Monsters, Devils, & Other Beasts: Interview with Orrin Grey

Welcome back! Today, I’m excited to feature author Orrin Grey. Orrin has written numerous short stories, which have been published widely as well as collected in Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, and his most recent book, Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales.

Recently, Orrin and I discussed his new collection, the influence of slasher films on his fiction, as well as his upcoming appearance at The Outer Dark Symposium in March!

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

Orrin GreyI’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I think that at some point, when I was a kid, I realized that writers were the people who made up all the stories I loved, and from then on I wanted to be one of those people.

As for favorites, I could go on forever. My single biggest influence, always, is Mike Mignola. He’s who I want to be when I grow up, but I can’t draw, so I do this instead.

When it comes to Old Dead White Guy authors, the big three for me are Manly Wade Wellman, William Hope Hodgson, and E.F. Benson. I was also hugely influenced by early Clive Barker, not to mention, just, tons of others. Just tons. One of the reasons I like to do my author’s notes in my collections is so that I can call out influences as they happen, because there are always way too many for questions like these.

Congrats on the recent release of Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales! How did you select the stories that were included in this book, and what themes in particular were you looking to explore?

Your first two collections, Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings and Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, were released in 2012 and 2015 respectively. How was your process different (or the same) in putting together each of your collections? Do you have different considerations for each book, or do you approach all your collections in a similar way?

GuignolSo, I decided to cheat a bit and answer all of these questions in one block, because the answer to one of them informs the answers to the others, and vice versa. Basically, each of my three collections was assembled differently, in no small part because I was in a very different place in my career when each one came out. Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings was my first collection, but I had been writing stories for years, so when I was putting it together it was just kind of a situation of, “what are the best stories I’ve written so far, and which ones fit together.”

When it came time to publish Painted Monsters, I had a lot more published stories under my belt, and so I had the opportunity to do something different. With it, I had a very specific theme in mind. I had written a lot of stories that dealt with horror film–either head-on or more surreptitiously–and I decided that I wanted to release a collection that mapped the history of horror cinema, from the German Expressionist films of the silent era to the found footage ghost movies that were in theaters when I was writing.

With Guignol, I didn’t have the same kind of theme in mind, but I was also drawing from stories written across a smaller period of time. The stories in Painted Monsters span years of my writing, with a few of them having been written back before I was writing for a living. By contrast, all the stories in Guignol were written over the last couple of years, and they were written during a time when I was dealing with a lot of stress and trauma, which found its way into my writing. As such, while Guignol doesn’t have the high-concept of Painted Monsters, there are certainly themes that run through all the stories in it, about dealing with trauma, and the ways in which the past is never as far behind us as we might like.

With any collection, only certain stories are going to “fit,” and sometimes what that actually means is as nebulous as a gut feeling. In the case of Guignol, I had originally intended to include a story called “The House of Mars” and not to include the story “Dream House,” but I couldn’t make the collection come together. My wife is the one who suggested that “House of Mars” didn’t fit, and after dropping it out and putting “Dream House” in, everything suddenly snapped into place.

Your recent story, “The Hurrah (aka Corpse Scene),” appeared in The Dark last summer. What was the inspiration behind this story? Also, did you have any specific actresses in mind as the inspiration for the mother character?

There were a lot of factors that went into me writing “The Hurrah” how and when I did. I wanted to write about horror conventions, and I wanted to write about my own changing relationship with the genre, which I’ll talk a bit more about below, but mostly, I had seen the 2015 film The Final Girls, which is this surprisingly touching movie about a young woman trying to establish some connection with her dead mother through this low-rent slasher film that her mom was in once.

I loved that idea, but the movie tackled it so well that I knew I couldn’t just borrow it whole cloth, so I ended up taking it in a different direction.

In the story, I mention Jamie Lee Curtis and Jessica Harper, and if I had any one person in mind, it was probably the latter. But if I was going to dedicate the story to someone, it would be the women who played all the other girls in those slasher movies. The ones who didn’t get to be final girls. The promiscuous best friends and the caustic sorority girls. Nancy Loomis in Halloween or Margot Kidder in Black Christmas.

Painted MonstersStill keeping with this theme, what in your opinion is the perennial appeal of the slasher film? Do you remember the first slasher film you saw, and do you have a personal favorite?

Actually, when I was younger, I didn’t much care for slasher movies. I watched the later installments of the big three (Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street) of course, and I’m of the age where Scream was a big thing for me, but I tended to dismiss slashers in the same way that a lot of people do: as little more than rote body count movies with (for me) boring monsters, or no monsters at all.

It wasn’t until I re-examined the slasher genre from a new perspective–which I picked up thanks to writers like Adam Cesare and Stephen Graham Jones–that I started to get the appeal of the form. To some extent, then, writing “The Hurrah” was a way for me to chart my own changing relationship with slasher films.

As for favorites, my top pick from among the many titles that aren’t part of the big three franchises would probably be the much-maligned April Fool’s Day.

You are slated as a guest for The Outer Dark Symposium this March in Atlanta. You were also a guest last year at the symposium in California. What makes this convention one that you’re eager to be part of? Also, in general, do you tend to get out to a lot of conventions, and if so, what’s made the experience a worthwhile one for you?

I’ll be completely honest and say that part of the reason I made it a point to go to last year’s Outer Dark Symposium is because it was held in the Winchester Mystery House, which is someplace I have always wanted to visit. But I would probably have gone anyway. The Symposium is just a really interesting experiment to me–one long track of panels that everyone attends, so no one misses anything, and laser-focused on the Weird in fiction and media–and the people who put it on are always great fun to hang out with.

I try to do one or two conventions every year. I think the most important thing about them, for me, is just getting to meet people. I find that once I’ve interacted with someone in person, even once, it changes my interactions with them online. I can put a voice, a face, a set of mannerisms to the words on the screen that helps me to interface more naturally and easily. Plus, as someone who is a bit of a homebody, they’re among my only bits of in-person socializing each year.

What’s next for you?

I’m a pretty dedicated short story writer, so the answer to “what’s next” for me is almost always “more short stories.” I recently wrapped up a “story cycle” of linked tales that either have appeared or are slated to appear in various places, and I would love to get them collected together in the near future. I’m also trying to do more film writing. At the moment, I regularly contribute Blu-ray reviews to Signal Horizon and Unwinnable, and I’ve got a follow-up to Monsters from the Vault, my book of essays on vintage horror films, coming out later this year.

Where can we find you online?

My website is orringrey.com and I’m Orrin Grey on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Phil Gelatt is trying to get me to sign up for Letterboxd, so when I do that, I’ll be Orrin Grey on there, as well.

Big thanks to Orrin Grey for being part of this week’s author interview series!

Happy reading!

THE RUST MAIDENS is on the Preliminary Bram Stoker Awards Ballot!

So in case you haven’t already heard my screams of joy on social media, I’m beyond thrilled that my debut novel, The Rust Maidens, made it on the 2018 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot.

*insert many, many more screams of joy here*

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

The Rust MaidensThe Rust Maidens has been out for just over two months now, and it’s been such an incredibly wild ride so far. Last week, I announced the Spanish translation of the novel, which will be released in 2020, and I’ve been fortunate to get some really positive feedback from reviewers. And now is a good time to turn it over to the quotes, since otherwise I’ll just keep babbling with mindless joy (and nobody wants to read that).

“The first full length novel from Kiste comes out of the gate swinging” — Signal Horizon

“Kiste makes her novel debut with this dramatic and absorbing story… This is a tale of friendship, monsters, and growing up, a lyrical and character centered story filled with danger and horrible consequences” — Booklist

“This is radioactive storytelling that hides at margins. It’s plutonic. It’s not a weapon until you realize that it is… Gwendolyn Kiste’s debut novel The Rust Maidens is a phantasmagorical slice of Americana in a long decline.” — Hell Notes

“… a startlingly original first novel from an author with a steady and powerful voice. The risks it takes in developing its themes are fresh and original and pay off handsomely.” — Ancient Logic

“A fantastic debut novel.” — The Horror Fiction Review

The iMailer newsletter from HWA went out earlier this month, which included a special link to download The Rust Maidens, but if you missed that email, then it bears repeating: if you’re an Active or Lifetime member and would like to read my debut novel, please email me at gwendolyn@gwendolynkiste.com, and I would be thrilled to send you a copy of The Rust Maidens!

Congratulations to everyone on the preliminary ballot! It’s a truly amazing group of authors, and I’m so thrilled to be among so many fantastic horror creators! Eeeeee!

Happy reading!

Breathe Deep: Interview with Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Welcome back! Today, I’m thrilled to be featuring the amazing Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi! Erin is the author of the dark fiction collection Breathe. Breathe. as well as numerous short stories and poems. Erin is also an avid supporter of her fellow writers and can often be found on social media promoting dark fantasy and horror releases.

Recently, she and I discussed her inspiration as an author, her work in public relations, and how the Ohio landscapes influence her writing.

When did you first decide to become a writer? Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Erin Sweet Al-MehairiOh, I don’t think I ever made it a point to decide. I just WAS a writer. I never believed in myself much about anything as a kid, but I dabbled in many creative types of things. My parents taught me to be an avid reader and my mom kept me busy in arts and crafts; I kept myself busy playing in the woods and carrying back mud and clay from the creek. I think eventually around junior high I just started to play around with words much as I did with any other art form, as a means of expression. However, I can’t remember the first story or poem I wrote. I wish I could!

My junior year of high school my English teacher encouraged me by saying I should consider writing long-term based on what I wrote for her. I enjoyed reading a lot and thought what it would be like to write a book, specifically at that time Sue Harrison, internationally best-selling author of Mother Earth Father Sky, but thinking I’d never be capable, but at that point she became an inspiration to aspire to lofty goals (and many years later I’d get to become friends with her and let her know!). Poetry seemed a natural start to dabble in and I loved Poe, Frost, Dickinson, Longfellow. During this time, I had written some poems, one of them after my aunt passed from ovarian cancer, which later won a regional contest, and a holiday essay, which won our local newspaper’s contest. For the latter, I got to meet the editor and attend a luncheon and tour the newspaper building.

After that experience, in my senior year, I became editor of our high school newspaper, got the Journalism bug, and then got a substantial scholarship to a university for their Journalism/Communications/English program. At the university level, I became absorbed in using all my writing, and a few years in with my editing (being news editor of the university newspaper), for journalism and non-fiction narrative and didn’t have much time for creative writing outside of classes, except a little poetry. I joined their poetry press organization (as an assistant editor), which two of my English professors managed. They were/are award-winning poets in my state and I was lucky to be able to work on some projects with them. During dark or lonely nights awake, I still put my pencil to notebook and wrote my feelings down that way, in lyrical or poetic styles, experimenting with words, but only for myself.

Ultimately, I wanted my writing to make a difference one day on environmental, animal, political, health, and cultural issues. I wrote and edited plenty of stories, but they were all non-fiction, at first. There are all forms of being a professional writer, and I’ve been a writer and editor for twenty years now in various jobs. My poetry carried through much of that time, though it always remained on the back burner. I wrote a few stories after I had my first child, but all my binders (I write mostly using pencil and paper first) were thrown out by my ex! This is still a huge loss for me still today. The only writing I have is whatever is still at my parent’s house from before I went to college or were written within the last thirteen years. So, like I said at the start, I honestly can’t remember the first fiction stories or poetry pieces I wrote as a youngster before college, but they usually had to do with nature, animals, or fantasy, or dealing with life moments – I wasn’t into writing horror or dark fiction then – and most of my writing still features those elements.

To make a long story short, I think I just evolved into a writer… and being a writer and editor, claimed me in so many ways. I thought I could only do right by my family though being a professional non-fiction writer and editor or have a respectable job in this or a journalism and PR field. No one ever taught me or encouraged me about writing fiction or poetry to put into print that others might read. I lost decades of fiction and poetry to this mind-set. I’m only trying to make up for it now.

And you better believe because of this I encourage all three of my kids in various writing or art endeavors. My eleven-year-old even has an Instagram page of her poetry!

Your dark poetry and short fiction collection, Breathe, Breathe, came out through Unnerving last year. What can you share about the process behind this book? How long have you been working on the pieces in the collection, and how did you choose which ones to include?

Breathe. Breathe.I had some of the poetry written in my stash of unpublished poems. They were a way to allow myself release from the pain I had experienced in my life. Some were a release of my emotions, some were offering hope after looking back over a decade of pain, some were channeled into characters. I re-edited these with a current look and saw a foundation in some of them to build on. I gathered those, and wrote a couple more, plus two short stories, for a chapbook version. When Eddie at Unnerving gave approval for an expanded version, then I put fire to my pencil and I wrote more. My head was all in the same space with the themes within Breathe and I didn’t have too much trouble including almost all of the new ones I’d written. It was as if the collection was writing itself, causing me to meditate, release, grow, and heal, all in a very short period.

I mostly decided which ones based on the major theme of ‘breathing,’ in all its various forms, including ‘not breathing,’ which can be breathing through pain, anxiety, murder, restlessness, trauma, etc. I looked at what I had and then what I needed to write. Next, I chose based on sub-themes of domestic violence, abuse, sexual assault, healing from trauma, if they were Gothic in nature and fit the theme, and finally, I chose to focus on writing about creatures and monsters from nightmares that my mind created or from folklore. I let myself explore humanity, within all these various themes and subjects, and address how far we’ll go as humans to heal pain. Fear was also a major component. All of that encompasses breath, and how when we can’t breathe, we are stuck inside our minds.

Beyond that, I tried to choose an array of poems and stories that really showed off all my writing and touched elements of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, literary, crime, and which highlighted various types of poetry forms and dabbling. I possibly covered way too much ground with this one collection, but I also feel that in explaining all of that, it also did bring itself together in a magical way I can’t explain.

I wrote or chose everything to be in line with the major theme and all the sub-themes to tie threads through it all as a cohesive piece. Sometimes it was subtle, but all of them had some sort of breathing element to it, even if it was just subliminal breathing through fear, pain, loss, or just being chased, murdered, or anxiety-ridden, to simply, literally not being able to breathe. Sometimes it was an unstated statement of “this is what happens when you can’t breathe anymore and anger overtakes you.” The collection is divided up into Acts 1 and 2: breathe through fear and breathe through pain for the poetry and then the section on short stories.

Do you have a specific approach when you sit down to write a piece? Also, does your process differ depending on whether you’re writing fiction or poetry?

I don’t really have a ritual or set approach. I don’t outline, currently. I’m a pantser. I believe in writing full force, just letting it all spill out first, and then doing multiple revisions. With my writing and editing clients, or writing friends, I give them this advice too. It’s what I live myself, so I don’t get too caught up and held up because I only have infrequent moments of writing time. Many people overthink a piece and then never finish. It’s important to get down a first draft, then go back and work on it. I try not to be too calculated, or I can freeze. My mind seems to work best when I don’t “think” and just write. Of course, that probably works best with short stories and poetry, which at the moment is what I’m more productive on, so I do feel the process varies. I often won’t know where a story is going until my pencil scratches it onto the page (yes, pencil and paper). I find myself lucid about 4 or 5 a.m., right after the witching hour, and I scrabble down ideas, poems, or a few pages on a short story. Some longer stories I might stay up past sunrise working on, others I’ll take the idea and formulate a more fleshed out piece later. I write more in the winter, because I have more time then, and that affects my process too, but I’m stealing from all the ideas I had from a summer outdoors too. I’ll often edit something an embarrassing number of times, or leave it sit for months and come back to it and edit it again. As for writing on novels, that’s a bit more complicated. There is more in-depth research. There are more things to tie-up and flesh out. I haven’t used an outline in writing any that are works in progress, but I do formulate ideas ahead of time. The process differs here in that I have to carve out time and really concentrate in chunks and also there is much more editing time. I edit things an overwhelming amount of times. Like this interview I spent six months editing. LOL!

You are currently based in Ohio, my former home state and beloved birthplace. How, if at all, do you find the landscapes of Ohio figuring into your work?

Haunted Are These HousesLandscapes of Ohio feature predominately in my work, as does the whole of nature. Author Mike Thorn said in his review of Breathe. Breathe., in reference to my poetry, “…often depict speakers seeking solace (or warding off danger) in the ludic spaces of the ‘natural world’ – rife with references to forests, lakesides, nonhuman animals and insects.”

I am very inspired in my writing by outdoor places like rivers, forests, lakes, and oceans from all over the world, but most often the Ohio landscape too because of Lake Erie and all our amazing rivers and waterfalls. Water and nature have always been a great love of mine and have always touched my writing somehow. I grew up reading thinkers and poets like Frost, Thoreau, and Dickinson and they inspired me to write about my love of nature. I like to be outdoors when the weather is nice, which is why half of the year in Ohio is often hard for me to endure – though I do try to pull references into my writing from the other seasons as well. In the winter I am so melancholy, which I suppose also seeps into my dark fiction/poetry!

I enjoy hiking and being by the water in Ohio, frequenting Lake Erie shorelines, and you’ll find many references in my past work, and in my upcoming work, to the landscape of the Great Lakes. For instance, my poem “The Lighthouse Keeper’s Tale” was inspired by our lovely Marblehead Lighthouse and “The Driftwood of Wishes” came to me after I walked past a very large half of a tree, with its mangled roots prominent, that had been stripped bare by the water and washed in to the shoreline of Lake Erie where I was taking a walk. Sea glass and seashells from the lake have also been a common theme in my work. “The Lure of the Witch” came during a springtime drive, before the trees bud or flower blooms, in the time after winter in Ohio where everything is wet, bare, and rain and the creeks run high. My Rumpelstiltskin-like short story in Hardened Hearts, where you and I share a TOC, called “The Heart of the Orchard,” was inspired by my love of the many apple and peach orchards in Ohio.

I also like to road trip to rural places in Ohio, on the byways and highways, and off-beaten paths, being a history lover, and I enjoy all the historical elements and architecture our state has to offer. This all inspires me creatively. The rural areas bring thoughts of haunted, creepy things or tales of loss as it’s so old (and you know… rusty!), as well as its own blend of domestic horrors, and the cities, like Cleveland, bring about motivations for characters and setting. The artistic scene in Ohio inspires me too and I often come away with an idea after I’ve been to a gallery or museum or library (so many historic ones – the architecture and stained glass – Oh!) or garden. There are so many little towns and road way stops along the old highway routes, the method travelers used more often before the interstate was built, that are dilapidated but timeless. A bygone era, a step back in time, a horror story waiting to happen. Often times, real horror stories do. It’s also quiet, desolate, and removed from society. I love traveling these roads and picture all the stories going on around me. You’ll often find me telling people that a story or poem first breathed into life when I was riding in the car.

In addition to your writing, you also work as a marketer and publicist in the publishing industry. Has your work in marketing the books of other authors changed how you approach the marketing for your own books? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with writers out there about good tips for promoting their work?

It’s hardest to promote your own work, I think. If I hadn’t had the community support for my work, I don’t know how I’d have done it. I force myself, as a role model to my clients and other authors, to push my work, because I don’t want to be a hypocrite, and because I know it works, but yes, I get massive anxiety every time I post about myself. It really does work best, especially around release, to have lots of other people sharing links, posts, reviews, etc. That is one of the major keys to success in indie horror, I believe.

I don’t think my approach has really changed. I’ve done public relations, media relations, marketing for so many years for so many different things (a healthcare system, a hot air balloon festival, clothing, music, art, government, libraries, non-profits), so I usually take what it is and look at it individually to see all its positives I can offer to promote it. Each author I work with now I view as an individual brand and business. Identify the brand, its target, its current reach, its positives and negatives, and come to a solution, advice, method of play. It’s really no different with my own, except I do believe it works best when an author works with someone (and their publisher) as a team. As I said, someone else supporting and word of mouth is huge.

Hiring a publicist in indie doesn’t mean you can sit back because you’re shy or too busy, generally, depending on how well known you are, your likability factor, your back catalog, and what not. Readers and social media followers are still going to want YOU. So, hire a publicist, and better yet, what I’d prefer to be viewed as, a public relations professional who can consult with you and help you grow. Listen to them when they give you advice on how to present and focus yourself and sell your own work alongside what they are putting out for you. You can’t just hire a blog tour company, or a publicist, and sit back and expect it to work and produce all sorts of reviews and sales for you. It doesn’t work that way.

Hardened HeartsI find that a majority of writers are stubborn. What I’ve done for my own book is put into action what I can’t get most other authors to do (bless the ones that listen). And that’s build yourself as the brand. Once readers like you and support you, they will buy anything because they like your writing and will always read you or they will want to support you at least. I looked at my collection and all the sorts of themes I could pull out of it for various targets and I used that to push out cool references and facts, especially on Twitter. I focused on folklore for a while, tagging #folklorethursday for instance in statuses where I mentioned something folkloric in one of my poems or stories, other months I’ve mentioned my advocacy for domestic violence awareness and showed how my book helped me start to heal, and I also promoted my reviews, but the main thing is I’ve jumped on as many interviews as I could whether print or podcasts. I wrote guest articles with good SEO tags for my book because those are lasting ways for people to find you in a Google search as well as a way for readers to get to know you better.

I’ve been easily promoting my book in any spare time I had for a year now and people are still buying and promoting it, because others are still talking about it on social media. I’m still getting asked for interviews, I just wrote a handful of guest articles for a one-year anniversary celebration, and reviews still roll in.

I’ve been around the indie horror and historical book world for eight years and the voluntary promotion of OTHERS is a must. I still do reviews when I can and host people on my blog. I share other’s work on my social media (and not just those who are my clients). Once you help others, for years before you put out a book, or ongoing, or after you put out a book, people will support you. The right people will, anyway.

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

Picking a favorite piece of writing work is like choosing my favorite child. I have three children and I could never pick a favorite, so though I have many more pieces of work that are my babies too, it’s still hard. I like different ones for various reasons.

From Breathe. Breathe., most people’s favorite is “Dandelion Yellow” due to how they said it was shocking and unforgettable, and I did enjoy writing it, even if it is painful, and consider it one of my best pieces. However, I feel my personal favorite short story so far is “Life Giver of the Nile,” about a woman in modern Egypt’s encounter with the goddess Anuket. This not only stems from my love of Egyptology, but also channels scenes from a re-occuring nightmare of my childhood in which I was being drowned, and I’d wake up gasping for air. I loved being able to write about the streets of Cairo, the Nile, and enjoyed creating the characters.

As for my poetry, from Breathe. Breathe. I’d say maybe “Earl Grey Tea,” which was inspired by the writings of Agatha Christie (and to his horror, a gift of a beautiful tin of this favorite kind of tea of mine from my son). The poem blends my love of mystery, history, and the 1920s and is one of many domestic horror pieces in poetry or prose that I like to create.

I also liked the one I wrote for Enchanted Conversation: a fairy tale and folklore magazine, called “Chained by Love,” about the medieval mermaid Melusine and her lover Raymond. I have an obsession with mermaids.

What upcoming projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on a poetry-only collection featuring water elements, in which the writing is fairly completed (paper and pencil, need to type and edit). Water has always been a huge source of inspiration for me, as stated above, supplying me with energy, both physically and mentally. I feel at peace by the water, but also the anger and danger in its depths. I can channel emotions, and give and take emotions, near the shoreline. I believe water has special power for me. There will be sadness in this collection, but also sea monsters, ship wrecks, and coastal village intrigue. I’m a huge fan of the last three. I hope others like it, but I’m writing it because it’s fun for me! I’m looking for a publisher for it.

I’m also working on a short story collection based on the works of Van Gogh. In larger works, I’m working on a novel still that I’ve been picking away at for years. It’s a revenge novel, featuring an abused woman and the ghost of Emily Dickinson. It takes place in Emily’s hometown. I’m excited for this one.

And since writing my Vahalla Lane series in Breathe. Breathe., I’ve had some good response to it and so I’m writing on a novella when I have the chance featuring the story of one of the women, both in prequel and in sequel to what happens.

And I am going to be working soon on a few pieces for several anthologies I was invited into for 2019 and some poems and short stories for magazine invites as well.

Hopefully, my friend Duncan Ralston and I will start to flesh out some work on a novel together which features our mutual interest in cults.

Besides that, I’ll be editing more novels and coaching authors starting in January and I will be looking for more options available in which I can curate and edit another anthology.

Big thanks to Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi for being part of this week’s author interview series! Find her online at her website as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

Happy reading!

Ringing in a New Fiction Year: Submission Roundup for January 2019

Welcome back for the first Submission Roundup of 2019! Lots of very cool calls to get your writing year off to a fabulous start!

As always, a reminder: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word! So please direct any questions to the respective editors.

And now let’s get started with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

NonBinary Review
Payment: .01/word for fiction and nonfiction; $25/flat for visual art; $10/flat for poetry
Length: up to 5,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; up to 3 pages for poetry
Deadline: January 23rd, 2019
What They Want: The latest issue is seeking fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art inspired by Clive Barker’s Books of Blood.
Find the details here.

Nightscript V
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 2,000 to 7,000 words
Deadline: January 31st, 2019
What They Want: Editor C.M. Muller is seeking quiet literary horror tales in the vein of Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, & Robert Aickman for his annual weird fiction anthology.
Find the details here.

Synth
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 2,000 to 7,000 words
Deadline: January 31st, 2019
What They Want: Another fabulous project from editor C.M. Muller, this new anthology series is seeking dark science fiction stories that involve surreal, cyber themes a la Black Mirror and Alphaville.
Find the details here.

Unnerving
Payment: .03/word for original fiction and .01/word for reprint fiction for magazine submissions; 50% net royalty split for novellas, novels, and collections
Length: Various depending on project, though 800 to 4,000 words (firm) for short fiction
Deadline: February 1st, 2019 for short fiction; February 15th, 2019 for novellas, novels, and collections
What They Want: Unnerving is currently seeking horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and crime fiction of various lengths, including short fiction, and reprint novellas and novels.
Find the details here.

Triangulation: Dark Skies
Payment: .04/word
Length: up to 5,000 words (approximately 3,000 words preferred)
Deadline: February 28th, 2019
What They Want: Speculative fiction that deals with the theme of star-filled skies.
Find the details here.

Hinnom Magazine
Payment: .02/word for fiction; $50/flat for poetry
Length: 1,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: February 28th, 2019
What They Want: Weird fiction and cosmic horror stories that are grim, otherworldly, and/or morally ambiguous.
Find the details here.

The New Flesh: A Literary Tribute to David Cronenberg
Payment: .01/word
Length: 2,000 to 5,000 words, with approximately 3,000 words being the ideal length
Deadline: March 31st, 2019
What They Want: The editors at Weirdpunk Books are seeking stories that take inspiration from the work of filmmaker David Cronenberg.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

A Year of Horror: 2018 Award Eligibility Post

As always, I’m a little late to the party on this, but hey, here we are: another year, another Award Eligibility post! As everyone seems to mention in their eligibility posts, this always feels a little weird, but at the same time, it’s nice to take stock of a year’s accomplishments, if only to remember: look at that! I did something with these past twelve months. So here goes…

In big news, 2018 saw the release of The Rust Maidens, my debut novel. The book came out through Trepidatio Publishing, an imprint of JournalStone, on November 16th, and it still feels so surreal to say I’m a novelist. But I am, as this beautiful cover art by Daniele Serra proves…

The Rust Maidens

The Rust Maidens has been well-received (so far anyhow!), with Booklist calling it a “dramatic and absorbing story,” and Gordon B. White at Hellnotes saying “this is radioactive storytelling.” It’s also appeared on some readers’ top ten lists including Nick Cato at The Horror Fiction Review who praised it as “a fantastic debut novel.”

As for my non-Rust Maidens accomplishments, here’s a complete list of the rest of my fiction published in 2018. As these things go, if you’re considering for awards, and you would like a copy of any of these stories or my novel, please drop me a line, using the info over at my contact page.

Garden of Grudges” (Bracken, December 2018)
Two daughters must cope with their mother’s anger, as it grows into uncontrollable sentient grudges and threatens to destroy their whole lives. It was a pleasure and an honor to appear in Bracken again, and it was also wonderful to end the year with this particular story, which combines magic realism with fairy tales and a dash of botanical horror.

In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire” (Chiral Mad 4, October 2018)
Ballet, witchcraft, and sisterhood in turn-of-century Saint Petersburg and Paris. This novella was co-written with the magical Emily B. Cataneo, and I’m so very proud of having collaborated on a truly unusual story that ultimately appeared in such a fabulous anthology.

Suspended in Dusk 2An Elegy for Childhood Monsters” (Suspended in Dusk II, July 2018)
Alternating between their terrifying childhood and an uncertain present day, two sisters must face the monster that’s been after them since they were very young. This is a personal favorite of mine, one of the stories of which I’m most proud, and Suspended in Dusk II is such a fantastic anthology that I encourage everyone to check it out. If not for my story, then for a litany of other incredible tales.

In the Belly of the Wolf” (Kaleidotrope, April 2018)
A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, only with the Big Bad Wolf as a jilted mother who’s determined to get back her daughter. A lyrical flash fiction piece that’s a little bit Angela Carter but with an extra helping of rage.

Moving Day” (The Lift, March 2018)
Part of The Lift shared universe, a widow must deal with leaving her beloved home, and she soon comes to a crossroads that only a certain little pigtailed girl that lives in an enchanted building can help her with.

To Blaze a Sweet Heretic’s Heart” (Mantid 3, February 2018)
Witches, girlhood, and rage. Truly, all the best things in the world! This one incorporates folk horror and fairy tales into a story of stolen freedom and fighting back.

In addition to my fiction, I also had a number of nonfiction pieces published at venues including Nightmare, Unnerving Magazine, and the Clash Books blog. A personal favorite of mine is “W is for Witch,” which was featured as part of The H Word column at Nightmare, and is available to read for free online. I’m also particularly proud of “The One Who Survives: The Final Girls of Film and Fiction,” an article that was in Unnerving, and is available to purchase here.

And that’s been my 2018! Next year is looking pretty positive so far with five short stories slated for publication already, along with a couple nonfiction pieces and a one-act play that will be produced as part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ The Big Read, marking my seventh consecutive year of being a playwright for the program. Plus, I’m hoping to finish up several more short stories, a novelette, and yes, very possibly another novel. Those are the goals anyway. We’ll see where everything ends up. I tend to be overly positive about my ability to complete projects, but hey, a writer can dream, can’t she?

I hope everyone has had a productive and happy end to 2018, and here’s to making 2019 a truly wonderful year!

Happy reading!

Slaughter in Dreamland: Interview with Sara Tantlinger

Welcome back for my final interview of 2018! And what a delightful interview it is! I am positively thrilled to spotlight author Sara Tantlinger. Sara is the author of the poetry collections Love for Slaughter and The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes, as well as several short stories.

Recently, Sara and I discussed her favorite authors, her inspiration as a poet, and her future plans as a writer!

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

Sara TantlingerI had been interested in writing since I was a kid, but I didn’t get serious about it until halfway through my undergraduate career. I dropped my education major and instead focused on English literature and creative writing at Seton Hill University (SHU). I stayed at SHU for my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and am so glad I made that choice.

Edgar Allan Poe was my first poetry love, but some other writers who have really influenced and inspired me are William Blake, J.K. Rowling, Catherynne Valente, Sierra DeMulder, Richard Siken, Gillian Flynn, Caroline Kepnes, and Clive Barker.

First off, congratulations of the success of your poetry collection, Love for Slaughter! What was the inspiration for putting together the book, and how did you select which pieces to include?

Thank you! It’s so cool to still see the book receiving good attention after having been out for over a year. Love for Slaughter was inspired by the whole concept of folie à deux, which sometimes gets referred to as “madness shared by two.” I was fascinated by the idea of how something as pure as love could actually be twisted and mutilated into bloody, morbid poems. I was also inspired by the darkest parts of love and how such a powerful sentiment could lead people into madness over obsession or lust.

Horror and romance are the genres that tend to elicit the most visceral reactions from people since they really are the genres of emotion. Horror and romance writers have to overcome a lot of stereotypes from both readers and from writers in other genres, so I was excited to mesh the extremes of both concepts together in Love for Slaughter and have dubbed it a “horrormance” collection.

I ended up writing way more pieces than I needed to include for the collection, so when I went to finalize it all, which took a few tries, I mostly looked to cut pieces that seemed too similar or that just weren’t as powerful to me as others. I hate the idea of quantity over quality, and I think it’s wise to be aware of how many pieces you’re putting into a collection and how long it’s going to be since reading poetry is a different experience than reading prose.

You are currently accepting submissions as editor for the Not All Monsters anthology. What inspired you to get into the editing side of the industry, and what are you looking for in terms of submissions?

Yes! I am insanely excited about this anthology, and I cannot believe we have over 100 submissions already with more rolling in daily. This project is especially close to my heart since we’re seeking out women writers, so being able to actively do something that promotes women in horror means the world.

I also genuinely love editing. I have a few different jobs rights now, but if I ever get the chance to make a full-time career out of editing, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Having the opportunity to help other writers through edits and revision and assisting in strengthening their manuscripts is really fulfilling. I get to do what I love while watching writers succeed.

For Not All Monsters, I am looking for polished prose with character-driven stories that convey powerful messages. I love poetic prose and anything gothic and macabre. I want to see women kicking ass and refusing to be victims. Women are so strong, and it is important fiction reflects that, especially in horror. For any ladies thinking of submitting, definitely check out the theme and full guidelines here:

Strangehouse Books seeks women writers for horror anthology ‘Not All Monsters’

You write both fiction and poetry. How is your process different (or similar) depending on the medium?

The Devil's DreamlandThat’s a great question. Every time I think I have my writing process figured out, it seems to change. For poetry, the writing tends to come much easier and more organic for me. I’m much better at translating a powerful emotion or event into a poem than I am at prose. Sometimes it helps to write a poem from the point of view of my characters and then use that to help flesh out exposition.

Short stories have long been the bane of my existence, but I started to sell some this year and it’s really motivated me to keep writing more and to continue crafting a short story into something memorable. Outlining has become my best resource for fiction recently. I used to be way more of a pantser, but outlining and becoming more organized has been slowly saving me as I work on future projects.

Like me, you’re from Pennsylvania! Do you find the landscapes or overall feel of the Keystone State sneaking its way into your work, or do you try your best to get as far away from the state as you can when writing?

Oh yes, the landscape and scenery often creep into my work, especially since I live in the woods in the middle of nowhere. The setting is so prime for horror inspiration – old woods, big farmlands, abandoned places, weird animal noises in the middle of the night…I love it! After visiting the abandoned turnpike and tunnel near Breezewood a few years ago, I loved it so much that I set my thesis novel for graduate school around that area but in a much darker world.

In the future, I definitely hope to play with different settings, but Pennsylvania really has some fantastic inspiration. Every town here feels a little different, and there’s so much to explore and then plot into stories. I visited the destroyed Kinzua Bridge in PA earlier this year, and it gave me some twisted story ideas that I’m excited to play with.

As a female horror writer, what are your hopes for the future of the genre? What do you think is going well, and where would you like to see change?

My biggest hope is to see the continuous rise of women in horror fiction, films, and more. Recently I have seen open calls looking for women in horror, and other editors really doing their best to encourage women in the genre to submit their work. The Ladies of Horror Fiction website/social media that recently came about is an amazing resource, and it’s fantastic to see all they are doing to help promote women.

I think it’s a good time to be a woman in horror right now, not that there still isn’t work to be done. Horror has long been dominated by men, so I hope to see more diversity in anthologies because I still see collections that are nearly all men with maybe one token woman in the contents, if any women at all, so that’s something I certainly hope to see shift to be more diverse as we continue celebrating women in horror.

What projects are you currently working on?

My next poetry collection, The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes, will be out with Strangehouse Books very soon! (Gwendolyn’s note: since this interview, the collection has been released, and it’s amazing!)

Currently, I am sending around my thesis novel from graduate school and a poetry collection that actually isn’t horror, so they are both floating in market space.

My WIPs right now include a weird novella that’s taking me in some strange directions, and a historical horror/dark fantasy novel inspired by Ranavalona I of Madagascar, who sometimes gets cited as one of the most murderous women in history. I am having a blast with the research for this one.

Tremendous thanks to Sara Tantlinger for being this week’s featured interviewee! Find her online at her author website as well as on Twitter and Instagram.

Happy reading!

End of Year Fiction: Submission Roundup for December 2018

Welcome back! 2018 is almost in the rearview mirror, but we’ve still got one final Submission Roundup for the year! Lots of very cool calls, so if you’ve got a story looking for a home, then consider sending it the way of one of these markets.

A quick reminder first: As always, I’m not a representative for any of these markets, so if you have any questions, please send them to the respective editors!

And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Curse the Darkness
Payment: $75/flat (GBD)
Length: 3,000 to 10,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2019
What They Want: Open to short fiction that explores the theme of darkness.
Find the details here.

Vex Me No More
Payment: .02/word for original fiction; $25/flat for reprints
Length:  up to 5,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2019
What They Want: The editor is seeking horror fiction about witches.
Find the details here.

Year’s Best Hardcore Horror
Payment: .01/word ($60/max)
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2019
What They Want: Reprints of stories with hardcore or extreme horror that were published in 2018.
Find the details here.

Allegory
Payment: $15/flat
Length: No exact word count, but between 500 to 5,000 words preferred
Deadline: December 31st, 2019
What They Want: Open to science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories as well as quirky fiction.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Cosmic Monsters: Interview with Victoria Dalpe

Today, I’m thrilled to feature author Victoria Dalpe. Victoria is the author of the novel, Parasite Life, as well as numerous short stories. I was fortunate enough to meet Victoria at Readercon this past summer, and she’s as fabulous a writer as she is in person.

Recently, she and I discussed her inspiration as an author, her hometown of Providence, as well as her future plans.

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

Victoria DalpeI’ve been writing and telling myself stories for as long as I’ve been around frankly. As a total bookworm, I’ve just always loved the storytelling either as the reader or the writer. I didn’t start seriously writing, with the intent of it being read and/or published until I moved back to Rhode Island from NYC. I was doing a career change, as I’d gone to art school and majored in painting and film studies, then I’d worked in NYC museums. I wanted to be more creative in my day to day. When we left the city and decided to do the house and kids thing, I decided to seriously try my hand at writing again. That was about 7 years ago and 1 published novel and about 15 short stories in collections later.

Favorite authors is always a tough question, like a favorite movie, or song etc. I’m a monster person and frankly, rarely read stuff that doesn’t have the inhuman in it. Some all-time formative favorites: Anne Rice, Poe, Lovecraft, Poppy Z. Brite, Tanya Huff, Tananarive Due, Barker, Daphne Du Maurier, Nancy A. Collins. I’m a die-hard splatterpunk fan, so Skipp and Spector for sure. I’m an unabashed fan of urban fantasy, which I fully embrace, and so Kelly Armstrong, early Laurell K. Hamilton, Carrie Vaughn, Ilona Andrews. I’m also a big New Adult/ Fantasy Reader so Laini Taylor is def on top of my list there. I love good characters, monsters, a love story, anti-heroes and a hearty dose of grue and horror. And so many super interesting and talented writers are coming down the pike lately, Nadia Bulkin’s She Said Destroy was excellent, for example.

Your YA novel, Parasite Life, was released earlier this year from ChiZine. What can you share about the behind-the-scenes of writing this novel? How long did it take you to complete? Were there any surprises along the way?

I wrote it over the course of a year, it was a little story I think I’d had living in my head for ages. I’d been reading a ton of YA around that time and found myself, time and time again, getting angry at the books I was reading. I found the relationships not only problematic in these books but also a little bit dangerous, considering the age of the readers and that they are being sold as romantic (and not toxic or even abusive). So I wanted to explore the more unsavory aspects of being in a relationship with a vampire, which is as toxic and unbalanced a pair you could conceive of. I think the challenge as I was writing it was keeping it YA, but also wanting to stay true to the story I wanted to tell.

Then off it went to a slush pile at ChiZIne Publications, a favorite publisher of mine, and remarkably they picked it up. A few years later and here we are.

You are also an accomplished writer of short fiction. What was your inspiration behind “The Wife,” which appeared recently in Tragedy Queens from Clash Books?

As a monster lover, I am often drawn to the stranger critters. I’d read in some monster book about a lady monster out of Asia who flew around on her hair, terrorized people, had a huge hole in her neck etc. BUT if you caught it and stuffed all the hair in a hole you could marry one. I found this story absolutely fascinating because who would want to take some crazy flying lady home? Would she be a good wife? And my story answers that question.

Parasite LifeYou reside in Providence, the cosmic horror capital of the world. How, if at all, does your hometown affect your work?

A ton! I definitely think there is something in the water in New England, in general, that makes it ripe for horror. Perhaps it’s the history, as one of the oldest parts of the country, perhaps it’s the long dark winters and long oppressive summers. But whatever it is, there is a certain something that permeates the land and its people. I’m a huge Lovecraft fan, and have been published in two Lovecraft Anthologies as well as co-editing the 2019 Necronomicon Anthology with the fabulous and talented Justin Steele. I love weird fiction and the directions it has been going in the last few years, and the critical attention it’s getting. Providence just has a vibe to it, that something is just a little bit off, that is quite inspiring.

In addition to your writing, you’re also an actress and producer. How does your process differ when you’re working on film versus fiction? Conversely, how is your approach the same?

Well, the actress part is solely because I was around! My husband needed some sucker to do a body cast and so I got the part. For being a big personality, I’m actually a pretty terrible actress, never been comfortable being vulnerable on stage or screen- too stiff. My husband is a filmmaker as are a cluster of our friends, so I’ve been lucky enough to help with all sorts of projects. The thing about a film is that it is entirely collaborative, every person is a cog in the machine. Writing is often the entire opposite creative process, the writer sets the scene, fill in the players, the sets etc. Film you need to assemble a team that can help get the vision off the paper and onto the screen.

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

That is a tough question! Honestly, I think my favorite part is starting something. I love the beginning of a story when it can go anywhere and the limits are basically your imagination. I also love finishing a project! There is something so satisfying about wrapping something up, even if it’s just the first draft.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m editing a collection of my short stories currently as well as my second novel. On top of that, starting to read through the submissions for the Necronomicon 2019, think it’s going to be awesome and a fun challenge to be an editor.

Huge thanks to Victoria for being part of this week’s author interview series. Finder her online at her blog and Amazon page as well as on Twitter and Facebook!

Happy reading!

Darkness and Entropy: Interview with Brian Fatah Steele

Welcome back! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight author Brian Fatah Steele. Brian is the author of Your Arms Around Entropy and Other Stories, and There Is Darkness in Every Room as well as numerous short stories.

Recently, Brian and I discussed his inspiration as an author, his work as an interviewer, and his 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?

Brian Fatah SteeleIn the mid-nineties I started going to Kent State University for Fine Arts. I wanted to be an illustrator, possibly work on comic books, but I dropped out after my junior year. I had become very disillusioned with visual arts, but I realized when I still worked with it, I was constructing stories in my head to go along with the illustrations. Both my parents were educators and I had been raised on a steady diet of books growing up, so I decided to try writing as a creative outlet. All I had backing me was about 25 years of reading fiction and one high school creative writing class I had enjoyed immensely. To my surprise, I found myself far more fulfilled by writing than I ever had by visual arts. Now cresting into my 40-ies, I absolutely identify as a writer who simply dabbles in art.

My big three influences are Clive Barker, Brian Lumley, and Warren Ellis. I read The Books of Blood far too young, and it made me want to write outside of traditional horror tropes. Lumley taught me that I could throw whatever I wanted into a story and not be confined. Ellis showed me that you could have a message amidst all the brutality. I love a mix of authors – Edward Lee, Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, James Rollins, Grant Morrison, S.M. Peters, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Mary SanGiovanni, Laird Barron, Nate Southard, John McCallum Swain, Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason, John Claude Smith, Christopher Moore, H.P. Lovecraft, and too many more to name.

Congrats on the recent release of your collection, Your Arms Around Entropy and Other Stories. What can you share about your process while writing this book?

This book came together after about five years of submitting short stories to anthologies. I realized most of them had a cosmic horror theme, or in some cases, were a straight-up Lovecraft homage. After penning the title story, I felt it was ready to share. Some lean more cosmic than other, but all the tales I feel have a certain nihilistic vibe to them. I’m not necessarily a pessimistic person, but hopelessness translates great in horror, and I’m especially interested when we would find it abhorrent and vast.

You write short stories as well as novels and novellas. How does your approach differ (or stay the same) depending on length?

I’m very much a plotter. I’ll think about a story for days up to months before I ever type out a single word. Even then, everything gets a summary first. All characters get names, I know my locations, the movements, even some of the dialogue. A short story will simply get written out, the word count whatever it ends up being. It’ll get edited afterwards for a variety of things.

I’ve got my novel/novella system down now, one that works best for me. Lots of short chapters, usually shifting POV. My chapters are usually around 1000 words, and I outline a novel to be between 50 to 60 chapters. The goal is to get at least one chapter done a day. Sometimes I get two chapters done, sometimes I don’t get any. Regardless, this works for me. All my novels tend to have ensemble casts as opposed to focusing on one main protagonist, so this also benefits my style. Sure the story sometimes veers off from the outline a bit here and there, but never too much.

What first drew you to the horror genre? Do you remember the first horror movie you saw or story you read?

There Is Darkness in Every RoomWe have a Carnegie Public Library in my home town of East Liverpool, and when I was very young they had this series of book in the children’s section that I gravitated to. Hardbound books that fictionalized the old Universal horror movies – Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein, Lon Chaney Jr’s Wolfman, etc. There must have been twenty of these things, and I checked them out regularly. I was probably only like seven.

I believe the first adult horror movie I saw was the original Halloween. Maybe it was The Fog. I recall seeing both around the same time. Either way, John Carpenter terrified me as a child. Today, he’s my favorite director. And I’m pretty sure the first adult horror I read were those original Books of Blood I snagged. I still have them, and I think they might be the original American printing. They say 1986 inside, so if I bought them even a year later, my dumb ass read them at 10 years old. That explains a lot.

You are currently residing in my beloved birth state of Ohio. I, for one, think that the Ohio landscapes—rusted-out factories, unending fields of wheat and corn, creepy little small-town neighborhoods—are absolutely rife with horror possibilities. How does living in the Buckeye State impact you as a storyteller?

I absolutely agree! I feel like “Rust-Belt Gothic” needs to be explored more. I dive into the concept of the “Creepy Farmhouse” in my novel There is Darkness in Every Room, and in a story within Your Arms Around Entropy. I explore the idea of the “Dying Town” also in my latest collection as well as it being a central theme in an upcoming novel. Ohio has blistering hot summers and withering cold winters, we are a political swing state, and we have Amish communities only a stone’s throw from metropolitan cities. There’s abject poverty and a rising drug epidemic, yet you’ll trip on a college campus if you’re not paying attention. I’m Bipolar so I can say this – Ohio is Bipolar as fuck.

It’s actually hard not to set more of my stories in Ohio, because I honestly believe the setting here is so malleable and ripe for use. That said, I don’t want to be that guy.

In addition to your fiction writing, you also run the 7Q Interview series on your site. What made you decide to become an interviewer?

Your Arms Around EntropyIt seemed to me authors were only getting interviews when they had books coming out, and even then, it appeared to be the same authors all the time. I can’t really blame these sites, most of them have day jobs, plus they’re also doing reviews and juggling additional articles. It occurred to me that if I did an interview series, the same interview every week, I could feature a great deal more authors, some who might be falling through the cracks. Some who hadn’t been interviewed before, or who maybe don’t get two books a year out, so their presence has faded a bit. That’s not to say I don’t want to interview authors with a new book out, or bigger names, but I can feature everybody when that’s all I focus on.

What projects are you currently working on?

My next novel Bleed Away the Sky will come out from Bloodshot Books in early 2019. It’s a sort of Cosmic Horror/Urban Fantasy piece. I have another novel, similar in style, making its rounds to publishers now. Currently I’m working on what I’m calling a character-driven-splatterpunk-novel-with-supernatural-elements.

Big thanks to Brian Fatah Steele for being part of this week’s author interview series! Find him online at Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads!

Happy reading!

In This Goth We Trust: Interview with Chelsea Goodwin

Welcome back! Today I’m thrilled to feature the incredible Chelsea Goodwin! Chelsea is the author of the novel, Pine Hell, as well as the radio host for the fabulous program, In Goth We Trust.

Recently, Chelsea and I talked about her favorite authors, her love of the Gothic, and her favorite songs as a pianist.

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

Chelsea GoodwinI wanted to be a writer ever since I read Nancy Drew. I love pulp formulas and love to use them in my own work like Pine Hell (available on Amazon Kindle) by spoofing, queering and subverting them.

My favourite authors include some mainstream authors like Patricia Cornwell and Dan Brown, but aside from that, the books I revisit the most are Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, anybody from the old Alfred Hitchcock anthologies, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, anybody that’s been anthologised by Ellen Datlow, and anything that ever appeared in Weird Tales magazine. Neil Gaiman is of course God as any follower of the Lucifer tv series knows.

As you already know, I’m a huge fan of your radio show, In Goth We Trust. What was the inspiration for starting the show, and how has the program evolved over time?

At the time we started in 2011 I was running a bookstore on Main Street in Pine Hill (which was the setting for Pine Hell only in an alternate universe where my cat is my chauffeur) and a woman tried to persuade me to buy an underwriter’s spot on WIOX. Instead I pitched the idea of In Goth We Trust, a radio show dedicated to all things Goth including Goth music and fashion, Gothic literature, Gothic horror movies, etc. Of all the interviews I’ve done, the one of which I am proudest was with John Astin. We debuted on Hallowe’en night 2011.

I’ve been a fan of Gothic horror in the form of the old Universal and Hammer movies from childhood, as well as Dark Shadows. Perhaps my biggest influences were The Addams Family which I saw first run when I was four years old and The Munsters. I was privileged to meet both John Astin and Al Lewis. In the eighties I was friends with Miriam Linna of the Cramps and was a huge fan of horror rock. However, I also have this other weird side that loves weird fiction and Gothic horror from the late eighteenth century to the present day, with a distinct fondness for Victorian Gothic and Art Deco settings You know of my love of Lovecraft and the school of Weird Cosmic Horror fiction he spawned, by love of dark gaslight fantasy and of course the wonderfully modern baroque stuff that you write.

I wanted to combine these interests with the type of free form radio that was done in the early FM days and on seventies and early eighties college radio. I am particularly proud of my interviews, because I model myself after people like Dick Cavett and Mike Davis who seriously know how to conduct an interview in an adult manner and who realise that the goal is to showcase the artist one is interviewing rather than one’s self.

Music is also very important to me. I’d like to think that I’ve been an important part of a revival of interest in the mad genius Screamin’ Lord Sutch for example.

In one of our past interviews on In Goth We Trust, you discussed how every region has its own form of the Gothic, be it the lonely North York Moors of England or the haunted steel mills of the Rust Belt. I absolutely loved this idea so much, and I even mentioned you and this theory in a recent article about sub-genres of Gothic fiction. In your opinion, what is it about the Gothic that lends to its perennial appeal?

This is a fascinating and multi-faceted question. It forces one to think about what one means by “Goth” or the “Gothic.” I believe that it implies romanticism, an artistic expression of the human soul to the mysteries of love, sex, death and the unanswered questions that we all face. I believe the essence of Goth culture is a bunch of teens getting stoned in a graveyard, or a cornfield, or out in the woods and telling each other stories, some of which are humourous and some of which are intended to freak each other out. I’m describing a scene from my own life in what I call “trailer park New Jersey” with its farms being replaced by strip malls, its junk yards full of antique cars and very little for kids to do except hang out in the woods and wild places like the Pagans of old. I’ve had this conversation with our mutual friend Doug Wynne. Ours was a generation of rural Americans that found our own blend of heavy metal music, dabblings with the occult, discovering love and sex and romance and the writings of Lovecraft all at about the same time. Add to that we all grew up on Dark Shadows and Dr. Shock’s Mad Theatre or similar entertainment, and had all seen things in old houses or out in the woods and fields that we couldn’t completely explain to ourselves. I think it’s all of that combined with a search for beauty and the beginnings of a mature aesthetic sense.

In addition to your writing and radio hosting, you’ve also run a bookstore. How did your own tastes as a book lover play into what titles you stocked?

I sell all manner of books online, but my vision for my brick and mortar store is to combine selling fantasy, horror and science fiction books with an emphasis on weird fiction and Gothic literature with a good listening space where I and others can play my beautiful 1910 Steinway upright grand. I also read Tarot for private clients in the space.

Pine HellI recently learned that you’re also an accomplished pianist! How long have you been playing? Can you share a few of your personal favorite pieces that you love to play?

I was privileged to take piano lessons when I was a kid from ages 5 to 18. One of my teachers was Harry Lee of the Fred Waring orchestra (one of the last and corniest of the big bands). Along the way I developed a preference for ragtime, early jazz, and what is called the American popular songbook (Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Rogers and Hart). I am fascinated by the history of American musical theatre and the role of nonwhite and lgbt people and of course Jews in creating a uniquely American culture. I love the decayed Gothic decadence of old school glamour fallen to haunted house status. I believe that my queer, trans identity and my love of the dark, gothic side of camp are at the heart of my musical performance.

I love to play Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Funeral March of a Marionette for their use by Vincent Price and Hitchcock respectively. I always open with the theme songs to The Addams Family and The Munsters. Recently I always also do dark, gothic versions of Sugar, Sugar and Jingle, Jangle both from the 1960’s The Archies tv show and both hauntingly re-imagined for Riverdale, which is, in my opinion the best written show on television these days for the way it subverts and reveals the underlying horror that permeates the America that Riverdale and the Archie comics universe have always represented. My feelings about Sabrina are best illustrated by the fact that I live with a huge black cat named Salem.

What books are in your to-be-read pile?

At the moment Love in Vein, an anthology of Vampire erotica edited by Poppy Z. Brite and Wild Nights! by Joyce Carol Oates are on top of the pile. I’m currently reading one of Cornwell’s Scarpetta novels. I am waiting for your latest to arrive so I can savour it, of course.

Do you have any upcoming appearances planned for 2019?

On Oct 24 I will be performing in The Freaky Mutant Weirdo Variety Show at Roxy and Duke’s Road House in Dunellen, Nj. I’m on the bill with A Halo Called Fred which is wonderful.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on some music, and starting to outline another novella in my Lady Sylvia Dorchester and Dr. Drusilla Styles series.

Tremendous thanks to Chelsea Goodwin for being part of this week’s author interview series! Find her online at her Facebook page and at the In Goth We Trust page!

Happy reading!