Monthly Archives: November 2023

Future Horror Hopes: Part Two in Our Fall 2023 Horror Roundtable

Welcome back for the second half of our Fall 2023 Horror Roundtable! I’m so thrilled to spotlight these eight fantastic authors and editors as they discuss their fabulous new books!

And now I’m so pleased to let them take it away!

I know it’s a perennial question, but I’ll ask it anyhow: what draws you to horror? Also, do you remember your first experience with the genre growing up?

N.J. GALLEGOS: There’s something magical to me about facing your fears through the horror genre, whether that means fear of death, losing the ones you love, or the scary things that go bump in the night. It’s always made me feel less scared and alone, oddly enough. My parents divorced when I was young and my mom worked a lot to support us, leaving me to my own devices quite a bit. Horror was there for me, keeping me company. It’s comforting to me.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a horror fan. My mother is a massive horror fiend and shared that love with me early on. I have a distinct memory of watching Alien with her for the first time and everything about the movie captivated me: a woman protagonist who is a total badass (that goes back for the cat; a very big deal to 5-year-old me) fighting a Xenomorph which still ranks as one of my scariest monsters. I grew up in the era of VHS rentals and at one point, we’d watched every single movie in the horror section! As I started reading, I would mow through the YA stuff (Goosebumps, Animorphs, etc) in about an hour and then was nagging my mom for more books. So, she tossed Stephen King’s The Stand at me and said: Try reading this in an hour. Took me a bit longer than that!

SHANE HAWK: If we’re restricting ourselves to literature, what really draws me to Horror is the way in which we can confront our own fears—or step into someone else’s shoes and experience their fears—safely and exist in some intangible liminal space for a little while before we must go back to the real world, our day jobs, etc. I enjoy the thrill, the mystery, the what-if of the dark. Realistic horror freaks me out just as much as supernatural horror does, and I love that I can visit those wispy, incorporeal playgrounds to reflect on how I would react, what I would do if I were ever in a similar situation. I think a lot of us who love escaping into fiction cherish stories in which we get to have a little fun and be vicarious, even for a short journey.

One of my first experiences with the genre was a third-grade reading project whereby the teacher allowed us to choose any book we wanted to read and we had to make some type of artistic expression from that book, whether it was a painting, drawing, model, etc. I chose R.L. Stine’s Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes, and I can still remember the cover with the plastic pink flamingos and the mischievous-looking gnomes in red hats. As a third grader, the story spooked me a bit, and it reminded me of the stories of the Little People from my tribe. Arapaho stories about the Little People are scary as they are depicted as entirely malevolent and cannibalistic rather than trickster-ish troublemakers according to other tribes. My dad helped me create my artistic component of the project by using a Tupperware bowl to form a papier-mâché gnome mask. We painted it together. I’m pretty sure I was the only kid who chose a scary book for the project.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: I have a theory about that. Being North Dakotan and Norwegian, I was raised to be extremely polite and smile always, no matter what, so I think horror allowed me to explore darker emotions that I couldn’t necessarily display on the surface. My first memory of horror was the movie Cat’s Eye. I would have been about seven, similar in age to Drew Barrymore in the movie, and I clearly remember seeing the little breath-sucking troll peeking through the door to my room. And I had no cat to save me!

JESSICA MCHUGH: I like the descriptive nature of horror, the icky sticky sights and sounds, the rusty earthen stenches and skin-bristling textures. All the revulsion, all the beauty. I love dissecting people’s pasts and motivations too, and for me, horror is the best place to unravel those messy tales. It’s just so much fun.

I consumed horror from a very young age, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint the first experience, but I will say that I read a lot of generic spooky campfire stories, folk tales, and urban legend books when I was little. Paired with Scary Stories to Tell in Dark, the inherent darkness of 80s kids movies like The Last Unicorn, Return to Oz, and The Black Cauldron, and having two older brothers who were already deep into horror films, I’ve always been comforted by all things creepy. I started reading Stephen King novels in late elementary school and was obsessed with RL Stine’s Fear Street series throughout middle school. Horror has just always been there for me, thank goodness.

CHRISTA CARMEN: What draws me to horror is the ability for horror writers and filmmakers to examine a difficult topic—be it mental illness, addiction, trauma, loss, guilt, regret, shame, etc.—through the lens of something even more terrible, more disturbing, and more soul-splitting, resulting in a piece of art that—in addition to horrifying the reader or viewer—can entertain, teach, promote empathy, and even heal. Not too many other genres, if any, can claim that.

Regarding my first experience with the genre growing up, some of the first books I truly adored were the works of James and Deborah Howe, particularly, the Bunnicula series, as well as the Goosebumps and Fear Street books by R.L. Stine. Though, I had a rather bizarre experience when I was in third grade… I went to a friend’s birthday party, and there was talk of watching a few scary movies, but when the movies in question were revealed, they were Leprechaun and Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, far from appropriate fare for a group of nine-year-olds. I walked around in an Elm Street-esque, sleepless daze for about a week before the memories of those terror-inducing films began to lessen.

I steered clear of horror films for about four years, then gave the genre another chance with Halloween when I was about thirteen. Though I was terrified over the possibility of Michael Myers climbing the trellis into my bedroom (despite my house not even having a trellis), something about this experience must have struck a chord, because from that moment on, I was drawn to horror.

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: Horror is a mirror of our current times and ourselves. I’ve always been an anxious and fearful person, and writing horror allows me to safely explore those fears. My parents never limited my reading and viewing, so I was exposed to the genre early on. I saw movies like Poltergeist and read books like Carrie too young, probably. I was obsessed with the Christopher Pike books, and read a ton of Zilpha Keatley Snyder as a kid.

EDEN ROYCE: Several things draw me to horror: the tension, the anticipation, and the eventual resolution of those feelings, sometimes in one decisive swoop. It’s a way of dealing with the horrors and aggressions of the world at large, similar to the way some people embrace gallows humor.

One of my first experiences with horror was the book The Gashleycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. It’s an illustrated book of ABCs, with a decidedly morbid bent. As a young kid, I found a copy of it at the library and my mom flipped through it. Because of the content, I was afraid she wouldn’t let me check it out. But she just chuckled and set it on the circulation desk with the rest of our book haul for the day. She’s a horror lover as well, so I think she just thought it was a good way to prepare me for the wider world out there.

JAN STINCHCOMB: I like to ponder bad people doing bad things. Good people make me nervous. As a child I was always drawn to ghosts and witches. My first exposure to horror in popular culture was probably Scooby-Doo, but one cannot underestimate the power of the Bible. I remember my older sister explaining that the devil was once an angel, and even though I was a little kid, I felt like I somehow already knew this. Of course he was an angel, I thought. That makes sense. Even the devil has an origin story.

What are your hopes for the future of the horror genre?

N.J. GALLEGOS: It’s already happening but I want the horror genre to be more visible and respected. I feel like previously horror was considered low brow, full of cheap tricks and thrills. Almost the literary equivalent of sugary candy compared to foie gras of contemporary fiction, thriller, etc.

SHANE HAWK: The future of Horror looks bright despite our obsession with the dark and macabre. I see far more stories and books being published by people whose community has been historically marginalized, and in effect, creating a rich diversity of style, voice, and experience within that community that then helps readers avoid making singular, monolithic assumptions and takeaways. I hope it continues to challenge people’s views by tackling all sorts of relevant social issues of the past, present, and future in innovative and alluring ways. I see far more people flocking to it as we break down the barriers and make people understand that it’s not all just the classic creatures and blood and guts. There’s a lot more to it, and more people will continue to see that and spread the word. We will thrive.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: My hope for the horror genre is that we continue to see the diversity grow. When I was young, I read white, male authors because they were all that I knew of and the most readily available to me. While those stores were great, there are so many other stories to be told, and I am really glad to see that happening today. I love Stephen King, but I hope horror readers broaden their horizons and continue to discover the wide range of talent that is thriving in the genre.

JESSICA MCHUGH: More unhinged, super weird, unlikeable, unredeemable, and diverse characters / situations. Gutsy horror, unapologetic horror, the kind of horror that makes me even more excited to find out that the author of that revolting mindfuck of a novel is the kindest, most caring person in the world.

CHRISTA CARMEN: More challenging and subverting of stereotypical tropes and more diverse stories and voices! Also, more women in horror getting deals for film and television adaptations based on their work!

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: I’ve been happy to see a real effort towards inclusion in recent years, at least in the indie horror community. Readers have always been interested in works from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors, and those authors are finally getting a spotlight and more opportunities to publish. I want to see that continue. There are a lot of diverse voices out there and even more stories. The literary world is a better, more exciting place when it includes a wide variety of voices.

EDEN ROYCE: My hopes are that people who love horror read it more widely: various authors, themes, and sub-genres. I hope the horror community expands, becoming more accepting and more open, with less gatekeeping as to what qualifies as horror. I have people tell me they don’t like horror at all, but they like my work. Horror isn’t all slashers chasing teens through the woods. The horror genre is nuanced and can have subtleties that draw you in with beauty or strangeness, only to reveal something you don’t realize is unsettling until after you’ve put the book down.

There is a deeply-rooted belief out there that horror is a “low” form of entertainment, so I’d love for consumers of media to recognize horror can be as rich and layered and resonant as any other genre out there.

JAN STINCHCOMB: I love horror and I want to see it flourish. I want new voices, all the voices. For years the general public has associated horror with gore, but it is so much more than that. I want to see more readers give horror a chance, and I will keep blending genres in my own work regardless of the constraints of mainstream publishing. That said, I must acknowledge the independent presses out there supporting weird and challenging books: JournalStone, Clash, Apocalypse Party, Black Lawrence, Raw Dog Screaming, Unnerving.

What upcoming projects are you currently working on?

N.J. GALLEGOS: Currently working on my second novel which follows a neurologist who invents implantable inhibiting chips that stop migraines at the source, but the side effects could be… murder.

I’ve also been kicking around ideas for a The Broken Heart sequel but those currently reside in my brain.

SHANE HAWK: I’m working on my debut novel that revolves around an Indigenous punk band, heavy anarchistic music, government ops, and shapeshifters. I’m also working with an established producer on a feature script for a global theatrical release and—fingers crossed—he will help me sell it to a major studio and get it made in the next few years. Keith Rosson also just asked me to write a story for a charity anthology due next year, and I’m excited for that as well!

ANGELA SYLVAINE: I’m finishing up my debut short story collection, The Dead Spot: Stories of Lost Girls, which will be released in May of 2024, and I’m expanding a previous novella, Chopping Spree, which will be rereleased later in 2024 with new material. I’ve also begun working on the sequel to Frost Bite, which will come out in 2025.

JESSICA MCHUGH: I’m working on an erotic horror blackout poetry collection called Feast made from Wuthering Heights. And while it won’t be as physically demanding as The Quiet Ways I Destroy You, it’s still a massive challenge, as I’m writing it in a play format, with all these poems stitched into a very clear narrative and cast of characters. Even the stage directions will be blackout poems. It’s been maddening at times, but it’s also been incredibly fun to develop.

I’m also writing the 3rd and final book in the Gardening Guidebooks Trilogy, coming out from Ghoulish Books in fall 2024. Following the 1950s madhouse horror of Rabbits in the Garden and the 1970s cult horror of Hares in the Hedgerow, I think the 1980s glam metal horror of Witches in the Warren is going to make fans of this bonkers series very happy with how things wrap up for Avery Norton and her fiery family.

CHRISTA CARMEN: My second novel with Thomas & Mercer, Beneath the Poet’s House, will be released in the fall of 2024, and I’m so, so excited about this book. Many of the characters are inspired by historical figures close to my heart, and I can’t wait to be able to tell readers more about this project. Soon… very soon.

Additionally, I’ll have a short story, “Until the Moss had Reached Our Lips,” in a Weird House Press anthology, 13 Possessions, that will be available for preorder shortly, and a story entitled, “Guess How Much I Love You?” in Why Didn’t You Just Leave?, edited by Nadia Bulkin and Julia Rios and published by Cursed Morsels Press, though that one won’t be out until 2024. I have a few more short stories poised for publication with different anthologies that I can’t announce quite yet, and I’m hoping to release my first children’s picture book in the near future as well!

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: I’m at an exciting point in my career where I’m ready to finally tackle my longest work yet, a novel. I can’t reveal much at this point, but it’s a body horror story about the fallibility of memory, desire through consumption, and the cyclical nature of everything.

EDEN ROYCE: I’ve had a few manuscripts accepted recently that I’m looking forward to seeing out in the world. One has been announced already: an adult horror novella with Raw Dog Screaming Press titled Hollow Tongue. And two that will be announced soon: an adult Southern Gothic fantasy novella and a YA Southern Gothic horror novel – so stay tuned for news on those!

JAN STINCHCOMB: I’m working on a project that combines fairy tale and noir but I can’t say much about it yet. I’m always working on various short stories––they pop up like mushrooms in my life. I tend to believe that it’s good to have several projects going at once, though the novel has a way of rising up and knocking everything else aside.

So many thanks to our amazing featured authors this month! Please pick up copies of their books; they’re very much worth your time!

Happy reading!

Fabulous Fall Fiction: Part One in Our Fall 2023 Horror Roundtable

Welcome back! This month, I’m thrilled to spotlight the work of eight fantastic authors and editors who have new books out this year! I always love putting together these roundtables because it gives me a chance to talk with so many great creators at once. And fortunately for the genre, we’ve got so much talent out there right now!

So without further adieu, I’m pleased to let November’s highlighted authors take it away!

Thank you so much for being part of my fall roundtable. Please tell us a little bit about your latest book.

N.J. GALLEGOS: The Broken Heart follows Casey Philips, an abused housewife and mother of two, who suffers from heart failure during her second pregnancy and receives a transplant from a serial killer. She undergoes a dark transformation, becoming the anti-hero you can’t help but root for… even as the body count rises.

SHANE HAWK: Hohóu for including me in the first place! Yes, my latest book is a 26-story anthology titled Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology. I helped co-edit it, alongside my friend, Theodore C. Van Alst Jr. NWAN was published by Penguin Random House on September 19th, 2023 in the US and Canada, and it has made the top 10 bestselling books list every week since then, making it an international bestseller. Its contents comprise twelve established writers, twelve lesser-known writers, the two of us editors, and an amazing foreword from Stephen Graham Jones that contextualizes the entire work. Mood-wise, the stories range from creepy to mournful to downright hair-raising, and the subject matter explores Indigeneity inside and out while introducing the reader to supernatural monsters, ghosts, all-too-real human monsters, and more. There’s something for everyone in this anthology whether it be a hard-and-fast genre piece ripping you to shreds, or a heartbreaking literary horror piece that stays in your head for months rent-free.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: Thank you very much for having me! My latest book is called Frost Bite, and it’s an LGBTQ+ ‘90s sci-fi horror comedy. Frost Bite is about a small North Dakota town that gets hit by a meteor, which infects the hibernating prairie dogs with alien worms. Recent high-school graduate, Realene, and her best friend, Nate, fight to save the town from the creatures’ memory-stealing bite while also battling a doomsday cult who thinks the meteor is a sign of the

JESSICA MCHUGH: Thank you so much for inviting me to participate, Gwendolyn! The Quiet Ways I Destroy You is a cosmic horror blackout poetry collection created from and inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Because that novel celebrated its 155th publication anniversary, I challenged myself to tell a story of self-exploration, feminine rage, and transformative sisterhood in 155 unique pieces, some of which are the largest and most complex blackout poems I’ve ever made. It’s a beautiful beast of a book, and I’m so jazzed it’s out in the world.

CHRISTA CARMEN: The Daughters of Block Island is my take on the gothic, the culmination of years of reading books like The Monk and Rebecca and wanting to throw my hat in the ring of decaying castles and damsels in distress. Like many popular subgenres, the gothic has been done to death, so I had to ensure I was bringing something new to readers, ultimately deciding to “make gothic meta,” with my poor tragic heroine, Blake Bronson, believing herself to be in the quintessential gothic novel. The book is also inspired, in part, by the Twa Sisters murder ballad, as well as the Scream film franchise, so there is a little something for everyone within its rain(-and-blood!)-soaked pages.

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: Thank you so much for inviting me! My queer succubi sex, drugs and rock & roll novella SLEEP ALONE was released by Off Limits Press in March 2023. It takes place over one week in the lives of merch girl Ronnie and the touring rock band she turned into succubi like herself. Since she turned them six years ago, they’ve lived on the road, constantly fleeing the destruction they leave in their wake from feeding on the memories, energy, strength, and talents of their prey. It’s a seedy, lonely existence. Then everything changes when Ronnie meets the mysterious and magnetic Helene at a show. With Helene in tow, the band crosses the Pacific Northwest as a mysterious disease stalks these succubi and destroys everything, from their relationships with each other to their very existences.

EDEN ROYCE: Who Lost, I Found is a collection of short stories in various speculative fiction genres ranging from Southern Gothic and folk horror to Afro-surrealism and dark fantasy, finally culminating in a tale to lift a little of the darkness. Essentially, it’s Black Southern horror, encompassing Gullah Geechee folklore, ancestry, warnings, conjure, survival, and celebration of enduring for a night.

These stories utilize methods many editors will tell you don’t work: second-person point of view, inactive protagonists, the use of dialect… all hallmarks of my people’s storytelling traditions. Some of these stories are grounded in truth, others in fantasy, but they are all valid aspects of storytelling. This collection defies the odds and, like my people have always done, makes its own way when there was none.

JAN STINCHCOMB: Verushka is a multi-POV family novel with a young female protagonist. It draws from the genres of fairy tale and horror and goes back and forth in time. It’s not YA but I have a secret fantasy of parents reading this book with their kids.

What in particular makes your current project different from your previous books?

N.J. GALLEGOS: This is my first full length novel so that’s different in itself! I have three novellas to compare and contrast with though. I feel like the character development in The Broken Heart was more fleshed out and I found myself getting attached to Casey more than any other character I’ve written. The Broken Heart tackles my favorite theme of female vengeance, also seen in my novella Just Desserts where an awkward, previously bullied woman attends her 20-year high school reunion… don’t eat the tiramisu.

SHANE HAWK: I’m still relatively emerging in the game that is Horror fiction, so I only really have one previous short story collection (Anoka: An Indigenous Horror Collection) and other short fiction scattered throughout other anthologies. This book is the first wherein I’m in both the editor’s seat as well as the writer’s seat. It’s also the first of hopefully many to be published at the Big-5 level—I’m entirely grateful for the amount of work put in by our American and Canadian teams, lots of things the average reader isn’t aware of, and the support is quite different than self-publishing or indie presses. It’s really a learning experience every day.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: This is my debut novel, so prior to this I’ve only published shorter works. Additionally, this is my first foray into creating a fictional town. Demise and its residents are inspired by where I grew up in North Dakota, and it was really fun to try and capture North Dakota winters and the Midwestern niceness of the people there.

JESSICA MCHUGH: The physical work involved in this project is like nothing I’ve done before. Using four different editions of “Little Women” of varying sizes, I ripped, sewed, painted, sculpted, and illustrated this collection in ways that tested every artistic boundary. I owe a lot of that to working in a tattoo shop, surrounded and inspired by art of all types. I used scraps of my coworkers’ artwork to practice my own, and I learned a lot about letting go of my doubts and insecurities and trusting my artistic instincts. This project also required more time management than ever before to complete 155 blackout poems—more than that, actually. I found around 200 poems total, and completed the art on around 170. From June 21st – December 27th, I kept to my goal of finishing 4-6 pieces a week while accounting for sickness, holidays, etc, while aiming for mid-January, so I actually completed ahead of my self-imposed deadline. I’ve honestly never been more impressed with myself.

CHRISTA CARMEN: This is my debut novel, and it’s taken me a number of years to get here, as I started out as more of a short fiction writer and even put out a short fiction collection with Unnerving called Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked in 2018. The Daughters of Block Island is also a decidedly “quieter” horror tale than many of the stories in my collection. There are no chainsaw wielding-Deadite killers or gore-saturated photographs in Daughters, but don’t let that turn you off if you’re in the mood for something unnerving; there’s still a whole slew of scandal, secrets, ghosts, and murder to tickle your horror-loving fancies.

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: This one was fast and dirty for me, compared to my other stories. I was in the middle of another project when the idea for SLEEP ALONE took hold and I had to run with it. I didn’t overthink it; it was almost as if the story controlled me. Ronnie is a very personal character to me, someone who’s selfish and vulnerable and cruel and capable of so much love, all at once. I pride myself on my prose, but I also wanted the voice of the story to be very much Ronnie, as an aging merch girl slogging through this seedy, uncomfortable life would speak. So the tone is a bit more casual, more of that “quick and dirty”, than most of my other recent work.

EDEN ROYCE: While several of the stories included are reprints, a good number of the tales in Who Lost, I Found only appeared in non-digital media before being compiled into this collection. Since those stories were in so many different print publications, it would have taken a lot of time, money, and effort to read them all, so I’ve compiled some of them in this collection.

A few of the stories in this collection, I wrote specifically for certain magazines, as opposed to my usual process of writing a story that once completed, I seek a home for. Who Lost, I Found also includes a brand-new novelette (longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella), which is a length I haven’t tackled before in my writing.

JAN STINCHCOMB: This is the first time I’ve published a full length novel. Most of my previous work has been short form, from flash fiction to novellas. I will say that this book is intensely personal, perhaps because it’s set in places where I or my family members have lived.

The books featured as part of this roundtable range from a poetry collection and a debut novel to a fiction collection and a horror anthology, with even more permutations in between. How do you each decide what medium you want to write or edit in? Do you favor a specific medium (e.g. short fiction, novel, poetry, etc.), or do you prefer publishing a wide range of work?

N.J. GALLEGOS: It’s always been on my bucket list to write a novel and I’ve certainly enjoyed the process of writing a longer piece but short stories are my favorite. They’re compact, easily digestible, and a hell of a lot easier to edit! I’m a huge Stephen King fan and love his short story collections (especially Skeleton Crew and Night Shift) and I’ve always admired the way he can convey so much story in so few words. Naturally, I aspire to that.

Other than The Broken Heart, I go into writing thinking: this’ll be a great short story and then at some point, the characters and plot take over, resulting in novella length work! Weirdly, the decision of what medium to write in isn’t conscious unless there’s a submission call giving strict word counts.

SHANE HAWK: Like I said before, I still feel like fresh meat as I don’t have an extensive backlog for readers to check out. With everything I’ve dipped my toe into so far, I really enjoy the mystery and excitement as a short story panster. I like my characters to take me to places I had no idea I’d be, and the real fun is in that unknown, dark splotch at the end of the tunnel, just outside the reach of your flashlight’s beam. Now, with that being said, I’ve already outlined my debut novel and begun writing it—albeit nowhere near rewrites or completion. Novel writing is a whole different beast and adventure, though some of the magic dissipates with that outline, that ending. Though, my approach so far has mostly been to have empty spots in the road ahead, and it’s a fun challenge to see where the characters and story can really take you in that regard. I’ll also say that I’m working on my first screenplay for a feature film, and it’s an incredibly different-different beast. Almost stripped away and barren, but just enough to get you through. Really, I love it all and frankly wish I had more time to write in different mediums and get all these stories out of my head. Though… I’m only 33 and just getting started. I’ve got time to tell it all. Patience patience patience.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: I love dabbling in all forms of fiction. I’ve had the most publishing success with short fiction, but I really enjoy poetry and longer fiction as well. As far as deciding which medium I want to write in, I like to let the story guide me and dictate what is the best fit, but sometimes it’s also about experimentation. I’ll write a poem that I then adapt as a short story and vice versa. That said, I am dedicating myself more to long fiction in the near future, because Frost Bite is contracted to be a three-book series!

JESSICA MCHUGH: I definitely prefer working in multiple genres and mediums…often at the same time. I’m usually always working on a novel and/or short story, and since I started making blackout poetry, I’m also usually working on a collection while doing poetry commissions. I love having options so I can create according to my mood and energy levels without feeling like I’m forcing myself to be productive.

CHRISTA CARMEN: The first iteration of The Daughters of Block Island was a short story told in epistolary format, and I’ll admit it was strange for me to take an idea conceived as a short piece and expand it. Normally, the medium in which I set out to write is the medium in which I complete the project. I don’t really prefer novels over short stories or vice versa, though that wasn’t always the case.

A few years ago, I felt my strengths lied predominately in short fiction, and didn’t have as much confidence in my novel-writing abilities. That changed with—like anything else—lots of practice, and today, I switch pretty effortlessly between novels, short fiction, nonfiction essays, and children’s picture books, depending on where inspiration strikes.

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: I’ve been primarily a short fiction writer, so the novella-length SLEEP ALONE is my longest work to date. When I first started writing, I didn’t think I was capable of good short fiction. I was very longwinded, writing novels even as a little kid. Then when I returned to writing, I found my rhythm with short fiction. Though I’m very good at pushing the limits of “short”—most of my stories want to be 7000+ words, and I’ve been happiest at novella-length like SLEEP ALONE, and with my novelette IMAGO EXPULSIO (THE RED ANIMAL OF OUR BLOOD), which was also recently released as part of SPLIT SCREAM Vol 3 (paired with a novelette from Patrick Barb) by Dread Stone Press.

EDEN ROYCE: I prefer publishing a wide range of work when it comes to genres, age groups, and length. I began my career with writing short stories, but at some point, I wanted to tackle longer work. Since I had more experience with shorter formats, I wrote my first novel in short stories, then wrote more to connect the individual vignettes later.

When I got my first agent, I was told that it was best to stick with one genre and age group until I got a foothold before I moved into other areas. Thankfully, I didn’t listen to that advice. Because I came to writing professionally later in life, and traditional publishing moves quite slowly, I didn’t want to wait some arbitrary amount of time to get my work and voice out there.

As far as how I decide what medium for a work – short story, novella, novel, or anything else – that depends. Sometimes I plan to write a novel or a short story and it ends up being just that. Other times, I’ve written what I intended to be a short story, and by the time I finish telling the story, I have a novella. Usually, as a rule of thumb, if I feel the need to jot down something resembling an outline, I’ll be writing something longer than 5,000 words.

JAN STINCHCOMB: It’s a tie between the short story and the novella/novel. When I’m with one form, I long for the other, though each has its challenges. I am endlessly fascinated by the short story, how each one is like a puzzle for both author and reader to solve. It’s a very tricky form. And the novel never stops surprising me: there are a million ways to write one. As far as choosing between the two goes, the decision is often made for you. There are some projects that are simply too big to be handled within the parameters of the short story, and then there are others that are perfect for a piece of short fiction.

Tremendous thanks to this month’s roundtable authors! Join us next week as we discuss their hopes for the future of horror and what they’re working on next!

Happy reading!

Thankful for Fiction: Submission Roundup for November 2023

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! As always, plenty of great calls out there, so if you’re looking for a home for a story, hopefully one of these markets will be the perfect fit.

Per the usual, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors. And with that, onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Elemental Forces
Payment: .08/word for original fiction
Length: 3,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: November 14th, 2023
What They Want: Open to a wide range of horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Payment: .10/word for original fiction; .03/word for reprint fiction; $50/flat for original poetry; $25/flat for reprint poetry
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; open for poetry
Deadline: Opens on December 1st, 2023 (though the submission portal fills up quickly)
What They Want: Open to dark speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Find the details here.

Kelp Journal
Payment: $35/flat
Length: 3,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: December 16th, 2023
What They Want: Open to beach noir.
Find the details here.

Interstellar Flight Press
Payment: .08/word (minimum $25)
Length: up to 1,250 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: Open to speculative flash fiction.
Find the details here.

Spooky Magazine
Payment: .01/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: Open to cozy and fun horror in the vein of Ray Bradbury and The Twilight Zone.
Find the details here.

The Map of Lost Places
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: Open December 1st to December 31st, 2023
What They Want: An Apex Books anthology that’s seeking stories about locales where strange things happen.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!