Not every book I write contains supernatural elements, but I believe there’s a suggestion of darkness in all of them, one that harkens back to my childhood. I don’t mean to say there was a lot of darkness in my upbringing. In fact, looking back, those years seem wonderfully sunny and bright. But, oh, I did – and still do – love a good scare.
That feeling of being terrified and right on the edge of unsafe began with a visit to my aunt’s boarded-up farmhouse in Saskatchewan. My aunt and uncle lived there when they were first married. Knowing my aunt, it would have been a clean and lovely home. However, by the time my sister and I saw it, everything inside the place was old and rolled and silent as the grave. We didn’t learn why until after we’d scared ourselves silly with thoughts and imaginings of dead bodies trapped inside those rolled-up carpets and ghosts lurking at the rusty handpump that once upon a time would have filled my aunt’s kitchen sink.
My newly married aunt discovered a mouse in her house. Huh. How strange is that? Finding a mouse in a farmhouse that was surrounded by waving fields of wheat and barley and rye. A snake would have been no problem. But a mouse? She was out of there, never to return. Literally. She and my uncle left behind almost everything they owned – furniture, china, linens, draperies, even some of their clothes. I remember seeing a pair of women’s shoes on the staircase, one up, one down, as if their owner had jumped right out of them while climbing. Who knows, maybe that’s exactly what happened.
At any rate, in this shadowy, silent, dark old house, with the wind whistling through the rafters and black clouds gathering in the distance, my sister and I envisioned ghosts and God knows what else with every step we took, with every box we dared to open, even in the dial-less remnants of an ancient phone we found hanging on the wall. Oh yeah, we were terrified. And totally fascinated.
I think I started making up stories before we left the place. Ghosts stories, of course. I was eight years old and apparently blessed – or burdened – with an overactive imagination.
Later that year, I watched a show on TV. It was an Alfred Hitchcock episode of Suspicion. The hour-long show was called ‘A Voice in The Night’. Absolutely nothing before or since that time has ever frightened me as much as that lone Hitchcock short.
The story involved a shipwrecked couple who wound up on a mysterious island which just happened to be covered in mold. They ate food salvaged from another abandoned ship, got a little romantic and tried to make the best of their situation. All was well until one morning when the man discovered a patch of mold growing on his neck. It continued to grow and naturally that put an end to their hopes of being rescued. One night, the man spotted a passing ship. He rowed out to it but asked that no light be shone on him. He requested food and in return related his dreadful tale. As he rowed away, one of the sailor held up a lantern. All he and the crew saw was a large man-sized figure covered in thick layers of mold wielding the oars of a small boat.
I woke up for years after watching this show, convinced that I was turning into a mold monster.
So, you see how simply it can start. I went from writing ghost stories to supernatural ones. Then I hit puberty and added romance to the mix. Along came TV and movie mysteries and with them another element for me to blend in. I can honestly say my writing career has been an evolution of styles and themes, but I swear, the whole thing started the day my sister and I explored my aunt’s creepy old Saskatchewan farmhouse…
So, tell me, what was the first thing that scared you?
HUNT by Jenna Ryan
Dr. Melia Rose and ex-Marine Johnny Hunt had it all. Until one night in Atlantic City changed everything. She’s left shocked, confused, and alone, unable to come to terms with what happened. Hell, she doesn’t even know what happened; she just knows her life has taken a one-eighty.
Now, Melia’s started over—again—in her secluded, boring life in the swamps of Florida. The people are great, she has a housekeeper who may or may not be Bette Davis reincarnated, and it’s quiet. But when her ex-husband shows up, dropping a bomb of epic proportions, her new life is a whole lot more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.
There’s nothing Johnny wants more than to undo the damage from the past. The secrets he’s been carrying have been eating away at him, but protecting Melia was more important than anything else. Even his own life. He managed to save her last time, but the danger is close—too close. In order to save her once more from his demons, Johnny will have to come clean…about everything.
Romance Suspense [Entangled Amara, On Sale: March 26, 2018, e-Book, ISBN: 9781640635067 / eISBN: 9781640635067]
About Jenna Ryan
A strong believer in the power of the mind, Jenna Ryan likes to keep things simple. Her grandfather told her that lightening the mental load leads to a longer, happier life. Add in great relationships, a vivid imagination and – okay, a few too many cats, and you’re on your way.
She enjoys traveling, but thinks home is the best place to be. She loves wood fires, rainy nights, hot tea and a good murder mystery novel.