Author Archives: gwendolynkiste

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!

Writing through the Apocalypse: Submission Roundup for July 2022

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! America has completely fallen apart since last we met, so this is a less jubilant post than normal. But art is one of the greatest forms of resistance, so let’s keep resisting fascism, shall we?

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

Dread Stone Press
Payment: .02/word
Length: 500 to 1,000 words
Deadline: July 15th, 2022
What They Want: Open to a wide variety of horror flash fiction.
Find the details here.

Brigids Gate
Payment: No payment as this is a charity anthology
Length: 1,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: July 19th, 2022
What They Want: The Hell Hath Only Fury anthology is seeking body autonomy horror stories. All proceeds will benefit The Brigid Alliance, which is committed to helping pregnant people seek abortion care. Open to all women, femme-identifying individuals, and any authors who have or have had a uterus.
Find the details here.

HWA Scholarships
Payment: Scholarships range from $250 to $2,500
Deadline: August 1st, 2022
What They Want: Sponsored through Horror Writers Association, there are currently multiple scholarships available, including for horror nonfiction, dark poetry, women in horror, and more.
Find the details here.

Creature Horror
Payment: No payment as this is a charity anthology
Length: 3,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: August 1st, 2022
What They Want: This anthology theme focuses on reproductive rights and body autonomy horror. All proceeds will benefit NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Find the details here.

Cosmic Horror Monthly
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: August 1st, 2022
What They Want: This anthology, which is themed broadly around hysteria, is open to anyone affected by the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. All proceeds will benefit the Chicago Abortion Fund.
Find the details here.

Les Petites Morts: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales
Payment: .06/word
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: August 31st, 2022
What They Want: The editors are seeking erotic horror stories inspired by folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.
Find the details here.

Under Her Eye
Payment: $5/flat
Length: Up to 50 lines
Deadline: August 31st, 2022
What They Want: Open to women and nonbinary femmes, this anthology is seeking poetry with the theme of domestic horror. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Pixel Project.
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!

Summer of Horror: Submission Roundup for June 2022

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of super cool opportunities in June and beyond, so if you’ve got a story seeking a home, one of these markets might be the right fit!

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these publications. Please direct your questions to their respective editors. And with that, onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Dracula Beyond Stoker
Payment: .05/word
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: June 15th, 2022
What They Want: This new journal is seeking fiction that reimagines and expands upon the world of Dracula. For the inaugural issue, the theme is Dracula.
Find the details here.

Rites of Passage: An Anthology of Queer Pagan Fiction
Payment: $25 to $75/flat
Length: 2,500 to 7,500 words
Deadline: June 30th, 2022
What They Want: The anthology is seeking coming-of-age stories about queer pagans.
Find the details here.

Vastarien
Payment: .05/word for fiction and nonfiction; $50/flat for artwork and poetry
Length: up to 7,500 words
Deadline: June 30th, 2022
What They Want: Vastarien is seeking nonfiction, literary horror fiction, and poetry that’s inspired by Thomas Ligotti and related themes.
Find the details here.

Les Petites Morts: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales
Payment: .06/word
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: Opens to submissions on July 1st, 2022
What They Want: The editors are seeking erotic horror stories inspired by folklore, fairy tales, and mythology. Please consider supporting their Kickstarter for the project!
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!

Les Petites Morts: Interview with Hailey Piper

Welcome back! Today, I’m happy to be helping out with the promotion of Les Petites Morts: An Anthology of Erotic Horror Fairy Tales from Ghost Orchid Press. The project is currently up on Kickstarter and is over a quarter of the way funded already!

As part of this promotion, I recently interviewed contributor Hailey Piper about her story in the anthology!

What can you tell us about your new story in Les Petites Morts?

It’s a sapphic twist on the Greek myth of the sphinx, in which she’s sometimes offered sacrifices in lieu of riddle answers, and our heroine has become one such offering after getting on a king’s bad side for taking his queen’s attention.

Horror and eroticism have a long history of intertwining. What do you think is the draw of this particular subgenre? What are some of your favorite erotic horror stories and films?

I think horror and eroticism both indulge in visceral elements, and they make an easy couple. There’s both a seductive “wrongness” that draws some, wanting to see something they might consider repulsive, while for others there’s a freedom to indulge in the fiction’s fantasy, and that same thing seen as a repulsive element can instead be beautiful and alluring, which was how I approached scenes in this story, my novel Queen of Teeth, and other work.

As for favorites, Clive Barker really hits a sweet spot with some Books of Blood stories and the movie Hellraiser. I also love Go Down Hard by Ali Seay.

What in particular do you feel makes Les Petites Morts a unique anthology?

Focusing on fairy tales, folklore, and mythology for erotic horror both forces the erotic horror to dance with speculative elements of magic and monsters and sex within, but also invites the stories to play with foundational elements of our cultures, get into the tactile sensations of them, be that blood or other things. Plus I have so much faith in editors Evelyn Freeling and Antonia Rachel Ward, and a book of erotic horror is going to be a wonderful time. I can’t wait to read the other stories.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m finishing up one of my queer horror/weird crime chapbooks for Death’s Head Press, and I’m getting started on a new cosmic horror novella, plus some short stories sprinkled around.

Big thanks to Ghost Orchid Press and Hailey Piper! Please consider backing this fabulous new anthology over at Kickstarter today!

Happy reading!

Fiction for a Dystopic World: Submission Roundup for May 2022

Welcome back for May’s Submission Roundup. Lots of great opportunities this month, so if you’re looking for a home for a story, then perhaps one of these markets will be a perfect fit!

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 editor.

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

Submission Roundup

Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Payment: $120/flat
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: May 15th, 2022
What They Want: This anthology is seeking horror fiction inspired by Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
Find the details here.

Brigids Gate Press
Payment: .08/word
Length: 2,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: May 15th, 2022
What They Want: The latest anthology is seeking splatterpunk western horror set in the Old West.
Find the details here.

Halloween Ghost Anthology
Payment: .06/word
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: May 31st, 2022
What They Want: Editor Gaby Triana is currently seeking ghost stories set on or around Halloween.
Find the details here.

Dracula Beyond Stoker
Payment: .05/word
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: June 15th, 2022
What They Want: This new journal is seeking fiction that reimagines and expands upon the world of Dracula. For the inaugural issue, the theme is Dracula.
Find the details here.

Rites of Passage: An Anthology of Queer Pagan Fiction
Payment: $25 to $75/flat
Length: 2,500 to 7,500 words
Deadline: June 30th, 2022
What They Want: The anthology is seeking coming-of-age stories about queer pagans.
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!

Spectacular Spring: Submission Roundup for April 2022

Welcome back for April’s Submission Roundup! I can’t believe a quarter of the year is already gone! Fortunately, there are lots of great opportunities this month and beyond for writing. So if you’re looking for somewhere to send your latest work, perhaps one of these markets will be the perfect fit!

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets. I’m merely spreading the word! Please direct any questions to their respective editors.

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

Submission Roundup

The Quiet Ones
Payment: $25/flat
Length: up to 3,000 words
Deadline: April 14th, 2022
What They Want: The upcoming issue’s theme is post-apocalyptic pride and will be released for Pride Month in June.
Find the details here.

Electric Spec
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 250 to 7,000 words
Deadline: April 15th, 2022
What They Want: Open to a wide variety of speculative fiction.
Find the details here.

Rewired: An Anthology of Neurodiverse Horror
Payment: .03/word
Length: 1,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: April 30th, 2022
What They Want: Ghost Orchid Press is seeking horror stories inspired by neurodiverse experiences.
Find the details here.

Planet Scumm
Payment: .05/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: May 2nd, 2022
What They Want: Open to a wide variety of speculative fiction.
Find the details here.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Payment: $120/flat
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: May 15th, 2022
What They Want: This anthology is seeking horror fiction inspired by Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
Find the details here.

Halloween Ghost Anthology
Payment: .06/word
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: May 31st, 2022
What They Want: Editor Gaby Triana is currently seeking ghost stories set on or around Halloween.
Find the details here.

Rites of Passage: An Anthology of Queer Pagan Fiction
Payment: $25 to $75/flat
Length: 2,500 to 7,500 words
Deadline: June 30th, 2022
What They Want: The anthology is seeking coming-of-age stories about queer pagans.
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!