Childhood Terrors

By K. Ferrin

At the edge of a small town deep in the mining country of the upper peninsula of Michigan is a place called The Pits. At least that’s what everyone under four feet tall called it.

The Pits looked like two lakes on either side of an earthen road, cupped gently in the arms of two hillsides. Anyone from outside would look at the steep tree-lined hillsides and the steely grey water and find it beautiful. But those of us who lived there knew otherwise. They were not natural lakes, you see. At least not completely. They were the collapsed water filled remains of what is reported to have been the greatest iron mine in Michigan.



Everyone under four feet tall knew the dark history of the mines. 100s 1,000s 10,000s of miners gave their lives in service to the mine, and untold more died in the numerous collapses that eventually turned underground tunnels into the deep water filled pits that exist today. In 1940 it collapsed again taking a 150-foot section of heavily used roadway with it, killing no one at least a hundred people as it went.

None of the bodies were ever recovered.

The Pits, you see, were bottomless. No one had ever been able to determine their depths, though researchers tried for ages. The earth around them was pitted with miles and miles of abandoned and now underwater mines. And there were creatures that lived there. They were the reason children drowned in the Pits every year, and why their bodies were never recovered. We all knew someone who’d seen them, flitting shadows just below the surface of the water, or a glimpse of movement out of the corner of an eye. Mermaids, of a sort, but with mouths full of razor sharp teeth and a thirst for human flesh. Preferably those under four feet tall. That or ghosts. Also with a preference for eight year olds.

It turns out the history of the mines, for those of us over four feet tall, is not nearly as exciting. While almost certainly some miners lost their lives on the job, there is no history of these mines being any more dangerous than any others. By the time the mines began collapsing they had been long abandoned, and while one car did indeed plummet into the Pits when the road collapsed, there were no fatalities. There are still flooded tunnels beneath all that water, but The Pits are only about ninety feet deep. Not exactly fathomless.

But those stories stuck with me all these years, locked away in the vault of a writers’ mind, only to emerge decades later in the pages of a novel. Feral mermaid type creatures with mouths full of jagged teeth waiting for the fateful misstep of a careless sailor.

As adults we are terrified less by the monsters under the bed and more by the monsters that  walk amongst us and seek to do us harm. But as writers, it is worth plumbing the depths of these childhood terrors for our writing. At some point the innocent and terrifying ‘what if’ of childhood is replaced with the adult certainty of ‘not real’. But deep down inside, all of us are still terrified of the dark unknown. Reaching back into stories from our childhood can help us tap into those things that most deeply frighten and disturb us. Excellent fodder, I think, for shady writers such as us.

Murder in the Third Act

By K. Ferrin


This week I killed six people. I’d been thinking about it for weeks. Who to kill, how to do it, how to hide the bodies so no one would know. I schemed, I plotted, I chose my weapon, then I made the blood flow.

It’s a little late in the game to make such dramatic changes in a manuscript. I was thirty-two chapters into this novel and had just started final approach toward that last climactic scene. I was only a couple of weeks away from finishing the book, but it just didn’t feel right. That magical flash you get when you know you’ve nailed a story wasn’t there. My characters were not cooperating. I suddenly had so much to do I didn’t have time to write. Rather than flowing like warm caramel the words were coming in violent thrusts that made me feel more like a rodeo cowboy than a writer.

When the story, the characters, and your muse start fighting you, you know you’ve got a problem.

After struggling through the incoming tsunami for weeks I finally admitted to myself I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line and the story had to be redrafted. Letting go of a completion date that’s right around the corner was tough. Even tougher, the redrafting was bloodier than the Red Wedding, more violent than Sin City, and more terrifying than clowns under the bed. I’ve never seen so much blood in one place. The imaginative lives of so many oozing off my keyboard and pooling on the floor beneath my desk left me feeling faint. The poor dears… they never saw it coming.

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction Pablo Picasso said, and he was right. While the life of my last victim was still draining off the page the remaining characters surged back to life, jumping into action with such animus even I was shocked. My muse settled lightly onto the corner of my desk and began whispering into my ear, the caramel creaminess of her voice unspooling words as fast as I could type them. All that ‘stuff’ that had been keeping me so busy vanished faster than the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from a mixed bag of Halloween candy.

As authors we have to trust ourselves, trust our link to the gypsy-voodoo-black-magic underbelly of the creative process, but perhaps most importantly, we have to trust our own intuition. If you begin to suspect you’ve chosen the wrong path in your story don’t be afraid to arm yourself and go all vampire slayer on your story. Whether you prefer stakes, swords, or guns for your bloodletting matters not, only that you let your story bleed. In the end it will be much stronger for it.


About K. Ferrin ~

During the daylight hours I live in a world filled with high technology – satellites, windowless buildings filled with humming machinery and robust HVAC systems, and networks spanning half the globe.  I also run a business consulting company (

When the working-day ends the world around me shifts from one filled with engineers and machines to one filled with magic, myth and adventure.  My heart lives here, along with this blog and my writing.  I write fantasy of all kinds, some epic and some urban or dark, some young adult and some for more mature readers.

You can find my young adult novel Magicless at all major online retailers, and the ebook on Amazon.

**I write for various audiences.  If you are looking for young adult ‘clean’ reads please look for the YA label on the spine and the back of the book.**

To find out more about  K. and her work, check out her website, K.Ferrin/Creator of Worlds