Clowns: Our Fascination and Our Fear

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Clowns: Our Fascination and Our Fear

By Tiffany Apan

Throughout the ages, many creatures have served as a fascination for our imaginations while terrifying us in the process. Vampires, werewolves, black-eyed children…and clowns. Yes, that seemingly innocuous person making balloon sculptures at many a children’s party. They simultaneously bring joy and terror.

Clowns are a morbid curiosity. They also have a long history, dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. They have long been associated with the term, “rustic fool” and the concept of a circus clown didn’t even arrive until the 19th century. Until then, a clown was typically a “fool” character in theatrical productions. He was often lower class, dressed in a tattered servant’s attire, and often the comedic relief in an otherwise serious plot of a play. But if clowns were meant to bring humor and joy, how did they come to have such a sinister reputation?

There are many different theories, and an article on LiveScience.com suggest that perhaps this is partly due to that even as court jesters their comedy was often quite dark. There is also suggestion of long time association with being quite otherworldly. Some examples include how they seem to be able to cram themselves into a tiny car, twenty at a time before emerging seemingly unaffected by the cramped space. They perform acts of magic and are often unpredictable in their feats and actions. This can evoke strong emotions in different individuals, and sometimes, those emotions are negative ones. Perhaps it is these seemingly supernatural abilities and such unpredictability that gives reason for authors and filmmakers to feature the clown as a malevolent character, even a killer. Many individuals suffer from coulrophobia, or a clinically diagnosed fear of clowns. While this is not the average person, clowns tend to invoke feelings of disconcert among much of the population. Even Stephen King, author of the novel “IT” which features a demonic killer clown, is quoted as saying the clowns can be quite terrifying. According to the LiveScience article (along with a few interviews by King himself):

King admitted that seeing a clown outside of the character’s typical context, such as a circus or a birthday party, could be unnerving — yes, even for him.

“If I saw a clown lurking under a lonely bridge (or peering up at me from a sewer grate, with or without balloons), I’d be scared, too,” King said.

For me, clowns are mainly harmless. But I will also agree with King, in saying that if I saw some random clown standing somewhere in a field, under a bridge, or a street corner, I would be pretty unnerved myself.

For more of Tiffany’s work, check out her official website and blog:

http://tiffanyapan.com

http://tiffanyapanwritingproject.blogspot.com

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Author Cheryllynn Dyess gives her thoughts on creepy clowns!

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I asked authors concerning  their feelings about the phenomenon of “creepy lowns”

Cheryllynn Dyess replied…

It’s not long at all… but this is my experience and where it all started .

Why clowns creep me out all begin with the movie Poltergeist in 1982! I was a whopping ten years old and my mother thought this would be a good movie to watch. Yeah, well not so much but it did start the life-long trend of not liking clowns.

I remember when we sat down and watched this movie. I remember the room we were in while watching the moving.  I remember it being night because of course who would show this to their ten-year-old in the middle of the day, right? I even remember eating popcorn as it played and how my mother and her friend sat on the floor to get in closer.

That clown terrified me. I would never look at clowns the same way. While that has been 34 years ago, I still don’t handle clowns well. I am not terrified of them as I was in my childhood, but I do tend to give them their space and watch them ever so closely.

I have been to amusement parks where clowns try to be cheerful and I just stand back and shiver inside. Around 2008, I remember going to a theme park for Halloween and a scary clown came at me, I hit him. Poor clown was just doing his  job.

About Cheryllyn

Cheryllynn’s vivid imagination comes through in all she does in life. Her writing started in junior high, although she never truly shared her work until recently. They were kept hidden away in an old tattered orange folder. Original works she wrote as early as 1984 still hold ink on the pages and are just now coming to life. Paranormal and Fantasy are her favorite genres with Mystery and Thrillers close behind.

Born in Northwest Florida and raised in Southeast Georgia she developed a love for nature and the outdoors. Her experiences outdoors allows her to create universes with vivid detail. After a detour of almost twenty years in the health care industry and obtaining her Bachelors of Science in Healthcare Administration/Healthcare Information Systems she has returned to her love of writing.

Currently living in Central Texas with her family, she has begun a new chapter in life that has opened her heart and soul to many great adventures. Her hobbies include fishing, crochet, gardening…and of course reading.

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Out of the Dark Claire Riley

Out of the Dark full wrap

‘Out of the Dark ’

We are temporary. Finite.

The choices we’ve made, the people we have loved. Who we used to be no longer matters.

Because now it is all about the ending. And the ending always comes too soon.

There’s fear in the dark. And behind every drop of light, the shadows creep and the darkness comes in the form of clawing, red-eyed monsters. They hunt us—stalk us…they are desperate to destroy us.

But I have a reason to fight the darkness and everything in it. A small glimpse of light that lives within my golden-haired daughter, Lilly. She is my strength. She is my everything.

Every life is an untold story, each scene unfolding until the final act. But our ending has yet to be written, and I will continue to protect us, until I can not.

Add it to your bookshelves here –> http://bit.ly/1Sd6pE4

Review quotes:

 Riley delivers a story that is equal parts thrilling and breathtaking. It beautifully illustrates the lengths we go to survive and what it means to love when we’ve lost everything.

NYT & USA Today bestselling Author A. Meredith Walters

 

Riley’s ‘Out of the Dark’ holds a special place in my heart. Before I’d devoured it, I’d never read a book that so beautifully and eloquently captured the distressing, aching love a mother holds for her child. It is built into the heart strings of a woman, natural and uncontainable. It goes past biological and into spiritual.

In her most unique and mysterious way, Riley has given us a transcendent picture of love in the midst of a terrifying climate. She has shown us what it means to choose your family, that it is a matter of honor and earning and not a matter of a blood bond and obligation. I am honored to have read this book pre-release and I know it will stick to me like honey, nearly glued onto the fabric of who I am as a human being.

Speculative fiction author – Eli Constant

 

A beautifully written story that makes you realize that you should always have hope, even in the most desperate of circumstances. It will tug at your heart strings, until by the end, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

Goodreads & Amazon reviewer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Claire C. Riley is a USA Today and International bestselling author. She is also a bestselling British horror writer and an Amazon top 100 bestseller.

Her work is best described as the modernization of classic, old-school horror. She fuses multi-genre elements to develop storylines that pay homage to cult classics while still feeling fresh and cutting edge. She writes characters that are realistic, and kills them without mercy. Claire lives in the United Kingdom with her husband, three daughters, and one scruffy dog.

 

Author of:

 Odium The Dead Saga Series (3 books),

Odium Origins Series (3 books),

Limerence (The Obsession Series) (2 books),

Thicker than Blood series (2 books),

& Shut Up & Kiss me,

Plus much more.

 

Contact Links:

 

www.clairecriley.com

www.facebook.com/ClaireCRileyAuthor

http://amzn.to/1GDpF3I

 

‘She writes characters that are realistic and then kills them without mercy’ – Eli Constant author of Z-Children, Dead Trees, Mastic and much more.

Out of the Dark front cover

W is for what makes a great story?

W for Twitter

Confronted with a blank screen, poised to  tap away,  how to go about creating that great story. Perhaps one primary consideration is the theme.  Maybe the theme should  be a ghostly shadow within the confines of the story, not screaming at the reader, but there none the less.  It may make the reader think about their own lives, there might be a moral to be learned, but a writer should not take on the role of a preacher.

Then there has to be a plot, all the conflict or struggle that the main character or characters go through. The conflict should develop in intensity and excitement, reaching some kind of climax.  If you are writing a novel there may be a number of conflicts interspersed, but a short story will have only one principal conflict.

Moving onto story structure,  the story has to entice the reader, right from the first sentence.  Equally then ending has to round things off perfectly.  You may have your theme and an outline of the story, but how are you going to tell it… a writer needs to decide about writing the story either in “first person” or in “third person.”  Will you be using “he,” “she,” and “it”—so writing in third person means telling a story as if it’s all about other people., or will you be writing using “I”—so writing in first person means telling a story as if it happened to you.  If in your head you have a rough idea of the theme,  you will also know which tense you are going to use,  either “present tense” or “past tense.” Writing in past tense means writing as if the story already happened, which is typical  manner in which most stories are written. Writing in present tense means writing as if the story is happening right now.  Normally you can’t mix the  two.

An important consideration is the characters.  I like to “live” with characters in my head, before committing to write about them.  For me the name of the character, says a lot about the character, for example in my short stories, I have a character called “Bugeyes” and the story revolves around the fact that he is person who suffers intensely, due to his oversized eyes.  Lead characters should be someone readers can feel something in common with, or feel empathy. In my stories I love to create evil characters.  My characters are far from perfect have flaws, and idiosyncrasies.  Characters are interesting if they are not too one dimensional,  even evil characters have to have some kind of redeeming feature, or perhaps they have been victims themselves in one way or another.

Settings are also paramount. In my book there is quite a range of different settings,  some are set in America, for example my story “Opium” is set in America, post-civil war.

Then there is the question of language,  it has to really correspond with your story.

A writer will tend to use actions and speech to let readers know what’s happening. Shoing , rather than telling, using  direct more “real life” quotes like “Go away!” instead of indirect quotes like “She told him to go away.”

You don’t have to write over elaborately to write well. Don’t shy away from using simple words and simple sentences, so you words and sentences cut through easily.

I often spend a long time mulling over what is the best word to use, glued to a thesaurus. Each sentence and paragraph should resonate, I often spend a lot of time, writing and rewriting so as to get the optimum sentence. Some sentences or paragraph can be redundant. You can get carried away, lose sight of the story, or go off on tangents.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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V is for Vita Sacville West

Serpent and Apple
Serpent and Apple — Image by © 68/GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Ocean/Corbis

If I could make use of a time machine, one person I wouldn’t mind acquainting myself with would be Vita Sackville West.  It is obvious that there was much more to her than being an acclaimed poet and noted gardener.  She appears to be a woman whose character resonates and sparkles, the Latin translation of her name is “life”. She was a woman who really “lived” her life. She loved to travel,  she seems to be a born adventurer and her adventures included affairs outside of her marriage, well documented in a controversial book called “Portrait of a Marriage” .

Her life seems to be scandalized in tabloids even in the present day,  check out this Daily Mail headline

Stately home seductress who makes Downton’s wildest plots look tame: Vita Sackville-West was known to have affairs with men AND women but she is reveals she was more voracious than anyone thought

The beginning of the article states Tall, dark and magnetically attractive, Vita Sackville-West had the dubious knack of inflaming passions wherever she went.

Marriages crumbled in her wake. Grown men and women threatened suicide. One lover even produced a pistol and threatened to blow her own brains out.

Yet, on the face of it, Vita led a life of serene Edwardian upper-class respectability. Feted as a poet and novelist — her most successful book was The Edwardians — she was a baron’s daughter who had married a diplomat and borne two sons.

All this despite the fact that she died in 1962,  a year after I was born.  People love to delve into the more “lurid” aspects of her life. I have vague memories of her husband Harold, a brief encounter in the garden at Sissinghurst. She was married to my Great Uncle. My Mother spent a lot of time during the war and has many fond memories of Vita and to this day loves to relates stories about her and was dubbed Vita’s favorite niece.

Here is a woman who had elements of her life being fashioned into a story called “Orlando” written by one of her paramours Virginia Wolf.  The great love of Vita’s life, despite spending a troubled childhood there was Knole, a house with six hundred years of history, but a house she was not allowed to inherit, on account of being a woman.

Here is a woman whose relationship with Violet Trefusis, was dramatized by the BBC, Vita being played by the imposing figure of Janet  McTeer.

Vita seems to represent a woman who was ahead of her times, married to a man who was homosexual  and yet despite each partner involving themselves with other people, they still managed to sustain their marriage as well as bring up two sons, Ben and Nigel.  It is hard to imagine they planned such an open marriage from the onset, but this is how it panned out.  They must have had inklings about  their sexual orientation before they were married,  things were different in their era.

One thing is for certain Vita seems to have all the hallmarks of an eccentric, wearing her trademark jodhpurs,  trying to pass herself off as a man,  while on a amorous sojourn with Violet.  She might have left a trail of pain in her wake, with her risky affairs,  but she seems a spirited woman.

I have met people while living  in France who are avid admirers of both Vita and the Bloomsbury set.  Her legacy seems strong and enduring as ever…

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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H is for how to write a killer short story.

 

 

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To write a good short story, you need immediate impact, meaning your first sentence has to be a killer. You have to create an opening sentence like no other, that grabs the reader’s attention.   For example my story “Bugeyes” from Flight of Destiny  begins with… Bug-eyes was due a life of toil. Seed begins with Captain Spender’s wife was ovulating.  Cast from Hell begins with There it was: I was to be banished from hell.

Your plot is going to be vital as to whether your short story is a success. Deborah Eisenberg states that “the plot of a good story is likely to be a stranger, more volatile and more evanescent sort of thing than the plot of a novel”. You can’t meander with a short story.  A short story,  can’t  evoke the expanse  and diversity of life, and takes the reader’s attention towards a more limited aspect.  With full novels, the author is forced to wrap things up,  whereas the short novelist can afford to be ambiguous.  So a novel and short story have different constraints.

With short stories, you face limits, you have  create characters, that the reader will immediately identify with.  You have to create strong dialogue.  An important element in writing  for me in writing a great story is to come up with a really nasty evil character, who during the course of the story does the most despicable things. Writers  might contrive a cocktails of character flaws (don’t create a one dimensional character) into their characters, to come up with an interesting and memorable deviants.   A mindless slasher killing for no obvious reason is not going to engage readers, whereas a murderer with a lot of previous baggage and an air of sophistication will.  Writers really need to delve deep to create their deviants. Readers love an evil character, literature is strewn with them.  I would say an interesting evil character is often multi-faceted,  never straight forward,  they themselves are often in a way victims.

Being short story writer, so I am constantly looking out for ideas for new stories.  My stories are dark and surreal,  so I rely on a supply of dark thoughts flowing through my mind, as well as other sources drawn from real events, read a newspaper, they are usually brimming with ideas for short stories.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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This article is part of a blogging challenge,

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