Cover Reveal: The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes

Coming very soon from Strangehouse Books…The Devil's Dreamland full rez.jpg

 

“Tantlinger’s chilling poetry, inspired by life/lies of a serial murderer, unfolds in the imagined voices of his victims, and the man himself, in a city reduced to ashes and rebuilt for him to bleed. The poems entice to try understanding this devil: what does he gain from such horror? In the end, after he is hanged and buried, the haunting last poem plants the idea: evil is more than one man and isn’t easily destroyed.”

—Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of “How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend” and HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner

“In this morbidly creative and profound crime documentary, Sara Tantlinger delivers one of the best works of horror poetry I’ve read in years. What America’s Ripper, HH Holmes, built with his creatively sick “murder castle” in 1890’s Chicago, Tantlinger creates today with this book, rich with seductive language and unflinchingly exploratory in its multifaceted structure. It’s brilliantly constructed to get inside your skull and pry apart your morbid fascination with life, death, perversion, avarice and murder, awakening you to the evil that hides in plain sight around us all. Readers will thrill to find themselves spilling down its terrifying trapdoors and careening down its greasy dark slides, until they find themselves imprisoned inside the black gloom of a deviant dungeon of nightmarish evil that they’ll never be able to forget…or escape. An amazing autopsy of the unholy!”

—Michael Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award winning author of Grave Markings and Play Dead

“A fascinating and absolutely riveting journey into the life and times of one H.H. Holmes. Sara Tantlinger’s powerful and vivid prose takes you into the depths of Holmes’ dark universe and what you see will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.”

—Christina Sng, Bram Stoker Award winning author of A Collection of Nightmares

Love for Slaughter by Sara Tantlinger — The misadventures of a reader

I didn’t really start reading poetry until this year. The darker the better. Sometimes it spoke to me like Amanda Lovelace’s poetry other times it didn’t. But when something you read absolutely wrecks you it s the best feeling ever. That you read the words and they truly mean something to you. It maybe about […]

via Love for Slaughter by Sara Tantlinger — The misadventures of a reader

From Witch Hysteria to Sephora Kits: Reclaiming Words and Power — Unbound

Thanks so much to Unbound for having me write a guest article this month!

 

by Sara Tantlinger Witchcraft possesses some deep and dark historical roots that make it a fascinating area of endless study. While men were also targeted during the trials, such as with Giles Corey who was pressed to death by large stones[1], the word “witch” itself is more often associated with women and carries quite a […]

via From Witch Hysteria to Sephora Kits: Reclaiming Words and Power — Unbound

Friday Fun Facts: Serial Killer Edition

My next poetry collectionThe Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes, will (hopefully) be out in a few weeks! Dr. Holmes and I can’t wait to welcome you into our nightmares…

But for now, I thought I’d list some of my favorite “fun facts” about Holmes that inspiredScreen Shot 2018-10-19 at 12.25.31 PM a few pieces in the collection. Holmes is a tricky case — many of the “facts” we assume were actually tall tales that morphed into a kind of accepted truth; however, playing around with those blurred lines and blending historical horror with fictional interpretations was deliciously morbid and fun for me to do in this collection.

1. Holmes was “married” to three women at the same time. Only the first marriage to Clara was legal. He would later go on to “marry” Myrta Belknap and Georgiana Yoke though he had never divorced Clara. Holmes killed several women, including a few mistresses, but he never killed any of his three wives. This inspired my poem “Three Wives Dressed in Black,” which makes an appearance toward the end of the collection as Holmes sits in his jail cell before his public execution.

2. While the rumors and ideas linking H.H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper as the same person are amusing and intriguing to think about, I’d never buy into it. Logistically speaking, from what we know of Holmes and where he was in the states and when, I think he would have had to been able to teleport to truly commit the Ripper’s acts. While some may be able to speak around this, the number one reason I would never credit them as being the same is because of how different their killings were.

Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 12.26.51 PMThe Ripper was vicious and intimate. He literally reached inside of his victims and had his fun with their organs or slicing off women’s breasts (I imagine the Ripper is a deeply fascinating case to all the Freudians out there). Holmes was never that intimate or messy. In my head I imagine his neatness likens to that of NBC’s Dr. Lecter on Hannibal. Holmes was cowardly in his approaches though, using chloroform or gassing victims to their deaths. He was more fascinated by the psychological approach, by seducing and charming before quietly extinguishing lives rather than tearing someone apart into a gooey bloodbath. I have two “Holmes vs. The Ripper” poems in my collection, and they were two of my favorite to research and write.

3. While in prison, Holmes wrote two notable texts. One was a rather idyllic memoir that he crafted in hopes to gain public sympathy and to try and convince people that he was

Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 12.26.09 PM

Georgiana Yoke, Holmes’ last wife, at his trial. 

being falsely accused of all these crimes. After that failed to work and he was convicted, Holmes wrote a rather odd “confession,” in which he wrote of murdering people who were in fact proved alive. There are some really interesting analyses out there that go through who he may have actually murdered vs. who he, for some reason, claimed to have killed but did not. I found access to both the memoir and confession, which easily inspired the voice I use for Holmes within my collection, and inspired many poems toward the end within the sections where he’s in prison. What struck me the most was Holmes’ undeniable intelligence and merits of literacy within his writing. An articulate madman with a pen, wielding words with expert manipulation, is truly a frightening thing.

4. Appearance wise, Holmes was considered handsome at the time. His blue eyes get noted often, but I also came across in my research that he may have been cross-eyed, which inspired my poem “Strabismus,” and a few others in the collection. One eye on the victim, one searching elsewhere…studying the shadows…looking for the devil.

5. After leaving Chicago, Holmes eventually went to Texas where he engaged in more money schemes and fraud, as he did in Chicago and elsewhere. He also attempted to construct the Fort Worth Castle, a building similar in strangeness and massiveness to the famed “Murder Castle” in Chicago. By this time, numerous lawyers, unpaid workers, and members of law enforcement were trying to find Holmes to get some answers for their missing payments. Holmes would leave Texas, soon after embarking on the wild chase across the states that would lead to his arrest, but of course not without a few more dead bodies along the way. I have a section of poems in my book that go through this chess board pursuit, and I can’t wait to take you along for the ride.

So wait patiently. Buy your train ticket. The good doctor is already there, seated quietly in first class, drinking his tea and eyeing you as you walk past…one eye on you, the other on the shadows…searching…waiting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPEN CALL ANTHOLOGY

Ladies, I want your monsters. Announcing NOT ALL MONSTERS, an anthology to be released by Strangehouse Books in the fall of 2020 that I am editing!

There are monsters in every woman’s life. And while maybe not ALL monsters are so bad, I want you to tell me about the dark and twisted ones. Give me protagonists who take no shit. Show me women who save themselves. Does the hero slay the beast, or is she the monster? All types of monsters, protagonists, and antagonists are welcome here. I am looking for speculative fiction containing strong prose with character-driven stories that convey powerful messages. I am particularly drawn to the beautiful grotesque, gothic elements, the macabre, and poetic prose, but I welcome all well-crafted stories to be submitted.

All writers who identify as women are welcome to submit.

Submissions open on November 1st, 2018 and will remain open until our approximate word count has been met.

 

Manuscript formatting should follow the Shunn style

Send submissions to: notallmonsters2020@gmail.com

Payment: $0.01/word

Expected word count: ~90K

Stories should be a minimum of 2K and up to 8K

NO reprints

NO multiple submissions

NO simultaneous submissions

See the rest of the guidelines here.

Writing What You Don’t Know

“Write what you know” is a phrase that has been following me since I started studying creative writing during my undergraduate years. This phrase would be echoed to death while I pursued my MFA, and don’t get me wrong, it’s great advice, but it’s also the mostobvious advice you could give someone. Of course we have to know something about something to even begin to write about it – so whenever someone says, “write what you know,” it makes me want to flap wildly at that person until I turn into a bat and fly away.

We all start with what we know. I’m not sure it really needs to be drilled into our heads that much because of course when I’m writing, be it prose or poetry, some subjective element of myself whether I’m cognizant of it or not is going to bleed out and into the pages. However, I think there’s something dangerously misleading about solely “writing what we know” because if we’re to live by that phrase, it risks the danger of not encouraging writers to find out what they don’t know. It risks the danger of someone becoming afraid to write about characters outside their own race or culture. I imagine if everything I wrote was forever only from the viewpoint of a white, American woman in her mid-twenties, then those stories would get horrendously boring quite quickly.

I fear the more we propel the notion you can only write what you know, especially to writers just starting their first story, then they will become afraid to write main characters outside of their own genetic make-up. I wholeheartedly believe one of the main freedoms of pursuing writing is to embrace differences, to study and research what we don’t know so we can rise above ignorance and understand how human connections span across the globe. Rather than being afraid of what or who we don’t know, we should instead interview people with different cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, etc.… than our own so we can learn, and so we can beautifully craft stories that celebrate diversity.

The thesis novel I wrote for graduate school is currently floating around in market space, so it goes, and when I created my protagonist, she was someone I knew. She is similar to me in appearance and mindset, and a lot of things I dealt with in life are things that I put into her creation. Luckily, not everyone in the book is a white American, but writing that book also made me realize how much I want to grow my ability to write diversity. So, I write this article as a reminder to myself, and to anyone else who is sick of hearing to write only what we know.

Writing should be a celebration of incorporating all people – so yes, writing what you know can be a solid foundation to start with, but do your research, too. Study, research, interview, learn. Writing is a lifelong learning process, which is probably why writing and teaching are the two fields I’m drawn to the most. Writers should fearlessly leap into the abyss of the unknown and learn as much as possible – learning what we don’t know, after all, is what rounds out our knowledges, makes us more competent to participate in social engagements and societal conversations, so it only makes sense for us to continue our commitment to learning about a range of individuals and their unique stories for the sake of our humanity and for our craft.

While we base certain settings, emotions, characters and so forth on our experiences, I hope we move forward in our stories to embrace diversity and to do it well. I hope we take those precious moments of truly learning from one another and craft it into stories worth telling, worth reading. Strive to make the unknown known, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. We’re all ignorant about something, or many things, but to brush off that ignorance and make the choice not to learn and embrace elements outside our comfort zones only ensures our writing will never reach the highest potential that it can.

So, go write something today. And more importantly, go learn something new.

*This article was originally featured on author Erik Hofstatter’s website here.

#NationalPoetryMonth: Five Ways Poetry Can Strengthen Your Prose by Sara Tantlinger

Check out my guest article on how poetry can help strengthen prose writing! Happy National Poetry Month!

Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK!

In celebration of National Poetry Month this April, I’m doing a small series featuring poets/poetry. Yesterday, Christina Sng stopped by and shared three of her fabulous poems! Today, Sara Tantlinger is here to discuss how poetry can help strengthen your prose writing.

I really appreciate her offering this piece, because I can’t believe how often I tell other writers that poetry, if not read for enjoyment, at the least, can be a great asset in blossoming lengthier writing. It brings me great pleasure to know that other poets out there feel the same and that she, as well, plays with words and poetry to assist with things such as character development. I’ve only met Sara online this year, but she’s a wonderful and talented human being and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her. I am super excited for her next release later this year, which is a collection of poems…

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