Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fascination and Terror

By Kim Richards

Nightmares are one of those things all people have in common. No one is immune from the terror and dread they can bring. In a way they tie us together, proving our humanness. For some, they are a thing to be avoided by taking care with foods eaten in the evening or bringing oneself into a gentle, relaxing environment before sleep time.

For others, like me, they are a fascination. My sweet dreams are fleeting. I wake and think, 'that's nice" before going on with my day. The happy pastels evaporate like a morning mist. They're nothing worth discussing or wondering what catalyst set my mind to creating them. Nightmares are a whole other thing.

My nightmares are vivid creatures which can linger for days...sometimes continuing from one night's sleep to the next. I've never bolted awake, shaking with the emotion of a sweet dream but I have from a nightmare. I've never taken action in my waking life to prevent something from a sweet dream from occurring. I have from nightmares on several occasions.

The dark dreams filled with fearful places and events reveal my innermost worries and vulnerabilities. There's no pretending those parts of my soul don't exist when in dreamland. That's what I mean when I say they show our humanness. All the waking facades and theatrics can no longer conceal those elements of ourselves in nightmares. We are laid bare before ourselves. That can be more terrifying than the dreams themselves.

I've taken to facing the nightmares; examining them and pondering their role in my self. In a way I make peace with them. Perhaps many writers of dark fiction do. The need to know and understand is more urgent than wanting to put it aside to forget. Let's not forget that famous quote: "We have nothing to fear except fear itself."

BIO: Kim Richards (Gilchrist) writes mainly dark fiction. She is CEO and co-owner of Damnation Books and Eternal Press. She also is on staff at Writer's Chatroom Kim lives in Northern California with her husband and two feline supervisors named Isis and Essla. Visit her on the web at


  1. Hello, Kim,

    Welcome to the Grip! Your view of your own nightmares seems to serve you well in your writing.


  2. Kim,

    I'm always fascinated to hear those who write dark fiction talk about their inspiration.

    Great post,

    Best wishes,


  3. Horror makes us face our nightmares during the day. That's probably what makes it so effective. You can't wake up wen you're already awake.

  4. I've often wondered what Stephen King dreams about!!!! I think he invented nightmares LOL

  5. One of my favorite things is to get a bunch of horror writers in a room talking about their nightmares or what scares them. Very interesting stuff.

  6. Hi Kim,

    Interesting post. Nightmares tend to linger on throughout the day and can be somewhat of a muse.


  7. I do love a good nightmare. They've brought me much joy over the years.

  8. Hi Kim! Cool post.

    I've gotten some very cool ideas from nightmares. :)

  9. The dreams I remember may or may not be nightmares. They are definitely in the category of "lucid dreams". I'm as likely to forget a nightmare as what you call "pastel" dreams... but some dreams catch my imagination, and I often manage to get up and write them down. To date these have not made their way into my writing, but I mostly write nonfiction.

  10. I don't remember my nightmares upon wakening. Lol. I think that's a good thing, or I'd be jumpy all day.
    Now sweet dreams are something else. And I'm not about to say a word about what they are.

    Entertaining post, Kim.

  11. That's interesting that we remember our nightmares more than our pleasant dreams. This is probbably because nightmares have the most intense emotional content. I find I remember nightmares and sexual dreams. Not enough of the latter alas.


  12. Great article, Kim! Unfortunately, Im an Insomiac so I dont have the chance for many dreams. Still, its fascinating to think of the many books built on nightmares.

    hugs, Kari Thomas

  13. It's amazing how something malevolent as a nightmare gets turned into something nice and interesting. You sure know how to turn the tide so to speak Kim!


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