I’m a big fan of Hannah Mary McKinnon’s thrillers. She’s not afraid to “go there” when it comes to being dark, which I love. Her latest, You Will Remember Me, just released last week, and it’s a wonderful page turner. A wicked summer read you won’t want to miss.
I discovered some interesting things interviewing Hannah Mary about what scares her. Including an amazing collection of terrifying masks that she owns. She seems so nice, too! Just remember–if you stay at her house, make sure you always check under the bed before getting in it.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing my husband and my kids. Come on, Tara, what are you doing to me? You said this would to be fun! 🙂
What’s the scariest thing you remember from childhood?
When I was about eight, I woke up one night and saw a man in the corner of my bedroom, unmoving and staring right at me. I shut my eyes tight and counted to I don’t know how many, heart thumping, throat running dry, and when I opened my eyes he was gone. I screamed, my parents rushed in but didn’t find anyone in the house. Everybody insisted I’d had a nightmare but to this day I’m not convinced he wasn’t real. It was terrifying, not to mention at the time there was a prowler on the loose.
What are your phobias?
I’m not very keen on heights, snakes make me run away, and I hate raisins because they remind me of the blood-filled ticks that dropped off our dog (I stood on one once and it burst, it wasn’t pretty). I’m also terrified of sharks and bears. It’s all completely irrational.
Do you have a recurring nightmare?
I have two. One is pretty tame; for whatever reason my Bachelor of Science degree is invalid, and I have to retake an algebra exam (which I absolutely sucked at) but I haven’t studied. The other one is odd—I’m in a house or building that gets smaller and smaller, and I have to escape before it crushes me to death. Or maybe I keep getting bigger like Alice in Wonderland? Either way, it’s very unpleasant.
How do you deal with fear?
Depends on how bad it is—either by facing it head on or by avoiding the situation. For example, if I want to hike in the mountains, I’ll get on a chairlift or cable car but look at the horizon to distract myself. But ask me to go bungee jumping and you won’t see me for dust.
What’s something that most people are afraid of that you are not?
Public speaking doesn’t scare me in the least, probably because I’ve done it so much. Not at all afraid of the water, either…except for the sharks of course, but I’ve been scuba-diving and absolutely love it.
Do you enjoy scaring other people? Why or why not?
I’ve been known to hide in wardrobes and under beds to scare my kids, but now they do it to me, so I guess it’s payback! For a few years we dressed up for Halloween and volunteered as “scarers” for a haunted backyard in Oakville that had hidden passageways only the staff knew about. The kids did it for high school volunteer hours. I did it because it was hilarious. I may or may not have a collection of scary masks, including my favourite, a blood-stained bear face… I was probably the loudest of the bunch!
“I may or may not have a collection of scary masks.”
What is your greatest fear as a writer?
That nobody will want to read or publish my books anymore and my career will end.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever written?
Getting into Maya’s head for YOU WILL REMEMBER ME was pretty scary. Researching how to kill people always feels a little uncomfortable, too. I’m a nice person, I promise! I’d never do the things I’d write about.
Do you have any horror movie dealbreakers?
I hate slasher movies, horror, and won’t touch anything with a paranormal element or zombies. Here’s a “fun” story: For our wedding anniversary a few years ago, I suggested we watch World War Z. Brad Pitt’s in it, how scary can it be? Turns out VERY! The zombies are fast, the noises they make are unbearable, and I swear for two months afterward I had an escape route planned wherever I went. My kids watched it with my husband recently, and I had to leave the room. For anything else that’s scary, I make sure I have a cushion to hand in which I can bury my face, but thrillers don’t scare me at all.
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Is there a particular scene that really haunts you still?
Cujo by Stephen King. We had a huge dog when I read it as a teen (a Great Dane) and I kept wondering if he might turn into a monster and kill me. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill terrified me. My mum gave it to me and said, “Don’t read this at bedtime.” I wish I’d listened!
In which post-apocalyptic scenario are you most likely to survive and thrive: 28 Days Later (zombies), The Stand (sickness kills all but a few), or The Last Policeman (asteroid hits Earth)?
I’m a goner in all three. I can’t deal with zombies, I have zero medical skills other than CPR and bandaging, and if an asteroid hit the earth, I’d be hopeless at rebuilding anything. Mind you, I’m good at organizing things and people, so perhaps that one is the most likely after all?
What’s worse: being buried alive or bitten by a vampire?
Being buried alive of course! At least as a vampire I can fly around, which would be incredibly practical to visit family and friends, and I’m pale and burn easily in the sun so I’m semi-qualified already (although I’m not very keen on the blood-drinking part…)
Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland, and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. While her debut, TIME AFTER TIME, was a rom com, she transitioned to the dark side thereafter. Her suspense novels include THE NEIGHBORS, bestsellers HER SECRET SON and SISTER DEAR, and her latest, YOU WILL REMEMBER ME. Hannah Mary lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons. Connect on Facebook and Instagram @HannahMaryMckinnon, and on Twitter @HannahMMcKinnon.