Posts in "Interviews" Category

What scares you, Paul Tremblay?

I’m so pleased to have Paul Tremblay kick off my new blog series on fear. Paul is one of my favorite writers, and if his books are any indication, he knows a lot about scary. After reading A Head Full of Ghosts, I knew that Paul was a writer I would be reading for a long time. His latest book, a story collection called Growing Things, is downloaded on my Audible app right now and accompanying me during my favorite month of the year.

It also helps that Paul is one of the nicest humans on the planet.

So, if you haven’t read any of his books yet, now’s your chance to fix that problem. And read on to find out what truly scares him. Here we go!

What is your greatest fear?

Witnessing the end of the world. In the ’80s I was convinced we would die in a nuclear holocaust. Now there are so many options to choose from!

Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?

I don’t because they don’t exist. That’s the agnostic/math teacher me speaking (typing). He has control of my brain between 95-97.5 percent of the time. That guy, he’d say something like billions of people have died and if ghosts were a thing we’d be swimming in them. We wouldn’t be able to swing a dead cat without hitting a ghost, even if only a fraction of those billions had ghosts that came back to haunt us. It’s a numbers game. That guy (sorry I split my personality and went 3rd person too. Don’t know how I lost control of this answer so quickly) would claim there was a scientific explanation (low frequency waves messing with our brains, for instance) to ghosts or paranormal phenomena, and if a scientific explanation doesn’t exist, it’s only because we don’t know enough science yet. That guy (me most of the time) is a lot of fun at parties.

The other 2.5-5 percent of the time, I’m not so sure what I believe. These maybe-there-are-ghosts-and-other-things moments tend to occur after a terrible nightmare, or if I’m home alone at night and I hear a noise.

Do you have a recurring nightmare? What was your worst nightmare ever?

After seeing JAWS in fifth grade, in almost all my nightmares, I would end up in the water and then Jaws (that’s the name of the shark, you see) would attack me. I still have weird shark nightmares from time to time. I used to also have Freddy Krueger nightmares too, but not since I was a teenager. But now that I’ve typed this, I’ll probably have another one.

There was one other nightmare I had multiple times as a kid. I would be climbing the stairs to the third floor of my grandparent’s triple-decker and on the trip up, between the stairs or sometimes in a hole in the wall, would be a face. A face that the dream-me knew was pure evil. Evil in face form. I’m writing about this in a silly way because I don’t want to recall that face too closely or accurately for fear that it will come back.

What scares you most about the writing process?

I’m afraid I’ll run out of good or worthy ideas. I’m not sitting on this giant mountain of great ideas that are waiting to be plucked (plucked?). I essentially work from story-to-story and very rarely have a backlog. I have failed ideas or ideas that I spent time with and even outlined, but for one reason or another I decided they weren’t good/weren’t worth the investment of time and effort. Those lost ideas haunt me and I’m always tempted to go back to them, but it has yet to work out for any of those rejects. The losers.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever written?

What’s scary is so subjective. What scares you is likely different than what scares me, etc. I roll my eyes when someone whines ‘this isn’t horror because it’s not scary.’ Please spare me and spare us that irresistible review/insight.  

Anyway, that all said, I think The Cabin at the End of the World, particularly the opening chapter, is the most intense and ‘oh no, oh no,’ thing I’ve ever written. It’s a lot of fun to read at readings/signings.

What is your favorite type of monster? Why?

Kaiju are my favorite. They’re so cool and fun, and they were my gateway to horror ultimately. On Saturday afternoons when I was a kid, there was a program called Creature Double Feature. The first movie was typically Godzilla, the second was a horror movie. Godzilla was the hook, and the second movie always scared the hell out of me. Thanks, Godzilla. Thanks a lot.

Though, in general, I like monsters that are lizard or dinosaur-like. A thing that’s almost plausible that it could exist. So the Creature from the Black Lagoon fits in my circle of monster love too. 

What’s worse: clowns or spiders? Why?

I’m not innately terrified of either, but both can certainly be scary. If I found a clown climbing on my bedroom wall instead of a spider, I’d be more freaked out by that wall-crawling clown. But, if I came across a spider the size of your average clown, I’d be more afraid of the spider. It’s all about context.

You are driving alone on a road at night and your headlights illuminate a man standing alone with a lantern in the middle of the road. What do you do? Also, is it more or less scary if it’s a little kid in pajamas?

I’d stop and help the kid, even if it meant my mostly-impossible supernatural death or demise. If it was a guy, I’d keep going. Sorry, lantern dude. Go home, you’re drunk.

Home alone. And scared.

Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the author of The Cabin at the End of the World, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, A Head Full of Ghosts, the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland, and the short story collection Growing Things and Other Stories. He is currently a member of the board of directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly online, and numerous year’s-best anthologies. He has a master’s degree in mathematics and lives outside Boston with his family.

What scares you?

My husband and son and I recently invited another couple and their daughter over to watch the Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016) movie. We discussed with them all of the scariest moments of the film—when the ghosts pop out unexpectedly, some serious treatments of death, even the more vulgar gestures that might be too adult. We thought we’d done a great job of preparing them.

And then we got to the mannequin scene.

“Oh no,” our friend groaned. “Ainsley is terrified of mannequins.”

None of us had any particular fear of mannequins. It didn’t even occur to us to warn them about that. We got through the scene unharmed, and enjoyed the rest of the movie, but it got me thinking about how personal and ingrained our terrors are. Like our fingerprints, our fears are truly unique. And they can define us.

Because fear, like humor, is a very distinct and unique emotion, I wanted to discover more about the different ways it affects us. I guess I just find it really interesting to know what scares people.

For that reason, I’ve decided to start a blog series exploring this very thing. Horror. Anxiety. Night terrors. Monsters. You get the idea.

Twice a month—on the 13th (because…well, you know) and on the last day of the month—I’ll interview someone about their greatest fears. Most of the time, these will be writers (because I have a lot of writer friends), but you don’t have to be a writer to participate. If you’re really into exploring what’s spooky, then shoot me an email on my contact form for consideration.

Look for the first in the series — featuring Paul Tremblay!—starting October 13, 2019!

The Rumpus Saturday Interview and a great reading at Politics and Prose

This weekend was a writer’s dream! My chat with the wonderful Tyrese Coleman was published in The Rumpus on Saturday. Q&As seem pretty easy to conduct, and we see a lot of them around. But conducting a really good interview is an art. It’s one thing to send some generic basic questions to an author and let them ramble on. It’s another to do research, read their works, and craft really interesting questions that would be of interest to someone who has read the book as equally as someone who hasn’t read the book. And I thought Ty did an excellent job with it. I so appreciate her efforts here, and I hope you’ll also go check out her writing as well. She’s a force.

Speaking of a force, Politics and Prose is one of the best independent bookstores in the country. I had an event there on Saturday afternoon with novelist Michael Landweber, and it was fantastic. Kudos to the professional and kind event staff at P&P who make you feel very welcome and who know how to draw in a crowd. It was a pleasure to hear Mike read from his new novel Thursday, 1:17 PM, about what happens to a teenage boy when time suddenly stops and everything is frozen except him. Thanks so much to everyone who came out to hear us read. It was truly a pleasure.

Author Elizabeth Hazen and publisher Andrew Gifford at the Grubb Road Book Festival.
Author Elizabeth Hazen and publisher Andrew Gifford at the Grubb Road Book Festival.

On Sunday, Santa Fe Writers Project hosted the first annual Grubb Road Book Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland. Local book publishers including Paycock Press and Possibilities Publishing were on hand to chat with readers and sell some books. It was a beautiful summer afternoon.

So…a whirlwind book weekend! I continue to feel fortunate in so many ways.

The Next Big Thing

So I was asked recently by writer David Dean (whose wonderful stories my husband Art and I first became acquainted with in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine) to participate in The Next Big Thing. Which is basically a way to self-promote one’s book or other writing endeavors. So of course I said, “Sure,” because who doesn’t love a little self-promotion?

However, like David when he posted his blog, I find the idea of interviewing myself a little weird. So when answering these questions, I pretended that Daniel Craig was asking me. Because being interviewed by James Bond is way cooler than just me talking to myself in the mirror, right?

So you can imagine THAT when you read this “interview” below.


Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book (or story)?

My your eyes are very very blue. Oh sorry. Yes, my book. Well, it’s not a working title anymore, since it was published in October! It’s called Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and you should read it. Right. Now.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

One day I thought of the title, “The Etiquette of Adultery” and thought that would be a cool title for a story. I wrote it down on a sticky note and tucked it in my wallet and carried it around with me for awhile before finally deciding what to do with it. After I wrote that piece, I started thinking about other “etiquette” stories I could write about subversive things. It was around that time that I was also searching for a way to pull together a collection. So it was kind of the perfect storm.

The book is a collection of 10 stories that are plays on the Emily Post-type etiquette guides that you’ll find in book stores. Only they are WAY MORE FUN than your boring wedding etiquette guides. Instead of weddings, you get elopements. Instead of dinner party etiquette, you get obesity. And so on, so forth.

What genre does your book fall under?

I don’t know. General fiction? Literary fiction? Short stories about crazy topics?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Well, ha ha, Daniel. Funny you should ask. One of the stories in the collection is “The Etiquette of Homicide” and I would LOVE for you to play that role. Beyond that, I don’t really care. Where can we sign you up?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It is a collection of “the darker side of etiquette—the way people conduct themselves in situations that Emily Post would never write about. You know, like conducting international espionage.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It was published by Matter Press, a small independent press out of Philadelphia, and headed up by the wonderful Randall Brown.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote the stories sporadically over a period of almost two years. I wrote the last story, “The Etiquette of Insomnia” just after my son was born. He inspired me when I was up feeding him at 3 a.m., we’ll say.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Tough question! I have a hard time comparing myself to other people. It’s like asking you who your favorite Bond girl is. Impossible, right? So I’m avoiding this. Let’s just say if you like odd, experimental-ish stories that are a bit funny, a bit sad, a bit playful and a bit crazy, you will probably like this book.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I actually have no idea where this book came from. I’m not particularly interested in etiquette, and I usually don’t write this experimentally. However, I had so much fun writing these stories that I just wanted to keep on going. I still think of other ideas that I could’ve included.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Haven’t you always wanted to know the best way to start a fire in an abandoned warehouse? Or how to masturbate in bed without waking up your wife? Or what to say at a dinner party with your parents and your married boyfriend? It’s ALL INSIDE, my friends.

Also, the wonderful cover image was designed by my dear friend Brandon Wicks, who was kind enough not to hang up on me when I called him about creating something in an obscene time limit. And agreed to work for bourbon. So I owe that eye-catching cover to him and to designer Lorrie Bennett. There is a special place in heaven waiting for these two.

And now I will pass the torch on to some very talented folks, who will be posting about their writing next week.

First up is Amber Sparks, who will be blogging about her newest collection, May We Shed These Human Bodies, which was just published in September by Curbside Splendor. Look for her on on Dec. 13.

Also, Bonnie ZoBell, whose fiction chapbook, THE WHACK-JOB GIRLS, is coming out by Monkey Puzzle Press, will chat about that collection on Dec. 14 on her blog West Coast Literary Doings.

And Clifford Garstang will blog at on Dec. 11 about What the Zhang Boys Know, a novel-in-stories published by Press 53 earlier this year.

Last but certainly not least, we will hear from Ashley Inguanta about her collection The Way Home, which is coming out January 4th with Dancing Girl Press. She will be blogging on December 11 at

Thanks once again to David Dean for being my “host.” Here’s his web site and blog, and you should buy his book here.