To celebrate the September 1st release of my romantic comedy, Driving in Neutral —a love story about claustrophobia—(now available for pre-order) I’ m running the 75 Days of Phobia series. A Huge THANKS to everyone who’s been following along and everyone who’s joined in to talk about leeches, spiders, and lighthouses. As Olivia, the heroine in Driving in Neutral says to Maxwell the claustrophobe, “Everyone’s afraid of something.” On day 53, Thriller author Rachel Amphlett doesn’t clown around with her fear.
As a thriller author, it’s kinda embarrassing to have to admit to any phobia to be honest. I mean, let’s face it – I blow stuff up. People get killed in my thrillers and romantic suspense novels, all in the name of a good story. I shouldn’t be scared of anything.
Except that, well, I am.
It’s not a full-on phobia, per se – I’m working on it, you see. Basically, I avoid all situations where I might have to face my phobia head-on. Did I hear you say “chicken”?
There must be some deep-set reason for my phobia, except I can’t remember. I believe I’m right in saying people learn fear – we’re not born with these phobias. Something happens in our lives, or we learn a fear from someone close to us at an early age.
Take for instance my aunt – she’s terrified of spiders. I distinctly remember her finding a small (by Australian standards) brown spider in a web in a shrub in our back garden when I was about three years old. After she’d done the mad “found a spider” dance in the middle of the garden path and had fled to the safety of my parents’ house, I was left alone with said beastie. It was only as I got older I managed to get over my fear. Just as well, given that I emigrated here 9 years ago.
I’m stalling, aren’t I?
Okay, here goes.
I’m scared of clowns.
Not just clowns, mind you. Ventriloquist dummies, mannequins, oh – and did I mention scarecrows? Especially scarecrows. Apparently there is a specific name for the fear of scarecrows, and it’s Formidophobia.
I’m not sure if you get scarecrows much over here in Australia – I have seen a few around the Samford Valley near where I live on the northern outskirts of Brisbane, but in the UK, they’re everywhere.
Oh, and before anyone mentions it – no, the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz doesn’t count. For some reason, I’m not scared of that particular one. Go figure.
Last year, we went back to the UK for our usual three-yearly trip to visit relatives and we spent a week in Devon with my parents.
Welcome to Devon, they said. On the way to a pub lunch one day, we drove through a village that was having – get this – a Scarecrow Festival.
Except that they didn’t just have a Festival. Oh no. Every day of the week-long festival, the villagers display their scarecrows along the main road of the village. You’ll see one propping up the posting box on the village green. Or slouching against the wall of the pub. Even sitting on a dry stone wall. And they all face the road as if they’re staring at you as you drive by.
For someone with a fear of clowns, it was like driving through the Village of the Damned.
Next time I go back to the UK, I’ll be making sure I don’t go back at Weird Homage to People-Like Beings festival time again.
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