It’s been awhile since we did a book club post, huh? I had originally intended to post this in July instead of the Discussion Post; however, so much crap was happening on the back-end side of the site (multiple DDoS attacks, the submission form turning evil after the last plugin update and causing the server to overload itself, etc) as well as various offline issues that I ended up just having to shelve this post until things were a bit calmer.
So if you were wondering why there was no Discussion Post last month, that’s why. I had originally intended to have submissions re-opened (check the sidebar Submission Status for the latest update on this; please don’t derail this post with questions that are already answered there – when submissions re-open, it will be a separate post) all the way back in the beginning of July; so I had felt that having that announcement + Discussion + Book Club would have left the front page looking a tad too bloated. But it seems the site had other ideas about how things should play out, so here we are. Better late than never, right?
The book that we’re going to talk about this month is very well-known; given that it’s almost twenty years old and spent a lot of time on the Best Seller list, many of you have probably heard of it already. However, it’s striking how well it’s held up and how relevant it remains – many of the scenarios the author details are still happening every single day.
The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker is, obviously, about fear. Specifically, how to identify when your fear is actually your intuition trying to warn you of incoming danger. Those of you who are fans of detective novels, games, and TV shows like Sherlock, Ace Attorney, etc, are probably already familiar with the idea that our unconscious mind notices clues and cues that our conscious mind, for whatever reason, filters out. I see a lot of discussion in our comments sections about the plausibility of how much (or how little) a protagonist notices and deduces before shit hits the fan (so to speak) in any given pasta, so I thought that this might be a topic that everyone would find interesting – and certainly worth applying to both their real lives and their writing.
From the Amazon Editiorial Review:
“Each hour, 75 women are raped in the United States, and every few seconds, a woman is beaten. Each day, 400 Americans suffer shooting injuries, and another 1,100 face criminals armed with guns. Author Gavin de Becker says victims of violent behavior usually feel a sense of fear before any threat or violence takes place. They may distrust the fear, or it may impel them to some action that saves their lives. A leading expert on predicting violent behavior, de Becker believes we can all learn to recognize these signals of the “universal code of violence,” and use them as tools to help us survive. The book teaches how to identify the warning signals of a potential attacker and recommends strategies for dealing with the problem before it becomes life threatening. The case studies are gripping and suspenseful, and include tactics for dealing with similar situations.
People don’t just “snap” and become violent, says de Becker, whose clients include federal government agencies, celebrities, police departments, and shelters for battered women. “There is a process as observable, and often as predictable, as water coming to a boil.” Learning to predict violence is the cornerstone to preventing it. De Becker is a master of the psychology of violence, and his advice may save your life.”
Over the course of the book, Mr. de Becker discusses and analyzes a lot of horrific scenarios; from the person making an eerily prescient joke about a coworker who – just a few moments later – then showed up to shoot up his workplace (perhaps not so eerie; the joker had actually noticed the warning signs but was consciously suppressing them) to a woman who escaped being killed by subconsciously noticing very small details about her attacker’s behavior – it’s honestly fascinating to realize just how much information we absorb (and both apply and ignore) about danger on a daily basis.
At this writing, The Gift of Fear is widely accessible; Amazon Prime has it included in their free lending library, it’s available for under ten bucks in most markets, the audiobook is available on Audible, and of course, given its age and popularity, your local libraries will likely have multiple copies. So please get your hands on a copy and join us in discussing the book in this post!
A few questions to get you started:
- Have you ever had an instance in your life where you noticed the signs as detailed by de Becker and listened to them, only to find out later that your intuition had saved yourself from a sticky or dangerous situation?
- What fictional characters can you think of who use this sort of hyper-attention to detail and intuition? Did you realize that such a habit was something we all do, or did you think it was more of a ‘superpower’ that these characters had exclusively?
- How aware of such signals do you try to be when writing your own creepy stories? Do you think there’s a line where a character becomes unbelievable if they pay too much (or too little) attention to danger signs and their intuition?
- Can you think of any pastas that use this idea, whether as an overall concept or by having the protagonist particularly attuned to their intuition?
Please have fun discussing this book! As always, the basic comment guidelines apply: be excellent to each other, even if someone posts an opinion that contradicts your own.
Contest has been removed due to total lack of interest/entries. Clearly, I need better ideas for giveaways, so if you have feedback/ideas feel free to let me know either via the comments here or Contact Us!
Additionally, the book club idea seems to be falling rather flat. I probably won’t do this again, unless anyone has a major lightbulb flash of inspiration on how to make the idea more appealing/interactive.