Monthly Archives: September 2022

Looking Back and Moving Forward: Part Three in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back for part three in our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable! As I’ve mentioned before, this is an ongoing series on my blog, as affected authors in the horror community discuss their reactions to the loss of Roe vs. Wade. For each installment, I invite a different set of writers to share their stories and reactions to this historical and devastating setback in human rights.

And with that, I’ll let this week’s interviewees take it away!

There are so many things to talk about right now, but first and foremost, how are you doing personally? How has the overturning of Roe affected your life so far? How has it affected your family and friends?

JOE KOCH: Thank you for asking, Gwendolyn! I am equal parts unsurprised and shocked; exhausted and charged up to fight. It’s a bit like PTSD. As a person with a former career in reproductive rights, I’ve seen the anti-autonomy activists work on controlling the language about bodily autonomy in the media and use savvy lawyers to whittle away at human rights at the state level all across our country for decades. Over twenty years, I saw laws passed imposing parental consent, adding burdensome waiting periods, and forcing patients to undergo unnecessary and expensive medical tests with all sorts of bureaucratic hoops to jump through simply to access basic healthcare. All of these things target less privileged patients the most.

Advocating for patients and being ready to fight was my everyday life for years! My nice little white collar job involved walking past protestors,including a guy with an assault rifle because I lived in an open-carry state. I listened to stories from patients about how they got pregnant and why they didn’t want to give birth, stories they were terrified or ashamed to tell anyone else, and held space with their grief, secrets, joys, and fears. It was deeply gratifying work, but also immensely stressful. I guess I rather foolishly expected to put some of that stress behind me when I left the job,but the overturning of Roe has brought it back with a sense of urgency.

So, I’m tired, I’m ready to fight, I’m worried about all the younger people I know who can get pregnant, and I can’t believe this is our world now.

ERICA RUPPERT: I’m incredibly angry at the injustice of it all. Even though I knew it was coming, the news hit like a punch in the gut. I’m already through menopause, so the stripping away of Roe doesn’t have any immediate affect on my life. But that doesn’t make it any less terrible. My family and friends are largely in the position I’m in–personally unaffected but horrified just the same.

I’m attending protests, contacting my representatives, and volunteering in postcard campaigns to try to prevent the worst of it. I hope it works.

LISA MORTON: It’s terrifying, and infuriating, and tragic, and of course those are all emotions that can be very distracting. The pandemic already knocked me off my writing game for the last two years, and now this…my family and friends all share my concerns, in part because we can plainly see that this is just the beginning of what this court will try to do. Unless you are a cishet white male, your rights are now open to the interpretation of six judges who don’t share your values, or the values of most of the people in this country.

I grew up mainly in the 1970s, with a single mom. We naively believed that the ERA would pass and that my mom would finally have a chance to be paid the same salary that her male co-workers were receiving, that maybe she’d be able to get a simple credit card, and that I might enter the workplace with those rights guaranteed. We were gutted when the ERA didn’t pass, but at least we had Roe v. Wade. Now we don’t even have THAT. This is one of the few times that I’m glad my mother, who suffers from severe dementia, can’t understand what’s happening.

MARIA ALEXANDER: I don’t know a single person in my close circle that isn’t devastated, outraged, and worried about not just the pending deaths and dehumanization of uterus-bearing folx across the nation, but also about the other freedoms we’re about to lose. Because this is just the beginning. The loss of the right to privacy affects many other rights we’ve previously held, including the right to marry. Now anything that the extreme right-wing SCOTUS members thinks is “deeply immoral” can be rescinded as a right, damn the precedent.

VICTORIA DALPE: I think I am still in a bit of shock. I have personally argued over the years when others have voiced concerns over Roe V. Wade being overturned that it would never happen- that it was too popular, that it would be so crazy and unprecedented (how tired I am of that word being bandied about these last few years, and yet…) So I think at present, I just feel out of time and space, this is a huge blow to women, to families, to society and it hurts me someplace deep inside. There is such a rage there for the voiceless, for the ignorant knee-jerk holier-than-thou bullshit, that ignores the very real complications of pregnancy and body autonomy. As far as family and friends think a lot of the same, we are just wandering around like zombies filled with impotent choking rage. I live in a state with protections and don’t worry so much for myself, or my immediate friends/family. But that only fuels the fire when people (mainly men) have said, it’s no big deal your state will be fine, to which I must reply it’s not about me, it’s about all the people out there who won’t be fine, that is why I am mad, that is why we all should be mad. This is about making the vulnerable more vulnerable, about worse birth and maternal outcomes, about poverty, and about suffering. We should all be fucking pissed.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: Honestly? I’m pretty much a ball of rage these days, but I don’t think most people would see that (unless they’re living with me day-to-day). I had my first child in January of this year, and it was something I thought about and prepared for for years, and while being and becoming a mother is one of the most beautiful, transformative, magical things I’ve ever done, it’s also the hardest, most traumatic thing I’ve done, too. I didn’t have an easy birth and my postpartum journey has been super difficult, but even after going through a pregnancy and birth that I desperately wanted, I’ve never been more liberal or pro-choice in my life. Pregnancy and motherhood is hard: financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally. You’re forced to deal with and break generational trauma that you didn’t even know you had (on top of the trauma you already knew about!), and then your body is different and healing and reshaping itself into something new that you have to accept and learn to love, too. Couple that with no sleep and raising a literal human who depends on you for everything? I can’t imagine pregnancy or motherhood being forced on someone who doesn’t want it with their whole heart and entire being. It’s not fair to the mother and it’s not fair to the child. No one wins and this country should be ashamed of itself.

Let’s go back in time to when we were all younger and had the basic human right to abortion. Do you remember when you first learned about Roe vs. Wade? How was reproductive justice introduced to you growing up?

JOE KOCH: I was reared in a Southern Baptist fundamentalist church for the most part. Abortion was unthinkable. You only heard about it happening when someone died, as if it was a very risky medical procedure, and yet as early as middle school kids were talking about ways to self-abort if they got pregnant. Yep, that’s where abstinence-only education gets you! These incredibly dangerous urban legend methods of home abortion were less heinous in our minds because The Abortion Clinic was portrayed as a sort of Mouth of Hell that would lead you straight into to the devil’s clutches, much like The Club, or the unspeakable horror of The Gay Bar.

This deep fear instilled in people is something I understand, and I was never surprised to see a patient come into the clinic looking like a hunted animal or to get in the exam room and freeze with fear. That’s why we have to talk about abortion and use the word abortion without shame and keep it safe.

ERICA RUPPERT: Awareness of abortions and where to get them was pretty common knowledge during my adolescence, despite the adult silence around it. We all had older siblings or friends who knew. The sex ed curriculum in my junior and high schools back in the 1980s did not mention abortion at all. We weren’t even taught about birth control until senior year. My mother was squeamish about the details of reproduction, never mind reproductive justice, so it was simply never mentioned.

I didn’t learn about the actual case until I was in my twenties, when Norma McCorvey became an anti-abortion spokesperson. And I didn’t really recognize or think about reproductive justice until Operation Rescue and Randall Terry began their terror campaign in the late 80s-early 90s. The arrogance and ugliness of their actions made me realize how wrong their position was.

Honestly, one of the strongest portrayals of the power of reproductive rights I encountered in my youth was in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. She decides an abortion is her best option, she gets one without interference, and she is not judged for her decision. Seeing that was empowering. That’s how it should be.

LISA MORTON: Mom managed a college bookstore, and all of her student employees were like family. She helped at least one of them get an abortion when they weren’t ready to start a family. I grew up accepting that abortion was a secured right available to all women to make their lives better.

MARIA ALEXANDER: I was raised in an Evangelical home. I never thought of abortion as a right. In fact, I never thought of abortion at all because of the emphasis on celibacy. It was never discussed, and I never saw anything on the news that I recall about it even being an issue. Back then, we all had the same news sources. Even my super conservative parents watched Dan Rather and 60 Minutes. They had no one stoking their misplaced ideas except themselves and their families.

This meant I was deeply anti-choice for a long time. I remember when I was in college and working at a lab as a receptionist. The other two women who worked in the office were talking about abortion one day, discussing the “dark days” before Roe vs. Wade. At first I said nothing. I sat at my desk, seething. Didn’t they understand that abortion was killing babies? Taking lives? One of the women discussed a doctor her mother knew back in the day who helped women by giving them abortions before it was legal. I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally spoke up. “But he was taking lives!” I said. “Those babies didn’t have a choice!”

The woman was quite patient with me, but very serious. “He saved those women’s lives,” she explained. “Some of them would’ve died. And those babies weren’t even babies yet. Have you ever been pregnant?”

Shaking with rage, I shook my head. But as upset as I was, something about her conviction and words about saving women’s lives touched me. Before my Jesus-shaped cranial wound finally healed, I read Susan Faludi’s Backlash, which revolutionized my point of view about everything that had been happening to women for the last 100 years. I couldn’t ignore what I had read. It changed me. I decided that, although I would never personally have an abortion, it was necessary that others had the option. Always.

Later, as I learned more about pregnancy and abortion, I decided it was definitely on the table for me personally. And while I never became pregnant, I have steadfastly believed in medical
autonomy for everyone for almost 30 years now.

VICTORIA DALPE: I’m kind of embarrassed to admit I really don’t have any formative memories of this, it just kind of always was. Dirty Dancing rings a bell, as well as some 90’s TV shows. I was raised Catholic, but liberal New England Catholic, so while my mother was anti-choice in a ‘save the babies’ sort of way, she very much felt it should be legal and no one should be forced to have a baby, or risk some back alley situation. We had a pretty robust sex-ed at school and a planned parenthood clinic in my small town, that one of my friends worked at in high school. When we were 14-15, one of my good friends got pregnant and we all emptied our meager savings and babysitting money to get enough for her to have the procedure. A little older, I personally drove more than one friend to get an abortion at that clinic in high school. So for me, abortion was just always an option.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: I honestly don’t remember, to be honest, although I feel like it was likely in high school. I remember learning about women’s rights then, but only vaguely. I grew up in a pretty small town and I felt like I was in a conservative bubble for the majority of my upbringing. It wasn’t until I went to college that the world opened up to me and I started getting a more inclusive and diverse education in history and world affairs as well as literature and art. In fact, most of what I know about reproductive justice came from studying art history (shoutout to Maureen Vissat—Art History is the best subject!). The following artists really helped shape and reshape my thinking to assess how I interpreted the female body, personal agency, and political autonomy: Judy Chicago, (“The Dinner Party”), Miriam Schapiro + Judy Chicago (“Womanhouse”), Barbara Kruger (“Your Body Is a Battleground”), Casey Jenkins (“Casting Off My Womb”), Tracy Emin (“My Bed”), Louise Bourgeois (“Spider”), Olivera Parlic (“Cactus”), and Carolee Schneemann (“Interior Scroll”). Of course, those are only a few of the many women I studied and whose art helped educate me, but I loved and continue to love the primal nature of how art was made, showcased, and performed by women in the 60s, 70s, and 80s; tangentially, there was also a lot of ecofeminist art happening then, too, (Ana Mendieta’s work is a perfect example here) and it continued to teach and speak to me about women, our bodies, our connection to earth and the universe, cycles, sisterhood, etc. Most importantly though, through these pieces and performances I learned that choice and autonomy isn’t only necessary but sacred.

If people are interested in reading more about feminism, some of my favorite resources that I like to recommend are: The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, Witches, Midwives, and Nurses by Barbara Ehrenreich, Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, and Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. Plus, there are the two must reads: The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.

Women, trans men, and nonbinary people are all an essential part of literature. How do you see this decimation of human rights affecting the writing industry and the horror genre in particular?

JOE KOCH: I think horror readers are an open-minded bunch. I’ve been surprised by how welcoming they have been to my transition, for instance. I think we’re working hard right now in indie horror to promote marginalized voices; I hope we keep pushing harder in response to the decimation of human rights. Writers brave enough to tell the truth in their stories, publishers marketing diverse books, readers and reviewers sharing widely — we can work together.

Because there’s a danger the bigger publishers will cave in to a perceived status quo and continue on as they’ve been for years, publishing a majority of white, privileged, cis authors whose lives aren’t as brutally impacted by the current rise of fascism. I say “perceived” status quo because I refuse to believe the average person really believes the government should decide what an individual can or cannot do with their body. I don’t think the average person is an intentional fascist.

ERICA RUPPERT: I think it’s going to be rich fodder for the horror genre. Really, what is more obviously body horror than this?

But if our rights are not restored and protected, I think it’s going to damage the diversity that makes literature sing. Own voices are incredibly valuable and irreplaceable. Unfortunately I can see more commercial, pop and mainstream writing opting to turn away from it as not profitable. The book bans are already happening, and publishing is a business. And I hope I’m wrong, but I can certainly see a resurgence of the ugly trope of evil, villainous gay and trans characters if basic respect for every person is undermined.

LISA MORTON: I’ve always believed in horror as a genre with great potential to be truly transgressive, to comment on the real horrors of the world around us, but I was always surprised at how many other writers dismissed approaching sociopolitical commentary in their work for fear of being “preachy” (my argument has always been that “preachy” was a result of bad writing, not tackling contemporary issues). I hope that more writers might feel enraged enough now to tackle these tough subjects in their writing, but I’m also concerned that they’ll fear the repercussions more and more. Too many books are already being banned, too many authors are already having a hard time making money, so are they willing to risk even more? At least women (and writers of color, and LGBTQ+ writers, and disabled writers) have made great strides in the genre over the last ten years or so; I hope many of them will use their incredible voices to call out these increasing injustices.

MARIA ALEXANDER: Certainly we should continue to see underrepresented voices — endangered voices — uplifted in publishing and in entertainment. But here too we will see a backlash. I personally felt it with one of my books, which has been banned in the conservative community where the Bram Stoker Award-winning story is set, just after Trump was elected. We are not helpless, though. We can organize not just politically but as small presses. Perhaps even as larger presses if the industry continues to see a hunger to right wrongs.

VICTORIA DALPE: Well, just like the pandemic-inspired dystopian apocalypse plague survivor fiction- I am sure there will be a glut of Handmaid’s tale, dystopian breeding, forced breeding, etc. type fiction. But that’s to be expected. I think there will also be a lot of good stuff written that channels the anger, the frustration, and the strangeness of suddenly having less authority over your body and being a second-class citizen in your country. For a lot of folks, this will be a wake-up call that these weren’t rights but privileges after all and can be taken away. That may be inspirational and ideally, fiction may be a place to give a voice to that powerlessness and rage. A platform for those that may lack power in their day to day lives.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: I always look to what’s happening politically in the world to predict trends in speculative fiction. For instance, when the attack on women’s rights picked up in 2014-2015, I thought we might start seeing the witch again because the witch tends to come out as a symbol and icon for women (and the queer community) during political duress (read Pam Grossman’s, Waking the Witch for more on that). After the 2016 election and into late 2019, we started seeing some trends moving toward dystopian realities and political horror, and I think we’re going to see more of that now, but with more of an intense, raw focus on body horror and gore; I also think we’re going to see more transgressive, thematically violent art, too. I mean, the fact is that banning abortions doesn’t actually ban abortions; it bans safe abortions, and it just makes it illegal for women to get the care and help they need. Women, trans men, and nonbinary people will die because of this decision, and in staggering numbers at that. No one wins when we can’t protect ourselves, make our own decisions, or feel safe in our bodies, and I believe that focus on safety and privacy is going to continue to be interwoven in literature from the next several years.

Furthermore, on a more individualized scale, I think there is going to be a lot of fear and concern wrapped up in traveling, attending conventions, doing signings, etc. depending on event locations. I hope when decisions are being made by those in charge that safety and concern for women and LGBTQ+ folks will be taken strongly into account.

What’s your greatest fear right now? And also, what’s your greatest hope for where we can go next?

JOE KOCH: Having fought my way out of that repressive evangelical upbringing, the thought of being under a totalitarian evangelical government and subject to its biological mandates might be one worst-case scenario I can conjure up to answer that. My grandfather fought with the allies in WWII despite having gone to school in Bremen, and this German heritage made me acutely aware from a young age that genocides happen, that prison camps exist, and that humans torture one another, and so I don’t rule any of this out as being possible in modern America. My imagination can go to infinitely grim places, so I’ll stop here!

My hope is we’re all a bit too spoiled by freedom, or at least the idea of freedom, to buckle under and watch the last century play out on repeat. I’m heartened when privileged people reach outside of their necessary comfort zone to stand up for others. That’s what we have to do. If you’re white, say something to your white friends about their macroaggressions. Take the extra step to welcome queer voices to the table. Do something about reproductive rights even if you don’t have a uterus. Recognize how you’re privileged and use what money or power you have to oppose the Christo-fascist movement in our government right now, because it’s growing. It’s coming for all of us.

I wish the supposedly liberal politicians who voice support for human rights would prove their words through action. I have very little hope they will. They seem like cowards, traitors to the population they claim to represent.

In practical terms, you can work with your local abortion clinics to push back against the overturning of Roe with petitions, protests, volunteering, and donating. Get in touch with abortion providers in your area. If you don’t know how to find them, go to The National Abortion Federation at for listings all over the U.S. and information about what you can do to fight back.

ERICA RUPPERT: My greatest fear is that now they’ve gotten rid of Roe, what other rights will be next on the chopping block. The current SC is full of religious/political radicals and they have already broadcast that multiple other rights will be fair game for them to “revisit”. Their eagerness to disenfranchise so many people for not being straight white men makes me sick.
My greatest hope is that we roar back and crush the radicals in the midterms by holding the House and flipping the Senate. To that end I’ve volunteered in progressive get-out-the vote campaigns in both my own state and in swing states, because I want to help make it happen. We’re all aware that this is not just about abortion. This is for all of us, and I think most of us will stand together against the gross injustices the right wants to inflict upon us.

LISA MORTON: We all know that SCOTUS won’t stop with Roe v. Wade; they told us they’re coming after marriage equality and contraception next. If the Far Right prevails in the 2022 and 2024 elections, there’s no question in my mind that the U.S. will slip fully into fascism. That will also drive a stake through environmental concerns (something SCOTUS also inaugurated in another recent ruling), so the planet will fall with democracy. My hope is that enough of us won’t be content with being a silent majority, that we’ll protest and write and vote. If we can pull that off…well, maybe we’ll even pass the ERA some mythical day.

MARIA ALEXANDER: My greatest hope is that we can organize and mobilize. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a few other government officials are offering leadership, giving us points to follow so that we can throw sand in the cogs and break the machine. I absolutely refuse to fucking wring my hands and mope. I won’t sit in fear. It’s time to fight. Democracy is a many-legged animal. It’s more than just voting. Democracy has given us tools that we have to use to craft the country that we want, but right now we have to use those tools as weapons. No one has the luxury of sitting back and letting this continue. We have to organize and mobilize to start helping uterus-bearing folx NOW because it’s life or death.

VICTORIA DALPE: My greatest fear is that this is the tip of a very horrible and stupid iceberg. I am terrified that we will somehow be consistently outmaneuvered by gerrymandering, social media, and apathy into watching more and more of the world we have known and loved to disappear and be replaced by some on-fire, fascist, theocracy. I have a small child, I would like there to be a world for him to grow up in that isn’t total shit. My hope though and I am a realistic optimist most of the time, is that this is the last hurrah for a minority group (old white Christian Conservatives). They are aging out and they are losing members with every year and not gaining them back. They have planned for all of this, slowly taking power and holding it with big-picture long-term goals. The opposition needs to play this game as well, we need to lay the groundwork so that our values are protected long-term, and those that need the most protection, are provided for minorities, the disabled, women, children, and the environment, for example. I think there is a huge population of very angry, very smart, very left-leaning young people coming up and I want them radicalized and plugged into the government. We need to get the people to believe in their institutions again and the best way to do that is to join them. Become the system and correct it from the inside. I do believe that can happen.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: I feel like every day I wake up, the clock continues to turn backwards. I’m scared for myself, but I also recognize that as a white, cisgendered woman, I have privileges that others in my community don’t. For instance, I’m terrified for my friends and family and peers who are in states that are targeting their bodies and their freedom, and honestly, their right to safety exist and present as they choose, and on a larger scale, I’m truly very nervous for the state of this country and what it means for us moving forward because I don’t think this is the end; it’s very much just the beginning and it’s only going to get worse.

I’m also constantly thinking of my daughter and the world she’s growing up in where her voice and her body are constantly under attack. I mean, she’s six-months old and I was doing research the other day on the best bullet-proof inserts to put in her backpack when she gets older. WTF is that? I honestly feel so emotionally beaten down and it’s hard to summon the courage needed to fight every day, and make no mistake, it is an every-day fight. I’ve been talking a lot about this in therapy because I’ve felt a lot of guilt lately for not being able to get out in the streets and protest with my sisters and allies over the past year/year and a half, so for me, in the here and now, I’m focusing on education and art as my outlet to fight back and promote kindness, equality, safety, and choice.

I will say that my hope completely exists in the younger generations. These kids are FIERCE, and I love their energy. They honestly inspire me, and I think it’s them that are going to change the world. With that said, parents! Keep reading your kids books where children are empowered and making and promoting change. Raise them on books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. Check out children’s books like A is for Activist, Baby Feminist, C is for Consent, Love Makes a Family, Counting on Community and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. Empower them. Prepare them. Let them know that there is strength in their voice and in the heart.

Again, we’re all in this together. We have to be.

Huge thanks to this week’s featured interviewees for sharing their stories with us!

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism!

Fighting Back: Part Two in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back to my blog, and in particular, welcome back to our pro-choice horror roundtable! This is part two in our ongoing series, and I’m thrilled to welcome six new authors to this week’s discussion about abortion rights and the fallout of losing Roe vs. Wade.

And with that introduction, I shall let my amazing interviewees take it away!

There are so many things to talk about right now, but first and foremost, how are you doing personally? How has the overturning of Roe affected your life so far? How has it affected your family and friends?

SUMIKO SAULSON: As an African American, I worry about my family members. Black women (and other black people with a uterus) are 4 times as likely to die during childbirth because of medical racism, poverty, and lack of access to proper medical care. Additionally, all of the poor taste memes about how people can just put the children up for adoption ignore the fact that black children are overrepresented in foster care and less likely to be adopted. I think a lot of my friends are in a state of shock, completely overwhelmed, or infuriated by the decision. Also, there’s been a lot of racism expressed on social media in attacks on Clarence Thomas, and while I certainly dislike him, this again has created stress for me personally and other Black folks who are reeling not only from Roe vs Wade, but a slew of other recent Supreme Court decisions making it easier for police to abuse their power and authority and harder for people to sue for civil rights violations. My friends and I in the LGBTQ community are upset that the Supreme Court is threatening to overturn Same Sex Marriage, and although someone on my timeline made a bad joke about Clarence Thomas not wanting to overturn Loving vs Virginia because he’s in an interracial marriage, he and the rest of the Supreme Court are indeed talking about that as well.

ALEXIS D: I am terrified for the future of our country. America is founded on Patriarchy and White Supremacy, but the goal is to move farther away from those systems of oppression, not to recede deeper into them. This decision is one of the rare instances when rights have been stripped, rather than strengthened by SCOTUS. And that is very telling for what lies ahead. They’ve already announced that contraception and gay marriage are next on the chopping block. It’s disgusting that Christofascism is embraced in such a clear and deliberate way by the judiciary. And this decision came the very next day after Bruen, which said states couldn’t make their own gun laws. It’s just such a baldfaced, shameless sprint to authoritarianism. There’s an obvious endgame and the future is bleak.

One of my family members is a doctor and they have friends who have been instructed to deny patients medication for autoimmune diseases because they are abortifacients, so these people now have to deal with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis flare ups (Tear gas is an abortifacient, too, but cops are still using that on protesters who may very well be pregnant).

To get truly personal about this, I will say that if I hadn’t been able to have an abortion, I’d have a kid right now, getting physically and emotionally abused by their father. The thought that this is now the only option for so many people, to be forever tied to their abusers and to know that the children they are forced to have will be subjected to that too, is sickening. On that subject, it’s important to state that the leading cause of death during pregnancy is murder.

MARSHEILA ROCKWELL: I’m angry, of course, but also incredibly frustrated. I live in Arizona and I support all of our pro-choice candidates, I donate to organizations that provide access here (for as long as they can), and I always vote, but it still feels like I’m screaming into the void.

But I’m also Native American, and we’ve had our reproductive rights curtailed since colonization began, so when I see people say things like, “Put clinics on reservations” (which is impossible for a myriad of legal reasons), that makes me doubly angry/frustrated. NOW people care? Now that white people are losing their rights? I mean, I get it, obviously, but I hope people can see how even suggesting that just reeks of privilege.

So I’m basically a bundle of rage who hates everybody and everything right now, LOL.

LCW ALLINGHAM: I am absolutely not good. At points I can get away from this, distract myself and give focus to the good things in my life, of which there are many, but it is an effort to not let my mind drift into how all of those good things are in danger now because of the hateful radicals in our government. I find it has very much divided me from a lot of friends and family who can’t be bothered. It’s drawn the line and given me the strength to stop giving fucks to people who don’t have them for me, or other women in general. It has also put me in touch with some amazing people that I might not have connected with otherwise.

JOANNA ROYE: It hasn’t been great. I’ve had a lot more anxiety than usual and my depression has flared up but overall I’ve managed to keep it together. Though I have called an OBGYN to have my IUD replaced as soon as possible, just in case. I worry for the future and the immediate present. I have friends that are pregnant or trying. What if something goes wrong? I do what I can to support them, but there’s no way I can know just how heavy this is for them. Everyone I’m close to seems to be experiencing varying degrees of helpless distress.

BARBARA KRASNOFF: Since I am past menopause, the overturning of Roe will not affect me personally. However, I am furious — livid — that women younger than me will have to put up with the kind of crap that I demonstrated against when I was a teenager. I also have younger friends, relatives, and work colleagues who are dealing with this. And there are so many questions that need answers. Is it safe to use a period tracking app? What are the best organizations to support to help those women who live in states where they can no longer get proper health care? What is the best legislative way to fight this decision?

Where were you on June 24th when you learned that Roe had been overturned? What was your first reaction?

SUMIKO SAULSON: I was in San Francisco for a Trans Gathering before the Trans March on the first day of San Francisco’s LGBTQ Pride celebration weekend. One of my friends was thinking of skipping Trans Day and the Trans March to go and march in with the Reproductive Rights Rally, but when she looked it up, she found out that they’d already coordinated with the Trans March. And there was another march, a Socialists Rally, out protesting. So all three of the marches arranged to meet, combined, and then march down to the courthouse to protest the overturning of Roe vs Wade. That’s a couple of miles, and I stayed with the march for a mile and a half before my body was no longer up to the challenge. I think a lot of people in the mainstream aren’t aware of how important reproductive rights are for the trans community and the LGBTQ community in general. People in the LGBTQ community do have to contend with unwanted pregnancy, and not just those of us who represent the third letter, B. Lesbian-identified community members, trans people who have a uterus, and other queer folks who can become pregnant also lost bodily autonomy when Roe vs Wade was overturned. And for a lot of transmasculine people, there’s an additional issue of gender dysphoria when it comes to being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

ALEXIS D: I was walking to work. Even though the decision was leaked a few weeks prior to being officially announced and Gaslit Nation (my favorite podcast for politics) warned that it was a certainty, you’re never actually prepared to hear it as something that is here and now and true and real life.

MARSHEILA ROCKWELL: I found out right before I was going in to have a fractured tooth extracted, so it will forever be associated with fear and pain and trauma for me (I loathe going to the dentist, and this guy was NOT gentle).

My gut reaction, though, dental horrors aside, was the same as when my 4 month old was diagnosed with cancer thirteen years ago – pure animal terror. Back then, it was because there was this alien thing that had my child in its clutches and I had absolutely no control over what it did to him – there was nothing I could do that would save him. This time, when the ruling was announced, it wasn’t my child in the monster’s clutches, it was me and every other woman in this country, including my trans daughter – and again, there was nothing I could do to save us, because I’d already done everything and none of it had worked. So, yeah, pure animal terror.

(My son is doing okay now, BTW. Relapse is always a fear, and there are always late effects from chemo, but he’s otherwise healthy and as happy as a thirteen-year-old is capable of being, LOL.)

LCW ALLINGHAM: I was home, with my kids. I felt betrayed, by my country, by the people I love who dismissed my concerns and evidence as overreacting and falling for liberal fear mongers, by every single person who wasn’t screaming at the top of their lungs. I still feel that way. It rises up to this crest of absolute fury and then crashes into despair, over and over and over. But you know, maybe I’m overreacting.

JOANNA ROYE: I was sitting at the kitchen table, taking a break from chores. I saw a bunch of chatter about Roe across social media and had that horrible moment of realization. I’d lost track of the days and forgotten that this was the Friday the Court actually handed down their rulings. I checked AP and BBC which were already flooded with fresh pictures of protestors. I had known it was coming but still… I raced through whether birth control is next, spun dystopias for how things may be in six years for my daughter, what this all means for my queer friends…On and on to the bleak horizon of how this will bleed into every other social sector as we complete our slide into theocratic-fascism. “What were you hoping for? What did you expect?” kept ringing in my mind. I leaned back in the chair, folded my arms, and dissociated.

BARBARA KRASNOFF: Well, it wasn’t like it was a complete surprise — we had been warned that it was coming because of the leak that Politico exposed on May 2nd. However, I think that, once that first shock was over, many people wanted to hope, “Maybe not. This was not the final decision. Maybe they won’t do something this awful.” I was pretty sure that the deed was done, but who knew? So I waited.

As a horror writer, how do you feel like this ruling will affect your work? Are you struggling to write? Will you incorporate these themes into your writing more? Also, how would you like to see people in the genre, especially those in positions of power, do better in terms of supporting us during this crisis?

SUMIKO SAULSON: I’m someone who has had to deal with trauma on a near-constant basis for large portions of my life, and as a result, writing is a way for me to process the trauma. Being unable to write is less of a concern than becoming manic – I am bipolar with psychosis and have PTSD – and staying up all day and all night pounding out work in a frenetic state that is not good for my physical or mental wellbeing. So I have been trying to really monitor my sleep, and take care of myself. I would like people in the genre to be a bit more mindful about who is directly impacted by the recent legislation. People directly impacted are processing a lot of grief right now, and I have seen a really large number of posts by women about how really gung-ho men are telling them how they need to feel about what just happened. A bunch of us are traumatized, and some of us need to recover. It’s actually OK for those of us with a uterus to talk about Stranger Things and not discuss the Handmaid’s Tale-type dystopia we’re living in for a while. Speaking of which – stop it with the creepy adoption memes. No one owes you a baby, and even the jokes about it are cringe. Clarence Thomas being a Justice isn’t a free pass for racism. I’ve had to block a couple of clods who had the nerve to call women who have abortions promiscuous. What decade are they living in? I’m guessing sometime back in the 1950s since that’s the decade the Supreme Court is trying its damnedest to drag us back to. I would tell those in power to write cautionary tales and see if that helps, but Margaret Atwood did that 37 years ago and this still happened. Still, I’m going to go with that. Write the best horror dystopias you can come up with about why and how all of this can go terribly wrong. I know I will.

ALEXIS D: I haven’t written much since the decision. I have been in a kind of adrenaline/anger/sadness/numb cocktail state and it hasn’t been great for my ability to focus. I’ve mostly just been rewatching shows I’ve already seen a thousand times and scrolling Twitter, reading about all the horrors that have already come from this ruling and those that are being anticipated.

I feel like in terms of horror writers as a whole, we are angry. And when people are angry, they have something to say. And a lot of great art can come from that. Rod Serling was angry about how people were being treated in this country and he created The Twilight Zone because of it. And I believe that had to have impacted the way people interacted with the world around them. Even if it’s just a handful, it still counts. I watched that show as a kid and I know it had an effect on me. Art is important that way. It frames the way we see and interpret real life.

People in power need to be vocal. They have a duty to be. Power provides a platform and that is a responsibility. If you are the person who represents a group of people, no matter how big or small, you better do right by them, or step aside and let someone who is able to meet the moment take the wheel. Complacency is complicity, and silence is a statement.

MARSHEILA ROCKWELL: Well, I’m writing this response after that whole kerfluffle with HWA issuing a nonstatement, retracting it after a storm of community anger, and finally proclaiming their support for a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, so there’s a perfect example of how those in power can do better (and a lot of other organizations/publishers stepped up and put out unequivocal statements of support without having to be pressured into it, which was nice to see). I’m also happy to see some bodily autonomy-themed horror anthos being put together, because as writers, that’s where our power lies and how we can make a difference – with our words.

Personally, I haven’t written anything since the ruling came out. I’m sure my fears RE: bodily autonomy and my revenge fantasies on those who take it will make it into my work at some point, but right now I’m still processing being turned back into property.

LCW ALLINGHAM: This is such a big question. First, I’m not sure this will affect my work. I have always been compelled to write pieces that examine the subjugation of women, how the patriarchy shapes them and how they take back their power. I started to hear that it wasn’t relevant, was overdone. With so much wrong in the world around me, I started to doubt myself and what I was trying to say. So, what is changing is that I decided I don’t care. I’m going to keep writing my stories. I’m going to keep screaming.

As an author I write in a lot of genres, but I started in horror, and I return to horror because it is how I control the monsters in the dark. I have already started to compile a list of ideas. I have a horror anthology my small press is putting out about feminine rage, and I am going to try to contribute a story to it. I have a horror novel I’m poking with a stick about motherhood and monsters in the patriarchy.

I hope that the horror community can step up and provide a light in the dark for its marginalized writers. That starts with listening to what female, queer, BIPOC, and trans authors have to say about this situation and not rushing to make spokesmen of those who still have all their rights intact. It starts by making horror a welcoming place for the oppressed and a dangerous place for the predators.

JOANNA ROYE: It has energized me, strangely enough. The instability of the future gives me a sense that I MUST finish my book while I can. The next few years are extremely uncertain, and that has summoned up a renewed vigor for completing projects. Right now I don’t have any stories that explicitly interact with the right to choose. In the future, though, bodily autonomy is a theme I look forward to exploring thoroughly.

As for leaders in this field, it does give me comfort whenever I see someone state their support of access to abortion. What does NOT give me comfort is vaguery. These days, if someone fails to make it exceedingly clear that they regard me as a person rather than an elaborately decorated incubation rig, I will not be assuming otherwise. It sucks that it has to be like this.

BARBARA KRASNOFF: To tell you the truth, I don’t think this will affect my work — unless I start to work more out of pure unadulterated anger. I had a great deal of trouble writing during the first couple of years of the pandemic, and I’m just now starting to become somewhat productive again. It’s possible that I’ll incorporate these themes into my writing, or not — I really don’t know. As far as support is concerned, those with public visibility can speak out and do what we all need to do: urge our representatives to oppose any laws that will negatively affect abortion rights and women’s health; support candidates who will work on a local and national level to fight against these laws; and contribute what they can to organizations that will help women trapped in the states enacting these laws.

What’s your greatest fear right now? And also, what’s your greatest hope for where we can go next?

SUMIKO SAULSON: What concerns me the most is that the current Supreme Court is not that old. The oldest current member, Clarence Thomas, is 74. The three Justices appointed by Donald Trump are in their 50s now. We could easily be stuck with them for another 20 to 40 years. We can’t hop back in a time machine and undo the damage that was done by allowing Trump to get into office in the first place. My hope is that the Democratic Party in Congress will do an in-run around the Supreme Court. Some new iteration of Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021. Several states are amending their state constitution to protect abortion rights at the state level, but that won’t protect the most vulnerable. I hope that people will be out in the streets marching, raising hell, and demanding justice.

ALEXIS D: My greatest fear right now is that it really seems like the Christofascist takeover has arrived. They’ve already put in place all the apparatus they need to ensure Right Wing domination over our country. Next term, SCOTUS plans to hear a case that could alter election laws, changing how much power state legislatures have over elections. Who even knows what will happen between now and then, though? If abortion is a felony, and in many cases miscarriages will be treated as such, that person can’t participate in the democratic process anyway. It’s hard to say what scares me most, but I’m scared. We should all be scared.

The time to act is now, and establishment democrats who are completely out of touch with the current political climate, and fetishizing bipartisanship at immeasurable cost, are not acting. They have occupied their positions for so many decades that they feel as though those roles are promised. We need more AOCs and less Pelosis. Right now, AOC gives me more hope than pretty much anything. It’s important to feel like the people in charge are looking out for you, which echoes back to the previous question about our leaders in the genre and their response to this ruling.

As far as horror writing goes, it has been comforting to see a practically unanimous response from the community. So that gives me hope, too. It’s hard to look at yourself and think, “I can make a difference,” but we have to believe that in some way, even if it’s small, we all do.

MARSHEILA ROCKWELL: My greatest fear is that this is only the beginning of what we as women (and people of color and the LGBTQ+ community and the disabled community and, and, and) are going to lose. My greatest hope is that this can all somehow be reversed. (And after that, we get our land back, but first things first.)

LCW ALLINGHAM: My greatest fear? That everyone who cares will stand idly by wringing their hands while our rights burn.

My great hope is that we’ll be the fire and we’ll finally take what has been denied to us for far too long.

JOANNA ROYE: Despite how outlandish it sounds, I really worry the most about a hot Civil War. I love where I live, but if violence breaks out, we’ll almost certainly have to move abroad for our children’s safety. Secondly, I worry about how many other precedents were overturned on 6/24 in the shadow of Dobbs. Decisions that rip the last few teeth from the EPA, threaten Tribal sovereignty, encourage gun sales, and protect cops from being held accountable when they violate citizens’ rights (re: Mirandization). It’s a grab-bag of regression. And this is before we even get to Clarence Thomas’ remarks about “reexamining” cases like Obergefell, Griswold, and Lawrence.

In contrast, my greatest hope is that (against all odds) enough politicians currently in office would actually take direct action to codify abortion rights into federal law. I feel there’s only a microscopic chance of this but, that’s what hope is for, I guess. Realistically, I plan to do whatever I can to help the people I can reach. This is the time for our nation to correct its course and recommit to protect the rights of all its citizens instead of just the lucky few.

BARBARA KRASNOFF: My greatest fear is that this is only the beginning — that this Supreme Court will continue to turn out decisions that will erase more federally-mandated safeguards, thus eroding more and more of the rights that we’ve enjoyed since the middle of the 20th century. I dread the possibility we will continue to lose what gains we have made supporting the rights of women, POCs, LGBTQ+ people, and others; against the destruction of our environment… the list goes on.

Where can we go next? I think we have to look at the long term: make sure enough Democrats (and even reasonable Republicans) are voted in so we don’t find ourselves in this position again. There are other possibilities: a larger Supreme Court, for example. And the continued activities of all of us to push for change, even when it seems like nothing is changing.

Thank you so much to my six featured authors in this week’s roundtable! Once again, I appreciate the writers in our community sharing their thoughts about abortion rights. 

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism!

Fall Into Fear: Submission Roundup for September 2022

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of great calls for September and beyond, so if you’ve got a story looking for a home, perhaps one of these markets will be a perfect fit!

A disclaimer as always: I’m not a representative for any of these markets. Please direct your questions to their respective editors.

And with that, onward with the Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Hush, Don’t Wake the Monster: Stories Inspired by Stephen King
Payment: $15/flat
Length: No specified word count
Deadline: September 12th, 2022
What They Want: A Women in Horror anthology, the editor is seeking stories inspired by Stephen King’s work.
Find the details here.

Weird Magazine
Payment: .015/word
Length: 500 to 6,000 words
Deadline: September 30th, 2022
What They Want: This magazine from Undertow Publications is seeking horror and weird fiction.
Find the details here.

Payment: .01/word for fiction; $5/flat for poetry
Length: 250 to 10,000 words
Deadline: September 30th, 2022
What They Want: Open to a wide variety of speculative fiction and poetry.
Find the details here.

Fantasy Magazine
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 7,500 words
Deadline: October 1st to 7th, 2022 for general submissions; for BIPOC authors, submissions are open until the end of the year
What They Want: Open to fantasy and dark fantasy stories.
Find the details here.

Dracula Beyond Stoker
Payment: .05/word
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2023
What They Want: This new journal is seeking fiction that reimagines and expands upon the world of Dracula. For the upcoming issue, the theme is Renfield.
Find the details here.

Nowhere Fast
Payment: .06/word
Length: 3,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: October 28th, 2022
What They Want: This Clash Books anthology is open to coming-of-age horror inspired by 80s and 90s movies.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!