Category Archives: Book Promotion

Book Tour for THE HAUNTING OF VELKWOOD

Welcome back! We are now just one week away from the official release of my latest novel, The Haunting of Velkwood!

*insert screams of joy*

Seriously, though, I’m so excited for this book to make its debut in the world. It’s one of my favorite and most personal things I’ve ever written, and I’m so glad that it will be out on bookshelves soon.

Another thing I’m super excited about: I’m doing a book tour! And this one has even more in-person events than my last tour for Reluctant Immortals!

And where will I be appearing? Well, I just so happen to have this awesome graphic with all of my upcoming events!

First up, there’s the launch party for The Haunting of Velkwood! That will be on the book’s release day, which is Tuesday, March 5th! The launch party will be held at Riverstone Books in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh at 7pm ET! I’ll be in conversation with the awesome Ben Rubin of the Horror Studies Archive at the University of Pittsburgh, and it’s sure to be lots of fun, so please join us for a night of ghostly terror!

(Also, this is a perfect time to remind everyone that you can still pre-order The Haunting of Velkwood from Riverstone Books, and receive not only a personalized copy of the book but also an exclusive vinyl sticker welcoming you to the Velkwood Vicinity!)

Then on Wednesday, March 13th at 7pm, I’ll be heading back to my original home state of Ohio to do an event at Loganberry Books in Cleveland! I’ll be in conversation with K.P. Kulski, the author of Fairest Flesh as well as a recent Bram Stoker Award nominee! Another event that’s going to be a total blast, so it would be great to see some Ohio folks in attendance for this one!

The following week, I’ll be heading down to Atlanta to appear at Charis Books on Wednesday, March 20th at 7:30pm! This event is called Queer Horror Across Time and features Lee Mandelo and me in conversation about The Haunting of Velkwood and Lee’s new book, The Woods All Black. This one is a hybrid event, so you can catch us in person or as a virtual event through Charis Books’ YouTube page.

Next up, I’ll be doing a virtual event at Mysterious Galaxy on Tuesday, March 26th at 9pm ET. A few of the details on this one are still forthcoming, so please stay tuned for the link as well as my in-conversation partner! I had such a blast at the Mysterious Galaxy event for Reluctant Immortals, so I’m so thrilled about coming back for Velkwood!

Then on Thursday, March 28th at 7pm ET, I’ll be joining the wonderful Daniel Braum for his Night Time Logic series. We’ll be talking ghosts as well as doing readings from our work! It’s always a pleasure to be part of the Night Time Logic series, so I’m very excited about making my return! Again, the event page for this one should be ready soon, and I’ll be sure to share it far and wide when it is!

Flash forward to the next month, and on Saturday, April 27th at 2pm ET, I’ll be doing a book signing and meet and greet at Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg. This is part of Independent Bookstore Day, which is such a fun celebration. I’ve never done a book event in Pennsylvania outside of the Pittsburgh area, so I’m looking forward to meeting readers from other parts of the state!

And finally, I’ll be circling back home and appearing at The Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books on Saturday, May 11th. All the details about that appearance are still forthcoming, but suffice it to say that I’m scheduled for a very cool panel with some amazing fellow panelists.

So that’s the schedule for my second-ever book tour! I’m so delighted to be making so many appearances over the next few months. And of course, I’m also doing lots of interviews for fabulous podcasts and websites and guest essays, so there will be plenty of chances to catch me hanging out in person and virtually! Needless to say, I’m beyond thrilled to be sharing The Haunting of Velkwood with the world! I most certainly hope that lots of you enjoy meeting my ghosts very soon!

Happy reading!

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
apocalypse.

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!

My new novel, The Haunting of Velkwood, is coming soon!

So you may have already heard me screaming from the rooftops about this, but just in case you missed it…

I have a new novel coming out next year!

*screams from the rooftops once again while twirling with joy*

The Haunting of Velkwood is due out from Saga Press on March 5th, 2024. This story is one of the most personal things I’ve ever written, and I’m beyond thrilled for it to make its way into the world.

Last month, The Lineup was gracious enough to do the exclusive cover reveal, which also included a few words from me about the novel. For those of you who missed it, you can see more about it right here.

And now since it’s been a few weeks since the cover reveal at The Lineup, I’m going to go ahead and post the gorgeous art here on my own blog. So without further adieu, behold the gloriously creepy suburban cover!

I’m seriously over the moon for this surreal little cover, and it represents the strangeness and darkness of the book so well. For those of you who have read my work, The Haunting of Velkwood is probably most tonally and thematically similar to The Rust Maidens; both stories are about small, insular neighborhoods and the women who bear the weight of their families’ worst impulses, all with supernatural consequences.

Unlike The Rust Maidens, though, Velkwood is definitely a very queer book. I’m putting that out there now, because for a long time, the queer content in Reluctant Immortals wasn’t mentioned as much as I’d hoped it would be in reviews and the like. (That being said, Reluctant Immortals ultimately won the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction, so the LGBTQ+ themes did eventually get noticed in a big way, which seriously means the world to me.)

Anyway, if you’ve gotten this far in the blog, then you must be at least a little interested in The Haunting of Velkwood. So here’s the official description:

From Bram Stoker Award­–winning author Gwendolyn Kiste comes a chilling novel about three childhood friends who miraculously survive the night everyone in their suburban neighborhood turned into ghosts—perfect for fans of Yellowjackets.

The Velkwood Vicinity was the topic of occult theorists, tabloid one-hour documentaries, and even some pseudo-scientific investigations as the block of homes disappeared behind a near-impenetrable veil that only three survivors could enter—and only one has in the past twenty years, until now.

Talitha Velkwood has avoided anything to do with the tragedy that took her mother and eight-year-old sister, drifting from one job to another, never settling anywhere or with anyone, feeling as trapped by her past as if she was still there in the small town she so desperately wanted to escape from. When a new researcher tracks her down and offers to pay her to come back to enter the vicinity, Talitha claims she’s just doing it for the money. Of all the crackpot theories over the years, no one has discovered what happened the night Talitha, her estranged, former best friend Brett, and Grace, escaped their homes twenty years ago. Will she finally get the answers she’s been looking for all these years, or is this just another dead end?

Award-winning author Gwendolyn Kiste has created a suburban ghost story about a small town that trapped three young women who must confront the past if they’re going to have a future.

Needless to say, I’m so very proud of this book, and I can’t wait for the release date. I’ll be merrily discussing it plenty more for the rest of this year and into next, so be prepared for lots of talk about hauntings, family secrets, and the women who break toxic cycles. In the meantime, feel free to pre-order the novel if you’re so inclined!

*screams from the rooftop with joy once again*

Happy haunting, and happy reading!

My Recent Article for The Lineup and an Expanded List of Bi+ Horror Authors

Welcome back! So my latest article for The Lineup came out last month, and it focused exclusively on Bi+ horror authors. You can read the full list here, and I honestly hope you do because I’m so very proud to have put this article together. That’s because Bi+ authors are often overlooked in discussions of LGBTQ+ fiction.

Bi+ is an umbrella term that refers not only to bisexuality, but also to pansexuality, omnisexuality, fluid, and a wide variety of additional identities and attractions. (For more info, please refer to this much more in-depth definition.) As I mention in the article for The Lineup, almost no funding in America is dedicated specifically to Bi+ issues, despite the fact that those of us who are bisexual constitute the largest group of the LGBTQ+ community.

As I was working on the list for The Lineup, I put out a call on Twitter for Bi+ horror authors to share their most recent published works. There was a really wonderful thread of authors who responded to my tweet. Even once The Lineup article was published, it made me so happy that there was an even longer list for readers to use when seeking out Bi+ horror fiction. However, now that Twitter is going up in flames, I don’t want that extended list to be lost to the trolls of the internet. So once you read my aforementioned article on The Lineup and check out all those fabulous authors’ work, here are a few additional Bi+ horror authors to add to your reading list.

Angela Sylvaine is a Colorado-based horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy author. Her horror novella, Chopping Spree, came out last year through Unnerving’s Rewind or Die series.

Eva Roslin is a horror and dark fantasy author and reviewer. Her recent work has appeared in Alienhead Press’s Literally Dead: Tales of Halloween Hauntings and Black Spot Books’ Under Her Skin.

Tiffany Morris is Mi’kmaw/settler author of both speculative fiction and poetry, and her most recent collection, Elegies of Rotting Stars, was released earlier this month from Nictitating Books.

Avra Margariti is a prolific poet based in Greece, and her latest collection, The Saint of Witches, was released earlier this year through Weasel Press.

Rich Gerlach is a writer, reviewer, and a podcaster at Staring Into the Abyss. You can read his latest short story in Dead of Winter: An Anthology.

LC von Hessen is a Brooklyn-based author, musician, artist, and actor. Their collection of weird and gothic tales, Spiritus Ex Machina, was released last year.

Chloe Spencer is an author, filmmaker, and YouTube gamer and essayist. Her YA horror science fiction novel, Monstersona, is due out next year from Tiny Ghost Press.

Verity Holloway is a writer and editor. Her upcoming novel, The Others of Edenwell, is slated for release next July from Titan Books.

Rebecca Turkewitz is a writer and teacher based in Portland, Maine. Her short story, “The Elevator Girl,” appeared last year on the Lamplight podcast, and her collection, Here in the Night: Stories, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press.

Stephanie Rabig is a Kansas-based horror author of numerous books and short stories. Her horror western, On Stolen Land, is available now.

Briana Morgan is a widely published horror author from Atlanta. Her most recent book, The Reyes Incident, made its debut in April of this year.

Jaye Wells is a bestselling author and writing mentor. Her recent short story appeared in Sara Tantlinger’s anthology, Chromophobia.

Natania Barron is an award-winning author whose work explores monsters and mythology. Her first novel, Pilgrim of the Sky, was recently re-released through Falstaff Books.

So those are just a few of the amazing writers and books to add to your TBR pile. There are of course many more Bi+ horror authors working today, so please keep supporting the LGBTQ+ creators in the genre. Especially in the terrifying political climate we’re dealing with here in America, the only way to combat prejudice is through support, love, and acceptance. And after all, Pride Month truly lasts all yearlong!

Happy reading!

The Horror Is Upon Us: 2021 Award Eligibility Post

2021 is almost over, so I figure it’s a good time to do my annual award eligibility post here at the old blog. As always, if you’re recommending for awards and would like a copy of any of these works, please let me know, and I would be happy to send it over to you!

And now onward with what I’ve been up to in 2021!

Sister Glitter Blood” (Violent Vixens, Dark Peninsula Press, August 2021)
Two lonely sisters discover a strange board game called “Sister Glitter Blood.” As they begin to play in their dusty attic, they soon realize this game is watching them closer than they could have ever imagined. Framed through the board game’s instructions, the story tracks the sisters as they try desperately to outpace the ghosts they’ve conjured, only to find themselves back in the attic years later with nothing to protect them besides the roll of the dice and each other. This has probably been my best-received work of the year with Reading Vicariously calling it “Genuinely creepy” and Rebecca Rowland of Ginger Nuts of Horror saying “it’s worth buying the collection for this tale alone.”

The Mad Monk of the Motor City” (There Is No Death, There Are No Dead, Crystal Lake Publishing, August 2021)
The ghost of Rasputin descends on a broken-down apartment building in modern-day Detroit, and soon nearly all the tenants are under his preternatural sway. Only one withdrawn woman finds herself resisting his thrall as she does her best to solve the mystery of why he’s returned and how to stop him. This anthology of occult horror has a fabulous table of contents and was the first time I got to work with editor Jess Landry since The Rust Maidens, so this one holds a special place in my heart.

The Haunted Houses She Calls Her Own” (Liminal Spaces, Cemetery Gates Media, September 2021)
The famed Black Dahlia finds herself living and reliving different versions of her own death, all while demanding for her own voice to be heard and also searching for a way out of the purgatory the world has created for her. I’ve long been fascinated and horrified by the real-life murder of Elizabeth Short, and this story is my ode to her and her memory. Writing about actual people is always tricky, but I hope I did her some semblance of justice in this story.

Things to Do in Playland When You’re Dead” (Shadow Atlas, Hex Publishers, November 2021)
An ethereal patron visits an amusement park called Playland-at-the-Beach on the final night before it closes for good, meeting a variety of strange specters along the way. San Francisco’s now-defunct Playland at the Beach is such a fascinating piece of Americana, and it was so much fun to craft this short story around it. This is also another amazing table of contents—truly all of these books have incredible tables of contents—so it was an honor to be part of this one.

The 9 Ghosts You’ll Find at Mayfair Estate” (Nine, Editions du Chat Noir, July 2021)
So this one actually marks a first for my writing career: this story made its debut in French! A tour of a vast and haunted property slowly starts to unravel in increasingly horrifying ways, as one by one, a group of unusual phantoms introduces themselves.

In addition to my short stories, I also had four nonfiction pieces published this year, all of them featured at Tor Nightfire. My articles ran the gamut from fiction based on true-crime tales and the best witchy books to re-imagined fairy tales and the creepiest cats of horror. I think I say this every year, but I’m very hopeful that I’ll have even more short nonfiction out next year. That’s definitely the goal anyhow.

Beyond my new fiction and nonfiction, it was a busy year overall. The Invention of Ghosts was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award as well as a Ladies of Horror Fiction Award. The Spanish translation of The Rust Maidens was nominated for both an Ignotus and a Kelvin Award. Additionally, the Spanish translation of my Lucy Westenra story from Crononauta was also nominated at the Ignotus Awards. The French translation of Boneset & Feathers made its debut from Editions du Chat Noir, and the German translation of The Rust Maidens was released from Festa Verlag. I’ve made a number of sales for next year, including a new nonfiction article on Terrence Malick and the uncanny to Vastarien, and a new weird horror story, “To the Progeny Forsaken,” to Dim Shores’ Looming Low, Volume 2. My work will also have new translations in French, Spanish, and Italian next year and beyond.

Also, in what is truly a dream come true, my personal writing archive is now housed at the University of Pittsburgh’s Horror Studies Collection. The drafts of my short stories and novels are now living in the same space as work from George Romero, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Linda Addison, Kathe Koja, and so many other horror luminaries. I used to daydream about being a writer who had their archive at a major university, and now I am a writer who can say that. It’s surreal and thrilling and I still can’t believe it’s really happened.

And of course, even more big news from the year: my third novel, Reluctant Immortals, had its cover reveal and release date announced: August 23rd, 2022! In case you haven’t already heard me screaming from the rooftops about it, Reluctant Immortals follows Lucy Westenra from Dracula and Bertha Antoinetta Mason from Jane Eyre as they navigate 1967 California while trying to stop the toxic men from their past who have returned suddenly to their lives. You can find out more and read an excerpt at the Tor Nightfire blog.

All right, so that’s more than enough for one year. I’m doing my best to stay hopeful overall for what 2022 holds, but with the current state of the world, hope is all I’ve got. Fingers crossed that next year will be much better than this one.

At any rate, happy reading, and happy New Year!

Reluctant Immortals and Other News: Writing Updates for Fall 2021

Welcome back, and happy end of November! Over here at my perpetually quarantined corner of the world, we’re playing the dutiful role of hermits. I’m currently at work on my next novel, which is truly the best way to spend these darker days of fall and impending winter. Because really, what’s cozier than the blood and guts of horror?

At any rate, I’ve had some writing updates in the last few months, which means it’s about time to use my blog for another round of “if you haven’t heard it yet on my social media, allow me to chatter on about it now.” So let’s get down to it, shall we?

Cover reveal and release date for Reluctant Immortals

First and foremost, I’m beyond thrilled that the cover of my third novel, Reluctant Immortals, has been unveiled. Behold its 1960s-themed beauty…

The cover is by artist Kelli McAdams, and needless to say, I absolutely adore it. It’s gorgeous and strange and psychedelic, and it fits the mood of the novel perfectly.

Tor Nightfire did a fabulous cover reveal earlier this month, which also includes the very first excerpt from the novel! Big thanks to Emily Hughes at Nightfire for hosting the reveal, and big thanks to Saga Press for all their promotion of the book so far. Things are definitely shaping up well for the release next year!

Speaking of release, the official release date is August 23rd, 2022, and the book is already available for pre-order! So feel free to head on over to the official Simon and Schuster page if you want to learn more.

Recap of my fall events & upcoming New York Ghost Story Festival

Over the last couple months, I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of numerous panels and readings for the fall season. From the Fox Cities Book Festival and Story Hour to Flame Tree’s Hellish Helter Skelter panel and the Sturgis Library’s Poe panel, it’s definitely been a bustling fall. I was also part of the Spooky Stories II panel, a Halloween event through Editions du Chat Noir, and The Outer Dark’s monster kids roundtable at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Head on over here if you want to catch any of the replays, and big thanks to everyone who invited me to their events. It’s always such an honor to be able to talk about horror!

And in terms of forthcoming events, I’m thrilled to be part of the second year of the New York Ghost Story Festival. Catch me this Saturday, December 4th along with Daniel Braum, Jon Padgett, Venita Coehlo, and Steve Rasnic Tem. The event starts at 7pm EST on YouTube! Hope to see you there!

Italian translation of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe

And finally, I’m excited to announce that Independent Legions Publishing will be releasing the Italian translation of my debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. It’s been almost five years (!) since that book was released from JournalStone, and it makes me so happy to see that it will soon be reaching new readers. A huge shout-out to editor Alessandro Manzetti for his work at translating my fiction in the past and for choosing my collection for his press. I’m very happy to be working together again!

So those are my updates for the moment! I hope everyone’s doing well and staying safe during these strange times. Here’s to hoping for a positive end to 2021 and to an even better 2022!

Happy reading, and happy holidays!

Midnight Movie Madness: Part Two of the Violent Vixens Roundtable

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

So let’s take it away, shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

Horror and A Sinister Quartet: Part 2 of the Mythic Delirium Roundtable

Welcome back for part two of the Mythic Delirium Roundtable! Today we talk a little more about these authors’ collaborative book, A Sinister Quartet, as well as their favorite horror films and how 2020 has affected their writing!

Since this book is more horror and dark fantasy, what’s your favorite horror film? Do you remember the first horror story or horror film that really captured your imagination?

C.S.E. COONEY: I remember a babysitter making me watch The Fly when I was four or five years old. I hated it, and wanted to leave the room, but she wouldn’t let me. It scared me for years! Not my favorite. I could probably watch it now and lance the boil of those early demons—but why spoil a perfectly wretched memory? Anyway, there are several horror films I’ve loved recently: I loved The Babadook and The Devil’s Backbone for their unapologetic primary metaphors—the monster in our own homes, our bodies, the phantom bomb in our midst—and I loved Midsommar because in so many ways it didn’t seem like horror at all. It seemed like paradise at a terrible cost, which is a little how I imagine Gelethel.

AMANDA MCGEE: Oh dear. So I can’t actually watch most horror films because I have too many nightmares. Like I will occasionally watch horror but I can’t do it alone and I have to be in the right headspace. But I will tell you that the first horror film I watched that really rattled me (and put me off of horror for a long time) was Resident Evil. I have a huge issue with zombies, actually. Super freak me out. It took watching Shaun of the Dead to get me to stop having nightmares about zombies, even years later.

JESSICA P. WICK: Hmm! Favorite horror film is tough, partly because I’m a huge wuss, so how do we define favorite here? Rewatchability? The degree to which it haunts me? I really liked the original Let the Right One In, ditto The Hunger with David Bowie, but if Pan’s Labyrinth — my all time favorite film — counts as horror (and I’d say it does), then Pan’s Labyrinth all the way. That movie has everything I want from darkness. As for what horror film first really captured my imagination, what a good question I’m not sure I have an answer to. The first horror images that really captured my imagination were the illustrations by Stephen Gammell from Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark, and one illustration of Odile by Trina Schart Hyman in Swan Lake. I was so scared of the Odile page and so fascinated-scared by the gruesome Gammell pictures.

MIKE ALLEN: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite horror flick because I enjoy many deeply flawed movies and can nitpick supposedly great movies, but my blighted soul often circles back to the Robert Wise-directed version of The Haunting, which I watched for the first time on grainy VHS as a jaded grown-up, and it still got under my skin.

My extremely traumatic first encounter with horror happened when I was in third grade, and our well-meaning teacher read us Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” for Halloween. Visions of that dismembered old man with the pale blue vulture eye consumed me. I didn’t shake the night terrors until my teen years, when I started to delight in the creative process behind horror. Clive Barker’s Books of Blood were the key to that transformation. Bonus points to the first horror movie that I deliberately went to see in a theater: Return of the Living Dead. BRRAAAIIINNNSS!

2020 has been an intense year on so many levels. How if at all has this year affected your own writing, either in productivity or in what themes you’re exploring in your work?

C.S.E. COONEY: 2020 in many ways has been incredibly productive, partly because it had to be. Both my husband and I are writers, and both of us were on constant deadlines, so in a way, writing became one of the stabilizing forces of 2020, even when everything else was melting down. I’ve not had much writing time to process current events; much of what I’m working on is several drafts old or to spec, but I have found some solace in journaling and poetry—when I can find the time at all.

AMANDA J. MCGEE: So 2020 has been ironically really productive for me. It might be the most productive writing year I’ve had for a while if we’re just counting new words. I think this is because the way I deal with stress historically is to read and write it out. Also not being able to go to the gym or hang out as much with friends means I don’t have my other coping mechanisms. I’ve mostly been writing more light-hearted stuff this go round, for obvious reasons. It’s a lot harder to put my characters in really disturbing situations when I am personally a little overwhelmed, so that’s been the biggest issue I’ve faced.

JESSICA P. WICK: 2020 has been just an awful gloom of uncertainty, occasionally punctuated by the hot radiance of anger. It’s been a struggle to write and to read. I think wistfully of those old stories of The Writer or The Artist, spilling their pain onto the page and shaping masterpieces. That’s not how I work at all. If I look back over the last few years at my projects, I’m often drawn to the question of how to do what is right. I write a lot about ‘good neighbors,’ about expectation and goodness, image and what it really means, a lot of careful what you wish for, consequences exist but they’re often unintended. I don’t think this awful year has changed any of that. I’m still interested in writing characters who are ultimately hopeful although they might not be in a very hopeful world.

MIKE ALLEN: I have to say, the stress of the pandemic and the roil of civil unrest and electoral uncertainty ground my writing down to a level of near nonexistence. (In a sense. In my day job, I’m a newspaper reporter, and in that role I’ve written plenty.) Most of my writing and publishing-related effort has gone into promoting A Sinister Quartet and my new collection of horror fiction, Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, and advertising and selling other titles in the Mythic Delirium Books catalog.

I have in 2020 managed to write a handful of new short stories, one of which I sold to Lackington’s. And it’s another “Button Bin” story, this time a prequel, called “The Feather Stitch.” It crosses over with another quasi-popular story of mine, “The Cruelest Team Will Win,” and thus ties in another monster mythos that I originally conceived as completely separate. I seem to be doing that more and more in my dotage — linking stories that originally I had no intention of tying together.

As an aside, I feel a need to step more fully into my editor hat here (hello, mixed metaphor) and note that C.S.E.’s “The Twice-Drowned Saint” in Sinister is very much of the 2020 moment in its plot and themes.

What do each of you have planned next?

C.S.E. COONEY: I have to finish edits for my novel Saint Death’s Daughter, which is coming out in Spring 2022 with Solaris. I have an idea for an 8-episode radio play/podcast called The Devil and Lady Midnight. I have a concept album I’d like to complete called Ballads from a Distant Star. I’d like to finish up a collection of novellas called Dark Breakers—which means finishing a novella I started for it, and also one last short story. I’d like to start the next novel in my Saint Death trilogy. And, oh! Various and sundry!

AMANDA J. MCGEE: Plans…yeah. I don’t have anything set in stone right now. No contracts. I’m working on a novel that ambushed me back in August. Kind of a Labyrinth meets Lord of the Rings scenario, for lack of a better way to describe it. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve got another couple of novels at various stages of editing I need to get polished and out to query. So hopefully one of those projects goes somewhere, but I’ve been focusing on making new words this year more than anything.

JESSICA P. WICK: My plan is to finish what I call ‘the swashbuckly novel,’ which is a tale of revenge, atmosphere, carnivorous mermaids, fate witches working for a decadent government, sleeping curses, bureaucratic evil, dangerous nationalism, theatre troupes, pirates, repartee both with words and blades.

I’ve also been playing with drabbles expanding some of the folklore from my horror story, ‘The Husker,’ which is up at Strange Horizons, and I’d like to put together a collection of oddities …Possibly to go along with a poetry collection. That’s my big 2021 goal: Put out a collection of poetry.

But there are other things I’m working on (in theory), too. A murder ballad card game, a novel about Brinedrift House (it will involve devils), a horror story about a goose. You’d think I wouldn’t need to write more. Say ‘goose’ and have people sagely nod ‘ah yes, the devil bird,’ but I have a goal of getting my friend Christa to never look at geese the same way again.

So many plans! I just hope I’m ready for 2021.

MIKE ALLEN: I have a fully drafted novel, working title These Bloody Filaments, that I haven’t touched since January, in part because of the 2020 miasma, in part because I felt like I had to see how this election turned out in order to choose the directions the revisions should go, as racism and police brutality figure strongly in its warp and weft. I hope to find the strength to get back to it soon. In the meantime there’s an older novel to perhaps dust off, a new novel idea to start on, other stories to finish, future Mythic Delirium Books to discuss — and of course more promotion for both Aftermath of an Industrial Accident and A Sinister Quartet.

Where can we find you online?

C.S.E. COONEY: https://csecooney.com/ and @csecooney on Twitter and Insta.

AMANDA J. MCGEE: You can find me all sorts of places! My website is http://amandajmcgee.com, where I blog weekly, and I’m also on Twitter (@skylit1) and Instagram (@amcgee.writes) and I have a Facebook page, and technically even a Patreon where you can read little snippets of things I’m currently scribbling on.

JESSICA P. WICK: You can find me online at jessicapwick.com, foamlyre on instagram, and @lunelyre on twitter.

MIKE ALLEN: As a publisher at https://mythicdelirium.com/, as a writer at http://descentintolight.com/, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mythicdelirium and on Facebook as https://www.facebook.com/time.shark.

Tremendous thanks to the authors of A Sinister Quartet for being part of this very fabulous roundtable!

Happy reading!