What Horror Authors Are Afraid Of

From May 7-10 I went to World Horror Con in Atlanta. I can’t even begin to tell you what a great experience it was for me. I could write a long blog post just on that alone, but I’ll spare you. Instead, I’ll share the words of horror authors (and one editor) far cooler than I.

Somehow, I worked up the nerve to approach these horror rock stars during the con and get quotes from them for this blog compilation. Everyone I met was incredibly gracious. These fourteen took the time answer the question “What’s your biggest fear?” (Note that their answers were actually voice memos, which is why they sound like speech instead of writing—because they were!)

I just thought, “How cool would it be to hear what scares some of the scariest folks around?” Well the answer is… pretty freaking cool. Their replies varied from playful to somber to simple to downright funny. I hope you enjoy perusing them as much as I enjoyed hearing them! And many, many thanks to all who contributed a quote.


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“My biggest fear is the mysteries of technology. That scares me more than vampires or monsters or anything else. I’m a techno geek; I write techno thrillers. I’m always afraid that we’re not mature enough to use the technology that we currently have. My latest novel, Predator One, deals with the mysteries of drones, which is kind of ironic because here in the conference center there’s a conference going on about drone technology. So I feel like going in there and just warning them: No! And that includes AI and autonomous drive systems and all that. It scares the crap out of me because it’s so easy for someone to use it badly, and I know that somebody will.”

Jonathan Maberry (@JonathanMaberry), World Horror Con Toastmaster, New York Times bestselling and multiple Bram Stoker Award winning author of Ghost Road Blues and Rot & Ruin


“Spiders.”

Patrick Freivald (@PatrickFreivald), two-time Bram Stoker Award nominated author of Jade Sky and Black Tide


“I had a recurring dream when I was a child that actually happened over and over again until I was well into my teens, where I would be standing in place and need to move, whether it was to run away from someone or to run towards someone to help them, and I could not move. So paralysis.”

Sydney Leigh (@thespiderbox), Bram Stoker Award nominated author of “Baby’s Breath”


“Alzheimer’s. No question about it. I’m terrified of losing my mind and not being able to find it.”

Jack Ketchum (@JackKetchum), Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and multiple Bram Stoker Award winning author of Off Season and The Girl Next Door


“My greatest fear is flying.”

Kami Garcia (@kamigarcia), World Horror Con Guest of Honor, New York Times bestselling and Bram Stoker Award nominated author of Beautiful Creatures


“As a child, my recurring nightmare was about all of my teeth falling out and choking me, and I would wake up feeling choked or nauseous.”

Lisa Morton (@cinriter), Horror Writers Association president and multiple Bram Stoker Award winning author of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween and Zombie Apocalypse!: Washington Deceased


“I guess my biggest fear would be disease and illness.”

Usman Malik (@usmantm), Bram Stoker Award winning author of “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family”


“Clowns. Get the clowns away from me, man. I can’t sleep because of the clowns.”

Lucy Snyder (@LucyASnyder), multiple Bram Stoker Award winning author of Softy Apocalypses and Shooting Yourself in the Head for Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide


“My biggest fear is loss of control.”

Ellen Datlow (@EllenDatlow), multiple Bram Stoker Award winning editor of The Best Horror of the Year and Fearful Symmetries


“My biggest fear as an adult is waking up and not being able to move but my mind’s all active but my body’s frozen. I’ve had that dream waking up not being able to move and it’s just terrifying. So, don’t like it; don’t want it.”

Linda Addison (@nytebird45), Bram Stoker Award winning author of How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend


“My biggest fear is something awful happening to my daughter.”

Lisa Tuttle, World Horror Con Guest of Honor, author of Windhaven and Familiar Spirit


“My biggest fear is being asked that question. [laughter] I hate to drive and I hate traffic. I hate traffic big-time. I don’t like to drive anymore. It’s so scary. I’ve had an accident or two. But it’s never to do with like bugaboos under your bed or monsters in your closet or stuff like that.”

Marge Simon, Bram Stoker Award winning author of Artist of Antithesis and Dangerous Dreams


“I’d say that I’ll become sort of a mindless ghost when I die. And my spirit will float around with snatches of bad memory in it.”

Bruce Boston, multiple Bram Stoker Award winning author of The Guardener’s Tale and Resonance Dark & Light


“My biggest fear is that someday people will discover that I can’t write.”

Charlaine Harris (@RealCharlaine), World Horror Con Guest of Honor, New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Vampire Mysteries


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Thanks again to all of the authors and editors who shared their fears with me and my readers. You all helped make my con rock!

So blog readers, now it’s your turn. What’s your biggest fear?

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Posted in Authors | 26 Comments

Picnic

In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I’d reprint one of my poems here. This little poem was first published in Encore: Prize Poems of the NFSPS 2013 published by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. It’s one of those I popped off quickly and sent out on a whim — only to have it get picked up immediately. I hope you enjoy!

Picnic

The freckles
on your body
are like
the wildflowers
in this field;

I want to
                    connect
                                     each
                                                  dot

with my tongue –

I want to
see
if they
taste

like
          sprinkles
                              or
                                    pollen.

 

© Annie Neugebauer, 2013.

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Posted in My Works | Tagged | 22 Comments

Introducing My Newest Guilty Pleasure: Bates Motel

What can I say? I’m utterly smitten with a TV show on A&E called Bates Motel, and I just have the urge to gush about it a little.

I’ll go ahead and clear up now that I don’t actually feel guilty about my “guilty pleasures.” I think it’s a really handy term to describe a certain type of interest, but I never actually feel ashamed of what I like. I’ve spoken pretty openly in the past about enjoying commercial fiction ranging all the way from excellent to downright trashy, defending popular novels such as 50 Shades and Twilight and people’s right to enjoy them without being publicly shamed. So when I say Bates Motel is my newest guilty pleasure, please take it with a grain of salt – and a bowl of popcorn, because, y’all, you’re going to want to watch this one.

If you’re not in the loop, this show has been pitched as a “contemporary prequel” to Alfred Hitchcock’s famous (and excellent) movie Psycho. If you’ve yet to see the original horror classic, you must. You must go get it right this moment or we can’t be friends.

Okay, so you’ve seen Psycho. Good, right? (You’re welcome.) Well this show takes the idea of a prequel and runs with it in strange and surprisingly effective directions. Part drama, part thriller, part horror, part teen love story, part… who the hell knows? There are moments of this show that almost feel like a family-friendly crowd-pleaser, and then there are moments that are downright salacious. There are moments of exquisite cinematography and stellar costumes, sets, and writing… and then there are moments of made-for-TV-movie-level melodrama and weird side-plots that don’t fit in. And the weirdest part about it all? It works. I don’t know how, but all of it works.

High-school-aged Norman Bates is portrayed by Freddie Highmore in what must be the creepy performance of the year. He is innocent, frightening, detached, soulful, and breathtakingly disturbing at turns, but most importantly he is convincing. I believe that this kid grows up to be Norman Bates in Psycho, and more surprisingly still, this knowledge makes the old classic better to me, not worse. That’s no easy feat.

As stellar as Highmore is as Norman, it’s Norman’s mother Norma (yes, Norma – played by Vera Farmiga) who truly steals the show. Farmiga is one of the most well-cast actors I can think of, and if she doesn’t win awards for her portrayal as Mrs. Bates I want to punch someone. Norma is deeply flawed and still sympathetic. I love her; I hate her; I want her to win even though, thanks to the movie, I know she doesn’t. She – like every aspect of this show – is chameleonic, tugging and playing with the viewers at every turn. She’s wholesome, conflicted, misguided, foolhardy, troubled, unsettling, and downright creepy, and she pulls off each version without a hitch.

Two stellar roles might be enough, but this show doesn’t stop there. Almost all of the supporting characters are cast just as well, and the characters are written lovingly and bravely. Olivia Cooke as Norman’s love interest is endearing and believable. Norman’s older brother Dylan is played by the nicely crush-worthy Max Thieriot – also given depth and interest. And finally, Sheriff Alex Romero (played by Nestor Carbonell) adds just the right amount of swoon and threat, alternatingly getting close to dark truths and helping the Bates’, leaving the viewer conflicted in all the right ways. (Do we even want to root for the Bates? No, but somehow I do…)

Truly, you really should see the original Psycho movie first. One of this show’s most impressive strengths is that it doesn’t overplay its hand. The makers know that we viewers know where this is all ending up. They count on you having seen the movie, and they let your own knowledge do some of the heavy lifting. Subtly is key, and implication works wonders. I’m so impressed by their respect for the source material, and even more impressed by their creative restraint when it comes to the horror aspects.

Throw on top of all this a mysterious town, a dark sense of humor that hits the spot, and an uncanny ability to balance quality and fun, and this show has me all worked up. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a TV show that I bothered to figure out when it comes on rather than just catching the episodes as they show up on my DVR. But Bates Motel? Well, I know where I’ll be on Monday night from 8-9.

Does anyone else watch this show? Do you like it as much as I do? (I know tastes vary, so don’t worry; I won’t actually throw tomatoes at you if it doesn’t suit you.) If not, what other show have you gotten caught up in lately?

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Posted in Just for Fun | Tagged | 41 Comments

A Writing Retreat in Approximately 22,000 Words (Plus Captions)

I’m unusually lucky in that I have several in-real-life writing friends (a whole bushel, actually) that I treasure. *Fist-bumps Febe Moss and waves to the North Branch crew.* Online writing friends are fabulous, and IRL non-writing friends are super important too. But only with IRL writing friends can you pull off the kind of productivity and hi jinx Kelsey Macke and I pulled off this spring break with our second annual Tiny Cabin writing retreat. This time we went to Oklahoma. I could write you a blog post, but, well, I think the pictures pretty well capture it.* I’ll let them talk (with a little help).

All amped up and ready to hit the road!

All amped up and ready to hit the road!

We've arrived at our destination: Tiny Cabin 2.

We’ve arrived at our destination: Tiny Cabin 2. If you try to tell me it’s not the cutest little cabin you’ve ever seen I’ll call you a liar.

Isn't it cute? Much less tiny than we expected.

Inside: much less tiny than we expected. More than double Tiny Cabin 1, and cheaper to boot. Win!

First things first, let's get this puzzle set up. (Last year we realized we needed a non-writing thing to do during breaks.)

First things first, let’s get this puzzle set up. (Last year we realized we needed a non-writing thing to do during breaks.)

We were wowed by our first sunset, perfect viewing on the front porch slider.

We were wowed by our first sunset, with perfect viewing on the front porch slider.

Our adorable little beds. The cabin had two bedrooms but we bunked together because we're cute like that.

Our adorable little beds. The cabin had two bedrooms but we bunked together because we’re cute like that.

First morning, enjoying the sun on the back porch.

First morning, enjoying my coffee and the sun on the back porch.

The view. Not bad, Oklahoma. Not bad.

The view. Not bad, Oklahoma. Not bad.

Getting to work.

Getting to work.

Silhouette of a writer -- Kels rocking her headphones.

Silhouette of a writer — Kels rocking her headphones.

And an afternoon hike for a break.

An afternoon hike for a break. That’s Tiny Cabin 2 from a distance.

Look at this cute little babbling creek that bordered the property!

Look at this cute little babbling creek that bordered the property!

Late day session calls for a change in seating.

A late-day session wears me thin. Maybe a change in seating will do the trick?

The second sunset.

The second sunset.

And a tiny little pan-fire for a tiny ilttle cabin.

A tiny little pan-fire for a tiny ilttle cabin.

Day three: despearte circumstances call for desparate measures.

Morning two and the writing is hard to come by: desperate circumstances call for desperate measures.

Enjoying the great outdoors.

Let’s get out of our heads and enjoy the great outdoors.

We were treated to an aerial show right above our heads.

We were treated to an aerial show right above us.

And I tried things one step beyond desparate.

The great outdoors didn’t do the trick. Last night: one step beyond desperate.

The final sunset.

Our final sunset.

And finally, we abandoned the puzzle for the sake of more words.

The worst of the dam broke, and on our last morning we abandoned the puzzle for the sake of more words. We got a lot more words. :)

Tired and happy. We kicked some ass.

Tired and happy. We had fun. We wrote things. We kicked some ass.

*Not pictured here: a questionable hot tub, Amaretto sours, a killer cartwheel, tree-climbing, a healthy dose of creative angst (okay maybe that was pictured here), impromptu dance parties, mysterious critter invasions, and sunshine yoga.

Thanks to Kelsey for the fun, the support, and several of these pictures! It turned out that this retreat was exactly what I needed to prioritize, get my head on straight, and find my groove again.

Now… Who’s in the mood for a retreat? Or if you’re not a writer, for a vacation? Honestly, they always end up getting blurred together for me anyway. I’ve never taken a retreat without stopping to have some fun, and I’ve never been on a vacation where I didn’t drown in inspiration and come home itching to work my butt off. Thus is the wonderful life of a writer. Happy spring!

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Posted in My Process | 26 Comments