Fear is so relative, isn’t it? (No jokes about Thanksgiving dinner with the family of origin, or kooky uncles, ‘k?) Writing Planchette took me back — though there wasn’t far to go — to my love of the Dracula story: what happened in that novel was undeniably eerie, all the blood, the graveyards and Carpathians and lizard-crawling down castle walls, but it was thrilling, too, the idea of a whole dark world unfurling like a night-blooming flower, right beside the staid British landscape of Whitby and London — and by inference, my own.

Clearly I had receptors for that story built in, no need to reverse-install. Dracula was my monster, in a way that, oh, Frankenstein’s poor creation (talk about reverse installation!) never could be.  And forget about the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  He didn’t scare me, I felt sorry for him, I wanted those people to just leave him alone in the goo and ooze to go about his daily scaly life.

What makes a monster personal? Is it that we are frightened by but not of him (or her or it or they)? Is it that we want to be that monster, have those powers?  Is it simply a matter of style? Do you secretly long to be the Queen Alien?  Does anyone secretly long to be that thing that lives under the bed? (Oh come on: you know it’s there.)