Posts in "What Scares You" Category

What Scares You, Edith Maxwell?

Edith Maxwell, or Maddie Day, as you may also know her, makes me jealous every day with how prolific she is. She’s just releasing her 28th book, Murder in a Cape Cottage THIS WEEK! (Grab a copy here.) I can’t even imagine writing that many books!

She’s also wicked.

No, really, she is! I love her posts over at The Wickeds, where she and her fellow crime writers discuss all things crime writing.

She’s also a delightful person, which of course makes me want to know all the things that make her scream, inside and out.

So here we go!


What is your greatest fear?

That something will happen to one of my sons. I have no basis for that, except that bad things happen sometimes. They are both in their 30s and well-adjusted, happy, functional members of society. And I worry!

What is your earliest childhood memory of fear?

By way of explanation, I’ve always had a rabidly overactive imagination. I wasn’t allowed to watch scary shows (Twilight Zone) or movies. But the family bookshelves were always open, and my mother loved crime fiction. I was a young fluent reader, and I soaked up Poe and Sherlock Holmes stories at age nine. As a result, I would gaze at my smooth white bedroom ceiling when the light was on and feel safe. The minute the light went out, however, I knew there was a grate up there and the speckled band was coming for me. Little me would lie there paralyzed with fear!

Do you believe in ghosts?

I don’t rule out the possibility of ghosts or other spectral beings. There is much we don’t know about the world, life, and other dimensions. That said, I try not to think about ghosts too much, per previous answer about my imagination. I’ve lived in a half dozen antique New England homes for the past forty years, and they have lots of unexplained noises. Which could be ghosts…so I don’t go there.

What are your phobias?

Ah, don’t laugh. I don’t like being closed in. I want curtains open whenever possible. I don’t wear turtlenecks. And I’ve been known to break into a run walking through a pedestrian tunnel so I don’t have to stay in there a second longer than necessary. I’m also a bit afraid of ledges and cliffs—not that I will fall, but that I might jump to see what it’s like. And nobody wants that—least of all me.

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

I often have flying-themed nightmares. Sometimes I’m at the airport and my passport is at home. Sometimes I’m on the plane with no prep, no luggage, no phone. Most times I’m traveling to China. The worst involve me actually flying the plane (Big plane! Holding lots of passengers!) when I know full well I have no idea how to fly a plane. In daylight, I wonder about these dreams. I have had a passport since I was seventeen and have traveled and lived internationally for many years (although never to China) and flown several times a year for most of my adult life. Go figure!

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

I’m not afraid of spiders. I don’t want them rappelling down over my bed, but they don’t send me shrieking. They’re good for the eco-system and don’t bother me (unless I unwittingly walk into a web in my garden).

I’m not afraid of spiders. I don’t want them rappelling down over my bed, but they don’t send me shrieking.

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

I have written 33 novels. My newly released book is number 28. And I’m still afraid in the middle of each manuscript that I won’t be able to finish, that it will be awful, that no one will want to read it, and that my career as an author is over. Every. Single. Book. Luckily, it doesn’t stop me from blundering forging ahead and finishing.

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Is there a particular scene that really haunts you still?

I had to stop reading Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series when her stories got too scary for me. I enjoyed them for a while, and I don’t remember which book it was that terrified me. I like a good suspenseful tale, but not when it makes me scared to go to sleep at night.

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

I don’t fear dying. If I’m aware at the time that I’m going, I know I’ll feel sad about leaving family, close friends, and my writing, but not because the next phase is scary. Who knows, it might be a delightful new existence.


Agatha Award-winning author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day, she pens the Country Store Mysteries, the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, and the new Cece Barton Mysteries. Day/Maxwell lives with her beau north of Boston, where she writes, gardens, cooks, and wastes time on Facebook. Find her at EdithMaxwell.com, wickedauthors.com, Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

What Scares You, Dan Malmon?

Coming off my Bouchercon 2022 high, where I got to hang with some of the best people on the planet, I am so pleased to be uploading this chat with Dan Malmon. Who, yes, is one of those best people I just got to see in person. From the moment I heard he and his wife Kate were editing an anthology in which all the stories had to kill him off, I knew that they were my people. I was correct about that.

So, friends, grab your coffee or tea or vodka and read on to discover all the things that terrify Dan Malmon. And that fierce (but incredibly adorable) doggie that will protect him.


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

A few years ago (Maybe more? Time has been really weird the last few years.), my wife Kate and I were visiting friends in Chicago. One of our very favorite cities. Great food, great folks. While out seeing the sights, we decided to go to the Willis Tower/Sears Tower. To get to the observation deck, you must go through a long cattle line. We were just packed in there, with no room to move. After a period of slow, shuffling movement, the line just stopped. Everyone grumbled and waited for the line to move again. No biggie. But for me, the room started to spin. Cold sweats, shortness of breath. I haven’t ever really cared about close quarters before, but at that moment there was no greater need in the world than to get the hell out of there. Not gonna lie, that freaked me out badly.

Once we got to the top, I was fine. The tower has these clear plastic enclosures that extend out from the building. You can step inside and it’s as if you are floating in midair, high above the city. I was first in line: I knew in my heart of hearts that this was something I had to do. That if I chickened out here, I would regret it forever. I paid for the ticket, now it was time to take the ride. I finally got to the front of the line, and I thought to myself “HERE GOES…!”  And I stepped out over the line from sturdy floor to clear plastic cubicle… and it was the greatest thing ever.

That being said, my palms were sweating as I was typing all of this.

“I knew if I chickened out here, I would regret it forever.”

Do you believe in ghosts?

Probably? I haven’t encountered any, but I’m not saying no. I have friends that swear that they have stayed in haunted hotels. The stories they tell are freaky as hell. But I honestly get more chills from going back to childhood neighborhoods, driving past your old schools. Those are the ghosts that you carry with you, and they are always around.

What is your greatest fear as an editor?

My greatest fear when we were putting out KILLING MALMON was that people wouldn’t see past the gag and see the exceptional work that we were showcasing in the book. The hook was simple, “Somewhere in your story, a character named Dan Malmon must die. The story can be scary, funny, happy, or sad, but somewhere in the story he’s gotta die.” It was a fun premise that opened the door to tons of different stories. People seemed to like it, and the experience was incredible. But I was worried that the public would think of it solely as a gag and ignore the quality of the stories inside. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

Do you have any horror movie dealbreakers?

The Omen and The Exorcist. I’m not religious but there’s something about those films.

Can’t do it.

Nope.  

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What Scares You, Yasmin Angoe?

Yasmin Angoe’s first novel, Her Name Is Knight, was all over the best-of and most-anticipated lists when it came out. The book features an “elite assassin heroine on a mission to topple a human trafficking ring and avenge her family.” Kirkus Review called it, “A parable of reclaiming personal and tribal identity by seizing power at all costs.” Now she’s got the second book in the series, They Come At Knight, releasing in a few weeks, so you have time to catch up if you haven’t yet read the first!

In the meantime, I am excited to hear all she has to say about the stuff she finds scary. Let’s do this!


What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is waking up one day and having no story to tell. Sounds dumb or like something a writer would say, but I really mean it. It’s probably why I obsess so much about the stories I am telling.

What are your phobias?

I have a phobia of spiders and clusters of bubbles or holes. Just writing it freaks me out. Ick! 

What is your favorite urban legend (or one that’s really stuck with you/freaked you out)?

That would be Bloody Mary, I think. Or any story where if you repeat a name it comes to get you.

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

What scares me most is writing something that people will hate. Like, the story just flops. That’s terrifying.

Do you have any horror movie dealbreakers?

I used to be scared to read/watch movies with the devil or possessions. I thought those could hit too close to home, being Catholic and all. LOL.

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What Scares You, Christopher Swann?

I’m so excited to chat all things scary with my friend Christopher Swann today (pictured here after painting a ceiling last summer, or right before the authorities come to take him to a safe, locked room—your choice). Chris’s book, Never Go Home, released this month, and you need to get it right now. I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of the book and I will tell you if you love bad-ass female protagonists (and who doesn’t?) then You. Will. Love. This. Book.

But the most important thing is what terrifies the shit out of Chris. So read on, my friends!


What is your greatest fear?

It’s a tie between being eaten alive and dying alone.

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

Talking to large groups of people. I overcame it by becoming a high school teacher, where you have to, on a daily basis, engage groups of adolescents who may not want to be there. I still get nervous, but that fear energizes me rather than keeps me from talking.

What was your worst nightmare ever?

I had a nightmare where I was in an airport and my father walked past me, wearing a trench coat and a hat and carrying a briefcase. I called out for him, but he ignored me. I ran after him, but it was like running in slow motion—he kept walking, and I barely made any progress. I finally caught up to him when he was about to go through the metal detector. “Dad!” I yelled, and he turned around. But it wasn’t my father. It was Morgan Freeman, and he opened his mouth and had long vampire-like teeth. I woke up screaming.

What scares you most about the writing process?

Submissions. And writing a synopsis.

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

The fear that I’ll have nothing to write, or that no one will care about what I do end up writing.

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What Scares You, Jackie Sherbow?

I was excited to catch up with Jackie Sherbow, managing editor of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine to chat about all things scary. Turns out Jackie shares my love of the best holiday ever (of course!) and the Bloody Mary urban legend. You may also check out their new small press, Thrash Press.

Read on for more awesomeness!


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

Yes. I used to have a constant fear upon parting with anyone that that would be the last time I saw them. Aside from that being a scary and depressing thought, it also put a lot of pressure on every single interaction I had. Now I give myself and others more grace, and I’m able to say goodbye without feeling awful.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I believe in ghosts—in a way. First, I want to believe in them, or at least in strange things we can’t quite understand. Second, I think it doesn’t necessarily matter if the ghost is real or not: If we believe in something, and it makes us afraid, it affects us all the same. I think different experiences, memories, and traumas in our life can act as ghosts for us. And I think that in a way society has ghosts as well, persistent hauntings that appear repeatedly throughout the years.

What is your favorite urban legend?

Bloody Mary. It always had a bit of the vertigo effect for me, the feeling people describe of being afraid of heights and then having the compulsion to throw themselves off the ledge. Bloody Mary only appears if you say her name three times. Why did I always want to say her name!? Or, I’d be afraid I would somehow accidentally say it or think it. The agency of the situation scared me, and I think that’s an interesting element of this one.

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

I have several recurring nightmares. I’ve noticed that, recently, most of my dreams are nightmares. There are the standard ones of being lost, trying to climb up a hill, or my teeth falling out. I also get sleep paralysis, and it tends to be seeing someone invade my home and not being able to wake up. Lately I’ve had a recurring dream that is a bit more mundane but still awful: Trusted people in my life turning on me.

What scares you most about the writing process?

Revising! I can sit down and write, but I am terrified to look back at my work. Am I afraid it will be horrible? Afraid that it’ll be great? Afraid that I will not have the energy or skill to make it better? Afraid I’m creating into a dark abyss? I’m not sure, but I’m working on it.

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What Scares You, Lucinda Berry?

Lucinda Berry is a master of creepy psychological thrillers, and I’m excited to peek a little inside that brain to see what scary things helped shape the way she looks at the world and the way she writes her books. Her newest novel, Under Her Care, is one I got an early read of, and I am here to say you want this book. It’s a fun, spooky fast-paced read that will leave you guessing until the end.

This is my official take: “Creepy and chilling, Under Her Care is a tense page-turner that leaves you questioning everything you ever knew about motherhood and the family bond.”

And now….on to what scares Lucinda…


What is your greatest fear?

Without a doubt, snakes. I am TERRIFIED of snakes.

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

Yep, and it has to do with my answer to the first question: snakes. So, I’m terrified of snakes, and I have an older brother. During the spring, down by the creek where we lived, there were tons of garter snakes having baby snakes. My brother and his friends used to catch as many as they could and put them in bags. Then, they’d chase me around with them. I still have nightmares about it. Those are the scariest nightmares. The ones based in real life…

Do you like Halloween? If so, what’s your favorite part?

I LOVE Halloween. I usually say Christmas is my favorite holiday and Halloween is my second favorite but in reality—Halloween might be first, and for a couple of reasons. One, there’s so much more pressure on Christmas but there’s none of that with Halloween! Halloween isn’t supposed to look a certain way or be perfect and I love that. Two, I didn’t get to celebrate traditional Halloween much when I was a kid so I’m making up for lost time. Three, I love being scared and scaring other people.

What’s scarier: attics or basements?

Basements 100%. I grew up in the rural Midwest and every house had a basement. I’ve seen some very scary basements in my day. Ones where you were terrified you’d get locked down there; where you ran dares to see who could stay down there longest with the lights turned out.

What’s more terrifying to you: Freezing to death in a blizzard or dying from extreme heat, lost in a desert?

This one is easy since I’ve had mild hypothermia once. Again, I grew up in the Midwest (there seems to be a theme here-ha!) and got stranded overnight in a car during the brutal winter. Freezing is awful in the beginning, but then it becomes almost peaceful so I don’t have any fears about dying in a blizzard. So, I’m going with dying from extreme heat. That sounds excruciating and brutal.


Dr. Lucinda Berry is a former clinical psychologist and leading researcher in childhood trauma. Now, she spends her days writing full-time where she uses her clinical experience to blur the line between fiction and nonfiction. She enjoys taking her readers on a journey through the dark recesses of the human psyche. Her work has been optioned for film and translated into multiple languages.

If Berry isn’t chasing after her son, you can find her running through Los Angeles, prepping for her next marathon. To hear about her upcoming releases or other author news, visit her on social media or sign up for her newsletter at https://lucindaberry.com/.

What Scares You, Richie Narvaez?

Dear Readers… Today I chat with Richie Narvaez about all things scary. Richie teaches lit classes to fashion students, so his horror lens ought to be incredibly interesting, right? Also, check out his YA mystery Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, which won both the Agatha Award and the Anthony Award. Finally, I will say that Richie’s argument for why basements are scarier than attics seems pretty damn solid to me, so I’m officially convinced. Onward!


What is your greatest fear?

Hah! That I “may cease to be / Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain.” And I mean, teeming! A fear that just gets exacerbated by my own procrastination, which is in turn is exacerbated by the state of the world, which brings up my second greatest fear, for democracy and civilization, our imperiled, fragile institutions, and this in turns causes nightmares about armageddon. So thank you for bringing that up! I need a hug now.

What’s scarier: attics or basements?

When I was about five or six, one of my uncles died, and his daughters told me that he had been killed in their basement by the Devil because basements are closest to Hell, so, duh, that’s how the Devil gets into your house.

Now, where I lived, our landlord would, on cold nights, ask my brother or me to go down to the basement to turn on the boiler. She was older, and the narrow stairs were rickety and lit by a single naked bulb, so she would ask us to do it. You had to feel in the air, in the absolute darkness, for the pull-string hanging down. You’d often find the string with your face, and, if you were an imaginative child, you could easily think it was a spider’s web or the caress of a corpse’s finger. Once you got the string and yanked it, the light was feeble, so the basement remained murky, full of hidden things. The boiler itself was set in a corner, and, thanks to my cousins, I had become convinced that behind it must be a tunnel that connected directly to the underworld, and that when I went to turn the little handle for the boiler, the Devil’s hand would fly out and grab me.

So, I would say: basements. By the way, years later, my father told me that that uncle had been shot to death in the basement—by a drug dealer.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I don’t. Beyond the power of coffee to revive the dead, I no longer believe in anything paranormal or supernatural. But the idea of ghosts is fascinating to me—and tragic. To be disembodied, to be able to do no more than moan and rattle and maybe spew a little ectoplasm while witnessing the world move on without you—what a terribly sad thing to imagine. That said, as a kid I dressed as Casper for three Halloweens in a row and quite enjoyed it.

What is your favorite monster/villain?

The Wolfman! Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolfman, that is. In fact, a frequent part of his outfit—besides the hair, I mean—was a black or dark shirt and pants. So whenever I happen to be dressed like that I like to imagine I’m Larry Talbot. It’s very satisfying.

The Wolfman? Or Richie in the morning? You decide!

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What Scares You, Tiffany Meuret?

Tiffany Meuret writes about “monsters and vicious women.” So, basically, we’re soul mates. If that’s not enough to intrigue you, check out her latest novel Little Bird, which releases this month. It sounds like a wild ride!

Freshly divorced and grieving the death of her father, Josie Lauer has caged herself inside her home. To cope with her losses, Josie follows a strict daily routine of work, playing with her dog, Po, and trying to remember to eat a decent meal–and ending each night by drinking copious amounts of vodka. In other words, she is not coping at all.


Everything changes when Josie wakes to find a small shrub has sprouted in her otherwise dirt backyard the morning after yet another bender. Within hours, the vine-like plant is running amok–and it’s brought company. The appearance of the unwieldly growth has also heralded the arrival of a busybody new neighbor who insists on thrusting herself into Josie’s life. The neighbor Josie can deal with. The talking skeleton called Skelly that has perched itself in Josie’s backyard on a throne made of vines, however, is an entirely different matter.


As the strangely sentient plant continues to grow and twist its tendrils inside Josie’s suddenly complicated life, Josie begins to realize her new neighbor knows a lot more about the vines and her bizarre new visitor than she initially lets on. There’s a reason Skelly has chosen to appear in Josie’s suddenly-blooming backyard and insists on pulling her out of her carefully kept self-isolation. All Josie has to do is figure out what that reason is–and she has only a few days to do it, or else she might find herself on the wrong side of catastrophe.

If that isn’t wild enough for you, read on to find out what scares her most…


Do you believe in ghosts?

No, never have, and yet I am fascinated by ghost stories, hauntings, demon possessions, you name it. I find them to be hugely terrifying, perhaps because of the loss of control. To have something intangible and untouchable interfere in dangerous ways with my bodily autonomy, my family, and my mind is probably my absolute greatest fear. I am a total control freak, so I think I would collapse under such pressure. 

What are your phobias?

I am mildly claustrophobic. It doesn’t debilitate me, and I never even considered it until my therapist brought it up. I hate being hugged, laid on, or constrained in any way, even with blankets. I panic almost immediately. I also can’t sleep if anything is even remotely in front of my face, for example, a pillow billowing up around my face as I lay down or a blanket curled in front of me. That said, I have zero issues with elevators or other similar smallish spaces. 

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

Oh yes. I have multiple recurring nightmares. My most prominent is of sharks, specifically great whites. I watched Jaws from a very early age (it was one of my favorite movies as a kid because I was a weird kid) and while I love sharks and find them to be some of the most interesting creatures on the planet, the idea of a set of teeth coming towards me from the black depths springs a very visceral terror for me. If there is water in my dreams, there is a shark. Every. Time. Never fails. I have had shark nightmares where the shark is chasing me underwater, where I have turned around just in time to see their open jaws snapping down on top of me, and I’ve been swallowed in one nightmare and lived inside the shark, similar to Pinnochio inside Monstro the whale. One of the worst I’ve had, though, was a nightmare where I could see the shark coming for my mom, and every time I yelled it froze time. The shark, my mom, everything froze. Every instance time restarted, the shark got closer, and every time I tried to warn her time stopped again. So I essentially watched helplessly as this shark came for my mom, eventually eating her because she could never hear my warning. 

“The idea of a set of teeth coming towards me from the black depths springs a very visceral terror.”

Do you have any horror movie dealbreakers?

Excessive gore and torture. I don’t find it entertaining in the least, and the guts and bone and blood actually make me nauseous. Slasher films are something I almost never watch, both for these reasons and because I find some to be rote and lazy, hoping the guts will shock where the storytelling does not. I know there are excellent films in the genre too, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you about them because I am too weak-stomached to watch them. 

What is your favorite monster/villain?

Jaws might be my favorite, for all the reasons I already listed. That shark haunts me to this day! Besides Jaws, however, another favorite is Medusa. Having a nest of snakes for hair and turning people to stone sounds like a feature, not a bug. Her heartbreaking creation aside, she and her gorgon sisters are incredibly badass. 

Do you like Halloween? If not, why?

I mean…not really. It irritates and exhausts me more than anything. I really hate having to entertain people, and so having the entire neighborhood ring my doorbell all damn night is literally a nightmare for me. I usually leave the porch light off, take my kids to trick or treat near their grandparents’ house, and then come home and pray no one dares come to my stoop. It just gives me anxiety. 

What’s more terrifying to you: freezing to death in a blizzard OR dying from extreme heat, lost in a desert?

A blizzard is far more terrifying, hands down. I live in the desert, and I think I tolerate the heat far better than the cold. In the heat, at least I know what to expect, even if it is killing me. There is also the added terror of being smothered and immobilized by snow that makes my chest tight.

How do you deal with fear?

Indignance and blind stubbornness, probably. I deal with the world by rationalizing everything and making game plans. So if fear levels me one day, by the next I am the type to unfurl a mental checklist of ways I am going to manage said fear or uncertainty. I am an expert at stuffing unwieldy emotions away and tackling things, which definitely is not a healthy approach, but it does get shit done. 


Tiffany Meuret’s debut novel, A Flood of Posies, was published in 2021 with Black Spot Books. Her next novel, Little Bird, releases in June 2022. She has published multiple short works and poetry in various venues, which can be found on her website www.TiffanyMeuret.com. She lives in Phoenix with her husband, kids, and a menagerie of animals. 

What Scares You, Elise Kress?

Elise Kress is a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, which is how we met (on Zoom!) When I found out she was a Tarot reader, I knew she was my people—and when I found out she had ghostly encounters, I knew I had to have her as a guest on What Scares You. Read on for more about Elise, including her writerly fears, what she thinks about Halloween, and the spooky story that she and I share a great love for.


What is the scariest thing you remember from childhood?

In 1968, a young woman was kidnapped and buried alive. The kidnappers rigged up a casket so she could breathe and eat, using small tubes inserted into the locked casket, running through the ground to the surface. She was buried underground in that casket for over 80 hours. What if something blocked one of her tubes? What if they never discovered where she was? After an agonizing three days, the police found her and dug her up. Our newspaper ran a series of detailed drawings of her casket and how it had been jerry-rigged to accommodate her breathing and eating tubes. Those drawings haunt me. Such a small. Space. For. So. Long.

What is your favorite urban legend?

There was a road out in the country near my hometown called Cold Soul Road. We heard that a woman who lived in a house on the road was cheating on her husband. He discovered the betrayal and one night dragged her from their house up the hill on the road into the trees. She begged him for mercy with outstretched arms but he savagely beat her to death.

The story went that if you stopped your car at the bottom of the Cold Soul Road hill and put your car in neutral, the murdered woman would drag it up the hill in her grieving arms. I went there with friends late at night and there was a lot of screaming in our car as it drifted up Cold Soul Road hill, backwards.

Have you ever had any paranormal experiences or premonitions? How did you deal with it?

As a Tarot Reader you might think I have a lot of paranormal experiences. But when I’m reading the cards, my words come tumbling out and to me it feels normal.

I do believe in after-death communication. My father sent me a message after he died. He and I had discussed art and nature often. He was fascinated by the geese who visited the exact same field in our town each year. After he died, just as the Rabbi began chanting the graveside prayers at his funeral, a flock of geese flew straight up in the air, wings battering, from the field behind the cemetery. They flew over his grave and over our heads. In that moment I knew it was a wave of greeting from my beloved father.

“I love how Halloween gives us a chance to toy with our fears.”

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Is there a particular scene that really haunts you still?

“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs

It is the story of an elderly couple and their grown son who entertain an old friend who has returned home from exotic travels. The friend has brought back a singular souvenir: A monkey’s paw. This bizarre object is said to have the power to grant three wishes, but in a disturbing way. The family pays no heed to the warnings of their guest and decides to make a wish. The father wishes for £200 holding the paw aloft. As he speaks, the Monkey’s Paw moves in the father’s hand. He drops the paw in fright, but nothing else happens. Until… you read the rest of the story. I think your heart will pound as much as mine.

The severed paw wriggling in the man’s hand still sends chills up my spine.

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

What if my writing is a cliché-ridden, trope-filled bore? What if I never write anything worthy of being read?

Do you like Halloween?

So many things scare me, but I love Halloween. I love children dressing up and going door-to-door. I love the crisp air, the ghosts and goblins, pumpkins, and skulls. I love scary stories, macabre music and black bats and cats. I love how Halloween gives us a chance to toy with our fears.

What is your greatest fear?

I fear that I will leave this world never realizing that I was alright.


Elise Kress is a professional Tarot reader and musician (Irish Flute, penny whistle and vocals). Her company, Celtic Music for All Occasions, employs well-known Celtic musicians for weddings and other live events. She has read Tarot cards professionally for fifteen years, specializing in private readings and readings at parties and other celebrations. Elise is at work on her first mystery novel about an amateur detective, a Tarot reader who uses the cards to solve cases.

What Scares You, Richard Thomas?

Richard Thomas’ new story collection, Spontaneous Human Combustion, looks terrifying and wonderful. A blend of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, the collection has been praised as “simultaneously lush and terrifying” by A.C. Wise and got a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.

On another note, I’ve been doing these Q&As now for almost three years now. I feel like I learn a lot about each person from their answers, and their experiences and emotions fascinate me. But no interview has given me chills the way this one has. Read on, my friends. You are in for a treat!


What is the scariest thing you remember from childhood?

I was hiking in downtown St. Louis with my Boy Scout troop, and we saw a man parachute out of a small plane, land briefly on the St. Louis Arch, and then plummet to his death right in front of us. We tried to run up the stairs, as one of our leaders was saying, “We can save him, we can catch him!” He bounced, like ten feet in the air. I’d never seen so much blood—a sheen of it as wide as a leg of the arch. I often wonder if that’s why I started writing horror stories.

“I’d never seen so much blood—a sheen of it as wide as a leg of the arch.”

Do you believe in ghosts?

I do, because I’ve seen a ghost. My friend Martin passed away at an early age. He was only 52. Before he died, he told me he had been dating this woman who was a witch. If anything happened to him, he said, it was her. And then he died. It was quite unsettling. What shocked me was that one day he appeared to me in shadow, dark, and translucent. And he was angry. I wasn’t expecting that. I told him I loved him, and that he had to move on, that he was freaking me out. I blinked, and he was gone.

Have you ever had any paranormal experiences or premonitions?

In addition to the Martin story, my son once did a photography project with candles and a pentagram he drew. I didn’t know this. When he was done, he asked what to do with the drawing. I was obviously not happy with this. We tore it into four sections and then drowned it (flushed it down the toilet), thew away part of it in the trash, buried part of it, and burned part of it. That night I woke up to a shadow standing over my bed. That happened a few times. My son didn’t think it was funny after that. We eventually smudged the house, and it seems to have moved on. Did not enjoy that, no.

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