Monthly Archives: February 2018

What’s Next: Part Four of Our Women in Horror 2018 Discussion

Welcome back for the final installment of our Women in Horror Month roundtable discussion! These last four weeks went by all too fast!

Last week, in part three, we discussed the best advice our nine authors had to offer to newer writers as well as their hopes for the future of horror. This week, I’m turning the spotlight back to them by highlighting their upcoming work as well as their final thoughts on this year’s Women in Horror Month. So let’s get to it, shall we?

What projects are you working on now, and what releases can we expect from you in the next year?

Wicked WitchesCatherine Grant: I’ll be working on the June issue of Lamplight. I am writing short stories and submitting. I made a promise to myself to write one new short story a week. Nothing new is pending for publication. I am working on a witch novel set in the Bridgewater Triangle that I am hoping to finish this year. I’m also working on another secret project that I’ll be publishing under a pseudonym.

Denise Tapscott: Right now I’m polishing up a short story called “The Price of Salvation”, which deals with bullying, vengeance and redemption.  Bullying is unacceptable, especially in this day and age and I wanted to put an interesting spin on it. I’m not sure if I want to release the story by itself, or with a collection of other short stories, but I definitely want to release it this year.  In the next year you can expect the sequel to Gypsy Kisses and Voodoo Wishes called Enlightening of the Damned as well as a novella inspired from one of the smaller characters from Gypsy Kisses and Voodoo Wishes.  It’s a character that speaks to my heart often and I have to share his story with everyone I can.  I need to do a lot of research about the Native American culture for this story; I want to honor their traditions and culture. The horrible situation with the Dakota Pipeline and Native Americans really weighs on my heart;  Water is Life. The least I can do is speak out about it, in a creative way.

Mantid Magazine Issue 3Nadia Bulkin: I have a few stories in anthologies that I’m not sure have been officially announced yet, but my main focus this year will be trying to see if I can get a non-fiction, non-horror “passion project” off the ground.

Carrie Laben: All my best stuff is information-embargoed or uncertain at the moment, but I have at least one new piece of fiction and one essay coming before spring, and as you read this my first novel is in the hands of an interested editor, so fingers crossed! (Gwendolyn’s note: In the weeks since this interview was done, the third issue of Mantid Magazine has officially been announced and released, and it includes a couple of those aforementioned under-wraps stories from Nadia and Carrie as well as tales from Brooke Warra and myself!)

Sumiko Saulson: I am attached as a writer to a film project, 7 Magpies, conceived of by Lucy Cruell. It is seven stories written and directed by black women, a sort of Creepshow or Tales from the Hood format. Not sure when we will see it made. As mentioned before, I am putting together 60 Black Women in Horror FictionBlack Magic Women with Nicole Kurtz and Mocha Memoirs Press. 100 Black Women in Horror is coming out. I am working on two novels – Akmani, the fourth installment in my very dark paranormal romance series Somnalia, and Disillusionment, the sequel to my debut sci-fi horror novel, Solitude. One of them should be out before the end of the year, perhaps both, not sure… it depends on how fast the rest of the writing and editing goes.

Kenya Moss-Dyme: I spent all of 2017 in a weird state of suspension. I had things in progress but just couldn’t find my voice. I’m going to make 2018 count and release those things that are gathering dust. If I take too long on a project – for whatever reason – I lose interest and don’t even want to finish, so that’s what I’m struggling with right now. But I plan to release a new collection of horror with a love-theme, and my long awaited, highly anticipated (haha) urban apoc story, Dead Zoned.

Rebecca Allred: I’m actually on a writing hiatus for 2018 (remember that part about giving yourself permission to take a break?) and currently only have one story slated for publication this year. “Behind the Veil of Pretty Pink Lies” will appear in Pickman’s Gallery (Ulthar Press), and is scheduled for a March release. I’m still shopping a few short stories and one co-authored novella, so that number may still (hopefully!) change.

Anya Martin: Unfortunately I can’t talk yet about my biggest release coming this year yet, but let’s say I am working on some new stories and longer works. Also, I’ll have a flash fiction in Zine Trio from Ladybox Books, that was postponed from last year but should come out in 2018. Aside from writing, I’m continuing to assist Scott Nicolay as associate producer on The Outer Dark podcast, which features interviews with Weird and speculative fiction writers and airs most weeks on This Is Horror. And we’ll be throwing the second annual The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird Saturday March 24 at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose which CBS News just dubbed one of the 10 most haunted places in the United States, not to mention a movie! It hit me recently that we are the only conference currently dedicated to contemporary Weird fiction. Among the women joining us this year as guests are Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Sumiko Saulsen, Rios de la Luz, Tiffany Scandal, Rebecca J. Allred, artist Liv Rainey-Smith, and filmmakers Heather Buckley and Izzy Lee! We still have memberships available (at least at press time), so I urge any writers and readers of the Weird to come!

Brooke Warra: Stories, stories, and more stories! My monster story, “The Scritch,” will appear in Mantid Magazine’s Volume 3 this month, and you can expect to hear my stories on The Lift podcast, as well as The Wicked Library. Aside from commissioned pieces, I am also writing a novella I hope to finish in the next few months. It’s going to be a busy year!

Any final thoughts on Women in Horror Month for 2018 (or any thoughts about what you’d like to see for Women in Horror Month for the years to come)?

Denise: I love the idea of Women in Horror Month.  I hope that more women are encouraged to celebrate each other, and to allow themselves to be celebrated. How wonderful would it be to have 30 days of women in horror on AMC and many other mediums?  Ladies, we rock.  We should applaud women from the past, present and future for our unique voices.

Nadia: I hope we get to the point where we don’t need it. But that would require much broader change at the societal level.

Carrie: I really hope that when we do this next year, I won’t be exhausted from protesting and marching all day when I finish answering these questions – but I’m not banking on it.

Black Magic WomenSumiko: I really want to get a book reading going on in SecondLife for WiHM! Maybe we can make it happen in 2019, if not in 2018.

Kenya: I was thinking, how cool would it be if the movie channels did marathons of female-centered horror during February? And I don’t mean women as the victim because that’s all of the time, but if, in honor of this month, they showed a specially selected stream of movies like the XX collection, 28 Days Later, AVP, etc. Movies by women, starring women. Or if Amazon prominently featured women in horror on their main page with special deals on our books, just for the month. Maybe one day, the WIHM will be that widely celebrated!

Rebecca: My hope every year is that everyone, myself included, finds a new writer or two and falls in love with their work.

Catherine: I really hope that the horror community can get through another WIHM without some twatwaffle sticking his foot in his mouth. It seems to happen on a regular basis, and instead of focusing on women authors, we all pile on the woman-hater who happened to open his mouth at the right time to catch the attention of the social media pitchforkmobile. Spoiler: He was a douchebag and a misogynist the other eleven months of the year, too. Can we avoid that distraction? Can we celebrate the women in the genre and keep the conversation about the feminine? Don’t let someone steal our voice. In fact, please let that rule extend to the rest of the year.

Strange AeonsAnya: Just again that one day I’d like to think we won’t need Women in Horror Month! But I am certainly excited to see all the interviews and articles that will appear this month putting the spotlight on some talented women!!!!

Brooke: It’s been such a privilege and a pleasure to meet and bond with so many great WIH and I have made what I hope are life-long friendships with those women in the writing community. I am ecstatic about the future we are shaping together and mostly just excited to see what we do with it.

And that’s our Women in Horror discussion for 2018! Thank you to everyone who read the series this year! Here’s to a great Women in Horror Month, and an even better celebration of Women in Horror for the rest of the year!

Happy reading!

Advice for the Future: Part Three of Our Women in Horror 2018 Discussion

Welcome back for Part Three in our Women in Horror 2018 round table!

Last week, in part two, we discussed how political and social upheavals have affected our nine authors’ writing, as well as the underrated stories they’d recommend readers check out. This week, we discuss what advice they have for writers who are just starting out, along with their hopes for the future of horror. So ladies, take it away!

For all the newer female horror writers out there, what would you like them to know? Specifically, what advice do you wish you’d had as an author when you were first getting started?  

Brooke WarraBrooke Warra: Don’t wait to write the things that scare you, don’t wait to be brave in your work, don’t wait for permission or validation. Just write it. Don’t put your ideas on the backburner, waiting for approval from the community to tackle those tropes or those issues. I think when I was first starting out, I would scribble down ideas and think to myself, “I’ll write that when I am a better writer” or “I can’t write about that! What would people think?” and I hate to admit that, but it’s truly how I spoke to myself. I don’t anymore. And I would encourage a younger me, and anyone new to the genre, to just put that pen to paper and write your heart out.

Carrie Laben: If you’re like me, you start out feeling like everyone else is cooler than you and has more to say. They might at that but you won’t know until you press the absolute limits of what you can say and how cool you can be, whatever that means to you. Especially don’t assume that because someone older and/or male told you something in a declarative, confident tone of voice that it’s therefore a fact.

Kenya Moss-DymeKenya Moss-Dyme: Don’t be afraid to be different. The beauty of our chosen genre is that anything goes, there’s nothing too outrageous or unbelievable, because it’s all fantasy and imagination. So don’t be afraid of thinking out of the box, in fact, I highly encourage it. Sure, there’s a million zombie stories already, so make yours DIFFERENT. Sometimes you’ll get an idea and then discourage yourself because you think it’s already been done. So do it again, but make it stand out in the crowd.

Nadia Bulkin: Don’t try to imitate successful writers’ stories. Write the kind of stories you want to write and want to read, and submit to places that you would want to publish you. At the same time, sometimes the only way to find your path is to try different things. Always err on the side of challenging yourself rather than staying in your comfort zone. Be true to your truth. And on the publishing side, submit constantly, edit judiciously, and never ever take yourself out of competition. Give them a chance to reject you. Believe that you have a seat at the table. I think the number one thing is just don’t give up, though that’s way easier said than done. Oh, and there will be a lot of people pushing back against the particular effort to carve out space for women in horror. Ignore those people.

Rebecca J. AllredRebecca Allred: You’re asking me?! I still feel like I’m still getting started! I don’t think I have much advice to offer that you won’t find in any number of places, but the things I’ve found to be most helpful are: a group of people I can trust to give me honest feedback, even when it hurts; giving myself permission to take a break when the words just aren’t coming; and reaching out to other authors who are still in the trenches. I wish I’d done the latter much sooner. I’ve learned so much from just talking shop with other writers, and it doesn’t hurt to have someone behind the scenes who understands what you’re going through when you need to blow off some steam.

Denise Tapscott: I consider myself as a newer female horror writer. My advice for newer writers in general and soon to be female horror writers is please, please, please, read and write. Choose to share your scary stories with the world. It seems overwhelming and frightful at first, but trust me there are a lot of great women (and men) in the world of horror that are supportive. The feeling of finding your tribe is an amazing experience. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy the process, learn as much as you can, and ask for help when needed. The world wants to hear your voice and experience your stories.

Anya Martin: Just hang in there, I guess. Get good critical beta readers who will not be afraid to put you through your paces. And if you really try to write from an authentic female perspective, expect some rejections not because the story isn’t good but because some editors—and this isn’t exclusively limited to cis white male editors—won’t get it. Be strong and send that story back out. I’ve also put some stories away for years and then taken them back out and found that they sold with only minor changes.

Sumiko Saulson: You should network with other women in horror. Don’t let the glass ceiling slow you down. Ignore anyone who tells you that women can’t write horror. Shrug it off if anyone says you write soft horror, or tries to euphemize away your style with feminizing adjectives of any sort. You’re going to hear a lot of people say “I just don’t read horror” or “I would read your writing if you didn’t write horror.” Don’t believe them. Getting your friends and family to read your books is like pulling teeth. They won’t read them until someone else reads them first and tells you that they are good, and it doesn’t matter a whit what genre the book is in. They’re just using the fear of the horror genre trope as an excuse. Ask people for their honest reviews, and try not to be offended if not all of them are good. You need reviews to get on the radar of book sellers, and a bad review is better than no reviews at all.

Catherine GrantCatherine Grant: Be fierce. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, even if you get labeled as “that bitch.” I think there are a lot of women in the industry who are afraid of calling out misogyny because they don’t want the drama to affect their careers. They play this game where they try to be sweet, unassuming and friends with everyone to avoid pissing off someone who could keep them from getting a book deal, story acceptance, or award. As a result, they are an ally to no one but themselves. If you are feminine, misogyny will affect your career no matter what you do. Might as well trample the patriarchy while you’re at it.

Looking forward, what is your hope for the future of horror? What would you like to see more of in the genre, and what would you like to see less of? 

Brooke: I’ve really loved that the horror genre has become an art form in its own right, and I would love to see more literary, cerebral horror. I think it’s been grossly underestimated as a valid expression of art and I think we have seen that view change especially over the last few years. I’d absolutely love it if we stopped seeing violence against women as plot devices. We are so much more than the victims of crimes and we so often rise above and beyond those crimes against us. I’m beyond weary of revenge tropes, when the women I know in real life have lived through so much, and used that strength to move forward in life, rather than being consumed or destroyed by it. I’d like to see that perseverance reflected in horror. Where female characters tend to be stereotypes, I think we are ready to see ourselves as well-rounded, complex, strong characters. It’s time.

Carrie: Horror, rooted as it is in primal anxieties, can be profoundly liberating or profoundly regressive. I obviously have a preference as to which I’d like to see more of. On the aesthetic plane, I love that folk horror of all kinds – horror that connects to the rhythms of the natural world and a sense of ancient lore – is having a day in the sun, but with that inevitably comes The Darkderivative and plain bad work. And nothing is worse than the contrast between the whole grand sweep of the cosmos and the linguistic stylings of some twerp who photoshopped a spooky tree onto the inside of their eyelids.

Catherine: I’ve heard that Weird Fiction is the next big thing, and I am really looking forward to opportunities that might bring to Weird Fiction authors that deserve more universal success because they are mind-blowingly talented, but write in a genre that can’t seem to get literary recognition from large publishers. At the same time, I’d like to see less snobbery in the genre regarding pulp and trope-centered stories. There is an audience for stories about glittery vampires, right? Why not embrace that? Why not kick the idea that horror is low-brow and doesn’t sell right in the fucking face in the same breath, because no genre is one-note?

Kenya: I’m really enjoying the return of horror in sci-fi. It used to be that sci-fi was mostly aliens and spaceships, exploring outer worlds. We had Twilight Zone and Outer Limits but those types of anthologies had fallen off in production over the years. The last few years, we had some really great ones, like Galaxy of Horrors: really mind-bending stories that blend those worlds. At some point, you’ve exhausted all of your ideas about horror on earth and you gotta start looking into other worlds – or creating those worlds yourself!

Nightscript IIINadia: I hope for more subversive horror that challenges the status quo. More unsympathetic characters, more critiques of powers-that-be, more unconventional narratives. More interrogation of horror tropes and the reason those tropes exist. More unhappy endings, or as I like to call it, more payment of “the price.” I hesitate to say what I’d like to see less of because I think almost anything can be done well. I personally think that very internal horror based on underlying mental illness is very tough to do because most of us don’t know what severe mental illness looks like. So that’s one I’d like to see folks be more careful with.

Rebecca: I’d like to see a broader range of voices and more experimentation with story telling. Much of what I read these days is good, but in the same way I thought The Force Awakens was good. While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery (and I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes try to mimic some of my favorite authors) it leaves readers standing at what at first appears to be an endless buffet, but in reality limits their choices to chicken, chicken, and more chicken.

Gypsy Kisses and Voodoo WishesDenise: I would love to see more character driven stories with a woman’s point of view, where she doesn’t have to rely on a man to save her. Maybe she does the saving. I’d also like to see more scary stories with more people of color with things they find culturally frightening. For example, I’d love to read more stories from an Asian woman that reveals something about her culture or folklore. I want to see far less stories about self-entitled teenagers who are lost in some place they were never supposed to be with gory storylines. We’ve been there, done that (the classics like Jason are always cool, so they are the exception). Someone show us something different. One of my goals is to reflect more people of color, more women, and more non-traditional American stereotypical characters in my stories.

Anya: I’m really excited about the expanding openness to different perspectives. There are more markets open to horror written by women than ever before, as well as people of color and LGBT writers. I’m not saying previous markets were closed per se to women and others, but what we’ve seen is a shift towards editors being more open to publishing stories that don’t fit into over-used tropes and long-held standards within the canon. Also I’d like to see more stories by writers from other cultures and countries make it into English translation. I’d like to see less of the same tropes used again and again in the same ways, especially vampires and zombies.

Sumiko: I would like to see more diversity in horror. If they had enough people of color to represent us as a percentage of the population, the old trope about the black person in the movie dying first wouldn’t be a thing, because there would be more than one black person in the movie. Women need to have more powerful roles than scream queen. The Walking Dead has some issues with its treatment of people of color as disposable, but they are doing a bang-up job of bringing feminism into the genre. Although there is still way too much macho chest banging, the toxic hyper masculine types are usually villains like Negan. Michonne, Carol, and Maggie are all very affirming characters for female viewers. I hated the way they killed off Abbie Mills and Jenny Mills on Sleepy Hollow so that they could make a more traditional, white male-dominated storyline with Ichabod Crane and his less than liberated wife. I loved the fact that the show went off the air afterwards, showing television moguls that this is not what people want.

And that’s part three of our discussion! Next week, we’ll wrap things up by finding out what these incredible authors have in store for the rest of the year and beyond, as well as any final thoughts they have on this month-long celebration!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

My Schedule for Stokercon 2018

In a little over a week, I will be heading to Providence for this year’s StokerCon. If you’ll be there too, you can catch me on panels or at my reading! (Or you know, you can also use this schedule as a guide for how to avoid me! Either or.)

So just where exactly can you find me in Providence? I’m glad you asked…

StokerCon 2018Shirley Jackson: Master of Horror panel on Friday, March 2nd at 12pm
The moderator for this one is Jack Haringa, and my fellow panelists are Jennifer Barnes, Karen Bovenmyer, Nicole Cushing, and Paul Tremblay. I was on a Shirley Jackson panel at NecronomiCon last August, where Jack was the moderator and Paul was a panelist, so I already know this one is going to be a lot of fun. I’m also super excited to meet Jennifer, Karen, and Nicole; I know their work, and it will be great to get to know them too! Also, I could basically talk about Shirley Jackson all day, every day for the rest of eternity. So yeah, this panel will definitely be a great time.

Universal to Hammer: The Classic Screen Horrors on Friday, March 2nd at 4pm
I’m moderating this one! I know, right?! I grew up on Hammer and Universal films, so to get to lead a panel in a discussion about the movies that really shaped my childhood and my love of horror is so cool that I’m truly giddy about it. Also, if that wasn’t cool enough, the panelists are Ramsey Campbell, Michael Gingold, Christopher Golden, and Amanda Trujillo. Obviously, with huge names like that, the pressure’s on for me to do well, so light a candle for me, will you? I prefer Creature from the Black Lagoon green, thank you.

Happy 200th Birthday Frankenstein! Mary Shelley in the 21st Century panel on Saturday, March 3rd at 11:30am
The moderator for this one is John C. Tibbetts, and the panelists include Michael Arnzen, Jennifer Barnes, Leslie Klinger, and Victor LaValle. At NecronomiCon, I was also on a Mary Shelley panel, which you can actually listen to over here at The Outer Dark if you’d like. Naturally, I’m so excited to be discussing Shelley’s work again, especially with such an incredible group of authors! ( I know, I know; I keep using the word excited a lot in this post, but that’s only because it’s true.)

Fairy Tales: A Child’s First Taste of Horror panel on Saturday, March 3rd at 2pm
The moderator here is Leslie Thomas, and my fellow panelists are Edward Ahern, April Grey, Charie LaMarr, and Trisha Woolridge. Anyone who is at all familiar with me or my work already knows how much I love fairy tales and all the darkness and creepiness contained therein. With this one, I’m not-so-secretly hopeful that the conversation will steer toward Angela Carter’s work for at least a moment since her dark fairy tales are among my favorite stories of any genre.

Reading Block on Saturday, March 3rd at 4pm
Just in case panels aren’t enough for you, you can also see me spouting off my fiction, most likely in a rather animated voice (hey, that improv and acting background has to help me somewhere in life). I will be reading one of the flash pieces from my collection as well as teasing an excerpt from my novel, The Rust Maidens. Authors Marc Abbott and John F.D. Taff are also in the 4pm reading block, and I can’t wait to hear them read their work!

And Her Smile Will Untether the UniverseAnd finally, on Saturday night, Bill and I will be attending the Stoker Awards ceremony! EEEE!!! I’ve always wanted to go to the Stokers, and um, you might have heard, but this year is a bit special to me (as in very, very special). I’ve talked about this a lot already on social media—talked so much, in fact, that people are probably sick of hearing about it—but I very much want to announce it here too: my collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, is nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection! That’s an insane sentence to type out, but here’s a link to the final ballot in case you need external verification.

Also, because I have the best editor in the world, she also put together that updated cover you see to the left with an official Stokers seal and everything. Thanks, Jess!

So it will certainly be a busy couple days in Providence, and for that, I’m quite grateful and excited. Honestly, I’m downright thrilled. This will only be my second writing convention after NecronomiCon last summer, and I’m looking so forward to meeting a lot of new people as well as catching up with everyone I already know, either online or in person. It should be a truly wonderful weekend! *cue excited screaming*

Happy reading, and see you in Providence!

The Underrated and the Political: Part Two of Our Women in Horror 2018 Discussion

Welcome back to part two of our Women in Horror 2018 round table!

Last week, we discussed how our nine featured authors became enthralled with the horror genre and what Women in Horror Month means to them. This week, we’re delving into how the current political and social climates have affected their work as well as those tales from other female horror writers that deserve even more attention.

So without further adieu, let’s get started!

Far too often, women are underrated in the genre. So to shine a light on those who aren’t as appreciated as they ought to be, what recent story (or stories) have you read in the past year that was written by a female horror author but didn’t get as much attention as you think it deserved?

Anya MartinAnya Martin: That’s a tough one because there are so many women writing great horror today. In terms of collections from the past year, everybody should absolutely get their hands on Nadia Bulkin’s She Said Destroy (Word Horde) and Selena Chambers’ Calls for Submission (Pelekinesis). I was particularly struck by their powerful realistic portrayals of female protagonists. I hope to see both receive awards nominations this year. Also Christina Sng writes incredibly powerful cosmic horror poetry. Her collection A Collection of Nightmares (Raw Dog Screaming Press) is a must-read, especially if you don’t think poems can profoundly disturb. And for a collection, Sycorax’s Daughters (Cedar Grove Books) features horror stories and poetry by both established and up-and-coming African-American women. I was so happy to see that on the Stoker Awards preliminary ballot and hope it makes the final (Gwendolyn’s note: And it did make the final ballot! HOORAY!). For a more classic author I read last year worthy of discovery, Zenna Henderson is better known for her science fiction People stories, but her horror short stories like “Hush,” in which a little boy creates a “Noise-eater” and his babysitter is helpless to halt its hunger, pack a really tough punch. Start with her collection The Anything Box.

Sumiko Saulson: I’ve been really swamped, but I have managed to read some new and not so new women’s horror… How to Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison, Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra by Anne Rice and her son Christopher Rice. You should check out the black female horror writer’s anthology Sycorax’s Daughters, which came out in 2017. I was in an anthology called Forever Vacancy: Colors in Darkness, which includes a lot of black authors, many of them women.

Catherine Grant: KL Pereira’s A Dream Between Two Rivers: Stories of Liminality is a gorgeous, well-written collection that I don’t see on enough lists. Margaret Killjoy’s anarcho-horror-mystery novella The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion was also really well done but I didn’t see it on any lists. Both KL and Margaret write clean, beautiful prose in a very distinct, fresh voice that is engaging to the reader.

Denise TapscottDenise Tapscott: I agree that women are underrated in horror. Female horror authors never get as much attention as they deserve. One of my all time favorite horror writers is Eden Royce. I have an affinity for Southern gothic tales and each of her stories is a treat. When I mention her work to other people, they give me a blank stare. I remind people that there’s more to read than just Stephen King, Then I insist they buy her collection of short stories. Of course, there is also you, Gwendolyn. I love your work! After I drop Eden Royce’s name, I mention you. Your book And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe is a great collection of short stories. I won’t drop any spoilers, but there is one story in particular that creeps me out and I love it! I can hardly wait to read Pretty Marys All in a Row. There are many women in horror that inspire me, and both of you lovely ladies stand out in my mind first when it comes to current writers.

Rebecca Allred: Grass by Anya Martin – This was released as a limited chapbook from Dim Shores, so only 150 copies were available, but I really dug it. I hope Anya finds a good reprint market (or includes it in a future collection, hint-hint) so more people can read it.

Nadia Bulkin: I never have a good sense of how much attention anything gets, but I’ll note here a couple stories by authors I hadn’t read before – I really liked “Mental Diplopia” by Julianna Baggott in Tor, a very soulful yet creepy take on an apocalypse, and “The Name, Blurry and Incomplete in His Mind” by Erica Mosley in The Dark, a really nifty interpretation of a broken family.

Carrie LabenCarrie Laben: Chavisa Woods’ incredible collection Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country wasn’t marketed as horror, but it contains some of the most chilling fiction of the year including a story called “Zombie” that contains no zombies and a story called “Take the Way Home That Leads Back to Sullivan Street” that does contain a ghost. There are also aliens and devil-worshipers, and goths of course, and the vast horrors of the geopolitical situation and the tiny horrors of living in a close-knit small town.

Brooke Warra: Oh wow, there are really so many fantastic women in horror, yourself included, whose stories have resonated with me over this last year especially. Without giving too much away about the stories themselves, I recently read Tales from a Talking Board and Anya Martin’s “Weegee, Weegee, Tell Me Do” as well as S.P. Miskowski’s “Pins” have been haunting me ever since. I think both stories, for me, were about the secret lives we often live as women, and being more than the sum of crimes that have been perpetrated against us, but also, in the end, having to bear the consequences for those crimes, and really, that can be more horrifying than anything supernatural in the plot, or at least it was for me, personally.

How, if at all, have recent political and social upheavals figured into your work? Do you feel that horror as a genre is uniquely suited to address the current state of the world, or not?

Looming LowAnya: I’m not sure about horror per se, because some horror can be intrinsically conservative, i.e. maintaining the status quo. But I’d definitely say Weird horror fiction is. The political sphere in the United States is distinctly and disconcertingly Weird. I addressed this directly in my The H Word column, “The Weird at the World’s End” (Nightmare Magazine, Feb. 2017), and Helen Marshall said she sensed a shift already while editing the Year’s Best Weird Fiction, although Trump had not taken office yet in 2016. The challenge may be with the world so Weird, what is Weird any more? I tried to explore the growing sense of unease in “Boisea trivittata,” which I wrote for Looming Low anthology (Dim Shores). That story came out of an infestation I experienced of these seemingly pointless harmless insects which appeared suddenly at my house last January. In my case, they strangely mirrored the building unease for so many of us during the transition of power from President Obama to Trump. In the story, I tried to suggest a fascist shift without making it heavy-handed—which I think is the challenge whenever directly addressing politics in a story, not overpowering the horror or the Weird with too much explanation.

Kenya Moss-Dyme: Horror and sci-fi are perhaps the best genres to address the craziness in the world we live in! When we see social themes occur in comedy, I think it’s too easy to be entertained and then dismiss it. But when we apply an element of horror to something going on in our world, it gets people to pay attention and it unnerves them. They start out thinking, that’s ridiculous, it could never happen. But then, they wonder…could it? Sometimes you need to really scare people to make them listen. I’m working on a couple of things that have strong social themes that might be a little upsetting to read. But if it makes you emotional then that means you’re thinking about it and talking about it, instead of just reading it and walking away.

Sumiko: More and more of my stories seem to resemble the movie Get Out, or an old Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode, so I would have to say that I’ve had an uptick in political horror, as well as afrocentric horror. I’ve always written female-centered, multicultural stories. Feminism has commonly been a theme, but increasingly, I find that issues of racial injustice are taking front and center in my stories. It’s a turn off for some of my original audience members, but I’m more popular than ever and being invited to more and more conventions, and to Sycorax's Daughtersparticipate in more and more anthologies, so I guess it’s a trade-off. I am much more competitive as a political horror writer than I was trying to compete with a bunch of mainstream writers and become the next great horror writer or the next Stephen King or Anne Rice. I’m better off sounding like Octavia Butler, even if some find it preachy.

Catherine: Recent political and social upheavals have left me feeling depressed and hopeless, which has affected my work in that it has staunched my productivity. I struggle to form a single, cohesive thought that could translate into a story or novel because I am feeling and thinking so many things at once. Most of my fiction is rooted in a theme that is deeply personal. It is usually a time capsule of a thought that I’ve rolled over in my mind repeatedly, blended with a “what if” scenario. For example, a recent story I wrote is about how siblings often remember their childhoods differently. What if the way they experience a ghost or apparition is affected by how they perceive their memories of that person? I have an inkling that all of what I’m feeling right now about our current administration will eventually roll around in my head until it either is dust or becomes something substantial and is written down.

Denise: Political and social upheavals seem so scary and so painful these days to me, that as a writer I have challenged myself to find a way to address what’s going on. Horror as a genre is perfect for that. We have a larger palette to draw our stories upon.

Rebecca: Parts of my story “When Dark-Eyed Ophelia Sings” were inspired by recent events. And I wouldn’t say horror is uniquely suited to address the current state of affairs, I think sci-fi, bizarro, and other genres also lend themselves quite nicely, but I feel like horror might be the most natural fit for those kinds of stories.

She Said DestroyNadia: I think so much of human existence is horror, unfortunately – the horror we inflict upon each other and upon ourselves. People are cruel. People are desperate. People are afraid. And horror begets horror, of course. I absolutely believe in hope and heroism and virtue; but I believe those things are rare and precious and on a massive uphill battle. That being said, I rarely write directly about things that are actually happening in real-time. I think that’s because I write for the sake of processing, and if events are still ongoing, you don’t have the complete picture yet; maybe also because I believe in putting a little bit of distance between fiction and current events. So I still write about Indonesia in the 1960s-90s through the early years of the post-Suharto era, and then I stop. My story “There Is a Bear in the Woods” (quoting a Reagan campaign ad) is part of an extended alternative universe inspired by a combination of the American Tea Party and the George W. Bush era (which defined my high school and college years), and that’s about as recent as I’ll go. I still believe everything is political, and even a story that doesn’t directly focus on political themes is still written and still read in modern political context. It’s up to the writer to decide how they want to use that fact.

Carrie: Everything that addresses the current state of the world certainly contains elements of horror, so there’s that. For me the source of tension in my writing has always been how precarious life is because the basic assumptions we use to make it bearable are just that – assumptions. I started with the assumption “families love each other” and I’ve recently moved on to the assumption “there’s virtue in hard work” and we’ll see what I termite-chew through next and what collapses.

Brooke: I think now more than ever, the female voice is so powerful and I think horror, and in particular women in horror have the opportunity to address the current social and political climates. Horror has always had the ability to put a face on evils of the real world around us, whether it’s apathy, or prejudice, or violence, horror gives the underdog, the outcast, the preconceived “weak” among us a fighting chance, and so often the things we believe are holding us back turn out to be our greatest weapons in horror. I think it’s a genre that crosses a lot of imaginary lines we draw around ourselves in our daily lives and we can all come together and unite against a common enemy and fight back.

And that’s part two of our Women in Horror Month round table! Come back next week as we discuss these authors’ advice for up-and-coming female writers as well as their hopes for the future of horror!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

For the Love of Horror: Part One of Our Women in Horror 2018 Discussion

Welcome back, and welcome to Part One in our Women in Horror Month 2018 round table discussion! This year, I’m thrilled to interview nine incredible female authors who are creating some of the very best and most cutting edge work in horror literature today.

So let’s get started with the celebration of these awesome women in horror!

As a writer, what attracts you to the horror genre? Was there a particular story or film or even character that made you say, I want to do that, when you were younger?

Sumiko SaulsonSumiko Saulson: Horror is the genre best suited for exercising personal demons and I have enough of them to give me an endless supply of psychologically disturbing and thought-provoking plot ideas. If I didn’t have such a trauma-filled past and sometimes, present, I might have been attracted to a less spine-tingling, chilling kind of genre. When I was a child, my parents took us to tons of horror movies. I think Dawn of the Dead, It Lives, and some sci-fi dystopian films you don’t necessarily think of as horror such as HG Wells’ Time Machine most influenced me to write horror. I also read a great deal, and from an early age, so reading had more of an influence on my decision to write horror than you might imagine. I read my first novel in the fifth grade; Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. I inhaled Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe throughout junior high and high school. Some of the young adult and juvenile fiction I enjoyed was on the scarier side, such as Susan Cooper’s relatively dark fantasy series, Over Sea, Under Stone, of which The Dark is Rising is the most well-known title.

Anya Martin: That’s a tough question because I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to horror and monsters. For me, the earliest “gateway” that I remember is Dark Shadows, which my parents were watching daily from when I was 2. By the time I was 3 or 4, my dad started me watching monster movies on TV and my earliest memories are seeing AIP, Universal, and Toho films. The only nightmare I ever remember getting as a child from a horror movie was after seeing House of Wax, with Vincent Price. I always rooted for the monster to survive and find a safe haven away from the mean human race. I also was drawn to the giant monsters, King Kong, Godzilla and Gorgo—which probably was connected to my other early passion—dinosaurs. At age 6, I wanted to be a paleontologist and I’m still a huge dinosaur buff. The one thing that did creep me out, to my mother’s frustration, was dolls. They even smelled bad! That rancid rubber smell—ewwwww!!! I got to confront that fear years later with artist Mado Peña in the comics short, “Stuffed Bunny In Doll-Land,” which appeared in Womanthology (IDW, 2012).

Nadia BulkinNadia Bulkin: I grew up in ghost-obsessed Indonesia, and ghost stories have always terrified and intrigued me. I find the idea of the ghost as “a tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again… an emotion suspended in time,” to quote The Devil’s Backbone, to be a very powerful one that incidentally relates very directly to Indonesia’s struggles with traumatic national memory and collective guilt, two concepts I write about a lot. I like to focus on social and political themes, particularly those related to fear and suffering and exclusion and revenge, and in my opinion there’s no better toolkit with which to write about the world than through horror (this may say more about how I see history than anything else!). I’ve always enjoyed the horror genre for the adrenaline and the off-kilter darkness (like the black keys on a keyboard), but it was Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House that made me buy into being a horror writer, because for the first time in any genre I saw a character that I could personally relate to: Eleanor Vance. Reading Jackson convinced me that it was possible to do what I wanted to do within horror.

Catherine Grant: My father gave me a collection of Edgar Allan Poe tales when I was ten after I asked to watch Silver Bullet. I don’t think I was ready to read King at that point, but a year later I found a copy of IT in a box underneath my father’s desk, and then I rented Creepshow on summer vacation and that was it, I was hooked. I found a Stephen King biography in the library when I was twelve. Reading it, it was the first time I realized that being a writer was a career, and I began writing stories with the goal of some day being a published author.

Denise Tapscott: One thing that attracts me to the horror genre is that there is a certain freedom you have creating stories. There aren’t any specific structures or rules you must follow as other writers do in the romance and mystery genres. There’s a short story I read when I was younger, by Stephen King called “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut” that really grabbed my attention. I loved the idea that this woman transformed when she drove her car, faster and faster every day. I wished that it were almost true so that I could do the same (I should mention that I used to be a speed demon back when I had a little 1992 Honda CRX SI). The more I thought about it, I wished that I could come up with a clever story with an awesome twist too. It took some time, but I eventually grabbed a ticket on the writing horror train. It’s been a fantastic ride so far.

Kenya Moss-Dyme: Besides required reading in school, one of the books that made me want to write horror was The Amulet, by Michael McDowell. I read it when I was about 14 and it involved an amulet circulating in a small town; whoever possessed it would commit a horrible act of violence against someone they disliked for whatever reason. What I loved about the book is that the characters were motivated by different things, some for as little as irritation, but it had that small hometown feeling similar to a lot of Stephen King’s stories. They’re sweet normal folks who just snap, for no reason other than wearing or holding the amulet. It was still a few more years before I wrote any actual horror, because I spent the next few years writing about teens doing teen-like things.

Rebecca Allred The CAse of the Strange NoisesRebecca Allred: Writing horror appeals to me because it’s a genre in which I can, more or less, safely explore and attempt to reconcile my own fears and anxieties. Terrible things happen, but there’s a sense of control that comes from creating and resolving conflict, especially if you’re like me and sometimes feel like everything is completely out of your control! The first I’m aware of that I wanted to write stories “like that” was when I got my hands on a copy of Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark. I don’t recall which volume it was, but the story “The Furry Collar” scared the CRAP out of me. Even now sometimes when I’m half asleep and hear my cat coming down the stairs, I imagine a headless girl slowly making her way into my room… That said, I was writing “scary stories” well before I was ten. “The Case of the Strange Noises” is my earliest surviving work. Maybe someday it’ll be a collector’s item!

Carrie Laben: It’s funny, I never identified strongly with horror as a kid (although I did very much favor ‘true’ stories about ghosts and cryptids etc.) I thought I was too much of a wuss for “real” horror, which came in the form of movies where girls got cut up. Everyone around me read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Goosebumps, and later V.C. Andrews and Stephen King and Dean Koontz – it didn’t set you apart. I do remember reading Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love when I was about 14 and thinking “wow, there’s no limit to how weird you can get and be published” so that probably helped.

Brooke Warra: I have a very vivid memory of being a young child equally fascinated and terrified of Mora (the turtle monster) from The Never Ending Story, as well as the Harpy from The Last Unicorn. There was a kind of cerebral horror in those characters, they are close enough to creatures that exist in our “real world” that the unnaturalness of them, the danger they represent becomes chilling, and I think that as a toddler in the 80’s, growing up in a house surrounded by acres of forest where such creatures could be lurking, I was really influenced by that and drawn to that sort of thing. I honestly do not remember a time that I did not want to write and tell dark stories, but that decade was a wonderful time to cultivate that dream.

As a female horror writer, what does Women in Horror Month mean to you? Do you have any specific activities planned to commemorate Women in Horror Month in 2018?

Sumiko: I’m very excited about Women in Horror Month every year since I first found out about it and participated in it in 2013. This year I am especially excited, because I am working with Nicole Kurtz and Mocha Memoirs Press to put out an anthology, Black Magic Women, which consists of 20 terrifying tales by black women who write horror. I also compile a list called Black Women in Horror, and look forward to reaching 100 women this year! There will be a book, 100 Black Women in Horror – an update to my 2014 title, 60 Black Women in Horror, slated for release in February. Black Magic Women comes out February 15. I’m also producing the third annual SecondLife Women in Horror Treasure Hunt with author Suzi Madron. Come visit us in Avalon if you’re inworld!

Eternal FrankensteinAnya: I’d like to think one day it won’t be necessary, but as long as people—men and women—rattle off their top 10 horror authors or directors, and don’t or barely include women, drawing attention to women authors/filmmakers/artists is needed. I don’t have any specific activities other than this and sharing some of the many great articles which I am sure will be posted this month on social media, but I might do something for my blog because there are a number of exciting women horror writers and filmmakers based in Atlanta such as Nancy Collins, Kristi DeMeester, Dayna Noffke, Lynne Hansen and Vanessa Wright who was cofounder of the Women In Horror Film Festival, which debuted in Atlanta last September.

Nadia: I wrote about my feelings on Women in Horror Month last year, and those feelings of frustration at being caught between a rock and a hard place in the midst of this particular culture war hasn’t changed. I think Women in Horror Month comes from a place of good intent, but it also kind of saddens me, and I don’t do anything to commemorate it. What frustrates me these days is twofold. First, the assumption that there is a special “lady-horror” genre and “lady-horror” writer that is separate in content and style from “real horror,” mostly because that does nothing to acknowledge that male horror writers are writing from a particularly male point of view, except that point of view is considered “standard,” though also because I always get nervous when people – including, often, women! – get too specific about the kind of subjects women like to write and read about. I’m all about mean girl drama and witches, but I also do war and sport. Second, mainstream horror continues to astound in its understanding of women primarily as rape victims. Really quite remarkable.

Catherine: Women in Horror Month is a time for the industry to stop doing the dance, look around, and call out peers that might not be getting proper recognition because of their gender. It feels silly writing that out. Should gender discrimination still be a thing in 2018? I’d really love to see a day when special recognition months like WIHM aren’t needed, because our society is so woke that unconscious bias and casual discrimination are no longer a problem. I plan on doing my part by recognizing female authors that have affected my writing, be it as a peer, mentor, or literary influence.

Denise: As a female horror writer, Women in Horror Month means it’s time to celebrate my creative sisters! I don’t have any specific plans to commemorate the month but I will do whatever I can do to support as many women as possible. Perhaps I will find a way to use social media to promote Women in Horror. The least I could do is buy more books! I have lots of stories to read and I’m more than happy to add more to my Kindle.

A Good WifeKenya: This is such an exciting month for us, with all of the focus on the women in horror, not just writers but I love that we spotlight the actors and curators of the genre as well. I always enjoy learning about talent that I wasn’t aware of and especially the look back at how far we’ve come and the contributions to the industry. Of course, we’re focused on US all year round, but it’s nice to have the stage for one month anyway. It really raises the exposure on just how powerful our voices are, from within. I am planning to highlight some kick-ass female-driven horror stories on my page next month so I’m putting together my list now. As authors, even our work doesn’t always feature strong heroines, so I’d like to showcase that this year!

Carrie: This is the first time I’m really actively participating in any explicitly women-in-horror themed activities. I love that this discussion exists, I’d love to see it exist all year, and I love knowing that every February I’m going to learn the names of new writers I should check out.

Brooke: It’s been a really positive experience every year to see women in this genre support and encourage each other. Every WIH month, I come away with new friends and a to-be-read list as long as my arm. This year, I’d like to focus on promoting other women in horror through my social media and blog posts, whether they are authors or bloggers, podcast producers, voice actors, I mean, the list is endless.

So that’s part one of our Women in Horror 2018 discussion! Head on back here next week as we talk about underrated horror stories by women as well as how the social upheavals of the last year have impacted these authors’ stories.

Happy reading!

Women in Horror 2018 Discussion Coming Soon!

Welcome back, and happy Women in Horror Month! Since February is now in full swing, I am beyond excited to announce that this year, I’m doing part two of my Women in Horror round table discussion here on my blog. Last year’s interview series was such a wonderful time, and the 2018 edition promises to be just as terrific.

But before I start unveiling the Q & A later this week, let’s start with introducing the incredible women who are involved with the interview series this year!

*macabre drum roll please!*

Nadia BulkinNadia Bulkin is the author of She Said Destroy, her debut short fiction collection available from Word Horde. She has been nominated three times for the Shirley Jackson Award, and her stories have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies including Nightmare, The Dark, She Walks in Shadows, and numerous Year’s Best volumes. Find her online at her author site.

Sumiko SaulsonSumiko Saulson is the speculative fiction author of both short fiction and novels, including Solitude, Happiness and Other Diseases, and The Moon Cried Blood, among others. Sumiko is also the author of the acclaimed nonfiction book, 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction. In 2016, she received the Horror Writers Association’s Scholarship from Hell. Find her at her author site.

Anya MartinAnya Martin is a fiction writer, playwright, and journalist. Her work has appeared in Tales from a Talking Board, Eternal Frankenstein, and Mantid Magazine, and her play, Passage to the Dreamtime, debuted in 2017 from Dunhams Manor Press. She also serves as the associate producer of The Outer Dark and is the founder of Find her at her author site.

Denise TapscottDenise Tapscott is the author of Gypsy Kisses and Voodoo Wishes, a Southern Gothic dark fiction novel that is the first book in The Zenobia Tales series. When she’s not writing and traveling, Denise is also an accomplished actress, with her work appearing in television series and short films, in addition to her roles as a voice-over actor. Visit her at her author site.

Rebecca J. AllredRebecca Allred is a speculative fiction writer out of the Pacific Northwest. By day, she’s a doctor of pathology, and at night, she crafts dark and malignant tales. Her work has appeared in LampLight, the Bram Stoker Award-winning Borderlands 6, Nightscript II, and Flame Tree Publishing’s Chilling Horror Short Stories anthology. Check her out at her author site.

Catherine GrantCatherine Grant is a horror and dark fantasy author based in Providence. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Shock Totem, Wicked Witches, and Cranial Leakage: Tales from the Grinning Skull, Volume 2. In addition to her writing, she serves as an editor at LampLight, and was recently named the Assistant Director of NecronomiCon Providence. Find her at her author site.

Kenya Moss-DymeKenya Moss-Dyme is an accomplished author of both short fiction and novels. A writer since her teens, she has released numerous horror books, including Daymares, The Mixtape (Special Edition), and The Pulpit Chronicles: Prey for Me (Volumes One and Two). She is also the author of A Good Wife, an Amazon-bestselling dark romance novel. Find her online at her author website.

Carrie LabenCarrie Laben is a widely published author of horror, fantasy, and literary fiction. Her work has appeared in Clarkesworld, Apex Magazine, and Mixed Up: Cocktail Recipes (and Flash Fiction) for the Discerning Drinker (and Reader). In 2017, she won the Shirley Jackson Award for her short story, “Postcards from Natalie,” published in The Dark. Find her online at her author site.

Brooke WarraBrooke Warra is a horror and dark fantasy writer based in the Pacific Northwest. Her short fiction has appeared in Looming Low, Strange Aeons, The Lift, and Sanitarium Magazine, among other publications. She takes much of her inspiration from creepy fairy tales, Finnish folklore, and the darkness lurking in the woods and along the coast. Find her at her author site.

So those are the authors who were kind enough to take time from their busy writing schedules to be involved in my Women in Horror Month discussion. Head on back here later this week and every week for the rest of the month as these female authors sound off on everything from their inspirations as authors to how the social upheavals of the past year have impacted their work. Lots of amazing stuff to come, so definitely stay tuned. Same horror place, same horror time!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Submission Roundup for February 2018

Welcome back to this month’s Submission Roundup! There are a ton of awesome calls this month, so if you’ve got a story seeking a home, then one of these markets might just be perfect for it!

As always, a reminder: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m simply spreading the word. Please direct any questions you might have about these calls to their respective publications.

Now onward to the submission calls!

Submission RoundupFlame Tree Publishing
Payment: .06/word
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: February 11th, 2018
What They Want: The Gothic Fantasy anthology series is open to short fiction submissions on the themes of “Lost Souls” and “Robots and Artificial Intelligence.”
Find the details here.

Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction
Payment: .08/word for fiction; $30/poem; $50/nonfiction essay
Length: 750 to 6,000 words for fiction; no line limits for poetry; 1,000 to 2,500 words for nonfiction
Deadline: February 28th, 2018
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from authors who identify themselves as disabled.
Find the details here.

The Twisted Book of Shadows
Payment: .06/word (up to 5,000 words)
Length: 3,000 words to 5,000 words (though up to 10,000 words will be accepted)
Deadline: February 28th, 2018
What They Want: Open to horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Payment: .01/word for fiction and nonfiction ($50 max); $20/flat for poetry
Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words for nonfiction; 750 to 6,000 words for fiction; up to 50 lines for poetry
Deadline: March 1st, 2018
What They Want: Open to literary horror fiction, poetry, and nonfiction inspired by the work of Thomas Ligotti and related themes.
Find the details here.

Swords and Sonnet
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: March 1st, 2018
What They Want: The editors are seeking stories that feature a female or non-binary battle poet as a main character. Open primarily to fantasy, though science fiction and horror will be accepted as well.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!