Category Archives: Fiction

The Horror Year that Was: 2019 Award Eligibility Post

So 2019 is officially in the rearview mirror, which means now it’s time for this annual post. As everyone always says, it tends to be a little weird to do an award eligibility blog, but at the same time, it’s also nice to look back at the year that was, so here we go, once more unto the breach!

For me, last year was all about new short fiction and nonfiction as well as promoting The Rust Maidens. I didn’t have any longer fiction projects released, although The Invention of Ghosts is right on the horizon, so that will be a big new project for 2020. As for 2019, I had nine new short stories make their way into the world along with five nonfiction articles. Here’s a bit of an overview on each!

The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” (Nightmare, November 2019)
A retelling of Dracula through Lucy’s perspective, this tale has got bloodlust, rage, and revenge, all while reclaiming the identity of a very unsung character of horror literature. Based on reader responses, this is one of my very best received short stories, with Curious Fictions calling it “a wonderful and subversive take on the classic story.” Plus, it’s free to read, so that’s always nice.

All the Ways to Hollow Out a Girl” (Horror for RAICES, December 2019)
An isolated teenage girl has an uncanny knack for resurrection, which makes her a target for a group of neighborhood boys. All proceeds from this wonderful anthology go to benefit RAICES.

A New Mother’s Guide for Raising an Abomination” (The New Flesh: A Literary Tribute to David Cronenberg, November 2019)
An eager mother gets more than she bargained for when her baby undergoes a monstrous transformation, joining a legion of other little girls who are more than what they seem. Part of the Cronenberg tribute anthology, this tale is a nod to The Brood as well as the overall body horror vibe of Cronenberg’s work.

When the Nightingale Devours the Stars” (Nox Pareidolia, October 2019)
Two women are trapped in a hellish small town, one of them cursed with a gift of strange magic that might just be able to save them both. This beautiful anthology is packed with so many incredible writers and has been quite well-received so far by readers.

The Girls from the Horror Movie” (Come Join Us by the Fire, October 2019)
A pair of twins were the unlikely stars of a horror film when they were children. Years later, they still haven’t escaped its cinematic thrall. Another personal favorite, this story is part of the flagship project for Tor’s new Nightfire imprint.

Over the Violets There that Lie” (Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror, August 2019)
It’s the turbulent 1960s, and a troubled housewife finds herself cast in a gruesome anthology film dedicated to the work of Edgar Allan Poe. 2019 was definitely a year for me and film-centric tales, a theme I most certainly hope to continue building on in the future.

A Lost Student’s Handbook for Surviving the Abyss“(Welcome to Miskatonic University, July 2019)
A college student confronts cosmic horror, displacement, and identity issues all while coping with her first semester at the famed university. This is such a fun anthology, and I love that I got to do my own spin on the Lovecraftian mythos with this tale. Another fantastic table of contents, Broken Eye Books always puts out such great anthologies.

The Woman Out of the Attic” (Haunted House Short Stories, March 2019)
A re-imagining of the Madwoman in the Attic trope. A lonely ghost haunts the grand estate where she once lived with her brooding husband. When he brings home a new wife, the ghost starts to realize that perhaps her fate isn’t as hopeless and inevitable as she thought. This one was recently reprinted at Pseudopod and is available on the podcast for free here.

Tips for How to Deal with Your Daughter When She’s Become a Monster” (Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, February 2019)
A horrifying discovery forces a mother to come to terms with her teenage daughter’s monstrous nature. True to its title, this anthology features reimaginings of the Medusa and gorgon legends, and it’s a truly fantastic table of contents with a gorgeous Daniele Serra cover.

As for my nonfiction, I had an essay featured at Kendall Reviews about holiday ghost stories, a guest post on body horror over at the lovely Ladies of Horror Fiction site, and a folk horror article and a retrospective on the 60th anniversary on Psycho in Unnerving. My most scholarly article appeared in the excellent Vastarien back in February; “Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” examines Gilman’s legacy through her exploration of witchcraft, psychology, and feminism.

If you’re recommending for awards, I would be absolutely thrilled to provide copies of any of the works above; just feel free to drop me a line!

Last year also saw me officially earn the title of “award-winning writer,” which means provided I don’t worry myself into an early grave, I’ll one day be that old person with a bony fist, shaking it at the sky and croaking out things like “Back in my day, I won awards, and I’ve got the cool swag on my wall to prove it!” Although I suppose I’m a little like that old person now, so maybe none of us has to wait for that reality.

In all seriousness, it was a really wonderful and fortunate year professionally for me, and I have nothing but gratitude for that. Once again, thank you to all the fans of The Rust Maidens; your support is what carried it to the Stoker and the This is Horror award, and that’s still astounding to me. So thank you thank you thank you.

So that was my year. It was a very good one professionally, which leaves me hopeful that 2020 might not turn out too shabby either.

Until next time, happy New Year, and happy reading!

Happy New Year for Fiction: Submission Roundup for January 2020

Welcome back to the first Submission Roundup of 2020! Lots of great opportunities this month, both submission calls that were featured in December as well as several new ones. But before we get started, first the usual disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets. I’m merely spreading the word! Please direct your questions to their respective editors.

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

Submission RoundupThe Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror
Payment: .04/word
Length: 4,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: January 7th, 2020
What They Want: The follow-up to the highly successful The Fiends in the Furrows, the editors are seeking folk horror stories from around the world.
Find the details here.

Dark Stars: An Anthology
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 3,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: For their forthcoming anthology, Death’s Head Press is seeking horror-sci-fi stories (think Alien and Event Horizon). 
Find the details here.

The New Gothic Review
Payment: $15/flat
Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: Original short stories that deal with the unknown, the dark, and the atmospheric. Eerie horror, weird fiction, fairy tales, and light science fiction are all welcome so long as the stories have Gothic elements.
Find the details here.

Electric Spec
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 250 to 7,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide range of speculative short fiction.
Find the details here.

The Macabre Museum
Payment: $25/flat for fiction; $5/flat for poetry
Length: 3,000 to 6,000 words for fiction; up to 3 poems
Deadline: January 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to literary horror fiction and poetry.
Find the details here.

Triangulation: Dark Skies
Payment: .03/word
Length: up to 5,000 words (3,000 preferred)
Deadline: February 29th, 2020
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction stories that deal with extinction.
Find the details here.

Midnight in the Pentagram
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: March 31st, 2020
What They Want: Silver Shamrock Publishing is seeking short fiction about the occult, possession, demons, and satanism in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, and Creepshow among others.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Fantastical Fun: Interview with Jamie Lackey

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight author Jamie Lackey. She’s the author of Left-Hand Gods, Moving Forward: A Novella of Life After Zombies, and The Blood of Four Gods and Other Stories, as well as an accomplished editor.

Recently, Jamie and I discussed her inspiration as a speculative fiction author as well as her genre favorites and her writing plans for the future.

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

I’ve always wanted to be a writer–the first thing I remember writing is retelling of Disney’s The Little Mermaid when I was in elementary school, and I just never stopped. Though I did stop copying Disney movies. Eugie Foster, Peter S. Beagle, Octavia Butler, and Lois McMaster Bujold are some of my favorite authors.

You’ve written in the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres. Do you remember your first experience with speculative fiction? What are a few of your personal favorite genre books or films?

I think the first speculative book I read was The Hobbit, in about third grade. The Last Unicorn is one of my favorites for both books and movies. I also really enjoyed both the book and movie of The Martian. I also really love pretty much every Pixar movie.

You’ve written a great deal of flash fiction, which I personally feel is one of the most unsung yet wonderful lengths of fiction. What is it about this particular length of stories that appeals to you?

I like how direct it is. There’s not a lot of time in flash fiction for red herrings or digressions that don’t really matter to the story. I’m a pretty impatient person by nature, so it always makes me happy when a story just gets on with it. I also like how quick it is to both read and write. As a writer, I really like finishing things, and flash fiction stories are about the easiest things to actually finish.

You’ve been a slush pile reader as well as an editor, both at Electric Velocipede and on the Triangulation anthology series. How has being on the other side of things changed your perspective of the writing process?

It helped me to understand that rejection really isn’t personal. It also helped me to see things that lots and lots of people do that don’t really work and try to avoid those things myself.

You’ve written a novel as well as over 150 short stories. How does your process differ between long versus short fiction?

Short fiction is sooo much easier for me. The process is essentially the same, but longer things are so much more work.

If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: plotting an initial idea, working on a first draft, or polishing up an almost-finished piece?

I think the polishing up is my favorite step. That’s when I think about theme and that sort of big picture thing, and when the story really coalesces into what it’s going to be.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on one novel–a Pride and Prejudice retelling where Mrs. Bennet trades Lizzie and Mary to a witch to make Lydia a boy.

I’m also working on a handful of short stories.
1. An epistolary story where the letters are from an artificial intelligence that can travel from one person to another by eye contact, and addressed to a girl whose mind it lived in for a few years.
2. A fantasy story where the emperor stole all the magic in the world and doles it out as he pleases.
3. A group of angels meeting up to make people’s days better in tiny ways.
4. A hollow earth story with feathered riding dinosaurs.

Big thanks to Jamie Lackey for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find her online at her website as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Happy reading!

Lyrical Curses: Interview with Candace Robinson

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m pleased to feature Candace Robinson. Candace is the author of numerous books including Clouded by Envy, Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, Lullaby of Flames, and Bacon Pie, among others. She also runs the popular blog, Literary Dust, which features author interviews and reviews.

Recently, Candace and I discussed her new book, Veiled By Desire, as well as her love of horror and her upcoming projects.

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

I first decided to become a writer senior year of high school when we had to do an assignment where we had to write down our thoughts for a certain length of time. Somehow my thoughts turned into the start of a story! But I didn’t actually write my first story until years later! Some of my favorite authors are Holly Black, Sarah J. Mass, Natalia Jaster, and Brenna Yovanoff!

Your new book, Veiled by Desire, is due out this month. What can you share about the process for this book? How long did it take you to write it, and what was the inspiration behind it?

This was actually the first idea I ever had for a book which dates back to 2003, but it literally took me forever to get the full story in my head. I ended up writing several other books before it finally came together. I even ended up writing Clouded By Envy first, which is a prequel of sorts. Anyway, I wrote the first draft within a month in September of 2018!

You’re a fan of horror, and your darkly fantastical work often reflects that love. How did you first fall in love with horror? Do you remember the first horror film you saw or horror book that you read, and do you have a current favorite?

I’ve been watching horror movies since I could pretty much walk, seriously. I’m not sure if my parents should have been letting me watch these movies, but they did lol! The first one I recall ever watching would have to be Nightmare on Elm Street which I still love today! My all time favorite horror movie is either May or The Bride of Frankenstein.

You live in Houston, Texas. How, if at all, do you find your hometown influencing your writing?

Well, I live in Deer Park, and for Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, I actually used the town as the setting for it. Actually, most of my books that take place in the real world are set around here!

All of your covers are so beautiful! What’s been the process behind the artwork for your different books?

I actually suck at designing covers, so this is actually all thanks to the wonderful cover designers! I really wish I could design and do stuff the way they can.

Out of your published work, do you have a personal favorite?

I’d have to say Lyrics & Curses. It technically doesn’t come out until November 2020, but it’s set in 1985, and I just love 80s stuff so much! Plus, those characters are my babies!

What projects are you working on now?

I just finished up a short story and am trying to revise another old manuscript, so hopefully I can make those readable!

Where can we find you online?

Website: http://authorcandacerobinson.wordpress.com

Blog: http://literarydust.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/literarydust

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/literarydust/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/literarydust

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16541001.Candace_Robinson

Tremendous thanks to Candace Robinson for being this week’s featured author!

Happy reading!

Deep Water: Interview with Chad Lutzke

Welcome back for this week’s author interview. Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight Chad Lutzke. Chad is the author of numerous books including The Pale White, The Same Deep Water as You, Stirring the Sheets, and Out Behind the Barn with co-author John Boden.

Recently, Chad and I discussed the inspiration behind his recent novellas as well as his process as a writer and his future plans.

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

I didn’t really start taking writing seriously as something I’d like to make a career of until 2014. At the time, my favorite writers were the usual suspects: King, Koontz, McCammon, Barker, and Poe, but since then I’ve had a far greater appreciation for Ketchum and Lansdale.

Congratulations on the recent release of The Pale White! What was the inspiration behind the book?

Thank you. I wish I had something cool to give you, but the truth is I don’t really remember. Sometimes ideas just pop into my head. That was one of them.

I absolutely adore the cover for The Pale White. It’s so evocative and tells such a story on its own. Who is the artist, and how did the cover develop?

Thank you. Zach McCain did that cover. He also did Out Behind the Barn, The Same Deep Water as You and Halo of Flies. It was just something I envisioned. I drew a sketch of it and sent it to Zach along with very detailed instructions on how I want the girls to look, the house, the stained glass and even the hues. Zach is great at giving me exactly what I ask for.

Earlier this year, you also released The Same Deep Water as You. What was the inspiration and process behind this book? How did it differ from your process with The Pale White?

The Same Deep Water as You is about 98% nonfiction. It was my life in the year ’89/’90. I took the liberty of adding a few things, but for the most part its autobiographical and an experiment for me to write…my idea of dark romance that was basically just for me. Fortunately, people seem to connect with it. Because nearly all of it’s true, it came out very fast. I wrote it in 10 days in a notebook by hand. The Pale White took much longer. It was something I kept putting on the back burner.

Your work often falls in the novella category. What is it that draws you to this length of stories? Also, how is your approach different or similar when working on short stories versus longer fiction?

I like a small cast of characters in isolated incidents. I’m not into long, drawn-out characterization, going on for pages with character backgrounds, and I’m also not big on description. Mix those dislikes with my love for lean prose and you get a shorter book. Often times the short stories I write are nothing more than me starting with an intriguing opening sentence. Something that hooks me enough to keep writing, with the need to know where it’s going. Eventually things come together and the pieces fit. It sounds messier than it is. While I still pants all of my books, I usually have more of an idea on where it’s headed before I start one.

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

Probably developing characters, particularly if I have no idea where things are headed. I love that spontaneity. It keeps me interested. Once I get a better idea of the character, I fill in the blanks later, but the most fun is getting there.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m finishing up a crime noir book called The Neon Owl and slowly writing another book with John Boden. I’m also writing a book with Boden and Bob Ford, which is in the early developmental stages. I have another project I’m doing with another author, but it’s too early to spill the beans on that one yet.

Huge thanks to Chad Lutzke for being part of this week’s author interview series! Find him online at his website!

Happy reading!

Autumnal Fiction: Submission Roundup for November 2019

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! There are plenty of wonderful writing opportunities out there this month, so get those stories of yours polished up and sent out into the world!

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors. And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Podcastle
Payment: .08/word for original fiction; $100/flat for reprints over 1,500 words; $20/flat for reprints under 1,500 words
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: November 15th, 2019
What They Want: Open to original and reprint fantasy stories of all subgenres. 
Find the details here.

Enchanted Conversation
Payment: $10/flat
Length: 700 to 2,000 words (1,200 words are ideal)
Deadline: November 20th, 2019
What They Want: Enchanted Magazine is seeking fairy tales, folktales, and myths that can either be retellings of established stories or featuring original characters. This issue’s theme is Winter.
Find the details here.

Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy Short Stories
Payment: .08/word for original fiction; .06/word for reprints
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: December 1st, 2019
What They Want: Flame Tree is seeking short stories for their popular Gothic Fantasy anthology series. The current themes are Bodies in the Library, which will include crime and mystery stories, and Footsteps in the Dark, which will feature horror and suspense fiction.
Find the details here.

The Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror
Payment: .04/word
Length: 4,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: January 7th, 2020
What They Want: The follow-up to the highly successful The Fiends in the Furrows, the editors are seeking folk horror stories from around the world.
Find the details here.

The New Gothic Review
Payment: $15/flat
Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: Original short stories that deal with the unknown, the dark, and the atmospheric. Eerie horror, weird fiction, fairy tales, and light science fiction are all welcome so long as the stories have Gothic elements.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Table of Contents Reveal for NOX PAREIDOLIA from Nightscape Press!

So this week ushered in the big table of contents reveal for NOX PAREIDOLIA, the highly anticipated anthology from Nightscape Press, and to say that I’m thrilled about it is a massive understatement!

*cue banners and streamers and screams of joy*

Slated for an October 31st release, this is sure to be one of the very coolest anthologies of the year, and I’m completely elated that I get to be part of it! My story, “When the Nightingale Devours the Stars,” is all about birds, small towns, death cults, and outsiders fighting for their place in the world. It’s a story I’m so proud of, and I am positively overjoyed that it found such a wonderful home.

So without further adieu, let’s see that gorgeous TOC, shall we?

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR NOX PAREIDOLIA
“Watch Me Burn With the Light of Ghosts” by Paul Jessup
“Immolation” by Kristi DeMeester
“Her Eyes Are Winter” by Christopher Ropes
“8X10” by Duane Pesice and Don Webb
“Bag and Baggage” by Greg Sisco
“The Dredger” by Matt Thompson
“Hello” by Michael Wehunt
“Gardening Activities for Couples” by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
“Lies I Told Myself” by Lynne Jamneck
“The Unkindness” by Dino Parenti
“Merge Now” by Kurt Fawver
“when we were trespassers” by doungjai gam
“Rum Punch is Going Down” by Daniel Braum
“Unmoored” by Sean M. Thompson
“Just Beyond the Shore” by Elizabeth Beechwood
“The Schoolmaster” by David Peak
“The Past You Have, The Future You Deserve” by K.H. Vaughan
“Herr Sheintod” by LC von Hessen
“The Room Above” by Brian Evenson
“Sincerely Eden” by Amelia Gorman
“Wild Dogs” by Carrie Laben
“The Moody Rooms of Agatha Tate” by Wendy Nikel
“Salmon Run” by Andrew Kozma
“The Little Drawer of Chaos” by Annie Neugebauer
“When the Nightingale Devours the Stars” by Gwendolyn Kiste
“Far From Home” by Dan Coxon
“Birds” by Zin E. Rocklyn
“Strident Caller” by Laird Barron
“The Taste of Rot” by Steve Toase
“Venom” by S.P. Miskowski
“In the Vastness of the Sovereign Sky” by S.L. Edwards

As you can see from that list, this is a massive horror anthology, clocking in at over 300 pages. And look at all those names! From major award winners to fantastic up-and-comers, these are truly some of the very best short fiction authors of horror and the weird today, and I’m so very happy to be included among them.

As if these wonderfully weird words weren’t enough, every story in the book has an illustration to accompany it, and as always, the artwork from Luke Spooner is out-of-this-world beautiful. My lovely, creepy birds are featured above, but you can see all the art for NOX on social media by heading over here or here. And, you know, you could also go ahead and buy this supremely cool anthology and enjoy the art and the words for many weird years to come! It’s already available for pre-order on the Nightscape Press site as well as on Amazon.

As per the usual, you can expect lots more celebration of this anthology from my social media and blog in the weeks to come. Because really, what’s better than a horror anthology making its fearsome debut in the world on Samhain?

Happy reading, and happy spooky Halloween season!

Spooky Stories: Submission Roundup for October 2019

Welcome back for October’s Submission Roundup! Lots of great opportunities this month, so start polishing up those stories now!

As always, a word from the keeper of the blog: I am not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. That means if you have any questions, please direct them to their respective editor.

Now onward with this month’s submission calls!

Submission Roundup

Electric Spec
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 250 to 7,000 words
Deadline: October 15th, 2019
What They Want: Open to a wide range of speculative short fiction.
Find the details here.

Dark Divinations
Payment: $10/flat
Length: 2,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2019
What They Want: Editor Naching T. Kassa is seeking horror stories about divination set in the Victorian age.
Find the details here.

Arsenika
Payment: $60/flat for fiction; $30/flat for poetry
Length: up to 1,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2019
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction and poetry, including horror.
Find the details here.

Movies, Monsters, and Mayhem
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2019
What They Want: Open to short stories that feature a monster in a movie setting.
Find the details here.

Pulp Horror Phobias Volume 2
Payment: .04/word
Length: 4,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2019
What They Want: Lycan Valley Press is seeking pulp/noir stories that deal with phobias.
Find the details here.

The Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror
Payment: .04/word
Length: 4,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: Opens November 1st, 2019 for submissions
What They Want: The follow-up to the highly successful The Fiends in the Furrows, the editors are seeking folk horror stories from around the world.
Find the details here.

Happy reading and submitting!

Poetry of the Night: Interview with Cina Pelayo

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today I’m thrilled to spotlight Cina Pelayo. Cina’s an accomplished and award-winning poet and fiction author with numerous books including Poems of My Night, Santa Muerte, Loteria, and The Missing.

Over the summer, Cina and I discussed her inspiration as an author, her gorgeous covers by Abigail Larson, and her future writing plans.

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

I started writing in high school, but non-fiction. My undergraduate degree is in journalism and I worked as a freelance journalist for about 10 years before moving on to fiction writing. I started writing fiction while pursuing an MFA. I have always loved horror. I watched my first horror movie at 5 and was pretty obsessed with all things horror to the point that my mother consulted with her priest about my obsession with horror movies, books, magazines and fascination with the occult. She wound up throwing away my Ouija board, but I put my foot down on horror movies and books and she left me alone from there thinking it was a phase. I guess it wasn’t a phase?

What draws you to horror? Do you remember your first experience with the genre, and do you have a favorite film or book that serves as your horror go-to?

I live in inner city Chicago – not the suburbs where most people live who say they live in Chicago. I’ve seen it all. Gangs. Guns. Drugs. My elementary school friend is serving life for murder. A classmate from high school was paralyzed days before graduation. I’ve covered stories as a journalist where I’ve showed up to the scene and the body is still there on the ground for all to see. Those things don’t leave you. They become a part of you. That together with my mother’s wild religious superstitions (We once had a quasi-exorcism in our house) have stayed with me. My mother has also had her fair share of exposure to horrific crimes that she has shared with me. A neighbor girl from her town was abducted and raped and killed and her dismembered body was discarded in her parent’s trash can. My mother also recalls people’s fears of witches and the occult from her town and she’s shared these stories with me. My father has shared stories of strange occurrences from his town as well.

I wish I could say that fiction has been my sole inspiration, but it’s really been non-fiction that has influenced my fascination with the horror genre. Why do people do horrible things to one another? What is their motivation?

In terms of my first exposure to the horror fiction genre it’s seeing A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was about 5-years-old while my brother was baby sitting me. Freddy is forever my first and favorite. In terms of a horror book that is my go-to, it’s The Exorcist. When I think of all of the horror novels that I wish I could write it would be that one.

You’ve written both fiction and poetry. Is your approach to writing the same or different depending on the medium? Is there one you prefer over the other?

Different. With fiction I am much more organized and structured, and sometimes it’s a really grueling experience with editing and rearranging scenes and understanding the logic and motivation behind what is going on. I think of it mathematically sometimes, if this plus this then it equals this, and then I wind up overthinking what is going on, how I am saying it and even where it’s located in the story. Sometimes that overthinking stunts me, I freeze, and I just stall writing.

With poetry, it’s much looser and I feel more at peace with what I am doing. It feels closest to painting for me when I write poetry. Yes, there is some editing and rearranging of things like with fiction, but I really enjoy writing poetry. It’s musical. It’s beautiful, and it’s much more personal for me.

You recently were a judge for the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume 6 alongside Christa Carmen and editor Stephanie M. Wytovich. What was that experience like, and do you foresee more editing work in your future?

Stephanie and Christa are two of the most wonderful horror writers working in our genre today. Both of them are incredibly smart and talented and just very pleasant to be around and talk to. I enjoy their work tremendously and I just enjoy them as overall people. It was a joy to be able to work on this project and I still can’t believe I was able to do that.

I’m not really an editor. I am in awe of those who edit. I’ve been trying to revive my indie press (Burial Day) for some time and that’s probably the most editing I will allow myself to do so that I can focus on creating.

Your books all have such beautiful covers! What can you share about the process of working with your cover artists?

Thank you but I can’t take credit for that. That is really the work of Abigail Larson. She’s a genius and I have been working with Abigail for about 10 years now. She is extremely busy (which is fantastic) and so I am lucky when she has availability. I usually send her a few ideas… all notes and not visuals because I really want her to come at it through her lens. She’s brilliant and always creates something perfect for my work.

Out of your published work, do you have a personal favorite?

Poems of My Night is the most personal. Santa Muerte is my first published work so that will always be a special piece for me. Loteria was my thesis, so it’s special because of that. I have really enjoyed my short stories lately. I have one coming out soon for a Puerto Rico charity anthology edited by Angel Luis Colon from Down and Out Books – Pa Que Tu Lo Sepas, and that is my favorite short story I have written in some time. I also really like the short story I wrote for She’s Lost Control.

What projects are you currently working on?

I feel like I have been editing this novel for two years… and that’s because I have. I’m trying to wrap up a detective-horror novel right now. After that, I’m likely going back to my YA horror roots but I’m not completely certain yet.

Tremendous thanks to Cina Pelayo for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find her online at Twitter and her website!

Happy reading!

My Schedule for Saugatuck StoryFest 2019

In just one week, we’ll be hitting the road and heading out to the awesome Saugatuck StoryFest in Westport, Connecticut! It’s my last convention for the year, and I’m incredibly excited for it! So in case you’ll be there, here’s my official schedule of panels and signings during the event. (Plus, check out this super cool graphic that StoryFest created for me! EEEE!)

Scary Stories Presented by the Horror Writers Association on Saturday, September 28th at 12pm
Moderated by HWA president John Palisano, I’ll be joining panelists Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Mallory O’Meara, Grady Hendrix, and J.W. Ocker on The Forum Stage. We’ll be talking all about the current state of the horror genre as well as its future. And as if all of this isn’t cool enough, this panel serves as the “opening act” for R.L. Stine who will be giving his keynote address right afterward. For real, how cool is that?! *writer swoon*

Book Signing on Saturday, September 28th at 2:30pm
If you want a chance to talk a bit or to pick up a copy of The Rust Maidens, Pretty Marys All in a Row, or And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, I’ll be signing books in the afternoon. This signing event will also include all the great panelists and moderator from the previous panel plus the absolutely delightful and talented Christa Carmen. So head on out to meet us all and get your books signed!

The Storyteller in the World on Saturday, September 28th at 3:30pm
My second panel of the weekend explores the worlds that writers create and how we have personal connections to those worlds. Moderated by Meryl Moss, I’ll be with fellow panelists Marah Hardt, L.L. McKinney, Christa Carmen, Tope Folarin, and Courtney Maum. Also, in case you miss my first signing, the panelists and I will be doing a signing right after this panel too!

There are so many other great events all weekend, so you can find the full schedule for StoryFest right over here. Needless to say, I’m looking so forward to seeing everyone in Connecticut next week! Definitely say hello if you see me!

Happy reading, and happy StoryFest!