fiction / inspirations / novels / other writers / reading / writing

Guest Post: What Scares Tiffany Trent

(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)

By Tiffany Trent, author of the HALLOWMERE series

Big thanks to Nova Ren Suma for including me on this blog extravaganza! It’s interesting that she would ask about my favorite scary things because the truth is that I tend not to read or watch scary things. Given the fact that all of my work borders on dark fantasy/horror, that may come as a shock. (Or not. Maybe you already know I’m a wimp about certain things.)

The problem is just this: Horror affects me so deeply that it’s hard for me to read or watch it. Some people like being scared, but my mind goes there so easily that I don’t need extra stimuli, if that makes sense. In fact, I can probably pinpoint the exact time I stopped reading it. I plowed through all of Poe’s work (which I still deeply love, gruesome as some of it truly is). I read Something Wicked This Way Comes. And then when I was 15, I snuck Pet Sematary by Stephen King into church. I couldn’t have told you what the pastor said that day; the book had me in its clutches. It took a long time to get out of that novel.

Novels held me too hard. I can’t stop thinking about them and living in them. I was forbidden to watch horror (I don’t know how SK slipped past my parents), but even the lighter spine-tinglers like The Watcher in the Woods and Lady in White gave me the creeps. I think the only reason I could sit through The Silence of the Lambs is that criminology, especially serial-killer psychology, fascinates me.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve just accepted that I’m far too sensitive to such things. I tried, for instance, to get over it by reading Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, an excellent novel that I just couldn’t finish because it scared me to death! Seeing Pan’s Labyrinth nearly killed me, but I forced myself to watch it all the way through because it was just that good. Even I Am Legend nearly made me pee my pants in terror, especially at the point where Will Smith goes into the dark after his dog. And don’t even get me started on The Others! Eeeeeep!

The funny thing is that people say that my work terrifies them. When my first book came out, I had *adults* writing me saying they had to sleep with the lights on, so creepy was In the Serpent’s Coils!

I think the reason why these things work so strongly on me comes from the architecture of anticipation. Everything prior to the moment of terror is visceral—breath, blood, bone, that sudden arresting moment when you realize you are not alone in the dark room. I love making this moment real in fiction (even if I dislike re-creating it in real life). My imagination just naturally tends to go in that direction, and I actually spend a lot of time reining it in, saying, “No, we will not think about the creepy man hiding in the coal chute while the poor woman gets ready for bed alone” or “No, we will not think about the careful arrangement of bones under that layer of topsoil just put down in the pasture…”

Horror is at its best when it touches on the sublime. Beauty and the Beast. Frankenstein’s monster waxing poetic on his humanity. A child subduing a terrifying monster with one word. It’s danger withheld and restrained. It’s truth and strength forced to crisis, and thus, to transcendence. I love that about horror and creepy tales, I really do. Just don’t make me have to live through them!🙂

Tiffany Trent is the author of the steampunk YA The Unnaturalists (coming Summer 2012 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) and the Hallowmere series (Mirrorstone). She lives and writes in the ghost-ridden Appalachian mountains.

Visit Tiffany at

Follow @tiffanytrent on Twitter.

Comment on this guest blog and you’ll gain an extra entry for the big Halloween giveaway on October 31, containing prize packs of signed books plus books and ARCs donated by my publisher Penguin Teen!  

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

11 thoughts on “Guest Post: What Scares Tiffany Trent

  1. My mind doesn’t need extra stimuli to go to those dark and scary places, either–yet I still insist on immersing myself in horror, I love the genre so much!😄

  2. My mind doesn’t much need the extra help either. I had nightmares for weeks after watching Pan’s Labyrinth. They were gorgeous and haunting, like the movie, but I still woke up with a gasp and a hand clutched to my heart.


  3. I can sympathize, because I really don’t like horror movies either. The ones I have watched will stick with me forever. Poe creeps me out too, but he’s just too good to pass up.

  4. Ha Tiffany, I didn’t know we had this in common! I am so deeply affected by scary stories — but more by movies than books. I can only handle them if I watch in the light of day and have plenty of time to work the fear out of my system before bedtime. Even then, I might be up half the night scaring myself with memories and “what ifs?” related to what I saw.

    But I’m getting better about it. Slowly.

  5. I LOVE Poe!

    I agree the Others was creepy and I freaked when Will Smith went in after the dog too, I was all “NO! Call the dog, bribe him with a bone!!”

  6. I agree, but the funny thing is that while I can’t sit through a horror movie (with the exception of Daniel Radcliffe’s The Woman in Black which I am dying to see-maybe because it’s him), I love horror books, like Brenna Yovanoff’s the Replacement

  7. i thought the others was super scary, too. luckily i can usually recover from a scary book/movie pretty quickly. i don’t usually take it home with me and like watching/reading scary things. i do have very vivid dreams though and i wonder if that extra stimuli has made its way into my subconscious.

  8. Hahaha I loved The Others, and watched it with my best friend who doesn’t like stuff like that. You’d get along with her. I’d still sit in the other room and watch all the scary movies.

Comments are closed.