by Ros Baxter
Like all great philosophers, I do my most profound musing watching Disney Pixar films; most recently, that deep study of fear and courage, Monsters University.This time I was watching with a different lens. Halloween was almost upon us and small fry were clammering for trick-or-treating costume ideas (just another way to torture parents into requiring the kind of creativity of which their poor, tired brains are no longer capable). The ideas tank dry, I was doing what all good parents do – looking for some material I could plagiarise (err, I mean some inspiration I could adapt and make more excellent…) in the reliable scenes of Disney.
Anyway, in the way of Pixar, my baser motivations were soon forgotten and I was wrapped in the compelling story of two little monsters learning the art of the scare. After the credits rolled, I found myself reflecting on the nature of fear – more particularly, the critters that scare the beejezus out of us.
What Sully and Mike so ably demonstrate in that cult classic (they were so cheated out of that Oscar, by the way) is that fear is personal. Some kids (cough, grown ups) are scared of clowns. Some are scared of spiders. Not all the creatures that freak the hell out of us are nine-legged, fang-encrusted, soul-sucking slugs (although, you know, that would be kind of scary).
For me, some of the scariest dudes around are still JK Rowling’s Dementors (maybe it’s the name; that is one seriously cool monster name). Other special mentions are those baddies that mess with the order of your world – possessed dolls, evil kiddies, and the like. But mostly, it’s the hint of their darker motivations that unravels me. Why is the villain scarier if we know he was warped by some sick life event, and is now utterly intent on stealing your joy and perverting you in the same way?
When I penned White Christmas, I poured three concepts that chill me to the core into my monsters, the ice vampires of Tyver, and their story.
- The first was the notion of pervasive cold – skittering, centipede-legged succulents that swarm under the ice, scenting and seeking human warmth to feed upon.
- Then there was isolation – my crash-landed, newly reunited couple are huddled in an ice cave alone, with no help on the way, and no exit strategy.
- Finally, anticipation – they can see the things coming – as distinct ripples undulating under the surface of the snow. They know they’re about to become a hot meal for some freezing cold dudes and it spurs them to tell home truths that might never otherwise have come out, and to look for creative ways to repel their advance (but I won’t give the plot away…)
What about you? Which baddie/villain/monster traits pick at your monster-under-the-bed childhood scars?
Seventeen years after the Apocalypse, Admiral-class Explorer Tabysha is caught up in a firefight and shot down over Tyver, where ice vampires hunt human warmth. Seeking shelter in an ice cave, she is instructed to stay put and await rescue. But after another ship crash-lands, and the Hunter Gatherers stalk its wounded pilot, Tabi breaks protocol.
When it turns out the survivor is the man who stole her heart then skipped out on her ten years before, it seems to Tabi that no good deed goes unpunished, and things can’t get any worse. But she’s so wrong.
As the Hunters pick up the escalating heat signature of the former lovers, Tabi has to tell Asha that there is only one way to repel the creatures stalking them.
And it involves picking up where they left off ten years before.
When everything else is gone, all you have is hope.
The year is 2098, and the people of New Earth have been homeless for seventeen years. Ruled by a mysterious Council and adrift in a fleet of space stations, their sole mission is to survive long enough to find a new home. They call it The Seek.
Kyntura is the first and only female Avenger — one of the secret, separate elite who stand on the frontline between the refugees of Earth and a universe that would do them harm. For Kyn, fight and pain are the only things that drive out memories of the Apocalypse…and of the boy she left behind when she enlisted. But a young recruit called Mirren and a deadly mission will bring her face to face with all she has tried to forget.
As she leads a squad of Avengers in The Seek, Kyntura will have to face her demons — and the boy whose heart she broke a decade before — to confront the truth about New Earth and save the future of humanity.
For a chance to win a copy of Ros Baxter’s White Christmas and an exclusive ARC of Ros’s upcoming novel The Seek, leave a comment letting us know your favourite (or least favourite) villain. Bonus points if you share embarrassing childhood fears.
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