I sometimes give my characters a phobia to overcome as well as the other obstacles in the plots of my stories. In Autumn Dreams, Maggie is terrified of horses and her challenge is to face this fear to help a friend in distress. Not one of my own fears—I love horses, but I can see how the huge beasts could be terrifying to someone else.
My own phobia is a deadly fear of heights. It segues into an abnormal fear of flying. There is some comfort, but not much, in knowing I am not alone. Another part of me wishes I had a more original phobia, one that sets me apart, but we take what we're given.
I do pass on my fears to other characters in my books. In my Island series of cozy mysteries Abby is afraid of flying. In my romance novella Northern Lights, Maddie too has acrophobia.
I've tried to overcome my fears by attacking them head on. My first attempt was when I knew a group of people who were skydivers. I made, not one but two, jumps from a plane that was actually in the air before deciding it wasn't going to work. Next I tried learning to fly. I took the course (single engine plane, VFR only), passed my written and flight tests, and got my wings!
Very minor success here. I'm still terrified of commercial flights, but could have my arm twisted once in a blue moon to set foot in a small aircraft as a passenger. It might have something to do with the measure of control. In a small plane, you're beside the controls. In a commercial flight you never know what's going through the mind of the pilot. Did she have a fight with her husband over breakfast? Did he decide to be the first to make an unscheduled landing on a mountain plateau for his fifteen minutes of fame?
I've learned to cope with my fear, even if I can't rid myself of it. I love travelling so, before boarding, I down a double rum and coke or two, keep an eye on the drinks cart all through the flight, and decline a window seat so that I can't see where I am. Thank heavens for those trivia quizzes and the old sit-coms and movies on the TV sets.
Do you have a phobia? If so how do you deal with it? Do you just avoid situations where it rears up or do you try hypnosis, desensitization, or some other coping method? I think I've given up on resolving my issues, but wait! Maybe a bungee jumping trip to New Zealand would cure me. Now where did I put those brochures?