I often use my own experiences in my books. For example, about thirty years ago, we were taking our kids to an evening dinner theater performance, driving through pouring rain. The road conditions were awful, and as we headed up a hill, something weird happened. Water got into the engine, and the car stopped on the road. There was no way to get out of the traffic lane, and unfortunately, a vehicle was barreling down the highway behind us, going much too fast for the rainy conditions. The driver slammed into us. I was wearing my seat belt. I remember flying forward and then having the belt pull me back before I flew into the windshield. I experienced the whole thing in slow motion. In other words, time slowed down so that I was able to note all the details.
I sometimes use that experience of time slowing down in danger scenes in my books. It allows me to fit in details that the character normally wouldn’t be able to notice. And the time distortion is an interesting way to make the scary situation seem more threatening.
About twenty years ago, I had another frightening experience. It was evening, and the electricity went off. We were plunged into pitch darkness, and while I was fumbling around trying to get from the den to the front hall, I misjudged the route and cut a corner too tightly. In total darkness, I pitched over the edge of the basement steps. If I’d been able to see anything, I might have caught myself on the railing. Instead, I sailed down the stairs and landed in a heap at the bottom. I was actually pretty lucky. If I had landed head first, I might have broken my neck. Instead I landed on my shoulder. I broke the bone at the top of my arm and dislocated the shoulder.
So I know that in any movie scene where someone falls down a flight of steps and is able to get up and walk away, they are fudging the injuries.
I’ve used that experience in books, both the falling part and the recovery from dislocating a shoulder and breaking a bone.
Of course, you can’t always rely on your experiences for your danger scenes. Like in Chain Reaction, which is on pre-order now and coming out March 15 My hero, Gage Darnell, is caught in an explosion at a secret lab and acquires a psychic power–the ability to move objects with his mind. Although I’ve never experienced that power, I had a lot of fun playing with his new abilities–like bending iron bars and unlocking doors.
As they say–use what you know. And if you don’t know it personally look it up. Or if it’s a paranormal ability, make up the details.
What about you? Have you had some scary experiences that have become touchstones?
One last thing and so important: Please be sure to check out our Authors’ Billboard Monthly Contests for free ebooks, gift cards, and paperbacks. March is going to offer another Rafflecopter, so don’t miss out!
NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.