Why do you read scary things?
To be honest I rarely do. My tastes veer towards sci-fi and thrillers. My fix of horror comes mainly via the screen, with some notable exceptions.
What flavour of scary do you like reading about-paranormal creatures, serial killers, chill up your spine hauntings, or something different?
If I want to read scary I always tend to plump for ghost stories. M.R. James is a reliable spooker. Yet the most creeped out I’ve ever been was by two books I oddly read back to back - Iain Banks’The Wasp Factory and The Collector by John Fowles. Those books both left me with a profound sense of unease that persists whenever I think about them, even 20 years later.
Out of everything in the world, what do you find scary?
Bullies with guns who consider everyone who disagrees with them to be less than human. Despots, fascists, religious extremists of all stripes. People who seek to take away my freedom of thought and action. Being locked up for dissent would be my greatest fear.
If you could insert yourself into any horror novel, which would it be, who would you be, and why?
Ooh, good one. I’d be the sole survivor of Franklin’s mission as told in Dan Simmons’ The Terror. That book was proper scary!
Classic (pre-1970s) or modern horror-which do you prefer and why?
Classic, I think. I prefer concepts that freak me out as opposed to graphic portrayals of suffering and death, which is where so much horror these days tends to end up.
What's the scariest thing you've read to this day?
The aforementioned The Wasp Factory – the sense of impending horror that book builds is palpable.
What books scared you most as a child?
Robert Westall’s ghost stories, especially the Break of Dark collection and The Scarecrows. He was a master.
What do you do to celebrate Halloween?
Not much. My birthday is on Bonfire Night (for those outside the UK that's November 5th, when we have fireworks and light bonfires to celebrate the failure of an attempt to blow up parliament in 1605), so I tend to go big on that instead. Nothing says Happy Birthday like burning an effigy of a religious insurrectionist!
Why did you choose to write a horror novel/include horror aspects into your novel?
I probably would not have done so had it not been the publisher’s requirement. That said, once I had the brief, I really seized the opportunity to go to some really dark places. I enjoyed it far more than I would have expected, so I’m grateful I got the steer I did and ended up really pleased with the result. So much so that I may well return to horror tropes again at some point.
What's the scariest thing you'd write about?
Loss of self. The story I did for Tales of the Apocalypse is about that, and it creeped me out to write it! http://www.amazon.com/
Christopher Fowler is a huge influence and he was, for a while, a straight horror writer. He’s moved away from horror now, but books like Psychoville really grabbed me and influenced me.
How did you choose what things the teens would face?
The three villains in the three books of the St Mark's trilogy represent my biggest fears – religious fundamentalism, military rule and ruthless, psychopathic self-interest.
What's your favourite zombie story?
Shaun of the Dead, no contest.
Any other spooky books you want to share?
Christopher Fowler’s Spanky is a corker and Robert Westall’s Devil on the Road is spooky and weird for younger readers.
Scott can be found around Twitter and Facebook, and you can get School's Out Forever from Amazon, and the Book Depository, and find it on Goodreads.