What Scares You, C.M. Muller?

I am excited to be wrapping up the What Scares You year with C.M. Muller! My first-ever horror short story was published this year by C.M. in the very cool anthology Come October, which features a lot of very creepy stories about leaves (among other things) and is available here if you’d like to spook yourself.

C.M. also just edited the fourth installment of Chthonic Matter, which will be out on the 21st or you can pre-order now.

After you get all your ordering done, read on to discover all the things that terrify this master of horror…

What’s the scariest story and/or book you’ve read?

I’ve always been particularly fond of Jason A. Wyckoff’s story “Knott’s Letter” (Black Horse & Other Strange Stories, Tartarus Press, 2012), an epistolary tale that still gives me the creeps. As far as novels go, I would have to say that Michael Aronovitz’s Alice Walks takes top honor, a ghost story beyond compare. Both of these horrors have sunk deep into my DNA.

What’s your favorite horror movie or television series?

Lately, I’ve really enjoyed the weird films of Panos Cosmatos, which include Beyond the Black Rainbow and Mandy. He’s not very prolific, but has such a unique vision. One of his short films was featured on my newest favorite series: Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. While I loved each episode, I thought Panos’s contribution (“The Viewing,” starring Peter Weller) was the highlight.

What is the scariest thing you remember from childhood?

I must have been ten or so, and a friend of mine (who lived across the street) invited me over to watch Alien. We sat in front of his blocky “big screen” ’80s TV, growing more and more terrified as each scene washed over us. When the movie ended, it was dark outside, and I was absolutely terrified to cross the street. I ran as fast as I could to my front door, all the while imagining an acid-filled xenomorph hot on my trail.

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

There is one nightmare I remember from childhood. It always started in our basement furnace room. I would find myself standing in this cobwebby space, listening to the furnace growl in the background . . . but what terrified me the most was when I left this room and started up the stairs to the main level. With each step, I sensed a presence following close behind; and, if that wasn’t bad enough, said presence was somehow slowing my progress in order to overtake me. I haven’t had that dream in forty years, but it certainly left its mark.

What is your greatest fear?

Alzheimer’s. My grandmother died from that horrid disease, and it has affected me to this day (consciously and subconsciously). So, I’ve tried my best to turn this fear on its head: namely, using it as a motivating factor to crank out a bit of creativity each and every day . . . because, who knows, right?

C.M. Muller lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife and two sons—and, of course, all those quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore. He is related to the Norwegian writer Jonas Lie and draws much inspiration from that scrivener of old. His tales have appeared in Shadows & Tall Trees, Dim Shores, Vastarien, and a host of other venues. In addition to writing, he also edits and publishes Nightscript, Chthonic Matter Quarterly, and various “themed” anthologies. He is the author of two story collections, Hidden Folk (2018) and Secondary Roads (2022), as well as numerous others works.