What Scares You, Steve Weddle?

“So many options to choose poorly.”

That’s the way Steve Weddle describes one of his recurring dreams, and it’s also pretty much the sum-up of my life, feels like. But despite Steve’s aimless dreams, he’s not doing too shabby in the world of writing. Steve’s newest book, The County Line, will be published by Lake Union in January 2024. Pre-order it now and give yourself a post-holiday treat.

And then read on to discover more about Steve’s fears and worries and the book he read as a child that may or may not actually exist….

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

I’m in a car driving somewhere, usually along the interstate. The weather could be anything – rain, clear, sun, mist. I’m heading somewhere on a vague deadline. I don’t know this interstate, certainly not this section of it. The interchanges are coming up. So many options to choose poorly. Or I’m driving down a long road across Kansas or west Texas and realize I’ve been going in the wrong direction for the past few hours. You don’t have to order the newest dream dictionary to figure those out, you know?

What scares you most about the writing process? 

Having a few really good options and being forced to go with one. As a writer, I see so many possibilities for what the story could be, but the reader only gets the one, if I do my job. I could spend so much time writing out one version of things only to realize it doesn’t work and have to go back and change everything. What a nightmare. Hey, wait a minute.

What animal scares you the most?

I don’t trust the way snakes move. They seem to have broken a sort of understanding that we have with other animals. You see a dog bounding your way or a cat waiting to pounce. With snakes, though, there seems to be a great disrespect for the laws of physics, in that they slither around in fits and spurts, dangle down from tree limbs, slide across bike trails. Once, in Baton Rouge, my lovely bride and I were walking trails near a bayou when a water moccasin crossed the path in front of me. As I was taking the lead, I had to elbow my wife out of the way as I raced in the other direction. She picked herself up, looked for the snake as she’s more curious than cowardly, then tracked me down the way we came and helped me down from the tree I’d climbed. So, yes, probably snakes.

Do you have a childhood memory of your parents or other trusted adults being truly terrified by something?

I suspect my parents were terrified that I might do something horrendously stupid, such as set fire to the town or accidentally chop off my own noggin with the lawn mower. I was a careless and curious kid, which is a terrible combination for a parent to have to deal with. To my recollection, I never committed, or at least was never accused of having committed, any felonies. And I never knowingly caused the death of anyone who did not, in some way, deserve it. I wouldn’t say I was a model child, but I do hope my parents’ fears were unfounded.

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Is there a particular scene that really haunts you still?

There was this book in my elementary school library about a haunted house. There was yellow on the book cover. And that’s about all I remember. Except that I read it once and couldn’t find it again. Scared the heck of me in a creepy way. The sort of overwhelming fear that creeps in before you know it and ends up being all-encompassing. Really did a number on me as a kid. Maybe I was in the fifth grade. But it stuck with me, not because of any details I could remember, certainly not the title or author, but because of the feeling of dread and fear I got from reading it. Few years later, I tried to find the book again, but couldn’t. Asked the librarian, but since I couldn’t remember the title or the author, she couldn’t really help me. So I had to content myself with this sort of lingering dread and the failure to remember the title, but still trying to remember the book. Then one day, the book just appeared on the table where I usually sat. The librarian said she hadn’t set the book there, so I have no idea how that happened. Life is full of mysteries.

Steve Weddle is an American author, best known for his book “Country Hardball,” which the New York Times called “downright dazzling.” He is the co-founder (with Jay Stringer) of the crime fiction collective Do Some Damage, the co-creator (with John Hornor Jacobs) of the noir magazine Needle, and a regular instructor at LitReactor.