What Scares You, Wanda Morris?

I feel like I already know the answer to this question, and I’m sad to say the answer is: me. I scare Wanda. Or at least, this is what she tells me on my Instagram posts. If I can scare Wanda, then what else is she scared of? This is what I had to find out!

Wanda’s debut novel, All Her Little Secrets, published this month, and let me tell you, it’s a must-read. I had the special privilege of reading an early copy of this novel, and I was blown away. It’s a terrific thriller about a toxic workplace and what we’ll do for family, and I hope everyone reads it and loves it as much as I did.

Now, on to the scary stuff….

What is your greatest fear?

Outliving my children. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean.

What is your earliest childhood memory of fear?

There was a serial killer roaming through my city killing young girls and women. I was probably 6 or 7 years old. I would eavesdrop on my parents and listen to them talk about it. I was worried sick whenever my mom or my sisters would leave the house at night. Of course, I never told anyone about my fears, so I suffered in silence. I recall being relieved when again, eavesdropping, I learned the killer was caught. Although I read mysteries about serial killers, I don’t know if I could write one. It would mean tapping into that childhood fear. I don’t want to go there.

What is your weirdest fear?

You know those eighteen-wheeler trucks that haul cars stacked on top of one another? I’m always afraid of driving behind them for fear that the cars will suddenly break loose and fall down into the highway onto my car. Weird, right?!

What are your phobias?

I have a fear of “open heights.” I am fine with looking out of airplane windows. Not so much with looking down from the balcony of a twenty-story building. This made things interesting when I took my kids parasailing. Let’s just say I was very quiet. When we traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, we rode to the top of Mont Blanc in a cable car. It was probably the most fearful ride I’ve ever taken in my life. My husband has pictures. It was not my finest moment.

“It was probably the most fearful ride I’ve ever taken in my life.”

How do you deal with fear?

I try to attack it head-on. Like that parasailing experience with my kids—I was scared beyond words, but I didn’t want to exhibit behavior that my kids would emulate. I leaned into my fear and came out on the other side. Likewise, with that cable car up the side of that mountain. I was a sweating, panting mess, but I did it!

Do you enjoy scaring other people?

I do not enjoy scaring other people because they have a tendency to want to reciprocate, and I don’t like being scared. When I was little, my mom would let me stay up late with my older brothers and sisters to watch TV. They liked to watch scary movies and television shows. Once, I watched an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour where people were being killed off in a house, and the roads were washed out so they couldn’t escape. I was far too young to be watching something like that. My brother slipped away and returned to the room yelling and brandishing a fake knife. It scared all of us! That was my last time staying up late to hang out with the older sibs. It was also the first time I realized I don’t like scary pranks.

What is the scariest book you’ve ever read?

The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Like I mentioned earlier, there is something about serial killers that taps into my childhood fears.

Do you have any horror movie dealbreakers?

I don’t do graphic violence. Movies like the Saw franchise, I will not watch. I don’t do movies that deal with devils and exorcism. And on-screen or graphic killing of kids is always a dealbreaker for me.

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

That my writing isn’t very good. 

Wanda M. Morris is a corporate attorney who has worked in the legal departments for several Fortune 100 companies. An accomplished presenter and leader, Morris has previously served as president of the Georgia Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and is the founder of its Women’s Initiative, an empowerment program for female in-house lawyers. An alumna of the Yale Writers Workshop and Robert McKee’s Story Seminar, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Crime Writers of Color. Morris is married, the mother of three, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.