A while ago, one of my writing partners sprang a new word on me: nyctophobia, the fear of the dark.
Nyctophobia is probably one of our innate primal fears. After all, our species is driven to survive, right? How can we manage our safety efficiently if we can’t see what’s out there?
Ultimately, thought, it’s not being alone in the dark that’s so frightening. It’s the possibility that you’re not alone, and that whatever is sharing your suddenly too-small space is approaching with malevolent—or perhaps culinary—intent.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons Halloween is frightening. Not the ersatz ghosts, the movie-slasher-du-jour clones, or Disneyfied zombies patrolling the streets in search of caaaannnnddddyyyy, but the encroaching darkness. The days are shorter. More darkness for unknown creepy things to lurk in. Why do you suppose bonfires are a Halloween tradition? Because they keep the dark at bay, at least for a while.
I live in the hills in rural Oregon. Occasionally, rumors roll around our neighborhood of mountain lion sightings. We hear about evidence: a smeared footprint in the mud of an unpaved driveway; droppings that couldn’t come from a horse or a deer; the call of a pheasant, cut off mid-screech.
During the day, safe inside the house or bumping over the driveway potholes encased in the metal shell of my car, I can ignore those rumors. Scoff, even.
But at night, when I step outside to toss trash into the bin, the porch light illuminating me like the wilds’ tastiest midnight snack, it’s another story. What’s out there beyond the feeble circle of light? Is something moving in the trees? What caused that crunch of gravel? My back twitches with the caterpillar-creep of the flight reflex and I scurry back inside and slam the door, flicking on lights in the modern version of a bonfire.
Then I head upstairs to write another ghost story.
About Stumptown Spirits
What price would you pay to rescue a friend from hell?
For Logan Conner, the answer is almost anything. Guilt-ridden over trapping his college roommate in a ghost war rooted in Portland’s pioneer past, Logan has spent years searching for a solution. Then his new boyfriend, folklorist Riley Morrel, inadvertently gives him the key. Determined to pay his debt—and keep Riley safe—Logan abandons Riley and returns to Portland, prepared to give up his freedom and his future to make things right.
Crushed by Logan’s betrayal, Riley drops out of school and takes a job on a lackluster paranormal investigation show. When the crew arrives in Portland to film an episode about a local legend of feuding ghosts, he stumbles across Logan working at a local bar, and learns the truth about Logan’s plan.
Their destinies once more intertwined, the two men attempt to reforge their relationship while dodging a narcissistic TV personality, a craven ex-ghost, and a curmudgeonly bar owner with a hidden agenda. But Logan’s date with destiny is looming, and his life might not be the only one at stake.
About EJ Russell
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
Connect with E.J.:
To celebrate the release of Stumptown Spirits, EJ is giving away $25 in Riptide credit. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 21, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!