First of all, please introduce yourself.
Hello! Sarah Sylvester, author and geek extraordinaire. My interests include eating food and spending way too much time on the internet.
Can you remember the first time you were truly frightened?
My first experience with fear (that I can recall, at least), is actually a dream I had as a child. I was lying in bed and there was a ghost standing at the foot of it, watching me and occasionally wailing- in true Scooby-Doo-esque fashion, of course. I very clearly remember telling my mom the next morning that he had tried to scare me, but I had “kicked his butt and made him go away.” Wish that bravery of mine had stuck into adulthood!
Fear is an adverse reaction to danger and, more commonly, the unknown/different. When we don’t understand something, or feel that it’s a threat, it’s instinctual to be wary of it.
What were you afraid of most as a child?
I was scared of the water for the longest time. Once when I was little, I almost drowned in a hotel pool, and that kind of put me off for a while. Since then, I’ve become a lot more comfortable with it, though.
What are your biggest fears now, as an adult?
My two biggest ones are surgery and being crushed (two VERY different topics, I know).
What is the scariest experience you’ve had so far?
I once had a creep stare at my house for a really long time one night. He just stood across the street under a lamp post and looked at my house for about ten minutes before he finally got into a car and left.
Is fear a good thing or a bad thing?
I think that depends on what the fear is. Educated fear, based on things that are actually dangerous, or worrisome is perfectly fine. Fear based off of ignorance (especially WILLFUL ignorance), is something that I believe to be completely unacceptable. Ignorance breeds hate, and the world has more than enough of that.
Why do you think people “escape” with a genre that stimulates fear and anxiety?
Being frightened by fiction makes reality seem a little less scary by comparison.
What was your most creative or favorite Halloween costume?
Not mine, but my mom once stabbed plastic knives into a bunch of cereal boxes and scattered them on our lawn. Best “cereal killer” costume ever, hands down.
Who is the best horror villain? Best is a subjective word -- interpret it as you please. ;)
Jack Torrance, from the Shining. Although he’s more of a manipulated pawn than a true villain, he’s still often depicted as one, and I think it works. What I love about it so much is that he’s a relative. It shows that anyone, no matter how well you think you know them, or what kind of relationship you have with them, can harbor evil within them. Anyone can do bad things, even your own flesh and blood. It made the whole thing so much more sinister and paranoia filled.
Can you remember the first horror film or television series you saw? How about the first horror story or novel?
The first horror movie I saw was called Shutter. It came on TV one day and I didn’t even see all of it, but it’s always stuck with me. It’s about a couple who runs over and kills a woman, then later begins seeing her in the backgrounds of photographs. The whole thing was really sketchy. The first horror novel I read was called The Old Willis Place. Abandoned houses, the angry spirit of a bitter old woman- you can’t go wrong.
Which sub-genres of horror speak most to you?
(science fiction, speculative fiction, dark sci-fi, realistic horror, paranormal/supernatural horror, urban fantasy, etc)
Paranormal horror has always been my favorite. From a young age, I’ve always been unhealthily interested in the non-living and their potential attachments to our realm of existence.
What makes a book or film scary?
The reaction of the characters. If you can effectively touch base with all of the senses through the character, it makes it impossible for the reader not to feel it, too. It’s kind of like when you talk about yawning and then the urge to do it comes on (I actually ended up yawning while typing this). If you can describe the reason AND the symptoms of fear, the audience will start to live the experience second-hand.
What is the worst horror novel or film you’ve ever read/watched? What made it so terrible?
Honestly, I didn’t like Paranormal Activity. I understand that things built up through the series, but I ended up laughing at the movie. There was one part toward the end that jumped me, but it was altogether lackluster. This will sound confusing, but it both tried too hard and didn’t try at all. Everything was played up by the characters, but the plot itself was weak and kind of slow in my opinion.
Which way would you prefer the end to come:
alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, natural disaster, global war, nuclear fallout, disease, giant solar flare, nanotechnology or robots, or mass insanity
Zombie apocalypse. They’re decaying bodies, so if you can wait out the chaos, they’ll all just fall apart eventually (if we’re talking proper, classic zombies, of course).
Sarah Sylvester, author of "The Slab", was born in Massachusetts and raised in Maine, continuing to live in the town of Newport to this day. She's a lover of horror and fantasy (and is a closet romance enthusiast).
This is her first published piece, and there are several more in the works -- including two more short stories and a novel series. Keep an eye out for her future projects, and make sure to follow the Fluky Fiction Facebook page, as well as Sarah's Twitter (@sometimeslaine).
Sarah's first published piece will be featured in Fluky Fiction's When Glints Collide, coming October 10. The anthology is currently available for pre-sale on Kindle and in print at our Etsy store.
Ask Sarah about our free shipping! @sometimeslaine