Shades of Fear by Debbie Manber Kupfer
There are many different shades of fear, and fear is something that affects each of us in different ways. When a Facebook group of which I’m part, Write On Nanos, decided to put together a charity anthology based around the theme of fear I toyed with writing a horror or fantasy tale. I’d written plenty of this kind recently, but then I started thinking about fear and what really scares me and realized that the time in my life when I was most terrified was when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
At the time when I was going through treatment I told very few people about my cancer. Only my closest family and friends knew. I certainly didn’t “come out” on Facebook. The Cancer Center had suggested we wrote down our experience, but I was too close to it and didn’t want to dwell on the facts when the outcome of my treatment was still unclear. I also wanted to live my life as “normal” as possible. I didn’t want to people to treat me as some kind of charity case, because I had cancer, so I kept quiet and went on with my daily life as much as I could.
Now, after the fact, though I felt it was time to write my story. I took my tablet to Starbucks one afternoon before my monthly writers group and started writing my experience. It was probably the most difficult thing I’d ever written. I had to return not only to my initial terror of finding the lump and getting my diagnosis, but also relive a very difficult time in my life when my father passed away.
My story, The Big C, is the last in the Shades of Fear anthology. Every story in this anthology is a unique take on fear. Many are grounded in horror, fantasy, and suspense, but a handful, like mine, are true experiences that haunt our memories and needed to be written and shared.
The first of these tales is The Devil Man by Kristi Webster. In her story Kristi revisits a terrible time in her life when her mother married a man that hurt their family in unimaginable ways. As Kristi explains:
“It was terrifying and stressful during those years, a very dark time for me. The Devil’s Man gives readers a brief glimpse into what I went through during that time, which was physical and emotional abuse. Thankfully, we were able to leave that situation and have been happy in Oklahoma ever since. When I wrote that piece, it gutted me to have to relive those painful memories. After I completed the edits from the story, I had to put it away because every time I read back through it, my heart would pump like crazy and my anxiety was about to go through the roof! While it might not seem like a very fearful story to most, it was the worst fear I have ever known.”
In Sweaty Sheets and Sleepless Nights, Joi Miner shares a chapter from her upcoming book Vices. Joi writes:
“The book, as a whole, is realistic fiction based loosely on my life. The story is of a woman who has recently gotten divorced from an abusive husband and is having to face her demons while healing and rebuilding her life for herself and her daughter, Tzionne. Sex is her vice. She uses it to drown out the pain and momentarily escape from the painful existence that she has found herself in. This chapter, in particular, tells of her having a nightmare/flashback about her molestation as a child. And, just like in real life, she uses writing to deal with her pain.”
In T209, Shannon McLoud talks about the very real fear of returning to the classroom as an adult. Shannon talks about her personal experience with this and why it was so terrifying to her:
I didn’t realize how scared I was until that first night! The story is actually a combination of two of my nights on campus. My very first one of course, but the room I modeled everything on was a class I took a week later. I had to miss the first class because of a work commitment that I was supposed to have completed months prior, but couldn’t since my father had died. So that was weighing on me as well. Making the choice to go back to school absolutely terrified me. I was afraid that after all the sacrifices we had made, especially financially, that I would let my family down by not being able to find a job.
Roxanna Mitchell begins her story Perfect Connection with the harrowing tale of how her husband of 22 years was diagnosed with esophageal cancer one month after she had retired from a company she had been with for 25 years. Roxanna writes:
“I thought I was going to help him grow his general contracting business and slip into semi-retirement. Needless to say, I became his caregiver until he succumbed to his disease. It took me two years to go through the grieving process and, during that time, I began to write again, the product of which was my first novel, Perfect Score.
After I finished this book, I took off my wedding rings and decided that I wanted to date again, find my second soul mate. Embracing today’s technology, I turned to internet dating. Perfect Connection is all about my fears of being alone after being with someone for so long, searching for a new complement and the dangers of meeting strange men for coffee or drinks, not knowing what they truly will be like. Scary for even the youngest of people, but more so for a much more ‘mature’ woman.”
You can read all these stories and more in Shades of Fear. All proceeds of the sale of this anthology goes to pediatric cancer research and treatment. Also you can read the full interviews with each of the Shades of Fear authors on my blog, Paws For Thought .
Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in the UK in the East London suburb of Barking. She has lived in Israel, New York, and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, where for the last 15 years she has worked as a freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. She lives with her husband, two children, and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of P.A.W.S., a young adult fantasy novel that was published by Rocking Horse Publishing in the Summer of 2013, and is currently working on a sequel. She also has stories in a number of anthologies including Fauxpocalypse and Shades of Fear. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!