What Scares You, Alice Blanchard?

Happy New Year, all you scary folk! We are back with my first installment of WSY for 2022! Alice Blanchard writes the Natalie Lockhart mystery series, books set in one of my favorite places in the U.S.–Salem, Massachusetts. Yes, there are witches and murder and black magic and all kinds of delightfully dark things in her books, so get get ’em!

But first, read on to discover all the terrible things that haunt Alice, including some pretty awful childhood ghosts…

What are your phobias?

Okay, well, after getting a bad case of food poisoning, I developed a serious phobia about raw chicken.  Trust me, don’t Google it.  It’ll keep you up at night.

Do you have any horror movie deal breakers??

Yes, whenever there’s a hideous, homicidal monster out there, the characters shouldn’t split up and go looking for their lost cat.

Is there any fear you’ve overcome in your life? How has it changed you?

I used to be afraid of failure, but after countless misadventures and stumbles and pratfalls, I accept them as part of the path to success.

Do you believe in ghosts?

Yes, and not just because I grew up in a haunted house. My sisters and I used to play with a Ouija board when we were little, and I’d never do it again. It’s a long story, but… disembodied voices, footsteps in the attic, strange goings on. I’m convinced there was at least one ghost in that centuries-old farmhouse. 

Ouija board

“My sisters and I used to play with a Ouija board when we were little, and I’d never do it again.”

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

I’m not afraid of spiders or snakes, but I have an antagonist relationship with wasps. 

What scares you about the writing process?

That whatever method works one day may suck the next.

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?

Since you didn’t say the best book, you said the scariest, I nominate The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. This big fat paperback scared the hell out of me, even though it was terribly written and full of exclamation points. What scared me so much was that the book jacket said, “Based on a true story,” and I believed it. The exclamation points used throughout the book made the Lutz’s statements somehow even more believable!!! I mean, come on. There were flies on the window screen!!! There was a very foul smell!!! The previous tenant, Donald DeFeo, murdered his entire family in cold blood and blamed it on a red-eyed entity. I finally threw the book across the room because I couldn’t stomach one more exclamation point, but I occasionally think about those flies and the sulfuric smell and the creepy “imaginary” friend, Jody the pig. Sheesh.

Do you like Halloween?

I never particularly liked Halloween because when I was about ten years old, my mother made my Halloween costume out of old clothes, then draped crepe paper streamers around my head. It was drizzling out, and the crepe paper bled all over me, and my face turned green. However, when I came up with the Natalie Lockhart series, I decided to place it in a town like Salem, Massachusetts, where the entire town profits off Halloween, and this was enormously fun for me. Because who doesn’t want to read a mystery series about a detective who investigates a string of seemingly unrelated murders, but who then unearths an even darker story involving a history of witch accusation and obsession with black magic deep in the woods of an idyllic community called Burning Lake, New York, where three innocent women were executed for being witches in 1712 and forever haunt the place via myths and legends? I ask you?

What’s scarier, attics or basements?

That’s a tough one. In the house where I grew up, there was a creepy, thin-lipped, demented “presence” up in the narrow-staired, low-ceilinged, paper-wasp-infested attic, but there was an even more sinister, moldy, joyless presence down in the colonial damp stone-walled basement. So, it’s a toss up.

What is your greatest fear?

Being misunderstood—which is why I became a writer.

Alice Blanchard is the award-winning author of the dark and edgy Natalie Lockhart mystery series.