Tiffany Meuret writes about “monsters and vicious women.” So, basically, we’re soul mates. If that’s not enough to intrigue you, check out her latest novel Little Bird, which releases this month. It sounds like a wild ride!
Freshly divorced and grieving the death of her father, Josie Lauer has caged herself inside her home. To cope with her losses, Josie follows a strict daily routine of work, playing with her dog, Po, and trying to remember to eat a decent meal–and ending each night by drinking copious amounts of vodka. In other words, she is not coping at all.
Everything changes when Josie wakes to find a small shrub has sprouted in her otherwise dirt backyard the morning after yet another bender. Within hours, the vine-like plant is running amok–and it’s brought company. The appearance of the unwieldly growth has also heralded the arrival of a busybody new neighbor who insists on thrusting herself into Josie’s life. The neighbor Josie can deal with. The talking skeleton called Skelly that has perched itself in Josie’s backyard on a throne made of vines, however, is an entirely different matter.
As the strangely sentient plant continues to grow and twist its tendrils inside Josie’s suddenly complicated life, Josie begins to realize her new neighbor knows a lot more about the vines and her bizarre new visitor than she initially lets on. There’s a reason Skelly has chosen to appear in Josie’s suddenly-blooming backyard and insists on pulling her out of her carefully kept self-isolation. All Josie has to do is figure out what that reason is–and she has only a few days to do it, or else she might find herself on the wrong side of catastrophe.
If that isn’t wild enough for you, read on to find out what scares her most…
Do you believe in ghosts?
No, never have, and yet I am fascinated by ghost stories, hauntings, demon possessions, you name it. I find them to be hugely terrifying, perhaps because of the loss of control. To have something intangible and untouchable interfere in dangerous ways with my bodily autonomy, my family, and my mind is probably my absolute greatest fear. I am a total control freak, so I think I would collapse under such pressure.
What are your phobias?
I am mildly claustrophobic. It doesn’t debilitate me, and I never even considered it until my therapist brought it up. I hate being hugged, laid on, or constrained in any way, even with blankets. I panic almost immediately. I also can’t sleep if anything is even remotely in front of my face, for example, a pillow billowing up around my face as I lay down or a blanket curled in front of me. That said, I have zero issues with elevators or other similar smallish spaces.
Do you have a recurring nightmare?
Oh yes. I have multiple recurring nightmares. My most prominent is of sharks, specifically great whites. I watched Jaws from a very early age (it was one of my favorite movies as a kid because I was a weird kid) and while I love sharks and find them to be some of the most interesting creatures on the planet, the idea of a set of teeth coming towards me from the black depths springs a very visceral terror for me. If there is water in my dreams, there is a shark. Every. Time. Never fails. I have had shark nightmares where the shark is chasing me underwater, where I have turned around just in time to see their open jaws snapping down on top of me, and I’ve been swallowed in one nightmare and lived inside the shark, similar to Pinnochio inside Monstro the whale. One of the worst I’ve had, though, was a nightmare where I could see the shark coming for my mom, and every time I yelled it froze time. The shark, my mom, everything froze. Every instance time restarted, the shark got closer, and every time I tried to warn her time stopped again. So I essentially watched helplessly as this shark came for my mom, eventually eating her because she could never hear my warning.
“The idea of a set of teeth coming towards me from the black depths springs a very visceral terror.”
Do you have any horror movie dealbreakers?
Excessive gore and torture. I don’t find it entertaining in the least, and the guts and bone and blood actually make me nauseous. Slasher films are something I almost never watch, both for these reasons and because I find some to be rote and lazy, hoping the guts will shock where the storytelling does not. I know there are excellent films in the genre too, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you about them because I am too weak-stomached to watch them.
What is your favorite monster/villain?
Jaws might be my favorite, for all the reasons I already listed. That shark haunts me to this day! Besides Jaws, however, another favorite is Medusa. Having a nest of snakes for hair and turning people to stone sounds like a feature, not a bug. Her heartbreaking creation aside, she and her gorgon sisters are incredibly badass.
Do you like Halloween? If not, why?
I mean…not really. It irritates and exhausts me more than anything. I really hate having to entertain people, and so having the entire neighborhood ring my doorbell all damn night is literally a nightmare for me. I usually leave the porch light off, take my kids to trick or treat near their grandparents’ house, and then come home and pray no one dares come to my stoop. It just gives me anxiety.
What’s more terrifying to you: freezing to death in a blizzard OR dying from extreme heat, lost in a desert?
A blizzard is far more terrifying, hands down. I live in the desert, and I think I tolerate the heat far better than the cold. In the heat, at least I know what to expect, even if it is killing me. There is also the added terror of being smothered and immobilized by snow that makes my chest tight.
How do you deal with fear?
Indignance and blind stubbornness, probably. I deal with the world by rationalizing everything and making game plans. So if fear levels me one day, by the next I am the type to unfurl a mental checklist of ways I am going to manage said fear or uncertainty. I am an expert at stuffing unwieldy emotions away and tackling things, which definitely is not a healthy approach, but it does get shit done.
Tiffany Meuret’s debut novel, A Flood of Posies, was published in 2021 with Black Spot Books. Her next novel, Little Bird, releases in June 2022. She has published multiple short works and poetry in various venues, which can be found on her website www.TiffanyMeuret.com. She lives in Phoenix with her husband, kids, and a menagerie of animals.