Elements of Fear

So, as the year rolls by, it’s time to start thinking about the next book in the series. Actually I have a number of ideas I could play with but the one that is holding my attention (and could end up as my NaNoWriMo project) is about fear.

So what is fear? In general terms, it’s a response to perceived danger. The roar of a lion sent our ancestors scurrying up a tree. It is a survival reflex. This is a very good thing. Fight or Flight it’s been called. So of course there is that one guy who doesn’t climb the tree but picks up a stick.

So the question is: Can you die of fear? According to some experts, the answer to that question is yes. Intense fear sends your body into overdrive. The heart pounds and the¬†pulse races. Breathing become difficult. You pass out. In more extreme cases the body¬†goes into a state of collapse. Also known at ‘playing possum’, appearing for all intents and purposes as dead. For Peter Possum, that general deters Larry Lion from eating him and as soon as the danger passes, Peter get up and goes on his way.

But what if Peter believes he’s still in danger? That’s when it get’s complicated. Focusing on these two particular states of fear reactions, in either case, if it goes on too long, the body can’t handle it. Cardiac arrest from over stimulation. The inability to breathe that results in unconsciousness and possibly death. Or Peter’s way where the heart rate and blood pressure drop too low and death is the result.

Now take those concepts into the world of fiction and magic. All that is required is belief that danger is present. If someone can make another believe that what they fear most is happening, what would be the result? My idea is death. That would make it murder. But how do you determine that its not just a heart attack? What are the signs. How do you track down the person responsible?

That’s the idea. What do you think? What are you afraid of?

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Madalain Ackley Posted on

Madalain Ackley is the author of the Paranormal Shadows series of novels including Watching Shadows, Stealing Shadows and the upcoming Fearing Shadows.

She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and mildly psychotic cat.

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