In Which I Wonder “What Scares You?” and Host an Entire Blog Series About It

(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)

Starting Monday, I’m opening Distraction No. 99 to guest bloggers—YA and other authors you know and love—for the first time ever. And I’m doing so to find out what freaks them out.

Why would I be curious what scares these authors, you ask?

Why would I beg them to tell me the scariest book they’ve ever read?

Might it be because I’m writing a creepy novel as we speak?

A dark and twisted novel I haven’t told you about yet?

Possibly a ghost story?


Hmm, yep, you guessed right.

Seeking inspiration, I thought to ask some authors I know a little question about what scares them and if—if!—they were willing, might they write me a guest blog about it? Some of these authors actually said yes!

Now you can share the inspiration with me, just in time for Halloween. Starting Monday, October 17 and running through October 31, here’s what’s coming to this space:

Guest blogs by YA, middle-grade, and adult authors…

Scary book recommendations…

Scary experiences that inspired…

And answers to the question, “What scares you?”

Plus, no blog series would be complete without… A BIG GIVEAWAY OF CREEPY BOOKS IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN. Some of the authors have donated signed copies of their books or the books they’re recommending for prize packs that I’ll announce on October 31. And my publisher Penguin Teen has generously donated creepy books and ARCs for Penguin prize packs, including The Replacement and The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff, Nightshade and Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer, Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne, Ripper by Stefan Petrucha, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, and Virals and Seizure by Kathy Reichs. Thank you, Penguin Teen!

You will be able to gain extra entries in the big Halloween giveaway by commenting on the guest blogs. Every guest blog you comment on will count as an extra entry on October 31. So if you comment on twenty guest blogs, that’s twenty extra chances to win a prize pack containing signed books and Penguin books and ARCs! (And if you are a librarian or a teacher building a classroom library, you’ll have a way to gain extra entries in the giveaway, too.)

I’m also excited to be featuring spooky artwork for this “What scares you?” blog series by talented illustrator and designer Robert Roxby. Check out this month’s new blog header and the title card in this post! And there’s more where that came from… (Thank you, Robert!)

So… does this get you thinking about the scariest books you’ve ever read? I hope so, because I’d love for you to share in the comments. And do you want to know what books authors you know and love have to recommend?

Come back Monday and find out. And, remember, every guest blog you comment on will get you AN EXTRA ENTRY in the big giveaway on October 31, made big by generous donations from Penguin Teen and the authors involved!

You can keep track of all the “What Scares You?” guest blogs with this tag.

15 responses to “In Which I Wonder “What Scares You?” and Host an Entire Blog Series About It”

  1. While the BEST scary book I have ever read is, hands down, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson, it is only second place for actually scaring me.

    When I was in sixth grade, I read GHOSTS BENEATH OUR FEET by Betty Ren (!) Wright and I didn’t sleep for three nights. Five years later I was moving to a different bedroom and found the book. I decided to read it again so I could have a laugh at my ‘fraidy cat eleven-year-old self. I didn’t sleep for three nights. I have not read the book since, because I like sleeping.


    • THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is a must read, I agree. I would also recommend THE SHINING by Steven King, A SIMPLE PLAN by Scott Smith, and ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin. The first book to ever give me the wiggins, way back in elementary school, was THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS by John Bellairs. CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES by Penelope Farmer is another children’s book that has a huge factor of creepy to it. I just reread CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES for the first time in a few decades, and it scared me more now than it did then.

      I’m excited to hear you’re writing something ‘dark and twisted’!! I just read IMAGINARY GIRLS, and I was impressed by your ability to interweave the darkly fantastical with the hard realities of being a teenage girl. I have no doubt you can pull off super scary!!


  2. It’s not scary, precisely, but probably the creepiest book I have ever read was an MG book called Amy’s Eyes by Richard Kennedy. There’s this one character I glossed over as a kid, but going back and rereading it in college made me realize just how thoroughly creepy and skin-crawlingly out there this guy was. Still makes me shiver just to think about him.


  3. This is perfect timing, as I’ve just recently been getting on a bit of a horror kick. Very excited for these posts!


  4. I love anything Halloweenish…I can’t wait for this! The scariest book I ever read was a MG novel called Wait Till Helen comes by Hahn. It terrified me when I was younger. I wonder if I read it now, would it have the same affect? It still creeps me out when I think about it!


  5. I’m so excited for this! I love scary & creepy books. I just finished reading Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood and I’ve been looking for more books along the same lines. It’s that time of year, after all!


  6. To this day, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR still scares the bejeezus out of me. I can never look at any house with those similarly shaped windows again. I read it when I was a young and impressionable 11-year-old, and remember having nightmares for months and having to sleep with all the lights blazing and my covers pulled up completely over my head so that not even a single strand of hair was protruding. Shortly after that, a friend introduced me to John Saul’s SUFFER THE CHILDREN, and somehow, although that creeped me out to the core, it was never as scary as THE AMITYVILLE HORROR because that was supposedly a true story. Having subsequently seen many a real ghost in my life and living in several haunted places, that one most definitely still rattles my soul.


  7. Ooh! This is so fun! Gotta catch up. 🙂

    I don’t really like to be scared, so I don’t read much scary stuff. However, there are two Dean Koontz books that utterly creeped me out (well, actually, many of his books creep me out, but these two top the list): Seize the Night and The Taking.

    Which, now that I think about it, means that what scares me most is creepy, unexplainable things happening. Lol.


  8. i really loved The Silence of the Lambs, just because it was so…I was gonna say delicious but then that would make me sound like Dr. Lector and that would be bad…I just really liked it. Great book, great movie, just check it out in some way shape or form. :]


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