Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Margaret Peterson Haddix's 1st Haunting Tale

Suspenseful and thrilling tales are nothing new to Margaret Peterson Haddix. Her books have kept young readers on the edge of their seats for years. But it may come as a surprise to many of us that she has never written a ghost story. Gasp!

Don't fret my fiendish pals. Thankfully, GUYS READ: THRILLER was able to pull such a ghostly tale that has been buried deep inside her creative attic. In our continuing celebration of the Walden Pond Press latest release, I was able to catch up with Margaret during her very busy schedule to ask her about her story Thad, the Ghost, and Me.



What brought you to the Guys Read:Thriller project?

Margaret: I was bribed with promises of baked goods and lawncare assistance. That’s the funny (but true) answer. The more serious (but also true) answer is that I think Guys Read is a good program, and I thought it would be fun to be involved.

I wouldn't want to mow this lawn.

In your opinion what makes a Thrilling story? And can you tell us why you chose to write a ghost tale?

Margaret: I think a thrilling story makes readers obsessed with finding out what happens next. So suspense is very important to the thrill.

I think this is the first ghost story I’ve ever written—I’m not sure why it took me so long! I’d had the idea rattling around in my brain for a while of doing something about a real ghost haunting a “fake” haunted house, and the way formerly “brave” people dealing with the ghost wouldn’t seem so brave once they knew everything they were seeing was real. It seemed to be a good fit for Guys Read: Thriller, and once I started thinking about the actual characters of Harvey, Thad and the narrator, I knew I wanted to write the story.


As a writer of stories that keep us up all night, why do you think thriller stories resonate with young readers?

Margaret: It’s a safe way to try out their own bravery. Or, sometimes, it’s a way to enjoy scaring themselves to death without actually being in danger.

Growing up we have our boogeymen and I'm deathly afraid of ghosts. What scared you the most? Does this influence your writing?

Margaret: I was afraid of weird things when I was a kid: Troll dolls. Long-underwear material. Old cars. Overhead light fixtures. I think this does influence my writing, because, really, anything can be scary if it’s associated with a frightening memory. And, having weird fears helps with the comic relief if I want to ease up on the tension a little!

These would give anyone the creeps!

Okay, so now the most terrifying thing I can think of may be a ghost in long underwear! GAAAAH! Good tip: Avoid any haunted underwear sections in department stores.

Thank you, Margaret for hanging out with us at the Asylum and celebrating GR: Thriller. Be sure to creep back soon for more terrorific interviews!

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