(I haven’t officially been tagged for this one, but everyone knows how I feel about a good meme, and Halloween is my favorite holiday, so this one was absolutely irresistible.)
What is your favorite work of horror fiction?
If loosely defining “horror” with no supernatural component, it would be Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. True supernatural horror is a much more difficult question. Maybe it’s a 3-way tie among Dracula, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Victorian Chaise Longue. But then there’s nonfiction. I typically choose to read two or three nonfiction books about the paranormal around this time of year. My blithe attitude before reading these books? “What a bunch of hooey!” My not-so-blithe attitude about twenty pages into the first one? “I hope reading all this stuff isn’t making my brain attract the energy forces, or whatever it is that causes these paranormal visitors to dump their suitcases in the hallway and mount the steps to join us normal folks in our bedrooms.” The one exception was Mary Roach’s Spook, which I loved and which kept me up in stitches, as opposed to keeping me up quaking in terror at every little noise I heard.
What is your favorite work of science fiction/fantasy?
Book you would find in the “SCI FI/FAN” section of your local library: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Book you’d find in “FIC” that should be filed in “SCI FI/FAN:” Time and Again by Jack Finney. What can I say? I’m a sucker for time travel. Combine it with a good mystery and New York City, and I’m a Halloween-sized package of all-day lollipops.
What horror movie gives you the most chills?
The Exorcist, with The Shining and Haunted being close seconds, all three of which I can watch in the middle of a beautiful sunshiny day and still want to head under the bedcovers.
Freddy v. Jason?
Freddy when I’m visiting a friend in Florida, have just watched the movie, shortly after seeing one of those huge Palmetto bugs for the first time in my life, and have to walk from my friend's parents’ house down to the guest house in order to go to bed. Jason, when I’m working at a summer camp and looking out on the big pond where he could easily be lurking.
What is your favorite Halloween treat?
Tootsie Roll Pops (perfect combination of hard candy and chocolate all rolled into one).
Ghosts or goblins?
Ghosts. Most definitely. As a matter of fact, I’m writing about them over here. Or at least, I will be if they ever decide to show up. They seem to be as elusive in my fiction writing as they are in real life.
What is your scariest encounter with the paranormal?
Despite the fact I grew up in the South and spent plenty of time in England, both places where ghosts are supposed to be a dime a dozen, my only rather suspect encounter with the paranormal was staying in an attic room in a hotel in Normandy when I was 8 years old that my siblings and I were convinced was haunted. Other than that, I have to quote Katherine Ramsland from her book Ghost (one of this year’s nonfiction reads),
“The story of my life is that I’m always the one sitting next to the person who saw a ghost, or staying in a haunted house the night before someone got scared out of his wits.”
Of course, being a complete scaredy cat, I’m not exactly someone who’s ever gone in search of the paranormal.
Do you believe in ghosts?
At 2:30 p.m. on another one of those bright, sunshiny afternoons when a group of friends and I are are engaged in a rational discussion about the reasons humans resort to the supernatural to explain what they don’t understand? Absolutely not!
At 2:30 a.m. around this time of year, when I’ve been reading a bunch of ghost stories, it’s raining out, and the dog is acting strangely? Absolutely!
Favorite Halloween costume?
The first Halloween I remember, circa age 3 or 4, I was Adam Ant (the cartoon character nobody remembers, not the pop star everyone does). We went to a little party being thrown for the "faculty brats" at the college where my father taught, and all the students lavished attention on my sisters and me, and I got to eat lots of Tootsie Roll Pops. Quite obviously, being Adam Ant was the be-all and end-all, and I was never going to go back to being Emily.
Now, did you feel that? Don’t turn around, or you might discover the long, bony finger that just tagged you on the shoulder, the one that isn’t attached to any earthly body. Time to get to work on your own Halloween meme, or that disembodied finger might come back to do more than just tag you next time…