What is your biggest fear?
Mine is most definitely spiders. It’s an irrational fear, since I do know spiders are mostly harmless, and they keep the bad insect population down. We’d probably be swimming in a sea of flies and mosquitoes if not for spiders. They are an essential part of our ecology.
So why, with the exception of Charlotte’s Web, are they always depicted as the bad guys in literature? My books are no exception. In my third book of the Ialana Series, my main antagonist is a whopping, scary, spidery creature who possesses no redeeming characteristics.
Tolkien had the giant spider too, a monstrous creature named Shelob:
“There agelong she had dwelt, an evil thing in spider-form, even such as once of old had lived in the Land of the Elves in the West that is now under the Sea, such as Beren fought in the Mountains of Terror in Doriath, and so came to Luthien upon the green sward amid the hemlocks in the moonlight long ago.” Lord of the Rings, Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Shelob scared the batshit out of me, and I cheered when Sam, Frodo’s Hobbit companion, delivered the final blow to Shelob with Frodo’s sword, Sting.
Someone once recommended that I read Charlotte’s Web so that I could overcome my fear, that it would humanize spiders for me. I did read it, but I am just as afraid of spiders as I was before I read the book.
Some people have irrational fears of birds, bats, dogs, cats, snakes—almost anything one can think of. They don’t know why: like me, they are reduced to a shivering and incoherent blob of jelly when they are confronted by the object of their fears.
An African Horror Story
When I was about fourteen, we lived in a make-shift camp in the middle of the African bush. One night, as we returned home in our car from somewhere, our car’s headlights swept over a gigantic shape on the ground, slap-bang in the center of our camp. It reared up on its back legs with front legs waving in the air, its eight eyes glittering with fury. It was a spider, and it actually made a hissing sound as my mother, my sisters and I, began to scream. It was as big as the proverbial dinner plate, and it stood its ground. We knew this was a spider one did not mess with.
My father wasn’t afraid of much, not even spiders, but I saw the fear in his eyes as he grabbed his rifle (he always kept it with him, he never knew when he would need it in the African bush) and aimed it at the creature. He was an excellent shot, even in the dark, and that night was no exception. He said later he wouldn’t have tried to stomp on it, even with the heavy veldskoen shoes he wore, and he had no big stick handy. A bullet was his only solution. However, none of us slept well that night.
I feel that Halloween uses spider motifs for a good reason. It plays on our subconscious fears, and reduces our fears into something that is not scary at all, although it pretends to be. It is one way we can laugh at ourselves, our fears, and keep our sanity. The big spider in the middle of our camp was unsettling. It’s an image I never forgot, and I am sure it inspired my own spider-creature in The Six and Anwyn of Ialana. That spider probably got rid of a lot of even worse things in the vicinity of our camp, but we could not stomach the thought of it roaming our space in the dark of the night as we slept.
If you would like to see a really frightening sight, here is a link for you. It is an Australian spider called the Huntsman. Hey, Aussies, your spiders are even scarier than our African ones, and that’s saying something! You got one over us, and your saltwater crocs are worse than our crocs too. Africa has some really badass snakes, though. Perhaps they might give yours a run for their money. More about them later!
A Reminder and Another Free Offer!
Don’t forget about my Halloween free offer this weekend. I will definitely send out a reminder, and I also have another FREE offer for the first three people to respond to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would enjoy an audio of my book instead of an ebook, email me, and I’ll send the first three to respond a free audio credit for Audible.com! My book is narrated by the talented Jeff Hays, and I think you’d find it an awesome experience. For this offer, you won’t need to wait until the weekend, you can email me right now. Hurry though, I don’t want you to miss out!