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May 2021 Newsletter

“Even cowards can endure hardship; only the brave can endure suspense.” Mignon McLaughlin

Hello Friends, I’m shocked how quickly last month went by.  I hope all of you are well and gearing up for our country’s opening in the summer. After a year of living indoors, I know my legs need a good tan. Ha!

I want to reveal the cover of my new novel Snake Oil. Note, there may be another tweak or two, but after numerous revisions, here is where my ideas have landed. I’m pleased with it. I hope you like the cover as well.   

For now, I am planning a release date for early July. If you’d like to be one of the first people to review my book before the release date, please send me an email. I will forward a free digital copy and instructions on how to place your Amazon review on the first day of publication.

Until then, tell me, why do we love suspense novels? According to the Writer’s Encyclopedia, “Suspense is the element of both fiction and some nonfiction that makes the reader uncertain about the outcome.”

When my sister and I were children, we read Amityville Horror before bedtime. I pulled up my covers and hid under them. One time, we lay awake listening to the creaking noises on the roof and wondered if something lurked outside. However, it didn’t stop us from returning to the book the next night.

But why?

According to Peter Stromberg’s article, “Why do we love suspense?” posted in June 2010 on the Psychology Today website, “We feel suspense because we aren’t sure how the story or the game will turn out, and we become very interested in finding out. But here is where the mysteries start to emerge. First, we find suspense to be very appealing, but what is so appealing about uncertainty? In fact, in the abstract, at least, uncertainty is anything but an inherently pleasant experience. Second mystery: if suspense is uncertainty, then why is it possible to enjoy seeing a movie or reading a book more than once? You already saw the movie, you know what is going to happen, but still, you are sitting on the edge of your seat. How can this be?

I know when I first started watching Alfred Hitchcock movies, I felt glued to my seat. Wide-eyed and apprehensive. I felt perturbed when someone entered the room to chat about the weather. Did they not know that delaying the outcome of a suspenseful movie is just as painful as not knowing the results of a medical test? 

According to another article in Psychology Today (PT is not my go-to resource, but I found these articles interesting on this topic), posted in October 2015, entitled, “Our Love Affair with Thrillers and Suspense.” Dr. Jenni Ogden says, “What they have in common with made-up stories in the thriller or suspense genres is the power to stir up intense emotion. Our brains release neurotransmitters like dopamine, and oxytocin when we are intensely emotional (intensely happy as well as scared, or horrified) and these can serve to consolidate memories and even strengthen bonds between us and others sharing the same experience.” Interesting. Although I will never reread Amityville Horror, I won’t forget that time my sister and I read that book together.

So, we have our answer—readers who love suspense long for uncertainty because it drives us to learn more. But when we’re in the throes of that insecurity, our brains kick out a chemical that excites our hearts and minds and places us on a mental cruise to the unknown.

And for me, that’s the real reason why I love suspense novels. The intense mystery feels the same as riding a roller coaster or visiting a haunted house.  Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts by email, or visit my Facebook page and start a discussion. I’d love to hear how a suspense novel kept your emotions running all night.

It’s always good to hear from you!

Until next month!

Harper