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The Scariest Part: Melissa Groeling Talks About LIGHTS OUT

Lights Out cover

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is Melissa Groeling, whose latest novel is Lights Out. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Even when the lights are out, he can still see you…

Paul Holten’s profession doesn’t leave much room for doubt or conscience, but he’s reaching his breaking point. The nightmares are getting worse, the jobs are getting harder to finish, and the volatile relationship with his boss Aaron is falling apart. Now faced with the possibility of an impending death sentence, Paul makes the fatal decision to run. Drawn into one hellish situation after another, he’s forced to confront his dark past — and wonder if perhaps dying isn’t the better option.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Melissa Groeling:

Say you’re scared of heights and clowns and you’re stuck with one at the top of a Ferris wheel. What do you freak out about first — the clown or the height? Say you’re locked in a tiny room with no light and you’re claustrophobic and afraid of the dark. Which one makes you break out in a cold sweat first — the dark or the lack of space? Multiple fears abound but really, how do you decide which one takes priority? Or do you simply play dead and wait for rescue?

I realized about two chapters into writing Lights Out that playing dead would’ve made life a lot easier for my main character, Paul Holten. For him, fear is a constant presence and there were many, many times where I seriously thought that hey, I should really give this guy a break.

But fear is also a great motivator. It pushes Paul to stay alive, to stay one step ahead and if I were to narrow down the scariest of this book, I would have to choose:

The Tunnel and yes, it needs to be capitalized.

This is the place where, as someone in the book so delicately put it, “the trash is taken out.” It’s three-deep in goosebumps. It’s pitch-black. It’s cold. It’s filled with…leftovers and I don’t mean your mother’s meatloaf.

It’s a mixed bag of treats here — sheer panic, adrenaline and of course what we all fear in the dark: the unknown. Mix it all together and the only thing that comes close to The Tunnel’s creepiness is having your power go out. You know what that’s like, right? You’re sitting there, reading or watching TV and suddenly, you’re plunged into complete and total darkness. Everything becomes disoriented. You don’t know what direction to go in. You don’t know where anything is. Your furniture looks like crouching monsters, ready to sharpen their teeth on your bones. Then all the weird scenarios start going through your mind: maybe it’s just the breakers tripping or a car hit a telephone pole or maybe someone cut your power lines. Your brain races with all of these possibilities and then two seconds later (and admit it, it feels more like two hours), the lights come back on and you feel like a monumental fool for getting so worked up in the first place.

In Paul’s case, however, the lights never come back on. He plunges further and further into The Tunnel’s total darkness. Things that sound inhuman echo off the walls. His feet crunch through things that squeak — could be living, could be dead — and all the while, he can hear something scuttling towards him from behind. But he keeps moving. He has to because going back is much, much worse than going forward.

Melissa Groeling: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram

Lights Out: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell’s / Apple

Melissa Groeling is a fiery redhead who grew up in New Jersey and now resides in the City of Brotherly Love. Only after she graduated from Bloomsburg University did she start to take her writing seriously. She’s a diehard New York Giants fan, loves chocolate and stalks cupcakes. Traffic Jam is her first young adult novel. Lights Out is her first dip into adult fiction.


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