I was reading the horror anthology Nightscript recently because my good friend Adam Meyer has a great story in it, and I came across the story “American House Spider” by Shannon Scott. The story was so good, and so compelling and creepy, that I did my weird writer stalker thing and found Shannon’s email address and sent her a note about how much I enjoyed it.
Lucky for me, Shannon and I struck up a great email conversation, and I discovered she’s a super cool person in addition to being a great writer. She researches werewolves, for god’s sake! So of course, I had to ask her to do the scare Q&A. Her answers? Delightful! Read on to see for yourself.
Do you have a recurring nightmare?
I have several recurring nightmares. I have a classic zombie nightmare where I’m trapped in a building, usually a school or auditorium, and have to fight zombies to escape. Those are gory and violent dreams, especially if I don’t succumb to the zombie hoard early on. Even though I’ve seen plenty on zombie films, I didn’t dream about the undead until reading Colson Whitehead’s Zone One.I also have recurring nightmares about college starting and finding out last minute that I’m supposed to be teaching a class I never knew about, usually in French, which I barely speak anymore.
What’s something that most people are afraid of that you are not?
I’ve heard that some of the major fears out there are flying and public speaking, neither of which bother me. I don’t know why. I get scared that I’ll die in a car crash with some song by Vanilla Ice on the radio and that song will be stuck in my head for eternity and when people salvage my wrecked car—after my body’s been extracted—they’ll see the song I was listening to on the radio and think I loved that song and judge my musical tastes accordingly. The other biggie, death, is not on my top five either. As an adjunct instructor, early death is actually my retirement plan.
How do you deal with fear?
Drugs. Prescription and other. Drugs are awesome and totally necessary for life on this planet.
I also think if you’re only mildly afraid of something, you should try to do it once, without drugs. I wasn’t sure about getting a tattoo, but then I did, and sober, and now I have a massive scorpion covering over a fourth of my back. It’s actually a beautiful tattoo by Sarah Jane Epperson, who is probably the coolest woman I’ll ever meet, and that alone helped with any fear I experienced during my six plus hours with the needles, because I really wanted her to think I was cool, too.
“I wasn’t sure about getting a tattoo, but then I did, and sober…”
Have you ever had any paranormal experiences or premonitions?
When I was in Pittsburgh to present a paper at the Northeast Modern Language Association convention, I stayed at this beautiful old hotel, the Omni William Penn. Chandeliers, live jazz band, shiny wood bar, red carpets—haunted, too, I think—but not by anything evil. When I was in my room, prepping for the day, I had on an audiobook—Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. When I was ready to leave, I turned off the audiobook and felt a distinct irritation in the room. You see, I had paused the novel just as Lily Bart was performing in the tableau vivant. I apologized and played the rest of the scene. Later that day, when I was walking through downtown Pittsburgh, I saw this alley that looked straight out of a film noir and took a picture with my phone. Then it was like someone slapped the phone right out of my hand. I actually felt the blow, and the phone went flying, but no one was there. Ironically, the only thing that worked on that phone after the ghost alley incident was the audiobook app.
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Is there a particular scene that really haunts you still?
My students would know the answer to this one. I still get former students sending me pictures when they see anything related to Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. A student from my spring pandemic disaster semester, Ben, sent me this creepy snapshot last week, with Gregor Samsa as a cake. I’ve read Kafka’s novella more times than my age, and I still get the chills every time Grete slams her fist down and says “it” must go. I think the humor and absurdity in the story only make that scene more terrifying. Human monsters are always scarier than bugs or individuals who see themselves as bugs or “monstrous vermin.”
What is your favorite monster/villain?
It should be a werewolf after all the research I’ve done, but really, it’s the shark from Jaws.
Shannon Scott is an adjunct professor of English at several universities in the Twin Cities. She has contributed scholarly essays on wolves and werewolves to She-Wolf: A Cultural History of Female Werewolves (Manchester UP, 2015) and The Company of Wolves Collection (Manchester UP, 2020). She was also co-editor of Terrifying Transformations: An Anthology of Victorian Werewolf Fiction, 1838-1896 (Valancourt, 2012). Most recently, her short story, “American House Spider,” came out in in Nightscript in 2019. Her novelette, “Swing a Dead Cat,” was published in Coppice and Brake: A Dark Fiction Anthology, edited by Rachel Brune,in March 2020. Her short story, “The Bump,” will be coming out in Vastarien: A Literary Journal and her story “Dead Bread Head” will be published in December in Oculus Sinister, edited by C.M. Muller. She is currently at work on a novella called Joyride for Rachel Brune, editor at Crone Girls Press.