Category Archives: Interviews

Rainbow Horror: Interview with Maxwell I. Gold

Welcome back! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight author Maxwell I. Gold. I had the pleasure of meeting Maxwell at StokerCon in June, and one of the things I remember most about him is how we both repeatedly complimented each other’s fashion choices during the convention. The other thing I remember is how kind and helpful he was throughout StokerCon, which meant that I was quite happy to hear that he was going to be the Interim Executive Director for HWA. We’re lucky to have someone so dedicated at the helm of the organization.

Recently, Maxwell and I discussed his new book, Bleeding Rainbows and Other Broken Spectrums, along with his love of prose poetry and what he’s got planned next.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I’ve always loved to write, ever since I was little – well, younger, since I’ve always been on the shorter side. Actually, I had (still have) a small, velvet-bound spiral notebook with a bunch of poorly written short stories I penned when I was in 5th grade because I knew then I’d always wanted to be an author. You can imagine the mockery in the late 1990’s from a bunch of elementary kids. Some of the earliest writers I read were actually not horror, but I grew up reading J.R.R. Tolkien, Alexandre Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson, and many classical writers.

Some of my favorite writers include Clark Ashton Smith, Algernon Blackwood, Robert Chambers, Comte de Lautreamont, and many contemporary authors including Lucy A. Synder, Paula D. Ashe, Michael Bailey, Matthew M. Bartlett and recently I’ve fallen in love with the work of Tom Cardamone.

Congratulations on your collection, Bleeding Rainbows and Other Broken Spectrums. What was the inspiration for the book, and what themes in particular do you feel are most important in Bleeding Rainbows?

The book arose out of a discussion with Hex Publisher founder, Josh Viola after agreeing to do a poetry collection for his publishing company. He asked if I might be interested in exploring homoerotic poetry, so, I began to wonder at the possibilities of combining both the weird and cosmic with homoerotic.

The collection follows a path through colors and feelings starting with the obvious crimson red desire, ending with dark uncertainty. It was my hope that the collection, while pulling at the erogenous (yes, you read that correctly), primal subconscious desires that lurk inside all of us – I wanted to tug at something darker and more urgent. The other. The fear that there’s something else on the other side of the closet door. I tried to touch on themes both historical and psychological including toxic masculinity, abusive relationships, and the gay civil rights movement.

There’s a lot packed into 66 poems.

I’m a huge fan of prose poetry, and your particular approach to it is both beautiful and horrifying in all the best ways. What inspires you to write prose poetry? Do you remember your earliest experience as a reader of prose poetry?

The musicality of prose poetry is something that I greatly enjoy, and I’m inspired by almost everything and anything I can find when it comes to crafting new poems. Dreams, random word associations, or even side conversation can spark the strangest line of poetry where I’m taken down a rabbit hole into a bizarre, twisted place. Oftentimes, whenever I wake from a vivid dream (or nightmare) I’ll write down the images or deranged sequence of events then revisit it later. There’s no one singular well as to which I draw inspiration from, though I feel that’s safe to say for many of us as writers.

Some of the earliest bits of prose poetry I recall reading were honestly some of the old myths such as Metamorphosis by Ovid which qualifies more in the realm of epic poetry, though at a young age I found myself reading Ovid, Hesiod, Blake because I was in love with the beautiful imagery and fantastical sounds and places these poets were conjuring. I’ll admit that I did not discover horror until much more recently.

What upcoming projects are you working on?

My chapbook another Mythology which explores old myths through a new lense with queer representation will be released by Interstellar Flight Press in September.

I will have a new prose poetry collection released next year. I’m afraid I cannot announce the publisher yet, but I promise you’ll know, soon!

And of course, you can find Bleeding Rainbows and Other Broken Spectrums on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and through Hex Publishers directly! If you order a hardback copy through the publisher you’ll receive a special bookmark (and that’s all I’ll say).

I’ve written a few poems for anthologies that are coming out this year including Back 2 OmniPark (ed. Ben Thomas and Alicia Hilton) from House Blackwood, Playlist for the Damned (ed. Willow Dawn Becker and Jess Landry) from Weird Little Worlds.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me at my website – or on instagram @cybergodwrites

Big thanks to Maxwell I. Gold for being part of this week’s author interview series!

Happy reading!

Favorites and Future: Part Three in Our Pride Month Horror Roundtable

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.

F4LARISSA 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 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

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, 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: 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!

Pride and Horror: Part One in Our Pride Month Roundtable

Welcome back, and happy Pride Month! For the rest of June, I’ll be featuring a roundtable spotlighting six amazing LGBTQ+ authors! We’ll be discussing their experiences as writers in the industry as well as their favorite LGBTQ+ storytellers.

So as we’re closing out the first week of Pride, I’m so pleased to let these fabulous authors take it away!

Please tell us about yourself and your work in the horror and speculative fiction genres.

ADDIE TSAI: I’m a queer nonbinary (any/all) biracial Asian writer and artist. I started out as a poet, and now I write a little bit of everything. I’ve published two novels. My debut, Dear Twin, is a queer Asian YA epistolary hybrid about twins and childhood trauma, and this past August I published Unwieldy Creatures, a queer biracial Asian non-binary retelling of Frankenstein. My personal essay on Dead Ringers and twinhood was included in the recently released queer horror nonfiction anthology, It Came from the Closet. My first horror love was Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, which I was obsessed with as a teenager, such a fan that I recently traveled to New Orleans to see the Anne Rice archives, which are housed at Tulane University. The earliest fiction I can remember writing were (very bad) rewrites (fanfic wasn’t a word in the 90s) of Rice’s series, centering original vampires, who were identical twins.

CHRISTINA LADD: Hi, I’m Christina Ladd, and I write fantasy and horror stories grounded in obsessively researched obscure facts, usually from ancient history, usually involving dead languages. I end up writing horror not because I set out to frighten others (most of the time, anyway), but because most things scare me.

K.P. KULSKI: Thanks for having me. I’m a Korean-American author of dark fiction, born in Honolulu, Hawaii. I’m also a veteran of both the U.S. Navy and Air Force. Growing up in a military family also meant growing up in lots of places. As active duty as an adult, I continued to move often, so I’m not really from one place, although I spent most of my childhood on the American East Coast.

I love writing about witches and anything dark and twisted beyond the overgrown bramble in the ancient woods. I’m also a big history nerd in all the best ways and used to teach college history courses, so naturally, you’ll find lots of history inspired things in my work. Both my gothic horror, Fairest Flesh (dark historical fiction), and novella House of Pungsu (period inspired) fit this.

CRAIG LAURANCE GIDNEY: I’m the author of three collections and two short novels. Three of my books have been Lambda Literary Award Finalists, and I recently won the inaugural Pulver award for Weird Fiction. My writing—save for a young adult novel about bullying—is weird fiction that investigates issues of race, gender and sexuality.

Larissa GlasserLARISSA GLASSER: I am a librarian-archivist working in academia, mostly on the technical side. I see librarianship and cataloging as a type of alchemy, where we provide answers to questions and encourage building independent research skills as well. But in addition to interest in library science, I was drawn to horror and fantasy at a very young age through Tolkien, Clive Barker, Star Wars, and The Evil Dead. Originally I tried writing crime fiction, but after reading Clark Ashton Smith, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Ketchum, I developed a darker outlook and began writing the sort of material I wanted to read. I’ve written several short stories that closely align with my experiences navigating daily life as a transsexual woman, and after discovering more trans authors within the dark fiction genre I wrote my novella F4 for Eraserhead Press. I’m still surprised it caught on with so many people.

MONA SWAN LESUEUR: Howdy howdy! I’m Mona, and my pronouns are they/them/she/her. I’m a desert gal who tends to write surrealist and fantastical horror. I am often inspired by fairy tales, b-movies, anime, and that feeling you get when you explore an abandoned building at 4am with nothing but a sign taped to your chest that reads: “Hey demons, it’s me: your girl. Wanna kiss?”

My most recently published story is a collaboration with Fiona Maeve Geist called “The Taint is Saintly with Her Welcome” for The New Flesh: A Literary Tribute to David Cronenberg from Weird Punk Books.

What does Pride Month mean to you personally? Do you feel that the writing community is welcoming to LGBTQ+ authors during Pride Month (and beyond)?

ADDIE TSAI: Regardless of how commercial and corporate Pride has become, I still see Pride as a celebration of the first major uprising, and so it remains deeply meaningful for me. I think that it’s taken a LONG time for the writing community to get on board, and we still have a long way to go, but it’s nothing like it was as I was coming of age as a young writer. I’m excited by the communities I’ve been able to find.

CHRISTINA LADD: Though no group of human beings is perfect, I have found the horror community generally welcoming, thoughtful, and kind. So many editors and authors are vocally supportive of their queer readers and writers, and equally loud in rejecting transphobia, homophobia, and general dickishness. And for me at least, this comic is pretty true!

K.P. KULSKI: One of things I love about the Pride is the expressed right to celebration— a joyful authenticity, so when I think of Pride Month, I think of these ideas. To me it’s a reminder to embrace and love ourselves.

Horror continues to be out in front in establishing new norms and I feel LGBTQ+ authors have
become a significant and visible part of our community. We’re telling our stories and for the
most part, I’ve seen a lot of support, lots of fabulous calls to make “horror gay AF” and I love to
see it.

CRAIG LAURANCE GIDNEY: The past few years has lulled us into a false sense of security. Now that the Trans community is being directly attacked and the rest of the community is being painted as “groomers,” Pride is more important than ever. I feel that my little section of the writing community is very welcoming to authors, though every now and then, intolerance raises its ugly head.

LARISSA GLASSER: It’s been over 30 years since I came out as trans, and have been through so many ups and downs on personal and professional levels, Pride Month means precious little to me by now. It’s a nice commemoration, but if modern society is disinclined to offer Pride Lifetimes, equal protection under the law that most taxpayers should expect, I see Pride Month as table scraps with a chain store or bank logo. Recently there was that huge right wing tantrum over Dylan Mulvaney’s platforming Bud Light? That seems indicative of how LGBTQ+ dignity is treated within prevailing media narratives of the early 2020’s. It’s really shitty and reductive. That said, I’d say that any writers in the horror/SF community who have any degree of talent and character should fully support LGBTQ+ authors unconditionally and unequivocally all year long, not just during a commemorative month. Thankfully, I’ve experienced full and unequivocal support from the community since I first began going to horror cons more than a decade ago. So despite the reactionary and cynical backlash against queer rights, I still think big things can have small beginnings. I just think it’s totally absurd when these people say that queer visibility
is an imposition on their daily lives and/or the education of their children. That’s cynical, childish, and totally fucking weak.

MONA SWAN LESUEUR: Beyond the increased recognition that Pride Month can provide, I sadly don’t have much of a personal connection to the month. I mostly associate it with being a period of time where a bunch of outgoing folks the heat and celebrate being LGBTQ+ while corporations try to cash in as much as possible. If I hadn’t been born and raised in the desert, the idea might seem more appealing to me…but I also don’t care too much for crowds. More power to those who want to go out and soak up the sun, but I’d rather be gay with a tower fan in my face.

The writing community I feel is becoming more and more welcoming to LGBTQ+ writers as time passes. There is still plenty of work to be done, but it warms my heart to see multiple books published each year with press coverage. I remember a time where mainstream coverage was rare, so it’s nice to see how far we’ve come.

And that’s Part One in our Pride Month Roundtable! Head on back here next week for the next installment from our fantastic authors!

Happy reading, and happy Pride!

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

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

And now I’m honored to let this week’s group of interviewees take it away!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What has Roe vs. Wade meant to you personally?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading, and happy fighting fascism!

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

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

So with that, I’d like for this week’s featured authors to take it away!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many thanks to this week’s amazing interviewees!

Happy reading, and happy fighting fascism!

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

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

So with that, I’ll let my interviewees take it away!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tremendous thanks to this week’s interviewees!

Happy reading, and happy fighting fascism!

Reproductive Rights Abroad: Part Six in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back for the sixth edition of our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable!

Today, we switch gears a bit, as I talk with a group of horror writers who are located outside of the United States to see how the overturning of Roe vs. Wade is affecting people abroad.

So with that, I will allow my five interviewees to take it away!

All of you are from countries other than America. Please tell us where you’re from and why you feel the overturning of Roe in the United States is everyone’s problem.

HS DILAZAK: Given the special relationship between the UK and the US, the overturning of Roe Vs Wade concerns me as I’m anxious about the impression this might create on our political landscape. There is already evidence of this happening with the current conservative government. We have an MP, Danny Kruger who has made some sensational comments in regards to whether women truly have full autonomy over their body as there is another body involved in the making of a child. With men like this in parliament, the overturning in one of the most powerful countries in the world will embolden their personal positions, and in a few years, we might also be looking to overturn our own abortion laws. It’s very troubling as it is considered by many here, a fundamental human right.

EVA ROSLIN: I’m from the Eastern coast of Canada, and the overturning of Roe in the United States is absolutely everyone’s problem. There’s a lot of helplessness here because many, many women and female-identifying folks are just as outraged about this ruling and this attack on bodily autonomy, and then seeing the subsequent response from the Democractic Party, but knowing that we cannot vote in midterm or other elections there, or do something more concrete. There have thankfully been some fundraising and other donation campaigns that are trying to make sure that folks donate to those organizations most in need, and that the funds are going to the right places because unfortunately, in this day and age, there are a lot of scammers who are getting cleverer about taking advantage of human goodwill.

One thing I want to speak out about is the Canadian sense of smugness that I have seen from past co-workers, online posters on social media, and in some newspaper headlines as well as news anchors–there is a troubling trend of “Phew, glad that’s not us! Oh, those silly Americans” that runs through Canada, and it makes me rage. I have wanted to scream at co-workers in the past because I wanted to say: this is ALL of us. This is not just some disparate separate thing that only affects one country. Yes, we all watch in horror at the mind-blowing rates of gun violence and protection of guns in the US from here, but we have our own problems.

The same radicalization particularly of white men that exists in the US and in other countries, as we saw with the Christchurch Massacre in New Zealand, is the continuing legacy of a problem that several Western nations try to ignore or stick their fingers in their ears and pretend is not there. We have had terrorist acts in Canada, including an attack on Parliament Hill in October 2014. We’ve had shootings at a Mosques, and a man who ran over a family of Muslim people in London, Ontario, in a hate crime. Earlier this winter, we had a “Freedom Convoy” radicalized by US politics and increasing divisions over covid safety policies and vaccines as well as other issues that became politicized who held the city of Ottawa hostage. It made me beyond ill. And it’s still there. The province of Alberta, on the west coast of Canada, is like Texas in many ways, and while that used to be just another reason for non-Canadians to make fun of us, the real issues that are going on are extremely distressing.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there and the illusion that many people outside of the US cling to like oh that’s a “them” problem and “it will never happen here” but we have since seen that is simply untrue. As many other people have more eloquently or perhaps more clearly pointed out, this is not just about women’s reproductive rights. It’s an assault by a cabal of probably some of the most privileged white judges on the planet, and painfully for Black communities, Clarence Thomas, who have collectively decided that they want to eradicate all hard-fought equality rights. This is an attack on LGBTQIA+ rights particularly targeting trans communities and children, which is beyond sickening and invasive. It’s targeting racialized peoples and exposing even more glaringly the lack of equality toward Black communities. It’s about an absolute lack of regard for any form of life that isn’t cis, hetero, white, male, essentially. And the guns. We cannot forget the guns… (tries not to scream)

PENNY JONES: Hi. I’m over in England, and there is huge shock over here at the overturning of Roe vs Wade. As well as our fears for both those who we count as friends and family over in the States, and those who are strangers to us; It is very concerning to see the insidious nature of religion infiltrating in to politics. I’m not naive and I have always been aware that politics is at best coerced, but to see the corruption of politics, and the resultant impact on policy and law, by funding and party donors being so blatantly celebrated by an ever-growing faction of the states should be a concern for everyone. As a white, middle class, western woman I have grown up with certain privileges, and had never particularly been concerned if I could obtain an abortion if I needed or chose to have one. I just accepted it as my right under the International Human Rights law. Control of abortions was something that happened to other people: to those in Iran after the revolution, to those who lived under Ceausescu’s dictatorship, to those who were too poor or too oppressed to be able to access the services that I took for granted. For me abortion control was history, it was fantasy, it was nothing more than a dystopian horror story. But the truth is, that those small insidious tendrils that made their way into American politics are already being seen here over in our own, and I only hope that these atrocities aren’t repeated once more.

ASTRID ADDAMS: Hello, I am from England in the UK. I feel that overturning Roe vs Wade is a step backwards for women’s rights as well as a step backwards for environmental and social conditions. Not just in America, but for the international community. America for large parts of the world, represents the West and has a reputation for being the best country in the world. The big American Dream. As a kid, I wanted to be American from watching The Mighty Ducks and other such kids film. A friend of mine who grew up in Thailand learnt American English and grew up loving Friends, hell they even used to have Friends themed cafe’s in England, they might still do for all I know. Weirder still were the Dairy Queens in Bangkok. I’m sure most people have their own examples of the American Dream popping up in the oddest places.

Now America, being such a big voice on the world stage has overturned a right people have fought for and which many people still don’t have access to in our unequal world is MASSIVE. Especially given the potential environmental and social implications for our planet. Abortion is such an emotive subject that people are still passionately against, now they have a great big dump of proof from a historic super power that they too, can manipulate people’s emotions and get abortion made illegal again in their own countries. To hell with the environmental impact of more people increasing the strain on a planet experiencing climate change. To hell with the reality of poverty and child poverty and all the disease, crime and everything else that comes with it. They see abortion as murder, yet care nothing for the babies born nor the people who die. Prices are increasing globally as I write this, fuel costs are increasing globally, in both the UK and US work does not guarantee a living wage and there is not enough housing. Adding more babies into the shit show will only make things worse.

Then there is the body autonomy issue, which opens up a whole new can of monstrous rights violations. Forcing fetuses to be carried and birthed should be seen with the same horror as forced sterilization or FGM. Who the hell is anyone, except a doctor, to tell someone what to do with their body? Worse still, what kind of person forces their beliefs and themselves on someone’s body then denies the consequences of their actions? Rapists and pro lifers to name but a few. What level of cruelty does it take to not only force someone to carry a pregnancy to term no matter the damage to the mother, her life or the eventual baby. But to force that baby on its mother or parents for the next 18 years? Or force the baby that grows into a kid and a young adult into the adoption or care system? Certainly the British state does a pretty crap job raising kids and I’ve read sources that suggest the US is no better. An abortion ban forces women to carry and give birth to babies no matter the cost to them, the fetus that becomes a baby and society because of a fantasy and cute emotive images of fetuses. Used to great effect to tug at our heart strings.

CAITLIN MARCEAU: I live in Montreal, which is a major city in Quebec, Canada. Our country has always been close to the United States, and I don’t just mean geographically. It’s not uncommon for ideologies and popular rhetoric—both good and bad—in the U.S. to slowly gain steam up north. The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a major problem for Americans and people around the world because it demonstrates that the anti-choice/forced-birth movement is gaining steam. It shows that the human rights of the many can be taken away because of the beliefs of the extreme few. It’s also a horrible reminder that the fight for bodily autonomy is never really over.

What’s the current status of abortion rights in your country? Even if it’s legal, is it often still difficult for pregnant people to access basic abortion care?

PENNY JONES: The basic rule in England (it’s the same in Scotland and Wales, but not in Northern Ireland) is that an abortion can be carried out before 24 weeks of pregnancy. Abortions can still be carried out after the 24 week timescale in very limited circumstances – for example, if the mother’s life is at risk or the child would be born with a severe disability.
An abortion however cannot just be carried out for no reason, and they are only permitted within the 24 week timescale if there is either:

A risk to the life of the pregnant woman.
Or it is done to prevent grave permanent injury to the pregnant woman’s physical or mental health.
Or there is a risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family.
Or there is a substantial risk that, if the child were born, he or she would “suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.”

Counselling is usually offered prior to an abortion, usually through crisis pregnancy centres, and although this is not supposed to be pro-life, there are numerous clinics springing up in the UK who state that they are a crisis pregnancy centre, but actually only offer a biased pro-life counselling service.

There is also very much an expectance from society on whether you will want or need an abortion; and often the response you may receive when announcing that you are pregnant, will often be affected by your age, class, relationship status, and whether you are deemed capable of raising a child. It would not be uncommon for someone who was say, 30 and married, to visit their doctor as a first step in the abortion process and for their GPs response of “Your pregnancy test was positive.” to be followed by a hearty “Congratulations!” rather than a more suited “Is this good or bad news for you?”

HS DILAZAK: I have never been in a position where I’ve needed an abortion, but we have an Abortion Act that was passed in 1967 which emphasises the well-being of the mother. For instance it states that an abortion is lawful if the continuation of the pregnancy involves greater risk to mental and physical health than if terminating the pregnancy. Also, according to the National Health Service (NHS) in England, Wales and Scotland, you would not have to wait more than 2 weeks for an appointment after seeing the doctor for an initial assessment; and will be able to have an abortion before 24 weeks from the NHS. The only exception to having an abortion after 24 weeks is if the mother’s life is at risk or if the child would be born with a severe disability. There is also the private option, but costs and methods used will vary. However, in the case of Northern Ireland, despite abortion being decriminalised in 2019, a lot of women still find it difficult accessing abortions due to the very strong Catholic and Protestant communities there, and there have been cases where they’ve flown over to England to access health services as the services in Northern Ireland could not meet the demands. There is also the point of Anti-abortionists protesting outside hospitals where women might be getting an abortion, causing intimidation that has, unfortunately, led to some clinics having to shut down. Northern Ireland has voted to pass a law that would prevent protests outside health clinics, but it might then interfere with the right to protest.

EVA ROSLIN: Before I go into the status in Canada, I want to mention that we’ve been very fortunate that the main abortion medication became available safely and in 2018, the Safe Access to Abortion Services Act. Our PM (Prime Minister) made statements assuring Canadians that he was disgusted by the Roe decision in the US and that his government would commit to making sure that Canadians continue to. Have safe access to basic abortion care. However, there is still a dangling sense of precarity of okay, we’re going to trust you on this PM, but please don’t go back on your word.

So in terms of the history, I was shocked to find out that there was a law in 1969 in which a bunch of cishet white dudes would get to decide if a woman ‘qualified’ for an abortion under the strictest terms. Abortion was only decriminalized in Canada in 1988, so women used to go to the US from Canada when they needed this and related procedures. In 90-91, then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, went more in the direction of criminalization with Bill C-43 which would sentence doctors to jail if they performed abortions “where a woman’s health was not at risk.” Then there’s also the issue of getting procedures in hospitals vs. private clinics, which introduces the issue of affordability because one is covered by health care and the other is out of pocket.

I want to preface this next part of my response by acknowledging that as a white-passing woman of Middle Eastern heritage, I have experienced privilege in my daily life and continue to do so, and that this is not the case for many visible minorities in Canada and elsewhere. The veneer of safety that I and others grew up with has been pulled out from under so many of us like a rug. Black women in particular have been speaking out about these issues for years. In one of her many landmark texts, bell hooks was discussing and placing these issues in 1981 in ain’t I a woman, taken from the famous Sojourner Truth speech.

There is a very obnoxious and troubling trend of white women for the most part who only now are beginning to understand some of these inequalities and injustices but have been largely ignorant about issues because it hasn’t affected them. Forced sterilization against Black women as well as the abhorrent mistreatment of indigenous First Nations women in Canada in so many forms, which also includes forced sterilization among other unspeakable atrocities, is something I don’t have the words for. Stripping of bodily autonomy. Genital mutilation in some African nations that still takes place against girls… there needs to be more awareness of these issues, yes, but also more accountability toward taking meaningful actions to change these unacceptable things.

CAITLIN MARCEAU: In Canada, abortion is legal and offered freely through our government’s healthcare program (as well as being accessible through private clinics too). I can’t speak for how it works across the rest of the country, but in Quebec we’re able to locate abortion clinics using a government website that finds us services based on our location and how far we’re able to travel. For people less than fourteen weeks pregnant, services are readily available across the province, while people seeking an abortion after fourteen weeks generally need to go to specialized clinics for services (which aren’t as accessible outside of major cities or to people with limited access to transportation). Frustratingly, language can actually be one of the biggest barriers to abortion in Quebec, with important information and resources often being offered exclusively in French. With a push to reduce the use of English in governmental organizations, including health services, I imagine this language barrier will only become more of an obstacle in the next few years.

ASTRID ADDAMS: Abortion is legal in England for both socio-economic reasons and medical reasons. Abortion is legal and performed for any reason during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy and afterwards for medical reasons such as the mother’s life being at risk. They are free of charge on the NHS (yes we are lucky enough to have a national affordable health service) but can also be provided in licenced clinics. No one has to know, not your partner or your family, even if you are under sixteen. The decision is yours alone and confidential and they are easy to access. Making an informed medical decision is a primary concern of our health service as is the mothers health. We also have access to over the counter contraceptives, free condoms from sexual health services and free easy access to medically prescribed and administered contraceptives. I mention this because I have heard that getting medical contraceptive support can be harder in the US, that has now chosen to make abortions harder as well.

What are your specific fears for the future of reproductive rights, both in America and in your own country?

PENNY JONES: I fear that actually for America (and following in their stead, England) this could just be a stepping stone to even stricter laws, and that the oppression of bodily autonomy will grow exponentially. Many of the “rational” arguments for the overturning of Wade are around the ease of access of contraception and sexual education, and that these preventative measures should be used, rather than what the pro-life people state is an over-dependence on abortion over prevention. However there are already factions who believe that contraception is still murder and that the chemical or physical expulsion of the egg is akin to abortion. I’m sure many who are reading this will say I am overreacting, that there is no way that contraception will be made illegal in the States, but even as little as five years ago I would have said the same about abortion.

EVA ROSLIN: In terms of Canada, I said some things above but I hope that we will not see a return to forced sterilizations that are swept under the rug, particularly against disabled women, indigenous women, or anyone deemed an “undesirable.”

For the US, my fears don’t end and I have to work very hard not to lose my mind when I think of my friends and family there. I think my fear is that with this overturning of Roe, are we going to see more of the things targeting equal rights in America contested and also overturned? Things like the Loving case which focuses on anti-miscegenation laws and targets interracial unions. Things like Plessy v Ferguson, and these decisions that drill down to the most essentialized markers of identity to strip away more fundamental human rights. When we look at the Reconstruction Era and how the beginnings of reparations were begging to take place–things like the 40 Acres and a Mule agreement, but then you had then-president Andrew Johnson look at that and say “What? Black people getting land and getting more equality and voting rights? Oh no, no. That’s much too equitable. I’m getting rid of that.”

The collective disenfranchisement that has affected racialized communities in the United States, or the history of Japanese internment camps–a direct progenitor to the Anti-Asian hate and violence we have seen a surge of since the pandemic. Grave injustices.

I’m thinking of Apartheid in South Africa and the system there that made it so that mothers could not walk with their mixed-race children on the street, but also from an archival theory standpoint, I want people to look up the work of Verne Harris. After Apartheid ended, the government in South Africa ordered all of the state and national archives to just basically burn and destroy all the records that had anything to do with the previous several decades. They wanted to pretend that there weren’t these mountains of evidence that showed how they carried out Apartheid and other injustices in the country, primarily against its Black residents. Harris fought back against this, at great risk to his own safety and life, and refused to destroy the records. Himself and another small team of archivists did everything they could to salvage these documents and evidence.

And then when I look at all that 45 did and try not to become ill at revelation after revelation without any sense of accountability or justice, and in terms of documents, reports about flushing things down the toilet or otherwise trying to dispose of … these are things in the public trust. Governments have an underlying set of accountability toward citizens, which includes the making available and being transparent of documents. So this wilful disregard of, but also understand that hey, archives = evidence that could sink him, has been something that continues to distress me.

I really, truly hope that people will be able to fight this Roe overturning and that there will be a restoration of safe access to abortion and related procedures. Many women and female-identifying folks online have spoken about how it’s still so frustrating that people who abortion issues have not affected have an extremely limited view of its importance. They think primarily of one or two scenarios, and call it a day. I hope more people will try to make a concerted effort to understand there are so many complex reasons why these procedures are life-saving and necessary.

ASTRID ADDAMS: My own fear is that reproductive rights in both the US and England as well as world wide might go backwards. That the NHS will stop funding abortions, then what next? Will women’s rights to contraception go backwards? What will happen to unwanted pregnancies and the children coming from them? Parts of the UK are forced to use food banks, the US has food stamps because people cannot afford to eat on their incomes. How does adding more people into the mix not make our social problems worse?

But what I really fear, the dread that haunts me, is that history will repeat itself and avoidable suffering will be inflicted upon people. England has a rich history of suffering connected to being unable to control legally, safely and reliably when babies are born. My fear is, that we may well see the return of baby farms and actual baby murder/neglect, as well an increase in poverty and illegal abortions threatening the lives and health of women. I fear that mothers will die being forced to carry unviable and risky pregnancies. This happened in Ireland a few years back in 2012, far too recently for comfort. A dentist was refused a medically necessary termination for religious reasons and both the woman and her fetus died. This happened shamefully recently, when scientific knowledge should be put before religious beliefs. My fear is that this religious stupidity is part of the trend that has led to the overturning of Roe and could spread further like a cancer.

CAITLIN MARCEAU: Like many people, I’m worried about the influence conservative extremists have over legislature and basic human rights. An individual’s beliefs shouldn’t be able to dictate another person’s bodily autonomy, but Roe v. Wade being overturned shows the world that it can. For the last little while, we’ve watched massive groups of people deny basic science and critical thinking in service of furthering their own agendas, and I can’t help but worry that this is the first step in having abortion rights and bodily autonomy challenged on a global scale.

What are activists currently doing in your country to protect the right to abortion?

PENNY JONES: In response to the overturning of Roe vs Wade there have been numerous protests in solidarity with those over in America, however there have been far fewer in relation to our own abortion rights, mainly, I think, because in England the official response is outrage at the overturning of America’s abortion rights; so currently there is little concern for our own and our outrage is directed towards supporting those in the States.

However, there have been an increase across the country of pro-life protests, and what used to be a small minority focused around known abortion clinics is now growing. The protests are now occurring more and more often and the protestors are becoming more vocal and emboldened, not only are these protests centred around abortion clinics now, but there are ever increasing incidences of them in other public spaces. Where these protestors are trying to build support for their cause.

HS DILAZAK: There have been pro-choice protests led by the group Abortion Rights going on outside the American embassy in solidarity with women across the Atlantic. There have also been protests in other parts of London and Edinburgh, and some government officials like Nicola Sturgeon have come out to publicly condemn the overturning, stating also, that it is a dangerous move as it will embolden other countries across the world to follow suit.

EVA ROSLIN: So, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) is a pro-choice group that are committed to fighting for equal and fair access to abortion rights. They have been active in trying to work with groups in the US in ensuring that if anyone in one of the states that has lost their access to this care can receive it if they arrange to come to a clinic in Canada. There are multiple people who have spoken out and said they will help anyone who needs this care. It is heartening to see a rallying around this issue and solidarity.

However, there are very strong anti-abortion groups in the nation, many of whom give talks at schools and spread vile misinformation to young girls and female-identifying folks about the ‘dangers’ of the Pill and who weaponize religion as a way of making people afraid, and not knowing their rights. There are mailouts from religious organizations that demand funding in order to further their horrendous agendas and use rhetoric about “well, if you were a true Christian, you would do this, otherwise you are going to Hell!” I truly hope that more organizations will step forward and work together and fight this.

ASTRID ADDAMS: I must admit, I was the most nervous about answering this question. Simply because I didn’t know what activists would be doing in England to protect our rights to an abortion. I mean, we have that right and we do not seem to suffer the same intense fanatical pro life movement that has cursed the US for so long. At least that’s what I believed anyway, it was a shock to discover that here in England, women have been harassed whilst going to abortion providers. Luckily it seems that activists have been doing far more than had filtered through my self imposed partial news blackout (I find a lot of the news too depressing and avoid it, after all there are a million issues in the world, most of which you feel powerless to help with. Why spend your limited down time learning about what often feels like you can do nothing about? I’m sure lots of people limit their news intake for the same reasons.) There have been protests against the over turning of Roe Vs Wade here, there has also been the Back Off campaign, which campaigns to create buffer zones around abortion clinics where British women have been harassed by pro life campaigners. Also Abortion Rights pro choice national UK campaign campaigns for paid abortion leave and campaigns for abortion rights within the UK.

CAITLIN MARCEAU: Across the country, abortion activists are pushing for better education, access, and funding for services. Although abortion is covered through healthcare, activists are pushing to make transportation and access more equitable for individuals in remote locations. There’s also a strong push to educate the public on safe sex and pregnancy, as well as to help end the stigma surrounding abortion.

And finally, I want to share this devastating and affecting piece from author Theresa Derwin.

My corrupt body
Theresa Derwin
God, is it only Monday?

It feels as though I’ve already lived a thousand lives this week.
I’m tired.
Incredibly worn out by the Dystopian world I find myself in?
Or would that be Dickensian? The lines are so blurred now.
But I’m one of the lucky ones.
I never wanted children.
It just wasn’t for me.
And I live in England, not an autocratic faux-democracy called the United States of America.
If these states are united, surely everyone is content. Everyone is equal.
I’m one of the lucky ones.
My womb was too corrupt to carry and bring children to term, riddled with endometriosis; a disease that medical men denied exhausted.
For three years back in 2007 on onwards, I was treated by a female gynaecologist.
She did everything she could to help me, including a very horrible session of laser treatment, I like to call “a scrape and polish”.
As always, humour helped me to cope.
My hysterectomy – the last resort – was booked in for April on 2009 I think; it’s all a bit hazy.
My pre-appointment was accidentally booked in on the February before with the male gynaecologist.
Screaming in agony, depressed beyond words, my body shook as he decided to instead trial me on another tablet for six months.
Children are sacred –
He said
I needed time to think about it
He said
I should just try one more thing. You know, in case I wanted children.
He said.

“Where’s Mrs …..,” I said, asking for my gynaecologist.
“At Heartless Hospital, she can’t do anything else.”
His secretary came in to escort me out to a private room whilst I bawled.

But I’m one of the lucky ones.
“I want a second opinion,” I said.
I took away his choice, just as he tried to take mine.

One phone call and my hysterectomy date was confirmed.

It was removed, with severe complications.
All of my organs including bowels, bladder, womb, falopian tubes were engulfed in endometriosis.
That was what she told me.
“Doubtful you’d have ever carried to term. I’m very sorry. There are indications …”
“It’s okay.”

And it was, for me.
I fought, I spoke out.

Now I speak out for my sister’s, brothers, trans friends, non-binary friends – these ‘others’ not recognised by many.

I speak out for you all.

Fuck this shit.
We fight and we will win.

Tremendous thanks to this week’s incredible interviewees and our featured poet!

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism!

Politics and Autonomy: Part Five in Our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable

Welcome back for part five in our Pro-Choice Horror Roundtable! Today’s post is going live on the day of the midterm elections here in America, which means there are certainly many of us voting who have the topic of abortion at the top of our minds.

So I’m beyond honored to let this week’s six amazing authors take it away!

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

SARAH READ: I think there are stages of grief at play here. There’s sadness and anger–not just for this singular issue but for what it signals as far as a direction for our country. The fact that this is a symptom of a bigger disease. I’m very sad and VERY angry. As I write this, people in need of reproductive care are already dying. I can’t understand how this is okay.

NADIA BULKIN: I’m ace and live in DC (which has some of the most expansive abortion rights in the country), so the main thing I’m personally, currently worried about is a) traveling to a state that’s outlawed abortion, and b) being raped. But of course I’m actually worried about a lot more than that. I’m worried about my friends in red states. I’m worried about the national ban that’s undoubtedly on the agenda for 2024. I’m worried about what’s next as the Christian nationalist wing remakes the country in its image. I’m worried that we are uniquely incapable of stopping right-wing extremism in this country, because not enough people think it will hurt them. And I’m frustrated. Really frustrated. My friends are distraught and frankly, increasingly hopeless about the future of the U.S. My gay friends think that gay marriage is next. I know several people who are actively trying to leave the country.

CHRISTA CARMEN: Personally, I count myself very lucky to be doing okay overall. But I’m gutted that anyone in this country would see it fit to set our human rights back more than fifty years, let alone those empowered with passing laws, and I’m heartsick and anxious for those hundreds of thousands of women who will be directly—and immediately—affected by this travesty in innumerable, horrific ways, as well as the millions who will be affected going forward if we don’t right this wrong. As someone in a position of privilege in terms of where I live (Rhode Island, where Roe v. Wade is codified and residents are protected if they aid a woman from another state in procuring an abortion) and where I work (a company from which I receive comprehensive health insurance), it’s my responsibility to do as much for this cause as possible, because abortion rights are human rights. Every woman in the United States deserves not to die of an ectopic pregnancy or to have to choose between their own future and the future of a fetus in which they may or may not have had a say bringing into existence.

TRISHA J. WOOLDRIDGE: I’m…not doing great. The overturning of Roe hit me hard, and I’ve been mentally and emotionally reeling, having a hard time keeping track of stuff, and forgetting things. I’ve been doing a deep dive into my fiction deadlines, often to the exclusion of other things, like business demands, social media, and emails, but the fiction, itself, is also coming a lot slower.

I also just had a hysterectomy at 44, the culmination of a lifetime of health issues related to the uterus and estrogen imbalance…that doctors kept telling me was nothing abnormal. In a fairly liberal state that does uphold most rights regarding women’s reproduction, it took me twenty years to get doctors to believe that there was something wrong – and almost a decade to get them to do something – with my reproductive organs. And currently, I have friends with children suffering menstrual issues still having to fight with doctors.

Again, in one of the most liberal states with some of the best health care for women.

Women and those who suffer health issues related to a the uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, etc. who live in states and regions with more restrictive practices regarding women’s health are forced to fight even harder for basic health care for their bodies.

My state, and the states around me, are not changing their laws and practices, fortunately, so there isn’t an immediate and direct health care impact on me or my local friends / family. However, all of us are worried about our friend and family elsewhere, the overall state of women’s health care and its decline, what we can do to help others, and what may happen to our access to care when women start coming to our region for the care they can’t receive in their home states. Besides that, my family, friends, and I all are still suffering the issues I mentioned before: emotionally reeling, lowered executive function, more emotional dysfunction… all of that impacting how we handle our work and interact with others.

G.G SILVERMAN: Personally, I feel deep fear as a female identifying person that my rights will continue to be further eroded every day. Thankfully, I live in a state where I have bodily autonomy, but I worry that the Federal government could over-extend their reach and take that away from me. As a disabled person who could die from being forced to carry a pregnancy, it’s chilling to think that my life and health is secondary to someone else’s idea of what my life should be, and that a person in a position of power could center their own ideology over my humanity. Most of my friends feel the same—a deep fear.

JESSICA ANN YORK: I grew up in rural Tennessee hearing things in passing like, “These sensitive liberals and their feelings.” The main argument these same people will give is, “We’re stopping the bad women who get abortions just to get abortions.”

I wish they could see this response is a mirror they are holding up to themselves. To assume a person would make such a traumatizing choice “just to do it” is the projection of someone who walks through their own life doing things just to do them.

You’ll give them a list of all the reasons why someone would come to that difficult decision, and they’ll recoil away. It’s too much for them. They don’t ever talk about these things. They don’t know how.

Sexual coercion. Incest. Rape. Ectopic pregnancies. Nonviable pregnancies. Mental illness. Financial instability. Poverty. Maternal mortality. Or any other reason a person may need to make this choice.

These are all things that elicit uncomfortable feelings, so they’ll respond with, “Stop, that’s terrible.” Or, “Don’t say that so loud.”

But I will not be quiet for the sake of their feelings—and I’m okay with being shunned for this.

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

SARAH READ: It wasn’t. No one talked about it much. I grew up in a conservative household, and it wasn’t until I left home that I started learning about how our bodies had been politicized. I spent my college and early adulthood learning new perspectives. One of the most crushing moments for me was when I called my mother after the 2016 election. I was crying. She made fun of me, told me it wouldn’t be too bad. Then told me she’d voted for Trump. I was angry, reminded her that he supported blanket anti-abortion ideas, reminded her that I’d had an abortion to save my life when I had an ectopic pregnancy. “I’d be dead now,” I said. She said, “So?” We don’t talk much these days. She was a labor delivery nurse, by the way.

NADIA BULKIN: I lived in authoritarian Indonesia until middle school, so reproductive justice wasn’t talked about – not out loud, anyway. I think I had a vague sense that pregnancies could be ended with the help of healers or magic or by throwing oneself down the stairs. Or through suicide, of course. I wasn’t actually introduced to any arguments about abortion until I moved to the U.S. Despite coming from a country where religion is mandatory, I’ve been an atheist since I had an opinion on the matter, and the debate made no sense to me. Like, why would you outlaw an easy way of doing something that people are throwing themselves down the stairs in other countries to accomplish? Just wild.

CHRISTA CARMEN: Again, I have to preface this answer with a declaration of the privilege I’ve been afforded throughout my life in terms of this issue. I don’t remember when I first learned about Roe vs. Wade. I don’t remember reproductive justice being introduced to me as a concept growing up. I simply remember reproductive justice existing, and I remember reproductive healthcare as something that was as established and steadfast as any other type of healthcare. I’m sure there were discussions in social studies class of the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision. But those discussions would have ended with something along the lines of how, ever since the afternoon of January 22, 1973, we’ve been able to rely on the fundamental “right to privacy,” and a pregnant woman’s subsequent right to an abortion.

I also probably navigated my high school and college years with the confidence that, should I ever need an abortion, that option would be available to me. It’s crushing and, frankly, dehumanizing, to consider that 1) this is no longer the case for large portions of the country, and 2) if things continue to go wrong in terms of the Supreme Court revisiting previously established laws, my daughter, and all of our upcoming generations of women, trans men, and nonbinary people will not know this same freedom.

TRISHA J. WOOLDRIDGE: I was raised Catholic, so I first learned about Roe vs. Wade as a horrible thing that allowed sexually promiscuous women to kill unborn babies. Probably when I was about eleven, getting ready for my First Communion.

I also knew I was adopted, and my parents explained what that meant when I was very young, around four, while we were in the process of adopting my younger brother. So my youthful brain had the “perfect” rationalization for being firmly “Pro-Life”: My brother and I wouldn’t exist if our mothers had aborted us! I hadn’t any grasp of life beyond my middle-class, mostly white suburbs—and I’d never seen my mother pregnant—so I had no idea about the physical, financial, and emotional burdens a pregnant woman faced. I argued that if a woman didn’t want a child, she could put it up for adoption like I was—and I had a good life with loving parents. Why wouldn’t everyone want that kind of happy ending for everyone?

Long, long, long story short, I went to college; learned more about biology, anatomy, and physiology; the politics and history of oppressing women based on “science” and reproductive rights; and actually listened to people with lives vastly different than mine. From there, I grew into what I feel is a more empathetic and nuanced view of abortion: The person who is pregnant deserves to have access to all the available information about their health regarding their pregnancy, as well as complete access to all the information about all her choices. And then the pregnant person deserves the right to make the best choice for their life.

JESSICA ANN YORK: I was raised by my dad to never tolerate other people forcing their religious beliefs on me. By that same logic, I also have zero tolerance for Christians who force their beliefs on other people.

My dad was very adamant with me growing up that God was in my heart, not the church. I stand by that. Religion works best as a personal guideline. It has no place in actual law.

For these reasons, I have always been pro-choice. I knew at an early age that I would be absolutely conceited to think that my interpretation of the Bible had enough weight to justify forcing a life-altering decision on another human being, when I don’t know what their individual situation is.

Forced-birth for the sake of someone else’s religious views is a violation of human rights, and Roe vs. Wade prevented forced-birth state laws from seeing the light of day.

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

SARAH READ: Roe v Wade feels like just one domino to fall in what is obviously a massive power-grab by Christian Nationals trying to exert their misguided morals onto the country as a whole. I think we have a fight ahead of us to keep diverse perspectives safe. We’re already feeling this in the book world–attempts at book banning and censorship, an insistence that LGBTQIA+ content in children’s books is “inappropriate.” I’m a librarian, and most librarians I know are getting ready. Quickly refining policies and training staff to protect intellectual freedom. But when library boards start falling the way school boards already have, it’s going to get harder. I am already having to break the “rules” at times to make sure trans kids in my community have access to books with trans characters. And I’ll break every rule if I have to–but those kids shouldn’t have to feel like the rules are against them. It breaks my heart.

NADIA BULKIN: The most obvious consequence is people being unable to commit the time or energy to write because they have more children to raise, or because they’re in jail for abetting an abortion, or because they’re, you know, dead from a high-risk pregnancy. Research has shown that access to family planning is linked to women’s ability to participate in the workforce and empower themselves economically, and if that happens here it’ll be entirely by design. Fascist societies need people organized in a manner that will feed the all-important state – just look at FLDS societies, the only options for their youth are sexual labor or physical labor. I also think about things like: people no longer feeling safe going to conventions in red states, and in the longer term, creative industries no longer being quite so U.S.-centric. That would probably be a good thing, as a whole.

Christa CarmenCHRISTA CARMEN: I think women, trans men, and nonbinary horror writers are in a unique position in that we can cast a spotlight on this issue in ways different from what other activists and protesters are pursuing. Anyone, in theory, can support their communities, get involved politically, and volunteer. Anyone can protest, call their lawmakers, and—when it’s time—show up and vote. And anyone can educate themselves, share information, and support the people and companies supporting women who need abortions. But only writers can write. And only horror writers can give readers new ways to process this fresh horror, to glimpse this terrifying new reality in a way that reflects the ugliest and most despicable aspects of this human rights atrocity back in a way that makes the trauma (at least slightly more) digestible.
Seeing things in new ways is often the catalyst to attacking things in new ways, and it wouldn’t surprise me if women, trans men, and nonbinary artists, poets, and writers are the ones who tip the needle, who stoke the blazes of the passion for justice we need to cultivate long-term in order to see this through to the end and remedy this unthinkable disaster.

TRISHA J. WOOLDRIDGE: First, there’s the mental and emotional trauma of experiencing the loss of a the basic human and bodily autonomy for more than half the U.S. population. I’m not alone in feeling its weight sap at my ability to create art…or some days just function. So there will be some writers who will be stunted in their work from just that.

Then you have the writers who may potentially get pregnant in the states with new, draconian laws regarding abortion. Or writers who love pregnant persons in those states. Their entire life is turned upside down. They have to face the health challenges of carrying a pregnancy to term, the massive financial burden, and the affect all that has not just in the immediate time, but for possibly the rest of their life. If they try and leave so they may obtain an abortion, that is its own challenge and trauma with long-lasting effects. This leads to important works that may never be written, published, and read. Authors whose dreams and careers are cut short by forced birthing, death or disability due to unhealthy pregnancies that can’t be terminated, and time and ability to create smothered by financial obstacles.

For those of us who can still create, I expect to see more extreme body horror, fear regarding bodily autonomy, and more dystopian horror.

G.G. SILVERMAN: I feel that most writers already live a precarious existence due to not having adequate pay or adequate healthcare, but then stripping away bodily autonomy and human rights for women, trans men, and nonbinary writers creates an extra level of peril for them. This may force many diverse writers out of the industry, leaving writing only to white cis-gendered men of means, and would strip away the necessary diversity we need in the literary ecosystem—we need writers of all backgrounds to have a voice if we want to create a true reflection of the American experience. We need stories of all kinds if we hope to learn and grow.

In the horror genre, I worry about all the great works from women, trans men, and nonbinary people disappearing. Not just from the inability to write these works due to being financially forced out of the industry, but also from censorship of those voices. Book banning is already happening—how far will it go?

JESSICA ANN YORK: I imagine we will only get louder. I’ve already gotten louder.

The horror short stories I’ve published before this were already heavily rooted in feminism. They will be even more so now.

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

SARAH READ: My greatest fear right now? Well, I’m a worrier, so… Honestly, it’s war. I don’t think any of this will be solved peacefully. And while we’re fighting over this, climate change concerns are taking a back seat. My worry is that we fight this fight, and even if we win, it’s too late. My biggest fear is that we lose either way, we all do. My greatest hope–any hope at all right now is radical hope. But I like the idea of radical hope. I think we need it.

NADIA BULKIN: My greatest hope is that white Americans realize how untenable abortion bans are (along with other elements of Christian nationalist life) and make the pro-life movement an extremist minority. I do think that could still happen, because I honestly don’t think most people have thought through the consequences of this ideology. My greatest fear is that these dots aren’t connected, and the country continues to circle the drain of regressive policy in the name of “making sure everyone is as miserable and resentful as I am,” all the while bemoaning economic collapse and social failure while continuing to vote for politicians whose only platform is grievance.

CHRISTA CARMEN: I have a lot of fears, but my greatest fear is a selfish one: that my daughter is going to continue to grow up in a world where things are worse for women now than they were fifty, or even five, years ago. Following that fear further is… honestly, this is where the power of writing fiction comes in again. I don’t know that I have the ability to simply list out all the factual reasons and realities that cause my stomach to clench when I consider what the future holds for my daughter, but I do think I can—and will—explore those fears in my fiction in the coming days, months, and years.

My greatest hope for where we can go next is that Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha not only pick up this fight, but win the battle for reproductive rights once and for all. What that looks like, I can’t even say, but it obviously has to be more comprehensive and less subject to the whims of men—and I mean “men” literally—than Roe vs. Wade ever was. We can no longer rely on the older generations to get us out of this, or any other politically charged, mess. We need younger people who are willing to step into the political arena, to challenge the status quo, and to present radical novel ways to fight the patriarchy and oligarchy. Reproductive, and all other human, rights—and our very lives—depend on it.

TRISHA J. WOOLDRIDGE: My greatest fear is “what’s next?” That the unknown is leaning more toward losing more rights. The original leak about overturning Roe vs. Wade included mention of the loss of protections for gay marriage, for example. And as pharmaceuticals and interstate health insurance companies adjust for the unreasonable laws of many states, how badly will that affect accessibility to medication and coverage all over the country? We’re already seeing people who could get pregnant being denied medications that could potentially harm a pregnancy. How many of us, like me, had to fight with doctors regarding our reproductive health care since before we lost federal protection of our reproductive rights? How many companies are strengthening their fights to not cover birth control—when many women require birth control for far more than preventing pregnancy? How much more difficult will it quickly become for trans persons to have access to their hormone therapy? Which of my friends or family will have even more of their rights stripped? Health care denied?

My greatest hope is that the backlash to this will bring more people out to vote in November, and they will vote in government officials who prioritize health care and equal rights. I hope that we get a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights and enforcement of privacy in health care. Before too many more people suffer and die because those rights are now at the mercy of conservative political players.

G.G SILVERMAN: My greatest fear is that human rights will continue to erode further and further, and our country will backslide into a dystopic setting where people, animals, and the environment will be abused to the point of destruction.

It’s a scary time, but I’m also hopeful—we have made amazing strides in so many ways in terms of bringing awareness to many issues and creating change, and we have the ability to help all kinds of people live their healthiest and happiest lives. I hope our collective humanity can heal and create a world of safety for all.

JESSICA ANN YORK: I worry about radicalized evangelical Christians and militias taking innocent lives in mass, if the next presidential election doesn’t go their way.

I’ve watched clips of digital church services where preachers are rallying their listeners to “take back America” and “force themselves into the room.” They follow the formula of early Nazi propaganda in how they manipulate the viewers into thinking they are victims who need to lash out against a selected enemy—in this case, usually the LGBTQ community.

There are most likely going to be massive outbreaks of violence, if a Democratic president is elected in 2024. Best case scenario, it will only be in small, scattered pockets, and people will become disillusioned and pull out of these groups, the same way they did after the insurrection at the capitol on January 6th.

My greatest fear is for those who will be caught in the crossfire—and for the morally bankrupt fascists who still stand in solidarity with these violent groups afterward.

Tremendous thanks to this week’s interviewees! Happy reading, and happy voting! Let’s fight fascism together!

Our Horror, Body Horror: Part Four in Our Pro-Choice Roundtable

Welcome back, and welcome to part four in our Pro-Choice Roundtable! Today, I’m thrilled to welcome four new interviewees to my blog to discuss abortion rights.

And with that, I’ll let these amazing interviewees take it away!

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

CYNTHIA PELAYO: Honestly, I’ve been struggling with this a lot emotionally. This brings back a lot of memories of times in my life when I needed help and it’s been upsetting to see people’s bodies and what they can do with their bodies debated so openly by politicians. It’s our
body. We cannot allow strangers to dictate what we can do with our bodies. It puts me in this position of helplessness to think of the possibility that a complete stranger can put in place controls so that my body is not my body. That’s horror.

Many of my friends have been struggling as well.

Many of us took to social media to share our stories so that people know we are real. We exist, people who needed Roe V Wade. We exist.

NICOLE WILLSON: I’m lucky personally in that there’s no longer any chance of my ever needing an abortion, so Roe’s overturning mostly reminded me that women’s rights and wellbeing are still considered unimportant fringe issues in this country. Which is depressing and horrifying enough.

I’m also fortunate to live in a place where Democrats control the state senate, so even though our Republican governor wants to enact a 15-week abortion ban, he’s unlikely to be able to do it without a fight. And since he can serve only one term, I will do what I can to ensure he’s replaced by someone who will keep abortion safe in Virginia.

As for my friends and family, many of them are furious that their younger family members now have fewer reproductive rights than they did growing up. That’s shocking.

LAUREL HIGHTOWER: I feel like I’m in hell, to be honest. I vacillate between despair and burning anger, and I keep praying to wake up from this nightmare. I’m living in a country that’s declared open season on uterus owners, and I hate it. My anxiety hasn’t been this bad in years, and seeing how certain people and companies have reacted has forever altered my impression of them. I live in a state where I could bleed to death in favor of a completely non-viable fertilized egg. Knowing that people voted for that, celebrated it, and that companies are continuing to contribute to it makes me feel like I’m surrounded by dangerous enemies.

My family and friends are in the same boat, for the most part. Some of them are distracting themselves as much as possible, which I advocate for. We all need self-care right now because for damn sure no one else is going to do it. I appreciate that I have some friends and co-workers who are as livid and willing to curse about it as I am, because it reinforces the realization that I’m not alone, that not everyone is my enemy, and that we will fucking well fight. As far as any family I may have that take an opposite view point? Well, this isn’t an argument over movies. They don’t see me as human, so I damn sure don’t count them as family.

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

CYNTHIA PELAYO: I was in the backyard reading and writing when the news broke. My first reaction was anger and then I just started to cry, thinking about how far we’ve come to backtrack so much and the absolute recklessness of it all. It’s disgusting to think that people are fine with controlling our bodies, fine with allowing people to die. It’s devastating.

CHRISTI NOGLE: I didn’t mark that moment in my mind as I would have with a surprise decision. The May 8th leak of the draft opinion, the 2020 confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, the 2018 confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, and of course the election of the former president seem to have been the important moments. Each of them made me feel helpless, baffled, and doomed.

NICOLE WILLSON: I was at home and on Twitter when the ruling came down, so I saw a lot of anger in real time. Since we had already been tipped off that this was coming, I can’t say I was surprised. But I was angry. And also deeply frustrated. I couldn’t stop thinking of all the things leading up to this that could, and should, have gone differently. Or about people who insisted Roe would never be overturned, even as it became alarmingly clear that this was going to happen.

Honestly, I’m probably never not going to be angry about the 2016 Presidential election. You didn’t have to like Hillary Clinton to understand that having her fill Scalia’s vacant Supreme Court seat was vastly preferable to Trump doing it if you wanted to keep Roe in effect.

LAUREL HIGHTOWER: I was at home eating lunch. I write in the mornings before work in the afternoon, and I don’t usually check social media or news before I break for lunch. It has too much power to derail me. I’d also had an upsetting troll situation the day before, so when my friend messaged me to ask if I was okay, I assumed that’s what he meant. At first I was a bit numb, I guess. I’d been expecting it since the leak a few months ago, so maybe I thought I’d adjusted, but that clearly wasn’t the case. The more I read, the more furious I became. I spent the next week screaming until I lost my voice, sobbing uncontrollably, and working out every chance I got. And that’s pretty much where I still am.

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

CYNTHIA PELAYO: I typically don’t write body horror, but I do explore themes of control, and this is probably going to appear in my work somehow, authority and control and helplessness. We’re moving into a very dangerous point in society. Well, we are already there – in which people are telling us what we should do, how we should look and what we should think. We cannot for a moment allow any of these people to dictate what we can do and who we can be. We should not allow any of these people to have power over us.

I certainly believe all people with any power should be helping people in the genre navigate times of crisis, if only voicing their support of us. I know that not everyone has a position of power, or a platform, but we can all say that we support bodily autonomy, a person’s right to choose. That is a simple, yet, powerful statement to state publicly. And, if you have more sway, then yes do what you can, because people are going to need a lot of support moving forward.

CHRISTI NOGLE: I haven’t been struggling to write, but at the same time I’m not sure how to express the worries that are raised by this ruling. It brings up oppressive memories from childhood, not related to abortion specifically but to the lack of freedom and being subject to others’ will, beliefs, and whims. Life felt very restricted when I was young. As I grew older, my own situation changed and it also felt as though the culture was changing in positive ways. Now it sometimes feels like that was all imaginary. A right that was established for my entire lifetime is gone. I feel shame for not acting and for having no clear idea of what to do. I imagine that I will work on finding ways to express these feelings of shame and powerlessness in writing. Fiction can at least help show people that these feelings are shared, that they’re not alone.

Statements of support for our rights are much appreciated, and I think it would also be productive for those in leadership positions to think about ways of helping us reach wider audiences. Horror writers spend time thinking about dread, fear, and suffering. Like other writers, we practice empathy by trying to imagine what our characters think and feel. These are the kinds of thoughts that can change minds when they reach the right people.

NICOLE WILLSON: I tend to do some of my strongest work when I am very, very angry about something political. I wrote the first draft of my debut novel in November 2016, and I think the female characters in that book had a lot more anger than they might have had the presidential election gone the other way. I wrote a novella in the period between the Supreme Court leak about Roe’s overturning and the actual ruling, and in this story, oppressed young women take their destiny into their own hands. I have seen a ton of anthologies prompted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade; I’d love to write something for one of them if I can choose one and maintain my focus.

As for what I’d like to see people in the genre do, I’m in complete agreement with others that I’d like to see people who plan future conventions please consider not locating them in states that have banned abortion. I totally understand that these states have residents who don’t agree with this ruling. As someone who lives in a state that’s perennially teetering between blue and red, I can sympathize. But I don’t want to support those state governments with my money.

LAUREL HIGHTOWER: I already write a lot of angry feminist horror, particularly in my short stories, as a method both of catharsis and demonstration. Often times men don’t recognize just how different and dangerous it is to be a woman, and at times I’ve been able to communicate to them in a way that clicks through stories. At the moment, I’m polishing a novella I dashed off in about 4 weeks, which doesn’t deal with any of these themes at all. I desperately need distraction, and thankfully immersing myself in fictional worlds I control has saved me. I’d never have written it that fast just poking along at my usual speed.

As far as seeing support from those in the genre, the things that have bolstered me the most have been unequivocal, loud, and strong statements of support. We’re dealing with state sponsored, misogynistic murder along with a complete disregard for bodily autonomy. Neutrality is murder. Silence is complicit. And though I’ll never stop screaming until we get our rights back, ALL of us, I’m emotionally and physically drained. When an organization makes us do the emotional labor of convincing them that these rulings are hateful and vicious, I don’t want to spend any of my time or energy interacting with or supporting them. If you can’t take a stand on this, then I know you for my enemy. (A caveat here for individuals—not all of us are free to voice our opinions online, because of jobs or other concerns. I want to make it clear that I don’t expect that, as we all have to survive, and also some folks just can’t keep cycling through these emotions. No one should be shamed for not posting about it.)

I’d also like to see more concrete actions such as boycotting giving money to states that deny uterus owners rights, refusing to do business with or support publishers or other businesses who come out in favor of this abortion of justice, and taking the lead on organizing ways to help those members of our community in the most risk. I want to help. I want to be doing, but I don’t have the bandwidth to organize it, so someone who’s not suffering direct effects needs to point us in the right direction, show us where to direct this anger.

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

CYNTHIA PELAYO: My greatest fear is that people are going to die needlessly. My greatest fear is that people are going to have to be forced to carry pregnancies that they do not want.

There’s this belief by these reckless politicians that if you force someone to be a parent then they will be a parent, and that’s certainly not the case.

So, I fear what is going to happen to these people, will they hurt and harm themselves to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. I fear what is going to happen to unwanted children. I fear that emotional, physical and mental abuse that many people are going to experience. My greatest hope is that society will finally recognize the importance of bodily autonomy and a person’s right to choose and have protections in place for us.

CHRISTI NOGLE: My greatest fears are shared by many and are certain to be realized: that the court will take away further rights, creating crimes that will then be prosecuted in unfair and devastating ways; that people will die from complications of unwanted pregnancies and wanted pregnancies in which the fetus has little chance of survival; that forced pregnancy and birth will further traumatize people who have been victimized; that there will be those seeking profit and power from this; that dangerous medical misinformation will spread (e.g. the idea that ectopic pregnancies are viable or Todd Akin’s “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down”); and that many people’s lives will become more difficult and painful than they need to be. It’s not just a matter of going back to the oppressions of the past. We don’t know what it looks like to impose these rules on people in 2022; some results we can fear, and others we don’t even know to fear yet. They’re unpredictable.

NICOLE WILLSON: My greatest fear is that the Supreme Court is going to keep rolling back rights for vulnerable people. We all know that’s precisely why this particular slate of judges has been assembled over the past few years. I’m especially concerned for my trans friends.

My greatest hope is that people will start becoming more active in elections at the local and state level as well as the national level. We won’t be able to fix the damage this ruling has already caused overnight, but getting pro-choice officials elected to govern states could help stop the damage and loss of life that will result from this ruling.

LAUREL HIGHTOWER: I have two greatest fears—the most personal is that I’ll die as a result of this ruling, and leave my son without a mother. I’m 40, and my husband has chronic leukemia. The medication he takes will literally mutate the DNA of anyone not suffering from CML, to the point that my son and I can’t go near the package, or touch the gloves my husband uses to retrieve his pill everyday. If I were to get pregnant, there’s pretty much zero chance it would be viable, but I’d be forced to carry to term, or die trying. The idea of leaving my son is too harsh to even look at straight on, but there are people who are cheering it on. Fuck them.

The second is related to the first—I want to hand a better world to my kid and every other kid. They deserve that, they deserve their chance at happiness, and the idea that uterus owners coming up behind us will be limited in this disgusting way is soul-crushing.

My greatest hope is that as a people, we’re now motivated enough to take the actions that will break the political yoke we’re struggling under. Roe v. Wade wasn’t codified, and in my opinion that’s because it’s long been a stick for the Democratic party to threaten us with. Aside from just this ruling however, our trans brothers and sisters are at higher risk than ever. LQBTQA+ folks are seeing their rights and existence being trotted back into the dark ages, and we haven’t come close to taking the actions necessary to take care of our BIPOC members, either. Enough of this. Enough of letting anyone else set the narrative, dither and argue over whether humans have human rights. That’s not their call, and frankly anyone who argues that should automatically be disqualified from any position of power, including managing any store or business.

Fuck half measures. Fuck being grateful for the crumbs these psychopaths drop from their table for us after making us beg. They don’t decide who’s human—we already know we are. I want to hand a world of love and compassion to our kids. I pray for it everyday.

Tremendous thanks to this week’s featured interviewees!

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism! Also, please get out and vote! It’s our chance to make our voices heard!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading, and happy fighting back against fascism!