Suspense and I, we go way back. I’ve been in love with suspense fiction for as long as I can remember. I learned to read at age four, but I recall afternoon naptimes before that when my mother would fall asleep with the storybook in her lap, freeing me to peruse the bookshelves at my leisure. I was drawn to books that had intriguing pictures, pictures that told a story on their own. And the stories were always filled with mystery and excitement.
What’s so alluring about a thriller?
There’s a lot to love about good suspense fiction, but it can perhaps be boiled down to the exquisite pairing of scary and safe, like a rollercoaster. When we get on a rollercoaster, we know our heart will end up in our throat and our stomach may drop to our knees. We’ll experience anticipation as we near the top of that first electrifying drop. We’ll revel in the terrific speed, the intense rush that comes from playing fast and loose with the rules of gravity. We’ll twist, flip, and get dizzy. Things will go by in a blur. But in the end, the ride will come to a full and complete stop and we’ll exit intact. We may have a headache, an upset stomach, a sore neck, but we’re alive and whole. We rode the big one and lived to tell about it.
Cracking open a suspense thriller is a lot like that. For me, the anticipation is enormous as I absorb those opening sentences and get ready for that first big twist. I get caught up in the world of the story, riding the ups and downs, and I may experience a headache, an upset stomach, and real emotional distress. I may scream, I may even cry. But I will arrive at the book’s end alive and whole. I read the big one and lived to tell about it.
I may even have learned something
I have a strong belief that we consume stories to arm ourselves with knowledge and important insights. Even when we think we’re just indulging in entertainment, researchers have shown that there’s much more to it than that. Story is in our DNA and we use it as a virtual training ground for life. While reading or watching a story, we stimulate all the brain centers as if we were truly experiencing the story events. Story teaches us how to relate to the world and each other. What to do and what not to do in certain circumstances. It helps us prepare for the challenges life presents.
So, that raises a frightening notion
Those of us who love suspense fiction, are we drawn to it because we intuitively know our life’s events will require such a preparation? I sincerely hope not, and I don’t believe that’s the case. It’s just our survival instinct throwing its weight around. I love a rollercoaster and a good thriller, but that’s because I know there are safety measures for my protection. Just one more thing to love about suspense.
I invite you to celebrate the best of suspense with me
I’ve created a fun survey to celebrate the best of suspense. I hope you’ll enjoy participating and making your opinions known. If you’ve read or watched a particularly delectable mystery or thriller, write in your own answer and share the love.
You’ll see I’ve also added some story ‘trailers’ and I hope you’ll take a look. I have a few more exciting ideas up my sleeve for the Extras tab and I’ll keep you in the loop. Thanks so much for being here with me. I hope you’re enjoying the journey as much as I am.
What do you love about suspense fiction?
Please share in the comments below. Thanks!