Monthly Archives: October 2020

Wicked Whimsy: Interview with Madeleine Swann

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight the talented Madeleine Swann! Madeleine is the author of Fortune Box and The Vine That Ate the Starlet, among other awesome works.

Recently, she and I discussed her inspiration as well as her favorite parts of the writing process!

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

I’ve always written in some form or other but stopped when I was working a boring job. Then, after a breakup around 2010/2011, it just hit me what was missing and I started taking it a lot more seriously.

I was always a big fan of Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, Haruki Murakami, Lewis Carroll, Dorothy Parker and Leonora Carrington

Congratulations on the release of your new book, The Vine That Ate the Starlet! What was the inspiration for it, and how long did it take you to write it?

Thank you so much! On and off I think it took about a year. I unintentionally wrote a prequel short story (which is on my YouTube channel) and found myself wondering what would happen to the characters after it finished. I still wonder, so I imagine I’d like to do a sequel at some point.

I watch a lot of silent films and really wanted to set something during the 20s. I mostly enjoy stories of glamorous flappers, weird horror or crime and Vine is a combination of them all.

Your collection, Fortune Box, was released from Eraserhead Press in 2018. What can you share about your process for the book?

Before I wrote Fortune Box I wrote a list of potential every day problems, like ant infestation, and a list of solutions, and jumbled them all up and picked out anything that sparked off an idea.

Your work has a wonderful balance of whimsy and menace. Are there other authors out there in particular that you look to for inspiration on striking this balance?

Thank you! Nicholas Day described my writing as malicious whimsy too and I love being known for that. I think the people that have most inspired me in recent years are the Russian absurdists like Gogol or Daniil Kharms. I love Kharms’ anti story thing, a big weird set up and anti climax. Another is The Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola, it’s malicious whimsy through and through, some very silly and very dark moments.

You’ve written both short fiction and longer fiction. Do you prefer writing one length of story to another? How is your approach different or the same depending on the length of the work?

I think you can usually kind of sense when a story is a flash fiction or longer piece of work, I’m not sure how, it’s like an instinct. With a flash I just start writing and see what happens, but anything longer I make lots of notes, and if it’s a novella I’ll also do an outline. If it’s set in the past I do a ton of research, I think that’s really important.

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

I do enjoy dialogue, if you have the characters clear in your mind it can be a lot of fun.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m not allowed to say! I’m currently working on a novella, that’s about all I can tell you sorry!

Tremendous thanks to Madeleine Swann for being this week’s featured author! Find her online at her website as well as on Twitter and YouTube!

Happy reading!

Books, Readings, and Other Fall Goodies: My October Writing Updates

So autumn is already upon us, which is strange, because it really doesn’t feel like we had a summer. Time seems sort of irrelevant this year, especially considering I’ve been sheltering at home since March. What are days anyhow?

At any rate, here we are, and 2020 is starting to wind down, and I’ve got lots of news that I haven’t shared yet on this old blog. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Two-book Deal with Saga Press

Everyone who follows me on social media has probably already heard about this by now, but just in case you didn’t know, I’m absolutely over the moon to announce that I’ve signed a two-book deal with Saga Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. The first book, The Reluctant Immortals, is due out in 2022. Needless to say, I’m beyond thrilled about this! Saga Press has been consistently releasing the very best fantasy, science fiction, and horror books over the last few years, and it’s an honor to be part of the illustrious roster of authors. Truly, I’m still stunned, and it’s been over two months since I signed the contract with editor extraordinaire Joe Monti. It’s surreal and exciting and I can’t wait to share these books with you.

Also, here’s the official Publisher’s Marketplace announcement!

Boneset & Feathers is almost here!

But before I get too far ahead of myself, I also have a new novel coming out this year! My second novel, Boneset & Feathers, is due out in just over two weeks! I can’t believe it’s almost here!

The cover art is from the amazing gawki, who did the artwork for Pretty Marys All in a Row! It’s also been terrific working with Scott Gable and Broken Eye Books again, and I’m very excited for Boneset & Feathers to officially make its way into the world! So mark your calendars for November 3rd, because these witches and ghost birds are on their way!

New Limited Edition Novella with Thunderstorm Books

And I’ve got one more book announcement for the year! I have a brand-new limited edition novella due out later this year with the new Tempest line from the fantastic Thunderstorm Books!

I recently got a peek at the layout, and reader, I swooned. The design is absolutely beautiful, which was truly not surprising considering Thunderstorm Books’ long history of putting together gorgeous limited editions. So many thanks to Mary SanGiovanni who’s at the helm of the Tempest line, Scott Cole for putting together the design of the book, and of course Paul Goblirsch who heads up the amazing Thunderstorm Books. I can’t wait to talk more about this book as the release draws closer!

New Short Stories & Translations

Over the summer, Filles de Rouille, the French translation of The Rust Maidens, made its debut from Editions du Chat Noir. They are such a wonderful publisher, and it’s been so much fun watching the book arrive to new readers!

Earlier this month, my Dracula retelling, “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” made its debut in Spanish at Crononauta. This is another fantastic publisher, and one I hope to work with again in the future!

As for new fiction, my dark fantasy tale, “Lost Girls Don’t Cry,” appeared in the folklore-themed anthology, Places We Fear to Tread, from Cemetery Gates Media, and my dark fairy tale, “The Princes She’s Forgotten,” will soon appear in the charity anthology, Survive With Me, from Alien Agenda Publishing. I adore short fiction so much, and I’m super happy to have some new stories recently released or soon to make their debut.

Forthcoming Events

And finally, if you still haven’t gotten enough of me, then you can catch me at two very cool events this week! Tomorrow night, October 20th at 7pm, I’ll be joining Michelle Renee Lane, Kathe Koja, and Sara Tantlinger for Scream Queens: The History and Future of Women in Horror, an event sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Horror Studies program. You can join the fun by heading right over here.

Then on Saturday night, I’ll be part of the HWA Pittsburgh Chapter Reading! There will be a big awesome group of us at the reading, and it’s sure to be a fun time, so sign up and hang out with us here!

And that’s pretty much everything for now! I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe and having a great Halloween season… or the best season we can have considering the dread is real this year. Sending lots of good autumnal vibes everyone’s way!

Happy reading, and happy Halloween!

Gloriously Gothic: Interview with Claire L. Smith

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight Claire L. Smith. Claire’s debut book, Helena, is out this month with Clash Books.

Recently, Claire and I discussed her inspiration as an author as well as how Gothic horror and visual art influence her writing.

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

Icebreakers, awesome!

I really wish I had this epic, super villain-like backstory to tell but this is tl;dr version.

I was fourteen and we were learning about ‘suspenseful writing’ in English class and my teacher gave me back my writing project with a pretty good mark and a note in the feedback section saying how much he enjoyed it. I was an average student at best so this was one of the few times I’d really excelled at something, let alone something that I had enjoyed doing. It was a big ‘what if?’ moment and it gave me that little bit of confidence and encouragement I needed to write outside of school assignments.

It seemed like such a small, insignificant thing but looking back on it, it really made an impact on me. It also makes me appreciate teachers more as well since they have so much opportunity to make a difference in kids’ lives.

Okay, favourite authors! Edgar Allan Poe is an all-time favourite, along with Angela Carter, Sylvia Plath, Mary Shelley and Charlotte Gilman Perkins.

Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your debut novella, Helena! What can you share about this book? How long did it take you to write it, and were there any surprises along the way?

Thank you!!

I can share that it’s coming out on October 13th from the lovely people at CLASH Books and that it’s about a mortician/funeral director named Helena who has the ability to see ghosts. However, this gift is more of a curse as a ruthless serial killer begins to upset the frigid, undead souls that haunt her whilst also drawing a large amount of suspicion towards her.

I’m too scared that I’ll give too much away so I’ll leave it at that.

I think it took me a good month and half to finish. It was one of those ideas I’d had in the back of my head for a while and I was desperate to get it down on paper (or word document in this case).

There were PLENTY of surprises to say the least. As I was writing it, I was having a really hard time and finishing the manuscript sort of became a part of the chaos. However, it was also a commitment to myself, a sort of promise that I wasn’t going to give up. So, the book is now a kind of physical remainder for me that light can come from dark times and that there is always a possibility for things to get better.

Your novella incorporates many Gothic elements. What draws you to Gothic horror in particular? Do you remember the first Gothic fiction you ever read or the first Gothic films that you saw?

Gothic horror is just a genre I really click with. I just love all the tropes and clichés of it. I also think it can be a very powerful genre. I remember reading books like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte or other similar works and just feeling so touched by the heroine’s story.

My introduction to the gothic horror genre was Edgar Allan Poe. I remember reading ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ in high school and was just enchanted by the tension and atmosphere of that piece. I think it also sparked my interest in horror in general, since I’d avoided it up until that point (I was the biggest scaredy cat as a kid). I then got into the works of the Bronte sisters, Mary Shelley and Charlotte Gilman Perkins, and before I knew it I was hooked! In regard to films, I think the first gothic film I saw was Crimson Peak and it remains one of my favourites.

In addition to your fiction, you’re also an artist. How if at all do your fiction and visual art intersect? How is your process different for each medium, and how is it the same?

Yes, I’ve actually just launched my Redbubble store which I’m really excited about. I definitely think that my fiction side and artist side intersect because I try to incorporate some storytelling aspects into my artwork and I love drawing inspiration from horror and fantasy genres.

I mostly work in ink and watercolour because I love the texture of those mediums, as well as some digital applications (like photoshop) to refine the piece. I’d really love to expand into other mediums like oil paints as well.

My process more depends on what I’m feeling more than the mediums. I started drawing as a means of meditation and grounding because it makes me feel present and calm. So, when I’m in that zone, I just draw to my heart’s content and don’t have much of a process.

But if I’m seriously sitting down to draw something for a commission or for a challenge, I normally start with researching for references, then I do some brainstorming to figure out the layout of the illustration/artwork before drawing up an outline. Then I go over it in ink pen before moving onto watercolour if I think it’ll fit the piece and if I want to refine anything or want to add colour then I put it into photoshop.

You’re also a filmmaker. How did you get started in the world of film, and what draws you to the cinema?

Filmmaking is definitely a neglected love of mine since I don’t get to do it as often as I get to write or draw. I think one of the first films that really sparked my love of cinema was ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Black Swan’ because I could see how the medium of film was used to perfectly (and spookily) tell the story. I find it so fascinating and become so drawn into the little details and what went into making each scene. Some of my favourite filmmakers have to be Guillermo Del Toro, Jennifer Kent, Ana Lily Amirpour and Ari Aster.

I started out mostly doing small jobs or roles for filmmaking friends and colleagues, although all that has been put on hold because of the state of the world at the moment, haha. Right now, I’m working on my screenwriting and looking into where else I can apply my skills in the industry.

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

I have to say creating and developing characters is my favourite. It’s really interesting and fun trying to come up with different people, establishing their backstory and coming up with rules about how they act, talk and respond to things. Dialogue is also great fun to write, especially when there’s a witty/sarcastic character involved.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m in the middle of editing another novella (another gothic horror) about two little girls who get lost in a haunted house. I’m also working with author Haley Newlin as an illustrator for the special hardcover edition of her upcoming novel, ‘Take Your Turn, Teddy’ which I’m very excited about. I’m also opening art commissions soon!

Big thanks to Claire L. Smith for being this week’s featured author! Find her online at her website and on Twitter!

Happy reading!

Spooky Submissions: Submission Roundup for October 2020

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of great opportunities for October and beyond, so if you’ve got a story, one of these markets might be the perfect fit!

As always, a disclaimer: I am not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word! Please direct your questions to their respective publications.

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

Submission Roundup

99 Tiny Terrors
Payment: $25/flat
Length: 500 to 1,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide range of horror flash fiction.
Find the details here.

UnMasked: Stories of Risk and Revelation
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction stories about being unmasked.
Find the details here.

Payment: $60/flat for fiction; $30/flat for poetry
Length: up to 1,000 words
Deadline: November 1st, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide range of fiction and poetry. Submissions can be in English, Spanish, and/or Chinese.
Find the details here.

Far From Home anthology
Payment: .01/word
Length: 2,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: November 1st, 2020
What They Want: Off Limits Press is currently seeking adventure horror stories for their forthcoming anthology.
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.

Other Fears: An Anthology of Diverse Terrors
Payment: .10/word
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: December 1st, 2020
What They Want: Open to Horror Writers Association members, this anthology edited by Rena Mason and Vince A. Liaguno is seeking stories about “otherness.”
Find the details here.

Cemetery Gates’ Campfire Macabre
Payment: .08/word
Length: 500 to 1,000 words
Deadline: December 26th, 2020
What They Want: The editors are seeking flash fiction stories on the themes of Cemetery Chillers, Spook Houses, Supernatural Slashers, Witchcraft, and Within the Woods.
Find the details here.

Payment: .08/word for fiction; $50/flat for poetry
Length: Short fiction from 2,000 to 7,000 words & novelettes up to 15,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to Black authors, FIYAH is currently seeking fiction and poetry for their forthcoming unthemed issue.
Find the details here.

Planet Scumm
Payment: .02/word
Length: 2,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: January 10th, 2021
What They Want: Guest edited by Hailey Piper, this issue of the magazine is seeking speculative fiction stories specifically from cisgender women, transgender women, transgender men, non-binary people, and genderqueer people.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting, and happy Halloween!