What Scares You, Mindy Quigley?

Mindy Quigley is a delightful human being, and I’m so thrilled to feature her here!

Mindy is the author of two lighthearted mystery series. Her latest, the Deep Dish Mysteries (Minotaur-St. Martin’s Press) was a Woman’s World book club pick and has been featured in Parade magazine. Mindy’s non-writing career is stranger than fiction, having taken her from the US to the UK, where she worked as the personal assistant to the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep and as project manager for a research clinic founded by the author J.K. Rowling. She now lives in small-town Virginia with her Civil War history professor husband and their children.

If all that isn’t cool enough, read on, my friends…

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

Where to start? That everyone will hate my books. That I’ll become mentally or physically ill and not be able to meet my deadline. That I’ll forget how to write. That I’ll write something that pisses people off and then they’ll hate me. That I’ll be a failure and have wasted my life pursuing this dream. That I’ll be a success and not know how to handle it. That the mild arthritis in my fingers will become debilitating and I won’t be able to type my books. That my poor eyesight will become even worse and I won’t be able to see the computer screen. That I’ll make a stupid mistake in a book and no one at the press will catch it and it’ll go to print that way and everyone will think I’m dumb and careless. That my writing peers will hate my books. That readers will hate my books. That my family will hate my books. That I’ll die alone and stray cats will gnaw at my decaying corpse for weeks before someone calls the cops about a suspicious stench and they come and shovel what remains of me into a five-gallon bucket. Wait, what was the question again? 

What’s your favorite horror movie or television series?

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Dark Shadows. Maybe that’s more of a gothic romance than a pure horror show, though? Anyway it’s got sexy vampires and a governess-wealthy dude romance à la Jane Eyre, and a dual timeline sitch that’s akin to Outlander. BUT DID I MENTION THE SEXY VAMPIRES?

How do you deal with fear?

Three cheers for drugs! I’m very outgoing, so people are often surprised to learn that I have an extreme fear of public speaking. It got so bad that my doctor wrote me a prescription a few years ago for beta blockers that actually says “For Public Speaking” right on the little orange bottle. Now, about 30 minutes before I take the stage at an event, I pop a beta blocker. Sometimes, if I’m super-duper nervous, I’ll add half of an Ativan. That combo is enough to tame the butterfly mosh pit in my tummy and keep my heart from exploding out of my chest like that razor-clawed creature in Alien.

I now find that I can often give talks without these chemical crutches. Like Dumbo’s magic feather, the knowledge that the pills are there if I need them can be enough to calm me down.

What is your favorite urban legend?

The Candyman legend comes from an early ‘90s movie about a Black man who was brutally murdered for an interracial love affair. His vengeful spirit returns and kills anyone who says his name five times in front of a mirror to summon him. I was in middle school when the film came out, perfect scary movie age, and I grew up just outside Chicago, not too far from the Cabrini-Green housing projects where Candyman was set. My entire school was obsessed with that movie, one of the first we’d seen depict social issues, like racism and poverty, that were around us every day, in a very compelling, highly watchable horror movie package.

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


I was raised as an evangelical Baptist and had a strong religious upbringing. I spent my entire childhood in a state of virtual certainty that if I did all the right things, I’d live forever in Heaven.

In college, though, that all changed. The spring of my freshman year, my Jewish dormmate got a Passover care package from her mom. We started passing around the grape-flavored Manischewitz wine (OMG, ack, pure cough syrup, but whatever, it was college) and talking about our religious upbringings. It became clear to me, in that moment, that her religion was every bit as valid, and every bit as manufactured, as mine. It was like seeing through the Matrix.

The sudden loss of my Christian faith, and my assurance of that specific vision of the afterlife, was incredibly jarring. I spent years living with an extreme fear of the yawning unknown of death. Eventually, I discovered humanism and Unitarian Universalism, which have helped me come to terms with a new way of thinking about death and given me the ability to confront that mystery without terror. This new way of thinking has led me to be more open in talking about end-of-life issues, especially the practicalities of the dying process.

What is your favorite monster/villain?

A pic of Mindy’s son at the Mothman statue, feigning amazement.

Mothman is a wacky, cryptozoology-type monster who originated a few hours north of where I live now. In 1966, folks around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, started reporting sightings of a flying, humanoid creature with glowing red eyes. Mothman got up to some mischief over the next few months, running people off the road and stealing a dog. About a year after he first popped up, he was seen around the Silver Bridge, which suffered a catastrophic collapse in December 1967. He then disappeared without a trace. 

I think I love this so much because the myth is a relatively recent phenomenon. This all happened in a time when photography and videography were fairly widespread, and yet, without any proof, this bizarre legend took hold of an entire community, and then persisted. I also love that writer Paige Lavoie has penned a successful YA romance series (Mothman in Love) around a seductive version of Mothman.

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?

Definitely rich megalomaniac. I have all the plans and villainy ready to go. As soon as I get my hands on an outrageous sum of money, I’m ready to deploy Operation Mindify the Earth. In Phase One, everyone will be issued a purse dog and required to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race. Phase Two is TBD. Probably something with lasers.