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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

Welcome back! Wow, you must be serious about wanting to be an author.

During this ‘So, You Want To Be An Author’ series, I’m using all my WWBC knowledge taught to me by author and social media Jedi, Kristen Lamb, to help you become a better writer.

Last week we talked about why we wanted to become a writer and what it was about writing that we love so much, we need to write ourselves? And there were some brilliant answers.

This week, I want to talk about genres.

How many of you know what a genre is? Pretty much every single one of you, right?

Well I’m not ashamed to admit there was a time way, way back when they baffled the hell out of me. Huh? Is this girl a thicko, or what? Hang on. Before I’m hung, drawn and quartered, let me explain what I mean.

There are two main categories in writing: Fiction and Non-fiction.

Non-Fiction

I’ll touch briefly on non-fiction as this post is mainly about fiction writing.

What is non-fiction writing?  Non-fiction is factual. It’s real. Under this heading we find DIY, health and beauty, sports, automobile, craft, autobiographies, etc, etc. Non-fiction shows, narrates, and even gives helpful little pictures of the topic we wish to learn more about. Got it? Good. Now lets move on.

Fiction

Right, now let’s get down to business.

What is fiction writing? Fiction is totally fabricated and made up – hence why I love it so much.

Now, I myself love writing thriller and crime novels although I’m currently writing a paranormal (but that’s whole other story). Fiction has many sprogs: historical, contemporary, western, romance, science fiction, young adult. The list is endless. But, how do we know which genre is for us?

For example, as I said earlier I am currently writing a paranormal novel. But, I recently entered a competition and paranormal wasn’t an option. Instead I found ‘supernatural’. Okay, close enough,’ I thought. Paranormal – supernatural…. same thing, right?

I mean, most of the genres seem straight forward. Horror pretty much speaks for itself and you can’t go wrong with romance… Well, unless you write a romantic suspense. What does that make your novel? Romance or suspense?

If you plan on writing for Mills & Boon, then you’re pretty much covered. They have a gazillion categories for everything you can think of: medical, nocturnal, western, historical. You just can’t go wrong….unless you’re writing something that has zilch romance. Then forget Mills & Boon.

So I thought I’d try to simplify the genre dilemma a little.

Genres

Western: Howdy. If it has cowboys, horses, (maybe) a damsel in distress, a saloon and a heard of cattle being yee-hawed across a prairie between 1800 and 1890, then western is your partner.

Historical: Whether Victorian, Edwardian, or Tudor, these tend to be based around specific eras with a ton of knowledge to go along with it. If you like your history and you like your research, this just may be the one for you.

Horror: Slicing and dicing is the theme here. Lots of blood, gore, and frightening the bejesus out of your reader.

Children: Don’t confuse this with young adult. The children genre is usually aimed at toddlers and kids up to the age of eleven. So no bad language or sexual references. We don’t want mumsy-wumsy throwing a fit.

Here’s an example of how not to write for children – I warn you, it’s rude.

Young Adult: Probably the easiest way to describe this genre is to think Stephenie Meyers Twilight saga, or L.J. Smith’s (you can see her 30 second interview here), Vampire Diaries. All involving teenagers doing way much more than I did when I was their age. I was a good girl 🙂

Paranormal/Supernatural: This is a big genre at the moment. Vampires and werewolves are a hit with readers of all ages. So if it has fangs, claws, no reflection, rises from the dead, or wears a halo above its head – stick it here.

Mystery/Crime/Police Procedural/Detective: Firstly, if your opening page starts with your main character searching for her hair brush, not only does this NOT mean it’s a mystery, but I will brain you. However, if your story revolves around an unsolved crime, murder, or anything else that needs both the protagonist and your reader together searching for clues and piecing the bits like a jigsaw, then you may call it a mystery.

Fantasy: Not to be confused with science fiction, this one can be set anywhere; Earth or some made up land where unicorns, fairies, elves and trolls make an appearance – along with a magical maze and a spellbinding witch. Fantasy is totally make-believe, thank God.

Science Fiction/Sci-Fi: Futuristic aliens, robots, the distant galaxy or downtown New York; if you can explain it, no matter how far-fetched, using science, then you have yourself a genre.

Romance: Two people meet, two people fall in love, tragedy strikes, two people break up. reader cries – but then two people get back together for a happy ending and reader goes to shops to buy another box of tissues.

Chick lit: Ever read Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic or Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary? How brilliant are those books? Aim at the female population to provide nothing more than humor, romance, and good old-fashioned girl power.

Thriller/Suspense/Espionage

Action/Adventure: Similar to thriller/suspense for its car chases and fight scenes, this genre is usually aimed a the male race and often uses an expert of some kind: whether ex-military, police, bomb expert, or in Sly Stallone’s case a mountain guide. Then the story will bung said hero in a jungle, dessert, or on top of a mountain. Sometime, though, if the hero is really lucky he’ll stay in his own city.

Legal Thriller: A large part of the action takes place in a court room while we run through a did-she-didn’t-she scenario. If you haven’t ever read John Grisham, surely you’ve seen his movie The Firm? No? How about Judge Judy?

Commercial/Mainstream: These are of no specific genre but are whatever is trending in the ‘moment’. They are, more often than not, plot driven and are expected by the publishing powers that be to make a ton of sales and wads of cash.

Literary: Unlike commercial novels, these tend to be more character driven. But that about ends the description. Even publishers cannot pin-point what makes a novel – literature: use of language, ability to address human conditions, it’s ‘truth’, moral ambiguity…

Right, I think that about covers it. So now it’s your turn. What genre do you write? Have you ever chosen the wrong genre? Do genre labels confuse you? Do you have a story where you are unsure of the genre? Let me know in the comments and together we’ll crack it.

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James Lipton and the Actors Studio did it for fun with the actors…..Now, I’m doing it for fun with the writers.
 
 
On 8th October, 1943, in Columbus, Ohio, the first of three Stine siblings was born; Robert Lawrence Stine, known to friends and family as Bob, would go on to become the worlds teenage literary answer to Stephen King.
 
Bob was nine years old when he unearthed an old typewriter in the attic; a discovery which, unbeknown then, would change his life for ever. Never one to play outside, Bob took the typewriter to his bedroom and began to type the first of many stories and joke books.

School did not see Bob as a great student. He hated math, he hated gym (the only sport he was ever good at was ping pong!), and he hated studying. Instead, he spent most of his time writing stories and joke magazines. 

After graduating from Ohio State University in 1965, Bob headed to New York City to become a writer. He wrote dozens of joke books and humor books for kids, and created Bananas, a zany humor magazine. If you look for that work now, you’ll have to look under the name, Jovial Bob Stine.

In 1962, Bob married Jane Waldhorn. Jane became an editor and writer, and together they worked on several children’s books. Later, Jane and her partner formed their own publishing company, Parachute Press, and helped create all of husband’s most popular book series.

In 1986, Bob became R.L.Stine and turned scary!

He wrote his first teen horror novel, Blind Date, which became an instant best-seller. Many scary novels followed, including Beach House, Hit And Run, The Babysitter, and The Girlfriend.

In 1989,  Fear Street, the best-selling, young adult series in history was created. Fear Street boasts approximately100  books about teens facing all kinds of terror.

Then, in 1992, the Goosebumps  series hit the bookshelves and instantly became a hit around the world. To date, it’s been translated into 32 different languages and made R.L. Stine a worldwide publishing celebrity. To follow this success, The Goosebumps TV show was created and became America’s number-one kids’ show three years in a row. The episodes are still shown at Halloween time and many of the shows are now on DVD.

Other R.L. Stine book creations include: Ghosts of Fear Street, Give Yourself Goosebumps, The Nightmare Room (also a TV series), Mostly Ghostly, and Beware!, a collection of all his favorite stories, poems, comics and illustrations. Rotten School was a series of funny books about the rottenest school on earth. He has also published two creepy short story collections– The Nightmare Hour and The Haunting Hour. Also, two teen vampire novels– Dangerous Girls and Dangerous Girls II: The Taste of Night.

R.L.’s books are read all over the world. So far, he has sold over 350 million books, making him one of the best-selling children’s authors in history.

These days, R.L. is busier than ever. He’s working on many books, including the Goosebumps HorrorLand series. R.L. lives in New York City with his wife Jane and his dog Minnie. His son Matthew is a composer, musician, and sound designer. 

So, did we scare Bob with these questions?……of course not! This is a man who happily announces: “My job is to give kids the CREEPS!”

1.  What is your favorite word?  Bomboloni (Italian doughnuts)
 
2. What is your least favorite word? decrepit
 
3. What turns you on?   Bomboloni
 
4. What turns you off?   Worms in my salad
 
5. What sound do you love?   MMmmmmmmmm
 
6. What sound do you hate? Ackackackackack
 
7. What is your favorite curse word?   None. They’re all fine with me.
 
8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?   Ballerina
 
9.  What profession would you not like to do?  Deodorant company armpit tester
 
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?   “Guess what – no more deadlines.”
 
     
        
  
Contact Information

If you need other info about R.L. Stine, check out his autobiography– It Came From Ohio— published by Scholastic.

If you would like to see R.L. Stine, he will be signing books on March 10th, 2012, at Tuscon Festival of Books.

For more information regarding R.L. Stine, please check out his Website, Facebook, twitter

If you want more of me, I can be found on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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I want to ask a question. 

You’ve written a book. What direction should you take? Should you concentrate all your energy into querying literary agents and wait for months with bated breath in the hope one asks for a nibble? Or should you take the plunge and go it alone down the e-book road?

I am a book lover. I love holding a book in my hands, to feel the paper rough between my fingers. I love my book case. I love dust jackets….oh God, I love books full stop. Doesn’t everyone?

Up until now, I’d never considered owning a Kindle or Nook and, as an author, I couldn’t imagine my books being in any other format other than paper. I never thought the Kindle would ever take off. After all, how do you ask an author to sign a computer screen?

But, am I behind the times?

A couple of days ago I read a story in the Evening Standard newspaper which kind of got me thinking. I reiterate ‘kind of’. I’m not totally convinced, yet.

Most of you have probably already heard of Louise Voss. She was a struggling UK writer who couldn’t find an agent, took matters into her own hands, and published her novel on Amazon’s Kindle. She is now selling 50,000 books per month and has been offered a six-figure, four-book deal by publishers HarperFiction.

This also seems the case with writing duo Sarah Griffiths and Mark Williams, who write under the pen name Saffina Desforges. Their success on Kindle has led to discussions with a top New York agent.

We, as writers, already enter our stories into competitions and dedicate hours a week to social media so we can proudly boast our conquests to agents. Being able to brag at e-book sales is just another plus point, isn’t it? As author Linda Regan told me last year, “Agents have to sell you as well as the book. You have to be interesting.”

This all sounds super cool and easy, but is it? Going it alone sounds a mighty bit scary if you ask me. But, as I am the curious sort – and probably the only writer on planet earth that hasn’t looked at e-book (or indie) publishing – I had a nose around the Amazon web site.

So, let’s look at what I found.

Marketing.

If I was considering the e-book route, and let’s just use Amazon for this example as it’s the only site I looked at, I’d have to market the book myself. Okay, this I don’t find scary. It’s 2011 and I have Twitter and Facebook. Oh, and my good friend Kristen Lamb’s social media book ‘We Are Not Alone’ to guide me through – it should be a doddle. Plus, I have Kristen’s phone number and I know where she lives. She also taught me how to shoot a gun. There is nowhere she can hide 🙂

A big fat tick can go next to marketing.

What’s next?

Formatting.

Huh? I saw something about an rtf file and as I save all my work that way, I think I can tick that one too. Moving on swiftly.

Cost.

Books sell for as little as 96p on Amazon. How can anyone make any money from that?

Well, from what I can see, Amazon’s cut is 30%. I’ll round my book off at a £1 to make things easy, and because it’s late and I can’t be bothered to go fetch my calculator. I’ll earn 70p from each sale. Hmmm, that’s about the price of a chocolate Snicker bar these days, isn’t it?

Right, so unless I sell a hundred thousand copies, I’ll never be rich. Then again, writers don’t write for money. They write for the love of it, so that doesn’t matter.

(N.B. There is another plus point to this 96p Kindle e-book downloading, which is – I’d have saved a fortune on the rubbish Vampire Diary books).

Another tick.

Other bits worthy of a mention.

I retain the rights to my novel and, as the author, I’ll have full control of the book cover, pricing, and well, absolutely everything.

Tick, tick, tick.

I’ve tried to find some horror stories on the web regarding e-publishing on Kindle, but there really aren’t any out there.

So, that is why I am turning to my trusty followers. Have I missed something?

What do you think of e-publishing? Do you know anyone who has published on Kindle? Would you consider publishing your novel on Kindle? Have you already published on Kindle? What are your experiences? Do you know of any successes or, more importantly, have you heard any horror stories? Let me know.

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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I remember years ago having someone say to me, “As long has you have a good story, it doesn’t matter what your writing is like. That’s what editors are for.”

I can just hear the gasps echoing throughout the writing community as the murmur or a witch hunt is organised.

I research a lot. I like research. Very lucky thing considering I’m a writer. And, like most writers, I have read much on the subject of writing. From all that advice, and I am talking tons of it, one main point consistently raised its ugly head….The advice was contradicting.

“Agents want first three chapters. Never send agents the first three chapters. Send to a publisher. Don’t send to a publisher.”

It’s enough to drive a writer even more insane than they already are. And yet, here I am; about to add yet another blog post and more advice onto a mound higher than the slush pile at Harper and Collins.

Hang on. Did I say advice? I don’t do advice. I merely try to enlighten. Phew! Untie the nooses – You can breathe again.

Finish Or Not To Finish?

“Start sending off your book as soon as you’ve finished the first few chapters. After all, what is the point in finishing it if no one wants it?”

Now this does seem like its common sense but I’ll say it (type it) anyway. You need to complete your novel before you submit. If an agent likes it and requests a full manuscript  to read, he isn’t going to wait half a year while you finish it.

Check it and double check it. Let your friends read it and critique it. Polish it until it’s beaming brighter than the diamond tennis bracelet I’m begging my hubby for. Then, and only then, can you submit it.

Publisher Or Agent?

“Send you book to everyone and their friends. The more the merrier.”

It seems that, in today’s market, publishers are frequently turning to agents for submissions. The idea behind their madness being, why should they spend time and money sorting through manuscripts when an agent can do it for them?

Decide on an agent, and please find one that deals with your genre. Check out their website and most importantly, follow their submission guideline rules. Every agent is different. Some want a query letter, while others are happy to look at a synopsis too. Some, the wonderful few, will even read a couple of chapters.

One Agent Or Two?

“Send your book to as many agents as you can. Why wait for one to answer first?”

Oh, now this I am 50/50 on. Usually, this would be seen as a massive ‘no-no’. But nobody likes to wait six months for a reply before they can submit to their second choice agent. We’d all like to get a book represented during this lifetime 😀

Who Goes There – Friend or Foe?

“I’ve sent this book to many other agents so, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll get in quick .”

Er, do you like prison food? No mild threats! Enough said.

“I’ve enclosed a picture of my dog, and a woolly scarf for those cold New York winters.”

This is a stranger! While grocery shopping in the frozen food aisle at Asda, would you go up to a person you’ve never met before and give them a present? Of course you wouldn’t. (And shame on you if you say ‘yes, but only if they were gorgeous’).

One mistake many new writers make is they address the agents like they are their friends. They’re not. There should be no first names, no information about the last holiday you took. Just as there shouldn’t be any mild attempt to scare your agent into representing you.

Now, I want you to tell me about the horror stories you’ve read, not including this one :). What’s the worst advice you’ve been given? Again, this post is excluded :). What’s the most cringe worthy mistake you’ve ever made while submitting to an agent? Do you agree with the above? Do you submit direct to a publisher? 

I also talk on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Some other excellent websites for writers are Kristen Lamb, Nathan Bransford, Jennifer Holbrook-~Talty

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This week has not been a good week. My writing has been slow, I’ve had a character stuck in her kitchen for more than five days, and I’ve been on the brink of loosing my mind. So this weekend, instead of doing some gardening like I intended, I locked myself in my office and declared all out war on Chapter Four.

It paid off. My character left her kitchen, I finished chapter four, and my sanity (or what’s left of it) remains intact. 

On Saturday, I was furiously typing away on my keyboard when there was a knock at the window. Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say. Well you’d be right, if my office wasn’t on the second floor. 

I peered over my desk and looked down into the garden. There was my husband, giggling his little tush off and holding a long stick with a gardening glove hooked on top of it. The saying ‘small things amuse small minds’ really does have a place in our household, and as I remarked on Facebook later….I married it. 

But as I watch my hubby waving the stick around, I thought of something which happened a few years back.

My husband hates anything paranormal. He screamed like a girl when he watched ‘White Noise’ and ‘The Grudge’, and when I pull my hair over my face and imitate the woman from ‘The Ring’, he hides under the duvet, refuses to look at me, and won’t come out until I promise to stop doing it……which, of course, I don’t 🙂 

Well, with this in mind, I thought it would be funny to spend the night in a haunted hotel. I found a small guest house in Kent and for a laugh, invited my parents along too.

Hubby wasn’t so keen, but with the promise of hitting the local pub when we arrived, he agreed, and off we set. Three hours later, and staying true to family tradition, we were totally lost and didn’t arrive at the guest house until late.

The receptionist swiftly led us across the grounds to the old, and supposedly haunted, Oast house. Now there are times in a marriage when your partner gives you joy – and, as I looked at the fear in my husband’s eyes while he contemplated spending the night in a place so desolate, I knew this was one of those times.

Having missed dinner, and knowing we wouldn’t make last orders at the pub, we decided to turn in for the night. My parents were quick to apprehend the bedroom across the landing, leaving my hubby and I with the room at the top of the stairs.

With every creak that sounded, my husband gasped and shook me awake. He was convinced there was a ghost in the room. An hour later, there was a scratching at the door. My husband was on the verge of a heart attack and I was sure, if I’d switched on the light, I’d have seen that his hair had turned white.

“There’s something outside the door,” he whispered.
“Well go and let it in then.”
He was quiet for a while. Then the scratching sounded again.
“You go,” he begged.
I declined.

This went on for twenty minutes. Eventually, he got out of bed and tiptoed to the door. His trembling fingers twisted the doorknob. He opened the door no more than an inch, and peered out. There was nothing there. He closed the door and immediately something scratched against the door again. He shot towards the bed faster than a bullet from the barrel of a gun.

The scratching continued. He couldn’t sleep and, with tears in his eyes, he went back to the door. Again, he opened it a couple of inches and peered out. And as before, he found nothing outside. Slowly he closed the door. The scratching sounded and he yanked the door open. There was nothing there. He bravely popped his head out. To the right, an empty stairwell led down to the small hallway and lounge. To the left was a window, and in front of him was the vacant landing which led to my parent’s room.

He quickly shut the door and ran back to the bed. “There’s something out there,” he said. “You can get out next time.”

The scratching noise went on for the next half hour. My husband lay rigid in bed all night, too frightened to move.

I waited a few weeks before I admitted the scratching noise was my dad. He’d found a broom, lay it on the stairs, and hid downstairs just inside the lounge. All he had to do was reach out and wiggle the broom to scratch our door.

So, do you have any tricks, ghostly or not, that you’ve played on people, or that have bee played on you? Do you even believe in ghosts or stayed in a haunted house? Did anything happen? Let me know in the comments box.

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I had never heard of the author, Ken Bruen. Perhaps not the best of starts, but I honestly don’t know where to begin with reviewing this book.

I picked ‘Blitz’ from the book shelf purely because it had Jason Statham on the cover. Okay, so I’m shallow, but Statham’s rugged stance was too persuasive and I buckled in a moment of weakness. It would appear this 2002 book was picked up by Hollywood and hit our screens in June of this year. I confess I totally slept though this period, but the promo on YouTube looks pretty good.

So, what’s this book about?

Basically, a tough cop has to find and stop a psychpath from killing police officers. It’s neat and it’s simple.

Then, I turned to Chapter One. The first paragraph reads:

THE PSYCHIATRIST STARED at Brant. All round the office were signs that thanked you for not smoking.

      The psychiatrist wore a tweed jacket with patches on the sleeves. He had limp, fair hair that fell into his eyes, thus causing him to flick it back every few seconds. This doctor was convinced he had Brant’s measure.

So, nothing wrong with that. Then it continued –

    He was wrong.
    Said:
    ‘Now, Sergeant, I’d like you to tell me again about your violent urges.’

‘Huh?’ I had to back up and re-read. I’d never seen a layout like this before and it threw me. In fact, for the first thirty pages it kept throwing me. Eventually, I came around to Bruen’s way but it wasn’t without a fight.

So, what kept me interested?

The story. There are three stories going on here. Well, actually there are four if you count the killer. And each story lets its character have its own point of view. There is Brant, who I thought would be the main character given the picture on the cover and the blurb on the back. How wrong was I! It’s a bit like Tarantion’s Pulp Fiction and, fortunately, I like this format. Plus the stories drew me in.

What I didn’t like was the ending. I won’t reveal what happens, but I felt very let down.

Would I read another Ken Bruen book? I would have to say ‘yes’. The strange layout aside, I found the story engaging, fast paced and the characters very real. I just hope the next Bruen novel I choose finishes with more of a bang.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Have you read any other Ken Bruen novels? Have you seen the movie version? Let me know.

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I always like to add a little piece of truth to my fiction.

This weekend I was writing a scene where I needed to research the Cornish fishing village my novel was set in. This led me to discovering many myths, including that of a smuggler who was shot in the neck and whose ghost is now reported to walk the narrow and cobbled streets of Polperro.

For a chapter in my book, this information was brilliant, but it got me to thinking. Urban legends; just how much fact is in the fiction?

When I was a teenager, my friends and I used to venture out near Epping Forest – High Beach to be exact. Some of you may know the place. There was a road called Hangman Hill; supposedly named because a man hung himself from the large oak tree at the top of it. The myth was if you stopped your car at the bottom of the hill, kept your hand brake off and waited, eventually your car would roll up the hill. How? Because the ghost of the hanged man pulled you up by his noose.

Did it work? Heck, yes. There were a lot of freaked out seventeen year olds that night, I can tell you! Unfortunately, and years later, you realise the hill is not going up, but actually going down and is nothing more than an optical illusion.

Urban legends have intrigued us for years. Many believe they stem from fairytales told by the Brothers Grimm. Others will swear to their story being true. But whichever way you look at it, you have to agree that people love an urban legend.

Over the years, urban legends have made their way onto television with shows like ‘Supernatural’ writing many episodes around a different myth. In 2003, the Discovery Channel devoted an entire programme called ‘MythBusters’ to test out the truth of urban legends. It’s still aired today, some nine years later. And, what about the 1998 Hollywood horror movie based entirely on Urban Legends, aptly named ‘Urban Legend’? That film earned itself a sequel.

My mum once repeated a story, told to her by a neighbour, that a ‘friend’ had her ear drum eaten by an ear wig. I still don’t know if that one is true or false.

But, my all time favourite has to be the young woman driving home along a deserted road at night, when she sees the road is blocked by fallen tree branches. She stops the car, gets out and moves them. As she is getting back into the driving seat, a car appears behind her, frantically flashing its headlights. Naturally, the young woman is unnerved and drives off. The car follows her, his high beam now on full. The young woman makes it home, pulls into her driveway and hurries inside her house. She runs to the window to see the car, high beam still on, parked behind her. The woman telephones the police and when they arrive, she watches while the officers question the driver. Then the police open the back door to her car. She is shocked when they pull a man from the back seat, carrying an axe. Supposedly, he had climbed into her car while she was busy moving the tree from the road. The approaching car had seen and tried to warn her.

I must admit, even though I don’t really believe there is any truth to this story, there was a time when one night I was driving on a deserted road in Scotland. In the middle of nowhere, I came to the red light of a portable traffic light. I stopped, well aware I was surrounded by nothing but forest. I began thinking of the axe man myth while I waited for what seemed an age. I scared myself so much I almost reached the point where I was going to jump the lights. Thankfully, they changed to green and I high tailed it out of there.

The urban legend is happening in a different kind of way at the moment. Two days ago, I received an email from a friend advising me of what I should do if someone forces me to withdraw money from a cash machine. And, I ashamedly admit I was intrigued enough to waste ten minutes and delve further into it. Okay, so the situation is this. You are at a cash machine. Someone orders you at knife point to withdraw some money. If you enter your pin number backwards, you notify the police as to what is happening. Sort of like an SOS. You will still be given your money, but in the comfort (if there is any while someone has a knife to your throat), that the police are on their way.

The truth is actually this, and it is so obvious I feel a wally for not realising in the first place. What if your pin number is 1221? 5885? 0330? Or one of the billion other combinations where the number is mirrored? How would the machine know you were typing it in backwards? DOH! I feel very stupid. So no, that one is false.

Just like when alcohol intoxicated people suck on 2p coins in the hope it will fool the police breathalyser. I asked a police officer friend if it was true. In return he smiled the ‘Oh Donna, you do make me laugh’ smile. Needless to say, that one is also false.

So, urban legends. Are they fact or are they fiction? Is there any truth to them? Let’s break it down.

The fiction:

  1. The story seems to change over time.
  2. It is extremely rare that an urban legend can be traced back to a reliable source.
  3. It always happened to a friend of a friend.
  4. The lack of specific information such as a date or location.

The fact:

  1. There’s no smoke without fire.

Well, that is 4-1. The odds seem to be that the urban legend is in fact fiction. However, we all like to believe there is some truth in them. And if nothing else, they’re good for scaring your younger siblings.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what your favourite urban legend is, and convince us it is indeed FACT.

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