Reproductive Rights Abroad: Part Six in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back for the sixth edition of our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable!

Today, we switch gears a bit, as I talk with a group of horror writers who are located outside of the United States to see how the overturning of Roe vs. Wade is affecting people abroad.

So with that, I will allow my five interviewees to take it away!

All of you are from countries other than America. Please tell us where you’re from and why you feel the overturning of Roe in the United States is everyone’s problem.

HS DILAZAK: Given the special relationship between the UK and the US, the overturning of Roe Vs Wade concerns me as I’m anxious about the impression this might create on our political landscape. There is already evidence of this happening with the current conservative government. We have an MP, Danny Kruger who has made some sensational comments in regards to whether women truly have full autonomy over their body as there is another body involved in the making of a child. With men like this in parliament, the overturning in one of the most powerful countries in the world will embolden their personal positions, and in a few years, we might also be looking to overturn our own abortion laws. It’s very troubling as it is considered by many here, a fundamental human right.

EVA ROSLIN: I’m from the Eastern coast of Canada, and the overturning of Roe in the United States is absolutely everyone’s problem. There’s a lot of helplessness here because many, many women and female-identifying folks are just as outraged about this ruling and this attack on bodily autonomy, and then seeing the subsequent response from the Democractic Party, but knowing that we cannot vote in midterm or other elections there, or do something more concrete. There have thankfully been some fundraising and other donation campaigns that are trying to make sure that folks donate to those organizations most in need, and that the funds are going to the right places because unfortunately, in this day and age, there are a lot of scammers who are getting cleverer about taking advantage of human goodwill.

One thing I want to speak out about is the Canadian sense of smugness that I have seen from past co-workers, online posters on social media, and in some newspaper headlines as well as news anchors–there is a troubling trend of “Phew, glad that’s not us! Oh, those silly Americans” that runs through Canada, and it makes me rage. I have wanted to scream at co-workers in the past because I wanted to say: this is ALL of us. This is not just some disparate separate thing that only affects one country. Yes, we all watch in horror at the mind-blowing rates of gun violence and protection of guns in the US from here, but we have our own problems.

The same radicalization particularly of white men that exists in the US and in other countries, as we saw with the Christchurch Massacre in New Zealand, is the continuing legacy of a problem that several Western nations try to ignore or stick their fingers in their ears and pretend is not there. We have had terrorist acts in Canada, including an attack on Parliament Hill in October 2014. We’ve had shootings at a Mosques, and a man who ran over a family of Muslim people in London, Ontario, in a hate crime. Earlier this winter, we had a “Freedom Convoy” radicalized by US politics and increasing divisions over covid safety policies and vaccines as well as other issues that became politicized who held the city of Ottawa hostage. It made me beyond ill. And it’s still there. The province of Alberta, on the west coast of Canada, is like Texas in many ways, and while that used to be just another reason for non-Canadians to make fun of us, the real issues that are going on are extremely distressing.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there and the illusion that many people outside of the US cling to like oh that’s a “them” problem and “it will never happen here” but we have since seen that is simply untrue. As many other people have more eloquently or perhaps more clearly pointed out, this is not just about women’s reproductive rights. It’s an assault by a cabal of probably some of the most privileged white judges on the planet, and painfully for Black communities, Clarence Thomas, who have collectively decided that they want to eradicate all hard-fought equality rights. This is an attack on LGBTQIA+ rights particularly targeting trans communities and children, which is beyond sickening and invasive. It’s targeting racialized peoples and exposing even more glaringly the lack of equality toward Black communities. It’s about an absolute lack of regard for any form of life that isn’t cis, hetero, white, male, essentially. And the guns. We cannot forget the guns… (tries not to scream)

PENNY JONES: Hi. I’m over in England, and there is huge shock over here at the overturning of Roe vs Wade. As well as our fears for both those who we count as friends and family over in the States, and those who are strangers to us; It is very concerning to see the insidious nature of religion infiltrating in to politics. I’m not naive and I have always been aware that politics is at best coerced, but to see the corruption of politics, and the resultant impact on policy and law, by funding and party donors being so blatantly celebrated by an ever-growing faction of the states should be a concern for everyone. As a white, middle class, western woman I have grown up with certain privileges, and had never particularly been concerned if I could obtain an abortion if I needed or chose to have one. I just accepted it as my right under the International Human Rights law. Control of abortions was something that happened to other people: to those in Iran after the revolution, to those who lived under Ceausescu’s dictatorship, to those who were too poor or too oppressed to be able to access the services that I took for granted. For me abortion control was history, it was fantasy, it was nothing more than a dystopian horror story. But the truth is, that those small insidious tendrils that made their way into American politics are already being seen here over in our own, and I only hope that these atrocities aren’t repeated once more.

ASTRID ADDAMS: Hello, I am from England in the UK. I feel that overturning Roe vs Wade is a step backwards for women’s rights as well as a step backwards for environmental and social conditions. Not just in America, but for the international community. America for large parts of the world, represents the West and has a reputation for being the best country in the world. The big American Dream. As a kid, I wanted to be American from watching The Mighty Ducks and other such kids film. A friend of mine who grew up in Thailand learnt American English and grew up loving Friends, hell they even used to have Friends themed cafe’s in England, they might still do for all I know. Weirder still were the Dairy Queens in Bangkok. I’m sure most people have their own examples of the American Dream popping up in the oddest places.

Now America, being such a big voice on the world stage has overturned a right people have fought for and which many people still don’t have access to in our unequal world is MASSIVE. Especially given the potential environmental and social implications for our planet. Abortion is such an emotive subject that people are still passionately against, now they have a great big dump of proof from a historic super power that they too, can manipulate people’s emotions and get abortion made illegal again in their own countries. To hell with the environmental impact of more people increasing the strain on a planet experiencing climate change. To hell with the reality of poverty and child poverty and all the disease, crime and everything else that comes with it. They see abortion as murder, yet care nothing for the babies born nor the people who die. Prices are increasing globally as I write this, fuel costs are increasing globally, in both the UK and US work does not guarantee a living wage and there is not enough housing. Adding more babies into the shit show will only make things worse.

Then there is the body autonomy issue, which opens up a whole new can of monstrous rights violations. Forcing fetuses to be carried and birthed should be seen with the same horror as forced sterilization or FGM. Who the hell is anyone, except a doctor, to tell someone what to do with their body? Worse still, what kind of person forces their beliefs and themselves on someone’s body then denies the consequences of their actions? Rapists and pro lifers to name but a few. What level of cruelty does it take to not only force someone to carry a pregnancy to term no matter the damage to the mother, her life or the eventual baby. But to force that baby on its mother or parents for the next 18 years? Or force the baby that grows into a kid and a young adult into the adoption or care system? Certainly the British state does a pretty crap job raising kids and I’ve read sources that suggest the US is no better. An abortion ban forces women to carry and give birth to babies no matter the cost to them, the fetus that becomes a baby and society because of a fantasy and cute emotive images of fetuses. Used to great effect to tug at our heart strings.

CAITLIN MARCEAU: I live in Montreal, which is a major city in Quebec, Canada. Our country has always been close to the United States, and I don’t just mean geographically. It’s not uncommon for ideologies and popular rhetoric—both good and bad—in the U.S. to slowly gain steam up north. The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a major problem for Americans and people around the world because it demonstrates that the anti-choice/forced-birth movement is gaining steam. It shows that the human rights of the many can be taken away because of the beliefs of the extreme few. It’s also a horrible reminder that the fight for bodily autonomy is never really over.

What’s the current status of abortion rights in your country? Even if it’s legal, is it often still difficult for pregnant people to access basic abortion care?

PENNY JONES: The basic rule in England (it’s the same in Scotland and Wales, but not in Northern Ireland) is that an abortion can be carried out before 24 weeks of pregnancy. Abortions can still be carried out after the 24 week timescale in very limited circumstances – for example, if the mother’s life is at risk or the child would be born with a severe disability.
An abortion however cannot just be carried out for no reason, and they are only permitted within the 24 week timescale if there is either:

A risk to the life of the pregnant woman.
Or it is done to prevent grave permanent injury to the pregnant woman’s physical or mental health.
Or there is a risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family.
Or there is a substantial risk that, if the child were born, he or she would “suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.”

Counselling is usually offered prior to an abortion, usually through crisis pregnancy centres, and although this is not supposed to be pro-life, there are numerous clinics springing up in the UK who state that they are a crisis pregnancy centre, but actually only offer a biased pro-life counselling service.

There is also very much an expectance from society on whether you will want or need an abortion; and often the response you may receive when announcing that you are pregnant, will often be affected by your age, class, relationship status, and whether you are deemed capable of raising a child. It would not be uncommon for someone who was say, 30 and married, to visit their doctor as a first step in the abortion process and for their GPs response of “Your pregnancy test was positive.” to be followed by a hearty “Congratulations!” rather than a more suited “Is this good or bad news for you?”

HS DILAZAK: I have never been in a position where I’ve needed an abortion, but we have an Abortion Act that was passed in 1967 which emphasises the well-being of the mother. For instance it states that an abortion is lawful if the continuation of the pregnancy involves greater risk to mental and physical health than if terminating the pregnancy. Also, according to the National Health Service (NHS) in England, Wales and Scotland, you would not have to wait more than 2 weeks for an appointment after seeing the doctor for an initial assessment; and will be able to have an abortion before 24 weeks from the NHS. The only exception to having an abortion after 24 weeks is if the mother’s life is at risk or if the child would be born with a severe disability. There is also the private option, but costs and methods used will vary. However, in the case of Northern Ireland, despite abortion being decriminalised in 2019, a lot of women still find it difficult accessing abortions due to the very strong Catholic and Protestant communities there, and there have been cases where they’ve flown over to England to access health services as the services in Northern Ireland could not meet the demands. There is also the point of Anti-abortionists protesting outside hospitals where women might be getting an abortion, causing intimidation that has, unfortunately, led to some clinics having to shut down. Northern Ireland has voted to pass a law that would prevent protests outside health clinics, but it might then interfere with the right to protest.

EVA ROSLIN: Before I go into the status in Canada, I want to mention that we’ve been very fortunate that the main abortion medication became available safely and in 2018, the Safe Access to Abortion Services Act. Our PM (Prime Minister) made statements assuring Canadians that he was disgusted by the Roe decision in the US and that his government would commit to making sure that Canadians continue to. Have safe access to basic abortion care. However, there is still a dangling sense of precarity of okay, we’re going to trust you on this PM, but please don’t go back on your word.

So in terms of the history, I was shocked to find out that there was a law in 1969 in which a bunch of cishet white dudes would get to decide if a woman ‘qualified’ for an abortion under the strictest terms. Abortion was only decriminalized in Canada in 1988, so women used to go to the US from Canada when they needed this and related procedures. In 90-91, then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, went more in the direction of criminalization with Bill C-43 which would sentence doctors to jail if they performed abortions “where a woman’s health was not at risk.” Then there’s also the issue of getting procedures in hospitals vs. private clinics, which introduces the issue of affordability because one is covered by health care and the other is out of pocket.

I want to preface this next part of my response by acknowledging that as a white-passing woman of Middle Eastern heritage, I have experienced privilege in my daily life and continue to do so, and that this is not the case for many visible minorities in Canada and elsewhere. The veneer of safety that I and others grew up with has been pulled out from under so many of us like a rug. Black women in particular have been speaking out about these issues for years. In one of her many landmark texts, bell hooks was discussing and placing these issues in 1981 in ain’t I a woman, taken from the famous Sojourner Truth speech.

There is a very obnoxious and troubling trend of white women for the most part who only now are beginning to understand some of these inequalities and injustices but have been largely ignorant about issues because it hasn’t affected them. Forced sterilization against Black women as well as the abhorrent mistreatment of indigenous First Nations women in Canada in so many forms, which also includes forced sterilization among other unspeakable atrocities, is something I don’t have the words for. Stripping of bodily autonomy. Genital mutilation in some African nations that still takes place against girls… there needs to be more awareness of these issues, yes, but also more accountability toward taking meaningful actions to change these unacceptable things.

CAITLIN MARCEAU: In Canada, abortion is legal and offered freely through our government’s healthcare program (as well as being accessible through private clinics too). I can’t speak for how it works across the rest of the country, but in Quebec we’re able to locate abortion clinics using a government website that finds us services based on our location and how far we’re able to travel. For people less than fourteen weeks pregnant, services are readily available across the province, while people seeking an abortion after fourteen weeks generally need to go to specialized clinics for services (which aren’t as accessible outside of major cities or to people with limited access to transportation). Frustratingly, language can actually be one of the biggest barriers to abortion in Quebec, with important information and resources often being offered exclusively in French. With a push to reduce the use of English in governmental organizations, including health services, I imagine this language barrier will only become more of an obstacle in the next few years.

ASTRID ADDAMS: Abortion is legal in England for both socio-economic reasons and medical reasons. Abortion is legal and performed for any reason during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy and afterwards for medical reasons such as the mother’s life being at risk. They are free of charge on the NHS (yes we are lucky enough to have a national affordable health service) but can also be provided in licenced clinics. No one has to know, not your partner or your family, even if you are under sixteen. The decision is yours alone and confidential and they are easy to access. Making an informed medical decision is a primary concern of our health service as is the mothers health. We also have access to over the counter contraceptives, free condoms from sexual health services and free easy access to medically prescribed and administered contraceptives. I mention this because I have heard that getting medical contraceptive support can be harder in the US, that has now chosen to make abortions harder as well.

What are your specific fears for the future of reproductive rights, both in America and in your own country?

PENNY JONES: I fear that actually for America (and following in their stead, England) this could just be a stepping stone to even stricter laws, and that the oppression of bodily autonomy will grow exponentially. Many of the “rational” arguments for the overturning of Wade are around the ease of access of contraception and sexual education, and that these preventative measures should be used, rather than what the pro-life people state is an over-dependence on abortion over prevention. However there are already factions who believe that contraception is still murder and that the chemical or physical expulsion of the egg is akin to abortion. I’m sure many who are reading this will say I am overreacting, that there is no way that contraception will be made illegal in the States, but even as little as five years ago I would have said the same about abortion.

EVA ROSLIN: In terms of Canada, I said some things above but I hope that we will not see a return to forced sterilizations that are swept under the rug, particularly against disabled women, indigenous women, or anyone deemed an “undesirable.”

For the US, my fears don’t end and I have to work very hard not to lose my mind when I think of my friends and family there. I think my fear is that with this overturning of Roe, are we going to see more of the things targeting equal rights in America contested and also overturned? Things like the Loving case which focuses on anti-miscegenation laws and targets interracial unions. Things like Plessy v Ferguson, and these decisions that drill down to the most essentialized markers of identity to strip away more fundamental human rights. When we look at the Reconstruction Era and how the beginnings of reparations were begging to take place–things like the 40 Acres and a Mule agreement, but then you had then-president Andrew Johnson look at that and say “What? Black people getting land and getting more equality and voting rights? Oh no, no. That’s much too equitable. I’m getting rid of that.”

The collective disenfranchisement that has affected racialized communities in the United States, or the history of Japanese internment camps–a direct progenitor to the Anti-Asian hate and violence we have seen a surge of since the pandemic. Grave injustices.

I’m thinking of Apartheid in South Africa and the system there that made it so that mothers could not walk with their mixed-race children on the street, but also from an archival theory standpoint, I want people to look up the work of Verne Harris. After Apartheid ended, the government in South Africa ordered all of the state and national archives to just basically burn and destroy all the records that had anything to do with the previous several decades. They wanted to pretend that there weren’t these mountains of evidence that showed how they carried out Apartheid and other injustices in the country, primarily against its Black residents. Harris fought back against this, at great risk to his own safety and life, and refused to destroy the records. Himself and another small team of archivists did everything they could to salvage these documents and evidence.

And then when I look at all that 45 did and try not to become ill at revelation after revelation without any sense of accountability or justice, and in terms of documents, reports about flushing things down the toilet or otherwise trying to dispose of … these are things in the public trust. Governments have an underlying set of accountability toward citizens, which includes the making available and being transparent of documents. So this wilful disregard of, but also understand that hey, archives = evidence that could sink him, has been something that continues to distress me.

I really, truly hope that people will be able to fight this Roe overturning and that there will be a restoration of safe access to abortion and related procedures. Many women and female-identifying folks online have spoken about how it’s still so frustrating that people who abortion issues have not affected have an extremely limited view of its importance. They think primarily of one or two scenarios, and call it a day. I hope more people will try to make a concerted effort to understand there are so many complex reasons why these procedures are life-saving and necessary.

ASTRID ADDAMS: My own fear is that reproductive rights in both the US and England as well as world wide might go backwards. That the NHS will stop funding abortions, then what next? Will women’s rights to contraception go backwards? What will happen to unwanted pregnancies and the children coming from them? Parts of the UK are forced to use food banks, the US has food stamps because people cannot afford to eat on their incomes. How does adding more people into the mix not make our social problems worse?

But what I really fear, the dread that haunts me, is that history will repeat itself and avoidable suffering will be inflicted upon people. England has a rich history of suffering connected to being unable to control legally, safely and reliably when babies are born. My fear is, that we may well see the return of baby farms and actual baby murder/neglect, as well an increase in poverty and illegal abortions threatening the lives and health of women. I fear that mothers will die being forced to carry unviable and risky pregnancies. This happened in Ireland a few years back in 2012, far too recently for comfort. A dentist was refused a medically necessary termination for religious reasons and both the woman and her fetus died. This happened shamefully recently, when scientific knowledge should be put before religious beliefs. My fear is that this religious stupidity is part of the trend that has led to the overturning of Roe and could spread further like a cancer.

CAITLIN MARCEAU: Like many people, I’m worried about the influence conservative extremists have over legislature and basic human rights. An individual’s beliefs shouldn’t be able to dictate another person’s bodily autonomy, but Roe v. Wade being overturned shows the world that it can. For the last little while, we’ve watched massive groups of people deny basic science and critical thinking in service of furthering their own agendas, and I can’t help but worry that this is the first step in having abortion rights and bodily autonomy challenged on a global scale.

What are activists currently doing in your country to protect the right to abortion?

PENNY JONES: In response to the overturning of Roe vs Wade there have been numerous protests in solidarity with those over in America, however there have been far fewer in relation to our own abortion rights, mainly, I think, because in England the official response is outrage at the overturning of America’s abortion rights; so currently there is little concern for our own and our outrage is directed towards supporting those in the States.

However, there have been an increase across the country of pro-life protests, and what used to be a small minority focused around known abortion clinics is now growing. The protests are now occurring more and more often and the protestors are becoming more vocal and emboldened, not only are these protests centred around abortion clinics now, but there are ever increasing incidences of them in other public spaces. Where these protestors are trying to build support for their cause.

HS DILAZAK: There have been pro-choice protests led by the group Abortion Rights going on outside the American embassy in solidarity with women across the Atlantic. There have also been protests in other parts of London and Edinburgh, and some government officials like Nicola Sturgeon have come out to publicly condemn the overturning, stating also, that it is a dangerous move as it will embolden other countries across the world to follow suit.

EVA ROSLIN: So, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) is a pro-choice group that are committed to fighting for equal and fair access to abortion rights. They have been active in trying to work with groups in the US in ensuring that if anyone in one of the states that has lost their access to this care can receive it if they arrange to come to a clinic in Canada. There are multiple people who have spoken out and said they will help anyone who needs this care. It is heartening to see a rallying around this issue and solidarity.

However, there are very strong anti-abortion groups in the nation, many of whom give talks at schools and spread vile misinformation to young girls and female-identifying folks about the ‘dangers’ of the Pill and who weaponize religion as a way of making people afraid, and not knowing their rights. There are mailouts from religious organizations that demand funding in order to further their horrendous agendas and use rhetoric about “well, if you were a true Christian, you would do this, otherwise you are going to Hell!” I truly hope that more organizations will step forward and work together and fight this.

ASTRID ADDAMS: I must admit, I was the most nervous about answering this question. Simply because I didn’t know what activists would be doing in England to protect our rights to an abortion. I mean, we have that right and we do not seem to suffer the same intense fanatical pro life movement that has cursed the US for so long. At least that’s what I believed anyway, it was a shock to discover that here in England, women have been harassed whilst going to abortion providers. Luckily it seems that activists have been doing far more than had filtered through my self imposed partial news blackout (I find a lot of the news too depressing and avoid it, after all there are a million issues in the world, most of which you feel powerless to help with. Why spend your limited down time learning about what often feels like you can do nothing about? I’m sure lots of people limit their news intake for the same reasons.) There have been protests against the over turning of Roe Vs Wade here, there has also been the Back Off campaign, which campaigns to create buffer zones around abortion clinics where British women have been harassed by pro life campaigners. Also Abortion Rights pro choice national UK campaign campaigns for paid abortion leave and campaigns for abortion rights within the UK.

CAITLIN MARCEAU: Across the country, abortion activists are pushing for better education, access, and funding for services. Although abortion is covered through healthcare, activists are pushing to make transportation and access more equitable for individuals in remote locations. There’s also a strong push to educate the public on safe sex and pregnancy, as well as to help end the stigma surrounding abortion.

And finally, I want to share this devastating and affecting piece from author Theresa Derwin.

My corrupt body
Theresa Derwin
God, is it only Monday?

It feels as though I’ve already lived a thousand lives this week.
I’m tired.
Incredibly worn out by the Dystopian world I find myself in?
Or would that be Dickensian? The lines are so blurred now.
But I’m one of the lucky ones.
I never wanted children.
It just wasn’t for me.
And I live in England, not an autocratic faux-democracy called the United States of America.
If these states are united, surely everyone is content. Everyone is equal.
No?
I’m one of the lucky ones.
My womb was too corrupt to carry and bring children to term, riddled with endometriosis; a disease that medical men denied exhausted.
For three years back in 2007 on onwards, I was treated by a female gynaecologist.
She did everything she could to help me, including a very horrible session of laser treatment, I like to call “a scrape and polish”.
As always, humour helped me to cope.
My hysterectomy – the last resort – was booked in for April on 2009 I think; it’s all a bit hazy.
My pre-appointment was accidentally booked in on the February before with the male gynaecologist.
Screaming in agony, depressed beyond words, my body shook as he decided to instead trial me on another tablet for six months.
Children are sacred –
He said
I needed time to think about it
He said
I should just try one more thing. You know, in case I wanted children.
He said.

“Where’s Mrs …..,” I said, asking for my gynaecologist.
“At Heartless Hospital, she can’t do anything else.”
His secretary came in to escort me out to a private room whilst I bawled.

But I’m one of the lucky ones.
“I want a second opinion,” I said.
I took away his choice, just as he tried to take mine.

One phone call and my hysterectomy date was confirmed.

It was removed, with severe complications.
All of my organs including bowels, bladder, womb, falopian tubes were engulfed in endometriosis.
That was what she told me.
“Doubtful you’d have ever carried to term. I’m very sorry. There are indications …”
“It’s okay.”

And it was, for me.
I fought, I spoke out.

Now I speak out for my sister’s, brothers, trans friends, non-binary friends – these ‘others’ not recognised by many.

I speak out for you all.

Fuck this shit.
We fight and we will win.

Tremendous thanks to this week’s incredible interviewees and our featured poet!

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism!

Fiction for Year’s End: Submission Roundup for November 2022

Welcome back for this edition of the Submission Roundup! As always, there are a lot of fantastic writing opportunities this month!

A disclaimer before we get started: 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 November’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy Series
Payment: .08/word for original fiction; .06/word for reprints
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: November 27th, 2022
What They Want: Flame Tree’s Gothic Fantasy series is currently seeking fiction with the theme of spirits and ghouls.
Find the details here.

Never Wake: An Anthology of Dream Horror
Payment: .08/word
Length: 2,500 to 4,500 words
Deadline: December 4th, 2022
What They Want: This anthology is seeking horror stories based around dreams, nightmares, and hallucinations.
Find the details here.

JournalStone
Payment: Standard royalties
Length: 20,000 to 30,000 words for novellas; 50,000 to 90,000 words for novels and collections
Deadline: December 15th, 2022
What They Want: JournalStone is currently seeking a wide variety of horror novellas, collections, and novels.
Find the details here.

Dracula Beyond Stoker
Payment: .05/word
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2023
What They Want: This new journal is seeking fiction that reimagines and expands upon the world of Dracula. For the upcoming issue, the theme is Renfield.
Find the details here.

Literally Dead: Tales of Holiday Hauntings
Payment: .06/word
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: January 20th, 2023
What They Want: Editor Gaby Triana is seeking ghost stories set around the winter holidays.
Find the details here.

FlowerSong Press
Payment: Not specified
Length: 75,000 to 150,000 words
Deadline: April 15th, 2023
What They Want: FlowerSong Press is seeking historical, fantasy, horror, and science fiction novels from Latinx authors.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Politics and Autonomy: Part Five in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back for part five in our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable! Today’s post is going live on the day of the midterm elections here in America, which means there are certainly many of us voting who have the topic of abortion at the top of our minds.

So I’m beyond honored to let this week’s six amazing authors take it away!

There are so many things to talk about right now, but first and foremost, how are you doing personally? How has the overturning of Roe affected your life so far? How has it affected your family and friends?

SARAH READ: I think there are stages of grief at play here. There’s sadness and anger–not just for this singular issue but for what it signals as far as a direction for our country. The fact that this is a symptom of a bigger disease. I’m very sad and VERY angry. As I write this, people in need of reproductive care are already dying. I can’t understand how this is okay.

NADIA BULKIN: I’m ace and live in DC (which has some of the most expansive abortion rights in the country), so the main thing I’m personally, currently worried about is a) traveling to a state that’s outlawed abortion, and b) being raped. But of course I’m actually worried about a lot more than that. I’m worried about my friends in red states. I’m worried about the national ban that’s undoubtedly on the agenda for 2024. I’m worried about what’s next as the Christian nationalist wing remakes the country in its image. I’m worried that we are uniquely incapable of stopping right-wing extremism in this country, because not enough people think it will hurt them. And I’m frustrated. Really frustrated. My friends are distraught and frankly, increasingly hopeless about the future of the U.S. My gay friends think that gay marriage is next. I know several people who are actively trying to leave the country.

CHRISTA CARMEN: Personally, I count myself very lucky to be doing okay overall. But I’m gutted that anyone in this country would see it fit to set our human rights back more than fifty years, let alone those empowered with passing laws, and I’m heartsick and anxious for those hundreds of thousands of women who will be directly—and immediately—affected by this travesty in innumerable, horrific ways, as well as the millions who will be affected going forward if we don’t right this wrong. As someone in a position of privilege in terms of where I live (Rhode Island, where Roe v. Wade is codified and residents are protected if they aid a woman from another state in procuring an abortion) and where I work (a company from which I receive comprehensive health insurance), it’s my responsibility to do as much for this cause as possible, because abortion rights are human rights. Every woman in the United States deserves not to die of an ectopic pregnancy or to have to choose between their own future and the future of a fetus in which they may or may not have had a say bringing into existence.

TRISHA J. WOOLDRIDGE: I’m…not doing great. The overturning of Roe hit me hard, and I’ve been mentally and emotionally reeling, having a hard time keeping track of stuff, and forgetting things. I’ve been doing a deep dive into my fiction deadlines, often to the exclusion of other things, like business demands, social media, and emails, but the fiction, itself, is also coming a lot slower.

I also just had a hysterectomy at 44, the culmination of a lifetime of health issues related to the uterus and estrogen imbalance…that doctors kept telling me was nothing abnormal. In a fairly liberal state that does uphold most rights regarding women’s reproduction, it took me twenty years to get doctors to believe that there was something wrong – and almost a decade to get them to do something – with my reproductive organs. And currently, I have friends with children suffering menstrual issues still having to fight with doctors.

Again, in one of the most liberal states with some of the best health care for women.

Women and those who suffer health issues related to a the uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, etc. who live in states and regions with more restrictive practices regarding women’s health are forced to fight even harder for basic health care for their bodies.

My state, and the states around me, are not changing their laws and practices, fortunately, so there isn’t an immediate and direct health care impact on me or my local friends / family. However, all of us are worried about our friend and family elsewhere, the overall state of women’s health care and its decline, what we can do to help others, and what may happen to our access to care when women start coming to our region for the care they can’t receive in their home states. Besides that, my family, friends, and I all are still suffering the issues I mentioned before: emotionally reeling, lowered executive function, more emotional dysfunction… all of that impacting how we handle our work and interact with others.

G.G SILVERMAN: Personally, I feel deep fear as a female identifying person that my rights will continue to be further eroded every day. Thankfully, I live in a state where I have bodily autonomy, but I worry that the Federal government could over-extend their reach and take that away from me. As a disabled person who could die from being forced to carry a pregnancy, it’s chilling to think that my life and health is secondary to someone else’s idea of what my life should be, and that a person in a position of power could center their own ideology over my humanity. Most of my friends feel the same—a deep fear.

JESSICA ANN YORK: I grew up in rural Tennessee hearing things in passing like, “These sensitive liberals and their feelings.” The main argument these same people will give is, “We’re stopping the bad women who get abortions just to get abortions.”

I wish they could see this response is a mirror they are holding up to themselves. To assume a person would make such a traumatizing choice “just to do it” is the projection of someone who walks through their own life doing things just to do them.

You’ll give them a list of all the reasons why someone would come to that difficult decision, and they’ll recoil away. It’s too much for them. They don’t ever talk about these things. They don’t know how.

Sexual coercion. Incest. Rape. Ectopic pregnancies. Nonviable pregnancies. Mental illness. Financial instability. Poverty. Maternal mortality. Or any other reason a person may need to make this choice.

These are all things that elicit uncomfortable feelings, so they’ll respond with, “Stop, that’s terrible.” Or, “Don’t say that so loud.”

But I will not be quiet for the sake of their feelings—and I’m okay with being shunned for this.

Let’s go back in time to when we were all younger and had the basic human right to abortion. Do you remember when you first learned about Roe vs. Wade? How was reproductive justice introduced to you growing up?

SARAH READ: It wasn’t. No one talked about it much. I grew up in a conservative household, and it wasn’t until I left home that I started learning about how our bodies had been politicized. I spent my college and early adulthood learning new perspectives. One of the most crushing moments for me was when I called my mother after the 2016 election. I was crying. She made fun of me, told me it wouldn’t be too bad. Then told me she’d voted for Trump. I was angry, reminded her that he supported blanket anti-abortion ideas, reminded her that I’d had an abortion to save my life when I had an ectopic pregnancy. “I’d be dead now,” I said. She said, “So?” We don’t talk much these days. She was a labor delivery nurse, by the way.

NADIA BULKIN: I lived in authoritarian Indonesia until middle school, so reproductive justice wasn’t talked about – not out loud, anyway. I think I had a vague sense that pregnancies could be ended with the help of healers or magic or by throwing oneself down the stairs. Or through suicide, of course. I wasn’t actually introduced to any arguments about abortion until I moved to the U.S. Despite coming from a country where religion is mandatory, I’ve been an atheist since I had an opinion on the matter, and the debate made no sense to me. Like, why would you outlaw an easy way of doing something that people are throwing themselves down the stairs in other countries to accomplish? Just wild.

CHRISTA CARMEN: Again, I have to preface this answer with a declaration of the privilege I’ve been afforded throughout my life in terms of this issue. I don’t remember when I first learned about Roe vs. Wade. I don’t remember reproductive justice being introduced to me as a concept growing up. I simply remember reproductive justice existing, and I remember reproductive healthcare as something that was as established and steadfast as any other type of healthcare. I’m sure there were discussions in social studies class of the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision. But those discussions would have ended with something along the lines of how, ever since the afternoon of January 22, 1973, we’ve been able to rely on the fundamental “right to privacy,” and a pregnant woman’s subsequent right to an abortion.

I also probably navigated my high school and college years with the confidence that, should I ever need an abortion, that option would be available to me. It’s crushing and, frankly, dehumanizing, to consider that 1) this is no longer the case for large portions of the country, and 2) if things continue to go wrong in terms of the Supreme Court revisiting previously established laws, my daughter, and all of our upcoming generations of women, trans men, and nonbinary people will not know this same freedom.

TRISHA J. WOOLDRIDGE: I was raised Catholic, so I first learned about Roe vs. Wade as a horrible thing that allowed sexually promiscuous women to kill unborn babies. Probably when I was about eleven, getting ready for my First Communion.

I also knew I was adopted, and my parents explained what that meant when I was very young, around four, while we were in the process of adopting my younger brother. So my youthful brain had the “perfect” rationalization for being firmly “Pro-Life”: My brother and I wouldn’t exist if our mothers had aborted us! I hadn’t any grasp of life beyond my middle-class, mostly white suburbs—and I’d never seen my mother pregnant—so I had no idea about the physical, financial, and emotional burdens a pregnant woman faced. I argued that if a woman didn’t want a child, she could put it up for adoption like I was—and I had a good life with loving parents. Why wouldn’t everyone want that kind of happy ending for everyone?

Long, long, long story short, I went to college; learned more about biology, anatomy, and physiology; the politics and history of oppressing women based on “science” and reproductive rights; and actually listened to people with lives vastly different than mine. From there, I grew into what I feel is a more empathetic and nuanced view of abortion: The person who is pregnant deserves to have access to all the available information about their health regarding their pregnancy, as well as complete access to all the information about all her choices. And then the pregnant person deserves the right to make the best choice for their life.

JESSICA ANN YORK: I was raised by my dad to never tolerate other people forcing their religious beliefs on me. By that same logic, I also have zero tolerance for Christians who force their beliefs on other people.

My dad was very adamant with me growing up that God was in my heart, not the church. I stand by that. Religion works best as a personal guideline. It has no place in actual law.

For these reasons, I have always been pro-choice. I knew at an early age that I would be absolutely conceited to think that my interpretation of the Bible had enough weight to justify forcing a life-altering decision on another human being, when I don’t know what their individual situation is.

Forced-birth for the sake of someone else’s religious views is a violation of human rights, and Roe vs. Wade prevented forced-birth state laws from seeing the light of day.

Women, trans men, and nonbinary people are all an essential part of literature. How do you see this decimation of human rights affecting the writing industry and the horror genre in particular?

SARAH READ: Roe v Wade feels like just one domino to fall in what is obviously a massive power-grab by Christian Nationals trying to exert their misguided morals onto the country as a whole. I think we have a fight ahead of us to keep diverse perspectives safe. We’re already feeling this in the book world–attempts at book banning and censorship, an insistence that LGBTQIA+ content in children’s books is “inappropriate.” I’m a librarian, and most librarians I know are getting ready. Quickly refining policies and training staff to protect intellectual freedom. But when library boards start falling the way school boards already have, it’s going to get harder. I am already having to break the “rules” at times to make sure trans kids in my community have access to books with trans characters. And I’ll break every rule if I have to–but those kids shouldn’t have to feel like the rules are against them. It breaks my heart.

NADIA BULKIN: The most obvious consequence is people being unable to commit the time or energy to write because they have more children to raise, or because they’re in jail for abetting an abortion, or because they’re, you know, dead from a high-risk pregnancy. Research has shown that access to family planning is linked to women’s ability to participate in the workforce and empower themselves economically, and if that happens here it’ll be entirely by design. Fascist societies need people organized in a manner that will feed the all-important state – just look at FLDS societies, the only options for their youth are sexual labor or physical labor. I also think about things like: people no longer feeling safe going to conventions in red states, and in the longer term, creative industries no longer being quite so U.S.-centric. That would probably be a good thing, as a whole.

Christa CarmenCHRISTA CARMEN: I think women, trans men, and nonbinary horror writers are in a unique position in that we can cast a spotlight on this issue in ways different from what other activists and protesters are pursuing. Anyone, in theory, can support their communities, get involved politically, and volunteer. Anyone can protest, call their lawmakers, and—when it’s time—show up and vote. And anyone can educate themselves, share information, and support the people and companies supporting women who need abortions. But only writers can write. And only horror writers can give readers new ways to process this fresh horror, to glimpse this terrifying new reality in a way that reflects the ugliest and most despicable aspects of this human rights atrocity back in a way that makes the trauma (at least slightly more) digestible.
Seeing things in new ways is often the catalyst to attacking things in new ways, and it wouldn’t surprise me if women, trans men, and nonbinary artists, poets, and writers are the ones who tip the needle, who stoke the blazes of the passion for justice we need to cultivate long-term in order to see this through to the end and remedy this unthinkable disaster.

TRISHA J. WOOLDRIDGE: First, there’s the mental and emotional trauma of experiencing the loss of a the basic human and bodily autonomy for more than half the U.S. population. I’m not alone in feeling its weight sap at my ability to create art…or some days just function. So there will be some writers who will be stunted in their work from just that.

Then you have the writers who may potentially get pregnant in the states with new, draconian laws regarding abortion. Or writers who love pregnant persons in those states. Their entire life is turned upside down. They have to face the health challenges of carrying a pregnancy to term, the massive financial burden, and the affect all that has not just in the immediate time, but for possibly the rest of their life. If they try and leave so they may obtain an abortion, that is its own challenge and trauma with long-lasting effects. This leads to important works that may never be written, published, and read. Authors whose dreams and careers are cut short by forced birthing, death or disability due to unhealthy pregnancies that can’t be terminated, and time and ability to create smothered by financial obstacles.

For those of us who can still create, I expect to see more extreme body horror, fear regarding bodily autonomy, and more dystopian horror.

G.G. SILVERMAN: I feel that most writers already live a precarious existence due to not having adequate pay or adequate healthcare, but then stripping away bodily autonomy and human rights for women, trans men, and nonbinary writers creates an extra level of peril for them. This may force many diverse writers out of the industry, leaving writing only to white cis-gendered men of means, and would strip away the necessary diversity we need in the literary ecosystem—we need writers of all backgrounds to have a voice if we want to create a true reflection of the American experience. We need stories of all kinds if we hope to learn and grow.

In the horror genre, I worry about all the great works from women, trans men, and nonbinary people disappearing. Not just from the inability to write these works due to being financially forced out of the industry, but also from censorship of those voices. Book banning is already happening—how far will it go?

JESSICA ANN YORK: I imagine we will only get louder. I’ve already gotten louder.

The horror short stories I’ve published before this were already heavily rooted in feminism. They will be even more so now.

What’s your greatest fear right now? And also, what’s your greatest hope for where we can go next?

SARAH READ: My greatest fear right now? Well, I’m a worrier, so… Honestly, it’s war. I don’t think any of this will be solved peacefully. And while we’re fighting over this, climate change concerns are taking a back seat. My worry is that we fight this fight, and even if we win, it’s too late. My biggest fear is that we lose either way, we all do. My greatest hope–any hope at all right now is radical hope. But I like the idea of radical hope. I think we need it.

NADIA BULKIN: My greatest hope is that white Americans realize how untenable abortion bans are (along with other elements of Christian nationalist life) and make the pro-life movement an extremist minority. I do think that could still happen, because I honestly don’t think most people have thought through the consequences of this ideology. My greatest fear is that these dots aren’t connected, and the country continues to circle the drain of regressive policy in the name of “making sure everyone is as miserable and resentful as I am,” all the while bemoaning economic collapse and social failure while continuing to vote for politicians whose only platform is grievance.

CHRISTA CARMEN: I have a lot of fears, but my greatest fear is a selfish one: that my daughter is going to continue to grow up in a world where things are worse for women now than they were fifty, or even five, years ago. Following that fear further is… honestly, this is where the power of writing fiction comes in again. I don’t know that I have the ability to simply list out all the factual reasons and realities that cause my stomach to clench when I consider what the future holds for my daughter, but I do think I can—and will—explore those fears in my fiction in the coming days, months, and years.

My greatest hope for where we can go next is that Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha not only pick up this fight, but win the battle for reproductive rights once and for all. What that looks like, I can’t even say, but it obviously has to be more comprehensive and less subject to the whims of men—and I mean “men” literally—than Roe vs. Wade ever was. We can no longer rely on the older generations to get us out of this, or any other politically charged, mess. We need younger people who are willing to step into the political arena, to challenge the status quo, and to present radical novel ways to fight the patriarchy and oligarchy. Reproductive, and all other human, rights—and our very lives—depend on it.

TRISHA J. WOOLDRIDGE: My greatest fear is “what’s next?” That the unknown is leaning more toward losing more rights. The original leak about overturning Roe vs. Wade included mention of the loss of protections for gay marriage, for example. And as pharmaceuticals and interstate health insurance companies adjust for the unreasonable laws of many states, how badly will that affect accessibility to medication and coverage all over the country? We’re already seeing people who could get pregnant being denied medications that could potentially harm a pregnancy. How many of us, like me, had to fight with doctors regarding our reproductive health care since before we lost federal protection of our reproductive rights? How many companies are strengthening their fights to not cover birth control—when many women require birth control for far more than preventing pregnancy? How much more difficult will it quickly become for trans persons to have access to their hormone therapy? Which of my friends or family will have even more of their rights stripped? Health care denied?

My greatest hope is that the backlash to this will bring more people out to vote in November, and they will vote in government officials who prioritize health care and equal rights. I hope that we get a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights and enforcement of privacy in health care. Before too many more people suffer and die because those rights are now at the mercy of conservative political players.

G.G SILVERMAN: My greatest fear is that human rights will continue to erode further and further, and our country will backslide into a dystopic setting where people, animals, and the environment will be abused to the point of destruction.

It’s a scary time, but I’m also hopeful—we have made amazing strides in so many ways in terms of bringing awareness to many issues and creating change, and we have the ability to help all kinds of people live their healthiest and happiest lives. I hope our collective humanity can heal and create a world of safety for all.

JESSICA ANN YORK: I worry about radicalized evangelical Christians and militias taking innocent lives in mass, if the next presidential election doesn’t go their way.

I’ve watched clips of digital church services where preachers are rallying their listeners to “take back America” and “force themselves into the room.” They follow the formula of early Nazi propaganda in how they manipulate the viewers into thinking they are victims who need to lash out against a selected enemy—in this case, usually the LGBTQ community.

There are most likely going to be massive outbreaks of violence, if a Democratic president is elected in 2024. Best case scenario, it will only be in small, scattered pockets, and people will become disillusioned and pull out of these groups, the same way they did after the insurrection at the capitol on January 6th.

My greatest fear is for those who will be caught in the crossfire—and for the morally bankrupt fascists who still stand in solidarity with these violent groups afterward.

Tremendous thanks to this week’s interviewees! Happy reading, and happy voting! Let’s fight fascism together!

Our Horror, Body Horror: Part Four in Our Pro-Choice Roundtable

Welcome back, and welcome to part four in our Pro-Choice Roundtable! Today, I’m thrilled to welcome four new interviewees to my blog to discuss abortion rights.

And with that, I’ll let these amazing interviewees take it away!

There are so many things to talk about right now, but first and foremost, how are you doing personally? How has the overturning of Roe affected your life so far? How has it affected your family and friends?

CYNTHIA PELAYO: Honestly, I’ve been struggling with this a lot emotionally. This brings back a lot of memories of times in my life when I needed help and it’s been upsetting to see people’s bodies and what they can do with their bodies debated so openly by politicians. It’s our
body. We cannot allow strangers to dictate what we can do with our bodies. It puts me in this position of helplessness to think of the possibility that a complete stranger can put in place controls so that my body is not my body. That’s horror.

Many of my friends have been struggling as well.

Many of us took to social media to share our stories so that people know we are real. We exist, people who needed Roe V Wade. We exist.

NICOLE WILLSON: I’m lucky personally in that there’s no longer any chance of my ever needing an abortion, so Roe’s overturning mostly reminded me that women’s rights and wellbeing are still considered unimportant fringe issues in this country. Which is depressing and horrifying enough.

I’m also fortunate to live in a place where Democrats control the state senate, so even though our Republican governor wants to enact a 15-week abortion ban, he’s unlikely to be able to do it without a fight. And since he can serve only one term, I will do what I can to ensure he’s replaced by someone who will keep abortion safe in Virginia.

As for my friends and family, many of them are furious that their younger family members now have fewer reproductive rights than they did growing up. That’s shocking.

LAUREL HIGHTOWER: I feel like I’m in hell, to be honest. I vacillate between despair and burning anger, and I keep praying to wake up from this nightmare. I’m living in a country that’s declared open season on uterus owners, and I hate it. My anxiety hasn’t been this bad in years, and seeing how certain people and companies have reacted has forever altered my impression of them. I live in a state where I could bleed to death in favor of a completely non-viable fertilized egg. Knowing that people voted for that, celebrated it, and that companies are continuing to contribute to it makes me feel like I’m surrounded by dangerous enemies.

My family and friends are in the same boat, for the most part. Some of them are distracting themselves as much as possible, which I advocate for. We all need self-care right now because for damn sure no one else is going to do it. I appreciate that I have some friends and co-workers who are as livid and willing to curse about it as I am, because it reinforces the realization that I’m not alone, that not everyone is my enemy, and that we will fucking well fight. As far as any family I may have that take an opposite view point? Well, this isn’t an argument over movies. They don’t see me as human, so I damn sure don’t count them as family.

Where were you on June 24th when you learned that Roe had been overturned? What was your first reaction?

CYNTHIA PELAYO: I was in the backyard reading and writing when the news broke. My first reaction was anger and then I just started to cry, thinking about how far we’ve come to backtrack so much and the absolute recklessness of it all. It’s disgusting to think that people are fine with controlling our bodies, fine with allowing people to die. It’s devastating.

CHRISTI NOGLE: I didn’t mark that moment in my mind as I would have with a surprise decision. The May 8th leak of the draft opinion, the 2020 confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, the 2018 confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, and of course the election of the former president seem to have been the important moments. Each of them made me feel helpless, baffled, and doomed.

NICOLE WILLSON: I was at home and on Twitter when the ruling came down, so I saw a lot of anger in real time. Since we had already been tipped off that this was coming, I can’t say I was surprised. But I was angry. And also deeply frustrated. I couldn’t stop thinking of all the things leading up to this that could, and should, have gone differently. Or about people who insisted Roe would never be overturned, even as it became alarmingly clear that this was going to happen.

Honestly, I’m probably never not going to be angry about the 2016 Presidential election. You didn’t have to like Hillary Clinton to understand that having her fill Scalia’s vacant Supreme Court seat was vastly preferable to Trump doing it if you wanted to keep Roe in effect.

LAUREL HIGHTOWER: I was at home eating lunch. I write in the mornings before work in the afternoon, and I don’t usually check social media or news before I break for lunch. It has too much power to derail me. I’d also had an upsetting troll situation the day before, so when my friend messaged me to ask if I was okay, I assumed that’s what he meant. At first I was a bit numb, I guess. I’d been expecting it since the leak a few months ago, so maybe I thought I’d adjusted, but that clearly wasn’t the case. The more I read, the more furious I became. I spent the next week screaming until I lost my voice, sobbing uncontrollably, and working out every chance I got. And that’s pretty much where I still am.

As a horror writer, how do you feel like this ruling will affect your work? Are you struggling to write? Will you incorporate these themes into your writing more? Also, how would you like to see people in the genre, especially those in positions of power, do better in terms of supporting us during this crisis?

CYNTHIA PELAYO: I typically don’t write body horror, but I do explore themes of control, and this is probably going to appear in my work somehow, authority and control and helplessness. We’re moving into a very dangerous point in society. Well, we are already there – in which people are telling us what we should do, how we should look and what we should think. We cannot for a moment allow any of these people to dictate what we can do and who we can be. We should not allow any of these people to have power over us.

I certainly believe all people with any power should be helping people in the genre navigate times of crisis, if only voicing their support of us. I know that not everyone has a position of power, or a platform, but we can all say that we support bodily autonomy, a person’s right to choose. That is a simple, yet, powerful statement to state publicly. And, if you have more sway, then yes do what you can, because people are going to need a lot of support moving forward.

CHRISTI NOGLE: I haven’t been struggling to write, but at the same time I’m not sure how to express the worries that are raised by this ruling. It brings up oppressive memories from childhood, not related to abortion specifically but to the lack of freedom and being subject to others’ will, beliefs, and whims. Life felt very restricted when I was young. As I grew older, my own situation changed and it also felt as though the culture was changing in positive ways. Now it sometimes feels like that was all imaginary. A right that was established for my entire lifetime is gone. I feel shame for not acting and for having no clear idea of what to do. I imagine that I will work on finding ways to express these feelings of shame and powerlessness in writing. Fiction can at least help show people that these feelings are shared, that they’re not alone.

Statements of support for our rights are much appreciated, and I think it would also be productive for those in leadership positions to think about ways of helping us reach wider audiences. Horror writers spend time thinking about dread, fear, and suffering. Like other writers, we practice empathy by trying to imagine what our characters think and feel. These are the kinds of thoughts that can change minds when they reach the right people.

NICOLE WILLSON: I tend to do some of my strongest work when I am very, very angry about something political. I wrote the first draft of my debut novel in November 2016, and I think the female characters in that book had a lot more anger than they might have had the presidential election gone the other way. I wrote a novella in the period between the Supreme Court leak about Roe’s overturning and the actual ruling, and in this story, oppressed young women take their destiny into their own hands. I have seen a ton of anthologies prompted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade; I’d love to write something for one of them if I can choose one and maintain my focus.

As for what I’d like to see people in the genre do, I’m in complete agreement with others that I’d like to see people who plan future conventions please consider not locating them in states that have banned abortion. I totally understand that these states have residents who don’t agree with this ruling. As someone who lives in a state that’s perennially teetering between blue and red, I can sympathize. But I don’t want to support those state governments with my money.

LAUREL HIGHTOWER: I already write a lot of angry feminist horror, particularly in my short stories, as a method both of catharsis and demonstration. Often times men don’t recognize just how different and dangerous it is to be a woman, and at times I’ve been able to communicate to them in a way that clicks through stories. At the moment, I’m polishing a novella I dashed off in about 4 weeks, which doesn’t deal with any of these themes at all. I desperately need distraction, and thankfully immersing myself in fictional worlds I control has saved me. I’d never have written it that fast just poking along at my usual speed.

As far as seeing support from those in the genre, the things that have bolstered me the most have been unequivocal, loud, and strong statements of support. We’re dealing with state sponsored, misogynistic murder along with a complete disregard for bodily autonomy. Neutrality is murder. Silence is complicit. And though I’ll never stop screaming until we get our rights back, ALL of us, I’m emotionally and physically drained. When an organization makes us do the emotional labor of convincing them that these rulings are hateful and vicious, I don’t want to spend any of my time or energy interacting with or supporting them. If you can’t take a stand on this, then I know you for my enemy. (A caveat here for individuals—not all of us are free to voice our opinions online, because of jobs or other concerns. I want to make it clear that I don’t expect that, as we all have to survive, and also some folks just can’t keep cycling through these emotions. No one should be shamed for not posting about it.)

I’d also like to see more concrete actions such as boycotting giving money to states that deny uterus owners rights, refusing to do business with or support publishers or other businesses who come out in favor of this abortion of justice, and taking the lead on organizing ways to help those members of our community in the most risk. I want to help. I want to be doing, but I don’t have the bandwidth to organize it, so someone who’s not suffering direct effects needs to point us in the right direction, show us where to direct this anger.

What’s your greatest fear right now? And also, what’s your greatest hope for where we can go next?

CYNTHIA PELAYO: My greatest fear is that people are going to die needlessly. My greatest fear is that people are going to have to be forced to carry pregnancies that they do not want.

There’s this belief by these reckless politicians that if you force someone to be a parent then they will be a parent, and that’s certainly not the case.

So, I fear what is going to happen to these people, will they hurt and harm themselves to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. I fear what is going to happen to unwanted children. I fear that emotional, physical and mental abuse that many people are going to experience. My greatest hope is that society will finally recognize the importance of bodily autonomy and a person’s right to choose and have protections in place for us.

CHRISTI NOGLE: My greatest fears are shared by many and are certain to be realized: that the court will take away further rights, creating crimes that will then be prosecuted in unfair and devastating ways; that people will die from complications of unwanted pregnancies and wanted pregnancies in which the fetus has little chance of survival; that forced pregnancy and birth will further traumatize people who have been victimized; that there will be those seeking profit and power from this; that dangerous medical misinformation will spread (e.g. the idea that ectopic pregnancies are viable or Todd Akin’s “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down”); and that many people’s lives will become more difficult and painful than they need to be. It’s not just a matter of going back to the oppressions of the past. We don’t know what it looks like to impose these rules on people in 2022; some results we can fear, and others we don’t even know to fear yet. They’re unpredictable.

NICOLE WILLSON: My greatest fear is that the Supreme Court is going to keep rolling back rights for vulnerable people. We all know that’s precisely why this particular slate of judges has been assembled over the past few years. I’m especially concerned for my trans friends.

My greatest hope is that people will start becoming more active in elections at the local and state level as well as the national level. We won’t be able to fix the damage this ruling has already caused overnight, but getting pro-choice officials elected to govern states could help stop the damage and loss of life that will result from this ruling.

LAUREL HIGHTOWER: I have two greatest fears—the most personal is that I’ll die as a result of this ruling, and leave my son without a mother. I’m 40, and my husband has chronic leukemia. The medication he takes will literally mutate the DNA of anyone not suffering from CML, to the point that my son and I can’t go near the package, or touch the gloves my husband uses to retrieve his pill everyday. If I were to get pregnant, there’s pretty much zero chance it would be viable, but I’d be forced to carry to term, or die trying. The idea of leaving my son is too harsh to even look at straight on, but there are people who are cheering it on. Fuck them.

The second is related to the first—I want to hand a better world to my kid and every other kid. They deserve that, they deserve their chance at happiness, and the idea that uterus owners coming up behind us will be limited in this disgusting way is soul-crushing.

My greatest hope is that as a people, we’re now motivated enough to take the actions that will break the political yoke we’re struggling under. Roe v. Wade wasn’t codified, and in my opinion that’s because it’s long been a stick for the Democratic party to threaten us with. Aside from just this ruling however, our trans brothers and sisters are at higher risk than ever. LQBTQA+ folks are seeing their rights and existence being trotted back into the dark ages, and we haven’t come close to taking the actions necessary to take care of our BIPOC members, either. Enough of this. Enough of letting anyone else set the narrative, dither and argue over whether humans have human rights. That’s not their call, and frankly anyone who argues that should automatically be disqualified from any position of power, including managing any store or business.

Fuck half measures. Fuck being grateful for the crumbs these psychopaths drop from their table for us after making us beg. They don’t decide who’s human—we already know we are. I want to hand a world of love and compassion to our kids. I pray for it everyday.

Tremendous thanks to this week’s featured interviewees!

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism! Also, please get out and vote! It’s our chance to make our voices heard!

Spooky and Spectral Subs: Submission Roundup for October 2022

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup, and happy October! It’s the best month of the year, so let’s celebrate in style with some fabulous places that are currently seeking submissions.

As always, a 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 October’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Nightmare Magazine
Payment: .08/word for fiction; $40/flat for poetry; $75/flat for nonfiction
Length: 1,500 to 7,500 words for fiction; up to 5 poems; up to 1,000 words creative nonfiction
Deadline: October 20th, 2022
What They Want: Nightmare Magazine is currently open to BIPOC writers only. The magazine is seeking a wide variety of horror fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.
Find the details here.

Neon Hemlock
Payment: Negotiable between Advance plus Royalties, or Royalties only
Length: 17,500 to 40,000 words
Deadline: October 24th, 2022
What They Want: Neon Hemlock is open to submissions for their 2024 Novella series. The editor is seeking a wide variety of speculative fiction, including slipstream and the weird, and stories that focus on queer experiences are especially welcome.
Find the details here.

Nowhere Fast
Payment: .06/word
Length: 3,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: October 28th, 2022
What They Want: This Clash Books anthology is open to coming-of-age horror inspired by 80s and 90s movies.
Find the details here.

Eerie River Publishing
Payment: .01/word, up to $70 CAD
Length: 2,000 to 7,000 words
Deadline: November 15th, 2022
What They Want: Eerie River Publishing is currently seeking cosmic horror short stories.
Find the details here.

Dracula Beyond Stoker
Payment: .05/word
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2023
What They Want: This new journal is seeking fiction that reimagines and expands upon the world of Dracula. For the upcoming issue, the theme is Renfield.
Find the details here.

FlowerSong Press
Payment: Not specified
Length: 75,000 to 150,000 words
Deadline: Opens October 15th, 2022 until April 15th, 2023
What They Want: FlowerSong Press is seeking historical, fantasy, horror, and science fiction novels from Latinx authors.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Looking Back and Moving Forward: Part Three in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back for part three in our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable! As I’ve mentioned before, this is an ongoing series on my blog, as affected authors in the horror community discuss their reactions to the loss of Roe vs. Wade. For each installment, I invite a different set of writers to share their stories and reactions to this historical and devastating setback in human rights.

And with that, I’ll let this week’s interviewees take it away!

There are so many things to talk about right now, but first and foremost, how are you doing personally? How has the overturning of Roe affected your life so far? How has it affected your family and friends?

JOE KOCH: Thank you for asking, Gwendolyn! I am equal parts unsurprised and shocked; exhausted and charged up to fight. It’s a bit like PTSD. As a person with a former career in reproductive rights, I’ve seen the anti-autonomy activists work on controlling the language about bodily autonomy in the media and use savvy lawyers to whittle away at human rights at the state level all across our country for decades. Over twenty years, I saw laws passed imposing parental consent, adding burdensome waiting periods, and forcing patients to undergo unnecessary and expensive medical tests with all sorts of bureaucratic hoops to jump through simply to access basic healthcare. All of these things target less privileged patients the most.

Advocating for patients and being ready to fight was my everyday life for years! My nice little white collar job involved walking past protestors,including a guy with an assault rifle because I lived in an open-carry state. I listened to stories from patients about how they got pregnant and why they didn’t want to give birth, stories they were terrified or ashamed to tell anyone else, and held space with their grief, secrets, joys, and fears. It was deeply gratifying work, but also immensely stressful. I guess I rather foolishly expected to put some of that stress behind me when I left the job,but the overturning of Roe has brought it back with a sense of urgency.

So, I’m tired, I’m ready to fight, I’m worried about all the younger people I know who can get pregnant, and I can’t believe this is our world now.

ERICA RUPPERT: I’m incredibly angry at the injustice of it all. Even though I knew it was coming, the news hit like a punch in the gut. I’m already through menopause, so the stripping away of Roe doesn’t have any immediate affect on my life. But that doesn’t make it any less terrible. My family and friends are largely in the position I’m in–personally unaffected but horrified just the same.

I’m attending protests, contacting my representatives, and volunteering in postcard campaigns to try to prevent the worst of it. I hope it works.

LISA MORTON: It’s terrifying, and infuriating, and tragic, and of course those are all emotions that can be very distracting. The pandemic already knocked me off my writing game for the last two years, and now this…my family and friends all share my concerns, in part because we can plainly see that this is just the beginning of what this court will try to do. Unless you are a cishet white male, your rights are now open to the interpretation of six judges who don’t share your values, or the values of most of the people in this country.

I grew up mainly in the 1970s, with a single mom. We naively believed that the ERA would pass and that my mom would finally have a chance to be paid the same salary that her male co-workers were receiving, that maybe she’d be able to get a simple credit card, and that I might enter the workplace with those rights guaranteed. We were gutted when the ERA didn’t pass, but at least we had Roe v. Wade. Now we don’t even have THAT. This is one of the few times that I’m glad my mother, who suffers from severe dementia, can’t understand what’s happening.

MARIA ALEXANDER: I don’t know a single person in my close circle that isn’t devastated, outraged, and worried about not just the pending deaths and dehumanization of uterus-bearing folx across the nation, but also about the other freedoms we’re about to lose. Because this is just the beginning. The loss of the right to privacy affects many other rights we’ve previously held, including the right to marry. Now anything that the extreme right-wing SCOTUS members thinks is “deeply immoral” can be rescinded as a right, damn the precedent.

VICTORIA DALPE: I think I am still in a bit of shock. I have personally argued over the years when others have voiced concerns over Roe V. Wade being overturned that it would never happen- that it was too popular, that it would be so crazy and unprecedented (how tired I am of that word being bandied about these last few years, and yet…) So I think at present, I just feel out of time and space, this is a huge blow to women, to families, to society and it hurts me someplace deep inside. There is such a rage there for the voiceless, for the ignorant knee-jerk holier-than-thou bullshit, that ignores the very real complications of pregnancy and body autonomy. As far as family and friends think a lot of the same, we are just wandering around like zombies filled with impotent choking rage. I live in a state with protections and don’t worry so much for myself, or my immediate friends/family. But that only fuels the fire when people (mainly men) have said, it’s no big deal your state will be fine, to which I must reply it’s not about me, it’s about all the people out there who won’t be fine, that is why I am mad, that is why we all should be mad. This is about making the vulnerable more vulnerable, about worse birth and maternal outcomes, about poverty, and about suffering. We should all be fucking pissed.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: Honestly? I’m pretty much a ball of rage these days, but I don’t think most people would see that (unless they’re living with me day-to-day). I had my first child in January of this year, and it was something I thought about and prepared for for years, and while being and becoming a mother is one of the most beautiful, transformative, magical things I’ve ever done, it’s also the hardest, most traumatic thing I’ve done, too. I didn’t have an easy birth and my postpartum journey has been super difficult, but even after going through a pregnancy and birth that I desperately wanted, I’ve never been more liberal or pro-choice in my life. Pregnancy and motherhood is hard: financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally. You’re forced to deal with and break generational trauma that you didn’t even know you had (on top of the trauma you already knew about!), and then your body is different and healing and reshaping itself into something new that you have to accept and learn to love, too. Couple that with no sleep and raising a literal human who depends on you for everything? I can’t imagine pregnancy or motherhood being forced on someone who doesn’t want it with their whole heart and entire being. It’s not fair to the mother and it’s not fair to the child. No one wins and this country should be ashamed of itself.

Let’s go back in time to when we were all younger and had the basic human right to abortion. Do you remember when you first learned about Roe vs. Wade? How was reproductive justice introduced to you growing up?

JOE KOCH: I was reared in a Southern Baptist fundamentalist church for the most part. Abortion was unthinkable. You only heard about it happening when someone died, as if it was a very risky medical procedure, and yet as early as middle school kids were talking about ways to self-abort if they got pregnant. Yep, that’s where abstinence-only education gets you! These incredibly dangerous urban legend methods of home abortion were less heinous in our minds because The Abortion Clinic was portrayed as a sort of Mouth of Hell that would lead you straight into to the devil’s clutches, much like The Club, or the unspeakable horror of The Gay Bar.

This deep fear instilled in people is something I understand, and I was never surprised to see a patient come into the clinic looking like a hunted animal or to get in the exam room and freeze with fear. That’s why we have to talk about abortion and use the word abortion without shame and keep it safe.

ERICA RUPPERT: Awareness of abortions and where to get them was pretty common knowledge during my adolescence, despite the adult silence around it. We all had older siblings or friends who knew. The sex ed curriculum in my junior and high schools back in the 1980s did not mention abortion at all. We weren’t even taught about birth control until senior year. My mother was squeamish about the details of reproduction, never mind reproductive justice, so it was simply never mentioned.

I didn’t learn about the actual case until I was in my twenties, when Norma McCorvey became an anti-abortion spokesperson. And I didn’t really recognize or think about reproductive justice until Operation Rescue and Randall Terry began their terror campaign in the late 80s-early 90s. The arrogance and ugliness of their actions made me realize how wrong their position was.

Honestly, one of the strongest portrayals of the power of reproductive rights I encountered in my youth was in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. She decides an abortion is her best option, she gets one without interference, and she is not judged for her decision. Seeing that was empowering. That’s how it should be.

LISA MORTON: Mom managed a college bookstore, and all of her student employees were like family. She helped at least one of them get an abortion when they weren’t ready to start a family. I grew up accepting that abortion was a secured right available to all women to make their lives better.

MARIA ALEXANDER: I was raised in an Evangelical home. I never thought of abortion as a right. In fact, I never thought of abortion at all because of the emphasis on celibacy. It was never discussed, and I never saw anything on the news that I recall about it even being an issue. Back then, we all had the same news sources. Even my super conservative parents watched Dan Rather and 60 Minutes. They had no one stoking their misplaced ideas except themselves and their families.

This meant I was deeply anti-choice for a long time. I remember when I was in college and working at a lab as a receptionist. The other two women who worked in the office were talking about abortion one day, discussing the “dark days” before Roe vs. Wade. At first I said nothing. I sat at my desk, seething. Didn’t they understand that abortion was killing babies? Taking lives? One of the women discussed a doctor her mother knew back in the day who helped women by giving them abortions before it was legal. I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally spoke up. “But he was taking lives!” I said. “Those babies didn’t have a choice!”

The woman was quite patient with me, but very serious. “He saved those women’s lives,” she explained. “Some of them would’ve died. And those babies weren’t even babies yet. Have you ever been pregnant?”

Shaking with rage, I shook my head. But as upset as I was, something about her conviction and words about saving women’s lives touched me. Before my Jesus-shaped cranial wound finally healed, I read Susan Faludi’s Backlash, which revolutionized my point of view about everything that had been happening to women for the last 100 years. I couldn’t ignore what I had read. It changed me. I decided that, although I would never personally have an abortion, it was necessary that others had the option. Always.

Later, as I learned more about pregnancy and abortion, I decided it was definitely on the table for me personally. And while I never became pregnant, I have steadfastly believed in medical
autonomy for everyone for almost 30 years now.

VICTORIA DALPE: I’m kind of embarrassed to admit I really don’t have any formative memories of this, it just kind of always was. Dirty Dancing rings a bell, as well as some 90’s TV shows. I was raised Catholic, but liberal New England Catholic, so while my mother was anti-choice in a ‘save the babies’ sort of way, she very much felt it should be legal and no one should be forced to have a baby, or risk some back alley situation. We had a pretty robust sex-ed at school and a planned parenthood clinic in my small town, that one of my friends worked at in high school. When we were 14-15, one of my good friends got pregnant and we all emptied our meager savings and babysitting money to get enough for her to have the procedure. A little older, I personally drove more than one friend to get an abortion at that clinic in high school. So for me, abortion was just always an option.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: I honestly don’t remember, to be honest, although I feel like it was likely in high school. I remember learning about women’s rights then, but only vaguely. I grew up in a pretty small town and I felt like I was in a conservative bubble for the majority of my upbringing. It wasn’t until I went to college that the world opened up to me and I started getting a more inclusive and diverse education in history and world affairs as well as literature and art. In fact, most of what I know about reproductive justice came from studying art history (shoutout to Maureen Vissat—Art History is the best subject!). The following artists really helped shape and reshape my thinking to assess how I interpreted the female body, personal agency, and political autonomy: Judy Chicago, (“The Dinner Party”), Miriam Schapiro + Judy Chicago (“Womanhouse”), Barbara Kruger (“Your Body Is a Battleground”), Casey Jenkins (“Casting Off My Womb”), Tracy Emin (“My Bed”), Louise Bourgeois (“Spider”), Olivera Parlic (“Cactus”), and Carolee Schneemann (“Interior Scroll”). Of course, those are only a few of the many women I studied and whose art helped educate me, but I loved and continue to love the primal nature of how art was made, showcased, and performed by women in the 60s, 70s, and 80s; tangentially, there was also a lot of ecofeminist art happening then, too, (Ana Mendieta’s work is a perfect example here) and it continued to teach and speak to me about women, our bodies, our connection to earth and the universe, cycles, sisterhood, etc. Most importantly though, through these pieces and performances I learned that choice and autonomy isn’t only necessary but sacred.

If people are interested in reading more about feminism, some of my favorite resources that I like to recommend are: The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, Witches, Midwives, and Nurses by Barbara Ehrenreich, Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, and Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. Plus, there are the two must reads: The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.

Women, trans men, and nonbinary people are all an essential part of literature. How do you see this decimation of human rights affecting the writing industry and the horror genre in particular?

JOE KOCH: I think horror readers are an open-minded bunch. I’ve been surprised by how welcoming they have been to my transition, for instance. I think we’re working hard right now in indie horror to promote marginalized voices; I hope we keep pushing harder in response to the decimation of human rights. Writers brave enough to tell the truth in their stories, publishers marketing diverse books, readers and reviewers sharing widely — we can work together.

Because there’s a danger the bigger publishers will cave in to a perceived status quo and continue on as they’ve been for years, publishing a majority of white, privileged, cis authors whose lives aren’t as brutally impacted by the current rise of fascism. I say “perceived” status quo because I refuse to believe the average person really believes the government should decide what an individual can or cannot do with their body. I don’t think the average person is an intentional fascist.

ERICA RUPPERT: I think it’s going to be rich fodder for the horror genre. Really, what is more obviously body horror than this?

But if our rights are not restored and protected, I think it’s going to damage the diversity that makes literature sing. Own voices are incredibly valuable and irreplaceable. Unfortunately I can see more commercial, pop and mainstream writing opting to turn away from it as not profitable. The book bans are already happening, and publishing is a business. And I hope I’m wrong, but I can certainly see a resurgence of the ugly trope of evil, villainous gay and trans characters if basic respect for every person is undermined.

LISA MORTON: I’ve always believed in horror as a genre with great potential to be truly transgressive, to comment on the real horrors of the world around us, but I was always surprised at how many other writers dismissed approaching sociopolitical commentary in their work for fear of being “preachy” (my argument has always been that “preachy” was a result of bad writing, not tackling contemporary issues). I hope that more writers might feel enraged enough now to tackle these tough subjects in their writing, but I’m also concerned that they’ll fear the repercussions more and more. Too many books are already being banned, too many authors are already having a hard time making money, so are they willing to risk even more? At least women (and writers of color, and LGBTQ+ writers, and disabled writers) have made great strides in the genre over the last ten years or so; I hope many of them will use their incredible voices to call out these increasing injustices.

MARIA ALEXANDER: Certainly we should continue to see underrepresented voices — endangered voices — uplifted in publishing and in entertainment. But here too we will see a backlash. I personally felt it with one of my books, which has been banned in the conservative community where the Bram Stoker Award-winning story is set, just after Trump was elected. We are not helpless, though. We can organize not just politically but as small presses. Perhaps even as larger presses if the industry continues to see a hunger to right wrongs.

VICTORIA DALPE: Well, just like the pandemic-inspired dystopian apocalypse plague survivor fiction- I am sure there will be a glut of Handmaid’s tale, dystopian breeding, forced breeding, etc. type fiction. But that’s to be expected. I think there will also be a lot of good stuff written that channels the anger, the frustration, and the strangeness of suddenly having less authority over your body and being a second-class citizen in your country. For a lot of folks, this will be a wake-up call that these weren’t rights but privileges after all and can be taken away. That may be inspirational and ideally, fiction may be a place to give a voice to that powerlessness and rage. A platform for those that may lack power in their day to day lives.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: I always look to what’s happening politically in the world to predict trends in speculative fiction. For instance, when the attack on women’s rights picked up in 2014-2015, I thought we might start seeing the witch again because the witch tends to come out as a symbol and icon for women (and the queer community) during political duress (read Pam Grossman’s, Waking the Witch for more on that). After the 2016 election and into late 2019, we started seeing some trends moving toward dystopian realities and political horror, and I think we’re going to see more of that now, but with more of an intense, raw focus on body horror and gore; I also think we’re going to see more transgressive, thematically violent art, too. I mean, the fact is that banning abortions doesn’t actually ban abortions; it bans safe abortions, and it just makes it illegal for women to get the care and help they need. Women, trans men, and nonbinary people will die because of this decision, and in staggering numbers at that. No one wins when we can’t protect ourselves, make our own decisions, or feel safe in our bodies, and I believe that focus on safety and privacy is going to continue to be interwoven in literature from the next several years.

Furthermore, on a more individualized scale, I think there is going to be a lot of fear and concern wrapped up in traveling, attending conventions, doing signings, etc. depending on event locations. I hope when decisions are being made by those in charge that safety and concern for women and LGBTQ+ folks will be taken strongly into account.

What’s your greatest fear right now? And also, what’s your greatest hope for where we can go next?

JOE KOCH: Having fought my way out of that repressive evangelical upbringing, the thought of being under a totalitarian evangelical government and subject to its biological mandates might be one worst-case scenario I can conjure up to answer that. My grandfather fought with the allies in WWII despite having gone to school in Bremen, and this German heritage made me acutely aware from a young age that genocides happen, that prison camps exist, and that humans torture one another, and so I don’t rule any of this out as being possible in modern America. My imagination can go to infinitely grim places, so I’ll stop here!

My hope is we’re all a bit too spoiled by freedom, or at least the idea of freedom, to buckle under and watch the last century play out on repeat. I’m heartened when privileged people reach outside of their necessary comfort zone to stand up for others. That’s what we have to do. If you’re white, say something to your white friends about their macroaggressions. Take the extra step to welcome queer voices to the table. Do something about reproductive rights even if you don’t have a uterus. Recognize how you’re privileged and use what money or power you have to oppose the Christo-fascist movement in our government right now, because it’s growing. It’s coming for all of us.

I wish the supposedly liberal politicians who voice support for human rights would prove their words through action. I have very little hope they will. They seem like cowards, traitors to the population they claim to represent.

In practical terms, you can work with your local abortion clinics to push back against the overturning of Roe with petitions, protests, volunteering, and donating. Get in touch with abortion providers in your area. If you don’t know how to find them, go to The National Abortion Federation at prochoice.org for listings all over the U.S. and information about what you can do to fight back.

ERICA RUPPERT: My greatest fear is that now they’ve gotten rid of Roe, what other rights will be next on the chopping block. The current SC is full of religious/political radicals and they have already broadcast that multiple other rights will be fair game for them to “revisit”. Their eagerness to disenfranchise so many people for not being straight white men makes me sick.
My greatest hope is that we roar back and crush the radicals in the midterms by holding the House and flipping the Senate. To that end I’ve volunteered in progressive get-out-the vote campaigns in both my own state and in swing states, because I want to help make it happen. We’re all aware that this is not just about abortion. This is for all of us, and I think most of us will stand together against the gross injustices the right wants to inflict upon us.

LISA MORTON: We all know that SCOTUS won’t stop with Roe v. Wade; they told us they’re coming after marriage equality and contraception next. If the Far Right prevails in the 2022 and 2024 elections, there’s no question in my mind that the U.S. will slip fully into fascism. That will also drive a stake through environmental concerns (something SCOTUS also inaugurated in another recent ruling), so the planet will fall with democracy. My hope is that enough of us won’t be content with being a silent majority, that we’ll protest and write and vote. If we can pull that off…well, maybe we’ll even pass the ERA some mythical day.

MARIA ALEXANDER: My greatest hope is that we can organize and mobilize. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a few other government officials are offering leadership, giving us points to follow so that we can throw sand in the cogs and break the machine. I absolutely refuse to fucking wring my hands and mope. I won’t sit in fear. It’s time to fight. Democracy is a many-legged animal. It’s more than just voting. Democracy has given us tools that we have to use to craft the country that we want, but right now we have to use those tools as weapons. No one has the luxury of sitting back and letting this continue. We have to organize and mobilize to start helping uterus-bearing folx NOW because it’s life or death.

VICTORIA DALPE: My greatest fear is that this is the tip of a very horrible and stupid iceberg. I am terrified that we will somehow be consistently outmaneuvered by gerrymandering, social media, and apathy into watching more and more of the world we have known and loved to disappear and be replaced by some on-fire, fascist, theocracy. I have a small child, I would like there to be a world for him to grow up in that isn’t total shit. My hope though and I am a realistic optimist most of the time, is that this is the last hurrah for a minority group (old white Christian Conservatives). They are aging out and they are losing members with every year and not gaining them back. They have planned for all of this, slowly taking power and holding it with big-picture long-term goals. The opposition needs to play this game as well, we need to lay the groundwork so that our values are protected long-term, and those that need the most protection, are provided for minorities, the disabled, women, children, and the environment, for example. I think there is a huge population of very angry, very smart, very left-leaning young people coming up and I want them radicalized and plugged into the government. We need to get the people to believe in their institutions again and the best way to do that is to join them. Become the system and correct it from the inside. I do believe that can happen.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: I feel like every day I wake up, the clock continues to turn backwards. I’m scared for myself, but I also recognize that as a white, cisgendered woman, I have privileges that others in my community don’t. For instance, I’m terrified for my friends and family and peers who are in states that are targeting their bodies and their freedom, and honestly, their right to safety exist and present as they choose, and on a larger scale, I’m truly very nervous for the state of this country and what it means for us moving forward because I don’t think this is the end; it’s very much just the beginning and it’s only going to get worse.

I’m also constantly thinking of my daughter and the world she’s growing up in where her voice and her body are constantly under attack. I mean, she’s six-months old and I was doing research the other day on the best bullet-proof inserts to put in her backpack when she gets older. WTF is that? I honestly feel so emotionally beaten down and it’s hard to summon the courage needed to fight every day, and make no mistake, it is an every-day fight. I’ve been talking a lot about this in therapy because I’ve felt a lot of guilt lately for not being able to get out in the streets and protest with my sisters and allies over the past year/year and a half, so for me, in the here and now, I’m focusing on education and art as my outlet to fight back and promote kindness, equality, safety, and choice.

I will say that my hope completely exists in the younger generations. These kids are FIERCE, and I love their energy. They honestly inspire me, and I think it’s them that are going to change the world. With that said, parents! Keep reading your kids books where children are empowered and making and promoting change. Raise them on books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. Check out children’s books like A is for Activist, Baby Feminist, C is for Consent, Love Makes a Family, Counting on Community and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. Empower them. Prepare them. Let them know that there is strength in their voice and in the heart.

Again, we’re all in this together. We have to be.

Huge thanks to this week’s featured interviewees for sharing their stories with us!

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism!

Fighting Back: Part Two in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back to my blog, and in particular, welcome back to our pro-choice horror roundtable! This is part two in our ongoing series, and I’m thrilled to welcome six new authors to this week’s discussion about abortion rights and the fallout of losing Roe vs. Wade.

And with that introduction, I shall let my amazing interviewees take it away!

There are so many things to talk about right now, but first and foremost, how are you doing personally? How has the overturning of Roe affected your life so far? How has it affected your family and friends?

SUMIKO SAULSON: As an African American, I worry about my family members. Black women (and other black people with a uterus) are 4 times as likely to die during childbirth because of medical racism, poverty, and lack of access to proper medical care. Additionally, all of the poor taste memes about how people can just put the children up for adoption ignore the fact that black children are overrepresented in foster care and less likely to be adopted. I think a lot of my friends are in a state of shock, completely overwhelmed, or infuriated by the decision. Also, there’s been a lot of racism expressed on social media in attacks on Clarence Thomas, and while I certainly dislike him, this again has created stress for me personally and other Black folks who are reeling not only from Roe vs Wade, but a slew of other recent Supreme Court decisions making it easier for police to abuse their power and authority and harder for people to sue for civil rights violations. My friends and I in the LGBTQ community are upset that the Supreme Court is threatening to overturn Same Sex Marriage, and although someone on my timeline made a bad joke about Clarence Thomas not wanting to overturn Loving vs Virginia because he’s in an interracial marriage, he and the rest of the Supreme Court are indeed talking about that as well.

ALEXIS D: I am terrified for the future of our country. America is founded on Patriarchy and White Supremacy, but the goal is to move farther away from those systems of oppression, not to recede deeper into them. This decision is one of the rare instances when rights have been stripped, rather than strengthened by SCOTUS. And that is very telling for what lies ahead. They’ve already announced that contraception and gay marriage are next on the chopping block. It’s disgusting that Christofascism is embraced in such a clear and deliberate way by the judiciary. And this decision came the very next day after Bruen, which said states couldn’t make their own gun laws. It’s just such a baldfaced, shameless sprint to authoritarianism. There’s an obvious endgame and the future is bleak.

One of my family members is a doctor and they have friends who have been instructed to deny patients medication for autoimmune diseases because they are abortifacients, so these people now have to deal with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis flare ups (Tear gas is an abortifacient, too, but cops are still using that on protesters who may very well be pregnant).

To get truly personal about this, I will say that if I hadn’t been able to have an abortion, I’d have a kid right now, getting physically and emotionally abused by their father. The thought that this is now the only option for so many people, to be forever tied to their abusers and to know that the children they are forced to have will be subjected to that too, is sickening. On that subject, it’s important to state that the leading cause of death during pregnancy is murder.

MARSHEILA ROCKWELL: I’m angry, of course, but also incredibly frustrated. I live in Arizona and I support all of our pro-choice candidates, I donate to organizations that provide access here (for as long as they can), and I always vote, but it still feels like I’m screaming into the void.

But I’m also Native American, and we’ve had our reproductive rights curtailed since colonization began, so when I see people say things like, “Put clinics on reservations” (which is impossible for a myriad of legal reasons), that makes me doubly angry/frustrated. NOW people care? Now that white people are losing their rights? I mean, I get it, obviously, but I hope people can see how even suggesting that just reeks of privilege.

So I’m basically a bundle of rage who hates everybody and everything right now, LOL.

LCW ALLINGHAM: I am absolutely not good. At points I can get away from this, distract myself and give focus to the good things in my life, of which there are many, but it is an effort to not let my mind drift into how all of those good things are in danger now because of the hateful radicals in our government. I find it has very much divided me from a lot of friends and family who can’t be bothered. It’s drawn the line and given me the strength to stop giving fucks to people who don’t have them for me, or other women in general. It has also put me in touch with some amazing people that I might not have connected with otherwise.

JOANNA ROYE: It hasn’t been great. I’ve had a lot more anxiety than usual and my depression has flared up but overall I’ve managed to keep it together. Though I have called an OBGYN to have my IUD replaced as soon as possible, just in case. I worry for the future and the immediate present. I have friends that are pregnant or trying. What if something goes wrong? I do what I can to support them, but there’s no way I can know just how heavy this is for them. Everyone I’m close to seems to be experiencing varying degrees of helpless distress.

BARBARA KRASNOFF: Since I am past menopause, the overturning of Roe will not affect me personally. However, I am furious — livid — that women younger than me will have to put up with the kind of crap that I demonstrated against when I was a teenager. I also have younger friends, relatives, and work colleagues who are dealing with this. And there are so many questions that need answers. Is it safe to use a period tracking app? What are the best organizations to support to help those women who live in states where they can no longer get proper health care? What is the best legislative way to fight this decision?

Where were you on June 24th when you learned that Roe had been overturned? What was your first reaction?

SUMIKO SAULSON: I was in San Francisco for a Trans Gathering before the Trans March on the first day of San Francisco’s LGBTQ Pride celebration weekend. One of my friends was thinking of skipping Trans Day and the Trans March to go and march in with the Reproductive Rights Rally, but when she looked it up, she found out that they’d already coordinated with the Trans March. And there was another march, a Socialists Rally, out protesting. So all three of the marches arranged to meet, combined, and then march down to the courthouse to protest the overturning of Roe vs Wade. That’s a couple of miles, and I stayed with the march for a mile and a half before my body was no longer up to the challenge. I think a lot of people in the mainstream aren’t aware of how important reproductive rights are for the trans community and the LGBTQ community in general. People in the LGBTQ community do have to contend with unwanted pregnancy, and not just those of us who represent the third letter, B. Lesbian-identified community members, trans people who have a uterus, and other queer folks who can become pregnant also lost bodily autonomy when Roe vs Wade was overturned. And for a lot of transmasculine people, there’s an additional issue of gender dysphoria when it comes to being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

ALEXIS D: I was walking to work. Even though the decision was leaked a few weeks prior to being officially announced and Gaslit Nation (my favorite podcast for politics) warned that it was a certainty, you’re never actually prepared to hear it as something that is here and now and true and real life.

MARSHEILA ROCKWELL: I found out right before I was going in to have a fractured tooth extracted, so it will forever be associated with fear and pain and trauma for me (I loathe going to the dentist, and this guy was NOT gentle).

My gut reaction, though, dental horrors aside, was the same as when my 4 month old was diagnosed with cancer thirteen years ago – pure animal terror. Back then, it was because there was this alien thing that had my child in its clutches and I had absolutely no control over what it did to him – there was nothing I could do that would save him. This time, when the ruling was announced, it wasn’t my child in the monster’s clutches, it was me and every other woman in this country, including my trans daughter – and again, there was nothing I could do to save us, because I’d already done everything and none of it had worked. So, yeah, pure animal terror.

(My son is doing okay now, BTW. Relapse is always a fear, and there are always late effects from chemo, but he’s otherwise healthy and as happy as a thirteen-year-old is capable of being, LOL.)

LCW ALLINGHAM: I was home, with my kids. I felt betrayed, by my country, by the people I love who dismissed my concerns and evidence as overreacting and falling for liberal fear mongers, by every single person who wasn’t screaming at the top of their lungs. I still feel that way. It rises up to this crest of absolute fury and then crashes into despair, over and over and over. But you know, maybe I’m overreacting.

JOANNA ROYE: I was sitting at the kitchen table, taking a break from chores. I saw a bunch of chatter about Roe across social media and had that horrible moment of realization. I’d lost track of the days and forgotten that this was the Friday the Court actually handed down their rulings. I checked AP and BBC which were already flooded with fresh pictures of protestors. I had known it was coming but still… I raced through whether birth control is next, spun dystopias for how things may be in six years for my daughter, what this all means for my queer friends…On and on to the bleak horizon of how this will bleed into every other social sector as we complete our slide into theocratic-fascism. “What were you hoping for? What did you expect?” kept ringing in my mind. I leaned back in the chair, folded my arms, and dissociated.

BARBARA KRASNOFF: Well, it wasn’t like it was a complete surprise — we had been warned that it was coming because of the leak that Politico exposed on May 2nd. However, I think that, once that first shock was over, many people wanted to hope, “Maybe not. This was not the final decision. Maybe they won’t do something this awful.” I was pretty sure that the deed was done, but who knew? So I waited.

As a horror writer, how do you feel like this ruling will affect your work? Are you struggling to write? Will you incorporate these themes into your writing more? Also, how would you like to see people in the genre, especially those in positions of power, do better in terms of supporting us during this crisis?

SUMIKO SAULSON: I’m someone who has had to deal with trauma on a near-constant basis for large portions of my life, and as a result, writing is a way for me to process the trauma. Being unable to write is less of a concern than becoming manic – I am bipolar with psychosis and have PTSD – and staying up all day and all night pounding out work in a frenetic state that is not good for my physical or mental wellbeing. So I have been trying to really monitor my sleep, and take care of myself. I would like people in the genre to be a bit more mindful about who is directly impacted by the recent legislation. People directly impacted are processing a lot of grief right now, and I have seen a really large number of posts by women about how really gung-ho men are telling them how they need to feel about what just happened. A bunch of us are traumatized, and some of us need to recover. It’s actually OK for those of us with a uterus to talk about Stranger Things and not discuss the Handmaid’s Tale-type dystopia we’re living in for a while. Speaking of which – stop it with the creepy adoption memes. No one owes you a baby, and even the jokes about it are cringe. Clarence Thomas being a Justice isn’t a free pass for racism. I’ve had to block a couple of clods who had the nerve to call women who have abortions promiscuous. What decade are they living in? I’m guessing sometime back in the 1950s since that’s the decade the Supreme Court is trying its damnedest to drag us back to. I would tell those in power to write cautionary tales and see if that helps, but Margaret Atwood did that 37 years ago and this still happened. Still, I’m going to go with that. Write the best horror dystopias you can come up with about why and how all of this can go terribly wrong. I know I will.

ALEXIS D: I haven’t written much since the decision. I have been in a kind of adrenaline/anger/sadness/numb cocktail state and it hasn’t been great for my ability to focus. I’ve mostly just been rewatching shows I’ve already seen a thousand times and scrolling Twitter, reading about all the horrors that have already come from this ruling and those that are being anticipated.

I feel like in terms of horror writers as a whole, we are angry. And when people are angry, they have something to say. And a lot of great art can come from that. Rod Serling was angry about how people were being treated in this country and he created The Twilight Zone because of it. And I believe that had to have impacted the way people interacted with the world around them. Even if it’s just a handful, it still counts. I watched that show as a kid and I know it had an effect on me. Art is important that way. It frames the way we see and interpret real life.

People in power need to be vocal. They have a duty to be. Power provides a platform and that is a responsibility. If you are the person who represents a group of people, no matter how big or small, you better do right by them, or step aside and let someone who is able to meet the moment take the wheel. Complacency is complicity, and silence is a statement.

MARSHEILA ROCKWELL: Well, I’m writing this response after that whole kerfluffle with HWA issuing a nonstatement, retracting it after a storm of community anger, and finally proclaiming their support for a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, so there’s a perfect example of how those in power can do better (and a lot of other organizations/publishers stepped up and put out unequivocal statements of support without having to be pressured into it, which was nice to see). I’m also happy to see some bodily autonomy-themed horror anthos being put together, because as writers, that’s where our power lies and how we can make a difference – with our words.

Personally, I haven’t written anything since the ruling came out. I’m sure my fears RE: bodily autonomy and my revenge fantasies on those who take it will make it into my work at some point, but right now I’m still processing being turned back into property.

LCW ALLINGHAM: This is such a big question. First, I’m not sure this will affect my work. I have always been compelled to write pieces that examine the subjugation of women, how the patriarchy shapes them and how they take back their power. I started to hear that it wasn’t relevant, was overdone. With so much wrong in the world around me, I started to doubt myself and what I was trying to say. So, what is changing is that I decided I don’t care. I’m going to keep writing my stories. I’m going to keep screaming.

As an author I write in a lot of genres, but I started in horror, and I return to horror because it is how I control the monsters in the dark. I have already started to compile a list of ideas. I have a horror anthology my small press is putting out about feminine rage, and I am going to try to contribute a story to it. I have a horror novel I’m poking with a stick about motherhood and monsters in the patriarchy.

I hope that the horror community can step up and provide a light in the dark for its marginalized writers. That starts with listening to what female, queer, BIPOC, and trans authors have to say about this situation and not rushing to make spokesmen of those who still have all their rights intact. It starts by making horror a welcoming place for the oppressed and a dangerous place for the predators.

JOANNA ROYE: It has energized me, strangely enough. The instability of the future gives me a sense that I MUST finish my book while I can. The next few years are extremely uncertain, and that has summoned up a renewed vigor for completing projects. Right now I don’t have any stories that explicitly interact with the right to choose. In the future, though, bodily autonomy is a theme I look forward to exploring thoroughly.

As for leaders in this field, it does give me comfort whenever I see someone state their support of access to abortion. What does NOT give me comfort is vaguery. These days, if someone fails to make it exceedingly clear that they regard me as a person rather than an elaborately decorated incubation rig, I will not be assuming otherwise. It sucks that it has to be like this.

BARBARA KRASNOFF: To tell you the truth, I don’t think this will affect my work — unless I start to work more out of pure unadulterated anger. I had a great deal of trouble writing during the first couple of years of the pandemic, and I’m just now starting to become somewhat productive again. It’s possible that I’ll incorporate these themes into my writing, or not — I really don’t know. As far as support is concerned, those with public visibility can speak out and do what we all need to do: urge our representatives to oppose any laws that will negatively affect abortion rights and women’s health; support candidates who will work on a local and national level to fight against these laws; and contribute what they can to organizations that will help women trapped in the states enacting these laws.

What’s your greatest fear right now? And also, what’s your greatest hope for where we can go next?

SUMIKO SAULSON: What concerns me the most is that the current Supreme Court is not that old. The oldest current member, Clarence Thomas, is 74. The three Justices appointed by Donald Trump are in their 50s now. We could easily be stuck with them for another 20 to 40 years. We can’t hop back in a time machine and undo the damage that was done by allowing Trump to get into office in the first place. My hope is that the Democratic Party in Congress will do an in-run around the Supreme Court. Some new iteration of Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021. Several states are amending their state constitution to protect abortion rights at the state level, but that won’t protect the most vulnerable. I hope that people will be out in the streets marching, raising hell, and demanding justice.

ALEXIS D: My greatest fear right now is that it really seems like the Christofascist takeover has arrived. They’ve already put in place all the apparatus they need to ensure Right Wing domination over our country. Next term, SCOTUS plans to hear a case that could alter election laws, changing how much power state legislatures have over elections. Who even knows what will happen between now and then, though? If abortion is a felony, and in many cases miscarriages will be treated as such, that person can’t participate in the democratic process anyway. It’s hard to say what scares me most, but I’m scared. We should all be scared.

The time to act is now, and establishment democrats who are completely out of touch with the current political climate, and fetishizing bipartisanship at immeasurable cost, are not acting. They have occupied their positions for so many decades that they feel as though those roles are promised. We need more AOCs and less Pelosis. Right now, AOC gives me more hope than pretty much anything. It’s important to feel like the people in charge are looking out for you, which echoes back to the previous question about our leaders in the genre and their response to this ruling.

As far as horror writing goes, it has been comforting to see a practically unanimous response from the community. So that gives me hope, too. It’s hard to look at yourself and think, “I can make a difference,” but we have to believe that in some way, even if it’s small, we all do.

MARSHEILA ROCKWELL: My greatest fear is that this is only the beginning of what we as women (and people of color and the LGBTQ+ community and the disabled community and, and, and) are going to lose. My greatest hope is that this can all somehow be reversed. (And after that, we get our land back, but first things first.)

LCW ALLINGHAM: My greatest fear? That everyone who cares will stand idly by wringing their hands while our rights burn.

My great hope is that we’ll be the fire and we’ll finally take what has been denied to us for far too long.

JOANNA ROYE: Despite how outlandish it sounds, I really worry the most about a hot Civil War. I love where I live, but if violence breaks out, we’ll almost certainly have to move abroad for our children’s safety. Secondly, I worry about how many other precedents were overturned on 6/24 in the shadow of Dobbs. Decisions that rip the last few teeth from the EPA, threaten Tribal sovereignty, encourage gun sales, and protect cops from being held accountable when they violate citizens’ rights (re: Mirandization). It’s a grab-bag of regression. And this is before we even get to Clarence Thomas’ remarks about “reexamining” cases like Obergefell, Griswold, and Lawrence.

In contrast, my greatest hope is that (against all odds) enough politicians currently in office would actually take direct action to codify abortion rights into federal law. I feel there’s only a microscopic chance of this but, that’s what hope is for, I guess. Realistically, I plan to do whatever I can to help the people I can reach. This is the time for our nation to correct its course and recommit to protect the rights of all its citizens instead of just the lucky few.

BARBARA KRASNOFF: My greatest fear is that this is only the beginning — that this Supreme Court will continue to turn out decisions that will erase more federally-mandated safeguards, thus eroding more and more of the rights that we’ve enjoyed since the middle of the 20th century. I dread the possibility we will continue to lose what gains we have made supporting the rights of women, POCs, LGBTQ+ people, and others; against the destruction of our environment… the list goes on.

Where can we go next? I think we have to look at the long term: make sure enough Democrats (and even reasonable Republicans) are voted in so we don’t find ourselves in this position again. There are other possibilities: a larger Supreme Court, for example. And the continued activities of all of us to push for change, even when it seems like nothing is changing.

Thank you so much to my six featured authors in this week’s roundtable! Once again, I appreciate the writers in our community sharing their thoughts about abortion rights. 

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism!

Fall Into Fear: Submission Roundup for September 2022

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of great calls for September and beyond, so if you’ve got a story looking for a home, perhaps one of these markets will be a perfect fit!

A disclaimer as always: I’m not a representative for any of these markets. Please direct your questions to their respective editors.

And with that, onward with the Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Hush, Don’t Wake the Monster: Stories Inspired by Stephen King
Payment: $15/flat
Length: No specified word count
Deadline: September 12th, 2022
What They Want: A Women in Horror anthology, the editor is seeking stories inspired by Stephen King’s work.
Find the details here.

Weird Magazine
Payment: .015/word
Length: 500 to 6,000 words
Deadline: September 30th, 2022
What They Want: This magazine from Undertow Publications is seeking horror and weird fiction.
Find the details here.

Kaleidotrope
Payment: .01/word for fiction; $5/flat for poetry
Length: 250 to 10,000 words
Deadline: September 30th, 2022
What They Want: Open to a wide variety of speculative fiction and poetry.
Find the details here.

Fantasy Magazine
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 7,500 words
Deadline: October 1st to 7th, 2022 for general submissions; for BIPOC authors, submissions are open until the end of the year
What They Want: Open to fantasy and dark fantasy stories.
Find the details here.

Dracula Beyond Stoker
Payment: .05/word
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2023
What They Want: This new journal is seeking fiction that reimagines and expands upon the world of Dracula. For the upcoming issue, the theme is Renfield.
Find the details here.

Nowhere Fast
Payment: .06/word
Length: 3,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: October 28th, 2022
What They Want: This Clash Books anthology is open to coming-of-age horror inspired by 80s and 90s movies.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

From the Ashes: Part One in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back! Today is the start of something very special to me. This is part one in our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable series. In each installment, I’ll be featuring  a group of horror authors as we discuss how the fall of Roe vs. Wade is affecting us, both personally and professionally. This will be an ongoing series here on the blog for the rest of the year and possibly even stretching into next year.

So with that, I’ll turn today’s interview over to this week’s six incredible authors!

There are so many things to talk about right now, but first and foremost, how are you doing personally? How has the overturning of Roe affected your life so far? How has it affected your family and friends?

JO KAPLAN: I feel sick that the bodily autonomy I’ve always taken for granted is being snatched away, but I’m lucky that I live in California, and my family also lives primarily in states where abortion is not being banned. But just because this isn’t legally affecting me doesn’t mean I can shrug it off. That’s, unfortunately, something you see a lot of these days: this inability to care about things when they don’t affect you personally. It’s depressing that there are so many people in this country who just lack basic empathy, who can only empathize with some pure, idealized notion of the “unborn,” rather than actual living, breathing human beings. The mental gymnastics people go through to argue that a ten year old should carry a pregnancy to term, or that women are somehow idiots or villains who wait eight months before deciding to have an elective late term abortion rather than it being a medically necessary last resort for wanted pregnancies—it makes me feel like I’m going crazy.

ZIN E. ROCKLYN: While overwhelmed, I’m also angry. I knew this was going to happen when the doc was leaked but it was absolutely disheartening for the final decision to be passed. I recently moved to Florida to help take care of my mother who has dementia (even she, a hardcore, Bible-thumping Christian, is pissed) and I am incredibly nervous for myself while straight up scared for other birthing folk, especially the poorest of us. The stigma and continued, persistent ignorance surrounding birthing folks’ reproductive health is more than a concern, it’s a crisis. Friends have already had their life-saving meds denied due to these misconceptions.

MEGAN HART: I am furious. Even knowing it was on the horizon didn’t prepare me for the utter betrayal and outrage I feel now that it’s actually been overturned. I, personally, am unlikely to ever need an abortion again, but I’m livid and horrified for all of those who still will need to make that choice — and have no choice to make.

JANET JOYCE HOLDEN: Personally, I count myself lucky at this particular time that I’m post-menopausal and no longer able to give birth. However, I’m acutely aware of how an important means of healthcare has, in some states, been rudely stripped away. A lot of my friends are in a state of shock, and rightly so.

LYANA RODRIGUEZ: Personally? I’m about as fine as a log thrown into a wood chipper. I think part of the problem is how much this decision is affecting me and not my family. My father, older brother, and nephew, all cis men/boys, don’t seem to display any personal attachment to the issue. My mother, post-menopause, seems mostly glad that it didn’t affect her own life during her marriage with my father. Her continuing response to my concerns has been, “Things change! Things always change, you’ll see, it’ll be back to what it was one day!”

It’s the most out of touch reply I’ve seen so far. None of them seem to understand that this directly affects me the most. I’m twenty-seven years old, I’m bisexual, I’m Latine which means I’m highly fetishized by a lot of people, and I’m in the process of questioning my gender identity. I walk into work, and I wonder at how fast we become desensitized to it. We’re all expected to just keep going as if everything’s normal as fascism creeps in? Really? That’s the “adult” thing to do here?

CHRISTINA LADD: I wake up every morning just a little bit nauseous, just a little bit more scared, and just a little bit angrier than the day before. I try to exist one step removed from everything, focusing only on my job or projects to get through the day, but when I tune back into the Roe reality, all those feelings rush back. I am tired with such a fury all the time. I don’t have a word for this angry exhaustion. Maybe it’s not a word. Maybe it’s a story. Maybe it’s all the stories that come after. I don’t know. Almost everyone I know is in the same place; we just keep expressing the same despair to one another over and over again.

What has Roe vs. Wade meant to you personally?

JO KAPLAN: I’ve grown up with Roe vs. Wade as settled policy, and I’ve never questioned my control over my own body. I’ve never wanted kids. Though this is a personal choice, I can’t help but also think about it in broader terms. I think about the difference between centuries past, when people were having ten children with the knowledge that not all would live to adulthood, and today, when massive improvements in technology and medicine have reduced infant and childhood mortality, and lengthened lifespans. Back then, I think there was an evolutionary imperative to have lots of children. There were also way fewer people in the world. Now we have 8 billion people on this planet, and we cannot sustain continued, explosive population growth with our current infrastructure. So in a way, I think the world needs people like me who are opting out of reproduction. Having choice is good for me personally, but it’s also good for the planet. Unfettered growth is an unsustainable capitalist dream. The right-wing wants to keep churning out babies—the right kind of babies, of course—in pursuit of this ridiculous (and very American) idea that unfettered growth is the end-all be-all, without regard to the consequences of overpopulation. So, what Roe vs. Wade has meant to me personally is having equal rights and bodily autonomy, the opportunity to live my life the way I want, and also allowing everyone the power to make their own choices.

ZIN E. ROCKLYN: It is the final nail in the coffin of freedom of choice for birthing folk. Period.

MEGAN HART: I’ve never lived, consciously, without knowing that I could choose not to carry an unwanted or non-viable pregnancy. Being able to have an abortion has been a choice for my entire life. I’ve always been a strong and outspoken advocate for reproductive rights, even though it was something seemingly “set in stone.” I never took it for granted, but I also never thought that right would be torn away.

JANET JOYCE HOLDEN: Healthcare, choice, and a right to privacy regarding that choice. Plain and simple. It’s nobody else’s business.

LYANA RODRIGUEZ: For me, Roe was the law of the land for my entire life. I always had that reassurance in the back of my head when I got my first period: if anything happened to me, I at least have the right to get an abortion and keep my life on track. Even if people tried to block my way to a clinic, even if they shamed me for something out of my control, I had that choice. In a society where we put the onus so frequently on people who can get pregnant, usually including the most marginalized of genders, having that choice is tantamount to participation in a larger, public society. Technically speaking, Florida has the right to an abortion guaranteed in its state constitution, and a state judge ruled Governor De Santis’ recent fifteen week ban on abortion unconstitutional for that reason.

But this precedent, the overturning of such a huge case, only worries me about other cases. In a matter of months, my right to marry any woman I love could fall away from me. My right to a sexual relationship, even, with another woman could be subjected to on-the-books indecency and sodomy laws. Hell, that’s just in my own personal relationships. What happens should Brown v. Board or Loving v. Virginia gets overturned? Florida isn’t exactly the paragon of healthy racial reckoning. This would be a catastrophe for many Latine families living here in Miami. After all, a lot of Latine cultures didn’t have the same stringent “one-drop” rule that dominated the Jim Crow South and the racist North.

While it may seem like I’m going off topic, I’m really not. In the end, the choice to strike down Roe v. Wade is about snatching autonomy from the country’s most marginalized people and giving it to a bigoted, powerful state. It certainly won’t stop here.

CHRISTINA LADD: It meant freedom. And now it’s gone, and I have fewer rights than a corpse. I knew, intellectually, that this was always the case for some people when they saw me. Roe just meant that it wasn’t the law, those thoughts and feelings of others. Now those thoughts and feelings are the law. Roe was my shield, and now there’s so much less between me and the massed hordes of gibbering idiots, swinging their crosses at my head.

How do you feel the horror genre has responded to the crisis of losing Roe? How would you like to see people do better in terms of supporting us during this crisis?

JO KAPLAN: The people I know in the horror community tend to be conscientious, socially and politically aware people who genuinely want to help create a better society. I like to think the horror genre, through exploring the darkest parts of humanity, reminds us of what is most important to us, what we stand to lose, and what we are willing to sacrifice. I’ve already seen horror folks being vocal, taking a stand, creating charity anthologies with proceeds going to abortion access, and I want to see the horror community keep doing what it does best: using its voice and its willingness to delve into the darkness to push for a brighter future for everyone.

ZIN E. ROCKLYN: With the exception of the HWA’s shitty response, to see folks coming together for benefit anthologies and auctions is amazing. Folks of horror are some of the nicest people in the world and our response has affirmed that.

MEGAN HART: I can’t speak for the genre as a whole. The people I follow on social media all seem to have the same level of outrage and disgust that I do. I don’t need individual support from strangers, so it’s more of a broad desire to see people taking action to protest, support and try to make change to the loss of reproductive freedoms. (And human rights, in general.)

JANET JOYCE HOLDEN: I’ve seen the initial statements of support from various sources, and going forward, at the creative level, I’d like to see a shift away from woman and fetus used as a shock morality mechanism. How about aiming our Klieg light and pen toward the reckless impregnator, cocksure, striding through life, leaving behind a trail of blood and misery? One of the ways we use horror is to better understand ourselves, and this side of the issue is way overdue for a long, hard examination.

On the organizational front, should we move our conventions to abortion-friendly states? I realize some states might not turn out as bad as they’re painted once the legal dust has settled, but it’s worth looking into, for sure.

LYANA RODRIGUEZ: For the most part, the members of the horror community I follow are amazing. They’re so supportive and willing to listen to all my rants about the historical particulars of this decision. Nobody in the community that follows me or that I follow has called me, for example, “paranoid” or “hysterical” the way that so many people have done in the past. (To be fair, this is also true of the anarchist community, but I often find a lot of overlap in these two groups).

The “genre,” on the other hand, has a lot of work to do. I think you all know exactly what I’m talking about here. The HWA incident confirmed some of the worst fears many horror writers have about the big names in the community. It all originated from something so simple, too! Some of HWA’s staff decided to put up a sign stating, “We support women’s rights to choose.” Okay, cool, it’s not exactly inclusive of every single gender that can get pregnant and would be affected by the decision, but it’s not something that will get a non-profit any flak from the IRS. But nope! HWA leadership decided it had to go down. Furthermore, I’m convinced that the reasoning they gave is false. It wasn’t because of them losing non-profit status. They just don’t want to lose any money from more conservative donors. I call it the Bob Iger Special, personally. Thankfully, many other organizations, including several great indie publishers in the horror writing community, spoke out against HWA’s decision and came out firmly in favor of bodily autonomy. Several other horror creators branching outside writing and into film production, film reviews, and more also threw their hats firmly on the side of justice. That gives me a lot of hope, at the least!

CHRISTINA LADD: I’m glad to see the Brigid’s Gate anthology for charity, and glad to see a lot of interactions on twitter. I’m not sure if there’s more–I’m not super plugged in and could be missing a lot. I agree with your statement that I would love to see conventions refuse to do any business in states where abortion is prohibited. I’d also like to see more statements of condemnation, and just like so many websites have statements against transphobia, racism, etc., it would be nice if they included “the message of your work cannot be anti-choice/anti-abortion.”

What’s your greatest fear right now? And also, what’s your greatest hope for where we can go next?

JO KAPLAN: Unnecessary deaths, first of all. With the right to choose being taken away in many places, it’s a simple fact that more people are going to die, whether from back-alley abortions, ectopic pregnancies, or other complications leaving doctors unsure of what they can and can’t do. On a larger scale, my greatest fear is the christofascist takeover of our government and how that might fundamentally change our society—that the religious right will become the law of the land. My greatest hope is that these are the last desperate gasps of a dying political force and that the future will see a people who refuse to kowtow to antiquated and oppressive worldviews.

ZIN E. ROCKLYN: My greatest fear is to become pregnant. That’s it. There is absolutely no support in this country for so many things, worst of all being parents, single or no. Our greatest hope is a revolution and overhaul of how this country is run.

MEGAN HART: My fear is that this is the beginning. That the next target is birth control, the right to marry who we choose, the right to cross state lines, to worship as we please…to be honest, the future seems pretty dystopian and bleak, and I have a vivid imagination, so I can fear a lot of horror on the horizon. My greatest hope is that the people who do not believe in hatred and oppression can rise up and make ourselves known, heard and respected. That we can stop the march of this country into fascism.

JANET JOYCE HOLDEN: The fear is that we can’t turn this around. The hope is that our government will live up to its current promise and right the wrong at Federal level.

LYANA RODRIGUEZ: My greatest fear is pretty simple and possibly vindicated by history. My fear is that Americans will continue to allow this fascist creep to become normalized. Instead of organizing across demographic lines on issues we all care about, such as the climate, abortion rights, healthcare, wages, and rent, they will continue the “Vote Blue No Matter Who Only!” strat, refuse to criticize their leaders, and continue hoping for the return of normality that was ultimately never even really good for us anyways. Then the rest of us that actually hope for a better world just get to sit back and watch as we become the victims of a Christofascist state, our more centrist neighbors complicit in our ultimate victimization.

My greatest hope, however, is just what I proposed: organizing! It is nowhere as easy to do as it is to say, but we need to start doing that now. We have to get in touch with our communities and make them actually livable again. So much connects us here, and we all have so many of the same needs. Plus, once you get into the practice of listening to other people’s lived experiences, the differences that separate us are nowhere near as insurmountable as you might think.

Tips on how you might get started? I’d suggest dealing with two universals in the United States: housing and wages. The housing crisis is worse than ever, and ultimately, everybody no matter what requires shelter to live in. No matter where you live, I guarantee that you either have a mutual aid organization that focuses on building tenant power or a community that would jump at the chance for it. As for wages, we have to go the way of Starbucks: unionization. For those who primarily work freelance or have less sociable jobs, this can be a pain. However, I promise that, even in freelance, people are tired, angry, and want to form a coalition. Start small. Build up an email list, a discord chat room, or anything that can get you all together! And as for the topic that started this whole roundtable together, there are plenty of actions you can take. For starters, if you want to get into abortion rights long term, look up direct action groups in your own neighborhood. Brave fighters such as clinic escorts have been doing the work of clinic defense for years. Consider getting the training for that volunteer work and working hands-on in the fight for our rights. If your circumstances can’t get you that far, I recommend supporting abortion funds and travel networks. A good one is the Brigid Alliance. This organization specializes in getting patients in the most restrictive parts of the country the healthcare they need. This includes patients who are currently in the states affected by trigger laws totally banning abortion.

CHRISTINA LADD: My greatest fear is that there will be a war over this. Or that there won’t be, and that eventually every state will bow to evangelical fascism. That birth control and gay marriage are next. That I will be raped and be forced to listen to a bunch of lies that the criminal deposit of dividing cells has a heartbeat or fingernails or some other lie. That I won’t even be able to listen to those lies, because I won’t be able to get an abortion. I don’t have one fear. They all just chase each other around, ascendant one after the other without end.

My greatest hope is that we get universal abortion rights enshrined as a constitutional amendment, and while I’m at it, I hope we also get an equal pay act and full gender-affirmation rights for trans and nonbinary people. But more immediately, I want “The Lottery.” I want stories so terrible and essential that they imprint on the collective consciousness. I want cis men to be afraid, or barring that, I want more of them to understand our fear. I hope we can make them as afraid as they ought to be, as we already are.

Thank you so much to my featured interviewees this week! I appreciate so much that they shared their thoughts with us about abortion rights!

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism!

Book Tour for RELUCTANT IMMORTALS

Welcome back! Today, I’m super excited because we’re officially only two weeks away from the release of Reluctant Immortals!

*screams joyously into the void*

And that’s not the only reason I’m excited. For the first time ever, I’m doing an actual author book tour! Most of the appearances will be virtual, but a couple will, in fact, be in person! This is seriously the neatest thing in the world to me. I’ve literally imagined doing an author book tour ever since I was a little kid, so needless to say, I’m over the moon about this.

And where will I be appearing? Well, since you asked, here’s a nifty promo featuring all the event dates!

So first up, on the release day of August 23rd, there’s the book launch at Riverstone in Pittsburgh! This is an in-person event, and I’ll be in conversation with author Emma Riva! If you’re in the area, please feel free to stop by! The event starts at 7pm ET!

Then on Wednesday, August 24th, I’ll be doing a virtual event at Mysterious Galaxy! Festivities start at 6pm ET/ 9pm PT, and I’ll be appearing with the always awesome A.C. Wise who was also kind enough to blurb my novel! Bonus: if you order Reluctant Immortals through the Mysterious Galaxy site, you can also get a signed bookplate!

On Thursday, August 25th at 7:30pm ET, I’m thrilled to be appearing at a virtual event at Charis Books, a feminist bookstore located in Decatur, Georgia. I’ll be in conversation with the amazing Addie Tsai whose queer re-imagining of Frankenstein, Unwieldy Creatures, was just released! It’s beyond perfect that my Dracula and Jane Eyre retelling is being paired with a Frankenstein retelling, and I can’t wait to talk more with Addie about our new novels!

To finish off the first week of my book tour, the ever supportive Daniel Braum has invited me back to his Night Time Logic series. That virtual event is on Friday, August 26th at 8pm ET, and I’ll be appearing with the fabulous Rebecca Rowland!

For the second week of my book tour, I’ll be appearing at a virtual event at The Novel Neighbor, a bookstore located in St. Louis, Missouri. This fabulous bookstore does so many wonderful events with authors, and I’m so thrilled to be able to be part of their lineup. The event starts at 8pm ET/ 7pm CT!

On Tuesday, August 30th at 7pm ET, I’m doing a virtual event at Old Town Books where I’ll be in conversation with the amazing and supportive Becky Spratford! It’s always great to talk with Becky as she’s long been one of the biggest supporters of my work, so this will no doubt be a very fun night!

And last but not least, I’ll be appearing at another in-person event when I return to StoryFest at The Westport Library on Saturday, September 10th. I’ll be on the panel “Resist and Rise Up: A Panel on Activism,” alongside amazing authors Sarah Gailey, Hugh Ryan, Mondiant Dogan, and Sonya Huber. That panel starts at 1pm ET, but the event goes all day and features lots of incredible writers, so if you’re in the area, please come and hang out with us!

So that’s the schedule for my first ever author book tour! And as if that’s not enough, I’ll also be appearing on numerous podcasts over the next two months, so like it or not, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch me discussing vampires, the Gothic, Hammer horror, the 1960s, and everything else related to Reluctant Immortals. *another joyous scream into the void*

Happy reading!