To celebrate the upcoming release of my third novel, Driving in Neutral—a love story about claustrophobia—I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series. Some people freak out over spiders. JM Bray doesn’t, but he does get wiggy over this:
Like most folks I’m afraid of a few things. Knowing their technical terms is another matter entirely. Sure I’m aware of some: calaustro, arachno and agora the three amigos of phobia, but the more obscure ones elude me. To figure it out, I turned to the internet, and discovered a couple of things along the way.
First, whoever named the fear of long words, had a wicked sense of humor. “Mr Jones, it seems you have hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.” Making Jones jump up, screaming and bolt from the room waving his arms.
Second, I realized something: I’m not afraid of spiders. Well, okay, the alien life forms like tarantulas we have in the US or the monstrous huntsman the folks in the AU put up with, don’t count. Seriously, everyone in Australia is braver than I am. At the first sign of one of those beasts, I’d be buying plane tickets. That said, spiders I can handle, it’s when they move that I freak. Just typing it gave me the shivers. As it turns out, I’m herpetophobic. Creeping crawly things are what get me.
I also found that the real, serious, phobia I have. The one I can’t control, that my mind spins like a wheel of terror…doesn’t even have a name at least not that I can find. Here’s where it gets tricky, because putting it down, makes me sound kinda…crazy. At least that’s what my mind says, and it’s the one with the issue. Why? Because my out-of-control phobia only rears its hooded-cobra head when I sleep and, believe me, that’s a good thing. Gahh, it looks so inane when I type it, but here goes. I’m afraid of not being able to do what’s required of me.
Maybe an explanation will help.
As a child, I suffered night terrors. A repetitive, horrific dream that I couldn’t wake, or be awakened, from. Holding, talking to me, showers, nothing worked. I was locked in, unable to escape until it ran its dark course. When I say repetitive I mean exactly – the – same. So, as I drifted off to sleep, and it started, I knew it was coming, but it was too late, I couldn’t get out. Oh, lots of fun, let me tell you. On rare occasions, when I hugely stressed, I’ll still have a bad night. The dream has changed, but the theme is still the same: I’m required to do something I know to be impossible, but I still have to do it, but it’s impossible, but I still have to do it, but it’s impossible… you get the idea.
The tasks make no sense, they’re dreams after all. As a child the dream required I fall forward across a great chasm, and somehow reach the other side. These days it’s paying a multi-million dollar cost for something mundane, like a scoop of ice cream. I haven’t had one in a couple of years and my unconsciousness isn’t as deep, though I’ve probably jinxed myself now. My wonderful wife recognizes when I call out in a certain way and walks me into the back yard, onto our decorative gravel. The combination of temperature change and pain in my feet helps bring me out of it. So, what do I do to combat it?
In my first novel, Tearing the Shroud, the villain (Justus) has his spirit ripped from his body to get across the Shroud. During that, he experiences the dream I had as a child almost exactly. In Mending the Shroud, which released a couple of weeks ago, another villain experiences a horrific vision based on another nightmare of mine. They’re bad guys, so I feel free to abuse them. The upside is that putting it detail seems to take its power away. Will it last? Man I sure hope so. If not, what the heck, I’ll torture another villain.
J.M. Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. When not writing or working his “day job”, he loves to cook, play the guitar, and travel with his wife. Every chance he gets, he races an old Porsche named “Tuffy” at tracks in the southwest.
Find out more about JM and his Shroud Trilogy