October 24 – 30: “Which novel, more than any other, just scared the @#$%* out of you?”

On the eve of Halloween, we have to ask: “Which novel, more than any other, just scared the @#$%* out of you? Which characters?” Join ITW Members Debbie Viguié, Cammie Eicher, Joseph Nassise, Trevor Shane, Ethan Cross and Daniel Annechino as they reveal their biggest literary fears. It’s sure to be a thriller!


Joseph Nassise is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the internationally bestselling Templar Chronicles (HERETIC, A SCREAM OF ANGELS, A TEAR IN THE SKY) , the forthcoming Jeremiah Hunt trilogy (EYES TO SEE, KING OF THE DEAD, WATCHER OF THE WAYS) from Tor Books, the forthcoming Burke’s Marauders series from Harper Voyager, and several books in the Rogue Angel action/adventure series from Gold Eagle/Harlequin. He also a former president of the Horror Writers Association, the world’s largest organization of professional horror writers, a two time Bram Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Award nominee, and a life and creativity coach who likes working with people to get them to realize their full potential in life. Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Joe currently live with his wife, four children, six dogs, four cats and a pair of guinea pigs in Phoenix, Arizona.

Trevor Shane is the author of CHILDREN OF PARANOIA, the first in a thrilling new trilogy being published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin.  CHILDREN OF PARANOIA is Trevor Shane’s first novel. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

When a fireman or a policeman would come visit his school, most of his classmates’ heads would swim with aspirations of growing up and catching bad guys or saving someone from a blazing inferno. When these moments came for Ethan Cross, however, his dreams weren’t to someday be a cop or put out fires; he just wanted to write about it. And his dream of telling stories on a grand scale has come to fruition with the release of his new book, THE SHEPHERD. Ethan Cross is the pen name of a thriller author living and writing in Illinois with his wife, two daughters, and two Shih Tzus.

Debbie Viguié is the New York Times Bestselling author of over a dozen novels including the WICKED series and the new CRUSADE series co-authored with Nancy Holder.  Much of Debbie’s writing has a dark edge to it, including her retold fairy tales, her latest being VIOLET EYES, a retelling of The Princess and the Pea.  In addition to her epic dark fantasy work Debbie also writes thrillers including THE PSALM 23 MYSTERIES and the upcoming KISS trilogy.  When Debbie isn’t busy writing she enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, visiting theme parks.  They live in Florida with their cat, Shrödinger.

In her other life, the one that provides a mundane escape from the fantastic world of being an author, Cammie Eicher masquerades as a newspaper editor and columnist. As her alter ego, Cathie Shaffer, she has won numerous state and national awards for her writing, and is known as a fair, hard-hitting journalist. Cammie lives in a small town in northeastern Kentucky with her beloved canine companion, Maggie, and almost as beloved feline companion, Tabby. In her spare time, she claims to enjoy snowboarding, cruises to tropical destinations and creating wedding cakes from scratch. However, those who know her best say she is far more apt to be found reading, sewing, watching TV or sitting around a campfire.

Daniel Annechino wrote his first book, HOW TO BUY THE MOST CAR FOR THE LEAST MONEY, in 1992 while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. Annechino spent two years researching serial killers before penning his gripping and memorable debut novel, THEY NEVER DIE QUIETLY.  In his new novel, RESUSCITATION (available now; A Thomas & Mercer original trade paperback,$14.95; digital $9.99),  Annechino wanted to explore the dark side of a successful cardiothoracic surgeon’s desire to make medical history . . . even at the expense of those he should most want to help.  He was interested in what could drive a doctor to violate his Hippocratic oath to abstain from doing harm, and find perverse pleasure in doing so.  The result is a fast-paced thriller that pits a cunning killer against a single-minded cop. A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer.

  1. Great topic for Halloween week!

    Nothing is scarier than a scary book. Scary movies, haunted houses, thrill rides, all give you that jolt of adrenaline but they don’t stay with you like a scary book was. The most scared I ever was from reading a book was when I first read Stephen King’s It when I was thirteen years old. Twice while reading the book, I had to put it down for over a week because the images haunted me so much. Over twenty years later and I still remember the details that made me almost too afraid to pick the book up again.

    The one that’s the most distinct in my memory (and remember, I’m writing this over twenty years later without the book in front of me to reference), took place during the interludes where King inserted the fictional history of the town of Derry, Maine in between the main part of the plot (it’s not even part of the actual plot!). One of these interludes describes a child’s Easter Egg Hunt that ended when “something” blew up the factory in front of which the Hunt was taking place. It’s a gruesome and frightening ending to an idyllic event but that fact alone would not have made me put the book down. What scared the living #$%^! out of me was when we, the readers, learned that they didn’t find the body of the last child to perish in the “accident” until over a week later when so-and-so find the child’s head hanging in the tree in their backyard, a full half a mile from the incident and that so-and-so could still see the chocolate in the child’s teeth that he’d been munching on before during the Easter Egg Hunt. It’s that last detail, the chocolate in the teeth, that has stuck with my for all these years and details like that that have made King the scariest author out there for nearly half a century.

  2. A distinctly bad idea was to read “Rosemary’s Baby” while I was pregnant with my second child. My husband worked nights, and I was in the habit of reading in bed until I fell asleep. Living out in the country, where normal sounds are amplified in the dark of night, normally didn’t bother me. But as I attempted to sleep that night, my soon-to-arrive daughter moving inside me, I wanted nothing more than to be with lots of people in a brightly-lit place, all of them assuring me it was just a made-up story and to forget all about it.

    A fan of tales of things that go bump in the night, I stayed up way too late finishing a Stephen King novel — which one escapes me these years hence — and I lay in bed, covers over my head, wondering if locked doors and a barking dog was enough to keep me safe until morning.

  3. I don’t scare easily. In fact, if you’ve read either of my two serial-killer novels,They Never Die Quietly or Resuscitation, it’s pretty obvious that I’m no wimp. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I think I’m pretty good at creating larger-than-life villains. That said, there is one book that goes all the way back to a 1977 publication date, and this novel still makes me shudder. I’m talking about The Shining by Stephen King.

    King’s ability to make Jack Torrance so real and so utterly frightening is a skill few authors possess. In this novel, King took an average guy, placed him in extraordinary circumstances, and slowly and methodically turned him from loving husband and devoted father to an unimaginable monster. Reading this book, you suspect right from the opening chapter that something isn’t quite right with Jack. However, I don’t believe that many readers could predict the extent of Jack’s madness.

    Of course, when the book was made into a movie, and they cast Jack Nicholson to play Jack Torrance, his performance made the book even more terrifying. As far as I’m concerned, The Shining wins the prize for one of the scariest books ever written.

  4. Of course Stephen King has to be on any list of scary reads and the only book that has ever terrified me is his “Gerald’s Game.”

    I think it resonates so strongly with me because it combines the most basic human fears – loss of control, death, rabid animals, humiliation and frailty – with the dark shadows where anything (or anyone) can hide. The fact that the scenario could actually happen in the world we live in, that a reader doesn’t have to believe in ghosts, demons or other dimensions to have a visceral response to the story is what makes it the most terrifying piece I’ve ever read.

  5. Okay – to get off the Stephen King train (man that guy wrote a lot of scary books), another book that I found terrifying was Blindness by Jose Saramago. I’ve never been able to get into any of Saramago’s other books but Blindess was so unique, so real and so terrifying. Obviously, a book about how society devolves after an infectious disease makes almost everybody blind is a lot different than your typical monster story but it is, in a lot of ways, so much scarier.

    I’d be interested in hearing about other books that terrify people that you’re unlikely to find in the Horror section of the library.

  6. Salem’s Lot was a major influence on my decision to write horror and darker urban fantasy. It also scared the @#$%* out of me when I was younger. Two others that influenced my writing were Carrion Comfort and Summer of Night by Dan Simmons.

  7. Nothing scares me more than Stephen King’s The Shining!! For 10 years people couldn’t even mention the title of the movie in my presence without it resulting in kicking/screaming nightmares that night. (My husband would have the bruises to prove it in the morning!) It really gets under your skin and I think in some ways as a writer it’s just that much worse. There are days when things are really crazy and I feel like I’m just going to scream where I sit and stare at my computer and say to myself “I will NOT type ‘All work and no play makes Debbie a dull girl’.”

  8. This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. Terrified me to death as a teenager when I read them. I had to turn on the light in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom because I was afraid I’d see a demon leering at me in the mirror. They’re stories about angels and demons interfering in the lives of people who don’t know each other but have a shared destiny. It’s because of his work that I’ve been writing supernatural thrillers with Christian protagonists recently.

  9. Salem’s Lot was enough to keep me awake for a week. As a teen I regretted starting it, but couldn’t put it down. The one that creeped me out the most though was not even a full novel. King’s short story “The Langoliers” had such an impact on me, even though I was already in my early twenties that it may well be the impetus that has made me hate to be late for anything.

  10. Okay, I’m going to try to name another non-Stephen King book. While most of World War Z by Max Brooks reads more like a zombie action movie than a horror book, the scene where the little girl explains how she escaped her church as it was being raided by zombies (leaving the rest of her friends and family behind) was truly terrifying. Even more than her story, it was her voice as the narrator (the convincing voice of a traumatized young girl) that made that part of the story so scary.

  11. It takes a lot for a movie or a book to scare me, but I remember reading Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD – OMG I couldn’t put it down, but I HAD TO PUT IT DOWN, because I was so scared. The only other book that came close was HELTER SKELTER. Remember when they did the creepy-crawlies? Yikes!!

  12. I was on assignment years ago–at an inservice class for investigating ritualistic crimes, no less. For some stupid reason, after long days of looking at piles of gory crime scene photos and case reports, I decided to read Stephen King’s THE DARK HALF alone in my hotel room.
    The toilet started making noises and…I can’t confirm or deny that I slept with the light on.
    And, HELTER SKELTER is a creepy book. I’ve been in law enforcement for nearly 30 years and met some bad dudes (and dudettes) but only a half dozen or so with those crazy Manson pig-eyes.

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