What Scares You, Terry Shepherd?

Terry Shepherd is the author of the Jessica Ramirez Thrillers, The 221B Club stories for middle-grade readers and the COVID-19 children’s classic, Juliette and the Mystery Bug. Terry’s short stories have been published in several anthologies. He is also a prolific book narrator, podcaster, and owns a publishing company focused on helping indie authors get their stories into wide circulation. He lives and writes on the ocean in Jacksonville, Florida.

And now, let’s find out what scares him…

What is your greatest fear?

It used to be drowning. Now it’s being broke.

What is the scariest thing you remember from childhood?

The first time I was in a movie theater. I had never seen people so big. I started screaming and my dad had to take me out. I was way too young to understand what was going on.

Is there any fear you’ve overcome in your life? How has that changed you?

Around 2000, I made a list of every fear I had and decided to face them all and either conquer them or die trying. I took a scuba course to get over the drowning fear.

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

As a former DJ, I have the recurring nightmare that I start the next record and there is nothing but dead air. As a writer, it’s releasing my next book and getting a flurry of emails from authors I admire telling me how bad the book is.

“The first time I was in a movie theater. I had never seen people so big. I started screaming and my dad had to take me out. I was way too young to understand what was going on.”

How do you deal with fear? 

So far, I attempt to study it from a place of intellectual curiosity. That usually mitigates it.

What’s something that most people are afraid of that you are not? Why aren’t you?

I’m not afraid of death. The older I get, the less it scares me. I’ve lost people I love and have a mild curiosity about what’s next. 

Have you ever had any paranormal experiences or premonitions?

I have only recently begun to try to understand what paranormal might mean and ponder if what I feel as premonitions might be true. Over the course of my life, there have been a few signposts that I ignored to my peril. I try to respect my inner voice more now.

What scares you most about the writing process?

Every aspect. I don’t trust the value of my plotting, my ability to create interesting characters or build worthwhile story. I’m at my best when I throw the fear into the box and just let it flow.

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

Alienating my friends. I guess that’s a common life theme for me. I have a huge unworthiness gene and always feel like I have to over-deliver on value to others.

What’s your favorite horror movie or television series?

Favorite horror movie is Young Frankenstein. Scariest used to be Children of the Damned. Not so much anymore. Now it’s Phantasm. Always loved being scared by Rod Serling’s stuff and loved The Outer Limits. The new stuff is very good, but they don’t couch it and just throw the gore at you. That doesn’t do anything for me.

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?

Marie Sutro’s stuff. She writes with exquisite precision and describes darkness as if Stephen King and Alfred Hitchcock collaborated.

What is your favorite monster/villain?

Probably David Naughton’s portrayal of American Werewolf in London. Because he was totally helpless to stop the transformation. 

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

I used to be terrified of death. Now it’s “bring it on.” As a depressive, I wake up every day wondering if it might be the last. Then I think about some way to make a positive difference and eat breakfast. It’s a distortion of the old George Burns joke about reading the obits and if your name wasn’t on it, you got up. 

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?

I don’t lose my temper often, but when I do, my kids and wife say I’m a sight. Probably because I’m one of the nicest guys on the planet most of the time. Bullies trigger it. Also, anybody hurting or disrespecting women. I hate injustice, lose all fear and am impervious to pain. Geese! Maybe I’m the Incredible Hulk and don’t realize it!