Happy New Year! I can’t believe I’m entering my fifth year of doing these interviews. I feel like I’ve learned so many interesting things about people’s fears, and I hope you have, too.
Excited to kick off 2024 with Stacy Woodson, a fantastic short story writer and friend. Stacy’s newest published piece is a novella, “The Cadillac Job,” the first in Michael Bracken’s latest crime serial from Down and Out Books. Each episode features Huey’s Auto Repair, an auto shop in Dallas that doubles as a chop shop, and the ruthless man who runs it.
Read on to hear about all the things that freak Stacy out, including snakes, dolls, and incredibly large rodents. Also, if you’d like her son to lead us all on a ghost hunting tour, please raise your hand….RIGHT? I’m so ready.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is something happening to my children. I’ve deployed to a combat zone, jumped out of airplanes, and fought cancer. This, by far, is what scares me the most.
What is your weirdest fear?
This question immediately made me think of one of my college roommates. She’s afraid of melon—cantaloupe, honeydew—anything in the melon family. For me, it’s rodents of unusual size. (Yes, I’m a Princess Bride fan.) I was working background for Wonder Woman 1984. Between takes, I saw a rat the size of a schnauzer run across the sidewalk. I wasn’t expecting it, and I think that made it worse.
How do you deal with fear?
When I’m afraid, I get angry. Talk to whatever the fear is like it’s a tangible thing—which usually involves a string of expletives and sarcasm. Then, I take the hill (so to speak). If the fear is tied to a yes-or-no choice that I can make, I push myself to say yes. For example, I hate public speaking and always say “yes” hoping it will get easier. (I’m still hoping.)
Have you ever had any paranormal experiences or premonitions. How did you deal with it?
My nine-year-old son is obsessed with ghost hunting. He even has equipment. We visit places that are rumored to be haunted, take ghost tours, etc. Our favorite place is Ocracoke Island. It’s rich with history, and we often stay at a haunted inn called Blackbeard’s Lodge. Room nine is known for paranormal activity, and the innkeeper let us in late one night. My son claims to have seen a ghost in the mirror and bolted out the door. I went after him and didn’t stay long enough to confirm it.
“My son claims to have seen a ghost in the mirror and bolted out the door. I went after him and didn’t stay long enough to confirm it.”
Is there anything you are terrified of eating?
Domesticated animals. I used to work in the Special Operations community. When we deployed, we often worked with host nation militaries and were invited to dinners. Not eating what was served wasn’t an option because it was considered insulting. Some countries eat animals that are considered pets in the United States. I used to be terrified I would be served something like that. I hate anything slimy, too. I won’t touch Ceviche.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever written?
I wrote a short horror story for Storia set in the 1980s called “Blood Moon Curse.” Storia is an App that will launch early this year, focused on creating a new reader experience pairing short fiction with animation. “Blood Moon Curse” is about three college roommates who receive noodle delivery with fortune cookies that have deadly predications that come true. The story is animated by Simon Mulligan, who is incredibly talented. You can watch the trailer here.
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Is there a particular scene that haunts you still?
“Heat,” by Trey Dowell. It appeared in an issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. It’s a short story, not a book. When I saw this question, it’s the first thing that came to mind. My husband read it, too. It’s been a few years since it was released. The story is both horrifying and disturbing. We talk about it every summer.
What animal scares you the most? Why?
“I hate snakes, Jock,” to quote Indiana Jones. I don’t have a trauma or core memory that explains it. Maybe, it’s the slithering or the fear of being poisoned. Snakes are no bueno for me.
What’s creepier: clowns, dolls, or wax museum figures?
Dolls, hands down, especially ones with eyes that open and close. It always feels like they are watching me. On a ghost hunting trip with my son, we went to the Weems and Botts Museum in Dumfries, Virginia. They have a doll named April that gives me the creeps.
What’s something you’ll never do because you’re too scared?
Scuba diving. I’d love to wreck dive, but the possibility of being deprived of oxygen scares me.
Stacy Woodson is a U.S. Army veteran, and memories of her time in the military are often a source of inspiration for her stories. She made her crime fiction debut in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine’s Department of First Stories and won the 2018 Readers Award. Since her debut, she has placed stories in several anthologies and publications—two winning the Derringer award. You can visit her at www.stacywoodson.com.