top of page
  • Debra Palmen

There's no Epiplaphobia around here

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Do you have a phobia? Most people have heard of Arachnophobia, a fear of spiders. I’m putting my hand up for that one, especially the big, hairy, going-to-carry-you-off specimens we get in the sub-tropics. It literally makes me shudder to think of them.

But have you heard of Arachibutyrophobia? It’s the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Yes, it’s a thing. And it’s damn inconvenient at breakfast.

With Christmas approaching, perhaps now is the time to admit to suffering from – or suddenly developing – Syngenesophobia, a fear of relatives. But as you’ve subscribed to my Newsletter, you certainly don’t have Epiplaphobia, which is an extreme fear of antique furniture.

One of my favourites is Anatidaephobia, which was actually invented by Gary Larson (the Far Side cartoons), but is now apparently accepted in the psychiatric industry as an actual phobia. It’s the fear that, somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you. I'm not making this up.

I also have to chuckle over the irony of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, which is a fear of long words. See, psychiatrists do have a sense of humour.

I had to give some thought to phobias when I wrote the first of Calypso’s illustrated stories, Sink or Swim. In this adventure, Tallulah has to overcome her fear of the water so she can learn to swim and then hold a party on her yacht. As you do.

Fear of the water takes many forms. There’s Aquaphobia, which is a fear of water in general. Although I don’t specifically mention it in the story, Tallulah clearly has a touch of that. Many children, and even some adults suffer from this phobia, and it would be lovely if Calypso's book could contribute to their overcoming it.

But there’s also Thalassophobia, which is a specific fear of the ocean. Perhaps we’ve all met someone who apparently suffers from Ablutophobia, which is a fear of bathing. And should I cue the Jaws theme music when I mention Megalohydrothalassophobia? This is the fear of large underwater creatures. Now you’re going to have daaaaa-dun, daaaa-dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun in your head for the rest of the day. Sorry about that.

Fear can keep us safe, but it can also prevent us from moving forward. In Sink or Swim, Tallulah decides to face her fear and she also encourages her friends to join her in learning to swim. Having the help of Pierre, a handsome lifeguard with Brad Pitt’s abs, surely helped.

And it’s true, I downloaded a shot of Brad Pitt’s abs from the movie Thelma & Louise, and sent them to Judy, the illustrator, with instructions to make Pierre’s abs look just like that. When you read the book, I think you’ll join me when I say “damn, girl!”. She did a great job and Pierre can teach me to swim any day. In the close-up I'm showing you here you’ll see that Henri, one of Tallulah’s best friends, totally agrees with me.

Tallulah also has a range of oh-so-stylish Art Deco swimming costumes, bathing caps and floaties, which Judy and I had a bit of fun designing ourselves. So clearly Tallulah doesn’t suffer from Vestiophobia, which is a fear of clothing. Although she does limit herself to only stylish, Art Deco fashion throughout the series.

In Calypso’s second book, Up, Up & Away, Tallulah faces discrimination because she’s a young woman in 1920s Paris who announces that she wants to learn to fly a plane but is told she should just go shopping instead. So she certainly doesn’t suffer from Aerophobia, a fear of flying. And given that the book features a bright yellow biplane, she also doesn’t have Xanthophobia, a fear of the colour yellow.

In Book 3, That was Zen, This is Meow, I guess Tallulah develops a touch of Kleptophobia, a fear of being robbed. Encountering robbers in the middle of the night is what leads to her quest around Japan to find inner peace and become a ninja. You might be amazed to learn that there is no scientific name for a fear of ninjas. I know I was.

Book 4 is currently in early production. That’s called Catnappers from Planet Crykee, where Calypso is stolen by the evil Queen of Planet Crykee. In that book, all the male citizens of Crykee have the most amazing facial hair. Have you heard of the beard competitions they have in Austria every year? They’re hysterical.

It’s these competitions I referenced for Erickson, the illustrator, to develop the look of the Queen's male subjects. Clearly, there is no Pogonophobia, a fear of beards, on Planet Crykee.

We’ll be starting work on Book 5 soon. It’s called Curse of the Cat Mummy, and in that the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet curses a variety of archaeologists into cat zombies. So if you suffer from Kinemortophobia, that book will give you the willies. Yes, it’s a fear of zombies. If that’s your phobia, Book 5 won’t be for you. And you won’t be invited to join my Apocalypse Defence Team.

If you’re free from Bibliophobia, a fear of books and Ailurophobia, a fear of cats, you’re invited to purchase Books 1 and 2 of Calypso’s series right now. And you can pre-order Books 3 to 5, if you want the first print copies of the First Editions.

Don't worry if you have a touch of Metrophobia, a fear of rhymes, because they're books written by a cat with no rhyming whatsoever.

The series isn't officially launched to the public yet - more on that as it happens. But if you're on my mailing list you get to see everything first and you get the First Editions. Just go to the Books page on my website ( to order, or you can see me in person at Peregian Beach Markets.

They’re beautiful books, and they won’t scare you one bit.

104 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page