I’ve always been interested in what scares those that are in the profession of scaring. Admittedly, some of these answers are are safe bets, BUT, what intrigued me the most was just how much Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” had fallen of of our radar. For those that haven’t read it, seriously it is a MUST. It is the perfect exercise in unease and paranoia from the unknown and an exemplary work not of just horror fiction, but fiction in general. Jackson’s book was actually the most noted out of all the authors questioned in the NY Times article on the subject. This is what Neil Gaiman had to say:
“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson
The books that have profoundly scared me when I read them — made me want to sleep with the light on, made the neck hairs prickle and the goose bumps march, are few: Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw,” Peter Straub’s “Ghost Story,” Stephen King’s “It” and “’Salem’s Lot” and “The Shining” all scared me silly, and transformed the night into a most dangerous place. But Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” beats them all: a maleficent house, real human protagonists, everything half-seen or happening in the dark. It scared me as a teenager and it haunts me still, as does Eleanor, the girl who comes to stay.
— Neil Gaiman, author of “Norse Mythology”
The full article with loads of other authors relating the books that kept them up at night can be read over at www.nytimes.com