First of all, please introduce yourself.
I’m Emma McAnirlin, a writer, student, and wanna-be stand-up comedian. I live in Maine, but I’m going to school in Virginia while (hopefully) studying Political Science and Classics.
Can you remember the first time you were truly frightened?
So this may not be the first time I was frightened, but it’s one that sticks out in my mind. It was Halloween 2015. I was out with my friends just walking around in our costumes, feeling like we ran this town (which we most definitely did not. I mean, we were a bunch of 15 year olds trick-or-treating). We went to this one house, and the moment the lovely lady gave us our well-deserved candy, we heard a chainsaw. A man began running after us, and we immediately screamed, running down the street in absolute terror. After we rounded the corner, we were fairly sure we were safe until we heard the chainsaw again! We all screamed again, but this time I cried. In the middle of the street, I began crying, and everyone laughed. But to be fair, I don’t think I had ever been that terrified in my entire life.
I feel like fear is fundamentally becoming aware of the unknown. That’s why jump-scares exist, and why they’re so successful. But it’s also a little more than that I think. It’s all a psychological game, really.
What were you afraid of most as a child?
Growing up, I was hyper-imaginative so I would be randomly terrified that someone was going to break into our house. Which meant I always jumped at the smallest noises at night. So basically it wasn’t difficult to frighten me at all, and it still isn’t.
What are your biggest fears now, as an adult?
My biggest fears now aren’t necessarily things like the dark, or clowns (although I am terrified of snakes). But it’s more big picture ideas like failing, or not getting to my full potential. As a student, I have those fears all the time. “What if I pick the wrong major and I graduate with a dumb degree I can’t do anything with,” “What if I’m beyond broke and I have no fall-back plan?” You know -- classic fears.
Is fear a good thing or a bad thing?
For me, I think fear is a good thing. I feel like I need to strive to achieve better things so I can avoid the pitfalls my brain thinks I’ll fall into. But I know that for some people fear is stifling, and can prohibit them from doing things they may enjoy, purely because of their fears.
What was your most creative or favorite Halloween costume?
My favorite Halloween costume thus far has definitely been Rosie the Riveter. It’s a classic woman-empowerment costume -- and it’s incredibly easy to pull off if you own denim and a red bandana.
Can you remember the first horror film or television series you saw? How about the first horror story or novel?
The first horror film I saw was The Sixth Sense, and that was only a month ago. I watched it with my roommate because she was appalled I had never seen a scary movie before. But it may not have been the best choice because I didn’t find it scary at all.
The first I book I remember reading that was scary for me was Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link. It’s a collection of short stories, and I remember being 12 and spooked. I don’t think it was actually supposed to scare me though. I read some H.P. Lovecraft which was recommended to me recently, along with Ionic Relapse by Howard Hachey. That was my first actual horror novel, and it did a very good job of making me feel scared.
What makes a book or film scary?
It’s all in how an author writes the story. Fundamentally it includes all the parts of speech, but I believe that the power is in the adjectives. It’s also the way the authors choose to reveal or not reveal information. The same goes for films, even though they tend to rely more on the musical soundtracks to convey feelings to the viewers.
Emma's two short stories "The Light" and "The Crack" are featured in When Glints Collide: A Collection of Science Fiction, Horror, and Oddities. Share this post for a chance to win a copy of the anthology plus our other two publications in our Halloween giveaway!