Monthly Archives: December 2022

Next Steps Into the Future: Part Eight in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back to the final post in our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable! It’s been such an experience sharing all eight parts of this interview series. The featured authors’ voices have been at once enlightening, wise, heartbreaking, devastated, and hopeful. I genuinely thank everyone who’s read and shared these posts over the last few months; it means so much to me that there are those out there willing to spread the word.

And now I’m honored to let this week’s group of 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?

LORI TITUS: Many years ago, my mother told me that she believed extremists would keep pushing until Roe was overturned. That was when I was still a teenager. I remember thinking that she had to be wrong. She’d told me stories about young girls getting back-alley abortions or trying to perform them at home and dying from complications. We watched If These Walls Could Talk together and that made the scenarios of women desperate for help even more real.

I still didn’t believe that Roe would ever be overturned. People knew what this meant to women. Determination over their lives, their bodies. I understand the religious stance. In my home, we were taught that no one was perfect and that some choices were to be made between an individual and their God. This was one of those choices.

When the ruling came down I thought about all the young women out there who thought that it would never happen. This was a protection I had, that we had for all of our lives.

I haven’t heard much from my family about this but many of my friends have been up in arms. In the Black community, there’s a sort of angry weariness about it, another of the many insults to injury, as this will affect many of us and many will also sit in silence with it. We are also waiting to see what other rights may be snatched away by this precedent.

LINDY RYAN: I have struggled tremendously with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, both on a personal level and as I watch the ripple effect of women I know—as well as friends in the queer and LGBT communities whose rights have been placed next on the chopping block. Many of my family and friends are deeply affected, especially those who live in fiercely right-wing states or otherwise under the thumb of oppressors, and while I do find some solace in knowing that I am in a community of like-minded peers, this does little to alleviate our combined suffering and the realities we face in the days to come.

JESSICA MCHUGH: It’s a lot to process. My partner and I spent a lot of time and energy discussing what we wanted for our life together, juxtaposed with the reality of what we could afford, financially and emotionally, and we vehemently chose a child-free life. So I’m horrified that our responsible decision, my husband’s selflessness in getting an immediate vasectomy, and everything we chose as a couple could be negated in an instant if some monster raped and impregnated me. I don’t want a baby, period, but the thought that I might be forced to carry a baby that doesn’t have an iota of my husband’s caring heart and beautiful soul charges through my mind several times a day now. It makes every molecule in my body feel sick, but poisonous too. Even though I live in a state where abortion is protected, I find myself wondering, “For how long?”

Selfish as it may seem, one of the many reasons I didn’t want to have kids was that I didn’t want all the worry that comes along with children, which I now realize was extremely stupid, because I’m still worrying about children. About my nieces. About my friends’ daughters. About my former writing students who I watched grow from little kids writing about being the damsel in distress to powerful young women writing about being the strong complex character who comes to the rescue. I worry about children I don’t know too. Just walking down the street, I’ll exchange a smile with a kid passing by and suddenly be overcome with sadness, wondering what the future holds for her, what rights she’ll have ripped away in the years to come. I wish I could just smile back and go about my day, but it feels impossible now; that fear and sorrow hunkers down in me.

LISA KRӦGER: These past few weeks have been a tornado of emotions. There’s been a lot of sadness and fear. And rage. I am not a person who is normally prone to this kind of rage. I think I’m a pretty empathetic person, and I tend to be a happy person. I don’t normally feel this white hot anger—just the feeling of wanting to burn everything down. But I’ve had to confront some deep, dark emotions through all this. I’m sure this isn’t a unique experience—anger is an appropriate response to the loss of human rights. My friends have felt the same way, of course, and I’ve found that my community has been a wonderful source of support. Our voices are stronger when used together.

REBECCA ROWLAND: I woke up on November 9, 2016 to find that a man who made openly racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic comments had been elected president of my country. It was as if the majority of the country had said, “Women and people of color, you do not matter.” Two women I work with and I—the three of us from very different backgrounds, vastly different life experiences—came together that morning and just hugged. We had a conversation of a thousand words without saying a thing. When the Roe overturn decision was made public this year, I remember feeling that same sense of hurt, the reiteration that women, especially women who are not from affluent means, are “lesser individuals,” at least in the eyes of those in power. To me, taking away the power a woman has over her own body is less about reproductive rights in general and more about the idea of not trusting a woman to make a decision, so one must be made for her. It’s a weighty statement made by my country that those humans who possess uteruses do not have the same rights, or intelligence, as those without.

I thought about my niece, who is thirteen. I work in a district where more than three-quarters of the families live below the poverty level, and I thought about my students, both past and present, who identify as female and are anywhere in age from seventeen to forty. How will this affect their lives, not just their future possibilities but their self-esteem? I used to think America was the greatest country in the world. Now, to be honest, I’ve grown ashamed of it.

SONORA TAYLOR: Well, I’ve been better! It ebbs and flows. I’ve known for a long time how little we matter to the government, but it doesn’t make seeing it in stark, judicial terms any easier.

My life has been unaffected so far as I’m not pregnant, not currently on birth control, and not on any medications affected by the ruling. I can’t imagine the terror those affected must be feeling. How awful is it that our day-to-day peace and expectations of care can be upended by the whims of a cruel government and a vocal minority pushing their anger and hatred into other people’s business? It angers me, but more than anything, it makes me sad.

None of my friends are happy with the ruling, and we’ve all spoken privately about our sadness and rage. I haven’t spoken much about it with my family. I grew up in an anti-choice household and I haven’t been brave enough to bring this up with them. I did see one of my uncles speaking out against Roe being overturned, which was nice to see.

What has Roe vs. Wade meant to you personally?

LORI TITUS: I’m really worried about us as a society. This sets women back, and it sets our country back as a whole. I worry about the few controlling the many. It seems more and more that the most extreme views are the ones that are getting heard. If anyone underestimated what one unhinged person could do when given the power of the Oval Office, they shouldn’t anymore.

LINDY RYAN: As a survivor of cervical cancer at 19, my reproductive health has been an ongoing struggle. After my son was born in 2007, I had to beg—and get permission from my partner AND my OB/GYN (really!?)—for a tubal ligation. I live every day with the fear of an unviable, ectopic pregnancy which would require an abortion or compromise my life. To have to fight for the right to save my own life is unthinkable, inhumane, and cruel.

A woman’s right to total and complete autonomy over her own body, including without exception her reproductive organs, is her right—and hers alone. The right to choose, to make decisions based on unique and personal factors for any individual, is not one I believe should ever belong in the hands of government, or anyone else not otherwise living and breathing in the skin of the individual. This is not about killing unborn lives, it’s about saving living lives. Even with Roe v. Wade in place, women still faced unnecessary and unfair hurdles about their decisions regarding their bodies, eclipsing our bodily autonomy and diminishing our dignity. This new action is yet another reminder that women are perceived as second-class, as property, and as breeding cattle to be governed.

LISA KRӦGER: I have two boys. I tried for a long time to have them, and I am so glad that they are a part of my life. But it was my choice. I had them when I was older—I was able to spend my teens and twenties childfree. I went to college, got my PhD, wrote a book. I traveled the world. I was able to save some money. My life today would not be possible if I had been forced to have children before I was ready. No woman should be in that position. I also have a chronic health condition, which meant I had to plan very carefully with my doctors when to have children. A pregnancy at the wrong time in my life could have been debilitating. Again, that’s not a choice the government should make. That is between myself and my doctor. So personally, Roe V. Wade means quite a lot to me. It was the safe guard that allowed me to plan my family safely.

JESSICA MCHUGH: While I’ve never had to make the choice for myself, I always knew what my choice would be, and I’ve always been a sympathetic ear and shoulder to cry on for friends who’ve had abortions, some of which very much wanted the fetus they were carrying but had to let go to save their own life or the life of another fetus struggling to grow. For me, it has meant that people I love have gotten to live their lives to the fullest, to raise children when they’re ready, and to prioritize their existence, dreams, and futures over a wad of potential human goo.

R.A. BUSBY: That I woke up one day with fewer rights to my own body than a corpse.

That my family, friends, colleagues, people I know, writers and creators I love, random strangers on the street—-any one of them might be forced to give birth under circumstances which are monstrous. Many of them might not make it. We are already seeing this happen.

What angers me is that many women, myself included, were repeatedly instructed to “calm down” in our concern about Roe in 2016; we were told that the case was established law, legal precedent, that the force of stare decisis in the court would surely, SURELY prevent Roe from being overturned, and thus, our concerns were dismissed as hysterical. Because of course. Looking back, we weren’t hysterical enough.

REBECCA ROWLAND: I stumbled across an odd post on a friend of mine’s Facebook page the other day. An acquaintance of his decided to start a debate about “when life begins,” taking an extreme alt-Right position. When I added my comment to the public feed, the man replied that I should “mind my own business.” I took a look at his home page. His most recent post was of someone holding twin hand guns, a caption chortling about how “bent out of shape” his more liberal friends would be when they saw it.

Instead of being simply irritated by his buffoonery, I got angry. I thought to myself, how fucking dare he. I am a woman in her 40s. I can still have children, but it’s unlikely I will. However, I know what it feels like to be pregnant. I also know how it feels to lose a pregnancy, both in the first trimester and in the third one. And I know how it feels to be faced with the terrible decision of having to choose between staying pregnant and saving my own life. It’s clear to me that those who support the overturn of Roe vs Wade have never walked in the shoes of the women that reproductive freedom laws protect. No woman is undergoing an abortion lightly: not at seven weeks and not at thirty-seven weeks. Without those reproductive freedoms, I would not be here today, and yet a person who takes great pleasure in making others upset would be.

SONORA TAYLOR: As I mentioned above, I’m not on birth control. My husband and I want to have a baby. Roe being overturned has made me question whether or not I want to become pregnant in a state, nay, country, that won’t guarantee my safety. I live in Virginia, where the governor has already proposed a 15-week abortion ban following Roe’s overturning. I’ve made note of the states and cities that have said they will continue to provide abortion, including D.C., which is close enough for me to access their services should I need them. I hate having to think that way. I realize it’s a privilege to first feel this way post-Roe, and to even know I have those options; but that doesn’t make me any less scared. What if we get to a point where we can’t travel to a safe space to get this done? What if the only methods available are untrustworthy or dangerous? But anti-choicers don’t care about that. It’s why I refuse to say they’re pro-life. They’re not, and they never were.

How do you feel the horror genre has responded to the crisis of losing Roe? How would you like to see people do better in terms of supporting us during this crisis?

LORI TITUS: I don’t feel that the genre has really had time to respond to the loss of Roe. Though I believe horror has always recognized injustice and what happens when humans are not allowed all their rights. We see echoes of that in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. And of course, there are so many more, but those are the two that come to mind. I think we’ll see writers reflecting on this era for a long time. Horror is the most frightening when it deals in truth.

I would like to see people support us by simply listening to us when we’re reflecting on this, when we’re upset, when we lift our voices in dissent. And support our rights at the ballot box.

LINDY RYAN: The horror community continues to be one of (generally) wonderful, supportive, open-minded people, fiercely defensive of our diversity and what we perceive as inalienable human rights. Our genre gets a bad reputation but is made up of some of the most passionate and compassionate people I’ve ever known. I always think we can do better, should do better, but I have been consistently amazed at how quick our horror fam is to rally behind these issues, to embrace those affected, and to take immediate action through whatever means are available to us to make our voices heard. We are loud, we are fierce, and we aren’t the type scared to shy away from the gory underbelly of these issues and put them squarely in the spotlight.

LISA KRӦGER: Horror is inherently a political genre. There’s a history of horror that deals with the idea of forced birth and human rights to bodily autonomy. Those themes are present in stories like Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” and even in pregnancy horror like Rosemary’s Baby. We are writers—our power lies in our words and our voices. I’d like to see more writers publishing stories that deal with these themes, but I also think roundtables like this one are important too. We have a voice and we have an audience. Let’s use it to tell our truths and keep shining a light on this issue until every woman’s choice is protected.

JESSICA MCHUGH: I understand the desire to remain neutral from a capitalist standpoint, not wanting to alienate consumers, but when so many horror outlets and associations profess to be progressive lights in the darkness and don’t immediately come out as an unequivocal supporter of women’s rights, it makes me extremely angry. Yes, this is a business aiming to make money, but behind the money, there’s art, and behind the art, there are real people who are going to suffer, who are already suffering, because of hateful legislation meant diminish our value as humans and disenfranchise us as Americans. This is more important than the all-mighty dollar, and folks who claim to support horror art but remain silent about the actual horrors being inflicted on women, bipoc folks, and the lgbtqia+ community are showing themselves to be two-faced—and both sides are ugly, honey.

R.A. BUSBY: In an effort to be diplomatic, I will say that I cheered every time a horror publisher, organization, or prominent writer in the community unambiguously denounced the recent decision and enthusiastically pledged support for all people affected by this horrific erasure of our rights.

REBECCA ROWLAND: That’s a difficult question. On one hand, I respect the whole life movement, those individuals who while against abortion, are truly respectful of all human life and support initiatives such as LGBTQ+ rights, prison reform, and abolishing the death penalty. They don’t just hold an offensive sign outside of a clinic and call it a day. I still believe that a person’s body is theirs to do with what they wish, but I can respect the whole life’s approach. If someone in the horror community is respectful of all life, I don’t want them to feel afraid or ostracized for having those beliefs. But there is no room in the community for misogyny, and it’s my hope that horror groups will continue to be outspoken in their support of all individuals with child-bearing ability. Quite a few charity anthologies have sprung up supporting the cause, and I hope horror fans—and fellow horror authors—purchase and promote them.

SONORA TAYLOR: It’s too soon to tell how fiction will handle this. I feel like abortion is an issue many people hesitate to touch, at least not without kid glove phrases like “I only support abortion when the life of the mother is at stake” or “I don’t like abortion, but I support it;” all of which frame abortion as something bad or to be avoided and only gives fuel to anti-choicers. I say that because in the books I’ve read–and I emphasize that, because there may be stories out there that go against what I’m about to say–abortion is either a fictitiously grotesque process, thrown in the character’s faces to shock them, or associated with Satanism. But Sonora, it’s horror–that’s what the genre does! Well, of course it does; but with abortion already vilified in American culture at large, how is that going against the grain? Where are the stories where someone has an abortion and it’s as routine as the character having once had their appendix out? I’d like to see more of that to balance things out, both in print and in the way we talk about abortion at large.

I do think overall, though, that horror writers have stepped up to the plate. I’ve been encouraged seeing so many authors put out calls for charity anthologies benefiting abortion providers, and others offering signed books and donations to support the same goal. I’ve also appreciated seeing various publishers and authors speak out against the overturning of Roe without hesitation. I only hope this continues.

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

LORI TITUS: My fear is that as deep a blow as it is to lose Roe, that this is only the beginning. Rights to contraception. Rights to marry who we would like, regardless of race or gender. With the current makeup of the Supreme Court, there’s no telling what will be targeted next.

My greatest hope is that there will be laws made that will protect women’s right to a safe abortion. And that something will happen to stop the current trajectory of our lawmakers. I hope that people stand up and pay attention to the changes around them. We have a lot to hope for but we won’t get there without working for it.

LINDY RYAN: My greatest hope is that we will dismantle systemic hate in all its forms—bigotry, racism, sexism, transphobia, and so on. My biggest fear: that we won’t.

LISA KRӦGER: I worry that more rights will be stripped away. Already, women are being discussed like they are less than human. I’ve heard so many people who are “pro-life” say that they want to save lives, but they are only speaking about the fetus and not taking into consideration the lives of the women that will be lost with the reversal of Roe V. Wade. It’s a subtle language shift. Pro-life, but women don’t count in that “life.” That, for me, is the most terrifying part. I think, what else will they strip away? How else will they use this dehumanization of women?

But I am trying to remain hopeful. There has been such an outcry. We are powerful when we all get together. We can make our voices very, very loud. My hope is that we will be so loud that we can’t be ignored.

JESSICA MCHUGH: With the Supreme Court declaring that women don’t have full control over their bodies, I’m afraid men who already regarded us as nothing but holes to be dominated will become bolder in that belief, violently so. I’m afraid of TERFs growing more dangerous because they feel (unduly) threatened by the trans community, even though we should be fighting fascism as one. And I’m afraid that young women, especially the poor and marginalized, with nowhere to turn will take their lives because they can’t get the healthcare they need and deserve.

As for my greatest hope, I don’t know. I do have hope, but I can’t pinpoint how it’ll turn things around unless we all get loud and stay loud about our rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. I’m mostly scared.

R.A. BUSBY: My greatest fear is that our loss of essential rights will not end with Roe. In his commentary on the decision, Justice Thomas gave a very clear preview of coming attractions: the overturning of other established rulings such as Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the Texas law making same-sex intimate conduct illegal; Obergefell v. Hodges, which allowed same-sex couples to marry; and finally, Griswold v. Connecticut, which decriminalized birth control. It’s quite clear what’s happening here. With every ruling, we lose more and more rights over our literal bodies. These decisions, if overturned, will have a deeply disproportionate effect on women, BIPOC people, LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, people with serious medical issues, people struggling economically, and more. The list goes on. This, of course, is the vicious intent. Not a bug, but a feature.

I just finished Octavia Butler’s brilliant novel Parable of the Sower. If you’ve read it, you know what a deeply disquieting work it is. Butler foresees a country whose social fabric is already threadbare at the beginning of the work and unravels altogether over the course of the novel in terrifying ways, many of which have already occurred. My greatest hope is that we heed Butler’s warning, and that the seed she planted will fall on good ground after all.

REBECCA ROWLAND: My greatest fear is the same one a lot of people have right now, that this is the first domino in a series of not just steps but falls backward. In my naiveté in believing that most people are good and kind, I’m truly confused about why this decision occurred, just as it truly boggled my mind when Prop 8 was passed in California. Why are some people so interested in controlling other people’s bodies? Yes, I know some of it stems from misogyny and xenophobia, and some of it stems from classism and even religious fanaticism, but at its heart, those kinds of rulings boil down to the same thing: one person asserting control over another’s body. When did we become this country, and how can we undo the mindset a ruling like this creates?

My greatest hope lies in how some of the ramifications will eventually undo the ruling. It is obvious how abolishing federal protection of abortion rights will harm women. Not so obvious to the overturn’s supporters, I think, are the financial and social implications. It is a slippery slope. I suspect those people who believe Roe vs. Wade does not affect them are going to be in for a horrific awakening. As Pastor Martin Niemöller implied in his famous “First They Came” speech, if you stand mute when a group to which you do not belong is persecuted, it’s only a matter of time before you are the next target. It is my hope that those previously short-sighted individuals see what this crisis has set in motion and join the fight to stop it.

SONORA TAYLOR: My greatest fear is that I’ll become pregnant, have something go wrong, and be unable to access services that would save my life.

My greatest hope is that we can better come together to support each other at the community level. Donations, mutual aid, assistance to access doctors and services, etc. are all things we can and should do. It’s okay if it’s not a big, grandiose effort that goes viral. Look at what you can do. Look at what you can do for your community. This sort of help tends to spread. We’re all in this together.

Thank you so much to this week’s interviewees as well as all the writers I’ve interviewed over the past few months! Their voices on this issue are so important as are all the voices of people who are protesting against this egregious loss of rights. Keep speaking out wherever you are; your voice is necessary!

Happy reading, and happy fighting fascism!

The Strange Year That Was: 2022 Award Eligibility Post

So here we are once again at the end of a writing year. That means one thing: it’s time for the annual Award Eligibility Post! I always point out how strange these things are to put together, but hey, it’s also nice to do an inventory of the year’s publications. If nothing else, it reminds me that I was, in fact, busy over the last twelve months.

Let’s start with my biggest release of this year: Reluctant Immortals! There have been so many positive things to happen with this novel. First off, it’s been published in two editions: the American version, which came out through Saga Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, as well as the UK edition, which came out through Titan Books. The novel’s been featured in Harper’s Bazaar and in not one but two featured horror articles on Goodreads. It’s also been named as one of Esquire’s Best Horror Books of 2022, and it’s received lovely reviews in Cemetery Dance, Rue Morgue, Feminist Book Club, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and many more.

So thank you to everyone who’s picked up a copy of Reluctant Immortals! You have no idea how much it means to me!

Moving on to short fiction, it was a sort of funny year, mainly because for the first eight months of 2022, I had absolutely no new short stories published. Then since September, I’ve had eight stories published. Proof positive that the writing world is nothing if not unpredictable. So here they are in all their horror glory.

A Scavenger Hunt When the Veil Is Thin” (Literally Dead: Tales of Halloween Hauntings, Alienhead Entertainment, September 2022)
A woman returns to her old hometown on a rite-of-passage dare, only to uncover a ghostly presence that unravels everything she knows about her town and about herself. This is a truly delightful and festive anthology, and it was such an amazing experience working with editor Gaby Triana.

The Peculiar Seclusion of Molly McMarshall” (Isolation: The Horror Anthology, Titan Books, September 2022)
Molly McMarshall goes into her house one day and doesn’t come back out again. The whole neighborhood becomes obsessed with what happened to her, and soon, they’ll stop at nothing to find out, even if it means tearing the world apart in the process. Editor Dan Coxon put together an incredible anthology with this one, and I’m so honored to be part of it. Ginger Nuts of Horror called my story “one of the most chilling and frankly upsetting short stories I have ever read.”

Seven Myths They Tell You About the Town Beneath the Lake” (That Which Cannot Be Undone: An Ohio Horror Anthology, Cracked Skull Press, October 2022)
A nameless narrator grows up visiting a local lake and hearing legends of the flooded town that exists beneath the waters. She also sees a restless ghost from the town, one that never stops calling out to her. As she grows older and more restless herself, she must decide if she’s going to heed the ghost’s call. It was so much fun returning to Ohio in my fiction, and it was of course wonderful to reunite with Jess Landry, the editor who worked on my debut collection as well as The Rust Maidens.

Things We Need for the Homecoming Seance” (Dark Murmurs: A Compendium of Curiosities, Silent House Press, October 2022)
A jaunty to-do list from a group of magically-inclined teenage girls quickly turns sinister as their true intentions for homecoming—and the reasons for their trauma—become clear. Another stellar table of contents, one that I’m proud to be part of.

Her Skin a Grim Canvas” (Stories of the Eye, Weirdpunk Books, October 2022)
An adrift young woman finds herself the muse of a celebrated designer, only to realize that her own flesh is the price she’ll pay for stardom. A fairy tale set in the world of high fashion, this one takes inspiration from the late, great Angela Carter. Working with editors Sam Richard and Joe Koch was a blast, and the table of contents is out of this world.

Last Tour Into the Hungering Moonlight” (Into the Forest, Black Spot Books, November 2022)
Families keep moving into a strange, yet seemingly perfect neighborhood. But as the whispers from something in the forest grow louder, the housewives on the street find themselves drawn to the possibility of another darker and more magical life. Inspired by the folklore of Baba Yaga, this all-female anthology has been getting rave reviews, so it’s a pleasure to be included in it.

To the Progeny Forsaken” (Looming Low, Volume 2, Dim Shores, November 2022)
An aging rock star is forced to take care of his strange teenage daughter who may or may not be plotting the end of the world. Think Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere meets the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft. Dim Shores has long been a major purveyor of weird fiction in the publishing industry, and it was great to work with them on this anthology.

A Housewife’s Eldritch Guide to Hosting the Perfect Dinner Party” (Tales from Between, December 2022)
A quiet housewife does her best to put together an ideal dinner party, even though she doesn’t know anyone there, including her own husband. But as the evening wears on, she realizes they know her all too well—and they know exactly what they want to do to her. My final short story published this year, it was so much fun being part of this issue of the new Tales from Between, especially with such a great group of authors.

In addition to my short fiction, many of my articles and essays made their way into the world in 2022. This is particularly exciting since last year, I mentioned how I wanted to write more nonfiction. On that front, it’s definitely been mission accomplished: I’ve had twelve nonfiction articles published since January with one more on the horizon later this month. Here are a few of the highlights.

In Defense of Wendy, Barbra, and the Traumatized Women of Horror” (Tor Nightfire, January 2022)
An exploration of The Shining‘s Wendy and Night of the Living Dead‘s Barbra and how we’ve unfairly maligned them over the years. I’m extremely proud of this article, as it charts my own evolving opinion of the way we depict female characters in horror and the real world ramifications of that depiction.

The Devil’s Just Sitting There Laughing: The Uncanny American Landscapes of Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Days of Heaven” (Vastarien, Volume 5, Issue 1, June 2022)
A deep dive into the existential and gothic horror of Terrence Malick’s first two films. Needless to say, it was an absolute honor to work with Jon Padgett of Grimscribe Press again. This essay was also recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I adore Vastarien and recommend that everyone who’s a fan of horror and weird fiction pick up a copy of literally any issue if you haven’t already.

The Gothic Horror of a Post-Roe America” (Literary Hub, August 2022)
So I’m just going to declare this very loudly, because it’s one of my favorite accomplishments of the year: I now have a byline in Lit Hub. Seriously. That’s real. For years, I’ve been reading the essays at Lit Hub, and I can’t believe my work is now on the site too. The essay itself is a painful piece, dealing with the fallout of losing Roe and how the women of gothic horror have a thing or two to teach us about surviving oppressive men.

Something Old, Something Frightening and New: How Horror Retellings Help Us Reclaim Our Lost Narratives” (The Lineup, July 2022)
A discussion of how retellings can help unearth new narratives and why that’s so important for marginalized creators. If nothing else, please read this article and pick up two of the novels I mention: Hooked by A.C. Wise and Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai. I can’t recommend them enough.

So that’s my year of writing. It’s certainly been a busy one. Looking ahead, I have lots of fiction and nonfiction planned for 2023, so here’s to hoping all my big forthcoming goals come to fruition!

Happy reading, and happy end of 2022!

Fighting for the Future: Part Eight in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back for the penultimate installment of our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable! We’ve got just one more post in this series next week and then we’ll be wrapped up for the year.

So with that, I’d like for this week’s featured authors to 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?

CARINA BISSETT: It has taken some time to process the Supreme Court decision. I’ve been working my way through the stages of grief—shock, denial, anger. At this point, I’m still living in a state of rage, but I refuse to move to acceptance. However, high emotion requires copious amounts of fuel, so I’ve been actively seeking ways to channel the call for justice in ways that might make change or offer hope to the millions of women who’ve suddenly been told that their lives have no value except in their roles as broodmares.

On my 31st birthday, I had to have an emergency hysterectomy due to hemorrhaging and complications from endometriosis. Freedom from the constant pain was a blessing, but the truest gift was that this simple surgery unshackled me from my womb. Overturning Roe doesn’t affect me personally when it comes to fertility, but it does impact women’s rights and that has a great impact on me just as it does women of all ages. We are connected to each other whether we are fertile or not. Overturning Roe is not just about forcing unwanted or dangerous pregnancies to term (although that alone is enough to send me into despair), it is about turning back any and all progress made by women when it comes to gender inequities (economic and educational), sexual harassment and discrimination, domestic and gender-based violence, affirmative action, and gender bias.

Before this decision was handed down, I assumed most Americans would side to uphold Roe vs. Wade, even among those who carried personal judgement and bias (ie. late term abortions, abortions as birth control, access to care for victims of rape and incest, etc.). So, the most frightening outcome of this recent event was discovering there are people around me who agree with this egregious Supreme Court decision. Obviously, it is an easy choice to disconnect with acquaintances and organizations who do not support women’s rights, but it is harder when it comes to family and close friends. I’ve tried to educate and explain by sharing my own personal experiences, but I’ve found that the divide is too great to close. Gatherings are now separated into camps, and the silence is deafening.

STACEY L. PIERSON: At that moment, my personal reaction was the same as how it affected me, more like infected me, with my mind racing with questions of what’s next, who is going to want to take more rights away from women, do they want to set us back, have they even thought about the needs and wants of our families who may or may not be in the shoes they have just taken off the shelves, or know someone who will be in the shoes they have just taken off the shelves. My friends and family were blown away. The rights women fought for were literally blown out of the water. It’s like burning bras; protesting for the right to vote was ripped from history. And history is something my daughter has the right to learn about.

RIA HILL: Personally? Well, I’m alive. I guess that’s the important thing. As far as how it’s affected my life, it has mostly added stress of a fairly nebulous nature at this point since I am in a liberal part of the country. I don’t likely know anyone personally who will die because of this, but rest assured: people have, and more people will. It’s unconscionable. Even months later I am in shock. I want to mention here a conversation I had with a woman when I was 16 or 17, back in high school and not sexually active, where she told me that abortion ends a life and that “it’s God’s will” for there to be a baby if there’s a pregnancy. She was the mother of a child my younger brother often hung around with. I asked her point blank, if I was pregnant and it was definite that carrying the baby would kill me, would she rather I die than remove the fetus? She looked me in the eyes and said “yes.” I have never forgotten that. I don’t think I ever will. I don’t like that people who value clumps of unassigned cells over living, breathing, sentient humans are making strides toward their ideal future. I don’t like this ride, and I want to get off.

VICTORIA NATIONS: Of all my emotions – fear for the future, frustration with leaders I voted into office, worry for the folks unable to get proper medical care – I’m angry and I’m hopeful. I’m angry a bigoted minority is grabbing power by taking away the privacy and bodily autonomy of others. I’m also heartened to see the outpouring of support and the voices of activists who are fighting even harder now.

I and my loved one are safe for now. We live in a state without a trigger law, but access to legal abortions and medical intervention is teetering. Florida has already legislated against trans and queer youth and significantly limited abortion rights.

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

CARINA BISSETT: When I heard the news, I was at home preparing for a 12-day trip to the Midwest to visit my husband’s family. It wasn’t quite noon, but I poured myself a drink and spent the rest of the day reading article after article, certain that it was all a giant mistake, that it couldn’t be true. This denial lasted the entire day and slipped into the next. On June 25th, Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas won the Colorado Book Award for Anthology, but any sense of accomplishment was overshadowed by the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe. It should have been one of the happiest days of my life, but I was numb. And, in truth, I still am.

STACEY L. PIERSON: I was sitting at my computer working when I found out. My first reaction was shocking, then I was picking up my jaw from the ground.

RIA HILL: I don’t remember where I was when I found out, but I do remember being absolutely appalled that we, as humans living in a society, were expected to just…go to work that day as if we weren’t systematically having our rights stripped away. I remember feeling hopeless and helpless, like this was one of many steps on our descent into utter totalitarianism (which began so long before I’m not sure I can remember where I was when I noticed that either). I found myself terrified, reaching for anything I could do in the moment. Even though I’m in the reasonably liberal part of the country (NYC) I considered deleting my period tracking app. It felt like there was nothing that could be done, and people all over were showing their true colors, either in their smug “told-you-so” statements or in their rejoicing the move on the part of the SCOTUS. It was horrid, and it still is.

VICTORIA NATIONS: I was seething afterwards, not because I was shocked, but because I wasn’t. I remember fighting the Moral Majority, the NARC, and other groups trying to limit abortion access in the 1980s. I remember dodging protestors when Planned Parenthood was my source for gynecological care. We knew back then that evangelical and conservative groups would play the long game. The June 24th decision was their payoff for decades of strategic efforts that we failed to block.

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?

CARINA BISSETT: I am currently revising my novel-in-progress, which already centers on themes related to violence against women, reproductive rights, and gender bias. The section I’ve been struggling with is an addition to the manuscript that details specific incidents of gaslighting, sexual abuse, and enforced impregnation. The overturning of Roe helped me find the strength to return to these pages, as much of the trauma described reflects my own personal experiences. This new material is more cutting and rawer than what I’ve written previously. I’m no longer worried about alienating readers with graphic depictions of the inherent ugliness and gritty reality of gender-based violence and discrimination. As far as I’m concerned, the Supreme Court’s decision is a blatant approval of violence against girls and women. Ironically, my novel is set in 1917, as I thought the period was far enough removed from current issues to comment on the continuing struggle for women’s rights. Yet as of June 24th, that timeline is now only separated by fifty-six years instead of more than a century as it was when I first started working on this book in 2020. And I thought the biggest issue I’d have to overcome was the comparisons between the Spanish flu and COVID-19. Don’t I feel like a fool now.

STACEY L. PIERSON: Needless to say, my female characters are not weak and buck the system no matter who and what rule or law it is. I have never struggled to write; it was more like, “I need to write more and make stronger and more resilient female characters.” I think I will incorporate what happened in future books; it just has to be the right one to be able to tell the story correctly and fluently. I think listening to and reading about the way we work through times of crisis is important. The way we write female characters, whether the tone, vibe, or even the violate and survival nature, is one thing not to push aside for a weaker female character. Each one of the characters speaks a different language, and I think that after the decision was ripped from our hands, pulling it back through writing is the way for others to see us and how strong we are as horror writers.

RIA HILL: The day they overturned Roe, I put at least one new idea in my idea spreadsheet. It’s a little bureaucratic nightmare of a piece that I haven’t had the stomach to write yet. It will be far enough removed from the Roe situation that I should hopefully be able to draft it without hurling, but it’s also close enough that I think the analogy should be clear. (As a bonus, it stars a man, so perhaps some men might be able to find some level of empathy in their hearts.) Themes of bodily autonomy have been present in my work on some level throughout my writing career. Even when the angle is as simple as “people don’t generally choose to be murdered, and therefore this murderer is not respecting that person’s autonomy.” I have long felt that losing control of your own body is one of the most frightening things that can happen, and I don’t plan to stop exploring that fear in writing. My main hope for people in the genre, in order to better help those affected, is that they listen. Please, just listen. Listen to the people that are telling you what they need and what is happening to them.

VICTORIA NATIONS: The day of the decision, I funneled my anger into a synopsis for an angry, cautionary children’s picture book that I may have to write someday.

I’m writing to keep from exploding. Loss of control, especially over our own bodies, is dehumanizing. Denial of medical care (including abortions) taps into universal fears of being trapped, of being forced against our will, of being powerless while others control us. Right now, those emotions are freshly gouged and on the surface for me.

I find myself incorporating hope, too. Hope is the core of activism for me. As much as revenge feels cathartic in a story – the sweet release of a villain finally getting their deserved comeuppance – I find myself looking past that, to what comes after. I don’t always write hopeful endings, but if characters survive, I want them fortified for the struggle that comes next. The ability to rage, to fight, feels hopeful right now.

I want leaders to use their power to advocate for reproductive rights. This means saying the word “abortion” to normalize it as medical care. It means acknowledging that pregnancy isn’t limited to cisgender women, and using language that includes transgender men, and nonbinary and gender queer people. It also means listening to and amplifying the voices of folks who will be most harmed by abortion bans.

Leaders who fight for human rights show they value the dignity, health, and safety of every member of their community. They help to establish a culture committed to diversity and inclusivity. Their actions fight back against the degradation of civil rights.

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

CARINA BISSETT: My greatest fear is that we will continue to move backwards in time. This landmark decision was only the beginning of the rights that the Supreme Court is determined to strip from American citizens. I am afraid for all marginalized and underrepresented voices. I am afraid the Supreme Court justices and their supporters will succeed in creating a world where women are relegated to traditional gender roles, where segregation is once again the norm, where the disabled are mandatorily sterilized, where LGBTQ+ are forcibly removed to conversion camps, where those who fight against the patriarchy are executed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much imagination to visualize these horrors when the present begins to mirror the past.

However, the past is also where I turn to look when it comes to hope. I cling to the reminder that strength comes from unity. One of my favorite examples comes from the 1851 speech “Ain’t I A Woman,” given by Sojourner Truth at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio: “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” Although I am not a Christian, I whole-heartedly believe that if women work together, we can change the world. And if we have allies among men and other gender identities across the spectrum, we cannot fail. We will not fail.

STACEY L. PIERSON: I think the biggest fear I have is silence. I think the more we stay silent, the harder it will be to take back our power. Having it taken away through writing is not an option in my opinion. My greatest hope is for more opportunities to express the dark parts of us through characters and for a way for little ones to express themselves freely in the future through writing or, like in my family, painting or sketching.

RIA HILL: Asking a horror author how bad they think things can get sounds to me like a recipe for unlikely scenarios and catastrophization. I know that there’s a large part of me that’s worrying. I know that some things I’m worried about will not come to pass. However, some of them are currently happening, whether in other parts of the country or to other demographics than my own. It has been a couple of months since this happened, but this will be my first time discussing this in this context. In August of 2022 I was taken to the emergency room presenting with near complete aphasia. I was fully conscious, and able to understand and signal things, but I could not speak more than a single word at a time, very softly, if I was lucky. My spouse arrived and the doctor told us it was likely a TIA (mini-stroke) and that we were nearing the end of the window for then the IV clot buster could be administered and have effect. He told us the likelihood of negative side effects was reasonably low, and that if it worked it would work well. He said we needed to act. I was already nodding, emphatically. If I could have spoken, I would have said “DO IT, PLEASE!” …But the doctor asked my spouse for their consent before administering it. I was lucid, my consent was given (enthusiastically!) but the doctor needed to make sure my spouse was okay with me potentially having the chance to speak again. I know it wasn’t (necessarily) that simple. I must assume the doctor had reasons for asking them instead of me. That said, I had already been manhandled beyond all reason, was terrified out of my wits, and had an IV catheter in each arm…and no one bothered to ask for consent about anything (the IVs, the blood draws, the CT scan with and without contrast, etc.) until there was someone else there they could ask. When I got the report back from the ER and read it, the documentation confirmed that my spouse and I had both been misidentified as our gender assigned at birth, meaning that what the doctor wrote down was “got consent from husband to administer TPA.” (It feels so weird to write that, because they are a lot of things, but “husband” is absolutely not one of them.) They were willing to do all they could to help me…until they thought the “man” who was in charge of my well being might object. I suppose the best I can hope for at the moment is that people grow their empathy and fix their ears and their hearts. We are all counting on it.

VICTORIA NATIONS: I’m most afraid for the path this decision shows the United States is on. It shows how our process for vetting Supreme Court justices can be easily manipulated. It shows that other Supreme Court decisions that established human and legal rights for marginalized groups are in danger. It shows how emboldened the authoritarian leaders have become in denying rights to anyone they want to control.

Things are dark right now, and it feels like the U.S. may become more repressive before enough people fight back. I remain hopeful, though. I can’t muster hope that people who work to dehumanize and control others will ever feel compassion. However, I am hopeful that folks will find the strength to endure, that the stronger among us will protect the weaker folks, and that people will unite to overcome the authoritarianism and bigotry.

I hold the credo of The Addams Family close: Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc, or We Gladly Feast on Those Who Would Subdue Us.

So many thanks to this week’s amazing interviewees!

Happy reading, and happy fighting fascism!

Horror Fiction for the Holidays: Submission Roundup for December 2022

Welcome back for the last Submission Roundup of 2022! Lots of great writing opportunities, so if you’ve got a story looking for a home, then you might find the perfect outlet below!

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; please direct your questions to their respective editors.

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

Submission Roundup

Payment: Standard royalties
Length: 20,000 to 30,000 words for novellas; 50,000 to 90,000 words for novels and collections
Deadline: December 15th, 2022
What They Want: JournalStone is currently seeking a wide variety of horror novellas, collections, and novels.
Find the details here.

Cosmic Horror Monthly
Payment: .06/word
Length: 1,000 to 6,000 words (3,000 to 5,000 words preferred)
Deadline: Open January 1st to January 7th, 2023
What They Want: Cosmic Horror Monthly is seeking fiction that features cosmic horror, Lovecraftian, and weird stories.
Find the details here.

The Crawling Moon: Queer Tales of Inescapable Dread
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 6,000 words (1,000 to 4,000 words is ideal)
Deadline: January 15th, 2023
What They Want: Neon Hemlock is seeking queer horror stories that feature gothic horror and depravity.
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.

Literally Dead: Tales of Holiday Hauntings
Payment: .06/word
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: January 20th, 2023
What They Want: Editor Gaby Triana is seeking ghost stories set around the winter holidays.
Find the details here.

FlowerSong Press
Payment: Not specified
Length: 75,000 to 150,000 words
Deadline: April 15th, 2023
What They Want: FlowerSong Press is seeking historical, fantasy, horror, and science fiction novels from Latinx authors.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Fighting Forward: Part Seven in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back to part seven in our ongoing Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable series. Only a couple posts left in this year’s interviews! It’s been an incredible and humbling experience talking to so many horror authors who have been affected by the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Their voices are needed. All our voices are needed on this.

So with that, I’ll let my 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?

JEN MARSHALL: I am furious and disgusted and terrified. I feel exactly like what I am: a second-class citizen. I’m tired of being powerless. I’ve participated in protests, called my congresspeople, donated, and volunteered. I voted my ass off. Where has that gotten us? What else can we do?

Although I live (involuntarily) in a red state, I’ve been lucky enough that none of my friends or family have been directly affected so far, but they will. We all will. I am close to three people (that I know of) whose lives have been saved by abortion, and I can’t stop thinking about what would happen to them today.

DONNA J.W. MUNRO: Personally. I hate to use slang to describe something so terrible, but I am shook to the core. The thing is, I’m past childbearing at this point and the impact isn’t personal…except it is. Abortion saved the life of a family member. She had a pregnancy in her fallopian tube that would have killed her without the abortion she had. Several of my folks had abortions in the 80s and 90s and  wouldn’t have gotten where they are now without that option. So this disruption of a carefully orchestrated political balance makes everything I believed to be solid, unshakable protections of women into something all of us could lose, have lost. As far as family and friends, I’m from Missouri (first to enact the trigger law). Abortion is a dirty secret here. We don’t talk much about it among women and isn’t that ultimately the goal? Controlling us? Keeping us quiet? And now, birth control is becoming just as taboo. Even if that’s not what is intended here, that’s the end result in the end, right?

E.F. SCHRAEDER: Deep breath on that one. I’m not sure. Along with most of the folks I know, I feel like I’m living in a jittery emotional space that hovers in chronic existential worry, jumps into utter panic, settles somewhere between outrage and numbness, and sometimes fluctuates between all those extremes (at once). The ground has shifted beneath our feet, I think there’s an undercurrent of stress that slices into the surface in the wake of a monumental implosion like this. Although there has been a constant chipping away at Roe for as long as I can remember, I can’t help but feel sadness and fear when I think about the future— the long term consequences that the decision poses are deeply disturbing and disheartening.

ELYSE RUSSELL: I’m nervous, to say the least. Physically, I’m rather “safe” at the moment, because of an IUD, but I had extreme PPD after the births of each of my children. I know in my heart that I would not survive having another child. So, I worry about that, though it isn’t an imminent threat. I worry about my daughter’s future if this isn’t changed. Meanwhile, my entire extended family (and in-laws) are conservative, and are celebrating this loss of rights right now all around me. The moral dissonance is draining.

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

JEN MARSHALL: I was working from home so I learned about it on Twitter. My first reaction was to find out where the protest was going to be. I felt sick the rest of the day.

TIFFANY MICHELLE BROWN: I woke up to a text from a friend that said: “Omg, they fucking did it. They overturned ROE v WADE.” Like many, I knew it was coming. We’d all seen the leaked opinion from the Supreme Court, but there was a finality and sadness that hit me that morning that I was in no way, shape, or form prepared to process. I have long been a firm believer that abortion is healthcare, and decisions regarding pregnancy are complex and nuanced and should be made between a pregnant individual and their healthcare provider.

I couldn’t respond immediately to my friend’s text. I trudged out of my bedroom, found my husband in the kitchen, told him I wasn’t okay, and cried into his shoulder. It felt like a slap in the face. A betrayal. A demotion as a human being. I felt numb and hopeless and angry as hell all at the same time. And this was just my first visceral reaction, well before I understood the reality of how this decision would affect issues related to bodily autonomy, healthcare, racial and economic inequality, and privacy that have little or nothing to do with pregnancy. As I learned and understood more, all those feelings intensified. It was an exceptionally difficult day.

DONNA J.W. MUNRO: I was at the In Your Write Mind Workshop at Seton Hill University. I was chair this year, so I was completely consumed by getting all the organizational work done for our guests and attendees. I’m always surrounded there by amazing like-minded writing women and in that I thank the universe, because when the decision came down we put our heads together and kept each other close. We had to do our jobs for the conference, but in that circle of women we plotted. If writing was magic, that weekend we would have brought down the Supreme Court and the whole rest of the patriarchy.

ELYSE RUSSELL: I was at home, preparing to launch the Kickstarter campaign for The Dark Side of Purity, when I heard the news. My first reaction included a lot of profanity. I felt a sinking start in my stomach, but…I knew it was going to happen. I wasn’t shocked. We’d had warning of the decision from leaks, and I’d channeled all of my horror and anger from that into fast-tracking a related project to serve as a direct response. A clap-back. I had to do something. Writing, creativity, curating anthologies, and marketing are some of my strengths, so I threw myself into the charity work. I focused on that one small thing I could do.

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?

JEN MARSHALL: Certainly I have been struggling to write, and what little I have produced has already incorporated aspects of our current dystopia. Social commentary has long been an important part of horror and science fiction, and now it’s time to press even harder. I think my rage will come through in my writing a lot more now.

I have always been so proud of our progressive and liberal horror family, and of our organizations and publications that work hard to be perceptive, inclusive, and supportive. However, some of the responses I heard about, even among our usually amazing community, made me sad. When human rights are being ripped away, there should be an immediate outpouring of outrage and disapproval. There is no moral gray area here, no two sides to this issue, so there’s no reason for subtlety or diplomacy in a response. Perhaps we’re all still getting used to this new reality and it might take time for some people to absorb the magnitude of what has been lost and to calibrate accordingly.

TIFFANY MICHELLE BROWN: During times of great stress and change, I usually have a really hard time creating, but that is not the case for me right now. I feel very compelled to create, and I’m riding that wave so I can channel my feelings of rage and helplessness and bone-deep sadness into something good. My work has always been political, because my very existence as a woman is political, but damn, it’s about to get that much more brazen, in your face, and emotionally charged. It’s a privilege to be able to raise my voice against injustice, so yeah, I’m going to do it.

In terms of support within the genre, we need people and organizations to understand that they can no longer take a neutral position. There is no in between. You either condemn the actions of the Supreme Court or you don’t, and silence is complicity. The threat to the health and well-being of women, trans men, nonbinary individuals, and especially individuals within these groups who are BIPOC and already experience grave injustices and micro/macro aggressions on the daily thanks to white supremacy, is very real. We’re already seeing the effects play out in real-time. And if we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. I’m very concerned about the reversion or further degradation of rights for LGBTQIA+ folks. I’m concerned for folks who don’t fit into the cookie cutter white American ideal.

Those with power, resources, and privilege need to create safe and supportive spaces and opportunities for members of the horror community who are affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. And that goes far beyond making public statements, because anyone can do that. We need more than a strategic, self-serving PR move. We need to see long-term strategies and actions that align with any sort of public statement individuals or organizations publish.

It warms my heart to see many individuals and organizations rallying to fundraise and/or create opportunities for writers to express their frustration through art. Nico Bell, Roxie Voorhees, Creature Lit, Brigids Gate Press, S.H. Cooper, Oli A. White, Hillary Monahan, Sonora Taylor, Cosmic Horror Monthly, Jolie Toomajan, Cursed Morsels, Eric Raglan, Voices from the Mausoleum, and Gwendolyn Kiste – I see you, and I appreciate you. Keep going! (There are probably lots of folks and organizations who are also doing great work that I’m personally unaware of or whom I’ve accidentally left out in this instance, but please know I support the hell out of you, too!)

With regard to continued, long-term support, if you host conventions, what will you do to ensure folks affected by this decision feel safe, secure, and included? If you’re a publisher, does the work you publish reflect your values? Are your works diverse and inclusive and speaking to issues of the moment? Are you encouraging marginalized voices to submit work to your calls? How will you contribute monetarily toward causes and organizations that are fighting the good fight? And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, are you receptive to criticism? We’re all learning. We’re all responding to current events in real-time. If you fuck up, will you fix it and grow and continue to get better? Individuals and organizations won’t always get things right on the first try, but their long game will tell you everything you need to know about their integrity.

DONNA J.W. MUNRO: The shadow of this ruling, the long reach of a conservative SCOTUS, had already impacted my writing. First, I’m in EF Schraeder’s Abortion Anthology and as PRO CHOICE as I am, I struggled with my story in it because I’m in such a deep red, evangelical place on the map. Putting my name next to a pro choice story might have repercussions for my day job as a teacher, so I was already worried. I wrote it because if I didn’t, who would? The ruling hadn’t come down when I wrote about the near future horror of a world without Roe, and here we are. What I thought of as dystopian horror will now be reality for young women in the school where I teach. Since the ruling, I find myself writing with an anger I’ve never felt. I’m not just angry at the system and politicians. I’m angry at us all. The next story that needs writing is about how easy it is to watch rights taken away and then accept it because we just don’t have the power or will to stop it or the news cycle moves on or there’s just too many things to care about. Yes, there have to be more stories about abortion rights or the loss of them.

ELYSE RUSSELL: Women’s issues have always featured heavily in the majority of my work, and that isn’t going to change at all. I’m just doubling down on my efforts to get more underrepresented voices heard in both the prose and comic communities. More fuel for the fire, so to speak. I’d like to see more charity anthologies, honestly. They’re a double-whammy. The money can go to a good cause (like reproductive rights), and they can get more voices heard. Some very poignant tales can be told to highlight this issue at a critical time. They just need to be given a platform.

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

JEN MARSHALL: I am so afraid for all the people who will suffer and die because of this. I’m afraid for my daughter who has to grow up without any rights to her own body, in a country that values guns more than her life. We are at the mercy of corrupt politicians and a morally bankrupt supreme court, and illegal gerrymandering and voter suppression will likely keep them in power indefinitely. It almost seems naïve to hope at all.

TIFFANY MICHELLE BROWN: My greatest fear right now is that the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a precursor of what’s to come. More stripping of human rights. More attacks on marginalized communities. More white supremacy. More patriarchy. Because it’s all intertwined. This isn’t just about abortion. And even if it were, the rollback of a court decision that has been in place for nearly 50 years and affects so many people is a dangerous precedent.

However, the fact that we’re here, facing these threats right now, also means we’ve shaken the patriarchal, white supremacist status quo to its core. It means we have numbers. We represent a “threat.” We have the ability to fight this, and I have faith that we will, so let’s give ’em hell.

E.F. SCHRAEDER: It has seemed like here in the U.S. we’ve been in the prequel to Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for quite a while. I would like to be part of creating a different story, and my hope is that folks find new connections and new ways to make change as they resist and re-group.

One thing that’s next for me is a project I’m truly grateful to be part of, as co-editor of an anthology that’s donating 100% of proceeds to benefit the National Network for Abortion Fund, In Trouble. The collection is planned for release on the anniversary of Roe v Wade January 22, 2023 from Omnium Gatherum. We began the project prior to the overturning of Roe, but that recent change has brought on an intensified purpose and passion for all of us. I’ve been working with some incredible folks to bring this to fruition, and I’m excited to see other collaborations and projects with similar goals emerge in recent months. This kind of project is an important testament to the power of creative energy to resist and reshape the world, and it’s an honor to be part of it.

DONNA J.W. MUNRO: My greatest fear is that the Congress will go even redder. The only way to fix this is through the Congress and its lawmaking power. My greatest fear is a MAGA wave that will sweep in kooks and radicals to make this worse. Imagine a federal law that will make women’s health a government tracked objective with decisions made by those in power. Margaret Atwood can’t be happy about her dystopian predictions coming true. Hope? The only real hope I have comes when I see folks offering help to actual women in need, using social media to get around state prohibitions. We have to beat this. My hope is that need will unite liberals behind one banner. Let’s go blue wave!

ELYSE RUSSELL: My greatest fear is of the slippery slope: that more rights will be taken away, and we will wake up one day and feel powerless to protect our daughters.

I fervently hope that if enough of us speak up, and let our stories be heard, we can reverse this and stop it from happening again. We can’t slide back. We have to fight it.

Tremendous thanks to this week’s interviewees!

Happy reading, and happy fighting fascism!