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The Things That Scare Us by Em Garner (author of Contaiminated)

As a kid, I loved scary movies and books. Monsters under the bed or in the closet. A ventriloquist’s dummy that just might come to life. (I still have him. He sits on my bookshelf in my office and watches over me as I write.) Werewolves, vampires, things that go bump in the night.

Now that I’m older, I still love to read and watch horror, and I can still get chills and thrills from those supernatural creatures. But the things that scare me truly frighten and horrify me down to the core of my soulmight wear the shambling, moldy form of a zombie, but the heart of my fear comes from an entirely different place.
My debut young adult horror novel, Contaminated, came from that place. The book is about the path of destruction wreaked by contaminated protein water that has turned a huge portion of the population mindless and rageful, incapable of restraining their baser urges toward violence. Connies, which is what those affected by the prion disease eating holes in their brains are called, don’t react to pain or fear. They’re driven by anger and lack of control. That’s pretty scary.
What’s scarier to me, though, is how the contamination has affected the world as a whole. Connies aren’t undead, risen zombies. They’re real people who are no longer able to keep themselves from hurting others or themselves. They’ve lost their humanity…but they are still vulnerably, desperately human. It could be easy to hate and fear them, but for the fact they are our neighbors, teachers…our parents.
Velvet Ellis is, at seventeen, left without either of her parents after they both became contaminated. In charge of her younger sister, Opal, Velvet struggles not only with the normal problems of teenage life-school, a boyfriend, a jobbut also with taking care of her mother when she’s released into Velvet’s care. Fitted with a special shocking collar that’s supposed to keep the Connies under control, Velvet’s mother is not able to take care of herself. She needs help dressing and feeding herself. She can’t be trusted not to wander away in the night. And, if she gets too agitated, the collar around her neck will first put her down. Then, if she doesn’t control herself, it will kill her.
While the backdrop of a world gone crazy–people rioting and destroying things in the streets–the government taking over, might seem to be the “boo!” factor in Contaminated, for me while writing it, the real, true horror was always twofold. One, as a parent, worrying that I will somehow be rendered incapable of taking care of my children. And two, the idea of a child having to become responsible for the full caretaking of a parent no longer able to function normally.
So, while Contaminated might be about a new kind of zombie, and is set in a world that’s slowly disintegrating, at its heart I always intended the book to be the story of how family and love binds us together, and what we will sacrifice in order to take care of those we love.

From Em Garner’s webpage: Em Garner writes books.
She began writing at a very young age, always preferring the stories about what goes bump in the night. An avid reader of horror, science-fiction and fantasy, she first turned her hand to short stories about the sorts of things that hide under the bed…and she kept right on going.

Now Em spends most of her time in front of her computer, writing away at all the ideas she has swirling around in her head and hoping she can get them into a story before she forgets them.

She loves zombies, unicorns, and rainbows, the color purple and the smell of roses. She hates the smell of lilies, the feeling of corduroy and biting sandpaper. (Well. Who doesn’t?)

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