reading, Alex played music. It took over his life, though his love affair with words never strayed far from his fingers. Writing and performing provided him with the keys to an education and the ability to see the world. With incredible luck, his musical journey brought him to a gig in a dingy Irish pub near the ocean in Santa Monica where he would meet his future wife.

Even then, the nightmares continued to flow through Alex. He scribbled down a poem here or wrote a song there. There were ideas for stories running through his head at all times of the day or night. Eventually his wife suggested he take writing fiction more seriously, since it featured so prominently as a creative outlet for him.

His first novel, the Key to everything,  was released by Booktrope Publishing in June of 2012. In the midst of building momentum and promotions for that, Alex continues to write down his nightmares and those mysterious sounds coming from just behind his shoulder.

For more information, please visit Alex at alexkimmell.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter at @twodoggarage.

What makes a good horror story these days? There’s the crazed, seemingly immortal serial killer wearing a creepy Halloween mask or sports helmet chasing through the abandoned wilderness after full throttled horny teenagers with his chainsaw/axe/machete. Then we have the all too common exorcism story involving an innocent and pretty young girl with her single mother/ultra religious cult family proving to the one lone unbeliever that all of their superstitious rituals are in fact deathly real. Another big draw these days of course is the teenage vampire stories fighting with all their might to cash in on the tremendous financial success of Twilight and Sookie Sookie Sookie. Not really horror, but just tantalizingly scary enough to tease the tween crowd and showing enough hunks without shirts to suck Mom in too.

Predictable? Yes. Popular? We eat that stuff up. Scary? Not one bit. We keep going because we want to be scared in familiar, safe ways. It’s the same reason we go on roller coasters. We throw our arms up in the air five stories above the ground at forty or fifty miles an hour. We scream and holler knowing deep in the recesses of our minds that we aren’t going to crash into the ground splattering like a bug on a windshield. We know we’re safe. The familiar characters and story lines provide us with a few gross out moments and bad guy jumping out from behind the closet door BOO’s, but they don’t really scare us.

So what? So I’m difficult to frighten. Yeah, I guess I am. What really scares me? Real life scares me. Little every day things can be terrifying if removed from their usual context. What if the familiar world fell from order? What if the face you look at in the mirror every single day turned out to not be you? What if the hands typing on the keyboard in front of you right now were suddenly acting on the will of someone or something else? An other malevolence that does not feel anything about you one way or another. Doesn’t think any more of you than you a single cell amoeba. That thought frightens me. Keeps me awake at night sweating through my sheets, pinching my side to make sure I’m still myself.

These are the concepts of horror that inspired my book, the Key to everything. Not being able to trust in the reality of the every day world around you. Finding that everything you once knew, everything that grounded you without even thinking about it for your entire life has been usurped and convoluted into a world beyond understanding. That is where real fear lives. That is where nothing can be held to any faith. Not even what your eyes see or your fingers touch.

Take something simple and innocuous. Something you use every day that barely crosses your mind. Take for example, a key. The key to your front door or your car. Maybe even the key to your kid’s bike lock. Keys open things. They let us in and keep the bad guys out. But what if there were something more? What if there were certain keys, special keys that were made to tilt the world on its axis and allow us into rooms like nothing ever seen before? A white room with no doors or windows and a strange vacant frame on the wall. An impossibly tall space covered in all directions with clanking chattering brass entry passes. A world where everything turns against you, even your favored family photos.

Find solace in that its only a book. For now.