What Scares You, Jackie Sherbow?

I was excited to catch up with Jackie Sherbow, managing editor of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine to chat about all things scary. Turns out Jackie shares my love of the best holiday ever (of course!) and the Bloody Mary urban legend. You may also check out their new small press, Thrash Press.

Read on for more awesomeness!

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

Yes. I used to have a constant fear upon parting with anyone that that would be the last time I saw them. Aside from that being a scary and depressing thought, it also put a lot of pressure on every single interaction I had. Now I give myself and others more grace, and I’m able to say goodbye without feeling awful.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I believe in ghosts—in a way. First, I want to believe in them, or at least in strange things we can’t quite understand. Second, I think it doesn’t necessarily matter if the ghost is real or not: If we believe in something, and it makes us afraid, it affects us all the same. I think different experiences, memories, and traumas in our life can act as ghosts for us. And I think that in a way society has ghosts as well, persistent hauntings that appear repeatedly throughout the years.

What is your favorite urban legend?

Bloody Mary. It always had a bit of the vertigo effect for me, the feeling people describe of being afraid of heights and then having the compulsion to throw themselves off the ledge. Bloody Mary only appears if you say her name three times. Why did I always want to say her name!? Or, I’d be afraid I would somehow accidentally say it or think it. The agency of the situation scared me, and I think that’s an interesting element of this one.

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

I have several recurring nightmares. I’ve noticed that, recently, most of my dreams are nightmares. There are the standard ones of being lost, trying to climb up a hill, or my teeth falling out. I also get sleep paralysis, and it tends to be seeing someone invade my home and not being able to wake up. Lately I’ve had a recurring dream that is a bit more mundane but still awful: Trusted people in my life turning on me.

What scares you most about the writing process?

Revising! I can sit down and write, but I am terrified to look back at my work. Am I afraid it will be horrible? Afraid that it’ll be great? Afraid that I will not have the energy or skill to make it better? Afraid I’m creating into a dark abyss? I’m not sure, but I’m working on it.

What is your favorite monster/villain?

The first one that comes to mind is Grendel. He’s so relatable! A creature of darkness who can’t cope with joy. His mom seems pretty intense. He lives in a marsh. I really love picturing how he might look and move.

Do you like Halloween?

Halloween is my favorite holiday! I love that it’s a day where everyone can embrace fear and even celebrate it. And I enjoy the chance to embody someone—or something—else for the day. It’s powerful sometimes, and always fun. Not to mention it’s Tara’s birthday! Also my mom’s!

“Halloween is my favorite holiday. I enjoy the chance to embody someone—or something—else for the day.”

What’s scarier: attics or basements?

Definitely basements. Being in the ground feels more isolating, and it seems there’s less of a chance to escape. It’s probably not true, but they feel darker and more dense to me. Also, I’m 5’2” tall: I think I could crawl out of an attic window, but to climb up to a high basement window would be hard. If there are even windows. And if there are even lights. There’s something so ominous about descending into a dark place. Help!

If you HAD to live through or experience one of Stephen King’s novels or stories, which one would you pick and why?

My first instinct was Carrie, since she ends up with power and achieving revenge. Carrie is so lonely, though. IT would make sense since the villain is fear itself and friendship is integral. Let’s stick with Carrie. I’m not fast; I can’t run away from a monster clown.

Jackie Sherbow, who loves visiting graveyards in every city possible, is the author of the chapbook Harbinger (Finishing Line Press, 2019) and the founding publisher of THRASH Press. Their poems have appeared or are forthcoming in places like Sierra Nevada ReviewCoffin BellLuna Luna, and Day One; their short stories have appeared in Mystery Magazine and The Beat of Black Wings anthology. With Emily Hockaday, they are the coeditor of Terror at the Crossroads: Tales of Horror, Delusion, and the Unknown. Jackie serves as the managing editor of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine as well as the editor of Newtown Literarythe literary journal dedicated to the borough of Queens, where Jackie lives with a cat and a beta fish.