Into the Future: Part Four in Our 2020 Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back for the final installment of our Women in Horror Roundtable for 2020! February always goes by way too fast! At any rate, let’s check in with these awesome interviewees one more time and find out what they’ve got planned for the future!

There are so many writing conventions and readings year-round in the horror genre. What are some events that you’ve attended or would like to attend that have valued women’s voices in the genre?

V. CASTRO: I have to give props to the HWA for making a huge effort when it comes to diversity. I attended StokerCon last year and plan to go again this year because the panels were diverse and interesting.

TERI.ZIN: The Outer Dark and ReaderCon, for sure. To be fair, I haven’t been to many conventions outside of those two, but I’ve felt supported so thoroughly at both. I recently attended NecromoniCon which is aggressively white, but the Board did everything they could in their power to help me feel safe.

LISA QUIGLEY: Stoker Con is the only one I’ve attended so far, and I absolutely love it. If I can only attend one con a year, it’s going to be that one. I definitely feel that they value and uplift not only women’s voices, but also those of all underrepresented communities. The panels are (from my POV, at any rate) effortlessly diverse. It’s a great time.

MACKENZIE KIERA: Stoker Con has never failed to delight. The panels seem to be very equal when it comes to maintaining a gender balance. I’d really love to go to KillerCon one day; I hear nothing but good wonderful things. And if you’re in LA, they’ve got a killer book club called “The Thing in the Labyrinth.” That’s run by a friend of the fright: Kat McGee.

LARISSA GLASSER: I’ve been so lucky to be included in the programming for The Outer Dark, Necon, Necronomicon, StokerCon. I never expected to be, but know that horror and genre fans/artists are some of the kindest, most inclusive people in the universe. I’ve been looking for that my entire life. I also adore Boskone, although I haven’t been involved in programming yet, I love to lurk.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Primarily, I have attended StokerCon and its previous iteration, World Horror. While certain members of the HWA have been racist, sexist and homophobic, I genuinely believe that the organization is making an effort to be more inclusive and representative of the diversity among horror writers. It would be naive to say that as a genre we have overcome discrimination and prejudices, but I have faith that most of the people within the HWA have the best intentions in their hearts and are consciously working toward building a diverse community of writers.

I attended my first Camp Necon this past summer, where I released my debut novel, Invisible Chains. It was a diverse and welcoming environment that provided space for all voices to be heard. If you haven’t attended Necon, I highly recommend it and you will definitely see me there this year where I will undoubtedly drive Tananarive Due insane with an unending stream of questions and praise while I try to convince her to become my mentor.

Last year I was supposed to attend the first Multiverse Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, which actively works to showcase the diversity of writers, educators, cosplayers, filmmakers, etc. within the speculative fiction writing community. Unfortunately, I had to back out at the last minute because of financial issues, but I’m hoping to attend in 2020.

And, I’ve been invited to attend GenCon this year as a guest author. I really don’t know much about the con, but I am looking forward to going and learning more about it.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I keep so busy with three, growing kids who are now 20, 16, and 12 that I haven’t had much time to go to events in all these years. My money and my time has always been on them when I’m not working long hours in publishing. My son is a sophomore in college in DC and so traveling money goes first to taking him to and from the 8 hours or to visit him. I love to visit historical places and hike and explore on weekends with my family and so I usually prefer to do this. I try to support what I can online, and I’d love to start going to some conventions, but I think I’d probably prefer to go to writing conferences. I’d love to one day be invited to participate in a panel or to help, but that will be only if it doesn’t interfere with kids. My girls being in sports, musicals, and other things really eats up my weekends too. I am hoping to get to a Scares that Care though, being in VA, and then also to StokerCon 2021. I’d love to throw together something for us PA and OH to do!

I can’t answer the second part of the questions as I’ve not been to any but from what I’ve seen online HWA does this well with StokerCon and a lot of women go and have their voices heard on panels.

As far as other conventions I view online, so many are film horror focused, but it seems they really do appreciate and showcase their women pretty well. I don’t know anything behind the scenes so it might not be the case, but I know that through social media I learn a lot about women in film and I’m really glad for those that promote them so we can learn about them.

What’s next for you? What projects are you currently working on, and what do you have coming out in the near future?

V. CASTRO: In February Hairspray and Switchblades from Unnerving will be released.

May is Latino Book Month and I am curating a Latinx dark fiction and Horror book bundle for StoryBundle.

TERI.ZIN: I have a short story titled The Night Sun being published by Tor.com in March of 2020. I’m currently working on edits for my novella about a pregnant woman stuck on a boat on a drowned planet. She’s not happy about it, to say the least, lol. I’ve always got multiple stories and novel ideas I’m tossing around, but there is another novella and novel I hope to finish in 2020.

LISA QUIGLEY: My debut novella Hell’s Bells will be published in May 2020 by Unnerving. I am also revising a novel, and have a few short stories at various stages of drafting. I’ve also got a new novel in the dreaming stages currently. I’ve always got something brewing!

MACKENZIE KIERA: Currently I’m working on flipping a possession trope for a call to an anthology, and my debut novella “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE AND A STRONG ELECTRIC CURRENT”  is coming out in August of this year with Unnerving Press.

LARISSA GLASSER: Here’s the thing, I’ve carried so many different book ideas and plots for years, it’s a matter of picking and choosing. I’ve been on a huge Arthur Machen/folk horror kick lately so The Brightening is going to be about trans celebrities and seances. I have another WIP Glue Man which is also about celebrity culture but also ethics in journalism and serial killer worship in the media. Some of these themes covered will be futuristic in nature, but I want to try to tap into the human and emotional viscera that only someone like Jack Ketchum could
capture. It’s up to the readers to gauge how successful I am in that endeavor. I just hope it reaches people.

Also, please raise your voice – Free Chelsea Manning.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: My goals for this year include writing and submitting more short fiction. I have a story coming out later this year, “African Twilight,” in The Dystopian States of America, which is a charity anthology that will raise money for the ACLU. And, I just finished a story for another anthology that focuses on female monsters that will be out later this year. I’m working on a series that features the work of speculative writers in which I showcase a fragment of their fiction and ask them questions about their writing on my blog, Girl Meets Monster. And, the next installment of my Speculative Chic blog series, “With This Right, You’ll Be Dead: Violence Against Female Protagonists in Romantic Vampire Fiction,” will be out later this month.

Beyond that, I hope to finish the first book in a series of novellas about a succubus in an arranged marriage with a demon, and I’m also hoping to complete the first draft of the follow up to Invisible Chains.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I’m mostly spending a lot of time working in publishing whether for pay doing editing and publicity, some free editing and publicity to help (select few – not an invitation to do for everyone as unfortunately I can’t), and the reading and reviewing and interviewing. I am trying to fit in more down time this year, some of it filled with more reading and reviewing.

So that said, I wrote two poetry books in the last couple years – by hand on paper. I need to get them typed and edited. I will need to see who will publish or self-publish. But I lost some of my mojo for this, as I’m afraid at time for my own promotion. I also have several unfinished novels and short stories that need worked on. I am also disheartened. I started the year off losing my writing mojo. BUT I did go to Baltimore last weekend (Jan 11) and I visited Edgar Allan Poe’s home. It sparked a bit in me. Then my friend Duncan and I were chatting, and he jokingly said something referring to Russian nesting dolls that started my brain wheels spinning. So, time permitting, maybe my mojo has returned.

I’m still at discovering what 2020 means for me and it’s a work in progress. I hope to figure it out soon though. Until then, I’m going to wait for writing inspiration to strike me. I generally don’t often feel that til spring hits.

Thank you so much to the seven amazing women who were part of this year’s Women in Horror Roundtable. It was wonderful talking with them!

Happy reading, and once more, happy Women in Horror Month!

Raising Our Voices: Part Three in Our 2020 Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back for part three in our Women in Horror Roundtable! The month is rapidly winding down, but that doesn’t mean we’re done here yet! Today I talk with these seven fabulous interviewees about the publications out there doing great work for diversity in horror as well as what everyone has planned for Women in Horror Month this year! So let’s go, shall we?

While there’s still such a struggle to be heard as a female author, there are fortunately those out there who are doing their part to help us get our voices heard. Who are some of the editors and publications that are doing great work for diversity in horror?

V. CASTRO: Unnerving did a submission call for only women before opening it to men. Love that. I’ve seen a lot come from Nightscape Press, Demain Publishing and Grindhouse Press. I also have to give credit to the big review sites for consistently promoting women. That is how we change publishing because publishing is a business. Demand and noise made for female authors will get the attention of publishers and editors. Same goes for authors of color.

LISA QUIGLEY: Eddie Generous at Unnerving Magazine/Publishing is definitely doing a lot to promote women in horror as a policy. I know for his last calls for novellas, he wanted a minimum of a certain percentage of women—so he opened the submission window up for pitches from women before opening up the call to everyone. Ellen Datlow is, of course, continuously creating top-quality horror from some of the best writers writing today—and a huge percentage of them are women.

Nightscape Press is also awesome and incredibly adamant about representing diverse voices.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but those stand out to me off the top of my head.

MACKENZIE KIERA: Eddie Generous over at Unnerving did a great thing this year. He opened submissions to his Rewind or Die series to women first, I think that’s really great, really wonderful. Saga Press I believe is making a push to be diverse as well. Really, I’m impressed by most editors and publishers. Everywhere I turn, it seems like places are actively trying to be inclusive. One of the first horror groups to reach out to Lisa and myself were Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella from This is Horror to offer their congratulations and support. They’ve been great friends to us.

TERI.ZIN: I owe so much to Dr. Kinitra Brooks. She had such a strong faith in my story that she let me shuffle my feet for months after sending the invite. That story (Summer Skin) went on to be long-listed for Ellen Datlow’s Best of Horror 2017. Chesya Burke for being such a grounding support at NecronomiCon and more. Farah Rose Smith for having me on local panels and readings. L.H. Moore, Monique Laban, Camilla Zhang, Jessica Guess, Tracey Baptiste, Mimi Mondal, Nisi Shawl, Laura J. Mixon, Anya Martin, Sioban Krzywicki, Hillary Monahan, Diana Pho of Tor, my agent Roseanne Wells, so many women who have encouraged, pushed, supported, held me so that I acould keep going, keep submitting. As for publications, I see Fiyah doing amazing work. Robert S. Wilson of Nightscape Press is fantastic. Alana Joli Foster and Melody Meadors of Outland Entertainment are phenomenal.

LARISSA GLASSER: Along with Lightspeed’s “Destroy” series of books that took off a few years ago, I really dig what Nightscape Press, Raw Dog Screaming Press, and Haverhill House Publishing are doing for diversity in publishing. Not only are they committed to opening up the field for diverse voices, they also have excellent taste in scares. I would also say this about Clash Books – for such a small press they really have their shit together and they’re building one hell of a brand. Look out.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Maybe I’m a little biased, but I would say that Haverhill House Publishing is making a great effort to publish more horror fiction by female writers and women of color. And, Scary Dairy Press released an anthology of all female horror writers in October, The Monstrous Feminine.

Beyond that, I’m not really sure what to say. I think publishers in general are trying to be more inclusive and to publish books with a wider variety of voices, but we still have a long way to go. SciFi & Scary just released their list of 20 Diverse Authors to Read in 2020, and I am honored to have made the list with amazing writers like Tananarive Due, Linda Addison, Nalo Hopkinson, Nnedi Okorafor, and Gabino Iglesias. If you read more books by women and people of color, you’ll find out who is publishing them and hopefully, if readers demand more books from these and other writers, they will continue to add diverse voices to the horror genre.

Breathe. Breathe.ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: Nightscape Press and the Wilsons for sure do almost the best job out of everyone with a lot less notice than they should have. Apex Publications – Jason and Leslie don’t get enough love either. They work hard, long hours and have families and so there isn’t a budget for print copies, so they sometimes get the shaft as far as promotion buzz. They do a great job bringing women and other diversity to the table though.

Also, I’m biased as I work for Raw Dog Screaming Press, but I wanted to work for them because they do this! John and Jennifer publish women and diverse authors from around the world and do such a wonderful job in supporting not only their books and authors but everyone out there with their time and expertise and voices.

What are your plans for this year’s Women in Horror Month? Are there any events, in person or online, that you plan on being involved with?

V. CASTRO: I am open to everything! As of now my plan is to shout out as many females as possible. If I see anything cropping up, I will do my best to highlight it.

TERI.ZIN: This WiHM, I hope to be on a local panel created by Farah Rose Smith. Other than that, just write and shout out my fellow marginalised writers.

LISA QUIGLEY: I don’t have any plans as of yet! Most likely we will just be interacting with the horror community on our podcast twitter platform, retweeting, sharing, and amplifying all the awesome content being shared.

MACKENZIE KIERA: Not at the moment, but my eyes and ears are open!

LARISSA GLASSER: On February 8, I’m reading at a free admission panel Dark Minds, Dark Hearts: A Valentine’s Fiction Affair in Millbury, Massachusetts (just outside Worcester) with Matthew M. Bartlett, Sonya Taaffe, Doungjai Gam, Fiona Maeve Geist, and Andrea Wolanin . Apart from that, I’m going to Boskone the next weekend of February 15, and hopefully also make it down to Providence Rhode Island to see The Color Out of Space with some friends.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Aside from your blog, I’ll be writing a guest post for The Horror Tree‘s WiHM series. And, I’ll be continuing my blog series about the acceptance of violence against female protagonists in romantic vampire fiction over at Speculative Chic, with Part 3: Dating & Courtship.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I usually do something on my site such as interview women horror authors, do features, or whatever I have time for. I’ve done it the last few and one year I did in conjunction with David from The Scary Reviews (we did 30 mini-interviews with women). I’d love to have time to do more. I haven’t heard much about events yet – it’s January and you know people wait till the last minute to announce or do things (I’m guilty of this too). I’d love to go to a women’s film fest or something if there was one within a three-hour drive? I’ll read more horror books by women than I already do, and I’ll watch films by women directors on purpose more than I already do – but I already do a lot so I’m not sure if that will be a big change. I’ll have to think on it some more.

That concludes Part Three in our Women in Horror Roundtable for 2020. Come back next week for our fourth and final post!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Fear and Favorites: Part Two in Our 2020 Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back to Part Two of our Women in Horror Month Roundtable series! Last week, I talked with my amazing interviewees about their background in horror and what Women in Horror Month means to them. Today, we discuss favorite horror characters and the recent works by female creators that didn’t get as much attention as they deserved.

So let’s take it away!

Growing up, who were your favorite female characters in horror? How, if at all, did your early experiences with horror shape you as the storyteller you are today?

V. CASTRO: I am Mexican American so La Llorona was the first female in horror for me. From childhood you are told she will take you away if you misbehave.
My culture has a strong oral tradition with regards to folklore, music and the indigenous Mexican religion which is a very bloody one. We worshipped death and the sun. I like to incorporate both into my writing. I love stories within a story.

TERI.ZIN: Without a doubt, Angela Bassett’s character Mace in Strange Days is absolutely number one. Strong, vulnerable, whoops ass, asks for and deserves love and respect. Just an incredible character. Next would definitely be Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley in the entire Alien franchise. Though these two examples fall into science fiction, there is a horror element to both that is sometimes ignored due to the caliber of the films. Horror never fully gets the love it deserves.

LISA QUIGLEY: I am not the typical horror fan/writer who grew up watching EVERY SINGLE HORROR MOVIE EVER or who even really KNEW I was a horror fan. I was a teen in the 90s, and so I did watch a lot of horror movies…in addition to lots of other movies. My taste was eclectic and I loved everything from comedies to rom-coms to action/adventure to chick flicks to horror to teenage films to sci-fi to….you get the idea. My best friend and I would browse the shelves of Blockbuster or Hollywood Video for hours before we finally made our random selections. So, while I watched a wide variety of different movies, there isn’t really a single female character in horror that I can pinpoint from any film that made an impression on me. And the one I can pinpoint is probably not one anyone would expect (or even remember.)

As a pre-teen/early teen, I watched this show on the Disney channel called So Weird. It wasn’t horror, per se. I guess if I had to describe it, it was sort of like X-Files for kids. The premise: a widowed mother is a touring musician (played by Mackenzie Phillips) and she has her two kids (plus some roadies and their kids) on tour with her. They live out of the tour bus and hotels, never in one place for long. The story is from the POV of Fiona (Fi) Phillips, who is extremely smart and nerdy, and has her own website (a novelty back then!) Fi is super into paranormal phenomena, not the least because her dad has died. In every single town they visit, Fi encounters something “weird”—ghosts, time travel, UFOs, and more. It was spooky and unsettling and I loved it. But more than that, I loved Fi. She was determined, intelligent, and focused, keyed in the way many around her were not. Her family often didn’t believe her, but many times she saved their lives without them even realizing it. She was fierce and fearless and I absolutely adored her.

Even today, my horror interests veer toward the weird and unusual, rather than overt horror. I am interested in the edges of things, the slightly off-kilter, the unnerving. Like Fi, the women and girls in my stories are their own heroes. They don’t need boys to save them.

MACKENZIE KIERA: When I was younger, I was allowed to watch some very light, maybe not even true horror. I think Tremors was my first monster movie? My parents figured all they were shielding me from was some rough language and a giant worm, so that one I maybe saw at 9 or 10? Tremors taught me that women could be the smart scientists, and that a lot of horror was made to be laughed at and enjoyed. Think the next one was maybe Alien? Ripley is a solid hero. Tough, smart, ballsy women were encouraged in my house, so I really don’t accept anything less from my female characters today. My favorite one currently is Nancy from the first Nightmare on Elm Street. She’s fantastic.

LARISSA GLASSER: My first idols were mostly in Science Fiction and fantasy, actually: Barbarella, Taarna from Heavy Metal, and of course Linda Carter as Wonder Woman. Mostly because they were powerful and had independent strengths that they made seem effortless. I got into Horror after that, the first thing I remember watching was “Terror in the Aisles,” a kind of documentary overview about horror films. From there I discovered Laurie Strode (Halloween), Ellen Ripley (Alien), and Sarah Roberts (The Hunger). They resonated with me even more. But where were the trans women? Oh, there ended up being plenty– as maniacs, victims, or punchlines. That scared me most of all when I was a kid, because I loved my family and didn’t want to be seen as a monster. But when I grew older and more independent, finished school, I proved to myself and needed to be independent like those characters who shaped me. It took me a long time, and I’m still processing a lot of that conflict. I think what I want to accomplish now in my work is to focus on trans women as having agency. I wrote the protagonist in F4 as someone who saves lives against an inter-dimensional terror. Although I don’t plan on recycling that character or story, I want to continue building stronger female characters I’d have liked to have seen when I was a kid.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Those are excellent questions, and not as easy to answer as they might seem. Because I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, there weren’t a lot of strong female characters in horror fiction and films to admire. Looking back at most of the films I watched as a kid, the depictions of women were extremely sexist and violence against women was a popular form of entertainment in most genres, including romantic comedies. So these questions are really making me think, which is good.

I watched a lot of slasher movies as a kid, Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Terror Train (1980), Happy Birthday to Me (1981), Motel Hell (1980), Black Christmas (1974), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), just to name a few. Cable TV and neighborhood video stores enabled an entire generation to immerse itself in horror films like no other generation before it. At first glance, these films seem to be telling different stories, but there are some genre-specific plot and character tropes that are hard to ignore, especially in the #metoo era. While these films are extremely sexist in their depictions of women, they also gave us final girls, which I believe inadvertently created a sense of empowerment for female horror fans. I mean running through the woods while scantily clad and tripping over your high heels isn’t very empowering, but if you’re the lone survivor of a machete-wielding psycho’s killing spree, then maybe you aren’t as weak and dumb as the filmmaker tried to portray you.

Aside from final girls, like Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween and Terror Train, I will always have a special place in my heart for Carrie White. The original 1976 film is my favorite adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. If you haven’t read Carrie, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook read by Sissy Spacek.

To answer the second part of your question, these films inspired me to write strong female characters. Unless I’m writing erotica, none of my female characters run around scantily clad, and they have more control over what happens to them in the narrative even if they are at the mercy of evil forces. Watching slasher films made me conscious of how women are depicted in film, but reading novels written by women of color like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, and Jewelle Gomez gave me the confidence to write horror fiction in my own voice about women who look like me.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I can’t answer this question well as I was not allowed to experience much, if any, horror growing up unless it was in school. My mom and dad don’t believe in anything horror and I wasn’t allowed to read or watch. My parents still don’t support my dark fiction writing and they make fun of me or are scared for me if I have something with a raven on it or a skeleton/skull or the word Stephen King comes up. It’s sad really. Horror has helped me so much to heal from so many traumas.

I was able to experience in school Edgar Allan Poe and fell in love with his stories, as well as Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” which is one of my favorite stories of all time. It changed my life. It allowed me to know who I am in terms of humanity. It made me love literature and want to write. Poe, too, became an early influence. To this day, I feel they have shaped my stories as I write with humanity and a female depth as Shirley Jackson and I channel Poe techniques. I wrote my woodpecker story in Breathe. Breathe. in the vein of “The Tell Tale Heart.”

However, I’m mostly shaped by the literature I was allowed, for instance fantasy. Because I wasn’t allowed to read scary Stephen King, I was allowed to read Eye of the Dragon, which was my first by him because it’s fantasy. I fell in love. I devoured The Dark Tower then too. I read Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison, which in a way, had its own horror inflicted on women within its pages. My parents didn’t think of this as horror – but the atrocities to Native American women certainly were (to any women are). Her book and characters were major influences on me.

One thing my mom did let me have when I was young was things about witches. I’m still pondering this today (realizing for years now some nature/water witch prowess in myself) and why. But I had Tilly the Witch. I still love that children’s book. I will read anything about witches for sure and they, as well as nature, influence my writing a lot whether spoken or unspoken. I’ve written a few short stories. I enjoy reading non-fiction and fiction about witches. We are mothers of the earth, we are mothers of the sky, we are mothers of horror. Aren’t we?

Well, anyway… so yes fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, mysteries like Agatha Christie (somehow murders were ok haha) it all comforted me while awaiting the day I could read horror, but eventually they had me so scared of it, I was too afraid to read more than Stephen King unless it was a classic work. I laugh at this now. So yes, when I started my own business 11 years ago, and made time for more reading and writing and started the blog, I thought I’d write a children’s book and an historical novel. I’d always written poetry and wanted to write it more. I started writing about my trauma from abusive marriage, rape, illness, death and it all started meshing with my love of mystery, fantasy, monsters and spending a childhood alone in the woods with books, and it became horror writing.

Let’s take a moment to shine a light on a few great works that perhaps didn’t get the praise that they deserved. What are your favorite horror stories or books by female authors that were released over the past few years but that you wish would have gotten more attention?

V. CASTRO: I loved The Hunger by Alma Katsu. ANYTHING by Tananarive Due. Linda Addison is also an incredible talent. In general, I think all women in horror do not get their due. I grew up with Stephen King (read most of his books) and love his writing, but I’m tired. I’m tired of seeing anthologies with mostly men or not a single woman of color. Women of color are still very underrepresented across the board. I am curating a book bundle and it has been a struggle to find Latinas with novel length works of horror.

TERI.ZIN: Jessica Guess (Mama TulaMommy; upcoming: Cirque Berserk) is a brand new writer with whom I attended VONA in 2017. Incredibly talented. Vandana Singh’s Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories; just about everything that comes out of Fiyah Magazine is, well, Fiyah, lol. Danny Lore is a fantastic talent. I attended Viable Paradise (22) with them and they are just amazing. L. H. Moore. Chesya Burke. Matter of fact, pick up the anthology Sycorax’s Daughters. It features 28 Black women writing horror. (I’m in it, too!)

LISA QUIGLEY: I’m just going to list some of my favorites. They may have gotten more attention than I’ve realized, but I still think they’re all worth mentioning and reading.

Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter
To Be Devoured by Sara Tantlinger
Little Dead Red by Mercedes M. Yardley
Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering
I Am Not Your Final Girl by Claire C. Holland
The Writhing Skies by Betty Rocksteady
The Possession of Natalie Glassgow by Hailey Piper
Dear Laura by Gemma Amour

MACKENZIE KIERA: ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME by Julie Berry is the hill I will die on. While it’s not straight horror, it has horror elements mixed around with a strong feminist bend. I don’t know why we all weren’t talking about how amazing, how perfect that book was (is).

F4LARISSA GLASSER: I need to say right out of the gate that although I don’t consider her
a genre writer at all, I’ll sing praises for Torrey Peters at every opportunity. Reading her work convinced me to put trans narratives front and center in my own life, because I also have a lot of unresolved shit and the only way for me to deal with it, other than therapy, is to channel
these issues through story. Torrey’s writing is unrelenting. This lady actually made me want to take writing more seriously. She confronts the darkness and our own contradictions with a perfect balance of vulnerability and assertiveness that I haven’t yet found in another trans writer. I’ll find tons more voices, I’m sure. To me it’s worth it. Trans women’s experiences are denigrated so needlessly. But Torrey went the DIY route and became really successful and dare I say canonical. She’s got a new novel called Detransition, Baby coming out from Random House in August 2020.

For horror women authors who have also helped me along, I’d go with The Sisters of Slaughter (Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason)–their book Mayan Blue totally fucked me up emotionally and I keep re-reading it. Gory and grindy, full of sorrow. Also from the moment I first read Damien Angelica Walters, I was immediately hooked. She really stabs you in just the right places. I love Farah Rose Smith for her evocation of the 19th century decadent tradition, and definitely Victoria Dalpe for her versatility and for the cinematic nature of her work. These are just a few. My list would be super-long.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: I recently read The Deep (2019) by Rivers Solomon with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes after stumbling across it in the Goodreads Awards nominations page. It has a slow start, but it is an interesting fantasy novel that tells the story of “the water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society-and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future.” In a word, it’s brilliant. I’ve wanted to read a story about Black mermaids my whole life so I couldn’t wait to read this book. And, bonus, it addresses slavery and how our ancestors’ traumas are passed down generation to generation through genetics and memories. I’m hoping it gets more attention in 2020, and it would make a beautiful film.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: Anything by Kristin Dearborn. She’s a great writer. Woman in White is wonderful. Sacrifice Island. I believe both re-released now from Crossroads Press. Crossroads is great and publishes a lot of good stuff, but we don’t hear enough about the books, this being one. Also, Stolen Away by her from Raw Dog Screaming Press is so good. I wish Kristin’s name was known more and appreciated by readers – she is well-loved among the writing circuit of course. She’s a great person.

And that’s it for Part Two in our Women in Horror Roundtable! Head on back here next for part three, as I talk more with these awesome women!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Wintry Writing: Submission Roundup for February 2020

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Plenty of very cool opportunities in February and beyond, so get to polishing up those stories and send them on out! But first, a disclaimer as always: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors.

And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission RoundupLuna Station Quarterly
Payment: $5/flat
Length: 500 to 7,000 words
Deadline: February 15th, 2020
What They Want: Open to female identifying authors, Luna Station Quarterly seeks fantasy, science fiction, space opera, and new fairy tales with strong characters.
Find the details here.

Vastarien
Payment: .05/word for fiction and nonfiction; $50/flat for poetry
Length: 750 to 6,000 words for fiction; 2,000 to 7,500 words for nonfiction; up to 50 lines for poetry
Deadline: February 29th, 2020
What They Want:  For the month of February, Vastarien is open only to non-male-identifying authors. They’re seeking nonfiction, literary horror fiction, and poetry that’s inspired by Thomas Ligotti and related themes.
Find the details here.

Triangulation: Dark Skies
Payment: .03/word
Length: up to 5,000 words (3,000 preferred)
Deadline: February 29th, 2020
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction stories that deal with extinction.
Find the details here.

Midnight in the Pentagram
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: March 31st, 2020
What They Want: Silver Shamrock Publishing is seeking short fiction about the occult, possession, demons, and satanism in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, and Creepshow among others.
Find the details here.

Bracken
Payment: $15/flat for poetry; .04/word for fiction ($50 minimum)
Length: up to 100 lines for poetry (shorter is preferred); up to 2,500 words for fiction
Deadline: April 1st, 2020
What They Want: Open to poetry and short fiction that explores “human nature as part of nature.”
Find the details here.

Bronzeville Books
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 3,000 words
Deadline: Various deadlines, depending on the project
What They Want: Editor Sandra Ruttan is seeking short stories for Bronzeville Books’ forthcoming anthologies, Disturbia, Rigor Morbid 2, and Happy Hellidays.
Find the details here.

Lackington’s
Payment: .01/word (CAD) with $25 minimum
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: Ongoing
What They Want: Open to stylized speculative fiction. The current theme is Cocktails.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Her Own Horror: Part One in Our 2020 Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back for part one in my Women in Horror Roundtable for 2020! I introduced all of my amazing featured authors earlier this week, so that means it’s officially time to start unveiling their awesome interviews. So let’s take it away, shall we?

Welcome to my 2020 Women in Horror Roundtable! I’m so thrilled to be talking with all of you! To get started, tell us a little bit about yourself and your work in the horror genre.

Erin Sweet Al-MehairiERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I’m an author, poet, editor, publicist/PR professional, journalist. I suppose I’ve done a little bit of it all as I enjoy all aspects of publishing. I have my degrees in English, journalism, and history (yes I was crazy enough to have three majors to complete) and I’ve spent 27+ years in some sort of communication job: PR, Marketing, Advertising, Editing, writing, working in many avenues from healthcare to clothing to festivals to non-profits to publishing. I’ve owned by own PR business for 11 years now. When I decided to own my own business and freelance, to stay home with my youngest daughter for homeschool pre-school and because I was diagnosed with some auto-immune disorders, I decided to also try to read and write for pleasure again, and keep up some writing and journalism skills, by starting my blog. It quickly, due to my past work experience and expertise, turned into a business as well as an extension, so Hook of a Book was formed as well.

The blog is 9 years old now, and I’ve been reviewing horror that long, but I’ve been doing editing and PR/publicist work in the genre for about 7 maybe. I’ve worked for authors as a personal stand-alone publicist and editor, as well for many publishers. I’ve also managed coordination from covers to author liaison to finished product to market for publishers.  As well I’ve helped launch books from editing to finish for self-published authors to nice success as well. I still do I should say! As well, I still run my site with reviews and interviews for authors in the genre (and many other genres) who are not my clients (so no conflict of interest) and try to do special things during Women In Horror Month and National Poetry Month in April to showcase other authors and support the community. Though I work in other genres some, especially with editing, most of my time is spent in horror currently.

Beyond that I’m also an author and a poet. I have a collection called Breathe. Breathe. published by Unnerving that is half poetry and half short stories. I have poems and stories also in several other anthologies and magazines. I’ve co-edited a gothic anthology and I’m currently the editor of an upcoming charity anthology for this year called Survive with Me from Alien Agenda Publishing (Glenn Rolfe).

TERI.ZIN: Hi! I’m so excited to be a part of this! I write under the pen name Zin E. Rocklyn. I currently have five short stories out in the world and one essay about being an unseen, yet monstrous image in horror fiction and film as Black woman. I enjoy the brutal catharsis of horror and feel it is the most accurate genre to express obstacles in a way that is viscerally affecting to those who may not understand.

LARISSA GLASSER: Hi everyone! I’m Larissa Glasser, I’m a librarian at a large university and after about a decade playing in metal bands, I decided to get more serious about writing genre fiction. Of course, I gravitated to horror first because it was the genre I loved the most when I was a young kid renting VHS tapes in suburbia. I’ve got a few stories in anthologies but my first novella, F4, which was published by Eraserhead Press in the beginning of 2018, was the first time I let my horror freak flag fly.

V. CASTRO: My name is Violet. I am a mother of three living in London, but I was born and mostly raised in San Antonio, Texas.

Horror has been a great love in my life since childhood, however, one thing that was missing in the genre was representation. This did not hit me until later in life when I began to seriously consider writing and I looked at my own book collection. My Mexican American heritage is rich in folklore and history, and I wanted to share that with others. But horror!

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Thanks for inviting me, Gwen. What can I tell you about myself? Well, I’m a Gen-X single parent raising a 13-year-old boy in the era of YouTube and social media. I work at a small liberal arts college and struggle to pay my bills. I have an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and an MA in English. I’m a woman of color who is ethnically mixed — German American and Jamaican American — who grew up in a homogeneously white rural smalltown in Central PA. My origin story as a horror writer began when I was very young. My mom was a single parent until I turned 5 or 6, so we lived with my grandparents. My grandmother loved folklore and scary stories and she was an avid reader of horror novels. Stephen King and Dean Koontz were among her favorites. My grandfather loved watching spooky movies and TV shows, so we watched Hitchcock and Hammer Horror movies, The Twilight Zone and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. My mom introduced me to Dark Shadows and gave me a copy of Interview with the Vampire for Christmas when I was 11. I was raised on a steady diet of horror and monsters, while growing up in the racially charged 1970s and 1980s.

All of these early experiences have shaped my writing. I write stories about women of color struggling to understand who they are and where they fit in the world while dealing with monsters — human and supernatural. I’ve always identified more with monsters, so humans are often the most dangerous characters in my stories. My fiction usually tackles some social or political issue, but I don’t always know what that issue will be until I start writing and tap into my subconscious. But honestly, 9 out of 10 times, I’m writing about racism and racial identity in America, specifically from a feminist perspective. So, I guess you could say that I write stories about monsters while exploring the intersectionalities of race, gender, sexuality, and class.

LISA QUIGLEY: My name is Lisa Quigley. In February of 2018, I started the Ladies of the Fright podcast with my creative partner in crime, Mackenzie Kiera. We’d gotten our MFAs together in the UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency program. We’ve known we wanted to collaborate pretty much since day one, but we weren’t quite sure what form that would take until we created the podcast. What we initially envisioned as an in-depth craft show in which we’d break down horror and other dark-themed books has grown to be much more than that. We’ve interviewed many of horror’s top editors, authors, and other industry professionals on the show, and we’ve even collaborated with Library Journal and the HWA to promote the Summer Scares horror reading initiative. Producing our show is a labor of love.On the writing side, last year my first two fiction publications appeared in Automata Review and Unnerving Magazine. My debut novella, Hell’s Bells, is schedule for publication by Unnerving in May 2020.

MACKENZIE KIERA: I’m Mackenzie Kiera. I’m the other half of the Ladies of the Fright podcast where we talk about dark and stormy literature, movies, and whatever else strikes our fancy. Lisa and I are active in the horror community as we are the official podcast for Summer Scares and Stoker Con.

Women in Horror Month is amazingly in its eleventh year now. When did you first hear of Women in Horror Month, and what, if anything, does it mean to you personally as a female creator?

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I think I heard about it… taking a guess… maybe five years ago? I think at first it mostly really highlighted women in horror film. A lot of horror promotion was focused on film. They did a great job of highlighting that portion of the genre. See, when I started reading and reviewing horror back 7 years ago it was mostly still men in the genre with a few classic authors and less than a handful of women horror authors who’d been around a long while and even did the convention circuit (how you promoted yourself you know before social media came along and even I should say…. social media became a use for authors. I don’t think that happened even until 5-7 years ago!). Now, in the past 5 years and more each progressive year, women’s names are more known and there are more women horror authors. So though there is still work to be done, there is A LOT that is better both in women being published, working in the field, and being read.

It means a lot to have the month, no matter if other women or men give it push back. I come from the awareness side of the fence, probably because I worked in PR for so long in healthcare. I did a lot by looking at the yearly calendar and seeing what monthly and weekly awareness promotions there were! For instance, we all know that heart disease kills women, we all know there is breast cancer, and do we need to fight it every day – yes! But is it a great time, when February rolls around and it’s Wear Red for Women, or October comes, and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to wear red or pink and talk about the issues. Yes. Deluge the masses with information and as for Women in Horror Month have a celebration as a way for us to share what we’ve done, what we will do, and keep staking our claim. We’re a sisterhood and I hope that NO ONE ever forgets that, not even the men. And if they want to join our circle, then they’re welcome as brothers in arms.

TERI.ZIN: I believe I first heard about WiHM about four years ago and to be honest, I was dubious about it. There are few Black women writers of horror that are ever featured in lists like this. I’ve mostly read white women and women of colour in horror; the dudes eventually annoyed me with their myopic presumptions of women’s stories and voices in particular. While the shine of reading white women and women of colour in the genre was comforting for a bit, I wanted to see more Black women of horror being brought to the forefront. Scattering articles would try, but it is still irritating. There are plenty of us and yet you don’t see us. I aim to improve that.

LARISSA GLASSER: I first heard of WiHM a few years ago, when I had made more connections with horror writers on social media and went to some more cons. I remember feeling great that women in horror are being celebrated–I mean, WTF Mary Shelley wrote the original breakthrough horror/SF book Frankenstein, and her intelligence not only crafted an incredibly bleak story but she also addressed ethical issues, along with body horror. I think the world was in a lot of upheaval at that time, and as women’s voices and public autonomy were beginning to gain more traction, Shelley struck right place, right time. It also isn’t lost on me that Mary Wollstonecraft, a pioneer in advocacy for women’s rights, was her mother.

I am also of two minds about WiHM – I don’t think women in horror should be considered for just one month, we should be read, taken seriously, and respected throughout the year. There is pushback against diversity in the genre even today – even if white cisgender guys don’t intend to be dicks about it, they still manage some bad optics because maybe that is what they’re used to, or to be seemingly “against PC culture” gives them extra street integrity or whatever. Also, I am considered by some to not be a woman because I was (C)AMAB [coercively assigned male at birth]. The trans experience is as unique as one’s own fingerprints, and it’s just something that happens. We don’t ask for it, and transition is the only cure – you’ve got to be who you need to be. But I’m not going to give a 101 on that, I’ve spoken and written about it at length. But honestly the biggest surprise I had after F4 was released is that there are already plenty of trans women writing in the horror genre – I’m not going to name names because I never out anyone without their express permission. Suffice it to say I don’t feel so alone now, and meeting allies and supporters in the field has helped my confidence immensely. Cons are the best places to meet people in the field. Hover at the bar.

V. CASTRO: I first heard about it on Twitter from the Ladies of Horror Fiction. A group I hope people will follow and support if they don’t already.

Women in Horror Month is a bra set on fire and held overhead. It is a line drawn in the sand for women to reclaim their narratives and express their truth. It is 2020 and you still have women written in ways that are not realistic or downright offensive. Our stories should be told through our perspective. I’m not saying men don’t have the right to write women, however, I am saying that we should have the same opportunities to publish and receive recognition for these stories.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: I first heard about Women in Horror Month while working on my MFA at Seton Hill University. That program not only reignited my passion for writing, but reaffirmed my belief in the scholarship of horror fiction. Horror fiction is one of the most challenging genres to write in because you have to tap into raw emotions to convey the horror happening in your stories. And, it allows you to write about the real horrors happening in the world around you, much like science fiction holds up a mirror to the present to show us a glimpse of the future. I met a lot of women who were writing horror in the MFA program and it made me realize that the myth of horror being a male-dominated genre was bullshit. Sure, more male authors line the bookshelves in the horror section, but some of the best horror writers at this moment in time are women and people of color. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. There are a lot of terrible things happening to marginalized people in the world right now. Our day-to-day lives provide plenty of inspiration for writing horror stories.

LISA QUIGLEY: It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly, but I want to say I found out about it once I really became invested in writing in the horror genre. It’s a long story, but I didn’t always know that what I wanted to write (and what I was writing) was horror. So I was kind of a late bloomer in that sense. I think I learned of Women in Horror month about two or three years ago.

What it means to me personally as a female creator? On the one hand, I think it’s awesome. In many ways, horror is perceived as a male-dominated genre (although there are lots of reasons I could argue that’s not true in actuality…but that’s a conversation for another day.) At any rate, the dudes in the genre (awesome as so many of them are!) do tend to get a lot of the attention and spotlight. I think Women in Horror month is pretty cool because it does generate the awareness that like, hey, there are tons of incredible women out there writing horror, too. On the other hand, it does sometimes bother me that women need to be “called out” in one month. I think sometimes there can be this feeling that like…okay, we spent a whole month shouting out women, and now we can go back to our regularly scheduled programming. It would be super awesome if we got to the point where we didn’t need our own separate month. I am an optimist in that way, because I do feel like in so many ways we are headed in that direction. I am not naive, though. I know there is still a long way to go, and for many, this month serves as a way to amp up awareness and visibility. I am all for it, with the caveat that I certainly hope the day will come when we won’t have the need for it.

MACKENZIE KIERA: I suspect I heard about it in college at some point, but I didn’t take notice. (Sorry!) At that point, I thought I was going to work in emergency medicine, so while I’d always been fascinated by horror, I don’t think Women in Horror month showed up on my radar until Lisa and I started up the podcast. I feel like this month is important as it highlights the fact that it’s no longer just straight white men writing horror. Not that it ever was. Seems like people conveniently forget about Shirley Jackson and Mary Shelley when they discuss horror. Like it’s only got room for three big man names. Like it wasn’t around until Stephen King claimed a couple bookshelves in the stores for himself. As a creator, I think it’s a good thing, even though a month isn’t nearly long enough to talk about all of the amazing strides women are making in the genre.

And that’s part one of our Women in Horror Roundtable! Join us next week as we discuss favorite female characters in horror and underappreciated stories!

Happy reading!

Women in Horror Month 2020 Roundtable Coming Soon!

Welcome back, and welcome to Women in Horror Month! Throughout the month of February, I’m absolutely thrilled to be featuring a roundtable interview series with a group of supremely talented female horror authors! I’ll be talking with them about their work, their inspiration, as well as their hopes for the future of women in horror.

So without further adieu, here are the awesome female authors who are part of this year’s roundtable!

Erin Sweet Al-MehairiErin Sweet Al-Mehairi is a writer, editor, and PR Professional with degrees in English, Journalism, and History. Breathe. Breathe., published by Unnerving in 2017, was her debut collection of dark poetry and short stories and was an Amazon #2 best-selling paid title in women’s poetry, behind NYT best-seller Rupi Kaur, and top five in horror short stories several times since its publication. Her work has been called raw, honest, evocative, and beautiful. She has poems and stories featured in several other anthologies and magazines, including the recent 7 Deadly Sins of the Apocalypse which was an Amazon #1 paid best-seller in horror anthologies upon release, was the co-curating editor in 2018 for the gothic anthology Haunted are these Houses, and is the editor of the 2020 anthology Survive with Me. As an editor and publicist, she assists publishers and authors in the horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and historical genres and has worked on and with many award-winning and nominated titles for the Bram Stoker Award, Shirley Jackson Award, and more.

Within the publishing world in an effort to support book communities, besides managing her own site Oh, for the Hook of a Book!, she also has conducted interviews and written reviews and features for Beneath the Underground, The Horror Tree, Machine Mean, and more in the horror genre, as well as served as an independent award judge in the historical fiction genre.

She is currently completing two poetry collections and a short story collection with more in the works. Find more about Erin at www.hookofabook.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter (@erinalmehairi).

Violet Castro is originally from Texas, but now resides in London with her partner and three children. Her books include: Maria The Wanted; The Erotic Modern Life of Malinalli The Vampire; Switchblades and Hairspray (Feb 2020- Unnerving); Rigor Morbid: Lest Ye Become – “The Latin Queens of Mictlan”; Co-editor of Latinx Screams. A Latinx horror anthology from Bronzeville Books (Fall 2020); and Latino Book Month Curator for StoryBundle (May 2020). Violet writes book and film reviews for SciFi & Scary and Latin Horror as well as contributing articles to Ginger Nuts of Horror, Ladies of Horror Fiction, Burial Ground and Kendall Reviews. You can find out more about V at www.vvcastro.com or @vlatinalondon on Instagram and Twitter.

Larissa Glasser is a librarian-archivist from New England. She writes dark fiction centered on the lives of trans women, library science, and heavy metal. Her work is available in Transcendent 3: The Year’s Best Transgender Themed Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press) and Tragedy Queens: stories inspired by Lana Del Rey and Sylvia Plath (Clash Books). Her debut novella F4 is available from Eraserhead Press. She is on Twitter @larissaeglasser

Mackenzie Kiera holds an MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing from the University of California, Riverside where she studied with Dr. Stephen Graham Jones. She is the author of over 30+ articles, essays and short stories that have appeared in Gamut Magazine, The Mighty, The Nervous Breakdown, The Manifest-Station, Ink Stains Anthology Vol. IV, and This Is Horror. For several years, she was a contributing author to LA’s The Last Bookstore’s blog Dwarf+Giant, where she reviewed books and interview authors. Currently, she is the co-host of a dark fiction podcast: Ladies of the Fright, and is the author of a forthcoming novella ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE AND A STRONG ELECTRIC CURRENT from Unnerving.

Michelle R. Lane writes dark speculative fiction about women of color who battle their inner demons while falling in love with monsters. Her work includes elements of fantasy, horror, romance, and occasionally erotica. Her short fiction appears in the anthologies Dark Holidays, Terror Politico: A Screaming World in Chaos, and The Monstrous Feminine: Dark Tales of Dangerous Women. Her debut novel, Invisible Chains (2019), is available from Haverhill House Publishing. She lives in South Central Pennsylvania with her son. You can follow her blog, Girl Meets Monster, where she talks about some of her favorite subjects: reading, writing, and monsters: https://michellerlane.com/.

Lisa Quigley is a writer, mother, wife, and irreverent witch living in New Jersey. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside’s low-residency program in Palm Desert. Her work has appeared on The Manifest Station, Dwarf + Giant, Automata Review, and Unnerving Magazine. She is the co-host of the dark fiction podcast Ladies of the Fright and a columnist for This Is Horror. Her debut novella, Hell’s Bells, is coming in May 2020 from Unnerving.

Of Trinidadian descent and hailing from Jersey City, NJ, Zin E. Rocklyn‘s stories are older than her years, much like the name she’s chosen to pen them under. Her work is currently featured in the anthologies Forever Vacancy, 2017 Bram Stoker Nominated Sycorax’s Daughters of which her story Summer Skin was longlisted for Best of Horror 2017, Kaiju Rising II: Reign of MonstersWeird Luck Tales No. 7Brigands: A Blackguards Anthology, and Nox Pareidolia. Her non-fiction essay “My Genre Makes a Monster of Me” was published in Uncanny Magazine’s Hugo Award-Winning Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 issue. Tor.com will be publishing her latest release in March of 2020. Her personal website, terizin.com, is currently under construction, so stay tuned for all of her weirdness in HTML form. In the interim, you can follow her on Twitter @intelligentwat.

So those are our seven amazing women who are part of this year’s roundtable! Stay tuned for the interviews to commence later this week!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

My Nightmare story and Vastarien article are on the Preliminary Bram Stoker Awards Ballot!

So last week ushered in a very big surprise when both my short story, “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” and my short nonfiction article, “Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” made it on the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot.

Seriously. WHAT?!

Now as always, it’s important to note that this is NOT a nomination. Voting on the final ballot opens tomorrow, and the official nominees will be announced next month. But to have two works appear on the preliminary ballot is such an incredible honor, and I’m still stunned just writing this post.

Because I don’t want to keep blathering on (yes, I know you’ve all heard plenty about this from me already on social media), here’s a bit about each work that’s on the preliminary ballot, and then I’ll wrap this up.

In the short fiction category, my story “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” first appeared in Nightmare Magazine in November and is available to read for free online. It’s a retelling of Dracula from Lucy’s perspective, and it’s been called “a wonderful and subversive take on the classic story” by Curious Fictions and “a story that knows exactly what it is about, intricately framed and wonderfully complex” by Quick Sip Reviews.

As for short nonfiction, “Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” was first published in March 2019 in Vastarien. This piece focuses on three of Gilman’s most famous short stories–“When I Was a Witch,” “The Giant Wistaria,” and of course “The Yellow Wallpaper”–and reflects on their themes of freedom, individuality, and so-called madness.

The iMailer newsletter from HWA went out earlier this week, which included links to both my works, but if you missed that email, then it’s worth repeating: if you’re an Active or Lifetime member and would like to read either my short story or my short nonfiction article, please email me at gwendolyn@gwendolynkiste.com, and I would be thrilled to send you copies of them!

Once again, so many huge congratulations to everyone on the preliminary ballot. It was another wonderful year for horror, and the fantastic authors and works on the ballot reflect that! I’m so thrilled and humbled to be among so many awesome friends and colleagues! Good luck to all!

Happy reading!

Wild Doorways: Interview with Eric J. Guignard

Welcome back! This week, I’m happy to spotlight author and editor Eric J. Guignard. Eric is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of That Which Grows Wild and Doorways to the Deadeye.

Recently, Eric and I discussed his inspiration as a writer as well as how his work as an editor at his publishing house Dark Moon Books has affected his work as a writer.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

First, of course, thanks so much for this interview, Gwendolyn!

Now for your questions: I’ve been writing fiction with the goal of publication since February, 2011. However, I’ve been writing and drawing stories ever since I was a child. I’d just done it previously for my own interest, or for friends. I stopped in college, in order to pursue business and serious-minded life necessities… which, of course, I now regret. I don’t regret the pursuit of those things, but rather having given up writing for so many years. I only jumped into as a potential career-type desire after the realization struck me that I was missing out on something I was passionate about!

Some authors I currently adore and consider influences and inspirations include Joe R. Lansdale, Cormac McCarthy, George Orwell, Stephen Graham Jones, Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Morton, Kaaron Warren, Dennis Lehane, Seanan McGuire, Lauren Beukes, Jack Kerouac, Mark Bowden, O. Henry, James Ellroy, Neil Gaiman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Helen Marshall, John Steinbeck, Weston Ochse, and many, many others.

Your debut novel, Doorways to the Deadeye, was released last year through JournalStone. What can you share about the process of writing your first novel, and what has the release been like so far?

Since Doorways to the Deadeye was my first full-length novel, the process went pretty much all over the place, and it became a melting pot of worlds and styles.

I wrote this book for “me” (rather than for a particular market, which ultimately wasn’t the best decision!), examining insights and feelings, and also experimenting with structure, and digging into new themes as well as ones I often include in my other writings: Death and how we handle it; the fluidity of memories; explorations of uncharted territory; loss of loved ones; unexpected ways to emerge victorious from dark situations… There’s elements of Dark Fiction; Speculative Fiction; Magic Realism; Thriller; Light Horror; Urban Fantasy, etc.

Since this book is about legend-building and memories, and the search for perseverance after death, it’s also meant to go “all over the place,” as the voices change, and the stories within the greater story; it’s all meant to evolve as the book progresses, just like in life that as we tell stories they change, and so do the memories of those involved. Then I framed all this in the travels of a 1930s-era train-hopping hobo, and the homeless narrator who is trying to keep the stories literally “alive”.

I know that can sound pretty flighty, so here the P.R. synopsis: A Depression-era hobo rides the rails and learns the underlying Hobo Code is a mystical language that leads into the world of memories, where whoever is remembered strongest—whether by trickery, violence, or daring—can change history and alter the lives of the living.

As far as results of the release, I feel it’s gone well. One can always wish for greater acclaim of course (it’s never enough!!), but I’m happy with sales and reviews so far. This type of book is definitely not for everyone, and I know that … I’ve had a few people tell me they can’t understand it after the first couple of chapters and give up. But most readers and reviewers have given it solid, heart-warming praise, and some have even told me it’s changed the way they read and write stories.

If I may be so bold as to drop a few lines of reviews here, they include the following:

“…Guignard captures the depth of emotion underlying fictional terrors.”—Library Journal

“This novel is a stunner… shocking to see how powerful the author’s lines were, how well-drawn the characters had become.” —Cemetery Dance Magazine

“Rich, strange, and wonderful.” —Michael Marshall Smith, NY Times bestselling author

And I literally just got a new wonderful review five minutes ago from The Horror Fiction Review, which made my day, as well as an inclusion on the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot this morning!

Congratulations on your Stoker win last year for That Which Grows Wild! How did that collection of short fiction develop?

That book is a collection (my first!) of previously published works, the stories having first appeared in various anthologies, magazines, etc. Each story in itself had its own inspiration or aim, so the collection is more about which stories would work well together in a grouping. I worked with editor Norman Prentiss at Cemetery Dance to select ones that presented a wide range of material, but at the same time weren’t too far “out of the box”. Originally I had some other choices that were more “weird” or satire or dark, and Norm suggested switching out those to ones a bit more in the same mood, so voilà, the finished product, which I’m happy with!

How does your approach to short versus long fiction differ? Do you prefer one length over the other?

My favorite thing to write (and to read) has always been fiction short stories, rather than novels, so that’s usually been my focus. But I am proud to have now gotten my first novel under my belt (Doorways to the Deadeye), as there seems to be this lack of gravitas for anyone who claims they’re a writer but hasn’t put out the “full-length” book!

And interestingly, over the nine years I’ve been writing short stories, I do find them getting longer and longer on average (in word count), so perhaps it’s a natural progression that will lead into more novels.

I probably should have a more formal approach to writing as well, but I still mostly just write what I feel like, when I feel like it, and I also write more in terms of being a “Pantser,” i.e. writing as I go, although if the story becomes complicated or I get burned out, or stuck, then I turn to plotting or outlining to figure the proper direction.

You’re also an award-winning editor. What inspired you to become an editor, and how has editing informed your fiction writing and vice versa?

I started editing because I wanted to improve as a writer, and it’s helped immensely. I recommend it to anyone wishing to improve their writing. By reading submission slush I saw what everyone else was writing about, the same tropes and styles, and immediately knew to write something going the other direction. By an aggregate of stories, I would find flaws in writing that I would then recognize in myself. And I learned it’s true that you can accurately judge a story based on the opening paragraph, and in most cases the opening sentence. From editing, I gained experience in story development, author communications, layout, promotions and so on. I now look at projects from the multiple eyes of “Editor,” “Marketer,” “Distributor,” “Publisher,” and it’s made me a better person.

I find editing is easier for me than writing, although writing brings more satisfaction. Writing is emotionally exhausting, whereas editing I can do all day long. And I’m always thrilled with the chance to connect and work with other writers while editing. But I love so much to type “The End” at the end of a writing piece—it’s a wonderful, fulfilling sense. Both are different journeys to a creative destination.

As an aside, my day job is working as a Technical Writer, which can get dull at times, but it’s also definitely improved my fiction writing, by articulating stories in concise language, with focus on impact, brevity, and an understanding of audiences.

If forced to choose, which part of the writing process is your favorite: brainstorming an idea, writing a first draft, or polishing an almost-finished piece?

“Polishing an almost-finished piece” is the easiest for me, fine-tuning the details (probably more aligning with my day-job work of Technical Writing). Brainstorming ideas is my favorite, because it involves a lot of daydreaming and idea sketches and just letting my mind wander, although 99% of those ideas don’t go anywhere, and sometimes it turns into this very stressful realization of wasting time! A slightly different response is that the most satisfying part of the writing process would be to get down the first draft; this is absolutely the hardest part for me, so when completed, I feel a natural exhilaration for the rest of the day. (And then the next day, it’s back to something else, haha!)

What projects are you currently working on?

Through my press, Dark Moon Books, I’m continuing to publish a series of author primers created to champion modern masters of the dark and macabre, titled: Exploring Dark Short Fiction (Vol. 1: Steve Rasnic Tem; Vol. II: Kaaron Warren; Vol. III: Nisi Shawl; Vol. IV: Jeffrey Ford; Vol. V: Han Song; Vol. VI: Ramsey Campbell).

And through SourceBooks I’m curating a new series of books titled, The Horror Writers Association Presents: Haunted Library of Horror Classics with co-editor Leslie S. Klinger (to begin publishing 2020).

I’m also still writing short stories, and I’ve started THREE new novels, although I’m not very far into any of them! One is a pulp science fiction, one a paranormal detective series, and one a literary historical horror.

I also have hopes to launch a new anthology series in the future, if I can ever get my publishing finances out of the red!

Tremendous thanks to Eric J. Guignard for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him online at his author site and Dark Moon Books as well as on Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram!

Happy reading!

The Horror Year that Was: 2019 Award Eligibility Post

So 2019 is officially in the rearview mirror, which means now it’s time for this annual post. As everyone always says, it tends to be a little weird to do an award eligibility blog, but at the same time, it’s also nice to look back at the year that was, so here we go, once more unto the breach!

For me, last year was all about new short fiction and nonfiction as well as promoting The Rust Maidens. I didn’t have any longer fiction projects released, although The Invention of Ghosts is right on the horizon, so that will be a big new project for 2020. As for 2019, I had nine new short stories make their way into the world along with five nonfiction articles. Here’s a bit of an overview on each!

The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” (Nightmare, November 2019)
A retelling of Dracula through Lucy’s perspective, this tale has got bloodlust, rage, and revenge, all while reclaiming the identity of a very unsung character of horror literature. Based on reader responses, this is one of my very best received short stories, with Curious Fictions calling it “a wonderful and subversive take on the classic story.” Plus, it’s free to read, so that’s always nice.

All the Ways to Hollow Out a Girl” (Horror for RAICES, December 2019)
An isolated teenage girl has an uncanny knack for resurrection, which makes her a target for a group of neighborhood boys. All proceeds from this wonderful anthology go to benefit RAICES.

A New Mother’s Guide for Raising an Abomination” (The New Flesh: A Literary Tribute to David Cronenberg, November 2019)
An eager mother gets more than she bargained for when her baby undergoes a monstrous transformation, joining a legion of other little girls who are more than what they seem. Part of the Cronenberg tribute anthology, this tale is a nod to The Brood as well as the overall body horror vibe of Cronenberg’s work.

When the Nightingale Devours the Stars” (Nox Pareidolia, October 2019)
Two women are trapped in a hellish small town, one of them cursed with a gift of strange magic that might just be able to save them both. This beautiful anthology is packed with so many incredible writers and has been quite well-received so far by readers.

The Girls from the Horror Movie” (Come Join Us by the Fire, October 2019)
A pair of twins were the unlikely stars of a horror film when they were children. Years later, they still haven’t escaped its cinematic thrall. Another personal favorite, this story is part of the flagship project for Tor’s new Nightfire imprint.

Over the Violets There that Lie” (Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror, August 2019)
It’s the turbulent 1960s, and a troubled housewife finds herself cast in a gruesome anthology film dedicated to the work of Edgar Allan Poe. 2019 was definitely a year for me and film-centric tales, a theme I most certainly hope to continue building on in the future.

A Lost Student’s Handbook for Surviving the Abyss“(Welcome to Miskatonic University, July 2019)
A college student confronts cosmic horror, displacement, and identity issues all while coping with her first semester at the famed university. This is such a fun anthology, and I love that I got to do my own spin on the Lovecraftian mythos with this tale. Another fantastic table of contents, Broken Eye Books always puts out such great anthologies.

The Woman Out of the Attic” (Haunted House Short Stories, March 2019)
A re-imagining of the Madwoman in the Attic trope. A lonely ghost haunts the grand estate where she once lived with her brooding husband. When he brings home a new wife, the ghost starts to realize that perhaps her fate isn’t as hopeless and inevitable as she thought. This one was recently reprinted at Pseudopod and is available on the podcast for free here.

Tips for How to Deal with Your Daughter When She’s Become a Monster” (Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, February 2019)
A horrifying discovery forces a mother to come to terms with her teenage daughter’s monstrous nature. True to its title, this anthology features reimaginings of the Medusa and gorgon legends, and it’s a truly fantastic table of contents with a gorgeous Daniele Serra cover.

As for my nonfiction, I had an essay featured at Kendall Reviews about holiday ghost stories, a guest post on body horror over at the lovely Ladies of Horror Fiction site, and a folk horror article and a retrospective on the 60th anniversary on Psycho in Unnerving. My most scholarly article appeared in the excellent Vastarien back in February; “Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” examines Gilman’s legacy through her exploration of witchcraft, psychology, and feminism.

If you’re recommending for awards, I would be absolutely thrilled to provide copies of any of the works above; just feel free to drop me a line!

Last year also saw me officially earn the title of “award-winning writer,” which means provided I don’t worry myself into an early grave, I’ll one day be that old person with a bony fist, shaking it at the sky and croaking out things like “Back in my day, I won awards, and I’ve got the cool swag on my wall to prove it!” Although I suppose I’m a little like that old person now, so maybe none of us has to wait for that reality.

In all seriousness, it was a really wonderful and fortunate year professionally for me, and I have nothing but gratitude for that. Once again, thank you to all the fans of The Rust Maidens; your support is what carried it to the Stoker and the This is Horror award, and that’s still astounding to me. So thank you thank you thank you.

So that was my year. It was a very good one professionally, which leaves me hopeful that 2020 might not turn out too shabby either.

Until next time, happy New Year, and happy reading!

Happy New Year for Fiction: Submission Roundup for January 2020

Welcome back to the first Submission Roundup of 2020! Lots of great opportunities this month, both submission calls that were featured in December as well as several new ones. But before we get started, first the usual disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets. I’m merely spreading the word! Please direct your questions to their respective editors.

And with that, onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission RoundupThe Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror
Payment: .04/word
Length: 4,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: January 7th, 2020
What They Want: The follow-up to the highly successful The Fiends in the Furrows, the editors are seeking folk horror stories from around the world.
Find the details here.

Dark Stars: An Anthology
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 3,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: For their forthcoming anthology, Death’s Head Press is seeking horror-sci-fi stories (think Alien and Event Horizon). 
Find the details here.

The New Gothic Review
Payment: $15/flat
Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: Original short stories that deal with the unknown, the dark, and the atmospheric. Eerie horror, weird fiction, fairy tales, and light science fiction are all welcome so long as the stories have Gothic elements.
Find the details here.

Electric Spec
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 250 to 7,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide range of speculative short fiction.
Find the details here.

The Macabre Museum
Payment: $25/flat for fiction; $5/flat for poetry
Length: 3,000 to 6,000 words for fiction; up to 3 poems
Deadline: January 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to literary horror fiction and poetry.
Find the details here.

Triangulation: Dark Skies
Payment: .03/word
Length: up to 5,000 words (3,000 preferred)
Deadline: February 29th, 2020
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction stories that deal with extinction.
Find the details here.

Midnight in the Pentagram
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: March 31st, 2020
What They Want: Silver Shamrock Publishing is seeking short fiction about the occult, possession, demons, and satanism in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, and Creepshow among others.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!