Category Archives: Fiction

Electric Horror: Interview with Mackenzie Kiera

Welcome back! Today, I’m thrilled to feature author Mackenzie Kiera. With Lisa Quigley, she’s the host and creator of the award winning Ladies of the Fright podcast. Mackenzie’s new book, All You Need is Love and a Strong Electric Current, is out now with Unnerving.

Recently, Mackenzie and I discussed her inspiration as an author as well as her favorite parts of the writing process and what she’s got planned next.

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

I don’t remember not wanting to be a writer. Although, it was very important that I wasn’t only going to be a writer. See, I was afraid of people telling me: “you will never make any money as a writer” so I always paired ‘writer’ with ‘paleontologist’ or ‘archeologist’ or whatever science I was reading about. I was never concerned with if being a writer would make me money. My dad worked in advertising as a writer, so I knew it was possible. Just, no one else seemed to think so. Some of my favorite authors? Oh, man. Right now it’s got to be Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Alma Katsu, Grady Hendrix, Stephen Graham Jones, Rebecca Roanhorse, John Scalzi are my new shiny favorites—amazing people, all of them. A couple of books that I think will always sit on my shelf are the GOT series, Catch-22, Swan Song, Nos4A2, The Red Tent, Dante’s Inferno, and the Sookie Stackhouse series.

Congratulations on the release of your debut, All You Need is Love and a Strong Electric Current! What was the inspiration for this story, and how long did it take you to develop it?

Thank you. This happened in a couple of short bursts. I wrote the short story version on a dare in a sitting or two. I made it to the final round of a couple anthologies, but ultimately it was turned down because it was too graphic. I drawered it for a few years until Lisa turned me on to the possibility of sending a pitch to Eddie Generous over at Unnerving Press for the Rewind or Die series. At the time, my son was about five months old and I worked full time from home. I couldn’t imagine taking much else on, so I pitched CURRENT to Eddie, fully expecting for it to get turned down, and then I could at least say I tried, right? When he got back to me, he seemed pretty jazzed on the idea, which means I had to write the novella. I think it took me a couple of months? I drew heavily from some choice slashers Stephen Graham Jones told me to watch as slasher homework, and then, while I wrote, I was listening to the soundtrack to Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

What in particular draws you to horror fiction?

The truth. I think horror tells the truth in ways other genres can’t. For instance, after the traumatic birth of my son, I had debilitating anxiety and felt like unless I stayed in my son’s nursery that something large and toothy was waiting to eat him around every corner. I didn’t want company. Horror pulled me up. Horror had how I felt, but on the page. I read Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions and felt like I could breathe again. After a healthy dose of slashers, I felt a lot better. To me, horror is brain medicine. It lets me know that I’m not crazy, that monsters are real. But, horror also holds the secret that even though there are monsters in the world, they don’t always win.

You’ve written short fiction, and now with your new novella, you’ve also tackled longer fiction. How is your approach different or the same depending on the length of the work?

I actually truly hate writing short stories. I enjoy writing non-fiction or craft directed essays, but I struggle with the short fiction format. I’ve written novels (unpublished and probably for the better) so the novella form actually felt like a perfect length.

In addition to your fiction writing, you’re also co-host of Ladies of the Fright! How if at all has podcasting changed your approach to storytelling?

Oh, that’s a really good question. Considering I’ve been writing the whole time, I don’t think it has changed much. Our interviewing may change a bit, now that we can interview authors as authors ourselves, but considering the idea is to spotlight our guests, I can’t imagine much changing.

If forced to choose, which of the following is your favorite part of the writing process: developing a character’s voice, establishing mood and setting, or mapping out plot points?

Ha! Oh, the voice and plot points. I enjoy hearing how my characters speak and fine-tuning their quirks and favorite phrases. Plot points are fun too because I tend to map those out with a glass of wine late at night in one of those cheap drugstore composition notebooks.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am working on a new novella titled: The Attic Man and Madeline. It’s a possession story with a trope flip. Lots of demon sex, some intense black magic, and one crazy bitch. It’s been a fun time writing it, is what I’m saying. We also have some really great plans with the podcast, but that’s a secret!

Where can we find you online?

Best place to find me is on Twitter. I’m Kiera1Mackenzie. My website is MackenzieKiera.contently.com (although I’m not sure it’s 100% up to date) and then the podcast is Ladiesofthefright.com, and LOTFPod. Be sure to check out our blog as well! We have some new stuff happening in those corners.

Thank you! This was so much fun.

Huge thanks to Mackenzie Kiera for being part of this week’s author interview series!

Happy reading!

Withering and Wonderful: Interview with Ashley Dioses

Welcome back! Today I’m thrilled to spotlight author Ashley Dioses. Her brand-new poetry collection, The Withering, is due out soon from Jackanapes Press.

Recently, Ashley and I discussed her inspiration as an author, her awesome new book, and what she’s got planned next!

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

It seems I always wanted to be a writer. I don’t exactly know what triggered the exact moment, but I was writing short stories since elementary school. My dad was a writer and that’s probably where I got it from. I grew up reading J. R. R. Tolkein, Brian Jacques, and then later Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Edgar Allan Poe so those authors will always be some of my favorites. Later on I read Clark Ashton Smith and fell in love with his writing. Favorite contemporary writers include Nicole Cushing, Damien Angelica Walters, Christine Morgan, S. L. Edwards, and many others.

Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your poetry collection, The Withering. What can you share about the book?

Thank you! It is a collection of horror poetry from my teenage years. I wrote a lot of dark stuff during that time and that’s really when I started focusing poetry over other kinds of writing. It has 55 poems broken up into 4 sections. The themes for each section are nature horror, supernatural horror, psychological horror, and body or gore horror. There are ten full-page artworks by Mutartis Boswell, who also did the front and back covers. There’s also an introduction by John Shirley. I also include an afterword, a few notes on various poems, and a chronological list of the poems.

You write both poetry and fiction. How is your approach the same or different for each medium?

For poetry, all I need is an image or a line for me to take off and write a full poem. For fiction, I really need to be organized and have a plan. I need beginning, middle, and ending ideas before I can even start writing a story.

What draws you to horror? Do you remember the first horror film you saw or horror story you read?

My dad was a big fantasy and horror fan. When I was young he started me off by reading me fantasy stories which led me to reading them on my own. It didn’t take long though before he started getting me to read and watch horror. Probably one of the first horror films I saw was probably The Nightmare Before Christmas followed shortly by The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I also remember watching The Crow late at night in my room when I was supposed to be asleep. One of the first horror books I read, that I remember, is The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. I was also fascinated with witches at the same time (not that that has changed) so I got my hands on every book about witches I possibly could.

How if at all has living through 2020 shaped your writing?

It really hasn’t changed much except for the fact that I’ve written less this year than previous years. I’ve been focused on reading more to get fresh ideas.

If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: creating characters, establishing mood, or developing setting?

When it comes to fiction, I love creating characters. My favorite part is to create a believable person and give them ambitions and conflicts and personal demons they have to live with or get through. For poetry, it’s definitely establishing a mood. The atmosphere has to be perfect.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a collection of Gothic and Decadent poetry called Diary of Vampyress. The ‘diary’ belongs to the vampyress, Countess Nadia. The book opens up with a sonnet cycle based around her and her character. It currently has over 60 poems and is divided up into sections by subjects. After the sonnet cycle, the sections are Vampires and Devils, Witches and Werewolves, Daemons and Death, Other Dead, Halloween, Femme Fatales, The Seven Seals sonnet cycle, and Translations.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on various social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, but to really stay up-to-date with what I’m working on you’ll want to check out fiendlover.blogspot.com.

Tremendous thanks to Ashley Dioses for being this week’s featured author!

Happy reading!

Falling into Fiction: Submission Roundup for November 2020

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of great opportunities in November, so if you’re looking for a place to send your work, then one of these markets might be the perfect fit!

As always, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m simply spreading the word! Please direct your questions to their respective publisher.

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

Submission Roundup

Cemetery Gates Media
Payment: $500 on signing & $500 upon publication; 80/20 author-publisher royalty split
Length: 40,000 words and above
Deadline: Ongoing
What They Want: For their debut horror novel series, the editors are seeking debut horror novels.
Find the details here.

Luna Station Quarterly
Payment: $5/flat
Length: 500 to 7,000 words
Deadline: November 15th, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide range of speculative fiction from female-identifying authors.
Find the details here.

New Tales of Fairy Godmothers
Payment: .01/word
Length: 4,000 to 7,500 words
Deadline: November 15th, 2020
What They Want: The editor is seeking retellings and new stories about fairy godmothers.
Find the details here.

LampLight
Payment: .03/word for original fiction ($150 maximum); .01/word for reprints
Length: up to 7,000 words
Deadline: November 15th, 2020 (or until the Submittable portal closes)
What They Want: The editors are seeking dark, literary fiction of the weird, unsettling, and quiet horror variety.  
Find the details here.

In Darkness Delight: Fear the Future
Payment: .03/word ($150 maximum)
Length: 2,500 to 4,500 words preferred (up to 7,500 words will be considered)
Deadline: November 15th, 2020
What They Want: This Corpus Press anthology is seeking horror fiction with futuristic themes.
Find the details here.

FIYAH
Payment: .08/word for fiction; $50/flat for poetry
Length: Short fiction from 2,000 to 7,000 words & novelettes up to 15,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to Black authors, FIYAH is currently seeking fiction and poetry for their forthcoming unthemed issue.
Find the details here.

Planet Scumm
Payment: .02/word
Length: 2,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: January 10th, 2021
What They Want: Guest edited by Hailey Piper, this issue of the magazine is seeking speculative fiction stories specifically from cisgender women, transgender women, transgender men, non-binary people, and genderqueer people.
Find the details here.

Happy reading, and happy submitting!

RELEASE DAY: Boneset & Feathers is now available!

So today is the day! Boneset & Feathers has officially made its witchy debut in the world!

So many thanks to the amazing Scott Gable at Broken Eye Books for bringing this book into existence! It was such a wonderful experience working with Broken Eye again after the release of Pretty Marys All in a Row back in 2017. Also, tremendous thanks to gawki for their amazing cover art. Behold the cover in all its vibrant glory!

Pre-orders have started making their arrivals in readers’ homes, which is always an exciting thing for writers. If you ordered the book, please tag me in any pictures you post, as it will do my witchy little heart good to see them!

As for advance reviews, here are a few lovely quotes about the book from reviewers so far!

“Kiste casts a spell with this original and suspenseful horror story, but it holds more than meets the eye.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“A gorgeous book featuring magic, witches, ghosts and revenge turned sour.” — S.J. Budd of Come and Behold My Dark World

“Kiste is a versatile and engaging author making this book definitely one to check out. Recommended for fans of coming of age, witches, and more.” — Sci-Fi & Scary

“By the time you hurtle toward the epic conclusion, you will be wowed and left wanting more from this master storyteller and weaver of magic tales. Buy all of Gwendolyn Kiste’s books if you haven’t already.” — A.E. Siraki at Cemetery Dance

So just where can you find this strange little book with its ghost birds and witches and witchfinders? I’m glad you asked!

Boneset & Feathers at Amazon

Boneset & Feathers at Broken Eye Books

The ebook version is also on its way and will be available shortly as well!

As always, happy reading, and thank you so much to everyone who’s already ordered and supported this novel! I know 2020 has been rife with uncertainty, and today in particular is a very tense day, so for everyone who’s shared in my book’s release, I appreciate it so much more than you know!

Stay safe, and stay witchy!

Wicked Whimsy: Interview with Madeleine Swann

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight the talented Madeleine Swann! Madeleine is the author of Fortune Box and The Vine That Ate the Starlet, among other awesome works.

Recently, she and I discussed her inspiration as well as her favorite parts of the writing process!

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

I’ve always written in some form or other but stopped when I was working a boring job. Then, after a breakup around 2010/2011, it just hit me what was missing and I started taking it a lot more seriously.

I was always a big fan of Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, Haruki Murakami, Lewis Carroll, Dorothy Parker and Leonora Carrington

Congratulations on the release of your new book, The Vine That Ate the Starlet! What was the inspiration for it, and how long did it take you to write it?

Thank you so much! On and off I think it took about a year. I unintentionally wrote a prequel short story (which is on my YouTube channel) and found myself wondering what would happen to the characters after it finished. I still wonder, so I imagine I’d like to do a sequel at some point.

I watch a lot of silent films and really wanted to set something during the 20s. I mostly enjoy stories of glamorous flappers, weird horror or crime and Vine is a combination of them all.

Your collection, Fortune Box, was released from Eraserhead Press in 2018. What can you share about your process for the book?

Before I wrote Fortune Box I wrote a list of potential every day problems, like ant infestation, and a list of solutions, and jumbled them all up and picked out anything that sparked off an idea.

Your work has a wonderful balance of whimsy and menace. Are there other authors out there in particular that you look to for inspiration on striking this balance?

Thank you! Nicholas Day described my writing as malicious whimsy too and I love being known for that. I think the people that have most inspired me in recent years are the Russian absurdists like Gogol or Daniil Kharms. I love Kharms’ anti story thing, a big weird set up and anti climax. Another is The Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola, it’s malicious whimsy through and through, some very silly and very dark moments.

You’ve written both short fiction and longer fiction. Do you prefer writing one length of story to another? How is your approach different or the same depending on the length of the work?

I think you can usually kind of sense when a story is a flash fiction or longer piece of work, I’m not sure how, it’s like an instinct. With a flash I just start writing and see what happens, but anything longer I make lots of notes, and if it’s a novella I’ll also do an outline. If it’s set in the past I do a ton of research, I think that’s really important.

If forced to choose, what’s your favorite part of the writing process: crafting dialogue, developing characters, or establishing setting/mood?

I do enjoy dialogue, if you have the characters clear in your mind it can be a lot of fun.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m not allowed to say! I’m currently working on a novella, that’s about all I can tell you sorry!

Tremendous thanks to Madeleine Swann for being this week’s featured author! Find her online at her website as well as on Twitter and YouTube!

Happy reading!

Gloriously Gothic: Interview with Claire L. Smith

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight Claire L. Smith. Claire’s debut book, Helena, is out this month with Clash Books.

Recently, Claire and I discussed her inspiration as an author as well as how Gothic horror and visual art influence her writing.

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

Icebreakers, awesome!

I really wish I had this epic, super villain-like backstory to tell but this is tl;dr version.

I was fourteen and we were learning about ‘suspenseful writing’ in English class and my teacher gave me back my writing project with a pretty good mark and a note in the feedback section saying how much he enjoyed it. I was an average student at best so this was one of the few times I’d really excelled at something, let alone something that I had enjoyed doing. It was a big ‘what if?’ moment and it gave me that little bit of confidence and encouragement I needed to write outside of school assignments.

It seemed like such a small, insignificant thing but looking back on it, it really made an impact on me. It also makes me appreciate teachers more as well since they have so much opportunity to make a difference in kids’ lives.

Okay, favourite authors! Edgar Allan Poe is an all-time favourite, along with Angela Carter, Sylvia Plath, Mary Shelley and Charlotte Gilman Perkins.

Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your debut novella, Helena! What can you share about this book? How long did it take you to write it, and were there any surprises along the way?

Thank you!!

I can share that it’s coming out on October 13th from the lovely people at CLASH Books and that it’s about a mortician/funeral director named Helena who has the ability to see ghosts. However, this gift is more of a curse as a ruthless serial killer begins to upset the frigid, undead souls that haunt her whilst also drawing a large amount of suspicion towards her.

I’m too scared that I’ll give too much away so I’ll leave it at that.

I think it took me a good month and half to finish. It was one of those ideas I’d had in the back of my head for a while and I was desperate to get it down on paper (or word document in this case).

There were PLENTY of surprises to say the least. As I was writing it, I was having a really hard time and finishing the manuscript sort of became a part of the chaos. However, it was also a commitment to myself, a sort of promise that I wasn’t going to give up. So, the book is now a kind of physical remainder for me that light can come from dark times and that there is always a possibility for things to get better.

Your novella incorporates many Gothic elements. What draws you to Gothic horror in particular? Do you remember the first Gothic fiction you ever read or the first Gothic films that you saw?

Gothic horror is just a genre I really click with. I just love all the tropes and clichés of it. I also think it can be a very powerful genre. I remember reading books like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte or other similar works and just feeling so touched by the heroine’s story.

My introduction to the gothic horror genre was Edgar Allan Poe. I remember reading ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ in high school and was just enchanted by the tension and atmosphere of that piece. I think it also sparked my interest in horror in general, since I’d avoided it up until that point (I was the biggest scaredy cat as a kid). I then got into the works of the Bronte sisters, Mary Shelley and Charlotte Gilman Perkins, and before I knew it I was hooked! In regard to films, I think the first gothic film I saw was Crimson Peak and it remains one of my favourites.

In addition to your fiction, you’re also an artist. How if at all do your fiction and visual art intersect? How is your process different for each medium, and how is it the same?

Yes, I’ve actually just launched my Redbubble store which I’m really excited about. I definitely think that my fiction side and artist side intersect because I try to incorporate some storytelling aspects into my artwork and I love drawing inspiration from horror and fantasy genres.

I mostly work in ink and watercolour because I love the texture of those mediums, as well as some digital applications (like photoshop) to refine the piece. I’d really love to expand into other mediums like oil paints as well.

My process more depends on what I’m feeling more than the mediums. I started drawing as a means of meditation and grounding because it makes me feel present and calm. So, when I’m in that zone, I just draw to my heart’s content and don’t have much of a process.

But if I’m seriously sitting down to draw something for a commission or for a challenge, I normally start with researching for references, then I do some brainstorming to figure out the layout of the illustration/artwork before drawing up an outline. Then I go over it in ink pen before moving onto watercolour if I think it’ll fit the piece and if I want to refine anything or want to add colour then I put it into photoshop.

You’re also a filmmaker. How did you get started in the world of film, and what draws you to the cinema?

Filmmaking is definitely a neglected love of mine since I don’t get to do it as often as I get to write or draw. I think one of the first films that really sparked my love of cinema was ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Black Swan’ because I could see how the medium of film was used to perfectly (and spookily) tell the story. I find it so fascinating and become so drawn into the little details and what went into making each scene. Some of my favourite filmmakers have to be Guillermo Del Toro, Jennifer Kent, Ana Lily Amirpour and Ari Aster.

I started out mostly doing small jobs or roles for filmmaking friends and colleagues, although all that has been put on hold because of the state of the world at the moment, haha. Right now, I’m working on my screenwriting and looking into where else I can apply my skills in the industry.

If forced to choose, what’s your favorite part of the writing process: developing characters, establishing mood/setting, or crafting dialogue?

I have to say creating and developing characters is my favourite. It’s really interesting and fun trying to come up with different people, establishing their backstory and coming up with rules about how they act, talk and respond to things. Dialogue is also great fun to write, especially when there’s a witty/sarcastic character involved.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m in the middle of editing another novella (another gothic horror) about two little girls who get lost in a haunted house. I’m also working with author Haley Newlin as an illustrator for the special hardcover edition of her upcoming novel, ‘Take Your Turn, Teddy’ which I’m very excited about. I’m also opening art commissions soon!

Big thanks to Claire L. Smith for being this week’s featured author! Find her online at her website and on Twitter!

Happy reading!

Spooky Submissions: Submission Roundup for October 2020

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of great opportunities for October and beyond, so if you’ve got a story, one of these markets might be the perfect fit!

As always, a disclaimer: I am not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word! Please direct your questions to their respective publications.

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

Submission Roundup

99 Tiny Terrors
Payment: $25/flat
Length: 500 to 1,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide range of horror flash fiction.
Find the details here.

UnMasked: Stories of Risk and Revelation
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction stories about being unmasked.
Find the details here.

Arsenika
Payment: $60/flat for fiction; $30/flat for poetry
Length: up to 1,000 words
Deadline: November 1st, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide range of fiction and poetry. Submissions can be in English, Spanish, and/or Chinese.
Find the details here.

Far From Home anthology
Payment: .01/word
Length: 2,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: November 1st, 2020
What They Want: Off Limits Press is currently seeking adventure horror stories for their forthcoming anthology.
Find the details here.

In Darkness Delight: Fear the Future
Payment: .03/word ($150 maximum)
Length: 2,500 to 4,500 words preferred (up to 7,500 words will be considered)
Deadline: November 15th, 2020
What They Want: This Corpus Press anthology is seeking horror fiction with futuristic themes.
Find the details here.

Other Fears: An Anthology of Diverse Terrors
Payment: .10/word
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: December 1st, 2020
What They Want: Open to Horror Writers Association members, this anthology edited by Rena Mason and Vince A. Liaguno is seeking stories about “otherness.”
Find the details here.

Cemetery Gates’ Campfire Macabre
Payment: .08/word
Length: 500 to 1,000 words
Deadline: December 26th, 2020
What They Want: The editors are seeking flash fiction stories on the themes of Cemetery Chillers, Spook Houses, Supernatural Slashers, Witchcraft, and Within the Woods.
Find the details here.

FIYAH
Payment: .08/word for fiction; $50/flat for poetry
Length: Short fiction from 2,000 to 7,000 words & novelettes up to 15,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to Black authors, FIYAH is currently seeking fiction and poetry for their forthcoming unthemed issue.
Find the details here.

Planet Scumm
Payment: .02/word
Length: 2,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: January 10th, 2021
What They Want: Guest edited by Hailey Piper, this issue of the magazine is seeking speculative fiction stories specifically from cisgender women, transgender women, transgender men, non-binary people, and genderqueer people.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting, and happy Halloween!

Dead and Breakfast: Interview with Gary Buller

Welcome back! Today I’m excited to feature writer Gary Buller. Gary is the author of Dead and Breakfast as well as numerous short stories.

Recently, Gary and I discussed his inspiration as an author as well as his latest work and how he’s writing his way through 2020.

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

I started ‘writing to submit’ around 2016, pretty late to the game at 34 years old. Until that point, I’d barely written a paragraph of fiction since leaving college. I was inspired by the story of a friend of a friend who published a couple of short stories in speculative fiction magazines. I contacted him for some advice, and it all came together from there. A publisher picked up my first short story within a couple of months. I couldn’t believe it when I received the acceptance. It was amazing. I think I did a little dance around my bedroom.

In addition to the usual suspects (Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson), I really like Adam Nevill’s work. I think The Ritual is one of my favourite books. MJ Arlidge and his Helen Grace novels are also fantastic if you like crime novels. Start with Eenie Meenie. It has a Saw-like vibe to it.

Congratulations on the release of Dead and Breakfast! What can you share about the inspiration for this horror collection? 

Thank you! Dead and Breakfast has roots in the horror anthology movies of the eighties, inspired by Creepshow, Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, and Cat’s Eye, not to mention the British anthology series Hammer House of Horror. It is a novella-length anthology encapsulated with a wraparound story. Each dark tale differs from the last, drawing on a variety of different themes and genres, and the wraparound story pulls it all together.

There is a definite thread of nostalgia running through the collection, and I had a lot of fun drawing on my childhood for inspiration. With Dead and Breakfast, the aim was to scare the reader, but also offer them a fun and exciting ride in the process.

What first attracted you to the horror genre? Do you remember the first horror story you read or the first horror film you ever saw? 

I grew up in the age of video nasties when movies like The Last House on the Left, Cannibal Ferox, and The Evil Dead were banned in the UK. That said, the video rental scene was huge, and my dad frequently rented horror movies. I remember watching Predator, Robocop, Child’s Play, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, and Dolls (1987) on home video when I was pre-teen— without my parent’s knowledge, of course.

There was something about that cover art too; Fright Night, House, and Return of the Living Dead Part 2 instantly come to mind. As creepy as they are memorable. I visited my local video rental shop every day after school until they agreed to give me their Child’s Play poster, and I hung it on my bedroom wall. These movies were all around me, all the time- I couldn’t help but be inspired by them.

The first horror movie I saw was likely The Company of Wolves, Jaws, or Dolls. I thought all three were both terrifying and amazing.

The first horror book I read was an illustrated Poe collection I received one Christmas from my parents. As I grew a little older, a neighbour gave me The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson and IT by Stephen King. Both blew my mind. These were my first visits to the world of adult horror.

What is it about short fiction in particular that you find appealing as an author? Do you have a favorite horror short story author? 

I like the way short fiction encapsulates broader ideas in a nutshell. There is something satisfying about being able to absorb so much in relatively little time. In terms of writing short fiction, the medium enables me to work on an eclectic mix of ideas quickly, one after the other– as and when the ideas come to me. I see short fiction as the necessary foundation to learn the art of writing before stepping up to novellas and novels.

I would say Bentley Little is one of my top short story authors, but my favourite short stories include; The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Landlady by Ronald Dahl, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

This year has been a horror story of its own. How have the events of 2020 affected your work, either in the topics that you’re writing or your own creative output?

I thought I’d have more time to write given the lockdown here in the UK, but schools and nurseries closed too, and as a father of two young girls, this has meant a lot of childcare and home-schooling in addition to my day job. My output has reduced significantly, averaging one short story a month.

It hasn’t been the best of years for any of us, especially in terms of mental health, but when life gives lemons, best make lemonade. The show must go on.

If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: establishing setting, crafting dialogue, or developing characters? 

I do enjoy the challenge of character development in short fiction. Condensing and then evolving descriptions, dialogue, and thought as the plot develops. As a relatively new writer, it is something I still need to work on, but it can be effective when done right.

What are you currently working on? 

My cloud drive is full of stories in various stages of completion. Sometimes I write something and then forget about it, only to stumble upon it again months down the line. The ones I like, I resurrect and then work on them with a fresher set of eyes. Currently, I’m working on four short stories, and I have a novel-length collection out for submission.

Big thanks to Gary Buller for being this week’s featured author! Find him online at Twitter!

Happy reading!

 

Autumnal Fiction: Submission Roundup for September 2020

Welcome back for September’s Submission Roundup! There are so many amazing writing opportunities this month, so if you’ve got a story looking for a home, hopefully one of these markets might be the perfect fit!

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

And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Nightmare Magazine
Payment: .08/word for fiction; $40/flat for poetry
Length: 1,500 to 7,500 words for fiction
Deadline: Open to BIPOC authors starting September 7th; open to all other authors starting September 14th
What They Want: Editor Wendy N. Wagner is seeking a wide variety of horror and dark fantasy fiction and poetry.
Find the details here.

Flame Tree’s Terrifying Ghosts anthology
Payment: .08/word for original fiction; .06/word for reprints
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: September 20th, 2020
What They Want: Open to original and reprint ghost stories.
Find the details here.

Flame Tree’s Black Sci-Fi Short Stories anthology
Payment: .08/word for original fiction; .06/word for reprints
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: September 21st, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide range of science fiction stories from Black authors.
Find the details here.

Angry Robot Books
Payment: Negotiable
Length: 60,000 words minimum
Deadline: September 30th, 2020
What They Want: The editors are specifically seeking science fiction/fantasy novels from Black authors who currently do not have literary agents.
Find the details here.

Neon Hemlock Press
Payment: Royalties negotiable
Length: 17,500 to 40,000 words
Deadline: October 5th, 2020
What They Want: Novella submissions now open to Black authors only. The editors are seeking all speculative genres, including but not limited to horror, science fiction, fantasy, and the Weird.
Find the details here.

UnMasked: Stories of Risk and Revelation
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction stories about being unmasked.
Find the details here.

Far From Home anthology
Payment: .01/word
Length: 2,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: November 1st, 2020
What They Want: Off Limits Press is currently seeking adventure horror stories for their forthcoming anthology.
Find the details here.

In Darkness Delight: Fear the Future
Payment: .03/word ($150 maximum)
Length: 2,500 to 4,500 words preferred (up to 7,500 words will be considered)
Deadline: November 15th, 2020
What They Want: This Corpus Press anthology is seeking horror fiction with futuristic themes.
Find the details here.

FIYAH
Payment: .08/word for fiction; $50/flat for poetry
Length: Short fiction from 2,000 to 7,000 words & novelettes up to 15,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to Black authors, FIYAH is currently seeking fiction and poetry for their forthcoming unthemed issue.
Find the details here.

Air and Nothingness Press
Payment: .08/word
Length: 1,000 to 3,000 words
Deadline: September 17th, 2020 for Upon a Once Time; February 28th, 2021 for The Wild Hunt
What They Want: The editors are seeking stories for two submission calls: Upon a Once Time, an anthology of mash-up fairy tales, and The Wild Hunt, an anthology of mythology.
Find the details here.

Happy reading!

Hope for the Future: Part 4 of Fright Girl Summer Roundtable

Welcome back for the final part of our Fright Girl Summer Roundtable! Today, I talk to our seven featured authors about where they’d like to see the horror genre go as well as what you can expect from them in the coming months!

So let’s take it away!

What are your hopes for the future of horror? In what ways do you feel like we’re making strides in representation, and where does the publishing industry still need to do the most work?

EDEN ROYCE: I hope horror eventually becomes a genre that isn’t frowned upon as “lesser”. I actually hope that happens for all of speculative fiction versus literary fiction. For as much as it’s maligned, horror can be a brilliant, sharp, and lingering way to express what we hold sacred as well as who and what and why we fear.

I’m seeing more discussions about the work of non-cis white male horror writers, more publishing announcements showing deals for these writers, and more attention being paid to writers who have traditionally been excluded from or minimized in the canon of horror writing. Much of it starts with gatekeepers – those who read slush or otherwise have the job of sorting through submissions. Have more people who understand different methods of storytelling. Look at your staff: are they all one demographic? Consider expanding that.

Also, look at how and to whom your books are marketed. Think more widely about how you describe and position your books in the marketplace. Do you want more BIPOC readers and reviewers? Seek them out; ask them if they will read your books and don’t assume they’re always aware of your releases.

GABY TRIANA: I would love to see more Latina/Hispanic voices, as well as more Black, Asian, and transgender voices in horror. There’s simply not enough. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still more work to do. One way to achieve this is by hiring editors who are Latina, Black, Asian, transgender and any other underrepresented group out there. Reading about a variety of people is how we learn about the world, how we develop empathy, and it’s time to get diverse.

LINDA D. ADDISON: My hope for horror is the same as my hope for the world: for differences to be embraced and enjoyed. The way to increase representation in writing is to have gate-keepers/editors that include the underrepresented, how else can different kinds of writing be selected. The publishing industry has to be mindful, put in extra work to seek out and include others in their platform. Old patterns don’t change by thought alone. We’ve had projects called out that are clearly not putting the work in to create inclusive anthologies, etc.

A recent example of a change in approach is The Twisted Book of Shadows anthology with editors Christopher Golden and James A. Moore. Chris put together a diverse editorial committee to read blind submissions; widely circulated the submission guidelines with a clear message of wanting work from everyone. In the end, Chris and Jim were given a list of fiction from the edit committee that could have filled three anthologies out of over 700 submissions. They made the final decisions on fiction from the committees’ selection. The anthology was on the final ballot for the HWA Bram Stoker award® 2019 for Anthology, and won the Shirley Jackson Award in Anthology.

Another anthology that changed the paradigm, Sycorax’s Daughters, was a HWA Bram Stoker award® finalist, gathered great reviews and was edited by Prof. Kinitra Brooks, Prof. Susana Morris and myself. The original idea was Prof. Brooks’ to create an anthology of horror fiction and poetry written by Black women.

The HWA has created outlets, like the monthly column The Seers Table, to introduce membership to underrepresented creatives.

There’s much work to be done, but these are examples of what can be done.

V. CASTRO: Again, we need more people of color represented in horror, and not as characters. We need to support writers of color so they continue because it’s very easy to become discouraged in publishing. It’s falling and getting up again. The more we show writers of color it is possible to be seen and heard, the more diversity we will see cropping up. The more opportunities offered to people of color will also boost morale.

I think women are making strides everyday in publishing, however, there have been a string of stories of harassment. We don’t just need our stories to be published, we require respect and dignity. We require to feel safe. If men can’t do that then they have no place in publishing and are just taking up valuable space. They can fuck right off.

R.J. JOSEPH: I see a lot more women being welcomed into the fold, as well as an inspiring number of men in the genre who understand why they need to proactively work towards equity for all horror writers. I hope this extends more fully to writers of color, at some point. There’s still way too much policing of the types of ethnic enactments that are “acceptable” and those that gatekeepers don’t want to support. A horrifying number of reviewers who approach books by own voices authors as alien works they just can’t relate to…pretty much because they just don’t want to expand their world views to include anyone not like them or the stereotypes they’ve built up about other folks inside their heads. I’d love to see all those walls broken down so that future horror writers of color never have to read reviews of their work written by people of other ethnicities bashing how they’ve chosen to write about their own experiences, or watch everyone around them (including less talented writers) get opportunities that are never extended to them.

G.G. SILVERMAN: I’d like to see horror get the same respect as literary fiction. As for representation, I feel like more women are getting represented in horror, but I’d love to see more intersectionality, more BIPOC folks represented, more LGBTQ folks, more disabled folks. and not just as writers, but in all areas of publishing. And I’d love to see all of us reaping the financial rewards, contract-wise, that white male writers get. Representation isn’t enough. The true financial support of the industry—that would go farther.

SONORA TAYLOR: I hope we’ll see less gatekeeping, both in the fandom and in the publication world. I can’t count the number of times I see people having the “What’s real horror?” debate. Horror is wide-ranging. It isn’t just monsters and blood. It isn’t just Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft (with a passing mention of Shirley Jackson to throw women a bone). Why spend all this time debating the intricacies and shouting down fans when you can just read it and enjoy it? Though I will say for every gatekeeper, I see 10 or 20 awesome fans who are open to all kinds of stories and all kinds of storytellers.

This is where publishing needs to keep up. People are only going to talk about King if you only promote King, if you only offer your entire horror marketing budget to King, if you only ask King to blurb new books coming out; and if your non-King authors are all almost the same demographics as King. The next Stephen King doesn’t need to be another white man. All kinds of storytellers should be given a chance to have their stories told on a widespread level.

What projects are you currently working on? Also, what works of yours have been recently released or are set for release?

EDEN ROYCE: I mentioned Root Magic earlier – that’s due to be released on January 5, 2021. I’ve turned in another middle-grade to my editor, this one is a Southern Gothic fantasy (magical realism !!!) and I’m working on a YA horror novel. You’ve also got me thinking about this romantic horror crime noir, so that will be percolating in my head as well!

GABY TRIANA: Right now, I’m writing a witchy occult novel called MOON CHILD. It’s in the beginning stages, so I can’t say more than that. I’ve also co-written a paranormal horror novel with two celebrity individuals. Sorry to be vague, but they’ll be making an announcement at the end of the summer! Also, I have a short story called “Don’t You See That Cat?” coming out in DON’T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (September, 2020, HarperCollins) and a flash fiction piece called “Gut Instinct” coming out in Issue #365 of Weird Tales Magazine, slated to release at the end of 2020, soon available in print, e-book, and audio.

LINDA D. ADDISON: I’m finishing edits on my first novel. This has been a grand adventure because it’s a new form for me to play in. For 2020 I have work in the following anthologies: Miscreations, Don’t Turn Out the Lights, Chiral Mad 5, and Weird Tales Magazine #364. I’m also excited about the 2020 release of a film (inspired by my poem of same name) “Mourning Meal”, by producer and director Jamal Hodge.

V. CASTRO: I have 3 short stories out.
“Asylum” in Lockdown from Polis Books
Cucuy of Cancun in Worst Laid Plans from Grindhouse Press
“Templo Mayor” in Graveyard Smash Vol.2 from Kandisha Press

Next year you can expect The Queen of the Cicadas from Flame Tree Press and Goddess of Filth from Creature Publishing.

R.J. JOSEPH: My most recent academic essay, “The Beloved Haunting of Hill House: An Examination of Monstrous Motherhood” appears in the essay collection edited by Kevin Wetmore, Jr., The Streaming of Hill House: Essays on the Haunting Netflix Adaption. I also have a poem appearing in the upcoming HWA Poetry Showcase VII.

I’m currently fleshing out screenplays for my short stories “Left Hand Torment” (historical horror from the Black Magic Women anthology) and “To Give Her Whatsoever She May Ask” (contemporary horror from the Sycorax’s Daughters anthology). I’m also pulling together a story collection that I plan to have done by the end of next month. I hope to have something exciting to say about those three projects at some point in the near future.

G.G. SILVERMAN: Currently, I’m working on a feminist speculative short fiction collection that lies somewhere between dark fantasy and horror. I still need an agent, and a publisher, but my proposed collection was a finalist for the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund (for feminist writers and artists) so I feel like the collection has potential.

I’m also working on a dark, feminist poetry collection. And hoping to shop that around next year as well.

As for recent releases, I had a story come out at Speculative City’s WEIRD issue, in celebration of Weird Fiction that defies the previously white male conventions of the genre. The story is called “I’m sorry, I tried, I love you” and can be found here: http://www.speculativecity.com/fiction/im-sorry-i-tried-i-love-you/

And, in a deep nod to my immigrant heritage, my gothic Italian sea monster story, The Miraculous Ones, is in the NOT ALL MONSTERS Women in Horror anthology, from StrangeHouse Books.

Soon, I’ll also have a witchy faux micro-memoir out from Rough Cut Press, which will be available online.

I feel so lucky that I get to do this work.

Thanks again for having me, Gwendolyn! Your work inspires me, and it is an honor to be here today.

SONORA TAYLOR: Right now I’m writing short stories. I’m submitting to journals, and I’m also planning to release my fourth short story collection in late 2021. It’s called Someone to Share My Nightmares, and it will largely focus on romantic and erotic horror.

My third novel, Seeing Things, was released this past June. It follows a teenage girl who discovers she can see the dead, but none of them want to talk to her. It’s a contemporary Gothic novel and I’ve been pleased with the reader response to it so far!

I’m also featured in the anthology Women of Horror Vol. 2: Graveyard Smash from Kandisha Press. It features 22 stories, all from some of the most exciting voices in horror right now.

V. Castro and I are also talking about ways to expand Fright Girl Summer into a year-round event. Stay tuned!

And that’s a wrap on this month’s roundtable! Tremendous thanks to our seven fantastic featured authors! You can also catch even more Fright Girl Summer by heading over here!

Happy reading, and happy Fright Girl Summer!