Friday Fun: Scary Stories – Fictional and Real Life

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: In honor of yesterday’s Halloween holiday, today’s Friday Fun is a scary two-parter: 1) What’s the scariest story or book you’ve ever read? 2) What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done as a writer? 

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headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: I am not, as a rule, a fan of scary stories. I did, however, try to read Stephen King. Once. My aunt loaned me a copy of his massive novel, It. I couldn’t have been more than fourteen or fifteen. What she was thinking giving me that book, I’ll never know. I only got about a quarter of the way through before I had to give up because of the nightmares. I don’t remember much about the story except there was something about a paper boat in the gutter, a water tower, and an evil clown that squished and squelched its way through my nighttime wanderings. That was the end of my horror reading.

As for scary things I’ve done as a writer, I’m going to say that I haven’t done anything nearly scary enough. I have taken a few writing classes, joined a few writing groups, and even did NaNoWriMo once. But, I’m definitely not pushing myself to face the scary stuff – submitting, sharing, failing. It may be a little early for New Year’s intentions, but I’m already thinking that 2014 is going to be the year of my writing dares.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: Like Jamie, I’m not a big fan of scary stories, but my siblings, cousins, and I used to tell ghost stories at night in my cousins’ barn–a very spooky place. Once we were adults, I found a great recording of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and sent it to my brother, who always told the best ghost stories.

I have done many scary things as a writer! I was scared to start my own blog (you can find it at http://www.dianemackinnon.com/blog), I was scared to pitch my novel to an agent, I was scared to submit my work for publication, I was scared to publish articles in a free newspaper. Basically, every step I’ve taken as a writer has scared me, but it’s always that scary-exciting kind of feeling, so I know it’s really a good thing. And once I have taken the step, I’ve always felt glad and relieved–whew! Passed that hurdle. What’s next? I plan to continue doing scary things as a writer, as long as they are scary-exciting.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: Scariest book was “The Fog” back in the early 80s. There are many books out there with the title, and I searched for it once before a couple years ago, but can’t point confidently at the particular version. I was so scared I couldn’t put it down! It was less scary to keep reading and get to the end, then to stop in the middle and try to sleep!

As an aside – I have never and won’t ever watch the original Jaws movie. I’ve read the book. I’ve seen every other Jaws movie, but the original scares me too much. Just seeing that lady swimmer in the preview get tugged under the water and knowing she just had her leg chomped is more than enough to keep me from watching it. I can read scary books, but seldom watch scary movies.

The scariest thing I’ve done as a writer? Hhm. Pitching to an agent a couple years ago. I tend to “um” too much when I’m nervous, and I get embarrassed. Second scariest was actually saying out loud to someone who asked what I do, “I’m a writer.”  Don’t know why it scared me so much! <grin>

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: OK, I am a wimp. I don’t read scary books. I just don’t. Suspense, yes. Scary, no.  As a writer, I have done a lot of “scary” things. Pitched novels. Sent out queries. And, like Lisa, identified myself as a writer. All very scary. But none of them killed me. A friend told me that fear is excitement without oxygen. So I have learned how to breathe through my nerves. Doubt that will work for a Stephen King novel though…

14 thoughts on “Friday Fun: Scary Stories – Fictional and Real Life

  1. Julie’s answer is so funny!
    I started with Poe in elementary school and grabbed everything else after that – movies are never as scary as the books read in the dark.
    Stephen King, read most, not the master of shivers. My kid read them in 5th grade and was a fan for a while. Had to stay at that inspirational Stanley Hotel in Estes Park…which actually is haunted.
    Happy dia de muertos! (not Mexican Halloween, but you knew that)

  2. It’s hard for me to point to a single scary book. I’ve love scary and horror since I was a kid. I remember asking my grandma to buy me a scary ghost book and a yard sale, and her saying, “I don’t know why you you want to read these things when you get nightmares all the time.” I couldn’t explain it to her then and I probably couldn’t now.

    I was obsessed with Stephen King books in high school, and I’m sure a few of those stories followed me into my dreams. After reading and watching the first Jurassic Park movie, I would have nightmares about being chased by raptors and after Paranomal Activity, I would be afraid what was behind closed doors.

    As a writer? I always get a little freak out before submitting something — did I check all the spelling? Is the story right? Did I include and SASE?

    I describe pushing that send button or dropping the envelope in the mailbox as jumping off the dock at the lake. The dock roof is maybe 20 feet high and, even though I’ve done it dozens of times before, there is always that gut deep feet just before you step off. But once you’re in the air (once you’ve pressed send) you just let go to gravity (or the editor’s whims) and land as you land.

    • Love the jumping-off-the-dock metaphor. I feel the same way about trapeze flying – there’s a point of surrender that changes everything.

      TKS for sharing!

    • I’m a big fan of Gaiman’s work, but I’ve never read Coraline (or watched the movie) because I think it would freak me out a little (or, maybe a LOT).

      Stopped writing for long periods of time? Now I’m intrigued. Why?

  3. I’ve had a few scary incidents but none as a writer. I can read scary books and see scary movies and recognize them for what they are – fiction. I base my tolerance of scary on one real life incident. Two of us were returning from a military mission along the West/East German border in 1962 and decided to take a look at a Vopo tower on the other side.When I focused my binoculars on the guard, I saw his rifle scope focused on me. That could have been my last day so nothing has churned my gut at that level since.

    • Wow. That’s quite a story, John. I can see why monsters and ghoulies would have nothing on you. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Pingback: Saturday Edition: What we’re writing and reading | Live to Write - Write to Live

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