MEGHAN: Hi, Clay. Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. We’re happy to have you here today. Let’s start with an easy one… What is your favorite part of Halloween?
CLAY: I love taking my kids trick or treating… I loved it as a kid and now I get to relive vicariously through their candy-snatching as their chaperone.
MEGHAN: Do you get scared easily?
CLAY: I do. My flight-or-fight response is permanently flipped on to flight flight flight…
MEGHAN: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?
CLAY: It’s impossible to narrow it down to just one! The original Black Christmas is a top contender. The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is profoundly upsetting. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death haunts me.
MEGHAN: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?
CLAY: Two pop into my mind. The opening double-homicide that kicks off The Last House on the Left is excruciating to me. I’ve only ever watched that film once and I never want to watch it again. And then there’s the closing moments of Martyrs. That’s such a tough one for me, I can’t do it again.
MEGHAN: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?
CLAY: I’m pretty sheepish around extreme violence for violence’s sake, so there are certain films that I just know are not going to be for me… If they’re films that make it to the multiplex, I can usually take it, but there are those underground movies (I’m looking at you, A Serbian Film) I just know to avoid.
MEGHAN: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?
CLAY: A nice one? Twilight, perhaps? I always wanted to be one of The Lost Boys… Maybe that one?
MEGHAN: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?
CLAY: Flatliners would be fun, the original, just so I could go to med school and get free therapy.
MEGHAN: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?
CLAY: Gill Man from Creature of the Black Lagoon immediately leaps to mind. You can’t go wrong with the alien in Alien/Aliens. But I have a fondness for the “space herpes” creature in Ice Pirates.
MEGHAN: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
CLAY: Carving pumpkin! Every year we host a pumpkin-carving party. BYOP (bring your own pumpkin)!
MEGHAN: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?
CLAY: My son got obsessed with Monster Mash, so that was on heavy rotation in our house for a while…
MEGHAN: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
CLAY: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. Hands down my favorite. There are more disturbing books (I’m looking at you, Jack Ketchum), but this book took its unsettling storyline and elevated it to something heartbreaking, which I absolutely love.
MEGHAN: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?
CLAY: Solo parenting can be pretty creepy…
MEGHAN: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?
CLAY: I’ve been obsessed with the Alaskan Triangle… Where did all of those people go?!
MEGHAN: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?
CLAY: Not the spookiest, but for me, the campfire tale that had the most impact on me as a child was the story of Taily-Po. It’s an Appalachian folktale about a hunter who stumbles upon something that he probably shouldn’t have. When I first heard that story around the campfire as a kid, it changed my life forever. I’ll always go to bat for the Wendigo, the folktale behind it.
MEGHAN: Okay… let’s have some fun:
In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?
CLAY: Something long and stabby.
MEGHAN: Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?
MEGHAN: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?
MEGHAN: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?
CLAY: Ewww… Why?! Dead bodies in the graveyard, I guess.
MEGHAN: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?
CLAY: Poltergeist house!
MEGHAN: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?
CLAY: Bitter melon!
MEGHAN: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?
CLAY: I love the idea of cotton candy made of spider webs! That should make its way into a story…
MEGHAN: Clay, I can’t wait to read your spider web cotton candy story so… yeah… you should get to writing haha. Thanks for stopping by today. It’s been great!
Clay McLeod Chapman is the author of the novels Whisper Down the Lane, The Remaking, and miss corpus, short story collections nothing untoward, commencement and rest area, as well as The Tribe middle grade series: Homeroom Headhunters, Camp Cannibal and Academic Assassins.