Guest Post: What Scares Martha Mihalick

(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)

By Martha Mihalick, editor at Greenwillow Books

What scares me? Well, to be frank, a lot of things. I’m kind of a wimp. I don’t even watch many horror movies anymore because I freak myself out.

But I’ve always loved a good, creepy, chilling ghost story. The kind that makes the back of your neck prickle in that deliciously scary way. And I went through quite a ghost story phase back when I was around ten years old. Bruce Coville’s The Ghost in the Third Row, the many Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the Haunting with Louisa trilogy (did anyone else ever read those?) and, of course, almost everything Mary Downing Hahn ever wrote. And the book that is the scariest of all—I’m talking from childhood through now—is Mary Downing Hahn’s Wait Till Helen Comes.

I checked this book out of the library so many times that my name practically filled up the check-out card. I couldn’t get enough of the perfect scariness of it. It’s about a ghost. And it’s about a family—one with a creepy stepsister who always gets her way and blames everything on the older girl. So not only are we dealing with a ghost who scrawls on walls, who wants to drown young girls in a pond, but a main character who no one believes because they are all on the younger girl’s side. Knowing that something is true, that something bad is looming, and not being able to do anything about it: that’s even scarier than simply seeing a ghost.

I reread it a few years ago after maybe 15 years away from it. And let me tell you, it still gives me the creeps.

Martha isn’t the only one who’s scared by Wait Till Helen Comes! Check out what author Kiersten White said about the book in her guest blog.

Martha Mihalick is an editor at Greenwillow Books. In her nearly ten years at Greenwillow, she has worked with many acclaimed authors and artists, including Kevin Henkes, Lynne Rae Perkins, Megan Whalen Turner, Peter Sis, and Naomi Shihab Nye. She edits books spanning all age ranges, from picture books to edgy teen novels. Some recent books she has edited include Entwined by Heather Dixon, Nightspell by Leah Cypess, A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford, and The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.

Visit Martha at

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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!  

Here’s a sneak peek of some books I’m giving away:

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

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