Welcome back for the final installment of our Pride Month Horror Roundtable! Today we discuss books and short stories featuring LGBTQ+ characters as well as these six authors’ hopes for the future of queer literature!
And with that, let’s take it away!
What are a few books or short stories that feature LGBTQ+ characters that you wish more people knew about?
CRAIG LAURANCE GIDNEY: A Visitation of Spirits by the late author Randall Kenan ought to be more well-known. It’s not marketed as a genre fiction but it has a definite horror vibes. It’s about the Black church and the exorcism of a Black queer boy.
The Museum of Love by Steve Wiener is a magical realist novel about a French Canadian boy and his journey to self acceptance. It’s full of weird surrealistic interludes.
CHRISTINA LADD: The horror community tends to be ravenously well-informed, but I’ll try. First off, even if everybody knows about them, still not enough people talk about Caitlin R. Kiernan. They’ve been a mainstay of horror for many years, an Atlas on whose shoulders rests so much of the foundation for current trends in cosmic horror. I wouldn’t have heard of Lovecraft—or of the still lesser-known Charles Fort—if not for them, and many of their short stories and novels are touchstones for me still.
Recently, I’ve loved Tell Me I’m Worthless by Allison Rumfit, which wonders how we can stop hurting each other in our current dystopia haunted by ghosts of fascisms past, and Chlorine by Jade Song, which isn’t shelved with horror but definitely has a lot of horror elements that I highly recommend you check out.
K.P. KULSKI: Sara Tantlinger’s novella, To Be Devoured, is gorgeous and horrifying, I highly recommend it to everyone. This is one of those works I feel like the whole world should know about.
Nicholas Day’s novella, At the End of the Day I Burst Into Flames, is hands down one of my all time favorite books. It is gorgeous, aching, and speaks volumes of truth. To be quite honest, this book is very close to my heart and I go back to it often to find myself.
Sang Young Park’s book Love in the Big City was a recent read for me and I dearly loved it. The work is everything aching and yet filled with self-awareness. Not only did it bring me to tears, it gave me a gift of personal growth.
LARISSA GLASSER: The absolute polestar of queer horror is Clive Barker’s “In the Hills, the Cities.” I think plenty of readers and writers in genre realize how much a game-changer The Books of Blood are, but consider when they were written during the height of worldwide conservative hawkishness rooted in Thatcher, Reagan, Pinochet, Ríos Montt, among others, Barker managed to make gay lives seem just as ordinary and capable of being imposed upon by extraordinary events. “Human Remains” and “The Madonna” in the same story cycle touch upon similar themes, but “In the Hills” seems to have gained the most recognition, and justly so. The place to start with Torrey Peters would be her novellas “Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones,” “The Masker,” and her full novel Detransition, Baby. Finally, read Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin. You’re in for one fuck of a ride, and she’s got more coming very soon.
MONA LESUEUR: Not so much a specific book, but you could pick any name out of the ones I listed up above and you’ll have a good time! But if I had to pick one, I wish more people talked about The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan. God, I love that book.
ADDIE TSAI: Bryan Washington’s LOT! I feel like a lot of people know about his second book, but LOT is such an incredible collection of stories, centering my hometown, Houston, in ways that we’ve never seen in American literature before. Mark Oshiro’s Each of Us a Desert is a book that came out in the second year of the pandemic, and so I don’t know if it got the attention it deserved. That novel is so close to my heart, and brought me back into reading since the start of the pandemic, no easy task. I would give that book to everyone in the world if I could.
What are your hopes for the future of LGBTQ+ representation in horror and speculative fiction?
CRAIG LAURANCE GIDNEY: I hope more people will accept damaged and unlikeable queer characters. They make for more interesting storytelling than Perfect Queers. I also want alternative family structures explored—poly folk and leather folk as well as more traditional queer couples with children.
CHRISTINA LADD: Ever since The Book of Queer Saints, the idea of problematic or messy queers has been on my mind. There’s certainly a strain of discourse that prefers LGBTQ+ people to be, if not out-and-out (hah) Good Guys, then at least somehow sympathetic. And I get it, it’s still very scary to write stories that some dingus might then brandish at a school board meeting in order to justify banning all queer stories. It’s terrifying, in fact! But I hope that the horror community will not do the dinguses’ work for them. Horror has so often been a refuge for people who have been made to feel monstrous, and I want the genre to continue be a source of catharsis and consolation.
K.P. KULSKI: My hope is that it continues its current course— exploring and embracing. With that said, I would also like to see more representation for those of us who are LGBTQ+ and part of the Asian Diaspora, like Addie Tsai’s Unwieldy Creatures. (More of this please!) Our experiences, often at the crossroads of the immigrant, diaspora, multi-racial, multi-cultural are unique and have specific struggles when we also have an LGBTQ+ identity.
LARISSA GLASSER: LGBTQ+ presence and agency will keep genre fiction alive, innovative, and lucrative in the 21st century and beyond. I know there may be some who act in bad faith, who want to exclude trans women from the genre and even from daily life, but I cannot emphasize enough how self-sabotaging that attitude has always proven to be.
MONA LESUEUR: More queer horror romance, and more survival horror with a tight-knit queer group and a monster. Gimme lesser monsters teaming up with humans to take down the big monster. Gimme gays vs. dinosaurs. Gimme lesbians dripping with viscera who make out while their limbs mutate. Gimme ghost x human BDSM. Gimme monster love. Gimme messy protagonists. That’s all I ask.
ADDIE TSAI: My hope is that we just see more representation, more popular media, more complex intersection of LGBTQ+ Black characters, Indigenous characters, and other characters of color interacting with horror and speculative fiction tropes in interesting ways. I want to see unsaintly characters, LGBTQ+ storylines that don’t end in erasure, and for god’s sake, no more being relegated to subtext.
What’s next for you? What projects are you currently working on, and where can we find you online?
CRAIG LAURANCE GIDNEY: I am currently working on short stories for a couple of anthology invitations. I’ll have a story in BLACKENED ROOTS, a collection zombie stories from Black creators in June. This past March I had a reprint piece in The Dark called “Antelope Brothers” that’s available to read online for free. I can be found at www.craiglaurancegidney.com and @ethereallad on Instagram, Twitter and Mastadon
CHRISTINA LADD: Right now I have a lot of short stories in various states of disarray, but my eventual goal is to finish a queer Persephone novel, and also a novel set in Carcosa.
I’m also poking at an eventual collection of stories based on John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which is a (very biased) account of English Catholic persecution of Protestant, but to me as a modern and nonreligious reader, it’s really just a collection of horrifying ways that humans decided to hurt each other. Reimagining those accounts with modern, supernatural, and queer/feminist lenses has been a pet project of mine. You can read one of those stories here. For everything else, you can find me at christinaladd.com.
K.P. KULSKI: I’ve been working for awhile on what began as a novella, but has turned into a novel—about a mul-gwishin/Korean water ghost haunting. It’s rooted in post war/Cold War Korean history, as well American immigrant and Asian-American experiences. I’ve also been at work planning and writing an Asian Diaspora Folk Horror television series. I’m still tinkering with the pilot episode.
I’m also looking forward to StokerCon in Pittsburgh this year! If you’re planning to attend, be sure to say hello!
You can also find me online www.garnetonwinter.com, on Insta @garnetonwinter, and Twitter @garnetonwinter.
LARISSA GLASSER: I’m working on an anthology story about cryptids in Nantucket, another about The Formless Spawn from Clark Ashton Smith’s Tsathoggua cycle, another longer work which will explore some of the themes explored in Arthur Machen folktales. Another book I’m getting into is a trilogy that exclusively takes place inside of vehicles (don’t worry, there will be plenty of killdozers involved, too). Apart from that I’m finishing up post-production for the next Hekseri album which we hope to have mixed and mastered this summer.
I don’t have a website up currently, but the best place to find me online is Twitter @larissaeglasser and that’s also the best place to DM me if I can help with anything or if you just want to debate which Drive Like Jehu album is better. THANK UUU <333
MONA LESUEUR: I currently have a few gestating novellas and a novelette in the works that I hope you all will hear more about soon. I won’t share too many details, as I’m the kind of writer that likes to stay mum until I have all the pages in order for fear of either losing interest or momentum from pressure, but I approach all my writing with a desire to will something into existence that I can’t find anywhere outside my daydreams.
You can find me on Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram as @msuspiriorum, though I’m afraid I don’t talk much about my process on social media. I’m always happy to chat about books, video games, movies, TV, anime, manga…but otherwise, I hope you enjoy artwork, pictures, updates on what media I am enjoying, and silly memes!
ADDIE TSAI: I’m actually working on what I like to call a fanfic of UNWIELDY CREATURES, or a spin-off. It will also feature another kind of reimagining, but based in history rather than fiction. Stay tuned! I’m also writing a lot of poems, working on a memoir, as well as a graphic novel! Can we say Virgo? You can find me at my website: http://www.addietsai.com. I’m addiebrook on Twitter and bluejuniper on Instagram. Come find me!
And that’s our Pride Month Horror Roundtable for 2023! Huge thanks to our featured authors, and please read their work during June and all year-round!
Happy reading, and happy Pride Month!