Greg Herren lives in New Orleans, which means ghosts follow him around everywhere. Right? Well, you need to read on to find out. I will say that his writing is filled with a gothic spooky atmosphere and mood that makes you feel like you’re in a haunted Southern home where anything can happen.
What is your greatest fear?
Being buried alive. I have both a fear of the dark and claustrophobia. Whenever I see a new report about someone being rescued from being trapped somewhere in a tight space after “days,” I always think, they’d pull me out of there stark raving mad and I’d never come back from it.
What person living today terrifies you the most and why?
It’s a six-way tie between the conservative Supreme Court justices. They seem determined to rewrite our judiciary system “under his eye.”
What are your phobias?
Spiders, snakes, claustrophobia, the dark.
Do you have a recurring nightmare?
It’s not always the same, but similar enough: falling from a great height. Sometimes I dream I am bouncing on a trampoline and wind up going too high to safely come down; sometimes it’s out of a window, sometimes out of an airplane, sometimes off a cliff. The last thing I see in the dream is the ground, rushing up to me, and I wake up just as I hit the ground—sweating, shaking, and breathing hard.
How do you deal with fear?
I avoid great heights, the dark and tight spaces. If I don’t have a choice, I grit my teeth and just start counting until I’m no longer in a scary place.
Have you ever had any paranormal experiences or premonitions? How did you deal with it?
I live in New Orleans, where every house is haunted. Yes, I’ve had unexplained experiences in every apartment we’ve lived in here. The worst was when I was pet-sitting for a friend who’d just moved into a new place. The entire time I was there I just had this sense of being watched, like I wasn’t alone in the space, but whatever else was there was just out of my sight. It finally creeped me out so much I had to leave and come back later to feed the animals and walk the dog. I never did stay overnight there, and any time I’d visit I felt uncomfortable. The ghost in my current appointment likes to play simple tricks—moving something from one counter to another when my back is turned. I’ve never gotten a bad feeling from that ghost, but sometimes I know he or she is there.
Is there anything you are terrified of eating? Why?
Yes. Anything that has a slimy consistency—eggs, flan, custards, oysters. I always think I’m swallowing snot.
What is your greatest fear as a writer?
That one day the words and stories won’t come; that the bottomless well of creativity in my brain will eventually run dry.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever written?
There’s a scene in my book Lake Thirteen that was based on a real experience that I think is terrifying, but others might not agree.
What’s your favorite horror movie or television series?
Movie is the original 1963 Robert Wise production of The Haunting. TV series? Friday the 13th the Series. I wish it was streaming somewhere.
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
‘salem’s Lot by Stephen King. The scene when Danny Glick comes to Mark Petrie’s window. I was living in a very small town in Kansas when I read the book and stayed up reading during a thunderstorm. Just when I got to the part where Danny scratches on the window, a tree branch brushed against my bedroom window. I think I had to change underwear and wash the sheets.
People often say death is their greatest fear. What are your feelings about death/dying?
I don’t know that people are so much afraid of dying as they are afraid of not knowing what happens when you die. I’m a gay man in his sixties who lived through the HIV/AIDS pandemic. I never thought I would live this long, frankly, so it all feels like extra time for me. No, I’m not afraid of death, but it’s not something I am looking forward to, either. I’m afraid I’ll die before I write all the things I want to more than I am afraid of actually dying.
“I’m afraid I’ll die before I write all the things I want to more than I am afraid of actually dying.”
What’s the scariest place you’ve ever been?
The empty back country roads of rural Alabama at night. It gets so dark there.
What’s something you’ll never do because you’re too scared?
Visit the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
What’s creepier: clowns, dolls, or wax museum figures?
THEY ARE ALL EQUALLY CREEPY.
Which evil, murderous persona most matches your personality and why: slow-walking psychotic serial killer; vampire stalking victims in the wee hours of the night; rich megalomaniac with grand plans to take over the world; centuries-old demon witch looking for revenge; or Hyde-like, fueled with rage and no impulse control?
Centuries-old demon witch for sure. I live for revenge.
Greg Herren is the award-winning author of more than 40 novels and 50 short stories. He is also an award-winning editor, having edited over 20 anthologies.