Monthly Archives: June 2020

Lamplight and Forests: Interview with Christopher Stanley

Welcome back for this week’s interview! Today I’m happy to feature Christopher Stanley. Christopher is the author of The Lamppost Huggers and The Forest is Hungry, among many works of flash fiction.

Recently, Christopher and I discussed favorite authors, inspirations, and what’s next.

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

I’m not sure anyone in their right mind decides to become a writer! It’s always seemed like more of a calling to me – like vampire slaying but with pencils instead of stakes.

I do remember when I decided I wanted other people to read my stories. I’d just found out I was being made redundant after eleven years in a job, and I wanted to make some changes. So I signed up to Tom Vowler’s excellent short-story writing course, and I joined Bath Company of Writers. These two things turned a hopeless coffee-shop writer into a published, hopeless coffee-shop writer.

As for favourite authors – there have been many. Outside of horror, I’ve enjoyed the novels of Delillo, Franzen, Eggers and Palahniuk. My favourite horror authors at the moment are Paul Tremblay, John Langan, Andrew Michael Hurley, and a multiple Stoker-award winner named Gwendolyn Kiste. Am I allowed to say that? Ah, what the hell.

Can I also give a shout out to Ellen Datlow and all the other editors who work around the clock to produce volume after volume of incredible horror stories?

Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your collection, The Lamppost Huggers. What can you tell us how about how this particular collection developed?

Thank you! I started writing flash fiction when our second child turned out to be twins, because I had neither the time, nor the energy, to continue writing short stories. Being a member of the Bath Company of Writers also nudged me in this direction, because the other members included my good friends Diane Simmons and Tino Prinzi (co-directors of the UK National Flash Fiction Day).

I started writing horror flash fiction after I stumbled across the first volume of The Molotov Cocktail Prize Winners anthology, which is a stunning collection. So much beauty and imagination! I suffered a lot of rejections on the road to winning their quarterly contest with a story called ‘Gettysburg,’ but I got there in the end.

Over the past few years, no one has championed my writing as much as The Arcanist. I think I’m right in saying that my story ‘Oymyakon’ is their most read story ever (or maybe it’s ‘Lepidoptera’ – I’m not sure). After I won their annual flash horror contest for the second year in a row, I reached out to the editors (Josh, Andie and Patrick) and asked if they would consider putting out a collection of my horror flash fiction. The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales is the result, and it’s been a real collaborative effort.

Your book, The Forest Is Hungry, was released last year through Demain Publishing and their Short Sharp Shocks! series. What can you share about that project?

The Forest is Hungry is a fast-paced novelette about nature fighting back. There’s something sinister growing in the forest next to main character’s house, something that will threaten the lives of everyone in his neighbourhood before the day is out, starting with his daughter.

I have a lingering sense of guilt about this story. I originally wrote it for a weird nature anthology that got cancelled, so I submitted it to Weirdbook instead. Doug, the editor, passed on the story but very kindly said if I could fix a minor plot point, he’d be happy to see it again in the next submission call.

I fixed the plot point on a sunny Sunday morning in February 2019. At the same time, I noticed a writer friend of mine was having a novelette published by a new publisher, Demain Publishing. I figured there was no harm in sending off a query email, and amazingly The Forest is Hungry was accepted within a couple of hours.

The Forest is Hungry was published as Book #16 in the ‘Short Sharp Shocks!’ series in April 2019. It was my first standalone publication, and it’s been very popular with fans of the series.

But I still feel bad I didn’t send it back to Weirdbook.

What in particular draws you to the horror genre?

House of Leaves. The Haunting of Hill House. The Shining. The Loney. The Fisherman. The Rust Maidens. A Head Full of Ghosts. Shouldn’t the question be: what’s wrong with people who aren’t drawn to the horror genre?

I go to horror because I recognise the landscapes and characters, but I know there’s an imagination at work that means anything is possible. And that’s exciting.

Do you have any writing rituals (e.g. writing at the same time every day, or writing while listening to music)?

I have writer friends who listen to music but it’s never worked for me. Being a songwriter, I have such a strong connection with music that, if I’m listening to it, I’ll probably hear a chord change or a riff that inspires me, and then the story is forgotten while I fetch my guitar.

I’m not sure I have any writing rituals – should I make some up? I write in the mornings before the kids come downstairs but that’s out of necessity. Sometimes I get an hour, sometimes ten minutes, and either way it’s fine with me. With great children comes great responsibility (and frequent interruptions and soul-crushing tiredness). I wouldn’t change a thing.

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

That’s a bit like asking me to choose between my kids. When the writing is going well, I love characters, dialogue and setting equally. It’s satisfying to read stories back after they’ve been published and think yep, I nailed that. But like kids, there are days where these things make me want to scream.

What are you working on next?

Right now, I’m making the final edits to a novelette and a novella, both of which are unlike anything I’ve written before. They’ve both forced me to write about things which are uncomfortable and challenging, and I think maybe this is one of the jobs of a horror writer, but it’s so hard. I guess that’s why I’m not rushing to finish them. I really want to get them right!

I’m also thrilled to say I’ve had a mini-collection of short stories accepted by Demain Publishing. That’s all I can say about this one at the moment, except that there’ll be announcement in due course.

Where can we find you online?
The best place to find me is on Twitter @allthosestrings. I also have a brand new website, Sign up to the blog for updates on The Lamppost Huggers and my other projects.

Thanks for all the great questions, Gwendolyn.

Big thanks to Christopher Stanley for being part of this week’s author interview series!

Happy reading!

Queen of Horror: Interview with Lisa Quigley

Welcome back for this week’s author interview series! Today I’m thrilled to feature Lisa Quigley. Lisa is the co-host and co-creator of the award-winning podcast, Ladies of the Fright, as well as a horror fiction writer. Her debut novella, Hell’s Bells, was released earlier this year from Unnerving.

Recently, Lisa and I discussed her inspiration as an author as well as how music plays into her work.

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

I don’t actually really remember deciding to become a writer. It’s like that Ursula K. Le Guin quote, “When people say, ‘Did you always want to be a writer?’ I have to say no! I always was a writer.” From as early as I can remember, I have been interested in books and stories and writing. I don’t know what it’s like to just read a book and enjoy it—although I do enjoy books—but for me, reading is always, and has always been, accompanied by an inner voice that says yes! I want to do this, too.

I have too many favorite authors to name them all here. But first and foremost, the most formative: Neil Gaiman. In my late teens/early 20s I drifted away from reading and writing (even though both always called to me) but a lot of it was feeling uninspired by what I read and and a lack of confidence in my own abilities. I knew I was a writer, but I didn’t think I had the talent. I didn’t know about things like revision yet! I thought, if it wasn’t coming out in a way that matched the books I read, that was that. Anyway, when I was maybe 19 or 20 or so, a boyfriend gave me Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I had never read anything like it. Gaiman’s work opened me up to a whole new kind of story, a whole new genre. I really credit that discovery with leading me down the path to where I am now–the road to horror!

I also love Joe Hill, Kat Howard, Paul Tremblay, Josh Malerman, Grady Hendrix, Hailey Piper, Sara Tantlinger, and well, YOU! 😀 But truly, there are so many more authors I’m leaving off.

Congratulations on the release of Hell’s Bells! What can you share about the inspiration for your debut novella?

Thank you so much! I am so excited. It’s so weird because the inspiration for this book came from….everywhere. I pulled so many different pieces of my life from various times in my life and mashed them all together in a story. I think the germ of it, though, comes from my experiences growing up in an extremist-religious household. I had a best friend (who was a Christian) during my high school years, and it was so funky to navigate the intensity of teen friendship coupled with the unrealistic Christian expectations placed upon us. Emotions are already so heightened at that age, and you’re just trying to figure out who you even are in the midst of it. I wanted to write about what that felt like.

Hell’s Bells features a group of girls in the early 1990s, which brings to mind some films from around that time period like Heathers and The Craft. Did any films in particular inspire you as you were creating your group of female friends?

Oh man, I’m so glad you asked that! Clearly, I was a teen in the 90s. My characters are just a little older than me, because I wanted to write about a very specific time in the 90s and I needed them to be a certain age. But yeah, I mean, when pitching my book I have called it The Craft meets My Best Friend’s Exorcism. Those kinds of movies with “girl gangs” were a huge part of my teen years. And as much as I LOVE The Craft, for its nostalgia and cultural iconic ness (is that a word?) I also can recognize from the vantage point of time that it is problematic. There was a lot in that movie that focused on the toxicity of female friendships, and the danger of young women have “too much power.”

I also grew up watching allllll the teen movies. And SO MANY seemed to have this running theme of like…”being weird is not okay.” I am thinking of films like She’s All That and Never Been Kissed. In She’s All That, the guy doesn’t fall in love with her till she loses the glasses and paint-spattered overalls. Many of us likely remember the iconic scene of Rachel Leigh Cook walking down those stairs to “Kiss Me,” in that little red dress with her face made up and her hair in a chic cut and her glasses gone. There was also The Princess Diaries, where Anne Hathaway becomes desirable after her curly hair is smoothed into submission and her eyebrows are tamed. Or Miss Congeniality, where Sandra Bullock’s FBI partner doesn’t realize how incredible she is until she is turned into the perfect beauty pageant contestant. I could go on and on, but everyone probably gets it by now.

In my novella, I wanted to call back to that time and those experiences and those films, but I also wanted to subvert them.What if we owned our weirdness? Why should we change for anyone? And what if the girls’ friendship be the ultimate source of their strength, instead of their downfall?

Music is a huge part of your fiction. Do you listen to music while you’re writing, and if so, can you share a sample of your playlist?

It really depends. I go in phases. Sometimes I want to write in silence and sometimes having music on helps me really get in the zone. My writing-music tastes are very different from my listening-for-pleasure music tastes, though. I can’t really listen to music with lyrics or stories while I write. I get too distracted, I want to sing, I want to dance. So I need pretty ambient music for writing. Lately I pretty much only listen to the Interstellar Soundtrack to write. I haven’t even seen the movie, lol. But I was listening to a podcast (Sarah Enni’s First Draft, I believe) and it was recommended. And…I can’t really describe what happens to me when I listen to it. It’s like I escape through some writing-portal and write from a liminal space. There are so many different emotional highs and lows, it’s wonderful. Also, because I’ve used it so much to write to, I pretty much just have to hear the opening notes and it signals to my brain that it’s writing time. I love it!

Some of the other dark ambient music I enjoy while writing: Lustmord, Brian Eno, the It Follows soundtrack, Cities Last Broadcast, The VVitch soundtrack, Sleep Research Facility

The occult also plays a big role in Hell’s Bells. Were you like the girls in your story and fascinated by the occult when you were a teenager? Or has that interest in exploring it in your work come later?

I have always been interested in the occult, but with my upbringing, I didn’t have much room to explore those interests as a teenager. I was instilled with a lot of fear and myth around it all. I mean, I did have a few “non-Christian” friends (rare) who would try “Light As a Feather” at sleepovers, or we’d have “seances” (all inspired by The Craft, by the way.) But it was always half hearted and with a lot of giggles. It always intrigued me, but I had a lot of fear around it to unpack.

As I got older, and as I veered away from a Christian worldview, I was always interested in witchcraft. Reading about the occult and alternative spiritual paths has been a huge part of my own personal development so I think some of that will always seep into my writing. But I also like to approach it all with a sort of “reverent irreverence” (phrase borrowed from a favorite witch, podcaster (The Witch Wave), and writer of mine, Pam Grossman.) I treat my spirituality with a sense of play, never wanting to get too caught up in my own “dogma.”

In addition to your writing, you’re also a podcaster! You and Mackenzie Kiera host the award-winning Ladies of the Fright. How did your podcast come about, and what’s been the most surprising or exhilarating part of doing the show?

Mackenzie and I met in graduate school (UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program….an incredible experience!) and were pretty much joined at the hip upon meeting. We had always wanted to collaborate, but we weren’t sure exactly how or what that project would be. We had talked about starting a literary magazine or something similar, but it never felt right (or like it was work we actually wanted to take on!)

In the middle of 2017, I moved from California (where I had lived for 11 years) with my husband and 8 week old son (!!!) across the country to New Jersey. My husband is from here, and we really wanted family support after our son was born. There is so much for us here, and it’s clearly where we are meant to be, but I have struggled to root into my new life here. I feel a lot of grief for the life I left behind, the community I worked so hard to build. It was hardest in the beginning, when I was immersed in the underworld of postpartum (which can already be an isolating time) while also feeling severed from my community. I was lonely and sad and uprooted.

I started listening to podcasts while I walked with my son, and one day I texted Mackenzie, we should start a horror book podcast. We’ll just read and talk about the books we like, since we are doing that anyway. Why not record our conversations? Maybe one day we could interview some authors too. She was all about it and in two months, we had the show up and running. We had no idea it would even resonate with anyone! We just wanted a way to feel connected from across the country, and to be creative in a more connected way. Writing is in our blood and it’s lovely, but it can get lonely. And there is a lot of waiting involved. Waiting for rejections (mostly, ha!) and acceptances. This gave us a new project to be excited about—one where we had creative control and didn’t have to wait for a “yes” on, either.

The most surprising and exhilarating part? First—that anyone else listened or cared! We were just doing it for us. In a lot of ways, it was a creative lifeline. We had no concept that anyone might actually be interested in hearing what we had to say. I think the most exhilarating moment was at Stoker Con 2019 (last year, when we could breathe around each other, ha!…feels like a million lightyears away!) We had just finished moderating a packed panel, and afterward someone came up to us, all excited. She told us that she and her husband were huge fans of the show and they listened to the show together. She asked if she could get a picture with us, and said her husband would be so jealous she got to meet us! It was such a surreal and special moment!

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just put the finishing touches on a novel (currently called The Forest, but that could always change if it’s published?) I wrote that book while in the darkest part of postpartum, and the idea came to me when I used to walk in the woods with my son strapped to my chest in a baby carrier. It was my way of processing my experiences of new motherhood and postpartum anxiety. I’m currently shopping it around to a few places, nothing concrete—but the book has my whole heart in it and I believe it will exist in the world some day.

Beyond that, I’m just playing—I’m in the early stages of conceptualizing a few different projects, and enjoying being in this creative space where ideas are percolating but not quite risen to the surface. It’s a very mysterious part of the creative process and I’m leaning in to it.

Where can we find you online?

Social media: I’m on Twitter and Instagram as @ laquiglette. I’m also working on revamping my website, which is down right now, but will be once I get it up & running again. And of course, you can find the podcast at, twitter @ LOTFpod, and Instagram @ ladiesofthefright.

Thank you so much for having me! It’s been a delight!

Big thanks to Lisa Quigley for being part of this week’s author interview series!

Happy reading!

A Summer of Stories: Submission Roundup for June 2020

Welcome back to this month’s Submission Roundup! There are plenty of great opportunities right now, so if you’ve got a story seeking a home, then one of these markets might be a perfect place to send it.

First, a disclaimer as always: I’m not a representative for any of these markets. I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors.

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

Submission Roundup

Payment: $15/flat
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: June 30th, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide array of speculative fiction.
Find the details here.

Women of the Woods
Payment: .01/word
Length: 2,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: June 30th, 2020
What They Want: This anthology is seeking dark fantasy and quiet horror stories with lore or myths about “women who dwell in the forest.”
Find the details here.

Blood Bath Literary
Payment: $30/flat GPD
Length: up to 2,000 words for fiction; up to 30 lines for poetry
Deadline: July 1st, 2020
What They Want: Open to Black authors and artists only for the rest of the month, the theme for the current anthology is Vampires. The editors are seeking short fiction, poetry, and artwork.
Find the details here.

Gothic Blue Book, Volume 6: A Krampus Carol
Payment: $50/flat
Length: up to 3,500 words
Deadline: July 5th, 2020
What They Want: The editor is seeking short horror fiction set in a monastery, convent, or castle and also featuring a Christmas, Krampus, or a winter theme.
Find the details here.

Payment: .01/word
Length: 2,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: July 31st, 2020
What They Want: Currently open to fantasy and science fiction stories.
Find the details here.

Typehouse Literary Magazine
Payment: $18/flat
Length: up to 5,000 words for fiction and up to 6 poems
Deadline: July 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide variety of genres. Also, the editors are specifically seeking work from Black authors.
Find the details here.

Cemetery Gates Media
Payment: .05/word
Length: 3,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: August 1st, 2020
What They Want: This horror anthology is seeking short fiction about “local lore or location-based oddities.”
Find the details here.

Violent Vixens: An Homage to Grindhouse Horror
Payment: $50/flat
Length: 2,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: August 1st, 2020
What They Want: This anthology is looking for horror fiction inspired by Grindhouse cinema and featuring a strong female lead.
Find the details here.

HWA Scholarships
Payment: Scholarship amounts vary
Deadline: August 1st, 2020
What They Want: Open to members of Horror Writers Association, there are currently multiple scholarships available, including for horror nonfiction, dark poetry, women in horror, and more.
Find the details here.

Something Good to Eat
Payment: $100/flat
Length: 2,000 to 10,000 words
Deadline: August 21st, 2020
What They Want: This Halloween-themed anthology is open to a wide variety of horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Neon Hemlock Press
Payment: Royalties negotiable
Length: 17,500 to 40,000 words
Deadline: October 5th, 2020
What They Want: Novella submissions now open to Black authors only. The editors are seeking all speculative genres, including but not limited to horror, science fiction, fantasy, and the Weird.
Find the details here.

In Darkness Delight: Fear the Future
Payment: .03/word ($150 maximum)
Length: 2,500 to 4,500 words preferred (up to 7,500 words will be considered)
Deadline: November 15th, 2020
What They Want: This Corpus Press anthology is seeking horror fiction with futuristic themes.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Summer Skin and Night Sun: Interview with teri.zin

Welcome back for this week’s interview! Today I’m thrilled to feature author teri.zin. teri.zin who writes under the name Zin E. Rocklyn has been published widely, including at and in anthologies including Sycorax’s Daughters and Nox Pareidolia.

Recently, she and I discussed her inspiration as a writer, her favorite authors, and what she’s planning on writing next.

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

I never really thought I could hack it as a professional, but it feels like i’ve always written. i enjoyed stories and storytelling; it was fun to come up with worlds and make friends with characters. I think I started writing stories in earnest when I read the Fear Street series by RL Stine around 9yrs old. I remember the first character I’d created who I truly fell in love with: MoniLove Monet. She was everything I wanted to be when I was going to be a teenager. Things turned out much different, except for my love of horror, that only increased.

My favourite authors are NK Jemisin, Octavia Butler, Nathan Ballingrud, Clive Barker, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Helen Oyeyemi, Stephen Graham Jones, and Kathleen Collins, to name a few. There are too many!

Congratulations on the recent release of “The Night Sun” at! What can you share about how this particular story developed?

The beginning of the story was sitting in my notes on my phone for literal years after seeing a drawing that struck me. It was until I went to Viable Paradise in 2018 did I have the opportunity to work on it. I had no idea where it was going when I jotted it down, but the prompts we received helped click things into place. The title came from a brain fart. The moon was full and gorgeous one night on Martha’s Vineyard and I mouthed Night Sun instead of full moon. I’m terrible at titles so I just ran with it.

Last fall, your story, “Birds,” was released in Nox Pareidolia from Nightscape Press. What was the inspiration for this story?

I have a deep desire to explore complex familial relationships, especially between a mother and daughter. Though the story is about two sisters, it is the mother’s treatment of either daughter that influences their relationship. As with most of my stories, it was also born of frustration. I was seeing a lot of calls for diversity but only a certain kind of acceptable diversity. It was diversity through a very white lens, a lens not exclusive to just white people either. So I wanted to write something where there are no heroes and the ugliness of white supremacy could be shown: you can have Black friends, lovers, coworkers you get along with, that doesn’t mean you’re not racist.

Your debut short story, “Summer Skin,” appeared in the highly lauded Sycorax’s Daughters in 2017. What is it about body horror that draws you in as an author?

Growing up, I had terrible eczema and when it was my turn for the chicken pox, I got the blisters instead of the itchy welts (trust me, it’s gross). It was traumatic having skin that was actively attacking itself, creating sores and crusty wounds that kids would point and laugh at or be obnoxiously disgusted by. It was also terribly painful. I battle chronic pain and PCOS, plus I was the kid always getting injured in some way. Horror is cathartic for me. It helps me process when my skin rebels, when my body is twisting upon itself. It helps me externalise the pain of depression and the constant discomfort of anxiety.

Are there are other subgenres of horror that you’re particularly eager to explore in your writing?

I love Gothic horror and would love to tackle it! Sci-fi horror and horror-westerns interest me, too.

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

Aw, man, that’s tough! I’d have to say crafting setting is the most fun for me. I like feeling creeped out and it’s even better if I can create it for myself!

What’s next for you? What projects are coming out soon? What are you currently working on?

I hope to have some work out soon! Right now, I’m working on a dark fantasy novella and several horror short stories. Times are a bit tough for creating, but I’m still plugging away!

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on Instagram at teri.zin or Twitter at intelligentwat. My website is still under construction.

Huge thanks to teri.zin for being this week’s featured author!

Happy reading!