by Brian Pinkerton

This essay originally appeared on the Dorchester Publishing/Leisure Books website

  My little girl happened to see the cover art for Abducted one day on the family room table. She asked me about it. "That's Daddy's book," I told her.

"Why is the teddy bear in the street?"

"Well, it's a...mystery story," I said, choosing my words carefully.

"What's a mystery story?"

"Well, it's a...story with a lot of surprises."

That seemed to satisfy her. She gave the teddy bear another glance and ran off in search of her next curiosity.

My reply was honest, if sanitized. Abducted has quite a few surprises. They are jolting twists of the plot, plunges into unexpected places. And there is fear, a tremendous amount of fear, running throughout the book.

The story of Abducted begins with a young mother's worst nightmare. Then things really get bad.

When I was a child, only a few years older than my little girl, I loved monsters and horror. I watched Creature Features on WGN in Chicago. I devoured Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.

Sometimes I could con my parents into letting me go to bed early and set the alarm for the middle of the night to catch such TV fare as Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Indestructible Man. (This was when you were at the mercy of television schedules, before you could record, rent or buy movies on a whim.)

As much as I loved monsters as a kid, they never really scared me. I knew that, if need be, I could probably outrun the Frankenstein monster, the mummy, or the lumbering zombies from Night of the Living Dead. I might even be able to take a whack at them with my Wiffle bat. I also knew about special effects and make-up and myth-making. I never checked under the bed.

I wasn't scared back then. But I am scared today.

I actually have more fears as an adult than as a child. I think it's because I watch the news. Terrorist attacks. Killer viruses. War. Home invasions. Sexual predators. Road rage. Domestic violence. Driveby shootings. And, yes, child abduction.

I've been told writers often confront and resolve their deepest fears through fiction. We take hold of what scares us, remove it from our heads and paste it on the page. It's a drawn-out exorcism.

The fears that I write about don't come from distant castles or outer space or open graves. I write about the fears in everyday life. My first book was about a dysfunctional office that erupts into workplace violence. My next book is about ordinary people, like you or I, driven to acts of cold-blooded murder

Real horror is close to home. It's that odd man looking at you funny at the shopping mall. It's the car that seems hell-bent on running you off the road. It's that creepy old lady down the street. It's the jilted lover with an axe to grind. It could be someone already in your house. Right now.

If you seek thrills, I hope you will check out my books. I will do my best to see that the bad guys get their butts kicked in the end. In turn, I ask three things of you:

Be safe. Be kind. Please leave terror to the fiction writers.

And may all your surprises...be good ones.

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