Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fear and Hope on All Hallows' Eve

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz

I've been thinking about how Halloween brings our fears and hopes to the surface. We literally wear them as costumes. Costumes, or masks, allow us to play with our fears. We can name them and address them because if it all becomes too challenging, we can take the mask off.

Halloween is about death, which is pretty much our biggest fear and our greatest hope. Our lives are haunted by the unanswerable question of whether there is life after death.

Is a ghost something to fear or a reason to hope? It's an important question because it captures the tension of Halloween: how fear and hope intertwine and sometimes conceal each other.

Take zombies. In popular culture, zombies are shambling things without self-control, a self-chosen purpose, or any enjoyment of life. You can see how they embody modern fears. We fear that our lives are on a treadmill of meaninglessness. Are we alive or merely existing?

Yet, is that mindlessness so threatening? There's a reason zombies are imagined in hordes. Obviously, the horde increases the threat and horror for effect in a book or movie, but it also serves to raise a subtle, fascinating point. If zombies operate as mindless individuals but having meaning and impact as a horde, then maybe our own intermittent anxieties as to the pointlessness of our lives can be soothed by the fact that as part of a community, our lives have purpose even when we don't see it.

Halloween lets us explore our fears and discover the hope that resides, sometimes curled up and hidden away, inside them.

I hadn't considered the tension of fear and hope before, and now that I have, I can see that it will influence my writing. It's a different means of viewing how conflict plays out in a novel. The dance between fear and tension drives the protagonist through the story. Without hope, why move forward? Without fear, why struggle? Only apathy kills a story. While there is fear and hope, we have a reason to act.

For a story about the power of second chances and never surrendering hope, read Phoenix Blood, my paranormal romance in Kindle Unlimited. You can discover more about me and my books at my website,

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