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11 Feb 2013

Finding Horror: Right Under Your Nose

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One of the hardest things about writing horror can be getting that scary idea.  Finding that creepy antagonist or terrifying tale that you can weave into a full novel.  The best place to start looking is to go straight back to where any horrors most likely started for people: home and the area you lived in.

I'm talking about those monsters that you knew were lurking under your bed or wardrobe when the lights went off.

I'm also talking about those local legends or tales that spread around like a wildfire at school.  And that can the best place to look sometimes for ideas.  What urban legends are lurking in your hometown?

When I was in primary school we started going swimming in year three.  Just before we got to the leisure centre there was a house that all of us were dreading to walk past.  It was almost hidden by trees, always dark and also looked like it could collapse any minute.  Just from appearance we were all convinced that it must be haunted and evil.  There was never a sign of life there and we couldn't see a house like that being home to a loving and happy family.  Our eight year minds could only see a witch living there. 

The story stemmed from there.  We saw a haunted house.  And we saw a witch who would curse us if she saw any children walking past her house.  So every time we had swimming and had to pass that house we would be on our hands and knees and crawling past the high wall so the witch wouldn't see us.  That was a building that had us completed freaked out.

There's something scarier about hearing a horror story based in your own town than a horror story based elsewhere.  Because this time it's right on your doorstep and all of a sudden that familiarity has disappeared and you're looking at a town and a history that you never saw before.  It's not the hometown that you know anymore. 

Have you ever heard any urban legends where you live?


  1. It's amazing the kind of stuff you believe as a kid. My senior school had an awesome legend. It was a convent in its early days and a nun died after a bucket of burning oil tipped over her. As soon as you entered year seven, you learned about the nun haunting the halls of the school's odltest building.

    1. Very creepy! We supposedly had the ghost of a nun in one of the uni halls at Leeds Trinity. Glad I was in a different one. I wouldn't be able to sleep if I heard I was in her halls!

  2. I know I heard stories of haunted houses in my home town when I was growing up, but other than walking a little quicker when going past them, I don't recall being that affected by them. Of course, it could be that I just don't remember being that affected by them. The past can adopt a rosy glow as you get older, you know! :)

    I am surprised that I don't remember many ghost stories from secondary school. The school I went to was a Cathedral school, whose history goes back to the Middle Ages. How could there not be a ton of legends and spooky tales associated with the many old buildings? I have a vague recollection that a female ghost was supposed to haunt the Cathedral grounds. I never saw her, but I'm sure there are those that thought they did. :)

    1. I think being adult makes you see childhood fears differently. Some you remember and can understand why it gave you goosebumps but with others you think how silly it seemed to be afraid of. This haunted house became one purely based on outer appearance and an 8 year old's wild imaginations. I walked past it quite a few times when I was a lot older and thought how ridiculous we used to be. But it's great for inspiring a horror story! =D