Category Archives: Fiction

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!

Advice and Horror: Part 3 of Fright Girl Summer Roundtable

Welcome back for part three in our Fright Girl Summer Roundtable! This week, we’re focusing on the advice that these seven fantastic authors would offer to new female horror writers as well as what different subgenres of horror they might like to explore in the future!

So let’s take it away!

What’s the most important advice you would offer to a female horror author who’s just starting out?

EDEN ROYCE: Stick with it. Find a deep reason within yourself to write. Cling to that reason with a sweat-slick grip when you have those low points or feel your love of writing beginning to wane.

GABY TRIANA: Just write what you write. Don’t worry about industry trends, don’t listen to your agent (ha!), just write what’s inside of your heart, and your passion will come through. When that happens, like-minded readers will find you. You will become the only person who can write your story exactly the way you can. Before you know it, you will carve out your own niche. Don’t second-guess yourself. You are amazing exactly the way you are. Just write your passion!

LINDA D. ADDISON: It’s very important to write what comes/appeals to you, without editing yourself, without judging whether you should be writing it. Write it as well as possible and submit to the top markets. Why not?

Read everything, not just what you like to write, other genres, forms. Try writing other things, to exercise your writing muscles. I’ve been journaling since high school; my journals are the source of most of the writing I’ve published. I write everything that crosses my mind: themes, characters, dialogue, anything that finds its way into my mind.

R.J. JOSEPH: I haven’t pulled out of my middle-aged cynicism far enough about this genre to really offer really positive advice. Sigh. However, I will borrow some that I repeat to myself often. I had the chance to sit in on a talk with Tananarive Due a couple of years ago. As I mentioned earlier, I love her work and have been frustrated that I don’t see people paying her to be all over the horror genre. I asked her if she was frustrated at having been at this for so long and watching folks act like Jordan Peele (who’s a genius, by the way) is the first black person they’ve ever seen do horror. She basically said she didn’t have the time to be frustrated because she stayed busy writing, writing, and writing. She said that by not dwelling on frustration, she had tons of work to pitch when the door opened in horror for Black people. I see that worked for her.

I would say to a new female horror writer: things aren’t as equitable as they should be for us just yet, but if you keep writing, writing, and writing, you’ll have a slew of work up for grabs when the door finally gets kicked down. Just don’t let the lack of opportunities get you to stop writing. If you can stop writing, you probably should.

V. CASTRO: Don’t compare. It is so hard to not to compare your journey to someone else’s journey. You can be happy for someone’s success and feel like a failure if you are not achieving the same.

Publishing is full of rejection and false starts. Keep going and put on blinders if you must. Write what feels right for you. No one else can tell your story.

G.G. SILVERMAN: First and foremost, embrace the darkness and write what you want to write. Ignore anyone who says that because you’re a woman, you can’t (or shouldn’t) write horror. Stick to your guns.

Also, horror, historically, has been treated as the lesser-loved stepchild of the literary world, but I think women are changing that viewpoint because of the nuances and expansion they’ve brought to the genre, and I think all writers benefit from having women in the genre.

So, ladies, if you’re writing something that feels bold and risky and you’re unsure of it and afraid to go forward, dig deep and keep going, because what you’re most afraid of is exactly the kind of work you should be doing, because it’s work that hasn’t been done yet, and the literary world needs it.

SONORA TAYLOR: Don’t be afraid to promote yourself, your books, and your accomplishments. Women are raised to be silent or, at best, humble about their accomplishments. Saying “I wrote a book and I’m proud” is not arrogant. Posting a link to your book and asking people to buy it is not being annoying. You need to market yourself! And, you need to market yourself with confidence. If you’re nervous about putting yourself out there, keep it simple. Something like, “My novel, X, is now available! Give it a read.” Easy, nothing asshole-y, and honestly, if someone thinks that’s annoying, that’s on them, not you.

Are there any subgenres of horror (e.g. body horror, sci-fi-horror, etc.) that you haven’t explored yet in your work but would like to? Likewise, are there any mediums (e.g. poetry, long fiction, nonfiction, novels) that you’re looking forward to writing one day or perhaps exploring more than you already have?

EDEN ROYCE: I’d love to tackle a horror romance and a horror crime noir. Possibly in the same book. My debut novel, Root Magic, is a first for me in many ways. Not only is it my first novel-length work, it’s my first work for a middle-grade age group (8-12). But I’ve found a lot of adults love reading middle-grade work, as well. Especially this kind of Southern Gothic with folklore, monsters, and magic.

GABY TRIANA: I’ve always wanted to write sci-fi horror. ALIEN is still one of my most favorite movies ever, and it’s always been in the back of my mind to write something set in space. Besides that, I think I’m perfectly happy writing witchy occult novels. It’s taken me a while to find my way home. Now that I’m here, I’m going to explore more. The only other format I’d be interested in writing, only because they say I write in a cinematic, scene-setting way as is, is screenplays. Otherwise, I’m perfectly happy with full-length novels!

LINDA D. ADDISON: Per subgenres, I write what comes to me without knowing what labels it would fit. I’m also inspired to try new things, so I can’t tell you what may come next, but I suspect something different.

I’ve avoided novels most of my career because I was afraid of starting one and getting lost in it, but I just finished my first novel! I have plans for several other novels. So we’ll see how that works out.

R.J. JOSEPH: I’m always dabbling in poetry because I just love how words feel and look and I like playing around with the space they take up. I’m not nearly as good at it as I’d like to be, so I’ll keep practicing. I haven’t written a novel length work since my grad school thesis (which was a romance novel, anyway), so at some point, I would like to write a horror novel. That goal is quite daunting, though, because my brain mostly works in short story or comic book form for horror. I’ve started but not finished a couple of horror novellas that I want to get back to at some point. My most recent forays in a slightly different direction has been towards screenplays. When I write poetry or short stories, I always see the stories in my head. A couple of short stories I wrote won’t stop haunting me until I finish their screenplays and give them some chance to be seen in film.

V. CASTRO: I just go for it. I explore all areas because I feel life generates experiences that can be expressed in all subgenres of horror. For me, the story dictates the length. You never know until you begin walking the path.

G.G. SILVERMAN: In truth, I feel as if I could stand to explore body horror a bit more, especially since my whole life as a woman, with experiences of disability, feels like body horror, haha.

As for future mediums, someday I will likely plunge into long fiction again, and I want to continue to get better at poetry.

SONORA TAYLOR: Hmm, that’s a good question! I actually love body horror but struggle with writing it. My short story, “Always in My Ear,” actually started as one that was more body horror-oriented, with the devices that people use to listen to podcasts 24/7 having dangerous effects. However, my story kept struggling until I shifted the focus to the two women and their violent personalities instead (though the devices still make an appearance). Maybe I’ll take another crack at body horror in the future, but a lot of what I write is centered on the mind.

I’d love to try writing a screenplay. I love writing dialogue and would find it interesting to write a story in my head truly cinematically. I’ve written short scripts and a treatment for a TV show once (it was a class assignment, nothing actually on TV), and would like to do it again.

And that concludes part three of our Fright Girl Summer Roundtable! Head on back here next week for the final installment in our series!

Happy reading, and happy Fright Girl Summer!

Challenges and Triumphs: Part 2 of Fright Girl Summer Roundtable

Welcome back for part two of this month’s Fright Girl Summer Roundtable! Last week, we met our seven featured authors and learned about what inspired them to become horror writers. Today, they share some of their challenges as well as the female horror authors they love and recommend.

So let’s take it away!

What are the biggest obstacles for you as a writer? Conversely, who are some of the publications, editors, or other writers who have made your journey through publishing a more positive one?

EDEN ROYCE: Self-doubt can be an enormous burden. As writers, many of us live in our own heads and negative self-talk can keep even the best creatives from producing work.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some wonderful people in publishing, though. Everyone at Fiyah Lit Mag (past and present) is fantastically supportive and encouraging – they deserve all the kudos for the stunning work they do. Sandra O’Dell at the Drabblecast is a phenomenal editor as are Vajra Chandrasekera at Strange Horizons and Kerrie C. Byrne at Augur Mag. Last but not least, my editor Jordan Brown at HarperCollins loved my novel Root Magic from the start and his input helped make it shine.

GABY TRIANA: My biggest obstacle has always been branding. Because I cover a lot of ground, I can’t for sure say I’m a “horror writer” or a “YA writer.” I write stories about people. The one theme all my stories have is self-discovery, learning about the powers buried deep inside oneself, because this is how I’ve felt all my life, like I’ve slowly been uncovering supersecret hidden powers. But there’s no “Supersecret Hidden Powers” shelf in the bookstores, so I end up all over the place.

My journey through kid lit was difficult, though it started out easy. I got my agent as soon as I finished my first novel, and he sold my manuscripts to HarperCollins in two 2-book deals right out of the gate. Everyone thought I had it made. But then, the industry changed, I was asked to write more Latina heroine books, which I did, but they didn’t sell, so I tried going back to paranormal horror, but I was advised against it, because the “trend was dying.” I got lost. Really lost. But I finally decided I’m going to write whatever the hell I want. I’ve slowly been making my way back to my heart, mostly on my own, but I can definitely thank a few people. My agent, Deborah Warren, who’s been “new” for about 8 years now, Jonathan Maberry, who couldn’t understand why my books weren’t more widely read and has been instrumental in lifting my voice higher, Michelle Zink, who went indie and guided me through the process with such a generous heart. Too many people to name, but they’ve all been such an inspiration to me.

LINDA D. ADDISON: The obstacles now are very different from the beginning of my writing career. Now that I’m retired from day job you would think I have nothing but time to write, however, I’m also involved in projects with other creative folks, so it’s a constant learning process to balance my time.

I could fill pages with publications, editors, or other writers who have been invaluable in my career (including family and friends), a few highlights are: There are many small press magazines (Pirate Writings, Epitaph, Lore, etc.) and anthologies (Dark Voices, Rough Beasts, GSHW In A Fearful Way, Dead Cats Bouncing, etc) that published me early on. Asimov’s SF Magazine (after getting published in 1997 after years of rejections); Space & Time Books editor Gordon Linzner (whose editing/advice/friendship has meant everything to me & published my first three books, two received HWA Bram Stoker awards), CITH (Circles in the Hair) workshop from NYC, which came together in 1990 and have had so much to do with the evolution of my writing. Meeting Tananarive Due in 1997 at a World Horror in NYC when she was on the final ballot for a Stoker in Novels was completely inspiring.

Game changers like having a story published in Sheree Renée Thomas’ Dark Matter anthology; workshops with Terry Bisson, Nancy Kress and others, who became supporters and friends. There are so many I met at conferences like NECON, WHC, and groups like HWA who became my mentors/friends.

There are people who are no longer with us, who believed in me before anyone else knew of my work: Tom Piccirilli, Jack Ketchum, Charlee Jacob, Stephen M. Wilson, Rick Hautala.

V. CASTRO: The biggest obstacles are time management with home life and protecting my mental health with the chaos in the world.

Unnerving headed by Eddie Generous has always been great with publishing women. Flame Tree Press has bought two of my books that are very much inspired by my culture.

All the women in horror have made this journey truly special and amazing. I love how we support each other through the good and the bad. By us continuing to do this, I truly believe we can all achieve what we want on our individual writing journeys. We are stronger together.

G.G. SILVERMAN: My biggest obstacles, currently, are the unfolding horrors of the political landscape. I do believe that writing is an act of resistance and reclaiming one’s voice is ever more important as the days progress, but I sometimes wonder if I should be doing something else—as in, are the lives of Americans in clear and present danger? I’m constantly evaluating our emergency supplies, making sure we have enough food, medicine, for the humans and the dog. And though I’m checking on the mental health and wellbeing of friends and family when I can, I’m always wondering if it’s enough, if there’s someone I’ve missed.

As for those in the writing field who’ve made my publishing journey a positive one—there are so, so, so many people. I think the ones who’ve impacted me the most are the teachers—they’ve given me a huge gift by teaching me what they know. Most of them write in genres outside of horror, but I feel that’s what makes my work richer. Some of those teachers are Alexander Weinstein, Amelia Martens, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Matthew Gavin Frank, Christopher Citro, and Francine J. Harris. Without them, I don’t think I’d have as many tools as I do to write, and I’d probably be floundering a lot more.

R.J. JOSEPH: Being a Black, female horror writer is the biggest obstacle for me, by far. I’ve been writing in this genre for years, albeit, doing so undercover for much of that time. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, so my first readings in horror were by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Saul. I didn’t see work being published by other Black women in the genre. Even the inimitable Toni Morrison’s Beloved wasn’t immediately embraced as horror when it was first published. When I finally found Tananarive Due and Octavia Butler in the 90s, they never got the fanfare I felt they deserved. Even now, I ask myself, “If those queens with their masterful and passionate wordplay couldn’t get a huge break, who are you to think you can do this?” I’ve seen how long Due has been at this. She’s incredible and humble. My all time favorite writer. But I haven’t seen her works in movies, as they all should be. Granted, things are moving for her now, but she should be held up as a standard in horror.

I have to give a lot of credit to the faculty, mentors, and fellow students in the Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. They were the first people, besides my mother, who made me believe I could write horror. They accepted me as I was and the horror writing pod embraced me as one of theirs. Elsa Carruthers and Stephanie Wytovich are a part of this awesome family. I walked in a duality there, writing a romance thesis but workshopping horror short stories. The faculty and mentors gently prodded me along towards the things they knew I could do that I didn’t think were possible, especially in academia. I also have to give a lot of kudos to so many newer horror family members I’ve met more recently, like Linda Addison who is simply exquisite. She’s not only a brilliant writer, but she always makes opportunities to bring the rest of us along with her. Cina Pelayo, John Edward Lawson, V. Castro, Gabino Iglesias, Nicholas Diak, the Ladies of Horror Fiction…just about all the horror peeps I engage with regularly on Twitter are people I look up to and folks who’re fighting the good fight. They all make this thing worthwhile.

SONORA TAYLOR: I have a hard time writing down a bad first draft. I want each sentence well-written and each plot point fleshed out as soon as I write it. As such, I don’t write when I feel like I can’t do that, and I have to force myself to open the document and just start writing. It can be especially hard when I’m stressed. But, I always feel better having written, even when I know I need to revise.

I’ve been lucky to work with really good editors and publishers. Evelyn Duffy, who edits my novels and short story collections, has been a blessing. She’s given me so much helpful advice as well as encouragement. She’s also a hell of an editor: all of my work has improved with her edits.

Sirens Call Publications has an amazing team behind them. I frequently submit stories to The Sirens Call, a free online eZine; and they always take good care of my work. They were even kind enough to feature me last summer! I also had an amazing experience with Camden Park Press, which published Quoth the Raven. It was my first time being published by a third party, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

What books from female horror authors are you most excited to read this year? Which female horror authors do you feel more people should be reading?

EDEN ROYCE: I’m so behind on my reading. This year has been … interesting. I’m looking forward to reading The Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Out of Water by Sarah Read as well in indulging in rereads of Fledgling by Octavia Butler, White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma, and New Music for Old Rituals by Tracy Fahey.

GABY TRIANA: BONESET & FEATHERS, baby! Anything by you, Christa Carmen, Ania Ahlborn, Sonora Taylor, Catherine Cavendish’s THE MALEN WITCH, Sara Tantlinger, Briana Morgan, Stephanie Wytovich, Alethea Kontis, Sarah Read, Kiersten White…there’s so many!

LINDA D. ADDISON: Female horror authors with work out or coming out I follow: Sheree Renée Thomas, Kaaron Warren, Christina Sng, L. Marie Wood, Cindy O’Quinn, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Sara Tantlinger, Tananarive Due, Gwendolyn Kiste, V. Castro, Silvia Moreno Garcia, Cynthia Pelayo, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Sonora Taylor, B. Shares Moore, Claire C. Holland, Valjeanne Jeffers, Mercedes M. Yardley, EV Knight, Lisa Morton, Lee Murray, Tonya Liburd, Marge Simon, Sarah Read…

V. CASTRO: I have such a back log of books I don’t even know where to begin! Between editing and writing new stuff with my family life, it has been a challenge. I’m excited for Laurel Hightower’s new book, Crossroads.

I will always say read more women of color. Read more Black women in genre fiction. Black Lives Matter is not a fad or trend, it is a call for fundamental change. That begins with what we consume and purchasing power.

Women of color are still sorely underrepresented.

R.J. JOSEPH: I have SO MANY unread books in my Kindle app right now! I’m happy to have reached a point where I can set a book buying budget and just buy books. I can hardly wait to dig into Cirque Berserk, by Jessica Guess, Hairspray and Switchblades, by V. Castro, the first two Graveyard Smash Women of Horror anthologies, Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror, and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. And I know there will be many, many others to come when I’m done with these.

Everybody should be reading everything Stephanie Wytovich and Cina Pelayo touch in any way. They should devour V. Castro’s work. I really feel like everyone who writes should read or re-examine all of Toni Morrison’s works. Chesya Burke is a phenomenal writer who I don’t hear enough people talk about. And Kinitra Brooks writes extensively about Black women in horror, so she’s a must read writer.

G.G. SILVERMAN: I’m excited to read Wonderland by Zoje Stage, and waiting with bated breath for Karen Russell’s Sleep Donation, her first horror novel, I believe! I’ve also heard Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is exquisite. I also need to delve into Alma Katsu’s work, which I’ve heard is gorgeous.

It’s hard for me to single out one female horror author (read them ALL!), though if anyone hasn’t read Mona Awad’s Bunny, I recommend you drop everything and do it now. It’s the ONE horror novel that so deftly weaves so many pop culture and literary influences, and is therefore mind-bogglingly fun. Comedic horror doesn’t get as much attention in the literary world as it does in the film industry, and, as an author who has also written comedic horror, Mona Awad’s Bunny was so “me.”

SONORA TAYLOR: I’m so excited for the upcoming releases in Unnerving’s Rewind or Die series. I just heard about All You Need is Love and a Strong Electric Current by Mackenzie Kiera, and I’m stoked. I loved Hairspray and Switchblades by V. Castro and Cirque Berserk by Jessica Guess; and I’m currently reading Food Fright by Nico Bell. The whole series deserves some kind of special award.

I’m also looking forward to Crossroads by Laurel Hightower. I see everyone talking about it and I’m so jealous because I preordered and have to wait!

I think more people should be reading horror by women of color. Women are making a name for themselves in the horror genre, but I still see a lot of conversations, promoted books, and talked-about horror reads dominated by white women. Extending horror readership and publication to women doesn’t end with white women. Read Black women. Read Latina women. Read Asian women. There’s a wide world of stories to be told, and the most exciting voices are the ones as far away from your own as possible.

And that’s all for Part Two! Join us next week as our Fright Girl Summer roundtable continues!

Happy reading!

Writing Updates from the Year Without a Summer

So as I sit inside my house in isolation from the world, I’ve thought a lot about how this summer is much like the summer of 1816, better known as the Year Without a Summer. Back then, the lack of summer was due to weather anomalies, but being forced indoors during the months when you can normally commune with nature and spend some time in the sun (or under a parasol) certainly makes the summer of 1816 a little bit similar to the summer of 2020. May we all be half as productive as Mary Shelley who used her indoor time to write Frankenstein.

Speaking of writing (since I’m always speaking of writing), I tend to go back and forth with even posting these blog updates. Part of me figures if someone really wants to know what’s going on in my world, they’ll probably just check my social media. That being said, I still love blogs in general, and I wish more people still had them. Plus, sometimes, it’s nice to do a roundup of what’s going on, if for no reason than to say “Hey, I haven’t just been mired in the existential dread of living in 2020. I have a few accomplishments this year too!”

So with that in mind, here we go with some summer updates for the curious!

My second novel, Boneset & Feathers, is coming soon!
So on the really big news side of things, I’m going to be a novelist all over again! That’s right: The Rust Maidens might not have been an accident! My second novel, Boneset & Feathers, is due out from Broken Eye Books on November 3rd, and it’s all about witches, witchfinders, ghost birds, and bones that won’t stay buried. If that sounds right up your spooky alley, then take a gander at the press release here!

StoryBundle
I’m super stoked to share that The Rust Maidens is part of a fantastic StoryBundle along with books from Sarah Read, Jonathan Maberry, Lucienne Driver, Amity Green, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Kevin J. Anderson, and many more. Thirteen books for one sale price! There’s only a little over a week left on this deal, so head on over and pick up a whole bunch of awesome horror books!

Translations
Since the spring, I’ve had the first translations of my work released into the world! My Bram Stoker Award-winning short story, “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary),” made its debut in Russian at Darker Magazine.  Then of course, the Spanish translation of The Rust Maidens, Las Doncellas De Oxido, was also released to positive reviews from Dilatando Mentes Editorial!

As if that’s not enough, the French version of The Rust Maidens, Filles de Rouille, is due out very soon as well! In the coming months, I’m hoping to have some more news to share about future translations, so as always, stay tuned if you’re interested.

Forthcoming Short Fiction
Over the last year, I haven’t written too many new short stories (alas!), but that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t still belong to short fiction. I’m thrilled to announce that my brand-new folklore horror tale, “Lost Girls Don’t Cry,” will appear in the Places We Fear to Tread anthology from Cemetery Gates. It’s an awesome table of contents so far with even more stories to be announced in coming weeks, so that’s just great news all the way around.

I’m also so incredibly honored that a reprint of my horror story, “An Elegy for Childhood Monsters,” is in the current issue of The Dark Magazine! This story was originally published in Suspended in Dusk 2 in 2018, which was a great anthology and one I’m still so proud to have been part of. Plus, this reprint marks my first appearance in The Dark, so needless to say I’m very excited about it!

The Outer Dark Symposium
As you probably already know, pretty much every in-person event has been canceled for 2020. But fortunately, some of my favorite writing conventions have gone virtual! The Outer Dark Symposium is being held this weekend from Friday, August 14th to Sunday, August 16th, and I’m absolutely over the moon that I’m a guest! On Saturday night at 8:15pm, I’ll be reading along with Sarah Read, Donyae Coles, and Gordon B. White in the Pseudopod- sponsored reading block.

Then on Sunday afternoon at 3:45pm, I’ll be part of the panel, From Yellow Wallpaper to Spectral Hues: Color in Weird Fiction, along with Craig Laurance Gidney, Daniel Braum, Liv Rainey-Smith, Hysop Mulero, and Brian Hauser. I’m so excited to hang out with everyone, and I already know that it’s going to be a great event, since Anya Martin, Scott Nicolay, Melanie Crew, and Jess Lewis are so incredible with all the events they put together. Definitely hope to see many of you there!

Fright Girl Summer Roundtable
And finally, all this month on the blog, I’ll be featuring the Fright Girl Summer roundtable that officially kicked off last week. I’m spotlighting an amazing group of women writers, including Eden Royce, Sonora Taylor, G.G. Silverman, R.J. Joseph, V. Castro, Gaby Triana, and Linda D. Addison.

At any rate, that’s just about everything for now! I hope this very strange summer finds you as safe and happy as anyone can be in a 2020 pandemic world.

As always, happy reading!

End-of-Summer Fiction: Submission Roundup for August 2020

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Summer is already getting away from us, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some awesome opportunities for where to send your stories!

First off, a disclaimer as always: I’m not a representative for any of these markets. I’m merely spreading the word. If you have a question, please direct it to the respective publication.

And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission RoundupNightlight
Payment: $50/flat for reprints; $75/flat for stories up to 3,000 words; $125/flat for stories over 3,000 words;
Length: up to 10,000 words
Deadline: Ongoing
What They Want: Open to Black authors, Nightlight is a podcast seeking horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Lackington’s
Payment: .01/word (CAD) with $25 minimum
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: August 14th, 2020
What They Want: Open to stylized speculative fiction. The current theme is Archives.
Find the details here.

Something Good to Eat
Payment: $100/flat
Length: 2,000 to 10,000 words
Deadline: August 21st, 2020
What They Want: This Halloween-themed anthology is open to a wide variety of horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Ladies of Horror Fiction Scholarships
Payment: $100 scholarships
Deadline: August 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to women authors, the Ladies of Horror Fiction are currently offering ten $100 scholarships.
Find the details here.

Mystery and Horror, LLC
Payment: $5 advance on royalties
Length: 2,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: August 31st, 2020
What They Want: Mystery and Horror LLC is seeking crime/mystery fiction with a theme of Mardi Gras Mystery. Stories can have supernatural elements, provided they are also mysteries. The editors are also seeking humorous horror stories for their annual Strangely Funny series (which will always hold a very special place in my heart since the second book in the series featured my very first published short story back in 2014).
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.

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.

Air and Nothingness Press
Payment: .08/word
Length: 1,000 to 3,000 words
Deadline: February 28th, 2021
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!

Horror Beginnings: Part 1 of Fright Girl Summer Roundtable

Welcome back for a brand-new horror roundtable! In case you hadn’t heard, we’re currently in the middle of Fright Girl Summer, an awesome online book festival organized by V. Castro and Sonora Taylor. This festival, which kicked off back in June, celebrates female horror authors, especially authors of color, QUILTBAG authors, and indie authors.

So in honor of Fright Girl Summer, I’m beyond thrilled to spotlight seven incredible female horror authors for the entire month of August! For the next four weeks, we’ll be discussing what horror means to these authors, how they got started in the genre, and where they hope to see horror go in the coming years.

And without further adieu, let’s get started with Part One!

Welcome to this month’s roundtable! Thank you so much for joining me! Please tell us a bit about yourself, your work, and how you got into horror.

Eden RoyceEDEN ROYCE: I’m Eden Royce and I write a variety of genres, most often Southern Gothic, dark fantasy, and folk horror. I grew up on horror; many of my weekends growing up were spent with my mom and grandmother watching those old black-and-white Hammer movies. I’m from a culture of storytellers and I’m from Charleston, SC, a city of ghosts, and that’s always been a part of my writing.

GABY TRIANA: Thanks for having me, Gwendolyn (ever since I interviewed you for my blog The Witch Haunt, I have wanted to call you Gwednesday)!

About me, I have been writing since I was a child and publishing books since 2002, everything from YA comedy, to romance under a pen name, to paranormal suspense, to witchy horror. I’ve published with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Entangled, and I’ve indie published under my own imprint, Alienhead Press, as well. Ten novels are under my own name, five under a pen name, and 50+ as a ghostwriter. My most-read novels are The Haunted Florida series starting with ISLAND OF BONES, WAKE THE HOLLOW, and CAKESPELL.

I got into horror because I loved reading anything scary, occult, paranormal, or terrifying as a child. I was never into the books other kids were reading. I wanted my stories intense, so I was already reading adult suspense by the time I was 10. To this day, I have no idea how I ended up writing YA or romance comedies, because I never read books in those genres until I was an adult, ghostwriting for clients. In my heart, the occult still reigns supreme.

LINDA D. ADDISON: Hi, I’m Linda D. Addison, the second oldest of 10 children. I have been living in an active imagination from my earliest memories; meaning I saw magic and strange unreality in what others call Reality forever. I’m known for my horror poetry, but I also have published fiction in horror, SF and fantasy. I’ve received five HWA Bram Stoker awards for poetry and received their Lifetime Achievement award. Writing horror wasn’t a conscious decision, it evolved out of exploring my own pain/fears and my reactions to the shadows in the world.

V. CASTRO: I’m Violet, or V.Castro. I am a Mexican American woman originally from Texas.

I like writing horror that incorporates my Mexican American culture, Mexican folklore and urban legend, and writing Latinas for all the leads. I also write a lot of sex because I’m sick of our sexuality and bodies being misrepresented. If I don’t write it a man will.

I got into horror because as a mother of 3 I found myself missing something. I love my children, yet wanted something for myself. As a long time horror junkie I decided to just start. I sat down and have not got up since. Also, there is very little Latina representation in horror. I wanted to infuse my culture into my stories and old tropes.

R.J. JOSEPH: I’m a Texas based writer with the second very best day job of teaching college English classes. I got my MFA through Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. I went in as a romance writer and a closeted horror writer and came out a better writer all the way around. I also sort of fell into academia and loved it, so I stayed. I now write primarily horror creative pieces and academic pieces about horror. I mostly write about the intersections of race and gender in the horror genre and popular culture.

I’m a lifelong horror fan, having read Stephen King’s Carrie at a really, really young age. His works helped to feed my obsession with monsters, real and imagined. I come from a reading household where everyone read heavily. My father was a horror and sci-fi fan, my mother was a romance reader. It was the South, kissy kissy was bad, so they hid the romance novels and magazines. They didn’t hide the horror novels or comics. This is what they got for those half efforts.

I also have a lot of teenagers at home. My husband and I have a huge blended family of eleven. Four of those are grown up. The other seven are always around the house, devouring everything that doesn’t eat them first. They’re my locusts.

G.G. SILVERMAN: Hi, Gwendolyn! Thanks for having me! I’m a female and feminist author, currently living just north of Seattle, Washington—the conceptual home of Twin Peaks, and the real home of Sasquatch, allegedly. I’m also the daughter of immigrants.

As for my work, currently I’m focusing primarily on short speculative fiction, which lives somewhere in the shadows between horror and dark fantasy, with a bit of SF thrown in there on good occasion. I also write poetry, and it tends toward the darkly fantastical, with elements of horror.

I’ve been a horror fan since I was very young, when I got up in the wee hours on a Saturday morning and flicked on my family’s small, grainy, black and white television, and was greeted by some late night/early morning horror film. The imagery wasn’t graphic in the sense of blood and guts, but it was shocking in the sense that it portrayed a sibling potentially drowning another sibling, if my memory serves me. I remember having this sense of awakening to the frightening potential of humans to hurt each other. It made me wonder, did I have that potential? I loved my younger brother deeply, and would have been devastated if anything happened to him, so the film scared me and made me view horror as a way of learning about the world. I think this was really healthy for me, because it made me realize that though the world wasn’t 100% safe, that one could navigate it, with enough preparation.

Then I was introduced to Stephen King’s THE SHINING at the ripe old age of 9. A friend had loaned it to me, after he swiped it from his older brother. It was definitely forbidden reading material, and I snuck it home in my backpack, then read it under the covers, by flashlight. It was deeply terrifying, especially the bathtub scene, and that image has been seared in my memory ever since.

After that, I couldn’t get enough horror. Though it would be a while before I got my hands on anything adult again, I was reading everything I could find in our small town library that had anything to do with the paranormal. I remember being scared so thoroughly by vampire stories as a kid, that I locked the windows shut on hot summer nights and sweltered. Good times.

Shortly after that, I wrote my first short horror book in 4th grade, “Tara and the Haunted Doll,” named for my friend. I did the illustrations myself with fruity-smelling markers. My friend Tara was not impressed, but I had fun. The rest is history, I guess.

SONORA TAYLOR: Thanks for having me! My name is Sonora Taylor. I’ve been writing stories off and on my whole life, but got serious about it in 2016. I began to publish my work in 2017, and got my first anthology acceptance in 2018.

I like to keep my horror varied, but my work tends to be character-driven, especially with anxious minds. I also like taking innocuous things in daily life–stick figure families, a bulletin board with children’s accomplishments on them, etc.–and give them a sinister twist.

This interview series is in honor of the fabulous Fright Girl Summer, an online book festival for women in horror fiction. This year has seen many book events go to an online-only format for obvious reasons. How has this year changed your own approach to writing?

EDEN ROYCE: It hasn’t changed my approach to writing, honestly. I’m a homebody for the most part so I don’t attend many events. I’d planned to have a book launch party closer to my novel’s release date, so I may need to rethink that, but I still hole up in my office and write most days.

Wake the HollowGABY TRIANA: I was born for quarantine. I’ve always written about 2,000-3,000 words daily, and COVID hasn’t stopped that. My kids are older now, so I don’t have to keep them busy or entertained like other parents do. Only thing that has changed—my reading habits. I’m a lot more anxious these days, worrying about the state of the world, so my reading has suffered. I can’t concentrate. Instead, I find myself reading the news or going down the YouTube rabbit hole of dermatologist videos at 3 AM.

LINDA D. ADDISON: My day job until six years ago was computer software development, so it was easy to accept events going online. However, I didn’t realize how much I was used to traveling to other locations for conventions, etc. and now without that travel I’m saving money and time, but I also greatly miss spending time with other writers. There are days when I am writing more and other days that getting writing done is difficult, because the entire planet is in stress, not just my own life.

V. CASTRO: With my children around I had to get creative with time. The anxiety that comes with all the uncertainty has also required me to take more time to clear my head. With that said, writing is always a safe haven for me. I have actually managed to write a lot.

R.J. JOSEPH: I absolutely love what V. Castro and Sonora Taylor have done with Fright Girl Summer. I hope Fright Girls have the entire year of seasons, for eternity! One thing about the pandemic is I get to spend time in my favorite place: my home. I’ve always felt most comfortable in my little cocoon, surrounded by our things, puttering about. My commute to work is super long because of Houston traffic, so when I go to campus, I have to time comings and goings to avoid the longest times. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted and the kids are wanting to know what’s for dinner.

Sycorax's DaughtersNow that I’m already at home, I have time to do so much stuff. Like, pretend to be a domestic goddess who cooks and makes all these crafty things. I get to be the doting abuela to my darling little grandboo. The biggest impact: I’ve felt relaxed enough to start writing again. Frustration with the genre gatekeepers and so few opportunities held me in a perpetual state of anxiety about even attempting to write while I was also juggling work and home. With the escalation of the Black Lives Matter movement and what just might be sincere overtures by some publishing gatekeepers, I’ve found myself willing to start submitting more.

G.G. SILVERMAN: This year, in truth, has been difficult, because it seems that basic survival is about ten times harder (I’m looking at you, pandemic!), which makes writing time more fractured. That said, I’m committed to continuing the work, and having to find ways to cocoon away from the distracting news cycle. I did somehow write a slew of poetry so far this year, and one piece of new short fiction, and have to remind myself that any progress, however small, is progress. Those other stories that are halfway done, they will eventually be born.

Regarding events moving online due to the pandemic, I must say that as a person who has struggled with disabilities, I think the move toward more accessible events by streaming them is fantastic. There are so many people who were previously shut out to certain things because of physical limitations. Now I can attend classes or readings anywhere from the comfort of my home. I hope that after the pandemic, we as a society consider making physical events more inclusive by streaming them for the sake of those who are physically prevented from attending in person.

SONORA TAYLOR: Honestly, it’s made writing harder. You’d think being home more would mean more time to write and to write even more. I certainly thought so. And while I’ve gotten stuff done, the mental toll has had a greater effect on my ability to sit down and write than I anticipated.

It’s made me learn to be gentler with myself and understand that it’s okay to pace myself when it comes to writing stories. What’s meant to be done will get done.

So that’s Part One of our roundtable! Join us again next week as we discuss these fantastic authors’ journeys through the publishing industry as well as the books on their TBR list!

Happy reading, and happy Fright Girl Summer!

This is Horror: Interview with Michael David Wilson

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to feature the fantastic Michael David Wilson! Michael is the founder of This is Horror, an amazing website and resource for the horror genre, as well as an accomplished author in his own right. His new book, The Girl in the Video, is out now from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.

Recently, Michael and I discussed his inspiration (and almost-origin story) as a writer, his new and forthcoming work, as well as his favorite and least 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 recently heard several writers, including Nick Mamatas and Max Booth III, say writers need to get better origin stories so I’m tempted to tell you about when I was four years old and a group of men wearing horse masks and brandishing machetes stormed the house and held my family hostage. They only agreed to release us if the firstborn made a blood oath there and then vowing to become a professional writer. As the firstborn, that responsibility fell to me. I say tempted because none of that actually happened so I’ll have to disappoint Mamatas and Booth and tell you something more cliched but at least authentic.

Stories have always been an important part of my life. Since I was a kid my mother would read bedtime stories to me. To begin with it was the likes of Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton, then when it came to choosing my own stories I selected tales by Roal Dahl and a little later, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. I remember reading George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roal Dahl and deciding to write my own rip-off version on an Acorn Computer. I also wrote stories about animals going on adventures because that seemed to be the thing to do (thanks Homeward Bound and Watership Down) and at nine years old I wrote the weird Jack and the Beanstalk inspired tale, James and the Chocolate Tree which I described at great length on an episode of the Ladies of the Fright podcast.

But I think my fascination with darker tales started with my grandmother. When I was young I’d stay over at my grandparents’ house and she’d tell me ghost stories and detail strange supernatural occurrences in England. The lines between what was fiction and nonfiction blurred so much that it would be impossible to tell you which events supposedly occurred and which were just stories. It was then that I experienced my first adrenaline rush as a result of horror stories and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Haruki Murakami, Jack Ketchum, and Ania Ahlborn are up there with my favourite authors. Right now I’m reading Wolf Town by Jeff Strand—I love the witty minimalist dialogue and the way in which he blends horror with pitch black laugh-out-loud humour. I’m also reading Mackenzie Kiera’s All You Need is Love and a Strong Electric Current, coming out later this year via Unnerving. Talk about a book that doesn’t hold back! It’s sexy, it’s extreme, it’s daring, it’s in your face, it’s unflinching, and it’s hilarious. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those with the stomach, turn the page, Mackenzie will show you a good time and then she’ll mess you up.

Congratulations on the release of your book, The Girl in the Video! What was the inspiration for this story, and what was the process like as you were writing it?

I was taking part in the ‘write one story per week’ challenge in 2017 when Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing put out a call for their anthology, Lost Films. I love the work that Lori and Max do at PMMP and I think Lost Signals is amongst the best anthologies released in recent years. Naturally I started drafting up ideas for stories that might be suitable for Lost Films. Pretty soon I had a story that was far longer than the maximum word count for stories in the anthology. I mentioned it to Max and he said to send it his way and to my delight PMMP decided to publish it as a stand-alone.

As for inspiration and process, when I’m writing for a theme I like to take the James Altucher approach: if you can’t come up with a good idea, come up with twenty ideas. This is along the lines of giving yourself permission to suck. I’ll start writing down 20 ideas and then seeing which ideas might just work. I’ll often combine elements from each of the ideas until I have a basic premise. For The Girl in the Video I knew early doors that it was going to involve an English teacher in Japan receiving strange videos. I wanted to examine the worst possible outcome when you click that unsolicited link, combined with the claustrophobic nature of being in another country where the native language is not your own, and of course there’s the exploration of the darker side of technology and just how much of our private lives we’re putting out there for anyone to access. The Girl in the Video is pitched as The Ring meets Fatal Attraction for the iPhone generation. If that sounds like your thing and you like dialogue-heavy, minimalist fiction, with dark humour, this one may be for you.

I’m a planner, so I knew the main beats of the story and how it would end before writing anything but I’m not too precious about the plan, if I have to change course during the writing then so be it. Funnily enough, that’s happened a number of times with my collaboration with Bob Pastorella, Peeper Ritual. What start off as a short novella became a 45,000+ word novel.

I absolutely love the cover for the book. Who’s the artist, and how did the cover develop?

That’s Pye Parr. I’ve known him since I worked at Rebellion Publishing (2000 AD, Solaris, Abaddon Books) and he’s done the cover art for a number of This Is Horror titles (perhaps most notably A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman). I knew I wanted him to do the cover art for my debut book and to my delight PMMP were onboard. As I’ve worked with Pye, I trust his judgment and we have the cover art process streamlined—I send him the story, he reads it, he comes up with four rough cover concepts, I tell him what I like and don’t like and then he drafts something up. After that we go back and forth until the cover is perfect. In early drafts the cover was more black and red but as soon as Pye started messing around with all those bright colours The Girl in the Video cover reached the next level. I couldn’t be happier with it and I love how many people have commented on the cover, too. It’s been a delight to see so many people photographing it on Instagram for the bookstagram community.

You’re widely known in the horror community as the founder of This Is Horror. How has your work for the site and in particular your work as an interviewer shaped your writing?

At this point I’ve now interviewed hundreds of writers and heard so many pieces of writing advice over the years. Funnily enough it was you, Gwendolyn, who said “when it comes to writing advice—your mileage may vary”. I take a similar approach to writing and indeed all advice, it was Bruce Lee who said: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own”.

Now the writing advice is great in terms of the technical aspect of the craft but perhaps what has been more useful for many listeners are those talking candidly about mental health struggles, work-life balance, family-writing balance, perseverance, dealing with failure and rejection, and time management. It’s one thing to teach someone how to write well but you also have to learn how to practically be a writer under your own unique circumstances. A lot of creatives are likely to be far harsher to themselves than they are to others. Don’t say something to yourself you wouldn’t allow someone else to say about you. Be kind to yourself. Work hard and persevere but also give yourself a break.

Perhaps the thing above all that helped me as a writer was giving myself permission to be me and to write in my own authentic voice. For a number of years I wondered if in interviewing masters of horror like Ramsey Campbell and Adam Nevill if I’d inadvertently created a situation where whatever I put out I would disappoint people because the writing I produced bore little resemblance to those I interviewed. Of course this was bollocks, not least because I’ve interviewed such a wide range of authors from Victor LaValle to Nadia Bulkin to Elizabeth Hand to David Moody to Peng Shepherd etc. etc. As soon as I let go of having to write how one might expect the founder of This Is Horror to write and I just wrote as my authentic self, I wrote easier and I wrote better. My writing is minimalist, dialogue heavy, awkward, dark, at times humorous, and above all it’s authentically me. Perhaps it’s horror, perhaps it isn’t but what matters is it’s the fiction that best reflects me as a writer and what do you know people are responding to it well, too. I mean, praise from Josh Malerman, Brian Keene, Alan Baxter, and David Moody—a review from Mother Horror in Cemetery Dance … are you kidding me?! Surreal and gratifying.

Your next book, House of Bad Memories, is due out next year. What can you share about that story?

It lands via Grindhouse Press and I’m pitching it as This Is England meets Prisoners meets Peep Show. I reckon it’s darker and more unrelenting than The Girl in the Video though it’s not without its humour. It’s set in the UK and if it were adapted for film I could see someone like Shane Meadows as the screenwriter and director.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process? What’s your least favorite part?

When the first draft is going well that’s very satisfying. I also like the final draft where I’m just tinkering with word choice and looking at the story on a sentence by sentence level.

My least favourite part is when I wonder “what if this was all a fluke?” or “what if I’ve told all the good stories I have to tell?” or “what if I’m actually just a bit shit?” Model illogical, of course, but what I’m saying is self-doubt’s a bastard.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m just fine-tuning Peeper Ritual with Bob Pastorella which should be out later this year. I’m also in the early stages of a collaboration with Max Booth III called Wounded Duck. My current long-form solo project is called She’s Gotta Die—it’s Kill List meets Weekend at Bernie’s meets The Wicker Man.

Huge thanks to Michael David Wilson for being part of this week’s author interview series! Find him online at his website as well as Twitter and Instagram at @wilsonthewriter. Also, check out This is Horror at its main site and on Twitter and on Instagram!

Happy reading!

Summertime Scares: Submission Roundup for July 2020

Welcome back for July’s Submission Roundup! This month offers plenty of fantastic opportunities, so if you’ve got a piece seeking a home, then one of these markets might be a perfect fit!

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

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

Submission Roundup

Fantasy Magazine
Payment: $40 per poem; .08/word for fiction
Length: up to 6 poems; up to 7,500 words for fiction
Deadline: July 8th, 2020
What They Want: The recently resurrected Fantasy Magazine is currently seeking poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction in the fantasy genre.
Find the details here.

Tor’s Nightfire
Payment: Advance & royalties
Length: Novellas & Novels
Deadline: Submission period is open from July 15th to July 22nd, 2020
What They Want: For one week only, Tor’s Nightfire imprint will be open to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) authors only. The editors are seeking adult horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Lackington’s
Payment: .01/word (CAD) with $25 minimum
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: Opens to submissions on July 14th, 2020
What They Want: Open to stylized speculative fiction. The current theme is Archives.
Find the details here.

Mythic
Payment: .01/word
Length: 2,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: July 31st, 2020
What They Want: Currently open to fantasy and science fiction stories.
Find the details here.

Typehouse Literary Magazine
Payment: $18/flat
Length: up to 5,000 words for fiction and up to 6 poems
Deadline: July 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide variety of genres. Also, the editors are specifically seeking work from Black authors.
Find the details here.

Cemetery Gates Media
Payment: .05/word
Length: 3,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: August 1st, 2020
What They Want: This horror anthology is seeking short fiction about “local lore or location-based oddities.”
Find the details here.

Violent Vixens: An Homage to Grindhouse Horror
Payment: $50/flat
Length: 2,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: August 1st, 2020
What They Want: This anthology is looking for horror fiction inspired by Grindhouse cinema and featuring a strong female lead.
Find the details here.

HWA Scholarships
Payment: Scholarship amounts vary
Deadline: August 1st, 2020
What They Want: Open to members of Horror Writers Association, there are currently multiple scholarships available, including for horror nonfiction, dark poetry, women in horror, and more.
Find the details here.

Eerie River Publishing
Payment: Varies; between $10 to $25 CAD
Length: 5,000 to 15,000 words for With Blood and Ash anthology; 2,000 to 8,000 words for It Calls from the Sea anthology
Deadline: August 1st, 2020 for With Blood and Ash; September 15th, 2020 for It Calls from the Sea
What They Want: Currently open to two anthologies including the ocean-themed horror anthology, It Calls from the Sea, and the elemental magic horror anthology, With Blood and Ash.
Find the details here.

Something Good to Eat
Payment: $100/flat
Length: 2,000 to 10,000 words
Deadline: August 21st, 2020
What They Want: This Halloween-themed anthology is open to a wide variety of horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Ladies of Horror Fiction Scholarships
Payment: $100 scholarships
Deadline: August 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to women authors, the Ladies of Horror Fiction are currently offering ten $100 scholarships.
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.

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.

Happy submitting!