author interviews / other writers / writing

What Scares Tessa Gratton? (+Giveaway)

What scares you? That’s the question I asked YA authors for this blog series. Stay tuned for interviews and guest posts as authors visit and reveal their frightening—even surprising—fears.

Today’s guest author is Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic and The Blood Keeper(And be sure to enter the giveaway to win a signed paperback of Blood Magic!)

What scares Tessa? Read on to find out.

Guest post by Tessa Gratton

The simple answer is: everything.

I’m one of those people who gives herself over to the story she’s reading or watching. If it’s a crying movie, I cry. If it’s a thrilling movie, I’m on the seat of my chair. If it’s a scary movie, I’m terrified.

Fortunately, I’m an emotional junkie, and I keep going back to the crying movies and scary movies for that delicious catharsis. The first movie that terrified me was (don’t laugh) Critters, which I saw at the too-early age of 6, and refused to go into the basement for about 10 years. They were like evil teddy bears! But thanks to that I fell for the creature features (Oh, Gremlins, be still my heart) for the sheer fantasy of them. As an adult I came to prefer the subtle, slow ghost movies à la The Woman in Black and the crazy gory demon fests like Drag Me to Hell.

But the scary movies that I brought into my home to watch again and again are: The Others and Pan’s Labyrinth. I also have an addiction to the TV show Criminal Minds. What these stories have in common (besides brilliant writing and acting) are people who are monsters, despite or in addition to the supernatural surroundings. The mother in The Others may be a ghost, but what’s truly terrifying is that she murdered her own kids. The Captain in Pan’s Labyrinth doesn’t need creepy faeries or magic to be the worst kind of evil imaginable. Criminal Minds is about serial killers and how they think.

Because what actually scares me is the human mind. My own and everyone else’s. We’re capable of anything, and a lot of the time that means really, truly terrible things. It matters that we think about it, explore it, discuss it—that’s what makes Halloween my favorite holiday. We come together and look right at the scary things, and we try to own them. That’s the old point of the holiday: to dress up like the monsters so they’re afraid of us. To put lights into jack-o’-lanterns to frighten away the ghouls. To embrace scary things together, to understand them, so maybe they won’t be so scary anymore.

In my books, I like to push my characters far. I want to know what they’re willing to do. It doesn’t make the books very easy to read. The Blood Journals are about magic that isn’t inherently light or dark, but is tainted for good or evil depending on the user’s intentions. And everybody has good and evil inside. There are no supernatural creatures here, just young people facing themselves with this awesome power in hand. What will they do to themselves, or to others? What will they sacrifice, what will they protect? How do you choose who you want to be when you could be anything? Where’s the line between love and obsession? Power and temptation? Are we doomed by our history, or by our humanity?

Scary stuff.

Thank you so much for sharing your fears with us, Tessa! Readers: Be sure to enter for a chance to win a signed paperback of Blood Magic—(just scroll down for giveaway details).

Tessa Gratton has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. She was too impatient to hunt dinosaurs, but is still searching for someone to teach her magic. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in gender studies, and then settled down in Kansas with her partner, her cats, and her mutant dog. Visit her online at

Follow @tessagratton on Twitter.

Want a chance to win a paperback of Blood Magic?

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered! The winner will be announced soon.

Here’s what you missed so far in the What Scares You? series:

And come back tomorrow for more… The next author to share fears with us is: Andrew Smith, author of The Marbury Lens, Ghost Medicine, and more!

Series art by Robert Roxby. Email to contact the artist directly.

3 thoughts on “What Scares Tessa Gratton? (+Giveaway)

  1. My favorite stories are the ones that have characters that have both good and evil inside of them. It’s so much more interesting than characters that are pure good or pure evil.

  2. I agree with Ms. Gratton, the human mind is, by far, the scariest thing of all. To that end, while I love & cherish my YA books and their authors; I will also pick up Dean Koontz or John Saul to really give myself “the shivers”.


  3. I SO agree with this! I love psychological books and movies, for that reason. They always freak me out the most. Or things like Richard Preton’s The Cobra Event, using biological warfare… manufactured by humans. Goodness.

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