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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Five things scarier than ghosts!

As you know, I adore a good scare, and ghost stories are my particular favourite. However, real-life is often way more frightening than fiction, and so here are five real-life terrors that make me shiver, sweat and scream.

1. Spiders

I've always been terrified of these nasty little beasties, and it took a tremendous amount of courage to even google a picture of one.


I've trained myself to delay a panic attack long enough to catch the smaller ones and get rid of them, but I just can't handle anything with a leg-span larger than 5cm. A short while ago, I had to get my mum to come round and deal with one that scuttled under my cooker. Truly terrifying- I'd rather go head-to-head with a ghost any day.

2. Paperwork

I have a genuine fear of forms- once it's written down, it can't be changed or explained- so paperwork (with all it's official language and legal connotations) frightens me to death. What if I fill in my details incorrectly? What if I accidentally make a mistake on my tax return and get arrested? What if I word a reference awkwardly and spoil someone's chance of an interview? Hell's bells and buckets of blood- for someone who enjoys writing, I find paperwork a real trial. Mind you, phone calls are not much better. When I had to phone the IRS once, I needed a lie-down afterwards...

3. Driving in cities

Not long after I passed my test, I drove through Nottingham. The experience scarred me for life and now I can't attempt anything resembling a city without a Satnav, co-pilot and the promise of a stiff drink when it's all over. Unintelligible road signs coupled with impatient locals compounded by up to four lanes from which to choose... the thought makes my palms clammy. Thank goodness for buses!

4. Public speaking

This might surprise some people (those that haven't seen me in action, anyway), but I'm not actually any good at standing up in front of crowds and talking. I get a wobbly leg, sweaty forehead and have to fight the urge to burst into tears. Despite this, I'm a school teacher who frequently has to present to groups. The difference? Children don't make me nervous. When I'm stood in front of children, I'm speaking about something I know and believe in confidently. Plus I can tell them off if they shout out unkind comments.

When I speak to adults, it's often about my writing, so I'm fighting the voice whispering in my ear, "You don't know what you're talking about. They don't want to listen to you. You're a rubbish writer anyway." It's not helpful. I hate it but, as an author, it's an inevitable part of the promo process. Maybe instead of imagining them naked (as I've been advised) I should imagine them picking their noses and doodling on whiteboards? Am I allowed to put adults in detention?

5. Going to the toilet while you're waiting for a delivery

The delivery note says they'll call again between 12pm and 4pm. You spend four hours listening for the door, afraid to hang out the washing, work in the upstairs office or have a snooze on the sofa. You occupy yourself by pottering around downstairs, making cups of tea and tapping on your laptop in the living room.

You wait... Time passes...

Inevitably, after all that tea, your bladder starts sending urgent signals to your brain. Not yet you tell it, crossing your legs and willing the delivery to arrive. Before long, you're hopping about by the window, searching for signs of a man with a van. To hell with it- I'll be quick. Has there ever been a tenser moment than the minute you're sat down, trousers round your ankles, knowing- just knowing- that this will be the moment there's a knock on the door?

Scared yet? Try Late: a ghostly tale-  it's free to download tomorrow and all week!


  1. You are so brave Louise, I know your fear of forms and I've witnessed your public speaking (you were very good by the way). Spiders I can handle, literally. Worms, slugs, snails, maggots and eels though and I run a mile.

    1. Thank you sweetie! Next time I see a spider, I know who to call now too... 😉


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