Here There Be Skeletons

This anthology features zombie and revenant tales by Barbara Custer.At the bottom of my fascination with zombies, revenants, and evil aliens lies a terror of human skeletons. Every writer fears something, a “demon” that drives their stories. Some people dread the site of fire; for others it’s the Great White. For me, the sight of a skeleton, particularly one with debris on it, will send me burrowing inside a bouquet of Mylar balloons.

Why? I think my dread of skeletons started with my trip to Atlantic City that I described in my Night to Dawn blog. The mummy’s parchment dry skin literally hugged her bones. Not a shred of fat or muscle. My skeleton terror accompanied me everywhere I went.

For example, at age thirty, I underwent three knee surgeries, necessitating frequent visits to an orthopedist’s office, where the skeleton became a teaching tool. But I wasn’t interested in any anatomy lessons. Instead, I covered the bones with my coat, sweater, and sometimes a sheet if one was available. My orthopedist Dr. Hill asked one day why I covered his skeletons. Blushing, I yanked the sheet off the bones. My quick movement jarred the head, causing it to snap off the body, land on the floor, and roll like a bowling ball down the hall.

Dr. Hill stood there and laughed. He wisely sent me to another room for future checkups.

At the time, I went to school at night, and one of the instructors held her class inside an anatomy lab equipped with a human skeleton. Spooked, I draped my coat and scarf over the bones for every lesson. A creative writer, my instructor encouraged me to channel my fear into a horror fiction tale. You’ll find plenty of skeletons in Twilight Healer, Steel Rose, and City of Brotherly Death. Ditto for the sequels to Steel Rose.

So what’s your personal demon? Which monster motivates you to write horror fiction? I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

I’m offering a signed copy of Steel Rose (first prize) and copy of Night to Dawn 26 (second prize) to a random commenter. Overseas winners will receive Starbucks gift cards and PDF copies.

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