Halloween Extravaganza: Michael Shotter: Penetrating Fear

Penetrating Fear

Halloween means a variety of things to different people. For some, it’s an opportunity to become someone (or something) else for a night. For others, it’s an excuse to eat an absolutely-outlandish amount of candy. For me, particularly in the context of my work as an author, it offers a chance to consider one of the darker, more sinister facets of humanity… fear.

Of all our emotions, fear has a unique ability to motivate people toward disturbingly-negative ends. Throughout human history, decisions have been made solely on the basis of fear that have led to horrifying, irrevocable consequences. Even today, in our most modern, enlightened, and technologically-advanced societies, fear is often used as a way to manipulate and misdirect people by a variety of unscrupulous entities. In short, fear is a powerful weapon as much as it is a beneficial instinct for self preservation, or a useful tool in crafting an engaging, entertaining narrative. The fact that people often struggle to completely control their fear, even in a well-lit reading room or a crowded movie theater, when effectively stimulated speaks to just how potent a thing fear is.

Moreover, awareness of fear and its potential effects often provides little immunity from it. There’s an irrational, unwieldy component to the experience of being afraid that contributes to making it such an insidious and simultaneously-compelling thing to explore. As such, it’s unsurprising that the creepy, unsettling aspects of Halloween endure and that fear is the foundation of many an artistic expression, particularly in the horror genre’s myriad of forms.

Personally, I still vividly recall two of my first exposures to intense manifestations of fear in literature. Having read Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” and Clive Barker’s “Cabal” at a fairly young age, aspects of each left me thoroughly freaked out for days and in many ways, caused me to reevaluate what was actually scary by comparison. As such, I can confirm that I will to this day never casually approach anyone wearing a mask with button eyes sewn onto it, particularly if they’re holding a less-than-healthy-looking cat. In fairness, I likely would have come to that conclusion anyway but reading those books really sealed the deal.

There’s one, final observation I’d like to make regarding fear, which I think may be the most important. To me, one of the best, most admirable uses of fear is as a means to illustrate our capacity to overcome it. I’ve never been a fan of art (or anything else) that portrays fear for its own sake, or fetishizes it to the point of nihilism. At the end of the day, I prefer to see the reality of fear acknowledged honestly as efforts are made to prevail against it. Of course, part of that means accepting that the good guys don’t always win, and that fear does have valid uses in life as much as in art.

Ultimately, I think one of the great things about Halloween and the horror genre in general is that they both give us a chance to acknowledge, examine, and penetrate our fears, rather than ignoring them, giving in to them, or using them as an excuse to harm others.

Michael Shotter is a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a lover of science, fiction, and fantasy, his works aim to push beyond the boundaries of traditional genre fiction into new and exciting realms born from literary craftsmanship.


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Meet Lisa Hudson, a dedicated journalism student, on a beautiful, spring morning in Pittsburgh that proves to be the last ordinary day of her life.

As she struggles to survive in a new reality, forged from catastrophe, Lisa confronts its mysteries and dangers with the aid of intriguing and unlikely companions.

For her, the world will never be the same. For you, the journey is just beginning.

Michael Shotter is a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a lover of science, fiction, and fantasy, his works aim to push beyond the boundaries of traditional genre fiction into new and exciting realms born from literary craftsmanship.

“309” represents his most ambitious effort to date and is sure to thrill fans of both science fiction and high adventure.

The Big Men

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The pursuit of power is as old as human history. In ancient times and in various cultures, it was believed that a person’s power, indeed their very essence could be literally extracted through a variety of means.

The methods by which this was accomplished were largely lost to the ages or banned and purged from historical records by kings, pharaohs, and the like in efforts to preserve their own power and authority.

Still, the echoes of these ideas and techniques persist. What would happen if a man living in modern society, a descendant of the practitioners of those arts were to inadvertently awaken such an ability and what would be the consequences of that awakening?

“The Big Men” is a paranormal thriller that explores the perceptions, manifestations, and consequences of power as wielded and coveted by men in the modern era. This debut novel by Michael Shotter will keep readers guessing as they are drawn into the world of such men by an outsider capable of taking everything from them.

Academic Displacement

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In this gripping novelette from the author of “The Big Men” and “309,” witness Roy Carter, a man with everything he ever wanted, confounded by an inexplicable event that completely disrupts his idyllic existence after apparently changing almost nothing about it. Prepare yourself for “Academic Displacement.”

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