Friday, October 5, 2012

Scaring the Pants Off My Heroine

By Cathy Greenfeder

It’s not easy to scare the pants off my heroines. They’re tough and stand up for themselves. As strong women with strong wills, they deserve their strong heroes. Whether it’s a pioneering missionary woman, a journalist out for a story which will further her career, a psychic artist solving the mystery of her parents’ murder, or a teenage girl using her gifts as a medium to protect herself and those she loves and to release an innocent ghost from another century, they are all strong .

So how do you terrify your heroines and heroes?

Although it’s not easy to scare them, they are human after all and have terrifying moments. In Sacred Fires my heroine Casey is tied up, gagged, and kidnapped by a band of crazed cult members in Mexico; in Wildflowers, Johanna is abducted and assaulted by a crazed mountain man; in Angels Among Us, Kay is tied up, chloroformed, and left in a musty basement.

My hero Miguel in Sacred Fires goes undercover as a cult member and risks being stabbed, shot, and tortured; Ryan in Wildflowers deals with the untamed wilderness, captures a runaway wagon, risks life and limb rescuing a child during a buffalo stampede on the prairie, and gets into mortal combat with the crazed mountain man when he tries to compromise the heroine’s virtue. Eviance, Kay’s guardian angel in Angels Among Us uses his angelic powers to overcome Kay’s mortal opponents. Jake, a young college student, uses his mind to outwit the spirits who threaten the life and happiness of Georgina in Kiss Out of Time, and proving himself worthy of more than her friendship.

What is the hardest fear to create in your stories?

The hardest fear to create in one of my stories is risking one’s life to save another. In Sacred Fires, Casey stands up to the leader of a crazed cult bent on destroying her and puts herself in harm’s way to save her beloved Miguel. In Angels Among Us, my soon-to-be-released paranormal from Sweet Cravings Publishing, Kay defies a gun-wielding madman who escorts her off a train and later his mad accomplice who holds her captive in a basement in order to bring justice and retribution for their crimes against her and her family.

What story made the hair on the back of your neck stand up and require keeping
all the lights on until sunup?

I think Sacred Fires creeped me out the most when writing it because of the use of ancient ritual sacrifice and the bloodlust of the cult group leader. It didn’t make me keep all the lights on, but it is loosely based on a nightmare I had long ago with an ancient Aztec setting. I did tremendous amount of research, visited museums, and drew on my trips to Mexico for ideas and inspiration

What kind of frights do you enjoy?

I’m a fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, classic horror films, and ghost stories. My maternal grandfather came from Ireland and enjoyed telling stories of the old country. A psychic friend took me on tours of cemeteries where she told about the spirits who roamed the plots. One in particular chilled me. It involved a man whom she claimed murdered two of his wives and had them buried in the same plot of land along with their newborn children. Another time she told me of the shadow people. That really had me checking over my shoulder.

I’ve also experienced a stay in a haunted castle in Carmona, Spain, witnessed a ghostly apparition of a couple dressed in what appeared to be Civil War era garments during a stay at a relative’s home in Port Deposit, Maryland, and toured Loch Ness, home of the legendary Loch Ness monster, in Scotland.
Why would I enjoy a good fright? I guess it makes me wonder about the mysteries of the universe, the great beyond, and the plot of another book.

Catherine Greenfeder is the author of three published romance novels including Wildflowers, Sacred Fires, and Angels Among Us. She recently completed her first young adult paranormal romance, Kiss Out of Time, which she hopes to publish soon, and is hard at work on another paranormal romance featuring a werewolf and a witch.


  1. Scaring the pants off my heroine....are you kidding? You scared my pants off too. Heck, I'm naked. :0 But reading about courageous heroines and the men brave enough to love them is always a thrill. --maria

  2. You're a braver woman than me, Cathy. I'd have run away from the ghost castle :) But I do enjoy putting my heroines through things I'm too chicken to ever want to face. That's why I get to be the writer and they get to be the heroines. :)