Tag Archives: Women in Horror Month

Women of Horror, Dark Fantasy, and the Weird: A Recommended Reading List

Welcome back, and happy Monday! Today, let’s celebrate with some awesome books you should add to your summer reading list. Because why not?

Now earlier this year, I returned to Horror-Movies.ca with an article celebrating Women in Horror Month, and since that list was so fun to write (and hopefully a fun one to read!), I would like to share a few more fabulous horror, dark fantasy, and generally weird books penned by female authors. In particular, since far too often Women in Horror celebrations are confined to one month a year, it’s important to shine a light on those ladies who are working twelve months and around the clock to bring readers the latest and greatest in strange and haunting tales. As a quick note, I was fortunate enough to receive review copies of several of these books, and I can tell you that each and every one of them is most certainly worth checking out!

So let’s get started with today’s Recommended Reading List!

Never Now AlwaysNever Now Always by Desirina Boskovich
Desirina Boskovich has spent the last few years steadily making her indelible mark on speculative fiction. With stories published everywhere from Nightmare and Lightspeed to Kaleidotrope and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, her work has been easy to find and impossible to forget. Now, with her debut novella forthcoming from Broken Eye Books, she tries her hand at longer fiction, and of course, knocks it right out of the park. An incisive story about identity and the tenuous line between dreams and reality, Never Now Always is as brutal as it is beautifully written. Although I don’t want to spoil anything here, suffice it to say that this is one story that will break your heart and open your eyes with its incredible blend of science fiction, fantasy, and the weird. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy stories that are anything but simple and predictable.
Get Your Copy Here.

Feeding the DeadFeeding the Dead by M. Brett Gaffney
Released earlier this year from Porkbelly Press, M. Brett Gaffney’s horror and dark fantasy chapbook is supremely beautiful. The delicate pages and binding along with the lovely cardstock make for a truly magical reading experience. And of course, the selected poetry from Gaffney’s ever-building (and incredibly impressive) bibliography is exquisite. My personal favorites include the horror film-themed, “The Scream Queen” and the dark fairy tale, “Hunter,” but truly, each and every piece in this book is an absolute work of art unto itself. Brimming with hauntings and otherworldly creatures, these poems will stay with you long after you close those gorgeous pages.
Get Your Copy Here.

BoundlessBoundless by Miracle Austin
I’ve said it before, and I will be quite happy to say it again: Miracle Austin is always awesome, always surprising, and always worth reading. So naturally, her latest book—the fiction collection, Boundless—is a rollicking good time. A combination of short stories and poetry, these tales explore darkly fantastic worlds and characters who come to unexpected crossroads where they must make the ultimate choices that decide their fate. But through even the most dire circumstances, Austin’s writing brims with flair and whimsy, making Boundless a supremely enjoyable ride from first to last.
Get Your Copy Here.

Seeking SamielSeeking Samiel and The Bookseller’s Secret by Catherine Jordan
Catherine Jordan is an author to watch. Thanks to Horror Writers Association, I’m proud to call myself the mentor of this fantastic writer, though truthfully, working with her has undoubtedly taught me as much about the craft as I have taught her. Need proof of her immense talent? Look no further than this pair of horror books—the devilish Seeking Samiel and its equally engrossing sequel, The Bookseller’s Secret—which are both enthralling explorations on the nature of good and evil. A perfect two-for-one, I would recommend these titles to anyone who enjoys fast-paced and dark horror that takes inspiration from the varied worlds of Gillian Flynn and Ira Levin. Jordan’s work is ambitious and effective, and her name is one you’ll see for years to come in the horror fiction world.
Get Your Copies Here and Here.

Spells and PersuasionsSpells and Persuasions by S. J. Budd
Over the last few years, S.J. Budd has been making appearances in numerous publications as a short fiction writer, and she’s also a devoted reader and reviewer at her regular blog. Now, in her debut collection, Budd goes all in with these nine beautiful dark fantasy stories of magic and loss. A wide-ranging group of tales, you’ll find broken friendship, lost dreams, and a variety of strange beasts and bargains in these pages. Eminently readable, Spells & Persuasions is the perfect bedside book, one that will unnerve you just enough to ensure you keep the nightlight on.
Get Your Copy Here.

In the Crocodile GardensIn the Crocodile Gardens by Saba Syed Razvi
Saba Syed Razvi is an author I only recently discovered—once again, thanks to Horror Writers Association—and wow, am I so incredibly grateful for having found her work. This beautiful book of poetry, released from Sundress Publications, weaves an intricate tapestry of fairy tale imagery, cultural explorations, and political discourse. Her faculty with language is undeniable, and the ease with which she crafts her words is as lyrical as it is profound. These poems never take the simple way out and instead challenge readers to look beyond and ponder the all-too-difficult world in which we live. A weighty journey to be sure, but quite a beautiful and worthwhile one.
Get Your Copy Here.

Blood RelationsBlood Relations by Lori Titus
With a new and always fantastic book out nearly every few months, it’s no stretch to say that Lori Titus is one of the most talented and hardest working authors in dark fantasy and horror today. She crafts spell-binding stories steeped in history, magic, and mystery. Blood Relations is among her most recent releases, and it’s a beautiful and haunting novel that will burrow beneath your skin and stay there long after you’ve read the final pages. Also, if somehow you’ve missed Titus’s previous novels, including her fabulous Marradith Ryder series, then Blood Relations might be a perfect place to start, since it’s a standalone novel. But really, once you read this one, you know you’ll want more, so be sure to check out all her many other books, each of which is absolutely worth moving to the top of your to-read list.
Get Your Copy Here.

The Kraken SeaThe Kraken Sea by E. Catherine Tobler
Last year, I featured E. Catherine Tobler and her work on this blog, but it bears repeating: read The Kraken Sea. Read her other incredible Traveling Circus stories too. Read pretty much anything E. Catherine Tobler has written or edited. She is a fabulous storyteller, and her fiction should always have a place on your bookshelf. The Kraken Sea in particular has stuck with me since I first read it many months ago. This gloriously strange and gorgeous novella interweaves aspects of Tobler’s wider Traveling Circus universe while still delivering a standalone story, which is no easy feat. But of course, her mastery as an author makes this a highly readable story that gets its claws in you and never lets go. And that cover seriously haunts both my dreams and my nightmares, a perfect combination that fits the tone of this beautiful tale all too well.
Get Your Copy Here.

Happy reading!

Looking to the Future: Part 4 of Our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion

Welcome back to the fourth and final part of our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion! To close out our month-long series, these amazing authors and I chat about their hopes for the future of horror as well as what each of them has planned for the coming year! And once again, if you need to familiarize yourselves with my featured authors (and all their varied accomplishments), head on over here for a quick refresher!

So let’s finish this up in style! Take it away, ladies!

What is your hope for the trajectory of the horror genre over the next couple decades? What would you like to see more of in horror, and what would you like to see less of?

Kristi DeMeester: I’m hopeful quiet horror becomes more mainstream. With I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House on Netflix, I’m hoping for an uptick in less gore and more atmosphere.

Miracle AustinMiracle Austin: I hope that all women will be paid more attention to and offered diverse opportunities to have their works exposed in various outlets. So many still have no idea how many women love to write and read horror tales.

K.Z. Morano: The horror genre is constantly evolving and that’s one of the many things I love about it. This is what makes this genre immortal. Already, we’re enjoying a vast selection of subgenres from fantasy horror to noir horror to bizarro horror. Even so, I’d very much like to witness the revival of extreme horror done the right way. You know, the way Poppy Z. Brite did it. I’d like to read horror that’s ferocious and fearless and emotionally honest and raw. I hope that fewer horror authors would be forced to “tone down their voices” in order to be accepted.

Wendy Wagner: I think that after the success of The Conjuring, The Witch, Blair Witch, and Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s novel HEX we’re going to see a lot of witch stories for a few years. There’s already a lot of weird witch SF coming out, and I think that will ripple through horror a bit. I’m down with that. I think it’s time for a witch renaissance! But I’m never going to get enough haunted house stories. 🙂

Lori Titus: I would like to see more women, people of color, and non-Western settings in horror. I want to see less torture porn and more movies with substance. Stories about flawed humans can be just as scary (if not more) than the serial killer/monster like Freddy or Michael Myers. And it’s not to say that those creatures don’t have their place, too. It just seems that horror goes through these phases where it’s only one thing—all serial killers, all vampires, or all Bigfoot. Variety is always good.

Farah Rose Smith: I hope to see horror make a distinct turn away from using sexual assault and misogyny as the primary platform for female characters. I’d like to see diverse authors make strides. The flourishing of the intersectional horror movement. It’s important that we move towards destigmatizing mental illness as well, by incorporating greater sensitivity and research when writing about it. Ultimately, I long for the death of the male gaze in storytelling, but we are a long way from making that happen.

Eden Royce: I’d love to see the definition of horror widen. It has a tendency to be dominated by the Eurocentric male view of what is fearsome or frightening. Chesya Burke’s article in Nightmare Magazine explains this well. Also, I want to see more horror films and webseries written and directed by women. I also hope we can throw off the stigma that comes with horror, especially for women writers. I see so many books that are categorized as “paranormal” in order to avoid using the term “horror” when the works clearly fit into the latter category.

Scarlett R. Algee: Well, I’m hoping to see more women 🙂 Less zombies. I am sick unto death of zombies and I’ve never quite worked out what their appeal is. I’m not a Walking Dead fan, and I can count the number of good zombie novels I’ve read in the past year on one finger. More psychological horror. Stories and films that don’t rely on outside monsters, but that show us we’re the monsters. Keep the gore offscreen and give us the dread, give us those subtle little touches that keep us awake at night.

Julia BenallyJulia Benally: I’d like to see horror that actually makes me shiver. Some horror should be classed in the genre of “stupid” because the story had no meat to it. I want to see better endings. How many stories choke at the end because somehow the evil ghost is a victim? WHATEVER! EYE ROLL! I’d like to see less of women’s privates. One can argue it shows vulnerability, so why are mostly women naked? That dude who wrote the story for the Silent Hill movie said women are good in horror because they’re ALREADY vulnerable. AKA she’s there to satiate horny sickos in the name of vulnerability. The only scary part about that is making rapists think about getting me. House of Wax with Vincent Price did the naked thing, but they showed the woman shoulders up. The focus was not her body, but the actual scene.

Tell us about your latest writing and/or editing projects. Also, what upcoming projects can we expect from you in the next year?

Lori Titus The Art of ShadowsKristi: Currently at work on stories due to anthologies and waiting to hear back on a handful of stories out on submission. Once those are off the list, I can circle back to working on my third novel. My debut novel, Beneath, is forthcoming from Word Horde in April.

K.Z.: I’m happy to share that one of my stories will be included in an anthology with tales written by Filipino authors. The stories are all set in the Philippines (or an alternate version of the Philippines). It’s not a horror antho but is instead made up of various stories in different genres. I’m actually looking forward to introducing more Filipino readers to my work.

Miracle: I’m in the process of working on edits for my upcoming YA/NA eclectic collection, Boundless—a work that almost was not published, which is another story of course. It will possess free-verse poems and short stories, which I hope will evoke many emotions. The expected release date is late January 2017. I’m also working on a short story for a YA Anthology to benefit Autism with 12 more amazing authors. It’s titled Ever in the After—fantasy and supernatural tales. Spring 2017 is expected release date.

Wendy: Editing-wise, I’ll be doing my usual stuff over at Nightmare this year, which is always fun. I love reading horror slush and working with horror writers—it’s an absolute joy. I have a story coming out in Pseudopod’s Artemis Rising project—it’s called “Drift Right,” and I think it’ll be podcast in early March. (It has creepy sea lions in it!) I also have a slightly spooky science fiction novel coming out this summer. It’s called An Oath of Dogs, and it features corporate cover-ups, murder, creepy alien beings, and some very scary dogs.

Sycorax's DaughtersLori: I have a lot on my plate. This month (January) I will have a new novel out called Blood Relations, about a religious cult and their enemies, who practice magic. There have been disappearances of young people in town, and the local sheriff struggles to solve the mystery before something worse happens. I will also be promoting The Art of Shadows, the second book in The Marradith Ryder Series. In this installment Marradith is tasked with finding Rafael Castillo, her missing boss. But as it turns out there are bigger enemies around than the one who abducted him. My plans are to write the third installment of Marradith’s story this year. But first, I have a new story I have already started on which I want to complete. Meanwhile I am also doing my usual ghostwriting work and some editing for author Kody Boye. Also, [I have a story in the anthology] Sycorax’s Daughters, along with a lot of other, great female black authors.

Farah: I am pretty swamped with projects at the moment. The third issue of Mantid Magazine will start coming together in late Spring. I’ll be posting updates to the submission guidelines in early February. I’m always in the process of writing short fiction and poetry, though the most important writing at the moment is a novel I’ve been working on for 4 years that is (finally) almost finished. An extended philosophical essay is in fragmentary form on my desk, as is the concept art for an interactive art exhibition that I’ve been developing over the past few months. All of this will have to take a back seat to some short films I am slated to produce this Spring. All in all, quite busy, and feel quite fortunate to be, especially with the excruciatingly slow pace that I need to work at.

Spook Lights 2Eden: Spook Lights 2: Southern Gothic Horror was just released in January 2017. I’m working on a novelization of one of the stories from my first collection, Spook Lights. I have a story in Sycorax’s Daughters, a collection of horror fiction and poetry by black women authors coming out this month (February 2017) and one in Shadows Over Main Street 2 (publication date TBD).

Scarlett: I’ve done copy editing and proofreading for two upcoming Woodbridge Press releases (Explorations: First Contact at the end of January, and Heart Blade by Juliana Spink Mills, coming in February.) I’m terrifically pleased with both of those and I think they’ll be phenomenal. I’ve also just written another episode of The Lift, for you podcast fans, that will drop later this year, and I’m hoping this is the year I get a good novel/long novella plot dropped in my brain.

Any final thoughts on Women in Horror Month for 2017 (or any thoughts about your plans for Women in Horror Month for the years to come)?

Kristi: We’re here every other month of the year as well. 🙂

Miracle: I hope that Women in Horror Month continues to receive hot attention by the industry and readers. One day, I also hope that there will no longer be just one month dedicated to women horror authors because there will be so many women involved in so many media vehicles, which will become the norm. I’m very grateful that a few doors have opened for some women, but it sure would be nice if all the doors opened for anyone who wish to transform her dreams into reality and to become visible by all.

SanitariumK.Z.: A lot of people are still wondering if women really have a place in horror. Let’s show them that we do. WIHM is a start. Soon, hopefully, it won’t take a month-long celebration every year for people to recognize that women have and always will have a place in the genre.

Wendy: I always see people complain about the need for Women in Horror month—and about the need for Black History month, Indigenous Peoples Day, etc. Yes, it sucks that white male cultural products get the lion’s share of attention. It sucks that we need to have special occasions to call out the contributions of other kinds of creators. But I know I’ve learned a lot from these kinds of promotional activities. Working on Lightspeed and Nightmare’s Destroy series taught me more about women, LGBTQ, and people of color working in my field that I learned in a lifetime of library use. So I’m glad these things exist. They’re a great way to help people broaden their genre experience. And heck, they’re fun, too!

Lori: I just hope everyone will take the time to sample work from some of the excellent women writers who grace the genre.

Farah: I do hope people will take the opportunity to celebrate Women in Horror Month by reading works by women and diverse authors and attending screenings of films directed, written, and produced by women. Regarding the future, it is a mission of mine to grow Mantid Media into a full-fledged small press, releasing works by women and diverse fiction writers as a matter of course. I would encourage people to keep their eyes on Mantid Magazine and submit fiction to us when we are open to them, hopefully on May 1st.

Eden: I’m just so pleased at the success Women in Horror Month continues to achieve and I love chatting with the women authors and artists I meet and delving into their work. For Women in Horror Month in the years to come, I want to be able to promote more of their work as well as release more of my own.

Scarlett: I’m going to spend this year’s WiHM reading a lot and finding new favorites. In years to come, I hope to be more physically involved. We’re voices to be heard. We’re the future.

Tremendous thanks to these nine fantastic authors for being part of my Women in Horror Discussion. Please read their work, now and every other month of the year. The horror genre is so much stronger thanks to their contributions!

Happy reading!

The Art of Advice and Support: Part 3 of Our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion

Welcome back to Part 3 of our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion! This week, these nine awesome authors and I talk about the great people in the horror industry who support women as well as their advice for those female authors just getting started in the industry. (And if you haven’t already, be sure to read the bios on my featured authors!)

So let’s get started for this penultimate installment of our Women in Horror Month celebration!

Unfortunately, there are still too many barriers for women in publishing, especially in genre fiction. However, instead of focusing on the far-too-common experiences many of us have had where someone wouldn’t give us a chance because of our gender, let’s flip it around and shine a light on those who have made publishing a better place to write: specifically, who have you met in this industry who has been supportive of your work in particular or supportive of women in horror in general? Who are those editors, authors, and publications you can count on to support female horror authors year-round, not just in the month of February?

Kristi DeMeester: S.J. Bagley and Simon Strantzas are hugely supportive as is Scott Nicolay. Ellen Datlow and Paula Guran, obviously. Sean Wallace over at The Dark. Constance Ann Fitzgerald over at Lady Box Books. Molly Tanzer. Silvia Moreno Garcia. Michael Wehunt. Shannon Peavey and Kelly Sandoval at Liminal Stories.

Miracle Austin: I must confess Sirens Call Publications, Sanitarium, Dark Eclipse, and many other anthologies allowed my voice to be heard. I’m extremely thankful for and always will be. These publications accepted some of my stories throughout the year.

K.Z Morano.: The lovely ladies at Sirens Call definitely deserve to be mentioned. I’d like to thank Gloria Bobrowicz, Nina D’Arcangela, and Julianne Snow for the support they give female horror authors, especially for opening the doors to newbie female writers in the genre. Also, there’s Fox Emm who included lots of female horror writers in the extreme horror anthology “Bad Neighborhood”. Some people think that women are incapable of writing hardcore horror. This blogger/editor proved them wrong with this kick-ass collection.

Wendy WagnerWendy Wagner: The vast majority of the people I’ve worked with are real champions of women working in horror. I probably wouldn’t work with them if they weren’t! I can’t say enough good stuff about Ellen Datlow, John Joseph Adams, and Ross Lockhart. I feel like Ross and John—who are both editors and small press owners—are working their hardest to find and promote the work of women in this field. I love working with those two!

Farah Rose Smith: There are tons of folks who are consistently supportive of women in the horror genre. So many that it would be impossible to name them all. This alone speaks to how far we’ve come towards equality, though there is still an enormous need for further improvement. Sam Cowan at Dim Shores, Michael Kelly at Undertow Publications, Justin Steele at Strange Aeons, Mike Davis at Lovecraft Ezine Press, and Ross E. Lockhart at Word Horde consistently support and publish women. Scott Nicolay is an avid supporter of diversity in weird fiction, and does so consistently on his podcast The Outer Dark. I’m immensely grateful for his presence in the community, as he was one of the biggest supporters of Mantid Magazine when it first came out of the gate, and also supports and promotes numerous other publications that aim to elevate diverse writers. There are countless writers who make a point of reading, supporting, promoting, and encouraging women and diverse writers in the community, so one need not let the voices of entrenched misogyny frighten them away. We’re always aiming to elevate women over at Mantid Magazine! I’d encourage people to keep an eye on both Lethe Press and a new magazine called Nasty Writers.

Eden RoyceEden Royce: I’ve had wonderful support from so many people. To name a few: Ashlee Blackwell at Graveyard Shift Sisters, the authors at Colors in Darkness—Mya Lairis, Dahlia De Winters, and Kenya Moss-Dyme, Sirens Call Publications, Patricia Flaherty Pagan at Spider Road Press, Linda D. Addison, Kinitra Brooks, Ph.D., Susana Morris, Ph.D., Carolyn Mauricette, Mark Taylor, Roma Gray, Lincoln Farish, Jack Wallen, Armand Rosamilla, Horror Addicts, Terror Realm, Gregory Norris, Joey Pinkney, The Wicked Library, The Horror Honeys, and FIYAH Lit Mag.

Scarlett R. Algee: Sirens Call Publications may be a “for the love” market, but they have, quite possibly, the nicest editorial team I’ve yet worked with. Among the big names, Tor is responsible for my having read a lot of female authors I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. And of course, I have to give Sanitarium Magazine a shoutout, because that’s where I got the push that made me think “hey, I can do this”.

Julia Benally: Well, there’s Daniel Foytik from The Wicked Library. Farah Rose Smith from Mantid Magazine. Then of course there’s you.

What advice do you have for female horror authors who are just getting involved with the industry?

Kristi: Keep writing. Keep submitting. Dust yourself off when you’re rejected. Mope a little if you need to. It’s okay. Keep writing. Get better.

The Bell HouseMiracle: I will say to surround yourself with a positive circle of true supporters, usually small and that’s a good thing, because there will be so many times you want to give up because of the rejections and various disappointments you’ll endure. Those who you would expect to clap for you may not. You need positive cheerleaders to encourage you and positive affirmations to walk this industry’s twisty road.

K.Z.: This industry has a reputation for being inhospitable to females. Don’t let that intimidate you. There are more successful female horror writers than you think. Most of them are just shelved under “dark fantasy”, “gothic”, etc. If you’re a female horror writer who wants to make it in this industry, my best advice to you would be to seek out and read the works of fellow female horror authors and gain inspiration from them. Don’t pressure yourself into “writing like a man” or writing under a male-ish pseudonym. Instead, just focus on writing well and on finding your own unique voice as a writer. Write like a woman. Write like you and the rest will follow.

Mantid Issue 1Wendy: Work hard and then work harder. Don’t give up or give in. Look for reputable presses and magazines and stick with them, because they will have your back when the trolls come looking for blood.

Lori: I would say, first of all, focus on your writing. We never get to the point where we perfect it, but we can reach a point where we are able to see our mistakes and come up with better ways to fix them. When you have done all you can do for a manuscript, learn how to give it to a good editor. Someone who will not only catch grammar slip ups and anachronisms, but someone able to give you advice about the big picture. Marketing is important, but the focus has to be on the actual work first.

Farah: Unfortunately the best advice I can give doesn’t involve writing or the creative process, but how to navigate the industry and community hardships that often come with trying to pave your way in the “business” of writing. I would advise young women to weed out fake friends, not allow themselves to feel diminished by the success of other women, form sister-like bonds with women who share your personal and professional values, support diversity in your community by reading/writing/promoting works by diverse authors, don’t compromise your voice to make a sale, be exceedingly polite, and don’t make any decisions that make it hard for you to sleep at night.

Spook Lights: Southern Gothic HorrorEden: Don’t bend to what you think publishers or readers want and don’t chase what’s popular. Write what speaks to you and do you best to cultivate your own voice. Read widely—speculative fiction and literary, indie and traditionally published—it can help you learn what works for you in a story and what doesn’t. It will also expose you to various methods of storytelling you might not otherwise come across.

Julia: Horror is an art form, not a bowl of disgusting trash slapped together with every nasty element ever invented. Take the alien from Alien for example. The creature was freaky; its slime served the alien. Imagine if the director focused only on the slime?

Scarlett: Don’t let anyone tell you that women can’t write horror. (Quite a few of us live with it just by virtue of our biology, after all.) Don’t give up. You’ll get rejections, and they’ll hurt, but keep going. Your voice matters.

And that’s Part 3 of our discussion! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 from earlier this month!

Happy reading!

Favorite Authors and Least Favorite Tropes: Part 2 of Our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion

Welcome back to our Women in Horror Month celebration! For Part 2 of our Women in Horror 2017 discussion, these nine amazing authors and I discuss their favorite writers and stories as well as the female-penned stories they wish had gotten more attention in the past year. Plus, we talk about crafting female characters in horror and the tropes that sometimes go with them.

So without further adieu, take it away, ladies!

Who are your favorite female horror authors, and which of their stories in particular have resonated with you?

Kristi DeMeester: Livia Llewellyn creeps under my skin like few other writers. Her stories are unnerving and linger after having finished them. Her stories “The Engine of Desire” and “Omphalos” are things of terrifying loveliness. My God. She’s so good. Damien Angelica Walters spins tales that somehow combine the lightest touch with horror. It’s terribly difficult to select just one of her stories because I’ve read so many. Grab her collection Sing Me Your Scars or her novel Paper Tigers, and you’ll see what I mean. Priya Sharma’s “Fabulous Beasts” was one of my absolute favorite stories last year. Sarah Langan’s novels are so incredibly wonderful. Helen Marshall’s collection Gifts for the One Who Comes After is a book I can read again and again. “In the Year of Omens” encapsulates everything I love in a spooky story. Kelly Link blends strangeness into her stories that is the exact right level of disquiet. Her collections are also go-to reads.

Miracle Austin: The fantastic Shirley Jackson and Toni Morrison are two of my favorite horror authors—I have many more. “The Lottery” by Ms. Jackson and Beloved by Ms. Morrison are two that I continue to think about frequently—very powerful works!

KZ MoranoK.Z. Morano: Some of the female horror authors I admire are Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Gertrude Atherton, Angela Carter, Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due, Kelly Link, Kaaron Warren, Karen Russell, Kathe Koja, Helen Oyeyemi, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Damien Angelica Walters. I’ve always been a fan of Anne Rice’s sensual and savage portrayal of vampires. And Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was one of the first books I borrowed from the school library. One of my favorite short stories in the horror genre is Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” And then there’s Livia Llewellyn’s beautiful and brutal masterpiece, “And Love Shall Have No Dominion” which still revolts, terrifies, and enthralls me in equal measures.

Wendy Wagner: I love Tananarive Due: her novel The Good House is set in the Pacific NW (I’m a PNW native), and it was just thoughtful and creepy and a great example of the haunted house genre. I love haunted house stories. I re-read The Haunting of Hill House almost every year. (Shirley Jackson, the author of Hill House, is a huge influence on me.) I’m also a huge fan of Daphne DuMaurier. The Birds is legendary, but I think her literary thriller, Rebecca, is my favorite work by her. It’s so moody, so full of character. It’s one the greatest character studies of all time. The Hitchcock film does it very little justice.

Farah Rose SmithFarah Rose Smith: Oddly enough, my favorite female authors don’t fall within the horror genre, but perhaps use horror elements to bolster their narratives (Anya Seton and Clarice Lispector, primarily). As for horror-proper, I’ve tend to gravitate towards the weird, poetic, decadent, gothic, and surreal. I hold K.J. Bishop (THE ETCHED CITY) and Livia Llewellyn (FURNACE) in high esteem. One can never go wrong with Shirley Jackson (THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE). And one can’t really call themselves a horror person if they’ve neglected Mary Shelley (FRANKENSTEIN, duh).

Eden Royce: Daphne Du Maurier’s “The Blue Lenses”, Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle—I can see that story playing out in my hometown of Charleston. Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Voodoo Dreams series. I also love Alyssa Wong’s work; her story “Scarecrow” is fantastic.

Scarlett R. Algee: Oh gosh, the dreaded ‘favorite author’ question! Ruthanna Emrys–“The Litany of Earth” still astounds me, and I’m immensely excited that Winter Tide is coming. And Octavia Butler: she’s not thought of as a “horror” author, obviously, but “Bloodchild” scared the hell out of me and gave me nightmares.

Julia Benally: So far, I love your stories and I’m beginning to love Scarlett Algee’s stories. I absolutely adore your “The Clawfoot Requiem.” That one had me on the edge of my seat. I also loved your “The Little Girl Who Came From the Sea.” I loved reading “Tomb Wife” from Scarlett.

Related to the last question, what recent story (or stories) have you read in the last year that was written by a female horror author but didn’t get as much attention as you think it deserved?

NightscriptKristi: Carrie Laben’s “Postcards From Natalie” from The Dark. WOW. So good. Cate Gardner’s “As Cymbals Clash” also in The Dark.

Miracle: There are many, but I’ll have to say Cemetery Tours by Jacqueline E. Smith and Skin Witch: Tales of Soucouyants by Chanel Harry.

K.Z.: I think everyone should check out “When You Work for the Old Ones” by Sandra McDonald and “A Diet of Worms” by Valerie Valdes. I came across these stories in Nightmare Magazine so I suppose they reached a lot of readers. Even so, I would recommend these tales to those who haven’t read them yet. Nightmare Magazine features female horror authors a lot and that’s one of the many reasons why I support it.

Wendy: Oh, “The Low, Dark Edge of Life,” by Livia Llewellyn, no doubt. It ran in the December issue of Nightmare Magazine, and it’s just fantastic. I see it as the kind of story if Lovecraft had been born a woman—a furious, brilliant, fierce woman. It’s a burning fever dream of weird.

Pathfinder TalesFarah: Two of my stand-out favorites this year in the weird genre both came from Dim Shores. The first was SPLIT TONGUES by Kristi DeMeester. The other was GRASS by Anya Martin. Everyone I encounter raves wildly about the brilliance of ECSTATIC INFERNO by Autumn Christian. I would highly recommend picking up a copy of that as well. And there are, of course, many writers pouring into the genre from all walks of life that will undoubtedly produce memorable works in the years to come. I look forward to reading and working with them.

Eden: The Sleepless by Nuzo Onoh. Her brand of African horror resonates with me and is a refreshing change from some of the mainstream portrayals of Nigerian/Igbo culture. I absolutely love “Who will Greet You at Home” by Lesley Nneka Arimah as it shows how magical realism, fantasy, and horror intertwine. Priya Sharma’s “Fabulous Beasts” is also a wonderful read as is Vicy Cross’ Tuesday Apocalypse.

Audrey at NightScarlett: One stands out: Aliette de Bodard’s “Lullaby for a Lost World“. It’s from Tor, so I was a bit surprised that I ran across it on Amazon and hadn’t already heard of it. It’s a beautiful and horrifying story about making sacrifices for what is perceived as the greater good, and what happens when that illusion of greater good is broken.

Julia: Personally I don’t think anyone gets as much attention as they should. We all go through so much pain to write a story and then the readership is small because people don’t read as often as they used to.

When you are crafting female characters in your writing, do you consciously steer clear of the usual tropes of horror, or do you allow the individual story to take shape and see where it takes you?

Kristi: I’m not much of a planner, so I tend to just let the stories take me where they will. My favorite stories are the ones that put girls/women in strange moments where the outcome will drastically change them and then let them work themselves out. Or not.

DollK.Z.: Most of the time, I just let my characters shape themselves. Still, I’m careful not to misrepresent my own sex. There’s already too much of that going on in horror films, stories, and novels. So, each time I create a female character, I ask myself: “Would a real woman actually do/say this?”

Miracle: I usually allow the story to take shape and allow characters to take the reigns, which is the best part of writing to me. I revise, when needed, of course.

Lori: I really try not to use the tropes in obvious ways that have been done too often. The thing about tropes is they do give the reader benefit of the familiar. But with so many books out there, you really have to change things up in order to tell a story which feels different. As a reader I enjoy stories which challenge my expectations. Everyone loves a good twist! I try to surprise myself with how I can craft the story into something different.

Farah: I do make a strange point of avoiding any heavy gender, race, or orientation markers in short fiction unless they have a significant purpose or use within the narrative because I want it to be an immersive experience rather than a preachy one. I tend to write male characters at that length, only really feeling comfortable writing women in longer pieces because I think there needs to be more room to maneuver. At least with the kind of things I am trying to say. I try to approach creative ventures with intersectional feminism as a guiding light. As for tropes, I don’t normally employ them, but only because the stories I write elevate atmosphere and mood over events.

Julia Benally The Wicked LibraryEden: I don’t consciously steer away from horror tropes in my writing; I think telling the story takes precedence. Get the story written first, then you can edit it later. But having said that, I grew up around so many fascinating, yet flawed women that I tend to write characters that possess a variety of traits that make them full characters, not perfect creatures.

Scarlett: I have things I make conscious efforts to avoid. No rape (it almost never serves the plot, in my experience). No scantily clad women being chased upstairs by axe murderers. 95% of my horror protagonists are female, and they have minds of their own, so I just let them drive the story, even though they usually come to bad ends. That’s actually another reason I like horror–the general lack of “happily ever after” is quite in tune with my experiences.

Julia: My characters form themselves after the story does. And then based on how the character is, the story is edited accordingly. Whenever I consciously try to make changes to a character, they throw a fit and won’t work for me. Sometimes I feel like it’s not up to me to steer them in any one direction. They like steering themselves.

So that’s part 2 of our Women in Horror Month Discussion. If you haven’t already, please check out Part 1 from last week, as well as the bios for all these wonderful writers!

Happy reading!

Ladies of the Macabre: Part 1 of Our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion

A big welcome to February and the always awesome Women in Horror Month! This year, I’m celebrating in a big way! As I mentioned last week, this month is all about female horror authors, in particular these nine incredible writers whose work and work ethic I admire wholeheartedly.

So for the first installment of our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion, let’s start at the beginning. Today, I talk with our incredible female horror authors about what drew them to the genre and what this year’s auspicious Women in Horror Month means to them.  In the coming weeks, I’ll be speaking with each of them again about their inspiration and favorite authors as well as where they hope that the horror genre is headed in years to come.

So let’s get started with this celebration of some of the awesome ladies of horror!

As a writer, what attracts you to the horror genre? Also, do you remember your earliest experience with horror, either as a reader of horror literature or a viewer of horror films?

Kristi DeMeesterKristi DeMeester: The unknown and unsettling has always held a dark kind of seduction for me. That moment of breathlessness as you wait for the door to open without knowing what’s on the other side? It lets you teeter on the edge of something terrible, which is in its own right, a form of beauty. My first experience was my mother letting me watch Fright Night when I was four or five. I fell in love with Chris Sarandon. I was hooked after that.

Miracle Austin: My exposure to horror/suspense arenas occurred prior my junior high years. My mom used to listen to an AM radio station, cannot recall name, on Friday nights that aired creepy stories. I was sold instantly and couldn’t wait until the next airing. Horror/suspense just meshed with me from the start. I craved horror…

K.Z. Morano: My earliest exposure to horror was watching Filipino horror flicks as a kid. The “special” effects were horrible but the aswang and other monsters of Filipino folklore terrified me more than the vampires and werewolves in Hollywood movies. From those films, I realized that horror isn’t just about scaring the heck out of people. Horror has a way of revealing people’s truest natures. Horror brings out the best and the worst in people. Horror is honest. That, I think, is what drew me to it in the first place.

Wendy Wagner: When I was about nine, I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew. One of my sisters had gotten it from the library, and the whole family was passing it around. It creeped me out, but I loved it, too. I would read a story and then vow I wasn’t going to read another, and then I’d go looking for the book and read another one. I spent the next three or four years devouring a ton of ’80s horror. Writing horror is just fun. I like trying to spin a gory, disgusting scene. I like trying to create something that really challenges social norms. What I love best, though, is writing something that gives me that goosebumply, uncomfortable feeling. That’s the very best.

Lori TitusLori Titus: I am an inquisitive person. I love theorizing about what the world could be like. Horror offers the perfect opportunity to speak deep truths, address taboos and painful subjects, while being entertaining and not preachy about it. I was raised on horror movies and looked for scary books as soon as I was able to read, so it’s no surprise it became my favorite genre.

Farah Rose Smith: I’ve always found horror media to be a powerful platform, not only for storytelling, but for catharsis. It has a transformative power that is too often neglected by the literary community. My earliest experiences with the genre were typical of a 90s kid. Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, So Weird, MST3K, and so on. My Dad was a big fan of both horror and science fiction, so most of my interest in it came from him. I’ve always been a dedicated Vincent Price fan. In the realm of literature, Lovecraft, Poe, and Hoffmann were my anchors. Though they’ve shifted significantly in my hierarchy of admiration in favor of more obscure writers, I still hold their works in high esteem.

Eden Royce: I grew up in a family that embraced death. From a young age, I was told where my grandmother’s plot and insurance paperwork were stored. You know…just in case. My parents speculated on what would kill others and were many times, correct. I found early on that what was normal for me was off-putting or creepy to others. So I decided to write stories where the strange people were the main characters, and they handled life in the way that’s normal for them. Turns out most people considered that horror.

Scarlett R. AlgeeScarlett R. Algee: I can think of a couple of things that attract me to horror. One, it provides a sort of “safe space” to explore things you’re afraid of–fear is a powerful emotion but can also be, oddly enough, an exhilarating one. Two–and this sort of plays off the first–as a writer, horror lets you play with things that you couldn’t do in real life without consequences. Still upset at the kid who took your lunch money in third grade? Make them a character. Kill them horribly. It’s cathartic. My earliest exposure to horror was through film: namely Jaws and Orca and Alien. I was really young, but something stuck, and here we are.

Julia Benally: After some deliberation, I do believe I enjoy scaring people. And it’s so interesting. I get some seriously good villains from the horror section of my brain. My earliest, earliest that I can recall is that whenever we visited my grandparents, it never failed, my uncles had either Aliens or Predator on.

As a female horror writer, what does Women in Horror Month mean to you? How do you plan to get involved in the month’s activities?

100 NightmaresKristi: This year, I hope to see the awareness the month brings leak into all of the other months of the year. I’d love to see the request for a list of female horror writers posed later in the year include more than the (obviously fantastic) standards of Shirley Jackson, and Mary Shelley, and Joyce Carol Oates. I like to promote my fellow female writers all year, so I plan to continue doing that.

Miracle: It’s a huge honor to have a month dedicated to women in horror! I’m absolutely thrilled to have been selected for this interview with you, Ms. Kiste.  I hope to submit a story or two to Sirens Call Publications, one of my favorites, and collaborate with as many as possible during that special month, pending my writing schedule.

K.Z.: WiHM means a lot to me as a horror writer and as a fan of the genre. This annual tradition is essential in shining the spotlight on lesser known female horror writers. More than that, WiHM introduces fans to fresh, high-quality horror fiction. To celebrate Women in Horror Month 2017, I’m making a massive list on my blog featuring female horror writers. Most of these authors are in the small press and deserve more recognition than they get.

Lori: Since we don’t get equal time, it’s a good way to spotlight talent and get our stories out there. Though I will be promoting my own work as always, I am looking forward to finding a few female authors whose work I haven’t explored yet.

Farah: Women in Horror Month has played an enormous role in furthering the inclusion of women and diverse media creators within the genre. I continue to hear people say negative things about it, mostly rooted in the argument that allotting one specific month to celebrate women in the genre is not conducive to inclusion. I disagree with that sentiment. People tend to forget (especially when thinking from places of privilege) the amount of work that still has to be done to pave the way for women in media. Many are often blinded by their own success or opportunities and can’t quite comprehend that there isn’t one clear-cut way to achieving publication or “success.” If we have to pay the dues of heavy-handedness now so that our daughters won’t have to by insisting upon being seen and heard with emphasis, so be it. I plan on spending the month researching and reading contemporary works by women, particularly in the weird fiction and Bizarro genres, and attending screenings of films created by women.

Julia: After hearing of it I was pretty intrigued. Since it’s new to me, I think I’ll watch it for awhile and see what’s up.

MantidScarlett: Since I deal with a lot of health issues, I’m not entirely sure how active I’ll be (and I tend to not be an “event” person anyway). I do enjoy doing interviews (haha) and online discussions. Those are always fun. I’m glad Women in Horror Month exists, on one hand; it’s about time we got some recognition. On the other, part of me says that we shouldn’t need a month: excellent work is excellent work all the time. The horror community doesn’t quite seem to be at that place yet, though.

Eden: For me, Women in Horror is every month. I do what I can to promote my sisters in horror all year long. But Women in Horror month is when the rest of the world turns their eyes to what we do. This year, I’m releasing a second collection of Southern Gothic short stories, called Spook Lights 2. As Women in Horror month coincides with Black History Month, I’m writing a series of blog posts for Graveyard Shift Sisters that highlights black women horror writers then and now, including a giveaway of two of my favorite horror novels.

So that’s Part One of our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion. Head on back here next week as we discuss favorite authors and how these ladies craft female characters of their own.

Happy reading!

Women in Horror 2017 Discussion Coming Soon!

Women in Horror Month is finally here, and I am super thrilled that this blog will be participating in a big way this year! Throughout the month of February, I will be interviewing an illustrious group of female authors and editors who are writing some of the very best horror out there today!

And who might those fantastic writers be? Well, let me tell you all about them! Here are the nine authors who I am honored and excited to have interviewed for this forthcoming feature! Big thanks to each and every one of them for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m looking so forward to sharing their responses throughout the rest of the month!

Kristi DeMeesterKristi DeMeester is a horror author based in Atlanta. Her fiction has appeared in Apex, Shimmer, Black Static, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, among others. Her chapbook, Split Tongues, was released last year through Dim Shores, and her debut novel, Beneath, is coming soon from Word Horde. Find her at her author website.

KZ MoranoK.Z. Morano is an author of short fiction and poetry. Her collection, 100 Nightmares, was released in 2014 to rave reviews. The collection, which blends folklore and fairy tales, features one-hundred stories told in exactly one-hundred words and includes dozens of illustrations. K.Z.’s fiction has also been featured in The Sirens Call, Vignettes from the End of the World, and Gothic Tales of Terror, among others. Find her at her author website.

Miracle AustinMiracle Austin is a novelist and short fiction author. Her stories have appeared in The Sirens Call, Sanitarium Magazine, and The Wicked Library, among other outlets. Her debut YA novel, Doll, was released in 2016, and her fiction collection, Boundless, is coming soon. Find her at her author website.

Julia BenallyJulia Benally is a short fiction author based in the Southwest. Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, The Wicked Library, Mantid Magazine, and more. She recently completed her first novel, Pariahs, a dark fantasy set within an American Indian world. Find her at her author blog.

Scarlett R. AlgeeScarlett R. Algee is an author based in Tennessee. Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Morpheus Tales, and numerous Popcorn Press anthologies. In addition to her writing and her steampunk-inspired jewelry line, she is also an editor who has worked with numerous fiction writers as well as small presses including Woodbridge Press. Check her out online at her author site.

Eden RoyceEden Royce is an author of short and long fiction. Her novella, Containment, debuted in 2013, and her short fiction has been released through Spider Road Press, Blood Bound Books, and The Sirens Call, among others. She is also the author of the acclaimed fiction collection, Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror, as well as its sequel, Spook Lights II. Her nonfiction appears regularly at Graveyard Shift Sisters. She is the recipient of the Speculative Literature Foundations Diverse Worlds grant. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, she now resides in England. Find her online at her author website.

Wendy WagnerWendy Wagner is the editor of Nightmare and Lightspeed as well as an author of short fiction and novels. Her short stories have appeared at Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Farrago’s Wainscot, among others, and her novels, Starspawn and Skinwalkers, have been released as part of the acclaimed Pathfinder Tales series. Find her online at her author site.

Lori TitusLori Titus is a speculative fiction author and editor out of California. Her novels include The Bell House as well as books in The Marradith Ryder series, including Hunting in Closed Spaces and The Art of Shadows. She has also had multiple short stories published, and she has worked as the editor of Flashes in the Dark. Find her at her author website.

Farah Rose SmithFarah Rose Smith is the editor of the acclaimed Mantid Magazine as well as a fiction writer in her own right. Her work incorporates elements of surrealism, eroticism, and death and decay, among other themes. In addition to her writing and editing, she is also an experimental filmmaker through her company, Grimoire Pictures Studio. Find her online at her author and filmmaking site.

So these are the amazing women who will be appearing on my blog throughout February! Definitely head on back here every week for the entire month to read more about their inspiration and favorite authors as well as how they got involved with the horror genre and where they hope to see it go from here!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Horror Luminary: Interview with Sumiko Saulson

Welcome back! For our third interview for Women in Horror Month, I’m thrilled to present Sumiko Saulson! Sumiko is the scribe of Solitude, Happiness and Other Diseases, The Moon Cried Blood saga, and many other fantastic titles. In addition to being an incredibly accomplished author in her own right, Sumiko is also a huge supporter of her fellow writers. In 2014, she compiled 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction, an invaluable nonfiction resource that features interviews, short stories, and biographies spotlighting some of the very best names in horror.

Recently, Sumiko and I discussed her lifelong love of speculative fiction as well as her plans this February to celebrate both Women in Horror and Black History Month.

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

I decided I wanted to write when I was very young. I was an early reader – I was three when I started to read. When I was five, my father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said a writer, an artist, or a veterinarian. I was writing poetry for money by the time I was in third grade. They were short poems for the inside of custom greeting cards and wedding invitations. I was on my high school newspaper. I got my first job as a writer when I was nineteen, writing for a computer magazine called The Node and its sister music publication, RockHEAD. They were local free newspapers in San Francisco.

Some of my favorite writers are Anne Rice, Christopher Rice, Stephen King., Toni Morrison, Frank Herbert, L.A. Banks, Susan Cooper, Dean Koontz, C.S. Lewis, Peter Straub, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Women in Horror Month 7What in particular drew you into the speculative fiction world? Have you always been a fan, or did your love for horror, science fiction, and fantasy develop later?

I’ve always been a fan. My parents were fans, so I started reading and watching sci-fi, horror, and fantasy at an early age – and particularly, horror and science fiction. My father subscribed to Issac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine and I read the short stories when I was ten years old. The first novel I read was my mom’s copy of Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. I was in fifth grade. By the time I was twelve, I was reading things like Frank Herbert’s Dune and Stephen King’s The Stand

You’ve been an ambassador for Women in Horror Month in the past. Do you have anything special planned for the 2016 event?

I don’t have anything special planned for WiHM yet this year, but I am doing something special for February: I am hosting a month of African American horror blogs over at HorrorAddicts.net in honor of Black History Month. Many of the writers are black female writers I met when I was putting together 60 Black Women in Horror for WiHM back in 2012 and 2013, but the bloggers are not exclusively women. We have a lot of male speculative fiction writers involved as well.

Things that Go Bump in My HeadYou’ve written both novels and short fiction. How is your process similar (or different) depending on the length of the work?

I write character sketches and plot notes for novels. I never find that necessary for short fiction. I can outline the plot for a short story from beginning to end in my mind, and don’t have to spend much time making sure that the details don’t get away from me, or become convoluted. Sometimes I can get so confused when writing a novel that it seems almost impossible to finish it. I’m there over and over again with the sequel to Solitude, my first novel. It is called Disillusionment. I get so confused about details pertaining to timelines (since this deals with alternate timelines) that I have to go back and re-write things. I hate to re-write in the middle of a first draft. That’s almost never necessary with a short story.

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

Happiness and Other Diseases is my favorite. It’s the first romance I ever wrote. I didn’t think I would want to write anything remotely resembling a love story – not even one that takes place in a dark fantasy world, like Happiness does. I really fell in love with the characters. It’s also the first book I wrote a sequel to. I became very inspired when writing that book. It’s also one of the fan favorites, along with “Warmth.”

Where would you like to see your writing career in five years?

I would like to make a lot more money as a writer. It would be ideal to be able to support myself through writing within the next five years. I have that as a goal.

Big thanks to Sumiko Saulson for being part of this week’s Women in Horror author interview series! Find her online at her author website!

Happy reading!

Cthulhu Calling: Interview with Scarlett R. Algee

For my fourth—and final—2015 spotlight for Women in Horror month, I would like to introduce author Scarlett R. Algee. This Renaissance woman is not only an amazing writer, but also a jewelry maker, a slush pile reader for Sanitarium Magazine, and, of course, a major devotee to Cthulhu. Could we adore this lady any more?

Earlier this month, Scarlett was kind enough to share some details on her artistic process as well as her insight into everything from writing and reading to steampunk and elder gods.

A couple icebreaker questions to start: when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

My first exposure to writing came when I was in first grade. My teacher taught spelling and handwriting by giving us a list of words and having us create little stories using those words. (I’m sure my mother still has those somewhere.) That was the beginning of learning to tell myself stories, complete with acted-out performances by Barbie and friends. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized people actually got paid to write things down, but by then I was already hopelessly smitten by the process.

Favorite authors…oh gosh, I have to pick? Poe and Lovecraft, definitely; I return to those two time and time again. Rudyard Kipling, because I’ve always wanted to live in British India. Clark Ashton Smith, because he could write both beautifully lyrical fantasy and remarkably disturbing horror. Stephen King, whose book “On Writing” should be required reading for everyone. And Terry Pratchett, who taught me that a story can be uproariously funny and yet deeply, seriously moving.

Your writing has been published in two Cthulhu haiku books. What is your process when writing a Cthulhu haiku? (Side note: that might be the coolest interview question I ever get to ask anyone.)

How do I write a Cthulhu haiku (or any other kind of haiku)? Get an idea, brainstorm until I think up some phrases that sound good, and then beat them until they fit the meter :). A lot of people think haiku is an easy form of poetry to write, because the end result is so short. They’re wrong. It can be very frustrating trying to pare a line down to five or seven syllables.

Scarlett R. AlgeeIn addition to writing, you’re also an accomplished jewelry maker. How do you balance two vastly different art forms, and has inspiration from one ever overlapped with the other in unexpected ways?

Jewelry and writing: balance them by keeping them as far away from each other as possible! That’s easier than it sounds, because most of my jewelry pieces are created in an hour or less, while writing is an ongoing, daily, dead-of-night process. Another thing that helps with the balancing act is that once I create something, physical or written, it gets put away for a while, and I give myself time to switch gears. There hasn’t been any significant overlap yet–I’ve done a *little* steampunk writing, though horror is definitely where my heart lies–but I’m open to the possibility.

Are there any particular themes you return to again and again as an artist?

My jewelry is entirely steampunk, so there’s a constant revisitation of the concepts of progress, of technological advancement, of discovery. Clocks, compasses, and cogs: the measure of human achievement, but also the measure of human mortality.

With writing, it’s a bit more personal. I have a form of chronic lung disease which, over the years, has meant a lot of time in hospitals and, occasionally, in operating rooms. The themes I find myself coming back to, time and again, are medical: drugs, experimentation, surgery. l’ve dabbled in some pretty dark corners–vivisection, anesthesia awareness, medical zombification. The human body is a fascinating piece of work, especially with the peel off.

CthulhuIn what directions would you like to see your horror career go? More published short stories? Novels? A multimedia project incorporating both jewelry and fiction? All of the above?

For the foreseeable future, I’m aiming for more published short stories–I feel I’m a better “short” writer than a “long” writer, though I try to reach a little more each time, to eventually work up to a good “long” story. I have a few story ideas on file that may become novels, but my immediate goal is to get into an anthology or two this year.

What upcoming projects are you planning?

Oh, projects! I’ve just finished a novella (it’s a riff on that “medical zombification” idea, with some light steampunk elements), and that’s being proofread as we speak. I’ve also recently rediscovered two Lovecraftian short stories I wrote years ago, and they’re my current project; I’m polishing them up in hopes of getting them published. The next thing I have planned is a story that deals with the treatment of psychiatric patients in the early 20th century–the plot runs deeper than that, of course, but it’s requiring a *lot* of reading and research. And, last but not least, I’m tinkering with interactive fiction. The 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition opens on 1 July and I hope to have a serviceable game created by then. It will almost definitely involve horror.

Thanks again to Scarlett for participating in our Women in Horror Month spotlight. You can check out her jewelry work at her Etsy shop at copperwalkdesigns.etsy.com. As for her writing, be sure to visit her blog at sralgee.wordpress.com where she shares all the latest updates on her burgeoning fiction career. This is one writer who most definitely earns the Cthulhu seal of approval.

Happy reading, and enjoy the rest of Women in Horror Month!