Monday, December 5, 2022

"A History of Fear"

Luke Dumas was born and raised in San Diego, California, and received his master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh. His work has appeared in Hobart, Last Exit, and the queer anthology The Whole Alphabet: The Light and the Dark, among others.

Dumas applied the Page 69 Test to A History of Fear, his debut novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 is an eerily good representation of A History of Fear. Not only does it convey the menacing tone and psychological bent of the novel, but it also contains one of my favorite passages in the book:
Satanophobia is not a clinical term. You won’t find it in any psychologist handbooks. No encyclopedia of mental ailments contains it. It is a term known primarily to those who bear the affliction. A word we use to classify and validate a pattern of fear that others, perhaps rightly, would call insanity.

Some disagree. They say we’re not sick at all.

They say, The one you fear is real—and he’s coming.
It’s a pivotal moment for the reader—the moment when my first-person narrator reveals the reason he’s so uncomfortable that his mysterious employer wants him to ghostwrite a book about the devil.

As an adolescent, Grayson struggled with satanophobia, a real but rare condition that causes sufferers to fear that the devil’s out to corrupt them. Raised in a fundamentalist Christian home by a minister father and an abusive mother, Grayson was taught from an early age to fear the influence of “the Adversary.” He’s now an adult and an apparent atheist, yet the condition still lingers at the periphery of his psyche, threatening to recur at any moment.

And it seems his worst fear is coming true. Grayson has barely started conducting research for the book, and already he has reason to believe the fiends—the winged demons that tormented him for years—are back.

Soon after page 69, Grayson will have to decide: will he move forward with the project that will fund his studies and help him redeem himself in his father’s eyes, or call an end to the project in order to stave off the affliction?

Meanwhile, the reader will be left with a question of their own to answer: Is all of this happening in Grayson’s head, or, after all these years, has the Adversary finally found him?
Visit Luke Dumas's website.

--Marshal Zeringue