I have found most often that the inspiration for some truly terrifying fiction can come from some of the most mundane moments of everyday life. For example, consider the following:
I was shopping at a local supermarket and overheard as a small girl turns to her mother and says “mummy, that girl over there is waving at me”, and points to an empty bench with no girls in sight.
Driving home late at night and a shadowy creature darts across the path of your car’s headlights. Probably a cat or a rabbit, or something similar. Or maybe not – the possibilities are endless.
Many everyday inspirations have been used so often that they have become cliche in the genre – the creaks and groans of an old house ‘settling’ at night, something brushing past or grabbing your leg while swimming in a lake or the ocean, footsteps following you home on a spooky night, looking in the mirror and glimpsing a reflection that is not your own – but they have been used so often because they work.
Most of us have lived in creaky houses, have felt nervous walking home alone in the dark, or have wondered whether our children just have a wonderful imagination, or if they really see things that we don’t.
Using these common, everyday inspirations makes your reader wonder about how harmless the mundane really is. It can make the everyday seem so much more hostile and terrifying, create apprehension about the most simple, everyday actions and events. What more could a horror writer want?