A Blog By Jessica Lynne Gardner

A Blog by Jessica Lynne Gardner: It's terrifying and, at times, adorable.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Scares A Horror Writer?

Sharks, sharp pointy things and really bad grammar may give me chills but my number one fear is probably not something you would have guessed. As someone who uses fear as an art form, I can honestly say that many of the big horror films that are released don't disturb me as it might other people. I spend more time alone with the possibilities of what lurks in the dark than the average woman my age. But something very mundane strikes fear into my heart. It stems from a long, rocky relationship with stability and the lack thereof. Change has haunted me from a very young age and whenever I became optimistic or tried to embrace it, its claws would lash out like the monsters from Alien (which I did have nightmares about in my younger days). It's terrifying! The first big transition every person faces is the exit out of a safe, loving bubble into the loud, open turbulence that is the world. Then we grow hair, teeth, longer limbs...we skin our knees then break our hearts. We feel attraction, anger, fear, trust, betrayal... With each new growth there is an equally painful lesson. But regardless its still a lesson.

Horror writers imagine terrible things happening to people all the time. We contrive a thousand (or more) ways to kill someone in the most vivid, horrible, and memorable act (sometimes we write in past lovers or backstabbing friends) and then chuckle as we record it into a short story or novel and then share our personal recipe of doom with the masses. We know how to strike fear into your hearts. Words spin into being a shadowy phantasm, psychotic killer or cerebral monster that will haunt you for days or longer. But what is it about these things that terrifies us so?  The dark: the unknown that children are often afraid of. The possibilities. The unspoken threat that it COULD happen. It could happen to you or me or the neighbors. That our perfect or not so perfect lives could be interrupted by some being, curse or psychopath intent on robbing us of our only given choice: life. That a change could take everything away quicker than the gasp we would make if we could.

And that is why I write horror. Perhaps to remind myself (and all of you) of the fleetingness of everything. To remind myself that these small complaints and even great losses are not the end but a start to something beautiful. Because change is not only a part of death, it's a part of living. And when you embrace it, you accept a whole, wide world of exploration, emotion, challenges and completion. You accept yourself.

So the next time you see a scary movie, read a horror novel or visit a haunted house...go ahead and scream. Enjoy your mortality to the fullest and let others have a good laugh.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Mantis Hitch-hiker

Today was a long day, but not unpleasant. When I shuffled to my car after work, I hopped in and proceeded to drive out of the parking lot when something caught my eye. I saw a long wing ruffling in the forty-mile-an-hour wind (now you all know that I speed in parking lots) and the long legs of an insect perched upon my windshield. For some reason my brain screamed "locust!" and I recoiled. But upon seeing it turn it's robotic head  and bulbous, wise eyes, I recognized it as a rather large praying mantis. It stared at me and I stared back, shoving my phone in its stunned face so I could remember this strange phenomenon (and post the pics here of course).

(Looks creepy, huh?)

It's funny how they resemble something alien to us: the giant eyes, antenna, jack-knife legs and streamline body, but they are so much more natural than we are. Their survival is the hunt and also knowing when to hide from birds, cats and humans. 'Fight or Flight' is more than a theory or reaction to them it's an art form. I had slowed my car down as much as my lead-foot would allow and drove around the corner. Her (I say her because I'm pretty sure the females are larger) shape disappeared from my windshield and I was worried she'd fallen off. I stopped at a store along the way and Mrs. M was still hanging out with a death-grip on the top of my car. I spoke to it (I know...) and it seemed to be listening. My phone caught another picture and her saucer eyes followed me as I walked away.

(It was actually pretty adorable in person)

Somewhere along the drive from there to my house she had took off but I found myself thinking about the relationship between wild animals and humans. Creatures that once coexisted now rarely interact with us and we want nothing to do with them. Everyone may know what a preying mantis is but how often do you see them, watch their behavior or talk to them? How about deer, foxes, bats? It just put into perspective how far away we've gotten from understanding what is right in front of us. Our first response when we see a wild creature is 'can it hurt me?' or 'will it get into my food/hair/house?' We forget that these creatures (most of them anyways) have a good reason to be around. Bats eat mosquitoes, foxes help keep populations of small rodents and other animals down and mantis eat spiders, crickets, beetles and other annoying bugs.

And though that mantis may not have realized what it was doing by hitching a ride on my car, it made a valid point. Who knows, maybe they miss the human/nature interaction too. :) 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why blog?

So I'm late to the party. In the past I made lots of excuses for not creating a blog: I was too busy, didn't have anything interesting to say, would rather be writing, etc. But I find myself enjoying the sharing of my thoughts more regularly than I once did and they say that writing something on a regular basis is still writing, even if you're only ranting about a bad book or movie or about your awful day at work. Thus Pumpkins and Prose was born. Now, this will not be an everyday blog (enter: excuses) but when I get in a mood and the literary mosquito bites, you'll have new posts from me. There will be updates to my writing (naturally), plugs to my books, things I find fascinating, but also much more personal thoughts than I would share on other sites. So I hope you enjoy this little piece of my mind. =^.^=