I’m thrilled to welcome Edwin Hill to What Scares You! I’m a big fan of Edwin’s writing, and I also just really really like him as a person. It was great fun to be on a panel together for the Suffolk Mystery Festival earlier this year (despite the stupid tech issues) and an even better treat to catch up with him in person at Malice Domestic last weekend, where he was a finalist for the Best Contemporary Novel Agatha Award for Watch Her. His latest novel and first standalone thriller, The Secrets We Share, sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to check it out. And now we get to hear more about the things that keep him up at night…..
What is your greatest fear?
I’ve developed a late-in-life and thoroughly annoying fear of heights, which I discovered while standing atop one of the pyramids in the Tikal National Park in Guatemala. Before that, I hadn’t really had those kind of mortality fears, but now, I think about plummeting to my death more often than I’d like. If it happened, I’d be so angry with myself that I let it happen!
What scares you most about the writing process?
My novels tend to be pretty complex, with lots of interweaving pieces. There is this period—and it can last for months—where I don’t believe the pieces will ever come together. So far, they have, but there’s always next time!
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever written?
I wrote a short-short called “Outside” for This Time for Sure, the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology that Hank Phillippi Ryan edited. It is about a group of terrible high school kids in the drama club who drink a lot of Bartles & Jaymes. The last line gives me chills!
Do you have any horror movie dealbreakers?
I really love horror movies that are eerie and creepy, and I’m a big fan of slasher films from the ‘70s and ‘80s, particularly Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. I still remember having to walk home in the dark after watching Nightmare on VHS at a friend’s house! I draw the line at torture films like Hostel or Saw. I’ve actually never seen one, but they sound terrible!
“I still remember having to walk home in the dark after watching Nightmare on VHS at a friend’s house!”
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Is there a particular scene that really haunts you still?
Carrie by Stephen King, both the book and the movie. When I was six or seven, the kids next door had a babysitter who let them watch Carrie one night. They told me about the movie in great detail the next day, and it scared me to death! I became so obsessed with the story that I would ask anyone who had seen the movie to tell me about their experience until I could envision nearly every frame of the movie. I didn’t actually see the movie or read the book until I was well into my thirties, and it still scared me. The treatment of Carrie White in that story is so terrible. And I don’t find her end—her lonely demise—to be redeeming or satisfying. For me, the whole thing is just a sad depiction of adolescence, and I wish there had been more hope in those final scenes.
What animal scares you the most?
I like almost all animals, but I grew up in a town that looks suspiciously like Amity Island from Jaws, right down to the crowded beach. I was five years old when that movie came out, and much like with Carrie, I became obsessed with it. Going swimming in the ocean has never quite been the same.
Edwin Hill’s critically-acclaimed crime novels include the standalone thriller The Secrets We Share and three novels featuring Hester Thursby. He has been nominated for Edgar and Agatha Awards, featured in Us Magazine, received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal, and was recognized as one of “Six Crime Writers to Watch” in Mystery Scene magazine. He lives in Roslindale, Massachusetts, with his partner Michael and his favorite reviewer, their lab Edith Ann, who likes his first drafts enough to eat them.