Monthly Archives: August 2021

Dispatches from Quarantine: Writing Updates for Summer 2021

Welcome back, and welcome to the end of summer! Seriously, how have these months gone by so quickly? Even though I’ve been mostly just hanging around the house, it’s still managed to be a busy season in terms of writing updates. In case you missed any of my posts online and are curious what I’m up to (and since you’re at my blog, I suppose you must be at least somewhat curious), here’s all my latest writing news!

My writing archive is now housed at the Horror Studies Collection!

So this is probably the coolest thing to happen so far in my writing career: my personal writing archive is now located at the University of Pittsburgh’s Horror Studies Collection! This is the same archive that holds the George A. Romero collection as well as work from Wes Craven and John Carpenter. Plus, other horror fiction authors who have recently donated their archives include the fabulous Linda D. Addison and Kathe Koja. I truly couldn’t be in better company!

I’ve always been fascinated by archives, ever since I was a kid and learned that creators donate their work to universities for future study. It’s been a total daydream of mine that I would ever be invited to have my work housed in an archive, and it seems so surreal that this has really happened.

Anyhow, here are some pictures of the stuff I sent to the archive. It includes lots and lots of rough drafts, random lists, and scribbled notes from the last seven years as well as convention program books, bookmarks, numerous reviews, and Cassie Daley’s The Big Book of Horror Authors coloring book.

Award nominations

I’ve been really fortunate this year to have my work nominated numerous times for awards. You no doubt already heard me wax jubilantly about my Stoker nomination in Long Fiction for The Invention of Ghosts this spring. Since then, Las Doncellas de Oxido, the Spanish translation of The Rust Maidens, was nominated in the Best Translated Novel category at the Premios Kelvin Awards. Then, at the Ignotus Awards, the Spanish equivalent of the Hugos, Las Doncellas de Oxiodo was nominated in the Translated Novel category. I’m also thrilled that Crononauta’s translation of my Stoker-winning story, “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary),” is also nominated in the Best Translated Story category (alongside none other than Stephen King!). You can see all the Ignotus nominees here.

As if all that isn’t enough, The Invention of Ghosts was nominated in the Novella category for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Award!

The Ignotus Awards will be announced soon, and you can see the winners for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Award and the Premios Kelvin Awards here and here. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees for these awards! It’s a true honor to be nominated alongside all of you!

I’m teaching a LitReactor course!

Earlier this month, I started teaching a four-week LitReactor course called Monster Mash, which is all about reinventing familiar horror tropes. The class sold out in just over a week, so I’m pretty stunned and incredibly happy about that. It’s been so much fun discussing monsters with the students and reading their awesome work. We’re already over halfway done with the course, which is just further proof that this summer has gone by way too fast.

New translations of my work!

I’ve got several really exciting updates on the translation front. After the great success of our collaboration on The Rust Maidens, Dilatando Mentes will be translating three of my books into Spanish! Next year will see the release of Boneset & Feathers, followed by my debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, in 2023 and Pretty Marys All in a Row in 2024. It’s worth noting that this is the very first time my collection or any of its stories have ever been translated, so this is beyond thrilling. I’m also so excited to be working with Dilatando Mentes again; they’re a truly amazing publisher.

Meanwhile, Editions du Chat Noir will be publishing French translations of my novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, as well as my witchy novel, Boneset & Feathers. As seen above, both of those covers have already been revealed, and they’re beyond beautiful. I’m so excited to be working with Editions du Chat Noir again after their fantastic translation of The Rust Maidens, so once again, this is definitely great news all around!

I’m also delighted to be working with Festa Verlag on the German translation of The Rust Maidens. Die Rost Jungfern is available for pre-order and will be available later this year! This is the first time my work has ever been translated into German, and given my own German roots (my last name isn’t Kiste for nothing), this is a really great honor.

And finally, my story, “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary),” will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Molotov Magazine. This will be my work’s first appearance in Italian and my first time working with Independent Legions Publishing!

Reading for the Nighttime Logic Series

Earlier in the summer, I was part of the Nighttime Logic Reading Series, hosted by Daniel Braum. Daniel has long been one of the biggest supporters of my work, and it’s always an honor to be part of the incredible events he puts together. I got to read alongside Mike Allen, Laurel Hightower, and Jeffrey Ford, which was such a lovely experience. If you missed the event live, you can catch the replay here!

Short Fiction Sales

I’ve also made four recent short story sales! “Sister Glitter Blood” is available now in the Violent Vixens: An Homage to Grindhouse Horror anthology from Dark Peninsula Press. This creepy little horror story is told as though you’re reading the directions for a vintage board game, and it follows two sisters desperate to escape their own personal haunted house. An early review is already up thanks to reviewer Rebecca Rowland, and it singles out my story, noting “Kiste’s voice is simply genius here, evoking amusement, heartbreak, and suspense.”

My strange dark fantasy story, “Things to Do in Playland When You’re Dead,” will be out later this year in Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas from Hex Publishers. This tale is set in the waning days of Playland at the Beach, a once beloved amusement park in San Francisco, and follows a bevy of local ghosts as they haunt the derelict rides, searching for new patrons to claim as one of their own.

Next up is “The Haunted Houses She Calls Her Own,” which is told through the point of view of Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia. This one will appear as part of Liminal Spaces: An Anthology of Dark Speculative Fiction, which will be out soon from Cemetery Gates Media. Editor Kevin Lucia has been making announcements with new authors from the table of contents, and it’s been so exciting to see everyone who’s on board. This is sure to be a fabulous book, and I’m so thrilled to be part of it.

And finally, my horror story, “The Mad Monk of the Motor City,” which is all about a lonely woman dealing with the ghost of Rasputin in her run-down Detroit tenement building, will appear in There Is No Death, There Are No Dead, which comes out tomorrow from Crystal Lake Publishing. This particular anthology is edited by Aaron J. French as well as Jess Landry, the editor extraordinaire who worked with me on And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and The Rust Maidens. It was so much fun to work with Jess again and definitely felt like old times in the best possible way.

I was a guest on the This Is Horror podcast!

And last but in no way least, I returned as a guest on an episode of This Is Horror in June! We talked all about witches, writing, breakfast foods, and how to stay optimistic even in trying times. It’s always so much fun to talk with Bob Pastorella and Michael David Wilson, so give the episode a listen if you haven’t already!

… so those are the updates in my world! I’m expecting the rest of the year to be a bit quieter in terms of announcements, but either way, I’ll still be here at my laptop, toiling away at my latest fiction and nonfiction. I hope everyone’s staying safe and enjoying what’s left of their summer!

Happy reading!

Cruel Summer: Interview with J.A.W. McCarthy

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight author J.A.W. McCarthy. J.A.W has written numerous short stories which have been featured in publications including Vastarien, Apparition Lit, and LampLight among others. Her debut collection, Sometimes We’re Cruel, was released this week from Cemetery Gates.

Recently, J.A.W. and I discussed her inspiration as a writer and why she loves the horror genre so much.

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

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I started writing novels as a kid, always something dark involving ghosts and angsty teens. My mom would read to me and illustrate the stories with her own drawings, so she instilled those interests in me from the start.

I love Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter, of course. Jackson’s Merricat Blackwood in particular has been a big influence on my characters. As for contemporary dark fiction authors, I’ve found inspiration in works by Paul Tremblay, Hailey Piper, Michael Wehunt, Nadia Bulkin, Damien Angelica Walters, Mona Awad, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, to name a few. We’re living in a truly rich time for dark fiction with so many excellent authors working right now. Yourself included! And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe is one of the best collections I’ve ever read.

Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your collection, Sometimes We’re Cruel! What can you share about the book? How did you select the stories, and is there a particular theme that connects them?

Thank you! Sometimes We’re Cruel is my debut collection, out August 17th from Cemetery Gates Media. It’s 6 reprints and 6 new stories that focus on obsession and body horror. The collection covers work from the last three years, each connected by the theme of human cruelty. I didn’t set out with this theme in mind; I realized later, as I was selecting stories, that almost all of my work deals with the terrors humans (and the not-quite-human) inflict on each other, intentionally or not.

Why horror? What in particular makes you love the genre? What are your hopes for the future of horror?

I’ve always loved horror and I can’t even pinpoint how that started. I was a voracious reader as a child and my parents didn’t limit my reading, so eventually I found my way to the darkness. Even when I was trying my hand at writing more traditional lit fic, dark speculative elements crept in. Maybe it’s a way to explore and understand why this world can be so awful. When I’m creating the horror, it’s the only way I have control.

I hope to see more women and BIPOC get recognition. We’re getting there, and I think our progress is best reflected in the indie horror scene.

What draws you to writing short fiction? Did you grow up reading short stories, or did you develop an appreciation for them as an adult? Also, what are a few of your favorite short stories?

Aside from fairytales, I grew up reading mostly long fiction. My first serious writing projects as a kid were novels. In fact, I struggled with short fiction as an adult. I’m long-winded, with a passion for elaborate descriptions. When I started writing again, I didn’t expect that I’d be able to write an effective short story. One day I got an idea I had to run with, not expecting it to be successful… but then it was. Before I knew it, short fiction was all I was writing. My critique partners have really helped me sharpen my prose so that I can not only stay within word count but also write with purpose.

One of my favorite short stories is Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”. It’s a masterclass in using pacing and small details to build tension.

Recent short stories that lit a fire and inspired me:

“A Heart Arrhythmia Creeping Into a Dark Room” by Michael Wehunt
“Resilience” by Christi Nogle
“The Smell of Night in the Basement” by Wendy N. Wagner
“Though Your Heart is Breaking” by Laurel Hightower
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far as a writer?

I have two: Aim High and This Is Not A Competition. When I first started writing short fiction, I didn’t do my research. I just wanted to see my work in print, even if no one else was likely to read it. Self-doubt told me I wasn’t good enough to get into any major publications, that my work wasn’t worth much money. While my early work was not there yet—I think most of us have to sharpen our skills and work our way up—I sold myself short in the beginning. There are so many indie publishers who are passionate, support their authors, and are doing amazing work on a shoestring budget. There is room for all of us.

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

Characters. I don’t outline and I usually don’t have more than a loose plan when I start a story, so I love developing my characters as I go and seeing where they take me. If I can develop interesting and strong enough characters, they will show me their story.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve got two novellas that are both two-thirds of the way finished. Both were shelved for the past seven months while I concentrated on my collection. Now that I’ve got time again, I’m eager to get back to them, particularly the one I’m currently calling “Merch Girl”, which is about a woman who sells merch for a nomadic band and her experiences on the road. She’s a monster, a mother, a caretaker resigned to her role, but then she comes to a crossroads when she finally meets someone like her, a woman who reminds her who she really is.

Where can we find you online?

I’m on Twitter and Instagram @JAWMcCarthy, and at I’m most active on Twitter, if anyone wants to say hi!

Big thanks to J.A.W. McCarthy for being this week’s featured author!

Happy reading!

Midnight Movie Madness: Part Two of the Violent Vixens Roundtable

Welcome back for Part Two in our August roundtable! We’re celebrating this month’s release of Violent Vixens: An Homage to Grindhouse Horror, which made its debut last week and is already earning rave reviews. Today, I’m talking with eleven of the fabulous authors from the anthology about their favorite cult films and their best memories of the drive-in and midnight movie screenings.

So let’s take it away, shall we?

SARAH READ: My favorite drive-in movie memory is seeing Jurassic Park when I was 10 years old. It was nighttime in rural Colorado, and the only thing you could see was this giant, illuminated T-Rex stalking through the landscape. I also saw Twister at that same drive-in a few years later. There was a thunderstorm during the show, and then the scene where the tornado rips through the drive-in played (and bonus points that the movie they’re watching is The Shining–right at the axe-to-the-door scene). I guess I like it when the scene and setting blur a little and make things more immersive or scary!

I don’t know that I could pick a favorite cult classic horror movie. I like a lot of them! But the one I’ve certainly seen the most is The Exorcist.

ROB E. BOLEY: Probably my favorite cult classic is actually pretty recent. It’s the 2006 slasher mockumentary Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. It’s a crying shame that more people haven’t seen this movie, because it’s truly a brilliant balance of horror and comedy. I’d say it’s mandatory viewing for any fans of the slasher genre. Another favorite is John Carpenter’s They Live. It’s maybe more sci-fi than horror, but wow, it’s scary how the film only gets more relevant with each passing year!

I’d say my favorite drive-in memory is the time a few years ago when my wife and I took my daughter to see a special screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Dixie Twin Drive-In here in Dayton. It was her first time seeing the movie, and I’ll never forget doing the Time Warp amidst all the parked cars. Unfortunately, it rained later, so we had to watch the rest of the movie in the car.

SOPHIE LEAH: My favourite horror movie // movies seem to vary at any given moment as I constantly watch new stuff or become particularly attached to old loves. As far as more ‘culty’ favourites go, I’ve always had a soft-spot for Rob Zombie’s The Devils Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t wonder what 3 From Hell would’ve been like had Sid Haig not died. Others – off the top of my head – would be: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Terrifier, I Spit on Your Grave, Inside (2007), A Serbian Film, Last House on the Left, From Dusk ’till Dawn, The Hills Have Eyes – I could go on and on. I’m also a huge fan of extreme cinema in general, which is pretty cult-based in itself (we seem to congregate a lot over at The nastier, the better.

Unfortunately – all that said – I have no real experience with actually going to Grindhouse, or attending a drive-in movie, as here in the UK they’re not such a thing as they are over in the US. I guess my last fond ‘grindhouse’-esque experience was a first date at London’s Prince Charles Cinema (where they sometimes do Friday the 13th marathons) where we watched Kill Bill: Volume I and the volume with all the talking back-to-back. If that counts at all? I would love to go to America one day and do various horror-related things over there (from the Saw escape room in Vegas to Hollywood’s Museum of Death and more), so hopefully there’s still time to make some more spooky memories there!

MARK WHEATON: Not sure how culty it is anymore, but I’ve always been fond of The Devil Rides Out, based on the Dennis Wheatley novel. The great twist of having some innocent kid discovering that his girlfriend is getting caught up in a cult only for his own uncle, played by Christopher Lee, to turn out to be a more powerful practitioner of magic is so much fun. As for a favorite drive-in movie memory, I grew up next to a South Dallas drive-in, so remember countless nights seeing but not hearing endless movies projected onto screens a block over once the stars were out. Everything was quiet, both audience and picture, like some mysterious communion. It’d make anybody romantic about drive-ins.

MATT NEIL HILL: In terms of favourite cult classic horror movies, I’ll always have a soft spot for Evil Dead / Evil Dead II, and John Carpenter’s The Thing is perhaps the one I’ve watched the most. But Near Dark is the one that springs to mind in connection with this story—its explosive and remorseless violence, but also the quiet, melancholy moments; the simultaneously feared and longed-for dusk and dawn, the whispering dust and the letting of blood.

Growing up in the UK I have no drive-in movie memories, but I remember signing up for an all-night movie marathon at a comic book convention in London in the mid ‘80s. They played about six or seven movies I think, although I slept through a lot of them and can only really remember Crimes of Passion, Ken Russell’s lurid neon psychosexual drama starring Kathleen Turner and Anthony Perkins. It left an indelible impression on me—as you’d hope any movie with a death by vibrator would—before I drifted off into dreamland.

S.K. CAMPBELL: Besides the ridiculous romp of Planet Terror, I enjoy campy horrors like Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. We don’t often think of horror as funny, but grindhouse movies and parodies like Young Frankenstein really take advantage of the potential there. Both comedy and horror raise tension in their viewers, and have this inherent exaggeration of their subjects. So the genres can be married with fabulous effect. To that note, some of my favorite midnight movie moments have been because the audience laughed during what was supposed to be a horrifying scene. I have a fond recollection of a close-up of an demonic eyeball in The Grudge, a lingering shot which caused an eruption of giggles in the theater.

NIK PATRICK: My favorite cult classic horror is Behind the Mask. I hope more people watch that mockumentary classic.

My best memory of a midnight film was a one-weekend late showing of Midsommar Director’s Cut. I had watched the original version the prior month alone, so it was fun going with friends this time. My friends had not seen the original version so it was my job to tell them what was new afterward. The characters who were unpleasant in the original version were even more so in the Director’s Cut. This of course is a plus in the horror genre.

SCOTTY MILDER: My favorite grindhouse film is and will always be The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But—like many children of the 80s—I came along just a little too late to catch it at the drive-in. Instead, I watched it on a washed-out VHS tape that I rented (way too young, thanks to the wildly irresponsible teenage clerk) at our local Safeway. I was nine or ten at the time, and the movie definitely bent my brain sideways. I made a secret dub and watched it over and over and over again until I finally got my hands on a legit copy when I was in high school. I did catch it in my late 20s during a Halloween midnight-movie showing. It screened as a double feature with Eaten Alive, and that was a truly glorious experience.

BUCK WEISS: I grew up in Southern Illinois, where Sammy Terry ruled the midnight movie every week. When I was seven, I had a friend stay over, and my mom let us stay up to watch Son of the Blob! I made it about halfway through before I was too freaked out to go on. It scared me to death and started my love of horror and grindhouse films. My favorite drive-in memory was seeing the movie Signs at a Drive-in surrounded by cornfields on all sides. Everyone was a little more on edge, knowing that anything could be standing just within the rows.

SHANNON BRADY: The cult classic that popped into my head first was Repo! The Genetic Opera. Set in a future where organ failures are an epidemic, a corporation promising cures becomes powerful enough to rule the world. If customers fall behind on payments for their new organs, Repo Men are deployed to repossess company property with lethal force. It’s one of my favorite horror musicals and by far the goriest I’ve ever seen. I think it’s very much a love it or hate it movie, and I fell instantly in love with it in high school.

My drive-in experience is sadly limited. The only time I’ve ever been to a drive-in movie was with my family in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which we were hoping for a nice time while the theaters were closed, but ended up leaving early due to the promised safety restrictions not being followed at all. The movie we’d gone to see was The Sandlot, but when we got home my brother and I watched Dead Alive in our basement instead, so it was a considerably different viewing experience than expected. I’ve never seen a midnight movie screening, either, so that and a proper drive-in are two things I would love to attend someday.

PAUL MAGNAN: One of my favorite cult grindhouse movies is Death Race 2000. I’m talking about the original 1975 movie, not the recent remakes. The movie was made by grindhouse king Roger Corman and is set (well, obviously) in the year 2000. The world economy has collapsed in 1979, and the United States is now run by a totalitarian government. A violent, televised sport is created to placate the masses (a common theme for dystopian movies during this time. Another example is Rollerball). Thus, the Death Race. Each year, a number of drivers, with navigators, drive specially designed killing machines cross country, and the more people they kill with their cars, the more points they accrue. In a charming plot twist, children and the elderly are considered extra points. Also, they are not adverse to trying to kill each other.

In this, the 20th annual Death Race, the favorite to win is a driver called Frankenstein (played by David Carradine). He is dressed all in cool black leather, with a mask that hides most of his face, with only a hint of horrendous scarring underneath. This is Darth Vader before Darth Vader. Apparently, he has survived multiple catastrophic crashes, yet keeps coming back for more. This year, however, there is a new twist: a resistance to the government has formed, and they are taking out the Death Race drivers one by one. This, according to the TV announcers covering the race, is hilariously blamed on the French (there is a lot of dark humor in this movie). Another plus is that one of the other drivers is a young Sylvester Stallone, who plays a character called Machine Gun Joe Viterbo, a ’30s type gangster with a huge knife affixed to the hood of his car, which he uses to good effect when he takes out a man operating a jackhammer. The movie does have a bit of a surprise ending, and I highly recommend it.

Drive-in movie memory: oh, so many. Yet one that has stuck with me was when I had gone with my parents to a local drive-in to see Barbarella. I think my father wanted to see Jane Fonda in a barely-there space suit, and I’m sure he enjoyed the opening credits strip sequence. As it was 1968 and I was only 6 years old, I was probably playing with my toys in the back seat of the car at the time. My mother, not a movie person and undoubtedly not having any idea what this movie was all about, was probably looking back at me to make sure my eyes were off the screen during these credits. I did watch some of the movie, which went way over my head. But there was ONE SCENE that scared the living crap out of me and gave me nightmares for weeks. Even now, over 50 years later, I remember the fear my 6-year-old-self felt quite keenly: Barbarella, in the snow, meeting up with these creepy-ass children, who place her behind steel bars. They activate a horde of porcelain-faced dolls with sharp, steel teeth in jaws that snap open and shut, who wail like the damned and walk forward as she struggles against the bars. Once they reach Barbarella, the dolls continue to wail and take chunks out of her with their teeth, as the creepy, evil children smile and look on until Barbarella is rescued by adults. Yeah, dad, thanks for bringing me to see this movie.

And that’s our roundtable! Thank you so much to this awesome group of authors, and please check out Violent Vixens: An Homage to Grindhouse Horror, out now from Dark Peninsula Press!

Happy reading!

A Bloody Good Time: Part One of the Violent Vixens Roundtable

Welcome back! This week marks the official release of Dark Peninsula’s Violent Vixens: An Homage to Grindhouse Horror. I’m super excited that my tale, “Sister Glitter Blood,” appears as part of the anthology. Told in the form of a board game instruction manual, the story follows two sisters who stumble upon an unusual game and find themselves drawn into its thrall. As a huge fan of board games–in particular during our quarantine times–this one was a lot of fun to write, and I’m so glad it found such an excellent home in Violent Vixens.

Recently, I talked with the other authors in the book about the inspiration behind their stories! So let’s have them take it away, shall we?

SARAH READ: When I was 16, I stayed in Tuam, Ireland for a week. I fell in love with the west coast of Ireland, so I keep up with it often. The recent news out of Tuam isn’t good. The local Catholic-run mother and children’s home, where unwed mothers were sent to have their babies, before being sent to workhouses or otherwise discarded by society, turns out to have been (shocker) not a nice place. Like so many Catholic institutions billed as harbors for marginalized children, the Bon Secours Mother and Children’s home has been revealed as the site of a mass grave of those same children. Their obsession with female purity birthed a legacy of illness and death, and this small, idyllic town guarded its secret for decades. I wanted to write a revenge story, and write a different ending for at least some of those mothers and children. And a different ending for the people responsible.

PAUL MAGNAN: “The Course of One’s Life On Fire”, to me, is a woman’s struggle with coping with a world that is indifferent at best and openly hostile at worst. Her anger and desperation, even at her own family, who, she feels, continually lets her down, soon pushes her psyche into sheets of angry, blinding red that reaches a critical mass. Once this happens, it is assured she is no longer taken for granted.

MARK WHEATON: KILLER OF HOGS is a bloody revenge story about a rural livestock veterinarian from Central Arkansas, Annie Saunders, who learns through a quirk of genetic testing that the killers of her mother and sister are likely members of an old, tight-knit, Brooklyn crime family. Journeying to New York to slaughter all of them to be certain she gets the culprits, Annie must employ all sorts of unorthodox culling methods common to her profession to get the job done against a veritable army of seasoned, gun-toting killers.

S.K. CAMPBELL: My story, “City Monitors,” takes place in a gritty, neon-striped city, where the streets molt in the heat and the biosynthetic residents slither around like reptiles with schemes. Denver, a jaded and handicapped mechanic, discovers her girlfriend, Minta, has gone missing. She suspects Minta got embroiled in something decidedly infernal. But her investigation may lead Denver to confront her malevolent foster mother, and face the dark truth behind her handicap.

When I saw the prompt for Violent Vixens, I got this image in my head from the movie Planet Terror of a bad-ass woman who had a gun for a leg. I thought it was a good opportunity to write a character with a disability, but have the disability be a component of the genre, as advantageous and gnarly as a gun-leg. It’s a twist on body horror that was entertaining to write, and I hope is entertaining to read.

NIK PATRICK: I wrote “Finger-Lickin’ Bad” under the premise, “what is the most absurd B movie monster concept I can get away with?” The answer of course was chickens. I am the owner of pet hens so you can say they were the inspiration. Especially the way they stand outside the backdoor waiting to be fed just…staring.

I owe the title to the way Bill Paxton delivered the line “finger-lickin’ good” in the vampire flick Near Dark.

ROB E. BOLEY: My story is called “What the Bone Says.” My wife and daughter and I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts. It’s disturbing how many of the cases start with someone finding a body tossed in a ditch, wrapped in plastic. In my tale, the discarded victim hasn’t perished. She finds a way not only to survive but to get her revenge on her attacker, though she perhaps loses her humanity in the process.

SOPHIE LEAH: Sure! “Collette” is a Natural Born Killers-inspired story about two girls (your estranged uncle would call them ‘roommates’) out on the lam – and I guess its underlying theme focuses on how much we will go along with when swept up in love. It’s probably not the most original thing I’ve ever written but it was great fun to write and hopefully it’ll be fun for others to read too.

I actually wrote it a long time ago in a much shorter, much messier, form – then saw Aric’s call for submissions and the whole ‘Violent Vixens‘ // homage to grindhouse thing was so relevant to my interests that I had to submit! My friend and editor (the wonderful Laura Major) helped me push it to a level that was more publishable before I showed it to Aric and it honestly means the world to have made it into the collection. It’s my first ‘proper’ published piece so I’m really nervous but excited about it all.

The real Collette in my life was a girl I knew from uni – an old friend who was a bit wild in her own way, though far less blood-thirsty and troubled than my protagonist. Haven’t spoken to her in some time, sadly, due to my own stuff but one day I’ll get back in touch like: “Hey, how have you been? By the way, I made you into a murderer. Hope that’s cool!”

SCOTTY MILDER: “The Whole Price of Blood” is an offshoot of an idea that I’ve had for about fifteen years. The concept initially came to me when a friend was volunteering in Albuquerque as a trauma crisis advocate. It was one of those ideas that just fell into my head almost fully formed. I tried to write it as a screenplay but—for whatever reason—it never quite gelled; in particular, I just couldn’t get Abigail to come alive (so to speak). I filed it in my mental “maybe later” file, and there it sat for well over a decade until early last year, when I decided to reapproach it as a novel. That did the trick. I’m currently about three-quarters of my way into the novel, for which “The Whole Price of Blood” serves as a prequel.

BUCK WEISS: “The Dressmaker” is about a down-trodden woman fighting back against the men who plan to harm her and her daughter. The type of men who have only ever seen her as an object that they can control. I looked at grindhouse films like Mrs. 45 and I Spit on Your Grave when I was writing it. It is a revenge story where the heroine reacts to take control and stop the violence before it can happen.

SHANNON BRADY: “The Saw House” is an action-horror piece set in post-apocalyptic Texas, where society has collapsed under a plague of demonically Possessed people, and uninfected humans must band together to survive. Daley O’Donovan is a former lone wolf who concedes that it’s time she found a group to belong to. In order to prove her worth to the Golden Eagles and their charismatic leader, she agrees to undergo a grueling initiation trial: just her and her trusty chainsaw versus a pack of Possessed.

Normally, I’m a very slow writer, and it takes me a long time to figure out how to fit everything together perfectly, sometimes well after a deadline for submissions has passed. This story, however, was a happy exception. On hearing the topic of the anthology, the image of a scrappy girl, covered in blood and dirt, wielding a chainsaw, and sprinting through a slaughterhouse came to me after only a moment of thought. (The image of Reina, beautiful and unruffled, watching from above came not long after.) Who these women were and what they were after clicked into place easily, and it all came pouring out in less than a month. It was incredibly fun to write, and I’d be happy to return to their world in future stories.

MATT NEIL HILL: “The Parts that Hurt Me the Most” started off as a very different (and quickly abandoned) straightforward crime tale about someone on the run from the other members of a heist team, although the opening image in the bus station was much the same. I think it was one of those situations where the circumstances of rewriting it changed everything about the story. It took an intense two days to complete from the opening sentence to final revisions, way quicker than anything I’ve written of that length before. The split time frames were a pacing necessity, not just narratively but so that I could take a breather every time things got worse. Because I needed hurt and rage to drive the story, I listened to nothing but Black Dresses’ albums for the memories, with Radiohead’s Videotape on a loop for the road trip sections when the brutality and betrayal had bled out into quiet acceptance. Soundtracking in that obsessive way is its own kind of altered state and I turned off my inner censor and let May do what she needed to do, figuring I could tone it down later if things got out of hand… they did, but I didn’t. After all she’d been through, she’d earned the absence of further cuts.

I think “The Parts that Hurt Me the Most” is my favourite thing I’ve written to date. It doesn’t make any excuses for what it is. From the second I finished it I had no idea if anyone would ever want it, and although that realisation wasn’t great there wasn’t a single thing I wanted to change about May’s journey. I couldn’t be happier with where the story’s ended up and I hope people like it, because I think I need to write this way again…

And that’s all for Part One! Head on back next week for Part Two of our Violent Vixens roundtable!

Happy reading!

Summer Writing: Submission Roundup for August 2021

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of fabulous opportunities in August and beyond, so polish up those stories and send them out into the world!

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

And with that, onward with August’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Payment: $20/flat
Length: up to 7,500 words for fiction; up to 45 lines for poetry
Deadline: August 7th, 2021
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction and poetry about arthropods (e.g. insects, arachnids, crustaceans).
Find the details here.

Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 10,000 words (up to 7,000 words preferred)
Deadline: August 7th, 2021
What They Want: This anthology is seeking speculative fiction featuring queer characters and themes of plants and growth.
Find the details here.

Payment: .01/word
Length: 1,500 to 6,000 words
Deadline: August 31st, 2021
What They Want: This new Strangehouse Books anthology edited by Sara Tantlinger is seeking horror stories inspired by color from female authors.
Find the details here.

Ladies of Horror Fiction Scholarships
Payment: $100 scholarships
Deadline: August 31st, 2021
What They Want: Open to all women authors, the Ladies of Horror Fiction are currently offering ten $100 scholarships.
Find the details here.

Payment: .01/word CAD ($25 minimum)
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: August 31st, 2021
What They Want: Open to stylized speculative fiction on the theme of Botanicals.
Find the details here.

Payment: .01/word for fiction; $5/flat for poetry
Length: 250 to 10,000 words
Deadline: August 31st, 2021
What They Want: Open to a wide range of speculative fiction and poetry.
Find the details here.

New Gothic Review
Payment: $50/flat
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: August 31st, 2021
What They Want: Original short stories that explore the Gothic tradition in the 21st century.
Find the details here.

A Woman Built By Men
Payment: .05/word
Length: 2,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: September 5th, 2021
What They Want: Open to all female-identifying authors, this anthology from Cemetery Gates is seeking horror stories about women built or shaped by men.
Find the details here.

 And finally, an early warning call!

Negative Space 2: A Return to Survival Horror
Payment: $50/flat
Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words
Deadline: Open submission period from September 1st to October 1st, 2021
What They Want: Dark Peninsula Press is seeking short stories about survival horror, such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and The Mist.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!