What Scares You, Daniel M. Ford?

Hi friends! This is an extra-special What Scares You today! We are celebrating multiple things here:

  • Daniel Ford’s birthday!
  • The cover reveal for the trade paperback version of his fantasy novel The Warden (It’s gorgeous!)
  • Friday the 13th!

Go grab a piece of cake and a black cat and order Dan’s book and then settle in and read all about Dan’s fears and worries and his thoughts about time ticking away…

What is your greatest fear?

I think right now, it’s time. The horror of time. The past few months have made it even clearer how time strips away everything we’ll ever care about. I think it can really drive a person mad if you start pondering it too much. Time is passing, it’s fleeting, it’s going right now as I write these words and you read them. It isn’t coming back. Nothing we can do with or for the people and things we love will ever get a second of it back. It’s all spun out into nothing.

What is your earliest childhood memory of fear?

My childhood in the ‘80s was dominated by fear of nuclear annihilation. I grew up near a military base where they tested many weapons, and my parents harbored no fantasies of survival. My dad told me as much when I asked him around age nine or ten what we would do if a nuclear bomb went off. He said, and I quote: “Put our heads between our legs and kiss our asses goodbye.” I’m not claiming I understood all of what that meant, but it’s a fear that persists to this day, really.

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

I have a lot of nightmares about driving. For anyone that has taken I-95 North out of Baltimore, you know the long, winding, super-high ramp going over the water. I have had recurring nightmares of driving straight off that for decades. Ditto nightmares of driving on I-81 and being plowed over by an 18-wheeler.

How do you deal with fear?

Is that a bad answer? It feels like a bad answer. I try to ignore it. I move on with my life. When fears of nuclear war rear up again, I tell myself…hey, your parents and grandparents were living through this when it had a much higher chance of happening, and they kept putting one foot in front of the other. I tell myself I can’t control the outcome but …

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

That someday I won’t be able to do it anymore. That my work ethic and whatever skill or craft I have, which is little enough to begin with, will just dissolve like fog. This genuinely haunts me, and I am constantly afraid of it becoming reality.

What’s your favorite horror movie or television series?

I don’t really watch a lot of what’s generally classified as horror. But I absolutely love the film Alien, which is clearly horror in a sci-fi setting. I love the blue-collar nature of it, the fact that they do what they can with what they have to fight this totally, well, alien thing whose priorities and strategies they can’t possibly understand. It is every bit as unstoppable as Freddy or Jason but it has no motive beyond survival and propagation, which makes it far more scary. It’s not evil; it’s just an organism that views you as food. You can’t reason with it, you can’t bargain with it, you can’t even hate it because it’s just a force, not an intelligence. Terrifying.

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

Between Two Fires is an historical horror-fantasy by Christopher Buehlman, set during the worst years of the Black Plague in France in the late 1340s. Spoiler alerts abound, but the conceit of the novel is that the denizens of hell literally broke free and are using the Plague and the attendant societal collapse to rebel against Heaven. When I say denizens of Hell I mean demons, and Buehlman is every bit as inventive as Dante when it comes to what that means. The part that haunts me the most, by far, is (and here, I am spoiling much) the protagonist literally going to Hell near the end of the book, where he is 1. reduced to the form of a child 2. interviewed by a demon asking if he knows where he is and what’s going to happen to him and 3. when their time is up the demon reveals a fish-like mouth located on its torso and says “It’s time to go” and I’ll just let you figure out from there where and how it’s time to go. I will add that the character is forced to relive this interview and its grisly conclusion over and over again for what feels like years. The book doesn’t end there, and that’s not the only horrifying moment. It is well worth the read.

People often say death is their greatest fear. What are your feelings about death/dying?

I think this is related to what I said above about the horror of time. There’s a clock. It’s running, and I don’t know when it will end, and nobody can tell me, and when it does that’s it. My feelings are that I prefer not to think about it, but I do, all the time, often when I’m trying to fall asleep.

What’s creepier: clowns, dolls, or wax museum figures?

Going to go with dolls. I ran a horror-based roleplaying game called Killer Ratings where the idea is that you’re creating a season-ending episode of a Ghost-Hunting reality show that’s designed to make sure you get renewed for another season, only this time you somehow found a spot that’s actually haunted. The location I chose for my friends to play in was the Vent Haven Museum of Ventriloquial Figures and Memorabilia. It’s meant to be a funny game, but also frightening, and I chose that location because dolls are terrifying. Clowns are just people; I quite like clowns. Wax museum figures, eh, I can take them. But dolls? Numerous and agile and indestructible.

Daniel M. Ford is a native of Baltimore. He has an M.A. in Irish Literature from Boston College, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from George Mason University. He lives in Delaware and teaches at a college prep high school in rural Maryland. When he isn’t writing, he’s reading, playing RPGs, lifting weights, or mixing cocktails. His previous work includes The Paladin Trilogy and the Jack Dixon novels. His latest work is The Warden, about a Necromancer recently graduated from college, who wound up with the most disappointing job she could imagine. Her greatest fear is being eight hundred miles away from a decent glass of wine.

The Warden is available anywhere books are sold. The second book in the series, Necrobane, is set to be released in April 2024.