What Scares You, Sherry Harris?

Sherry Harris writes the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries. Things I know about Sherry: She’s a great writer, she’s got an amazing laugh, she likes a good cold beer on a hot summer day, her husband makes a mean paper airplane, her daughter is delightful and smart, and I’m lucky to call her a friend.

What I don’t know about her? What scares her!

So here we go… 

What is your earliest childhood memory of fear?

Going down into our basement. It was dank and dark with rough, gray stone walls. On the way down the steps, I had to pass a leering coconut head that my dad brought back with him from the Philippines after WWII. I still shudder at the thought. When we moved from that house when I was five, the coconut head moved with us to the basement of our new house. Even though it wasn’t as dark and dank, that basement scared me too.

What is your weirdest fear?

I’m afraid there’s going to be a snake in the toilet. I don’t know why—I guess from reading stories about them. Although I may have been one upped because I recently read a story about a Komodo dragon in a toilet. Moral of this fear—never go to the bathroom in the dark.

What was your worst nightmare ever?

I remember one from when I was in third grade where I was in a dark, creepy Victorian house. There was a clank, clank, clank, coming down the steps. In the dim light I could see a robot with three vertical openings for a mouth. It was coming for me. But my scariest dream came not long after I was married while my husband was out of town. I dreamed I was being dragged off the bed by a man. He had hold of my foot, and I was helpless to stop him. It was such a vivid dream that I woke up with my heart pounding. Moral of this fear—never sleep with any body part over the edge of the mattress.

“Never sleep with any body part over the edge of the mattress.”

What scares you most about the writing process?

Sitting down at the computer wondering if any words will come. So far they always have, but some days the walk down the hall to my office is a terrifying one.

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

With my first book it was a bad review, but I survived that. Now, it’s being called a fraud or a fake. I think a lot of writers feel this way and I’m not sure why. Anyone that’s brave enough to write and publish a book opens their soul to criticism. Authors are heroes and we slay our insecurities every time we write.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever written?

The next book is always the scariest thing I’ve ever written because what if it’s not as good as the last one? Absence of Alice is a little darker than my other books because Sarah is cut off from all the people who she normally turns to for help and her good friend has been kidnapped to get to Sarah.

What animal scares you the most?

Probably horses because they are so big and powerful, but also so beautiful and they don’t look threatening. Why? I’ve had a couple of bad experiences on horses—once as a child and once as a teenager.

What’s scarier: attics or basements?

You might guess from my childhood memory above that basements are scarier. To me attics are places filled with old trunks that have delightful things in them—treasure maps, beautiful costumes, a diary, a wardrobe that leads to some fantastical world. They are light-filled and cobweb-free, at least in my dreams.

Sherry Harris is the Agatha-Award-nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries. Sherry is a past president of Sisters in Crime, a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Sherry loves books, beaches, bars, and bargain hunting — not necessarily in that order. She is also a patent-holding inventor.