Last month, I traveled to the beautiful Highlights Foundation campus in the Poconos mountains of Pennsylvania to take the excellent Books with Bite Workshop: Writing Horror and Haunted Novels, led by Micol Ostow and Nova Ren Suma. While there, I had the first two chapters of my new YA novel critiqued, listened to ghost stories told around a crackling fire, and met some wonderful authors. I also met some bears, but we’ll save that for another post.
My fellow authors were so amazing that I thought you should get to know them too. First up is Jen Maschari, author of The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price. In honor of the haunted theme of the workshop and the spooktacular month of October, we talk about the really important things: Halloween candy.
What is your favorite scary story?
I love Doll Bones by Holly Black. Not only does she capture childhood and the magic of story so wonderfully, but it’s pretty spooky, too! For a movie, I’ve always loved Goonies. It balances scary with adventure so well.
What really scared the pants off you when you were younger?
Pretty much anything creepy-crawly: spiders, centipedes, crickets (especially when they jump at you!) I’d have to say that these things still scare me to this day!
Why do people like to be scared?
I think people like being scared, especially in stories, because there’s a thrill in it—of being spooked or surprised. But also, you know that you’re experiencing being frightened in a safe way through the pages of a book. Novels and stories are great for that.
Your first book (Charlie Price) is fantasy but not dark fantasy (there are *balloons* on the cover.) What is urging you to go dark with the next book?
The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price does have some frightening moments. But I also like to think there’s a lot of hope in it as well: light to balance out the darkness. I think a lot of great middle grade explores dark or difficult topics, whether they are real life or fantastical.
Scary excerpt you can share from your current work?
I am actually pretty superstitious about my writing. It’s a little too early in the process for me to share online.
Favorite Halloween candy?
Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins (the peanut butter to chocolate ratio is just perfect!)