Why I Like Suspense

I write suspense, and I frequently get asked, “How come you like suspense?”

The first time someone asked me that I had to think for a minute.

I think it starts in childhood. As a little kid, it was wondering when would be the next time that my older sister would put a spider on my shoulder, or jump out of the closet. Or it was fearing that maybe, just maybe, those spine-tingling scenarios on The Twilight Zone really could happen.

  • What if giant ants could invade your neighborhood and eat children?
  • What if seeds from outer space could land on earth, germinate, and take over a person’s mind?
  • What if there really was a fourth dimension—right next to your bed—that you could fall into and never get out of?

I guess I’ve always wondered if there is an area in space and time where reality and unreality meet. The space where they meld might be very small, but perhaps it does exist. And the possibility that I might have stepped into that area for only a second gives me goosebumps.

It’s a deliciously nerve-wracking realization. Like the time my husband “disappeared” from our house during a snowstorm. The car was still in the garage. There were no tracks leading away from our house. For over an hour, I searched every inch of the house. Even the crawl-space. Gone.

I began to imagine all sorts of scenarios. Because I’d already exhausted all logical explanations for his disappearance, my frenzied mind stumbled into other-worldly imaginings:

  • The Rapture happened and I was left behind.
  • Aliens abducted him.
  • He slipped into the fourth dimension.
  • Spontaneous combustion. (Nah, couldn’t be ’cause there was no smoke.)

I did finally find my husband. He’d been hiding from me by slipping behind the mattress of our boys’ upper bunk bed. (too bad he hadn’t fallen into the fourth dimension!)

My husband’s practical joke was scary. But the experience showed me how far the human mind—my mind—will go to answer its questions. Once emotionally and mentally invested in an uncertain future, we need closure.

IMG_2589That’s why I love suspense. How will it end? Will good triumph?

 

2 thoughts on “Why I Like Suspense”

  1. I love a good suspense story, and, like you, I write it. Since I’m a Seat-of-the-Pants writer, I often don’t know how I’m going to get my characters out of danger. 🙂

    P.S. I tweeted this post.

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