Monthly Archives: May 2019

Spectral Nightmares: Interview with Craig Laurance Gidney

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight the amazing Craig Laurance Gidney! I had the pleasure of meeting Craig in Atlanta at The Outer Dark Symposium, and we even got to hear him read from his forthcoming novel, A Spectral Hue. Suffice it to say, it’s going to be one of the best books of the year without a doubt!

Recently, Craig and I discussed his journey as an author as well as what we can expect from his new novel!

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

I knew that I wanted to be a writer when I was in second grade. At the point at which I could spell and make quasi-legible words, I started writing stories and making stapled chapter books. The books were accompanied by my illustrations. I can remember their titles: The Story of Dum Dum was about a hobo dog, and A Bird of Stars was a book of religious poetry. As I read more widely, my writing started to mimic whatever book I was reading. Around 10 or so I read Southern Gothic short stories—Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty. I think O’Connor’s love of the grotesque and her blatant use of symbolism was a formative influence. Patricia A McKillip and Tanith Lee’s work taught me what I could do with language and atmosphere. Octavia E Butler taught me the importance of theme, and that it was imperative that I center black and brown people protagonists, and Samuel R Delany showed me the importance of the queer (and black) point of view.

Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your novel, A Spectral Hue. What can you share about this book? What was your inspiration, and what was the process like in writing A Spectral Hue?

The seed of A Spectral Hue was planted during a college course I took on the Surrealist movement. One of the guest lecturers was a specialist in Outsider Art. I believe he spoke about Henry Darger, the reclusive Chicago janitor who secretly wrote and illustrated an epic science-fantasy novel about child slaves, aliens and the heroic Vivian Girls. I saw slides of his works among other lesser known artists and was blown away by their otherworldly depth. During the summer, when I was staying at my parents’ house, my father, who was a dentist, told me about a patient of his that would give him handmade books of her poetry. He brought one of the books home, and I got the same otherworldly feeling. My dad’s patient was an older African American woman, who, like Darger, had created an elaborate world that centered around a mythic figure, known as the Chocolate Soldier. She wrote cryptic poems about his adventures, and, like Darger, illustrated the work with unearthly collages.

The novel went through a few drafts before I found the right way to tell the tale. At one point, it was a YA novel! I have scores of false starts on my hard drive. The ultimate form was a result of workshopping the book in 2015.

How, if at all, is your approach different when writing short fiction versus longer fiction? Do you outline ahead of time, or is your process more free-form?

It depends on the project.

My novella Bereft was outlined, but not excessively so. I think because it was a young adult and realistic book, I was more controlled than I was with my other stuff.

Most of my short fiction isn’t planned, per se. I’ll have an idea and a character and basic plot and go from there.

I think, though, for the most part, I am a chaotic pantser—which makes novel writing a messy experience. You know how in cooking shows, the host has everything lined up in neat little ramekins? I’m not like that At. All. I’m the flour-stained, gravy-spattered chef.

Your chapbook, The Nectar of Nightmares, was released through Dim Shores in 2015, and was also re-released last year as a standalone ebook. How did this particular book develop?

The novelette itself was one of those spur of the moment things that just jump out from your brain and onto the page. The first part was inspired by the ballet-horror movie Black Swan. The second part sprang from the fact that I was working part-time for a Native American lobbying group. The overall theme, about a sleep demon, had been kicking around in my head for a while. I wrote the story and it just sat on my hard drive, without a particular market in mind.

Then I went to World Horror Con in 2015 and met Scott Nicolay (of the Outer Dark podcast). He was the one who told me about Dim Shores and got me in contact with Sam Cowan. Orion Zangara, the illustrator, had sent me a nice note about my fiction maybe a year earlier. I loved his artwork, and Sam let me choose him for the project.

You’ve been a professional writer for a number of years at this point. How do you feel your approach or perspective on the craft or industry of writing has changed over the last few years? How has it stayed the same?

A few things have happened. There is a renaissance of speculative fiction from marginalized voices, so that there isn’t just one Black or Asian or queer writer—-there’s lots of them. And people, all people, seem to be hungry for different voices, and different stories. We most certainly have a far ways to go, but it’s nice to know that there isn’t a competition for a tokenized place at the table. Now, we are the table.

I know that Social Media can be terrible. But the bulk of my commissions come from Social Media. That’s really changed — and the fact that you don’t have to send hard copies in the mail! I remember making a trek to the post office, sending SASEs and waiting (sometimes for two years) to hear back from markets.

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

My black queer coming out fairy-tale “Circus Boy Without a Safety Net” seems to bring such joy to people. I view it as “the little story that could.”

What projects are you currently working on?

In addition to a couple of short commissions (including a nonfiction essay), I am working on a new novel that explores themes of vampirism, colonialism, gentrification and hoodoo (black folk magic). It’s in the conceptual stage at the moment.

Where can we find you online?

I have a site/blog at:, and my Twitter (very infrequent) and Instagram are both @ethereallad

Link: to Orion Zangara:

Huge thanks to Craig Laurance Gidney for being part of this week’s author interview series!

Happy reading!

Angels and Graves: Interview with Richard Writhen

Welcome back for this week’s featured interview! Today, I’m pleased to spotlight Richard Writhen. Richard is the author of A Host of Ills, The Hiss of the Blade, and his latest novel, The Angel of the Grave.

Recently, Richard and I talked about his favorite authors as well as his new book and all about his writing plans in the future.

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

I had always toyed with the idea, and wrote on and off throughout my life, but would usually just wind up deleting everything. I really didn’t get down to brass tacks until I became a copywriter for a retail website. That was very good writing practice. I had turned thirty-six. Then, I saw an ad on Craigslist that was looking for blog posters, and I thought, what the heck, go ahead and submit. When it comes to literature, I like noir, darkness. Poe, HPL, Dennis Lehane, Richard Price, Paul Tremblay, Daphne du Maurier, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins.

Congrats on your forthcoming novel, The Angel of the Grave! What was the process like writing this book? How long did it take you, and were there any unexpected roadblocks along the way?

Thank you, very much. This book was like a miasma, a quicksand. It took over two years to write. Thankfully, I had some experience with this, as my first novella took 28 months to write as an amateur. As the second and third one took eight months apiece, I thought this one would be easy. But alas, that was not to be. Every time I wrote a couple hundred words, it became more complex. I almost thought that I was going to die before completing it, that it would go unpublished. One of the narrative arcs in the book was actually part of The Hiss of the Blade originally, but I came to feel that it didn’t fit in with the overall tough-guy-ness of the rest of the book, so I pulled it and used it in the new novel.

Your novel incorporates many aspects of the occult, including witchcraft and divination. What draws you to these subjects, and do you have any strange experiences with the supernatural yourself?

I have always been drawn to those kinds of subjects. I grew up reading Stephen King and Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. I wanted to do my take on witchcraft for this book. The first three novellas feature magic, but it’s not really the focus. So, this one was different. Also, my last novella was about toxic masculinity, and I wanted to address femininity, as it were. I remember going to see Sucker Punch and being very disappointed, as it’s very much a girl power film. Maybe Zack Snyder didn’t set out to create that, but it was the result. A vanity project. In hindsight, I feel that it will probably gain a cult following in the future. It’s kind of an experience, not so much a narrative. I think that my first novel will be like that as well, in a sense. I set out to create art. I’m sure some men will read it and probably be like, “What is this s**t …?!” But, I don’t care.

You’ve written novellas and now a novel. Do you find that the length of a project affects your approach to writing at all? Is there a certain length of story you prefer, either as a writer or a reader?

Jack London set out to write a short story, and it became The Call of the Wild. You have to be true to the work, that’s all, IMO. Length is inconsequential.

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

For me, it’s connections. Easter eggs. Little flourishes that probably no one will even get. But yeah, I also enjoy all the usual processes. I don’t write like most people. I am not only writing the books out of sequence, I literally write the content of the prose out of sequence. Kind of weird. I’m going to try and work in a more linear fashion next book.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I have one short story that I know I want to do, and after that, I will probably start book two of The Celestial Ways Saga. The title of book two will be The Crack of the Whip. I have some notes, some dialogue written, but I don’t really outline.

Big thanks to Richard Writhen for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him online at his author site and on Facebook.

Happy reading!

Fiction for Spring: Submission Roundup for May 2019

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of great opportunities this month, so be sure to polish up those stories and send them out into the world! But first, the usual disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word! Please direct your questions and comments to the respective editors.

And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Payment: .05/word for fiction and nonfiction; $50/flat for poetry
Length: 2,000 words to 7,500 words for nonfiction; 750 to 6,000 words for fiction; up to 50 lines for poetry
Deadline: May 15th, 2019
What They Want: Vastarien is seeking nonfiction, literary horror fiction, and poetry that’s inspired by Thomas Ligotti and related themes.
Find the details here.

LampLight Magazine
Payment: .03/word ($150 max) for original fiction; .01/word for reprints
Length: up to 7,000 words
Deadline: May 15th, 2019
What They Want: Open to dark, literary fiction.
Find the details here.

Selene Magazine
Payment: .06/word for original fiction; $50/flat for original poetry; $15/flat for reprint poetry and .01/word for reprint fiction
Length: 100 to 7,500 words for fiction; any length for poetry
Deadline: May 31st, 2019
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction, in particular alternate history, mystery, and romance.
Find the details here.

Year’s Best Cosmic Horror 2019
Payment: not specified
Length: Up to 12,000 words
Deadline: May 31st, 2019
What They Want: Reprint stories from 2018 that deal in the themes of cosmic horror.
Find the details here.

Accursed: A Horror Anthology
Payment: $25/flat
Length: 2,500 to 6,000 words
Deadline: June 30th, 2019
What They Want: Horror and horror-comedy stories about cursed objects.
Find the details here.

Nox Pareidolia
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: June 30th, 2019
What They Want: Open to black authors only until the end of June, Nightscape is seeking ambiguous horror stories in the vein of Robert Aickman.
Find the details here.

Happy reading!

My Schedule for StokerCon 2019

So in just a couple days, I’ll be heading to Grand Rapids, Michigan for StokerCon 2019! Here are the places I’ll be haunting this week!

StokerCon 2019Body Modification: It’s More than Just Earrings and Tongue Studs on Friday, May 10th at 1pm

This very cool panel will be moderated by Edward Rosick, and feature both me and author Donna Lynch as panelists. I look forward to the wide array of topics that we’ll cover, including all the wonderful creepiness of body horror, a major favorite horror subgenre of mine.

Librarians Day: Small Publishers, Big Voices on Friday, May 10th at 3:30pm
I’m thrilled to be part of the Librarians Day events, and equally excited to be representing JournalStone along with owner Christopher Payne. This Librarians Day series through StokerCon is so incredible, and let’s face it: as writers and readers, we can’t do enough to thank all the fabulous librarians out there. So I’m most certainly looking forward to being part of this one.

Fairy Tales: A Child’s Introduction to Horror on Saturday, May 11th at 10am
There’s nothing quite as lovely and terrifying as a fairy tale, and I’ll get to talk all about them along with moderator Carina Bissett and panelists April Grey and Donna Wagenblast Munro. This is of course one of my very favorite topics, so I can’t wait for all the great fairy tales we’ll discuss!

Reading Block 22 on Saturday, May 11th at 3pm
I’ll be sharing this spot with authors Valerie Williams and Michael Cieslak, and as usual, I’m super excited to be reading. It’s always such an honor to have people listen to your work being read live. So definitely head on over to our reading block to hang out and hear us tell you tales!

Those are all my panels and my reading block, but you’ll also be able to catch me at the Mass Autograph Session and Ice Cream Social on Friday evening at 5pm. Because, I mean, come on! Ice cream!

I’ll also be at the Bram Stoker Awards on Saturday night. All dressed up and fancy free! Spoiler: I’ve decided that I will probably break out the Disco Goth dress for the evening, since it only got a couple-hour appearance at Readercon last summer, and it’s one of my favorite pieces in my entire wardrobe. Sequins and darkness, here I come!

So needless to say, it’s going to be a fabulous weekend in Grand Rapids, and I can’t wait to meet you all there! Definitely say hello if you see me around. I’m looking so forward to hanging out with everyone! Hooray!

Happy reading, and happy StokerCon!