Posts tagged "adam meyer"

What Scares You, Shannon Scott?

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?

Shannon’s ghost alley picture!

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?

Yum! Gregor Samsa as cake!

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. 

What Scares You, Adam Meyer?

Whenever I hear Adam Meyer talk about his stories, I am immediately interested. Maybe it’s the screenwriter in him, but he’s got a great talent for reducing down a plot line into a great pitch that hooks you in. I’ve bought several anthologies just because I heard what Adam’s story was about and wanted to read it.

Therefore, of course, I wanted to find out what creeps him out, since he does a pretty great job of creeping his readers out. Read on to find out…

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

For a long time, one of my greatest fears was public speaking. I can still remember standing up for the 4th grade spelling bee and being barely able to speak, let alone spell! This fear stayed with me into adulthood, and in my early thirties I decided to conquer it by trying the scariest thing I could think of: standup comedy.

I took a class with a professional standup, and we worked on our routines over several weeks. At the end we were supposed to do ten minutes in front of an audience, and I almost bailed. But my classmates and teacher were so supportive, and I practiced like crazy, and when the time came, I did my ten minutes and had a blast.

I’ve done standup a few times since, and it’s always terrifying and usually great fun. But when I get up in front of a group of people to talk about writing? It doesn’t really scare me, not anymore.

What are your phobias?

Claustrophobia is my big one! It doesn’t often come up, but sometimes I’ll be in the backseat of a car or on a long bus ride and before I know it, whoa! I feel like the walls are closing in, and my heart races, and I’m white-knuckling it the whole way.

My other phobia is dogs. The neighborhood where I grew up in New York City sat against this huge stretch of wild marsh. My parents had forbid us from going in there, so naturally my little brother and I went in there all the time! These wild dogs would roam around, and I can remember one barking fiercely and chasing after us. In retrospect, this scraggly mutt was probably more scared of us than we were of him, but the fear I felt that day has stayed with me.

These wild dogs would roam around, and I can remember one barking fiercely and chasing after us.

What is your greatest fear as a writer?

Like almost every writer I know, I fear the blank page. Starting a project always scares me, even if I have a good sense of where it’s going. What if it’s no good? What if I run out of ideas midway? What if people read it and think it sucks?

After the first few pages, that fear usually drops to a low murmur. But as much as I fear beginnings, I also fear endings, especially on longer projects. What if I can’t stick the landing. And what’s the next project going to be?

All of this said, I like to be scared when I write—that’s how I know I’m challenging myself, and that’s where the fun lies.

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

My first novel, The Last Domino. There’s nothing supernatural in it, but it’s about a school shooting and is told from the point of view of the perpetrator and his best friend. I remember writing the scene late in the novel where the shooting unfolds—I did it several times, throwing it away and starting over.

The last time, I put myself into a kind of trance, imagining myself in that school with bullets flying. It all seemed so real that I wrote down what I felt and saw and that was the version that made it into the final book.  

A colleague told me that when his teenage daughter read it, she was traumatized … which I feel badly about, and also take as a compliment. My own daughter is seven now and she’s asked when she can read The Last Domino. My wife told her not until she’s sixteen. I say when she graduates college … maybe.

What’s the scariest movie or TV show you’ve ever seen?

I can remember so many from when I was a kid, maybe only ten or twelve years old. In Search Of, hosted by Leonard Nimoy, is a favorite. The stories of ghosts and aliens were all supposedly true and that added to the delicious scariness.

I also remember my brother and I had a babysitter who’d let us stay up late on Sarturday nights to watch Tales from the Darkside. The opening titles alone were terrifying!

Later, I watched the original Halloween on VHS in our neighbor’s basement. The masked face of Michael Myers, the eerily repetitive John Carpenter score. I was terrified and hooked.

But the absolute scariest thing I remember watching as a kid was A Nightmare on Elm Street. Those images of Freddy Krueger have stayed with me for over thirty years now, and if I put on that DVD late at night, chances are I’ll have nightmares. But so worth it, because I still love that movie.

How do you deal with fear?

For years, I was terrified of the dentist. Sitting in that oversized chair, feeling the scrape of metal on my teeth, hearing the whine of the drill …

This is a somewhat common fear—Marathon Man, after all—but I took it seriously. I long avoided the dentist whenever possible, and when I finally had to deal with some problem teeth, I vowed to face my fear instead of running from it.

What I did was learn to meditate. It’s a great tool. Incredibly simple, but it’s been a lifesaver for me, and I use it in almost any situation where fear comes up—including at the dentist’s office, where I now go for regular checkups. Of course, it helps that my current dentist is a super nice guy … and looks nothing like Laurence Olivier.

Adam Meyer is a fiction writer and screenwriter. His latest short stories appear in the anthologies Crime Travel, the Joni Mitchell-inspired The Beat of Black Wings, and Seascape: Best New England Crime 2019. He’s written several true-crime TV series and TV movies, including the upcoming film Deadly Ransom. He’s also the author of the novel The Last Domino and is currently finishing his second novel, Missing Rachel.