What Scares You, Katherine Hayes?

Author, speaker, educational consultant, and editor Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes, Ed. D. has had her hand in leadership for many years. She loves speaking to groups and delivering messages with a quick wit and real-life stories. Her first thriller, A Fifth of the Story, is the suspenseful, action-packed tale of one man’s courage and resilience as he works against the clock to save the lives of his two best friends and, ultimately, the freedom he’s fought for as a CIA agent during one of the US’s history’s darkest hours.

Katherine is a freelance writer/content editor, a content editor/writing coach for Iron Stream Media, and a sensitivity reader for Sensitivity Between the Lines. She belongs to Florida Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Crime Writers of Color. Katherine also hosts the podcast Murder, Mystery & Mayhem Laced with Morality.

But what scares her, you ask? Read on to find out…

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever written?

I have successfully penned two thrilling novels. The first one is titled A Fifth of the Story, and the second one is currently awaiting publication. Both of my books deal with the spine-chilling issue of extremism that is rapidly affecting our country.

As an author, I have researched the subject matter thoroughly, and the topic kept me on edge while I wrote the books. Through my writing, I want to highlight the grave consequences of extremism and how it can disrupt the social fabric of our nation.

A Fifth of the Story and my upcoming novel delve into the topic in different ways, and I aim to educate and entertain my readers while also making them aware of the risks that exist in our society. 

What is your weirdest fear?

Despite being an expert swimmer and even a swimming teacher, I have a somewhat bizarre fear of deep water in swimming pools. I can’t help but feel anxious and uneasy whenever I’m in the deep end of a pool, as if something is lurking beneath me. It’s an irrational fear, but I can’t shake it off. I’m afraid that a shark will attack me, even though I know that it’s highly unlikely. I believe that this fear is a result of the book and movie Jaws, which I read and watched when I was too young to differentiate between reality and fiction. Even though I know that sharks don’t exist in swimming pools, I can’t help but imagine a shark suddenly appearing out of nowhere and attacking me. It’s a silly fear, but it still manages to bother me whenever I’m swimming in a pool with deep water.

What is your greatest fear?

My deepest fear is to exist in a world where I am devoid of God’s presence. I believe that true joy, fulfillment, and purpose come from having a relationship with Him. Without Him, life would be meaningless and empty. My faith in God is the foundation of my existence, and the thought of living without it is terrifying to me. I strive every day to maintain a close connection with Him, so that I may never have to experience a life without His love and guidance.

What is your earliest childhood memory of fear?

As a child, I had a deep fear of thunderstorms. The sound of thunder would send shivers down my spine, and the flashes of lightning made me feel like the skies were about to come crashing down on me. However, there was one storm that stands out in my memory as the worst one I ever experienced. The wind was howling, and the rain was pounding against the windows with such force that it felt like they were about to shatter. The flashes of lightning were so bright that they illuminated the entire room, and the sound of thunder was so loud that it seemed like it was right outside my door. I couldn’t bear to stay in my own room any longer, so I made my way to my parents’ room, seeking comfort and safety. I crawled into bed between them, and finally, with their arms wrapped around me, I was able to fall into a peaceful sleep.

“The flashes of lightning were so bright that they illuminated the entire room, and the sound of thunder was so loud that it seemed like it was right outside my door.”

What person living today terrifies you the most and why?

While I don’t experience a paralyzing fear of any specific person, I remain highly vigilant about the possibility of dictators from other countries attempting to seize control of the United States. I believe that the consequences of such an event would be catastrophic, potentially leading to the loss of our cherished freedoms and fundamental rights.

I’m deeply troubled by the presence of extremist groups within our own country. These organizations promote ideologies that are antithetical to the values that we hold dear as a nation, and they pose a significant threat to our collective safety and well-being. It’s essential we remain vigilant in identifying and counteracting these groups before they can cause irreparable harm to our society.

What’s something that most people are afraid of that you are not? Why aren’t you?

Despite the common fears that many people have, such as heights, public speaking, and death, I have managed to conquer my own fears in these areas. I did not accomplish this feat easily, however. It took a lot of hard work and effort on my part to face these fears head-on and overcome them one by one.

I began gradually exposing myself to higher and higher altitudes to combat my fear of heights. I would start by climbing small hills or standing on tall buildings, and over time, I worked my way up to more daunting heights like mountains and skyscrapers. Through this process, I learned to trust in my own abilities and to believe in myself.

To overcome my fear of public speaking, I started by practicing in front of small groups of friends or family members. As I gained confidence, I began speaking in front of larger audiences, such as at school or work presentations. With each speech, I became more comfortable and confident in my ability to communicate effectively.

My fear of death was perhaps the most difficult challenge to overcome. However, through my faith in God, I gained the strength and courage to face this fear. I learned to trust in God’s plan for my life and to focus on living in the present moment rather than worrying about what might happen in the future.

My journey to conquer these fears has been long and challenging, but it has also been incredibly rewarding. I now feel more confident and empowered than ever before, and I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned. 

Have you ever had any paranormal experiences or premonitions?

There are times when I experience dreams that later turn into reality. It’s as though my subconscious mind is trying to prepare me for what’s to come. I believe that this phenomenon is a way in which God communicates with me, giving me a glimpse of what’s ahead so that I can be better equipped to handle any obstacles or triumphs that may come my way. These dreams serve as a guide and a source of comfort, reminding me that I am being looked after and that everything will work out in the end.

What scares you most about the writing process?

As a writer, I have a certain voice and style that I’ve developed over time. When I work with an editor, I want them to understand and appreciate that voice, and to help me develop my work in a way that enhances and amplifies it. However, I’ve had experiences in the past where an editor has tried to change my voice or my style or simply doesn’t seem to “get” what I’m trying to do. That can be a terrifying experience as a writer because it feels like someone is trying to fundamentally alter how I express myself and my ideas. Despite that fear, I still find the actual act of writing to be exhilarating and rewarding, and I’m always striving to improve my craft.

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

One of my deepest concerns revolves around the notion of passing away without having fully realized all my creative ideas. I’ve always felt a constant urge to create, to bring new ideas into the world, and to express myself through my work. However, with so many different concepts and projects constantly swirling around in my head, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and unsure of where to focus my energy.

Despite this, I’m determined to leave nothing unfinished. To me, there’s no greater satisfaction than knowing that I’ve taken an idea from its inception all the way to completion, and I want to experience that sense of fulfillment with every one of my creative projects. Whether it’s writing a book, composing a piece of music, or even just jotting down a new idea in my journal, I want to ensure that I’ve fully explored and expressed every thought that comes to mind. Ultimately, my goal is to leave behind a body of work that reflects who I am and what I believe in, and I won’t rest until I’ve accomplished that.