Tag Archives: Sanitarium Magazine

Poe Protégé: Interview with Tawny Kipphorn

This week’s author is a major devotee to none other than Edgar Allan Poe, which practically makes us blood sisters to the cause. Tawny Kipphorn is an up-and-coming horror writer who pens both fiction and poetry. With a knack for the beautifully macabre, her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine and The Tales from the Shadow Realm among other publications. Recently, I talked with her about her many current and upcoming projects.

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

Tawny KipphornI made the discovery of my passion at fifteen, during english class in my freshman year of high school when we were learning about Edgar Allan Poe. We were reading “Annabel Lee” and something just ignited within me and told me that it was imperative that I do my part to help bring back that literary style, and I’ve since desired to create things with that same sense of beauty. However, I didn’t make the conscious decision to become a writer until my first publication in 2014, which was The Hellequin of Volterrum (Story Version) in the Tales From the Shadow Realm digital magazine. I always had a draw to language and literature since I was in grade school, and even in my teenage years when I was constantly writing and living in my head, I never saw myself becoming an author because I thought my passion would run dry if I were doing it for a living, plus it’s the only area in which I’ve been able to excel. It took me a very long time but I finally accepted that this is what I’m meant to do.  Aside from Edgar Allan Poe, I also enjoy Lord Byron, D.H. Lawrence, Patricia Cornwell, and James Patterson.

You write both prose and poetry. How is your approach the same (or different) for each?

My approach for both is the same in the sense that I really try to do as much research as I can before I begin any project. For poetry, most of the time I try to make them rhyme and go along the same cadence as Poe’s “Annabel Lee”. I describe my poetic style as being Poe meets Seuss. They say you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to recreate the first poem you ever loved, and that holds true for me. I’m a poet at heart and so it comes much more naturally to me than writing fiction, which I find to be much more difficult. When writing poetry, I also like to move words around to give the sentences a more archaic fluidity. Fiction is something I’m working on slowly but surely, it’s a fairly new thing for me. It’s different also because usually with fiction, I have a vision and know where it’s going, but poetry just flows more freely and I won’t know where it goes until the end.

What initially drew you to the horror genre, and is it your favorite genre to write?

SanitariumI grew up reading and collecting The Goosebumps Books by R.L. Stine, and also watching a lot of horror movies. I’ve always been interested in the darker more macabre, supernatural things. I spent most of my time in middle school engrossed in vampire themed books and went through a goth stage as well, so I really embraced the whole image. It is definitely my favorite genre though it can be quite challenging to write. When I have a story in my head, it usually plays along the lines of Quentin Tarantino meets Stephen King. When I envision the possibility of bringing these stories to life it gives me a pleasure that I couldn’t get from writing any other genre, especially as a woman in what most would consider a male dominated genre.

Out of your published pieces, do you have a personal favorite? 

This is a tough one because it’s a toss up, but I would have to say my favorite published piece is “Rosalee”. I wrote it with the intention of creating something as beautiful as (yep, you guessed it) “Annabel Lee”. Much to my surprise after I wrote it  I actually discovered Poe had a sister named “Rosalie” which I thought was amazing. I changed the spelling from “Rosalie” to “Rosalee” as a dedication to my mother.

Any projects you’re currently working on?

Several! My document folder is horrendous. I have a poem in progress entitled “The Legend of Countess Creep” which is about Elizabeth Bathory. I also have a science fiction short story titled “Project Blue Blood” in progress, and my biggest project in the works is “Steven”, which is the life story of a serial killer with an unusual MO.

Thanks to Tawny for being part of this week’s author spotlight! Check out more about her writing at her website

Happy reading!

Bard Guard: Interview with Quintin Peterson

After a two-month summer hiatus, today marks the return of my author interview series! This week’s writer, Quintin Peterson, specializes in crime fiction and thrillers. He’s been featured in the Washington Post and Shakespeare Magazine among other prestigious publications. Between projects, Quintin was kind enough to share a little about his own creative process as well as what it’s like to guard some of the most famous works of literature.

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

Quintin PetersonA few of my favorite authors are James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Richard Wright, Tananarive Due, Chester Himes, Laura Lippman, George Pelecanos, James Patterson, Nelson DeMille, James Grady, and Lee Child.

I’ve been writing most of my life. In high school, I won the National Council of English Teachers Award for my essay, “Notes of a Wayward Native Son.”

You’ve led a fascinating life that includes not only your fiction and poetry writing but also a long tenure in law enforcement. How did you balance two vastly different professional paths, and were you ever surprised at how the two could sometimes overlap?

It’s quite a juggling act, but working odd hours helps. On the police department I worked shifts like 3:00 pm – 11:00 pm, 11:00 pm – 7:00 am, 6:00 pm – 2:30 am, 8:00 pm – 4:30 am. As a rule, I wrote for two hours before I went to work and for two hours after I got home from work…which I continue to do to this day. (I work 3:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Tuesday – Saturday at the Folger Library.) As a police officer, the kinds of stories I wrote changed. Before joining the police department, I wrote science fiction and horror, and plays similar to Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. As a police officer, I began to write crime fiction. I am now known for my “hard-boiled police procedurals”.

Guarding ShakespeareYour novella, Guarding Shakespeare, follows a protagonist who gets harangued into breaking into the Folger Shakespeare Memorial Library where many Shakespeare works are housed. What is your favorite Shakespeare play, and what made you want to write about the library?

My favorite Shakespeare play is Othello. I retired from the Metropolitan Police Department, D.C., after more than 28 years of public service on April 23, 2010 and started working at the Folger Shakespeare Memorial Library’s Department of Safety and Security on December 14, 2010. Shortly thereafter I learned that April 23rd is Shakespeare’s birthday. Other coincidences that struck were, 1) I was sworn in as a D.C. police officer on December 14, 1981 and issued badge number 2807, and 2) the badge number I was issued as a Folger Shakespeare Library Special Police Officer is 28. As a crime fiction author, the story of a heist job at the Folger Library occurred to me very quickly. Othello was playing at the Folger Theatre as I penned Guarding Shakespeare, so that is what is playing as the heist job ensues behind the scenes…

You’ve been a writer for decades, and your output has most certainly been prodigious. What advice do you have for new writers on how to get their work out there?

Aspiring fiction authors should first pick the genre they are most interested in, read a lot of work in that genre, and write a lot. Enter contests in that genre and surf the Net for anthologies in that genre seeking submissions.

Anyone who has been in the business for as long as you have has certainly faced rejection, both from editors and readers. How do you cope with the constant struggle of being an artist?

I’ve been rejected a number of times, but everything I’ve written that was rejected is now in print. Acceptance is subjective. The trick is to find out when a story has been rejected because it is rotten or just was not an editor’s cup of tea. You may never know which, really. You just have to actively pursue the study of the craft and keep at it. Find employment in another field to pay the bills and keep plugging away.

ExplosionsOut of your published pieces so far, do you have a personal favorite?

My favorite novel is Guarding Shakespeare, because it is lighter than my other work; more fun. My favorite short story is “Broken Doll,” because it features my new character Private Eye Luther Kane, who debuted in “Damaged Goods,” which is featured in the star-studded Mines Advisory Group (MAG) charity anthology, Explosions: Stories of Our Landmined World, edited by Scott Bradley. All of the proceeds from the sale of Explosions are being donated to MAG.

In what directions would you like to take your writing in the future?

Aside from continuing to write crime fiction, I’d like to return to horror and science fiction, which I did with “Hope to Die,” featured in the British horror magazine, Sanitarium. Also, I’d like to feature Private Eye Luther Kane in a graphic novel. I’d also like to see Guarding Shakespeare produced as a film. The Pitch: The Maltese Falcon meets The Da Vinci Code.

Big thanks to Quintin Peterson for being part of this week’s author spotlight! You can find out more about his work at his Amazon author page and his online gallery of artwork.

Happy reading!

Fear Monger: Interview with Lee Forman

For the first interview of March, allow me to introduce author Lee Forman. Like Brooke Warra and Scarlett Algee, I met Lee through Sanitarium Magazine where the four of us help editor Barry Skelhorn field new submissions. But that’s hardly Lee’s only role in horror. He is currently a contestant in the Fear Project, a competition in which thirteen horror authors have their mettle tested with a myriad of weekly writing challenges, knowing all too well that one by one, they’ll be eliminated until there’s only one horror writer left standing. I checked in with Lee to see how he’s holding up under all that authorial stress (spoiler alert: he’s keeping it together with aplomb).

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

It all started with a blackout. I was living in a little cottage out in the middle of nowhere, and with no power and nothing to do I took a pen and paper and started writing. I’ve been doing it ever since. I grew up reading the Goosebumps books, then moved to Stephen King, and then started reading all kinds of literature. I always wanted to be a writer, but didn’t realize I could until that night during the power outage. I wrote a little bit in high school for the school’s creative writing magazine, and I wrote things here and there, but none of the stories ever worked out. It was during the blackout that I wrote my first horror story. And that’s when I realized that I was supposed to be writing horror.

Stephen King, Clive Barker, and John Saul are some of my favorite authors. They’ve brought me up on their stories and I’ve taken inspiration and learned from their work over the years. I try to incorporate the best of what they do into my own writing style, making it strong yet unique.

What made you want to get involved with the Fear Project, and what has been the most surprising aspect of competing so far?

When I first heard about David Wellington’s Fear Project I instantly wanted to be a part of it. The [concept] made it sound fun and interesting. I saw it as an opportunity to test my skills, see how I stand next to other authors in the genre, as well as meet and network with new people who share my love for horror literature.

What’s been most surprising to me so far in the competition is the sense of community and friendship that many of us have developed. Most of us have been communicating and wishing one another luck in the weeks since the Fear Project began. We all want to win, but we’re also happy to be part of such an awesome event, and when it’s all over I’m sure we’ll all keep in touch. The great thing about the Fear Project is that everyone gets something out of it, not just the winner.

You are on a tight schedule with the competition and have to create content very quickly. How do you keep yourself inspired and constantly writing?
In between challenges I do a lot of reading and thinking of story ideas to keep the creativity flowing. I also watch a lot of horror movies. They’ve always been a source of inspiration for me. The entry being due Sunday night doesn’t leave a lot of time to write and edit the best thing I can come up with. So when the challenge is posted after midnight on Thursdays I write out as many scenarios as I can that fit the challenge. After that I choose the best one and rewrite it until I can’t rewrite it anymore.

Sanitarium MagazineAll writers have trusted beta readers. Who are the people you trust to give you honest feedback?

I’m a member of two local writing critique groups. They’re my best and most honest source of feedback and they’re also some of my biggest supporters as an author. I always trust their advice and they’ve really done a lot to help me improve my craft. We’ve also recently started a critique group between the Sanitarium Magazine submission reviewers, who are a great group of talented writers. They give excellent feedback and advice and are an awesome group of people to work with.

Horror deals with a diverse number of fantastical topics. That said, are there any themes or threads that connect all your work? Are there any new concepts you’re excited to try?

Not all my work is connected but I tend to enjoy writing about creatures, supernatural beings, and experiments gone wrong. If you read something I’ve written, it most likely contains one of those elements. I also tend to incorporate a lot of things from reality into my work. It might be something as insignificant as an alarm clock I once owned, or it might be something that actually happened. Many of the places and settings I use are taken straight from the real world.

As far as new concepts go, I’ve been experimenting with writing different genres. I’ve been working on a little science fiction and writing some memoirs.

Out of your published stories so far, do you have a personal favorite piece?

“The Blackout” That’s still my favorite story. It’s the first horror story I wrote and I still enjoy its concept to this day. It’s the one that got me started as a serious author. It’s the one I would love to see hit the big screen as a movie someday.

Thanks so much to Lee for participating in this week’s author spotlight. Check out his latest entries at the Fear Project website or just see what’s he up to over at his personal site.

Happy reading!


Cthulhu Calling: Interview with Scarlett R. Algee

For my fourth—and final—2015 spotlight for Women in Horror month, I would like to introduce author Scarlett R. Algee. This Renaissance woman is not only an amazing writer, but also a jewelry maker, a slush pile reader for Sanitarium Magazine, and, of course, a major devotee to Cthulhu. Could we adore this lady any more?

Earlier this month, Scarlett was kind enough to share some details on her artistic process as well as her insight into everything from writing and reading to steampunk and elder gods.

A couple icebreaker questions to start: when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

My first exposure to writing came when I was in first grade. My teacher taught spelling and handwriting by giving us a list of words and having us create little stories using those words. (I’m sure my mother still has those somewhere.) That was the beginning of learning to tell myself stories, complete with acted-out performances by Barbie and friends. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized people actually got paid to write things down, but by then I was already hopelessly smitten by the process.

Favorite authors…oh gosh, I have to pick? Poe and Lovecraft, definitely; I return to those two time and time again. Rudyard Kipling, because I’ve always wanted to live in British India. Clark Ashton Smith, because he could write both beautifully lyrical fantasy and remarkably disturbing horror. Stephen King, whose book “On Writing” should be required reading for everyone. And Terry Pratchett, who taught me that a story can be uproariously funny and yet deeply, seriously moving.

Your writing has been published in two Cthulhu haiku books. What is your process when writing a Cthulhu haiku? (Side note: that might be the coolest interview question I ever get to ask anyone.)

How do I write a Cthulhu haiku (or any other kind of haiku)? Get an idea, brainstorm until I think up some phrases that sound good, and then beat them until they fit the meter :). A lot of people think haiku is an easy form of poetry to write, because the end result is so short. They’re wrong. It can be very frustrating trying to pare a line down to five or seven syllables.

Scarlett R. AlgeeIn addition to writing, you’re also an accomplished jewelry maker. How do you balance two vastly different art forms, and has inspiration from one ever overlapped with the other in unexpected ways?

Jewelry and writing: balance them by keeping them as far away from each other as possible! That’s easier than it sounds, because most of my jewelry pieces are created in an hour or less, while writing is an ongoing, daily, dead-of-night process. Another thing that helps with the balancing act is that once I create something, physical or written, it gets put away for a while, and I give myself time to switch gears. There hasn’t been any significant overlap yet–I’ve done a *little* steampunk writing, though horror is definitely where my heart lies–but I’m open to the possibility.

Are there any particular themes you return to again and again as an artist?

My jewelry is entirely steampunk, so there’s a constant revisitation of the concepts of progress, of technological advancement, of discovery. Clocks, compasses, and cogs: the measure of human achievement, but also the measure of human mortality.

With writing, it’s a bit more personal. I have a form of chronic lung disease which, over the years, has meant a lot of time in hospitals and, occasionally, in operating rooms. The themes I find myself coming back to, time and again, are medical: drugs, experimentation, surgery. l’ve dabbled in some pretty dark corners–vivisection, anesthesia awareness, medical zombification. The human body is a fascinating piece of work, especially with the peel off.

CthulhuIn what directions would you like to see your horror career go? More published short stories? Novels? A multimedia project incorporating both jewelry and fiction? All of the above?

For the foreseeable future, I’m aiming for more published short stories–I feel I’m a better “short” writer than a “long” writer, though I try to reach a little more each time, to eventually work up to a good “long” story. I have a few story ideas on file that may become novels, but my immediate goal is to get into an anthology or two this year.

What upcoming projects are you planning?

Oh, projects! I’ve just finished a novella (it’s a riff on that “medical zombification” idea, with some light steampunk elements), and that’s being proofread as we speak. I’ve also recently rediscovered two Lovecraftian short stories I wrote years ago, and they’re my current project; I’m polishing them up in hopes of getting them published. The next thing I have planned is a story that deals with the treatment of psychiatric patients in the early 20th century–the plot runs deeper than that, of course, but it’s requiring a *lot* of reading and research. And, last but not least, I’m tinkering with interactive fiction. The 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition opens on 1 July and I hope to have a serviceable game created by then. It will almost definitely involve horror.

Thanks again to Scarlett for participating in our Women in Horror Month spotlight. You can check out her jewelry work at her Etsy shop at copperwalkdesigns.etsy.com. As for her writing, be sure to visit her blog at sralgee.wordpress.com where she shares all the latest updates on her burgeoning fiction career. This is one writer who most definitely earns the Cthulhu seal of approval.

Happy reading, and enjoy the rest of Women in Horror Month!

Sanitarium Siren: Interview with Brooke Warra

As part three of my Women in Horror Month author spotlight, I present to you the one-of-a-kind Brooke Warra.

I met Brooke through the Sanitarium Magazine Faculty forum. After we were both published in the magazine, she and I joined a group of “doctors” who help editor Barry Skelhorn field incoming submissions. Since meeting Brooke, I have been repeatedly impressed with her professionalism and dedication to her craft as well as her wit and down-to-earth nature. Consequently, I decided I just had to feature her on my site. She was kind enough to oblige and answer a few of my questions.

Okay, some icebreakers: when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and who are your favorite authors?

I don’t ever remember not wanting to be a writer. My parents often joke they should have gotten a typewriter tattooed on my forearm at birth. I remember writing ghost stories for my friends in elementary school- my parents fielded a couple calls from concerned mothers about that–ha! It’s so hard for me to pick my favorite authors! The easy answer is Stephen King, and I have read every book he has out, including his non-fiction. I spend a lot of time re-reading my favorites from childhood–R.L. Stine, Shel Silverstein, and a giant collection of Scandinavian fairy tales. I think the influence of these stories shows quite a bit in my writing.

You recently posted on your author page about working at a daycare. Since children have been the inspiration for some seriously creepy stories, does your proximity to a large group of kids ever inform your horror writing?

Brooke WarraKids are a great inspiration for my writing. They live in this world that is completely new to them, everything is a mystery and magic still exists. You tell them the dollar under their pillow is from the Tooth Fairy and they just accept that as a fact. I think a lot of my stories are like that. When I am storytelling, I’m asking you to let me suspend your reality for a bit and let me lead the way through the deep, dark forest. Childhood in general is a huge inspiration in the way I tell a horror story but make no mistake, my stories are definitely not for kids!

Fiction writing can be a very diverse trade, especially when dealing with fantastic topics like horror. Are there any themes or threads that connect all your work?

I’m really fascinated with my Finnish heritage and like to include little clues about that in my stories. I love writing with mild undertones of fairy tales. Also, I was born with birth defects and raised in a small fishing village in Washington State where I was the only kid with a physical disability in the entire school. So, my monsters always have a connection to their humanity. I create monsters because I have a deep affection and understanding for them.

Out of your published stories so far, do you have a personal favorite piece?

SanitariumOf my published pieces, I’d have to say “Sleepyhead” (published in the December issue of Under The Bed Magazine) is my favorite. When I was growing up, I used to listen to old loggers telling stories about horrific on the job accidents, really gory stuff. That, coupled with the scenery of my hometown, the dark woods, the swamps, the stories we told each other as kids about the things that lived in those swamps, the cruelty of children, all came together in that story. I also love the readers’ reactions to the ending, every time.

In what directions would you like to see your horror career go? More published short stories? Novels? Nonfiction? All of the above?

Definitely more published short stories! That has always been my first love. But of course, I have a writer’s ego and I think there is a novel lurking in my brain as we speak. I’ve actually outlined one! A talented friend of mine is working on a youtube project (think of the days when kids sat around the radio in the living room to listen to dramas complete with actors and sound effects) that I’d really love to be a part of. That’s still in its infancy, right now.

What projects are you currently working on?

Right now I have several projects going. I’m working at getting a blog up and running. My main goal over the next year is to finish a collection of short horror pieces–but in that collection there will be several stories that are all tied together, sort of like a novella hidden inside the book of short stories.

Big thanks to Brooke Warra for answering all my macabre questions. Be sure to check out her Facebook author page where she posts everything from writing advice to creepy, cool pictures. And of course, stay tuned for the upcoming issues of Sanitarium Magazine where Brooke, myself, and a whole host of other talented writers help field the inmates!

Until then, happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Ambries, Audrey, and Acid Babies: More January Fiction

One-twelfth of 2015 is almost over, and it’s quite a year already. I’m currently in the throes of a Hitchcock-themed horror story that may be the coolest thing I’ve ever written–or might become the most beautiful hot mess this little writer has committed to the ether. Only time–and rewrites–will tell.

Audrey at NightBut in the meantime, I am excited to announce my latest publications. Add in the stories I included in my last post, and this has been a major month for me, the best of my fiction writing career so far.

So here we go for this round:

If you’re in the mood for a coming-of-age story that features creatures who go bump in the night, then check out “The Man in the Ambry” in the current issue of Typehouse Literary Magazine! (P.S. My story is also epistolary! Super retro, right?)

If you ever thought, “Wow! I really wish someone would do a modern-day update of Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” only with monsters!”, then I can pretty much promise you will love my story, “Snowfall in the Morning”. It is part of the latest “flock” at Thirteen Myna Birds, which is available for a limited time only, so read, read, read!

If a surreal tale of lost-and-found love will assuage your Valentine’s Day longings, then head on over to The Teacup Trail for “Blue Dreams in Motel Rooms”!

If you have just a little time to spare, then spend it with “The Shape of a Heart” and “The Butcher Is In” at Microhorror, the purveyors of super pithy dark fiction!

If you have no time to spare but still want a quick, offbeat read, then head over to Brouhaha Magazine for my 200-word flash piece, “Acid Baby”!

Finally, if you’d like a cool ghost story (that is also my first-ever reprint), be sure to check out the ceremonious return of “Audrey at Night” in Issue #29 of Sanitarium Magazine!

But that’s not all in the fiction department. Several more publications are slated for the coming months, so watch for my stories at After the Pause, 99 Pine Street, the Breakroom Stories, and Saturday Night Reader.

As February descends upon us, I have some new things in the works, including an update to this site as well as a brand new feature in which I’ll be spotlighting my fellow writers and their latest endeavors. That means if you’re an author and you want some easy, free promotion, send me a message or comment on this post.

Thanks for visiting, and happy reading!