Interview with Virginia Carraway Stark about her recent publication, ‘Annie’s Fetch’ in The Grim Keeper’s Anthology now available in e-book, or paperback from CW Publishing.
1. What is your favorite part about writing scary fiction?
My favorite part about writing scary fiction is that I never know what is going to happen next. I think that my sense of suspense is nearly as strong as the reader’s when I write it. I enjoy the sensation of letting my mind go to the darkest corners of my mind and see what I find there. It’s a good way to sweep the cobwebs out and to explore what really scares me. I don’t set out thinking, ‘is this going to scare people’? I just let her rip and see what terrifying tale rips out of me. I’ve had a few stories that I’ve scared myself so badly that I had to stop writing until someone came home. The scariest example of this was when I was living in a basement suite in Vancouver and I was home all alone. I was writing a scary story about a girl who was haunted when I saw a white face with a black hood peering in the window watching me. The face darted away as quick as anything but I was pretty wigged out. I closed the blind and went to another window and looked out and a figure in a black hoodie was standing under a tree watching the window. I later found out that I had collected a Peeping Tom but finding out when I had already scared myself intensified my fear exponentially.
2. What inspired your short story for this anthology?
Annie’s Fetch is closely inspired by my own sighting of my doppelganger. I have never seen my doppelganger before or after that event but I nearly died from blood loss about two months after I saw that other ‘me’. She was much like what I described Annie’s doppelganger to look like. Fortunately I survived and a year later I have most of the four units of blood that I lost back and I’m pink and normal again.
I am working on a true story of seeing my own fetch and what happened after that encounter that you can read in November’s copy of Outermost Magazine available at http://www.starklightpress.com as well as other places.
3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?
The story that scared me the most when I was a kid was ‘It’ by Stephen King, followed closely by his novel Pet Cemetery. The movie Jaws terrified me. I was so scared of sharks after that that I would hold my hands under the faucet to make sure no little sharks snuck into the bathtub without me noticing. That particular phobia of bathtub sharks was brought to me by my older brother who pointed out the little sharks in a pet store to prove to me that it wasn’t only giant sharks to fear.
Jaws and IT are similar tales. They are stories about deep, cthonic forces that rise up and strike those on the surface who believe that they are safe when really there is danger lurking all around. The idea of those giant forces that you don’t see coming are the ones that really scare me. The dangers you can plan for and reason with are much less frightening.
Pet Cemetery scared me because it was the first scary story I had ever read. I love animals and my pets are so important to me that I could relate to the idea of deciding to do something crazy and extreme to bring one of them back. This progression to a human that ‘comes back wrong’ is somehow even more scary when compared to our love of animals.
Ultimately what scared me the most though was the Indian burial ground itself. What was its original purpose? Why had they made it in the first place? What horrors had caused them to abandon it? Somehow I think that they didn’t do it to bring pets back alive. The reasoning behind the cemetery itself still bothers me when I think about that story or read it. It’s an ancient mystery, something unseen, impossible to understand that lurks in the deep regions of our minds and of the world.
An Excerpt from ‘Annie’s Fetch’ By Virginia Carraway Stark:
‘She opened the door a gust of wind blew the inner door out of her fingers and slammed it into the plaster walls. Standing on the other side of the door was herself, or something very like herself, “My fetch.” Annie mumbled in recognition of the spirit that she had been told as a young girl signified your death or near death.
She looked eerily like Annie but her skin was pale and blue and her eyes were rimmed in red. She was wearing a white nightgown and looked as though she was wet. Her bare feet had left damp footprints a for only a few steps behind her. Her cloudy blue eyes looked up to meet Annie’s gaze and she smiled. Her smile was filled with pointed, yellowed teeth and was as malignant as the cancer that had killed Annie’s mother.
Annie tried to scream but only a whimper came out. She took a step back and the thing, the demon that looked like a fell mirror took a step towards her. The hem of her nightgown was now dripping water and as she swayed, the smallest of drops fell, helped by a gust of wind, inside the threshold of Annie’s home.
Annie jumped away from the water droplet and fumbled for the door. The fetch slowly raised its foot to take another shambling step towards her. Annie slammed the door and threw the deadbolt.’