Meghan: Hi, Rebecca! Welcome to this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
Rebecca: It used to be the dressing up in costume, coming up with the wittiest ensemble for a party. One year, a guy I was dating dressed up like Bob Ross and I was a “happy cloud.” The year I got married, my spouse went as Jesus and I went as a nun. Nowadays, what I like about the holiday is much subtler: I like the smell of the air at that time of year, the leaves, the fact that it gets dark earlier and there’s always a classic scary movie playing on television somewhere.
Meghan: Do you get scared easily?
Rebecca: I don’t, not at traditional things anyway. I worry about things, and I am definitely a bit high-strung, but it’s difficult to really scare me. Every now and then, something in a book or movie will take me by surprise, though.
Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?
Rebecca: There really hasn’t been a movie as a whole that frightened me. There are scenes that have scared the bejesus out of me the first time I saw them, though—don’t get me wrong. Tim Curry’s mouth full of sharp teeth in It. The way the camera motion changes at the very end of The Blair Witch Project. The eyeball peeking out from the crack in the door in Black Christmas. Toni Collette crouched on the bedroom ceiling in Hereditary. Come to think of it, that last one still creeps the heck out of me!
Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?
Rebecca: When I first saw Midsommar, I thought the big hammer on the cliff-diving survivor was shocking. A silver lining is, when I saw the film in the theater, a group of chatty women were seated nearby; after that scene, they got up and left.
Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?
Rebecca: As a kid, there was one movie commercial that terrified me: the one for the first A Nightmare on Elm Street. Granted, I was very young, but I remember the montage very well: Freddy Krueger’s arms stretched wide across a narrow alleyway. I was grateful that the rating made it impossible for me to see it in the theaters.
Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?
Rebecca: I’d have to say Rosemary’s Baby. The late 60s in Manhattan was a swinging time, and the Castevets seem like decent neighbors—as long as I’m not sharing a wall with them (I’m a light sleeper). I’d double up on the birth control, though.
Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?
Rebecca: Nightbreed, hands down. The book and the movie always spoke to me; I felt like a bit of an outsider growing up. Still do, to be honest. Being secretly dosed with LSD, set up for murders I didn’t commit, shot, and well, bitten doesn’t sound like very much fun, but being able to look at David Cronenberg for hours on end and then having a squad of fellow misfits to feel at home with: that seems like a fair trade off.
Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?
Rebecca: The boogeyman, for sure. I was never much frightened of vampires or werewolves or anything like that. To me, those creatures exist outside, and you can avoid them. Boogeymen, though: they make your home their own, and they creep about when you least expect them.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
Rebecca: The decorations. When I worked as a librarian, I’d change the décor of the space with the seasons. I had a giant box for each: a winter box, a St. Patrick’s Day box, even a Mardi Gras box. For Halloween, I had seven giant boxes, including one with an unsettlingly large and hairy stuffed spider I’d string up in a dark corner.
Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?
Rebecca: “Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo. I’m a diehard Danny Elfman fan, and that’s one of their catchiest tunes, for certain!
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
Rebecca: I read Stephen King at an age that I think was much too young to be reading him. When I first read The Shining, I was sharing a bedroom with my little sister, and there was a small bathroom right across the hall from our room. It had a nightlight, so the room glowed that eerie bluish-white color until morning. From my bed, I could see the edge of the shower curtain, and after reading King’s scene with the woman in the bathtub, that’s all I could think of when I woke up at night. For weeks, I couldn’t get up to pee because I was too scared.
Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?
Rebecca: I live in a very small Cape Cod-style house, and the second floor is unfinished. The area is a giant storage space, for all intents and purposes. At night, it sounds like someone is walking around it, and over the past few years—since before the pandemic, even—I’ve found random things missing from the first floor: a lipstick here, an unwrapped bar of soap there…things I remember putting one place only to find them totally gone the next day. Sometimes I really do wonder if someone is secretly living on my second floor, and every once in a while, when I am home alone and writing, the house dead quiet, I swear I hear someone creeping down the stairs and into my kitchen.
Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?
Rebecca: I’d like to be that stoic scholar and say I want to know if God exists, how the universe was created, or what happens to us after we die, but truth be told, I’d rather know what happened to D.B. Cooper, what wiped out the hikers on the Dyatlov Pass, and of course, the real identity of Jack the Ripper.
Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?
Rebecca: Someone told me that urban legend of the black-eyed children, and there’s something about it that truly unsettles me. I will likely weave them into a short story someday, just to shake their residual creepiness from my mind.
Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?
Rebecca: That would be a tie between a machete axe and an entrenchment tool. My spouse has been giving me weapons as Christmas gifts for nearly a decade—it started out as a joke that I was preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I’ve acquired quite the arsenal, and I know how to use all of them, and trust me when I tell you: the machete axe or the entrenchment tool is the way to go.
Meghan: Okay, let’s have some fun – Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?
Rebecca: Vampire. I’m not a hairy person naturally, and I think the werewolf upkeep would throw me for a loop, even if it were only once a month.
Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?
Rebecca: Aliens. I can’t even imagine how the world would smell in a zombie apocalypse.
Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?
Rebecca: As a vegetarian, I’d have to choose the zombie juice, though had the dead bodies been fresh, it might have been a toss-up.
Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?
Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?
Rebecca: I can’t do maggots, even though cheese is my favorite food. It almost seems like an extra terrible punishment to ruin it that way! Bring on the melon.
Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?
Rebecca: It all comes down to the smell of the cauldron. Is it putrid or soup-like, and how hungry am I? All things even, I’d say, give me both!
Boo-graphy: Rebecca Rowland is the dark fiction author of The Horrors Hiding in Plain Sight, Pieces, Shagging the Boss, Optic Nerve, and the upcoming White Trash & Recycled Nightmares and is the curator of seven horror anthologies. Her short fiction, critical essays, and book reviews regularly appear in a variety of online and print venues. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association and lives in a chilly corner of New England with her family. To surreptitiously stalk her, visit her website. To take a peek at what shiny object she’s fixating on these days, follow her on Instagram.
Shagging the Boss – “Lesson number one: don’t get attached to anyone. Being a cannibal is the only way to truly succeed in this business.”
He placed one hand on the door handle, then thought a moment and smiled to himself. “The problem is, once you take a bite, it will never be enough.”
After a fortuitous encounter at a local book convention, a liberal arts graduate accepts a position at a flashy publishing company under the tutelage of its charismatic owner only to learn that the press is led, and fed, by a literal boogeyman.
Optic Nerve – Shawn is a scientist developing the formula for a drug that may cure blindness by stimulating another area of the brain that controls perception. When he surreptitiously tests the drug on himself, he accidentally accesses a neural pathway that appears to allow him to communicate with a complete stranger through telepathy instead. When Shawn finally discovers the significance of their connection and of the drug’s true effects, it is too late to stop the damage their intimate friendship has set in motion to unfold
Terror for Teetotalers – What might your favorite scary movie taste like if someone were to make it into its own signature cocktail? With more than thirty recipes inspired by some of the greatest staples in horror cinema, even the most novice of bartenders can experiment with shaking and mixing a new concoction for every evening of October leading up to Halloween.
Generation X-ed – In a unique anthology of monster, folk, paranormal, and psychological horror as glimpsed through the lens of the latchkey generation, twenty-two voices shine a strobe light on the cultural demons that lurked in the background while they came of age in the heyday of Satanic panic and slasher flicks, milk carton missing and music television, video rentals and riot grrrls. These Gen-X storytellers once stayed out unsupervised until the streetlights came on, and what they brought home with them will terrify you.
Dancing in the Shadows – With her hauntingly beautiful reimagining of archetypal monsters from classic horror, Anne Rice was the undisputed queen of contemporary gothic literature. Her contribution to the movement first established by Shelley, Stoker, and Stevenson revitalized and continues to inspire dark fiction writers and readers. Dancing in the Shadows pays tribute to Rice’s legacy with tales from today’s most innovative authors, drawing from the darkness where vampires and witches, mummies and rougarous, spirits and demons move to the music of nightmares.
Featuring stories by C. W. Blackwell, Anthony S. Buoni, Holley Cornetto, Stephanie Ellis, Douglas Ford, Lee Andrew Forman, Holly Rae Garcia, KC Grifant, Greg Herren, Christine Lajewski, Tim Mendees, Scotty Milder, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, E. F. Schraeder, Angela Yuriko Smith, Morgan Sylvia, Lamont A. Turner, Gordon B. White, and Trish Wilson; co-edited by Elaine Pascale and Rebecca Rowland; Foreword by Lisa Kroger
All proceeds from the sale of Dancing in the Shadows benefit ARNO. Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) is an organization created and dedicated to the rescue and aid of abandoned and homeless animals in the New Orleans area, including responding to the immediate needs of those in need of medical care or those too old, too young, too sick, neglected, abused and deprived of love. ARNO promotes the foster, adoption and reunion of pets with caretakers as well as spaying and neutering all companion animals through their no-kill shelter.