Category Archives: Book Promotion

RELEASE DAY: The Rust Maidens is now available!

So. It’s here. My debut novel, The Rust Maidens, has officially made its way into the world!

*twirls and twirls and twirls in endless circles*

First off, I want to share the gorgeous Daniele Serra cover art again. Because it is seriously just so beautiful, and I’m still in awe of it. Behold…

The Rust Maidens

*twirls again in circles*

It goes without saying, but tremendous thanks to Trepidatio Publishing for bringing this book to life. As often happens with novels, The Rust Maidens went through a couple iterations before at last arriving in its final stage of metamorphosis, and I’m so grateful to have been able to learn so much about the process of writing and editing a novel with Trepidatio. It’s been a wild ride for sure, and one I’m so thrilled to have taken.

So I guess I should probably put up links to where you can find this alleged book, right? Okay, here goes…

The Rust Maidens at Amazon

The Rust Maidens at JournalStone

In case you haven’t gotten enough of The Rust Maidens yet (and I hope you haven’t because I won’t be keeping very quiet about it), I’ve got a number of interviews coming up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned. Obviously, I’ll be my usual loquacious self and be yelling from every mountaintop about the novel.

In the meantime, happy reading, and thank you for the support!

New Titles and Persistent Themes: Part One of Our October Author Interview Series

Welcome back, and welcome to part one of my October author roundtable series! I’m thrilled to be featuring eight fabulous authors, all of whom have brand-new books out this year that you should be reading!

So without any further delay, onward with this roundtable discussion!

Let’s start with the basics. Tell me about your latest release. What was the process like putting this book together, and what, if any, challenges did you run into along the way?

CALVIN DEMMER: My latest release is a flash fiction collection, The Sea Was a Fair Master, which contains twenty-three dark tales, ranging from science fiction, horror, fantasy, crime, to the weird. The process was pretty smooth. I’d say the hardest part for me was deciding on the order of the stories once I had picked which to collect. I wanted a certain flow to the book, and that took a little time to get right.

DOUNGJAI GAM: glass slipper dreams, shattered is my first collection of flash fiction and poetry. it was released by Apokrupha this past August. it took me about three years to put this collection together from when Jacob Haddon first approached me about it at AnthoCon 2015. there’s been plenty of challenges along the way, but thankfully none of those issues were in a professional sense…I just had a lot of personal things going on in that period and sometimes it got too tough to balance. Jacob is absolutely amazing to work with, and the key statement he made to me more than once was that he didn’t want my first book to be something I look back on in ten years and regret ever doing, and I have no regrets about it.

Christa CarmenCHRISTA CARMEN: The stories in Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked were published in places like Fireside Fiction, DarkFuse Magazine (which unfortunately exists no more), Third Flatiron’s Strange Beasties anthology, Unnerving Magazine, Tales to Terrify, and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 2, to name a few. My publisher asked upfront that a certain percentage of the stories in collection submissions be reprints, so once I’d filled that quota, I added two stories that had been published by markets no longer in circulation, changed one story that had appeared on a podcast to the novella version I’d been hoping for a chance to unveil, and chose three brand new stories to tie everything together. I think readers can appreciate a collection that includes reprints, especially from magazines and anthologies they may have read previously, and hopefully enjoyed, as well as a handful of new tales that allows them to experience an author’s latest work.

If there were any challenges I ran into along the way, it was what order to place the stories in. The stories in Something Borrowed contain ghosts, apocalypse-inciting rains, witches, depraved serial killers, more ghosts, evil shadow creatures, zombies, haunted houses, long-preserved corpses, newly-opened mausoleums, sinister trains, and out-of-place staircases. My publisher felt that “Thirsty Creatures” had the best first line to open the book with (“The trees were fire and the sky was panicked birds and the horse was made of bone.”), but aside from that, ordering the collection was a study in balancing the types of horror stories (a ghost story on the heels of another ghost story, or my take on the babysitter urban legend sandwiched between two ghost stories?) with the themes represented within.

ANYA MARTIN: Sleeping with the Monster is my debut collection, and I’m grateful to Steve Berman of Lethe Press for his longstanding interest in and belief in my fiction. I was hesitant to put out a collection until I had a solid slate of stories with a certain degree of thematic unity. And conventional wisdom seems to be not to rush. These aren’t all my published stories but I feel like they represent a “generation” of my work.

I knew which stories I wanted to include from the start, so my biggest challenge was writing “Jehessimin,” the original novella that is also included. I developed carpal tunnel syndrome in the past year and that and other health issues and responsibilities contributed to it taking months longer than I expected. Fortunately Steve was a patient and understanding publisher. On the other hand, the additional time allowed the story to gel more organically and take some unexpected twists which I think/hope strengthened it. Also recently on the final stretch before the book’s release, my mother had a medical emergency so I haven’t been able to promote it as extensively as I meant to and had to cancel my con appearance at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival. I did get to do Daniel Braum’s Night Time Logic Reading Series with the fantastic Robert Levy at KGB Bar in Manhattan on Tuesday Sept. 25 and hope to attend World Fantasy Con 2018 Nov. 1-4 in Baltimore.

MICHAEL GRIFFIN: Assembling a second collection is very different. Putting together your first collection, you have to choose from everything you’ve ever written, and for most writers that means a lot more stories to select from, and most of the earliest ones will be left out. It’s a matter of figuring out where to start, and which of the less-mature work actually does fit with the more recent stories.

For the second book, it’s more about picking up where you left off with the first. Presumably by that time, your work has become more coherent and consistent, so while you have a smaller number of stories to choose from, there are probably not as many that aren’t up to the quality standard of the rest, or which should be excluded for not fitting with the feel of the others.

One thing that made the assembly of The Human Alchemy more complicated was the connection between several stories, with characters and settings and organizations cross-threaded between them, which meant I had to consider how those might work together to best advantage.

Another consideration is that readers (and consequently, publishers) want to see at least one unpublished “exclusive” story in a collection. While when assembling my first, I had quite a few unpublished stories available to choose from, but because for the past several years I’ve been publishing stories as fast as I could write them, this time I had to create something new. I reached a stage where the collection was ready to go, except first I had to write something new and hold it aside for the book. I could’ve done more than one new, exclusive story, but the book was already pretty long, so one was enough.

Lee FormanLEE FORMAN: My novella, Zero Perspective, published recently. Putting this book together was actually a surprise. My original intention for the story was just that—a short story. I didn’t set out to make it a book at first, but the story kept growing and ideas continued worming their way onto the page. As I grew an affinity for the characters I started experimenting with them to see what they would do. I didn’t know where the story would go or how it would end, but once it reached a certain length the idea of making it a book came to me. I’d been working on another project intended to be a novel, but wasn’t happy with how it came out and decided to re-write the entire thing. Since Zero Perspective was going so smoothly, I decided to focus my efforts on that and publish it first. One of the biggest challenges was trying to meet a set deadline. There was an opportunity to promote the book at a local event and I didn’t want to miss it. I dealt with lost packages three times while proofing the book and creating promotional materials. I met the deadline within only a few days.

LORI TITUS: This is a book that I’ve been waiting to write for a long time. Back when I first started writing The Marradith Ryder Series, I had an idea for another set of characters, existing in the same world. I wanted the characters to be older, harder, and a lot messier than the teenage heroine and her crew in Hunting in Closed Spaces.

In Soul Bonded, the main character is Natasha Taylor. She owns a small business, cares for an ailing mother, and between the two doesn’t have much time for a life of her own. She’s in a financial bind. There’s only two choices; take out a loan on her family home to save her business and possibly risk losing both, or close the store. Worse than that, her mother’s early onset Alzheimer’s has gotten to the point she may soon need to be put into a nursing home.

Natasha is a witch, and her family has had dealings with the supernatural. Particularly her deceased father, Ezekiel. He was a former priest who left the church but never stopped performing exorcisms.

Enter Henry Pollard, an enigmatic businessman with a proposition: give up part of her soul for a number of years, and work for a firm that deals in demon contracts. In return, her mother will be returned to health and her financial problems solved.

This novel is the beginning of a possible series. It’s really about the line between what we say we’ll do and how far we can bend the rules of our personal ethics. Natasha has to tread and sometimes cross the line of right and wrong to get what she needs and wants.

The biggest challenge to writing this book was scheduling. I had several other projects that were slated for completion first and a few other projects in progress when I started it. I’m happy that I was able to pull it off!

Gemma FilesGEMMA FILES: Well. I’m supposed to be writing a new novel—Nightcrawling, for ChiZine Publications—and I am, though it’s taking longer than I expected. Like Experimental Film, it draws on aspects of my own history, probably plumbing a much more traumatic time period, yet I’d somehow managed to convince myself it would be easier this time around! Anyhow, it’s not, so I’m taking a slight hiatus from banging my head against it to write a book of essays about horror culture instead, for CZP’s new nonfiction line (Dark Comforts, which starts by taking the usual non-horror fan question—ie, “Isn’t real life horrible enough for you?”—and answering it: “Yes, which is why I decompress by enjoying horror I can actually control.”)

That said, my “new book” right now would probably be Drawn Up From Deep Places, from Trepidatio, which is really a collection of older short fiction (much like the collection I have coming out at some point later on from Cemetery Dance, called Dark Is Better). It’s a sort of companion to my first Trepidatio collection, Spectral Evidence, which was published earlier this year. In both cases, the most challenging thing about putting the books together was going through all the stuff I’ve written since my first two collections (Kissing Carrion and The Worm in Every Heart, released almost twenty years ago) and seeing how it might go together. Luckily, there are stories in both books which share the same characters and make a sort of story cycle of their own if read in order.

In Spectral Evidence, those stories involve the Cornish Sisters and A-Cat Chatwin, two monster-killers (one half-monster) and a demon-descended holler witch who meet in jail, help each other escape then keep running into each other, but there’s only three of them and the rest of the stories—though equally chick-heavy—are about very different sets of oddballs operating within a dark urban paranormal contemporary universe like the one from my book We Will All Go Down Together. In Drawn Up From Deep Places, meanwhile, things are A) a bit more historical and B) a bit more dude-centric. The two story-cycles threaded throughout it either play around in the same Weird Western world from my Hexslinger series or involve two magician-pirates and a witch directly related to WWAGDT‘s Five-Family Coven. And…that’s the pitch, basically.

There’s a new collection of my poetry coming out soon too (Invocabulary, from Aqueduct Press), full of witchcraft, gods and monsters and monster-gods, because that is how I roll. So in other words, I’m reaping the rewards of my success, and it frankly rocks. My main challenge is thus the extremely first world problem of trying to meet too many deadlines because “too many” people I respect and want to work with want stuff from me. That and the eternal struggle against my own body (insomnia, peri-menopause, anxiety), my son’s recent transfer to high school, plus the general current flaming trash fire of global reality. Etc.

Most authors have certain ideas or concepts they return to over and over. What themes interest you most as a writer, and how do those themes play into your current book?

Soul BondedLORI TITUS: Family and loyalty are big themes in my writing and I return to both of those here. The way we act in the closest of our relationships really informs how we live our lives. I love playing with the consequences involved when love or familial ties are at stake.

LEE FORMAN: I tend to write a lot of creature stories and dark, emotive fiction. I find them thoroughly enjoyable to create. I grew up loving horror films with monsters and all things inhuman. They’ve been my favorite aspect of horror film and literature as long as I can remember. These themes worked great for Zero Perspective, as they allowed me to incorporate both concepts into the horror / sci-fi combination.

GEMMA FILES: “Monster pride” is a concept I come back to a lot: the idea that maybe the ways in which we’re broken and odd and freakish—the qualities that make us pariahs or monsters according to “normal” standards—are the very things which prepare us to not break when true monstrosity comes on the scene. I’m a big fan of characters like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, for example, who knows he’s supposed to be the Great Beast of the Apocalypse but nevertheless says “screw THAT shit” and fights the same cosmic horrors he’s kin to instead, partially out of sheer perversity. My favourite gods have always been Loki and all the other tricksters, shape-shifters and thieves who can straddle several liminal spaces at once, powered as much by black humour as by any sort of thirst for revenge or victory. And while I’m capable of appreciating how difficult choosing to be good really is, it’s the scoundrels, villains and antiheroes who remain my very favourites. I’m interested in people who pay prices, who go through hell and come out changed (maybe for the better, maybe not), who make their own wounds into weapons.

Part of this probably comes out of having spent a good portion of my life thinking I was just inherently “bad” somehow, unfixable, weird, unable to bring myself up to code; giving birth to a boy with special needs sort of helped in that regard, especially once I realized that if people had been looking for autism in girls at all when I was the age he is now, I might have gotten an Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis. But then again, part of this probably also just comes from being female, geeky, angry and neuroatypical. Of feeling like everything I encountered socially was a joke or an attack, a total chore, and just not realizing the reason it did was because I was probably channeling my social intelligence through a part of my brain usually meant for doing math problems.

So yeah, I have a lot of investment in the idea that people who think they aren’t good for much may eventually discover they’re meant for something special, or at least for something particular. Does it mean that everything bad or wrong they ever did is forgiven? Not necessarily. Does it mean they’re good and perfect now they’ve discovered their purpose in life? Depends on the purpose, I guess. But I do like finding ways for my characters to love at least other people, even if they can never entirely love themselves. And become proud of whatever monster they happen to be, too, if only because that IS what they are, after all. No other way around it.

DOUNGJAI GAM: for me, the themes I keep coming back to are fear, love, sorrow, revenge, being haunted, and their motivating factors. as I alluded to in the previous question, in the time period I was writing the pieces for my collection, there was a lot going on: in a fourteen month span, there were at least seven deaths that hit me hard (the worst one being my brother’s sudden death); I went through a separation and eventual divorce and then unexpectedly fell in love; there were a few hard lessons learned. I joked with my editor about having the book subtitled, “stories of love and death,” because that’s like 90% of the collection.

The Human AlchemyMICHAEL GRIFFIN: For me the themes I’ve returned to repeatedly have come about without my having intentionally tried to make them a particular focus. I’ve just kept circling around and around certain elements due to my own obsession or compulsion. People have pointed out that most of my stories have a major focus on relationships, often in a state of breakdown or disconnection, as well as feelings like frustrated desire. Many of my characters are creative people. Also certain geographic places have recurred in my work, especially the Portland area, the Oregon coast and Mt. Hood.

One aspect of place that really interests me is following a character who departs from their usual, comfortable place, their home, and goes to some new, different place, which shifts their equilibrium and makes every moment a new discovery, sometimes full of wonder, and other times bringing uncertainty or fear.

I only recently came to understand that I often follow this pattern where a main character leaves a place they’re familiar with and goes to a new, special place. In some cases, as in “The Smoke Lodge,” the place isn’t unfamiliar to the main character but it’s unfamiliar to the reader, and there’s one or more other characters who make the journey of discovery at the same time.

ANYA MARTIN: Definitely, yes, though those themes have evolved over my writing life. For this first collection, all the stories deal with relationships to some extent or another. Not all the stories have explicit “monsters,” vis-à-vis “Grass,” but I do find that “monstrous” behavior by humans and its impact on others can sometimes be explored more effectively through a lens other than realism. Otherwise, I can’t say I did this on purpose but almost all my protagonists are women, except a male dog and a gargoyle, and even in those two stories, there’s a central female character. I am sure I will write a male protagonist when that makes sense for a story, but there has been so much male point-of-view fiction that I don’t see any rush just to prove anything. Finally if the collection has a “theme song,” it would be “Illusions” by Frederick Hollander, sung by Marlene Dietrich in the film A Foreign Affair (1948). I wanted to quote its lyrics at the front of the book but it’s always complicated and can be expensive to get permissions. It’s easy to find on YouTube if you want to give it a listen.

CALVIN DEMMER: There are definitely certain themes I return to, but I also try and push myself to explore new things. At the moment, I do seem to focus on the evil humanity can do. Even when my stories have monsters or other dark cosmic happenings, I do tend to have characters that walk a fine line between good and evil. I’ve often explored how love can create some extreme scenarios, the loss of innocence, or how continuous struggling can lead people to do things that don’t seem to fit their character. The sea also played quite a role in my latest book, mainly because I think it has a certain mystique that is interesting to play with.

CHRISTA CARMEN: The themes that interest me to the point where I return to them over and over are society’s treatment of those suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues, the way individuals themselves react to struggling with these issues, persistent misogyny in the world today, the concept of redemption, or at least, of second chances, how humans deal with death and grief, and why men just don’t seem capable of trusting their girlfriends, wives, sisters, mothers, and mistresses, etcetera, when these women say that something is not right, or when they beg not to go into that isolated cabin in the woods. These themes play into my collection in that I try to approach them from disparate angles. The characters suffering from addiction in Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked are numerous and varied. They are regretful ghosts, broken mothers, desperate young women, and reanimated Deadites.

It is important for me to tell the stories of characters who are struggling with or have struggled with addiction because I have been privy to so many of these stories in the real world. The people who want to vilify those suffering from addiction project the same story onto everyone: they are bad, lazy, selfish people who knew the risks when they first used drugs, did so anyway, and so deserve their lot in life. Sadly, many individuals tasked with helping those struggling with substance abuse also assign the same stories to the sufferers. But everyone’s path into addiction is different, as is their path out. What that means is that their stories are profoundly unique, and I’ve yet to hear a story that wasn’t worth sharing. This insight has led me to want to explore themes of addiction and recovery within my fiction, believing as I do, that those characters will have rich, interesting, albeit sometimes tragic lives to lead.

I’ve also found the idea of second chances worth exploring in my fiction because the concept of second chances in the real world is such a tricky one. Our society is based on a very unjust, nonsensical system of who is deserving of a second chance versus who is not. Ultimately, the reward of pursuing any theme that really speaks to you as a writer is in the journey itself, the exploration that takes place over the course of writing a story. I’m certain I will tackle the themes I’ve discussed here in other stories in the future, and who’s to say if that path will look anything like the one that led me to the pieces in Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked?

So that’s part one in our interview series! Join us again next week as we discuss book covers and the future of horror and weird fiction!

Happy reading!

October Author Roundtable Series Coming Soon!

Happy October! For this wonderful month, wow, oh wow, do I have a treat for you! For the rest of October, I’ll be featuring a roundtable interview of eight fabulous authors, all of whom have new releases out this year!

Ever since I started doing the author roundtable series for Women in Horror Month, I’ve become very fond of the idea of the group interview. It’s a perfect way to highlight multiple authors at once while also keeping this blog lively with new content.  (And guess what? I’ll be doing the Women in Horror roundtable again in February, so if you like this format, you’ll have lots more where this came from!)

So without further adieu, here are the eight amazing authors who will be part of this month’s roundtable series!

Gemma FilesFormerly a film critic, journalist, screenwriter and teacher, Gemma Files has been an award-winning horror author since 1999. She has published two collections of short work (Kissing Carrion and The Worm in Every Heart), two chap-books of speculative poetry (Bent Under Night and Dust Radio), a Weird Western trilogy (the Hexslinger series—A Book of Tongues, A Rope of Thorns and A Tree of Bones), a story-cycle (We Will All Go Down Together: Stories of the Five-Family Coven) and a stand-alone novel (Experimental Film, which won the 2016 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel and the 2016 Sunburst award for Best Adult Novel). Most are available from ChiZine Publications. She has two new story collections from Trepidatio (Spectral Evidence and Drawn Up From Deep Places), one upcoming from Cemetery Dance (Dark Is Better), and a new poetry collection from Aqueduct Press (Invocabulary). Find her online at her blog.

Lori TitusLori Titus is a pet lover and cynic who is simultaneously a hopeless romantic. She lives in California and enjoys crafting dark little novels and stories that (hopefully) surprise and tantalize. In between writing sprints and coffee breaks you can find her on Twitter or Instagram as Loribeth215. Check out her latest on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lori-Titus/e/B00450JMMI/.

Christa CarmenChrista Carmen’s work has been featured in myriad anthologies, ezines, and podcasts, including Unnerving Magazine, Fireside Fiction, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 2,  Outpost 28 Issues 2 & 3, Tales to Terrify, Lycan Valley Press Publications’ Dark Voices, Third Flatiron’s Strange Beasties, and Alban Lake’s Only the Lonely. Her debut collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, is available now from Unnerving. Find her online at her website.

Calvin DemmerCalvin Demmer is a South African dark fiction author. His debut collection, The Sea Was a Fair Master, was released in June 2018. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at www.calvindemmer.com or follow him on Twitter @CalvinDemmer.

doungjai gamdoungjai gam is the author of  glass slipper dreams, shattered, a collection of flash fiction and poetry. her short fiction and poetry has appeared in LampLight, Distant Dying Ember, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Wicked Haunted, Tough, and Lost Highways. born in Thailand, she currently resides in Connecticut with author Ed Kurtz and their cat Oona. Find her online at her author site.

Lee FormanLee Forman is a writer and editor, and journalist from the Hudson Valley, NY. His fascination with the macabre began in childhood, watching old movies and reading everything he could get his hands on. He’s a third-generation horror fanatic, starting with his grandfather who was a fan of the classic Hollywood Monsters. His work has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, websites, and podcasts. He’s an editor for Sirens Call Publications and writes, edits, and is an administrator for the horror fiction website PenoftheDamned.com. He’s a regular contributor of non-fiction articles for Living Paranormal Magazine, and he often writes for two podcasts: The Lift and The Wicked Library. His debut novella, Zero Perspective is available from Amazon and other retailers, as well as a collection of short fiction titled Fragments of a Damned Mind. When he’s not crafting horrifying creatures and tales of terror, he spends his time playing guitar and writing music. For more information and a list of publications go to www.leeformanauthor.com

Michael GriffinMichael Griffin’s books include a novel, Hieroglyphs of Blood and Bone (Journalstone, 2017), short fiction collections The Lure of Devouring Light (Word Horde, 2016) and The Human Alchemy (Word Horde, 2018). His stories have appeared in magazines like Apex and Black Static, and the anthologies Looming Low, Eternal Frankenstein, The Children of Old Leech and the Shirley Jackson Award winner The Grimscribe’s Puppets. Find him online at his author site.

Anya MartinAnya Martin’s debut collection, Sleeping with the Monster, is coming autumn 2018 from Lethe Press. Her novella Grass, illustrated by Jeanne D’Angelo, was a Dim Shores limited edition chapbook, and her play Passage to the Dreamtime, illustrated by Kim Bo Jung, was published by Dunhams Manor Press. Her fiction has appeared in such anthologies and magazines as Tales from a Talking Board, Looming Low, Eternal Frankenstein, Cthulhu Fhtagn!, Giallo Fantastique, Cassilda’s Song, Xnoybis #2, Resonator: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond, Borderlands 6, Mantid and Womanthology: Heroic. She co-produces, with host Scott Nicolay, The Outer Dark podcast, featuring interviews with contemporary Weird fiction authors, on This Is Horror. Find her at www.anyamartin.com and on Twitter at @anya99.

So those are our incredible authors for this month! Check in again next week when the interview series officially commences!

Happy reading!

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order for THE RUST MAIDENS

So my debut novel, The Rust Maidens, is due out later this year from Trepidatio Publishing, which has me way too giddy for words. And you know what else has me giddy? The fact that the cover is officially here and ready to be revealed!

Drum roll please!

The Rust Maidens

The cover is illustrated by British Fantasy Award winner Daniele Serra, and I’m so swoony over it. The artwork absolutely captures the strange desolation of the novel, and seriously, look at that creepy factory and lonesome Rust Maiden! I’m one very over-the-moon writer right here!

Also, in other exciting news, the pre-order link is now up at the JournalStone website! The updated release date is November 16th, which means you’ve still got four more months of me very happily promoting this book all over the internet before it officially hits the proverbial shelves. Plus, The Rust Maidens is also up on Goodreads, so please head on over there to add it to your to-read list if you’re so inclined!

Eeeeeee!!! I have a debut novel coming out soon! Hooray!

Upcoming Releases, Readercon, and The Rust Maidens: A Long Overdue Update!

It’s been a busy few months, and as these things often go, I’ve sadly neglected my beloved blog far too much this year. That being said, I have updates—several of them, in fact—so let’s get to it, before a shiny, writerly object distracts me again, and I wander off elsewhere.

Trepidatio PublishingThe Rust Maidens
First and foremost, I have a novel coming out this year! My debut novel, as it happens! And it’s getting some press, too! The Rust Maidens recently appeared on a horror lineup list for Library Journal’s July cover story, and this inspired several people to tell me they didn’t even know I had a novel coming out. So yeah, I should probably work on promotion a bit more. Let’s give it a whirl now, shall we?

The Rust Maidens is forthcoming from Trepidatio Publishing, an imprint of JournalStone, and to be honest, Becky Spratford at Library Journal had a much more succinct synopsis for it than I’ve been giving, so here’s her quote: “The Rust Maidens [is] a story told in two chilling time lines. In 1980 Cleveland, young girls are transforming into grotesque creatures right before everyone’s eyes, and in the present, a now-grown woman is coming to terms with her part in the horrific events.”

The release date has been updated for November, so if you’re a reviewer who’s interested in an advance review copy, let me know, as the arcs will be ready ASAP.

Look at that! I just properly promoted. This blog post is going swimmingly so far, right? (Please nod at home to keep me encouraged.)

Readercon
Next week, we’ll be heading up to Boston (or technically just outside of it) for Readercon! I won’t be there in any official capacity, which means if you want to find me, it will probably be best to check the gloomiest corners of the hotel. (I was going to say “spiderweb-filled corners,” but the convention is at a Marriott, so there likely won’t be nearly enough free-range spiders there for my taste. But hey, you can’t get everything in life.) Oh, and I bought a really glittery black dress for the occasion, one that can best be described as “Disco Goth,” so feel free to use that as a marker for locating me as well. Just follow the trail of morose sparkles!

Seriously, though, I’m really looking forward to attending Readercon, and I’m usually pretty friendly, in particular once I’ve had my morning coffee, so definitely say hi if you see me!

Forthcoming Fiction
Suspended in Dusk 2Other than the upcoming release of The Rust Maidens, I’ve got some short fiction set to make its debut in the world very soon. Suspended in Dusk 2 will be out later this month and is already available for pre-order. In true stealth fashion, I managed to sneak my way into a stellar table of contents that includes Ramsey Campbell, Paul Tremblay, Sarah Read, Stephen Graham Jones, and Damien Angelica Walters, among others. My horror story, “An Elegy for Childhood Monsters,” follows two sisters who must fight off a creature who comes after them night after night in their room, and this one is truly among my favorites I’ve ever written, so I’m super eager to see it out in the wild!

Chiral Mad 4 will be out soon as well! It’s another completely fabulous table of contents, which includes my dark fantasy collaboration with Emily B. Cataneo, “In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire.” That novella is all about witchcraft, ballet, and the price we pay for pursuing our dreams. Once again, it’s crazy to be lucky enough to share the pages with so many luminaries of the genre, and I’m downright giddy for that release too.

I’ve got a couple other stories in the pipeline, though I’m not sure I’m authorized to discuss those quite yet, so I will go all secret agent now and tell you to stay tuned. So yeah, stay tuned! Semi-regular updates returning soon to this blog!

And that’s all I’ve got for now! It’s been an exciting summer, and it’s not over yet!

Happy reading!

The Final Girl: Interview with Claire C. Holland

Welcome back! Today, I’m thrilled to feature author Claire C. Holland. Her debut poetry collection, I Am Not Your Final Girl, which was released in February, absolutely knocked my socks off, and I’ve been raving about the book ever since. So naturally, I had to invite Claire on my blog to talk more about her fantastic new book!

Recently, we discussed Claire’s inspiration for I Am Not Your Final Girl as well as her first experience with horror films and her future plans as an author.

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

Claire C. HollandI’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My mom is a reading specialist and she deeply encouraged my writing from a young age, and my dad is also a writer so of course he did as well. It’s one of the only things I’ve ever felt I was really good at, so I’m not sure I had a choice. I’ve been a freelance writer for a long time now, but this is my first foray into self-publishing; it’s been exciting!

My favorite authors are the ones who write prose as if they’re writing poetry – I love beautiful language. Janet Fitch, Francesca Lia Block, Laura Kasischke, Nova Ren Suma, Joyce Carol Oates. They’re incredible wordsmiths.

Your marvelous poetry collection, I Am Not Your Final Girl, recently debuted to fantastic reviews. Tell me a little bit about your process in selecting and curating this fantastic group of poems about the female characters of horror. How did you decide which characters to include, and how did you settle on the order of poems in the book?

Thank you so much for your kind words. I started writing the book because I was so consumed by the news surrounding the 2016 presidential election; I felt powerless and angry, and it felt natural to channel those feelings through some of my favorite women characters from horror. I’ve always found the concept of the final girl to be inspiring, and there are so many to choose from today, it was more a matter of narrowing the characters down at first.

The book is split into four sections – Assault, Possession, Destruction, and Transformation – with the characters growing fiercer and the poems becoming more empowered as you read through them. I think I wrote it that way because I was making my own journey through grief and helplessness to a stronger, more proactive state.

How did you first come across the concept of the Final Girl? What was it about this archetype that drew you in?

I’m not sure when I first heard the term “final girl,” but I remember reading Carol J. Clover’s Men, Women, and Chainsaws when I was younger and finding it a revelation. Even if I didn’t realize it as a teenager, horror was there for me at a time when most of society wasn’t truly there for women at all. Horror gave me these tough, badass women to root for and emulate, and it showed me that there isn’t one “correct” way to be a woman. My favorite characters are often anti-heroines or “unlikable” women, which can be difficult to find outside of horror (though the landscape for complex female characters is getting better). In short, horror and the final girl concept gave me a diverse range of female role models that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I also love that the final girl trope continues to evolve as more and more women enter the horror genre.

Do you have a personal favorite piece in the book? Conversely, was there one that was the most difficult to craft?

The first and last poems in the book – “Rosemary” and “Sophia” – are probably my favorites because they just felt right almost as soon as they were on the page. They were actually the first and last poems that I wrote, and it felt very full-circle to come to that final poem. It’s about Sophia from the movie A Dark Song, and she’s a character that finally achieves a sense of peace after losing her child and going through this incredibly arduous and frightening process to see him again. Corny as it may sound, I felt a real sense of gratitude and serenity after finishing that poem.

The hardest poems to write were the ones in the “Transformation” section of the book. I wanted the final section to be an encouraging call-to-action, but I wasn’t entirely at that point, mentally, when I was writing all of those poems. It was easy, for example, to write the “Destruction” poems because I had so much anger to vent; when it came to doing something about that anger and thinking about the next steps, though, that was harder.

What’s the first horror film you remember seeing, and what was your reaction to it?

I think my first “horror memory” is walking in on my family watching Scream one night when I was supposed to be in bed. I was probably eight years old, and I walked in during the opening, right at the moment when Drew Barrymore’s boyfriend is murdered by disembowelment. I was absolutely horrified and disturbed, and did not handle it well (there was a lot of crying). On the other hand, I remember loving Hitchcock’s The Birds as a kid. Just ask my parents – “pecked to death by birds” was my favorite would-you-rather scenario for years.

I Am Not Your Final GirlI absolutely love the cover design of your book! It looks like a perfect relic of the 80s and 90s VHS heyday of horror! Who designed the cover, and how did the artwork develop?

Thank you! I drew the cover myself and then edited it in Photoshop. I knew I wanted it to be reminiscent of old VHS horror movies and pulp novels, so I culled inspiration from a bunch of different film posters like Halloween and Repulsion, among many others. A little fun fact is that the girl on the cover is loosely modeled after Amber from Green Room. Editing the drawing was the much more difficult part, as I have little Photoshop experience. Luckily my husband is extremely talented in digital media and he walked me through a lot of the editing process. I also consulted a ridiculous number of online tutorials.

I know it’s very early to ask (and almost a cliche when it comes to horror), but are you considering a sequel to I Am Not Your Final Girl? Even if you’re only thinking of a sequel hypothetically, are there any Final Girls you would like to include in a follow-up?

There are absolutely some final girls I wish I could have included, but couldn’t fit in for whatever reason: Ginny from Friday the 13th Part 2, Sidney from Scream, Erin from You’re Next. And of course there are fantastic new horror movies with tough female characters coming out all the time these days, so I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to fill up another book with them. That being said, it’s not in my plans right now to write a sequel. I have another horror-related idea I’m currently fleshing out (which still involves a strong female element), so I’m hoping that might become my next book of poetry. I want to keep going with the themes of I Am Not Your Final Girl, but I also want to mix things up a bit.

What other projects are you currently working on?

As I said above, I’m tentatively diving into another feminist horror poetry project, but I have a lot to think about before it’s a real idea. It’s very different from I Am Not Your Final Girl in terms of form, but I want to try something new. A friend of mine also pitched what I think is a great idea for a horror podcast, so I might make a little foray into the podcasting world (purely for fun). I’m mainly excited to keep meeting people in the horror and poetry communities through my work and the work of others. It’s been wonderful to connect with so many talented people who are passionate about the same things I am.

Tremendous thanks to Claire C. Holland for being this week’s featured author. Find her online at her website as well as on Twitter!

Happy reading!

 

AND HER SMILE WILL UNTETHER THE UNIVERSE is on the Preliminary Bram Stoker Awards Ballot!

So I’m incredibly surprised and honored to share that my JournalStone collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, made it on the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot.

Wow. Seriously.

Now it’s important to note that this is not a nomination, as it is only the preliminary ballot; voting on the official nominees starts this week, with the final ballot being announced in February. But to make it this far is beyond humbling and thrilling.

It’s been a couple months since I’ve talked too much about the collection on this blog, so I thought I would take a moment and share a few quotes about the book. Because turning it over to reviewers is probably better than me blathering on, right? (And really, I’m still so freaking out excited about the preliminary ballot that I’ll probably just blather right now.)

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe“I loved this collection. It announces the emergence of a new writer with a strong and distinctive voice, one who is unafraid to take risks, and I can’t wait to see where Gwendolyn Kiste’s wayward talent takes her next. ” — Peter Tennant at Black Static

“Kiste’s collection of short fiction And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe is exactly the book that tears you in two… Imaginative, immersive, emotional.” — The Horror Review

“As it happens often in this collection the unlikely digs in its nails and becomes a fact, something to lose, or burn up. There are fairy tale vibes, twisted and reimagined for tales of death, and rebirth, and mystery… Gwendolyn Kiste offers such an original and wrenching distribution it would be difficult to compare her to many others.” — Unnerving Magazine

“An almost mythical ride through the Weird, blending and deconstructing different themes to create some powerful tales and lasting images.” — GreyDogTales.com

“Kiste has a real gift for pulling reality inside out in her fiction, taking situations, fairytales, and storylines that might seem everyday or familiar at first glance, and then twisting them into uniquely imagined, dark, and haunting tales.” — Maria Haskins

The iMailer newsletter from HWA already went out earlier this week, which included a special link to download And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, but just in case you missed that, it bears repeating: if you’re an Active or Lifetime member and would like to read my collection, please email me at gwendolyn@gwendolynkiste.com, and I would be thrilled to send you a copy of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe!

Good luck to everyone on the preliminary ballot! It’s an amazing roster of authors, and I’m so incredibly honored to be among so many horror creators that I admire!

Happy reading!

The Year that Was: 2017 Award Eligibility Post

2017 is almost over, and it was, to say the least, a very, very rough one. These past twelve months went so slowly and painfully that it might as well have been in dog years, not real years. That being said, 2017 was also filled with landmarks for my writing career. That’s rather discomfiting, considering the state of the world, but I guess something positive is better than nothing positive. Now is as good a time as any to take stock of where I’ve been and where I’m going. So here goes with a 2017 Award Eligibility post!

First off, two very big accomplishments in my writing (as in the biggest achievements so far): my first two standalone books were released this year! My debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, came out through JournalStone in April, and has been called “ravishingly beautiful and profoundly haunting” (Maria Haskins) and “not just a good book, but a very special one” (Mike Thorn). Really. People have said those things about it. To be honest, the praise for the book has been so kind and positive that it’s still pretty overwhelming. So thank you again to anyone who picked up a copy. It is greatly, greatly appreciated.

And Her Smile Will Untether the UniverseIn addition to And Her Smile, last month saw the release of my dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, out from Broken Eye Books. It’s all about the Marys of folklore and their strange and increasingly dire afterlives. This is my first work of long fiction, and it’s also been well-received so far. Nick Cato at The Horror Fiction Review called it a “highly imaginative novella [that] features some incredible imagery, gorgeous prose, and a satisfying finale that could easily lead to a sequel,” while author S.J. Budd said “this is a tale you will want to read again and again.” Several readers have compared it to Neil Gaiman’s work, which is crazy exciting and super, super humbling.

Pretty Marys All in a RowIn the short fiction department, 2017 saw eleven original short stories of mine make their debuts. Five of those pieces appeared in my collection, and six were featured in a variety of magazines, anthologies, and other outlets. So for the curious, let’s do a breakdown of those tales, along with links where you can find them and a little bit about each one.

Original stories from And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe:

“The Lazarus Bride”
A struggling couple must confront their own failures as well as an all-consuming fire on a wedding night that won’t end.

“And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe”
A lonely fan discovers the work of a long-forgotten actress, only to realize that she might be reaching out to him through her films almost fifty years after her death.

“Skin like Honey and Lace”
In a mostly deserted carnival town, a young woman with a monstrous secret must cope with a destructive former lover as she desperately tries to build a new life in a dying city

“The Five-Day Summer Camp”
Two sisters head to a seemingly jubilant summer camp where smiles, obedience, and fascistic rhetoric are prized above all else.

“By Now, I’ll Probably Be Gone”
A woman’s sweet ode to her lover slowly sours with the revelation of his possible transgressions.

Hardened HeartsStories released in other venues:

40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover” (Hardened Hearts, December 2017)
Ghastly faculty parties and an unfinished dissertation prove to be the least of a graduate student’s problem when she takes up with a married lover who turns out to be more monstrous than he first appears.

Songs to Help You Cope When Your Mom Won’t Stop Haunting You and Your Friends” (Black Static #58, April 2017)
Leigh just wants to be left alone to mourn the death of her mother. But sometimes, ghosts have other plans. Set in Cleveland in 1980, Leigh copes with her daily haunting through the favorite (and least favorite) music she and her mother shared.

Black Static 58The Twelve Rules of Etiquette at Miss Firebird’s School for Girls” (Mithila Review, January 2017)
New students at Miss Firebird’s School must leave their broomsticks, capes, and bewitched skull souvenirs at home… or else.

Green with Scales, Gray with Tar” (Gaia: Shadow and Breath, Volume 3, March 2017)
After a young girl comes face to face with a monster, she must learn to accept her unlikely birthright as the fearful women in her village both revere and shun her.

A Pocket Guide for Mistress Horne’s Home for Weary Travelers” (Utter Fabrication: Historical Accounts of Unusual Buildings and Structures, September 2017)
In need of an escape from the everyday oppression of the world? Then Mistress Madison Horne might just have a room waiting for you. That is, if you don’t mind sharing her home with a blood-splattered corvid and a Victrola that plays on its own.

A Red Ring for a Winter’s Eve” (The Lift, August 2017)
On the day of her best friend’s funeral, a teenage wallflower makes a terrible choice that leads to an unexpected reckoning.

So those are my brand-new stories for 2017. If you’re nominating for any awards (Stokers, Nebulas, Hugos, etc.) and would like a copy of any or all of these stories, please send me a message, either on social media or at my Contact page. I will be happy to send the digital versions over to you in a hurry!

Looking ahead, next year should see the release of my debut novel, The Rust Maidens, along with “In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire,” my dark fantasy collaborative novella with Emily B. Cataneo that will appear in Chiral Mad 4. I’ve also got several short stories that are already slated for their debuts sometime in the next year, including a coming-of-age horror tale in the star-studded anthology Suspended in Dusk and a fairy tale flash fiction piece in Kaleidotrope. As always, keep watching this page as well as my social media for any updates on these and other releases.

And with that, happy reading, and farewell, 2017!

PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW Now Available for Pre-order!

So you may have heard (possibly from this very blog) that I have a novella coming out later this year. I am so super stoked for this. Pretty Marys All in a Row is my first work of longer fiction to makes its debut in the world, and that is completely thrilling and daunting and all sorts of other intense emotions. *cue confetti*

This particular story has lived with me for a long time. It revolves around the Marys of folklore and urban legends (think Bloody Mary and Resurrection Mary), and deals both with their origins in our nightmares as well as what happens when we start to forget them. I’ve loved urban legends since I was a kid, and I’ve wanted to write about them for years, so to be able to fold that love into my work in fairy tales, horror, and dark fantasy is a bit of a dream come true.

Another dream come true? The cover for the novella. Let’s take a gander at it, shall we?

Pretty Marys All in a RowSeriously. That’s my cover. I don’t know how I got so lucky. After adoring the cover for my collection, I really thought there was no chance I’d love my second cover just as much, but hey, here we are, and I couldn’t be happier. Major shout-out to Gawki for their stunning artwork. I honestly can’t swoon enough.

We’re in the home stretch before Pretty Marys is unleashed on readers. The tentative release date is November 28th, though that date may shift a bit as the cover is finalized with the printer. Otherwise, the novella is ready for the world. You can pre-order the book now over at the Broken Eye Books website, and you’ll also receive an advance digital copy.

To say I’m elated and honored about the release of this novella is such an understatement. It’s been an incredibly fantastic process working with editor Scott Gable of Broken Eye Books. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now: I am so fortunate to work with such great editors and presses. How one writer got as lucky as me, I’ll never know, but I’m thankful for it every day.

As we close in on the release date, I’ll of course be sharing more updates about the novella. In the meantime, if you’re on Goodreads, then feel free (*nudge nudge*) to add Pretty Marys All in a Row to your bookshelf. It does a writer’s heart good.

Happy reading!

PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW, My Debut Novella Coming Soon from Broken Eye Books

You might have seen the announcement earlier this week on the Broken Eye Books website, but if not, then allow me to share a very exciting update: my debut novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, is slated for release later this year!

Inspired by the Marys of folklore, this novella is part fairy tale, part horror story, and part one of those ideas that has lived with me for years (and I’m so happy to have finally been able to get it all down on paper). In this writer’s personal opinion, Pretty Marys is among the very, very best things I’ve ever created, so I’m thrilled that it will soon be shared with the world.

And here’s the official description to give you an even better idea of what it’s all about!

You’ll find her on a lonely highway, hitchhiking at midnight. She calls herself Rhee, but everyone else knows her by another name: Resurrection Mary. And when she’s transported home each night to a decrepit mansion on a lane to nowhere, she’s not alone.

In the antique mirror, call her name three times, and Bloody Mary will appear. Outside, wandering through a garden of poisonous flowers is Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary, a nursery rhyme come to gruesome life. Downstairs is another jump-rope rhyme—Mary Mack, forever conscripted to build her own coffin. And brooding in the corner with her horse skull is the restless Mari Lwyd.

They are the Marys, the embodiment of urban legend and what goes bump in the night. Every evening, they gather around the table and share nightmares like fine wine, savoring the flavors of those they’ve terrified.

But other than these brief moments together, the Marys are alone, haunting a solitary gloom that knows them better than they know themselves. That’s because they don’t remember who they were before—or even if there was a before. And worst of all, they don’t know how to escape this fate.

That is, until a moment of rage inspires Rhee to leap from the highway—and into the mirror with Bloody Mary. Suddenly, the Marys are learning how to move between their worlds, all while realizing how much stronger they are together.

But just when freedom is within their reach, something in the gloom fights back—something that isn’t ready to let them go. Now with her sisters in danger of slipping into the darkness, Rhee must unravel the mystery of who the Marys were before they were every child’s nightmare. And she’ll have to do it before what’s in the shadows comes to claim her for its own.

Broken Eye BooksIf you want to read more about the book and my inspiration in developing it, then be sure to head over to the Broken Eye Books site for the official announcement! And of course, tremendous thanks to editor Scott Gable for taking on this project!

Now as we move toward the fall release date, Patreon supporters of Broken Eye Books will receive the ebook first (likely in early September) with a wide release to everyone else down the road. So that means if you’re really eager to read Pretty Marys All in a Row along with all the other great releases available and forthcoming from Broken Eye Books, then consider becoming a supporter of their Patreon.

And naturally, expect me to be discussing Pretty Marys a whole lot more in the upcoming months. I can reveal that I’ve already seen a mock-up sketch of the tentative cover, and it’s incredibly beautiful and eerie. As soon as it’s finalized, I’ll be sure to share it here and promote the fantastic artist who’s designing it! It’s a very fortunate life to work with so many amazing editors, writers, and artists!

Happy reading!