2020 Recap

Usually I enjoy doing end-of-the-year recaps, but as with so much this year, I really had to force myself to do it because my heart just isn’t in it. I’m beyond tired and burned out (hello fellow adjunct instructors out there), but I still had some cool things happen this year, so I want to remember those. I’m not sure what 2021 holds in store, in terms of you know, the world, or for me personally, but I guess all any of us can do is take it one day at a time, be kind to each other, and maintain hope for a better future. Also, a huge thank you to all essential workers and anyone who has to go into work and cannot stay home. You are beyond appreciated.

Before lockdown, I was on a road trip in February and went to see Graffiti Highway in Centralia, PA (which I think is now filled over in dirt?). I had no idea that would be my last road trip of the year besides going to local trails and parks, so I’m grateful I got to have that exploration on the other side of the state. I also spent some time in Jim Thorpe and it was the most whimsical little place. The town filled my brain with all kinds of story ideas, and I really hope to go back there one day.

Writing News Recaps:

  • Both books were featured alongside K.P. Kulski’s amazing debut novel, Fairest Flesh, in the December Night Worms package! It’s been so neat seeing all the photos of the books.
Photo by Ashley (@spookishmommy)
  • I was a guest on one of my favorite podcasts — This Is Horror! I’m not sure when the episode will be out, but I had a lot of fun chatting with Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella
  • I sold 12 poems, two flash fictions, and one short story, most of which are hopefully updated on my Publications page. I was particularly excited to have a story narrated on The Wicked Library.
  • I began the Delicious Horror series on my blog and had so much fun with it. Submissions are always open if you have a love for baking/cooking/mixology and horror! Thank you again to everyone who participated and who has submitted
  • I was on a panel titled “The History and Future of Women in Horror” also featuring Gwendolyn Kiste, Kathe Koja, and Michelle Lane, and hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Archives & Special Collections– I loved listening to my fellow panelists and was really inspired by this conversation
  • Earlier in the year, To Be Devoured was nominated for a 2019 Stoker Award in Long Fiction, and won the 2019 Ladies of Horror Fiction Award for Novella! Also, edits for the forthcoming Spanish translation of the book are ongoing with the amazing Dilatando Mentes Editorial!
  • I was so honored to appear on the 10 Weird Writers to Save us All list by Silent Motorist Media alongside so many writers I admire!
  • I co-organize the HWA Pittsburgh Chapter and enjoyed our online meetings this year, but I miss seeing our chapter in person so much! We held a spooky reading in October which was a blast
  • I blurbed a lot of books and wrote a few introductions (and a lot of reviews on Goodreads) — things I very much enjoyed doing, but I’m going to have to cut back on that in 2021 because I really need to catch up on my own projects
  • I appeared in a coloring book of horror authors! This awesome project was done by the very talented Cassie Daley — and you can find the coloring book here
  • I’m positive I’m forgetting a few things, so I’ll just say how grateful I am to my writing friends, whether we’ve met in person yet or not, and everyone else who has helped make this year not so awful
  • I explored a lot of trails around the local area, which was not only fun but really helped keep me sane (some of my pictures below)

What will 2021 be like? Not a clue, but I am quite happy to see 2020 go at any rate. Stay safe everyone, and I so look forward to seeing you all in person again someday!


Delicious Horror: Jacqueline West

I have a wonderful submission for Delicious Horror today that I am so excited to share with you all! Author Jacqueline West has paired Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia with a very tempting treat. I read Mexican Gothic a few months ago and was completely immersed in the rich storytelling, so I was thrilled to see Jacqueline’s pairing. Enjoy!

Jacqueline West is the author of the New York Times-bestselling middle grade series The Books of Elsewhere, the Schneider Family Honor Book The Collectors, and several other middle grade and young adult novels of the dark and twisty variety. Her most recent book, the YA horror novel Last Things, was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards and was selected for the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot, and her next book, the MG ghost story Long Lost, is forthcoming from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in May 2021. Jacqueline’s poetry and short fiction for adult readers has appeared in Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Liminality, Mirror Dance, and Star*Line. Her first full-length poetry collection, Candle and Pins: Poems on Superstitions was published by Alban Lake in 2018. Jacqueline lives with her family in Red Wing, Minnesota.  

Find Jacqueline at www.jacquelinewest.com or on Instagram @jacqueline.west.writes and Twitter @JacquelineMWest

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours: 

I just read—and loved—Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest novel, Mexican Gothic. Its imagery has been fixed in my brain ever since: Foggy forests, private cemeteries, molding wallpaper, crumbling ancestral homes filled with horrifying family secrets. The book is gothic in all the classic ways, but it’s infused so craftily with elements that make it its own, like the rural Mexican setting, the effects of colonialism, the ways that some husbands and fathers turn their families into their own brutal little kingdoms. And the protagonist, Noemi Taboada, is GREAT. She’s not the naïve and innocent Mrs. DeWinter-ish gothic heroine, and she’s not the reserved and unassuming Jane Eyre type, either. She’s completely herself.  

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat? 

Chocolate Socialite Cake with Meringue Mushrooms felt like the perfect fit. Mold and fungus are an important element of Mexican Gothic’s setting. Inside the Doyle mansion, mold covers the walls and infuses the air, and outside, mushrooms sprout from the graves of the family cemetery. The fungus is also a symbol for the family at the heart of the story: this vast system of interconnected organisms that feed on death and decay. So there had to be meringue mushrooms. And bittersweet Chocolate Socialite Cake seemed right for Noemi, a wealthy party girl from Mexico City who’s a lot deeper and stronger than she’s given credit for. Plus, the two recipes fit together with weird perfection—the cake uses egg yolks, and the meringue uses egg whites, so there’s a sort of mushroomy symbiosis happening. More symbolism!  

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe? 

I found the cake recipe in a magazine forever ago, and I can’t remember the source’s name, but she was some wealthy and fashionable socialite who mentioned having served this to Andy Warhol. In my notebook, I wrote it down as “Chocolate Socialite Cake.” And the meringue mushrooms come from Martha Stewart. (You can add a few drops of food coloring along with the vanilla flavor, if you want your mushrooms tinted an eerie green or yellow.)

Chocolate Socialite Cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the pan
4 bars (3.5 oz. each) of good quality bittersweet or dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I’ve used Lindt and Ghirardelli; Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips work too)
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour 

Preheat oven to 350.
Butter a 9-inch round pan.
Melt butter and chocolate together in a heat-safe bowl over a pan of hot water, or melt in short increments in the microwave, stirring frequently. Once chocolate is smooth, set aside.
In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat eggs and egg yolks until frothy. At medium speed, beat in sugar until creamy. Beat in flour.
Fold flour mixture into chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula until blended. Spread in buttered pan.
Bake until set in the center, roughly 40 minutes. Let cool.
Top with meringue mushrooms and/or berries and whipped cream, and serve on a tarnished silver platter. 

Easy Meringue Mushrooms: https://www.marthastewart.com/347008/meringue-mushrooms 

Thank you so much Jacqueline for this excellent post! If you feel inspired, find out how to submit a Delicious Horror post of your own here!

Delicious Horror: Michael Arnzen

What a month! I can’t believe it’s Halloween Eve and October is almost gone. I have enjoyed the Delicious Horror series so much, and I hope you have, too! While this is the last DH post for October, I’m leaving submissions open and already have received a post I am very excited to share soon in November!

Enjoy this very fun (and detailed) dish by Mike Arnzen (whom I co-organize the Pittsburgh HWA Chapter with!) below, and have a wonderful, spooky, and safe Halloween weekend!

Michael Arnzen has won the Bram Stoker Award four times over his career, including awards for First Novel, Fiction Collection, Poetry and the now-defunct Alternative Forms.  His books include Proverbs for Monsters, Grave Markings, 100 Jolts, and The Gorelets Omnibus, with several titles currently available from Raw Dog Screaming Press

As a writing professor holding a PhD in English, Arnzen teaches fulltime at Seton Hill University and is a resident horror instructor in their MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. He serves as Academic Advisor to the “Dark Short Fiction” series of primers on various authors (who include Kaaron Warren, Nisi Shawl, Jeffrey Ford, Steve Rasnic Tem and Ramsey Campbell) for Dark Moon Books.  He is working on an experimental new vampire novel. While his creative “gorelets” website is under renovation, visit Mike on twitter @MikeArnzen or at http://michaelarnzen.com/

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours.

The Books of Blood by Clive Barker have long been a favorite story collection — one of the first I read that made me realize just how “creative” horror writing could be — they really embody Clive’s mantra that “there are no limits” when it comes to the imagination.  And when I say long, I mean since they first came out back in 1984.  I’m elated to see that Hulu has produced a series based on them — it’s about time for a Clive resurgence!

But I’m choosing the Books of Blood because there’s a particular story in one of them (Volume 2, to be precise) that had a profound influence on me.  It changed the way I understand (and write) horror fiction — and it’s since become a staple in my teaching of horror as a college professor.

The story is “Dread,” and it’s one of the greatest horror stories ever written.

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

I’m no chef, but like many people during the pandemic, I’ve discovered pleasure in experimenting with food and enjoying the results of whatever I can concoct.  So when I saw you were running the “Delicious Horror” series, I was inspired to try something new.  And for the sole purpose of honoring Clive Barker, I have created something…evil.  I call it DREAD STEAK.

Barker’s story includes a very devious scene of sadism, in which the story’s philosophically morbid and evil villain, Quaid, tortures an overweight vegetarian who is dying of starvation in a room he’s locked her up in. He gives her nothing to eat; just water, and, “On the table, on an unpatterned plate, a slab of meat” with a bone sticking out of it. A stern vegan, she refuses to eat the meat on principle, but as the days pass by, her hunger breaks down her defiance, which degrades in concert with the steak that gets more and more rancid as the days go by… until she can resist no more, and eats the horrifying, bug egg-riddled slab of “meat” for survival, sitting on the floor “like a primitive in her cave.”

The story is cruel…and as ingenious as something Poe might write, if he were alive today.

It deserves a corresponding dish.

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?

Dread Steak is prepared simply, just like any steak you might sear to perfection in a pan. But with a twist:  the steak must appear ROTTEN AND MOLDY when placed on the plate.  Rancid-looking with the appearance of fly-eggs or maggots.  And yet it must taste really good.  This can easily be achieved with a little playful trickery that’s not too difficult to pull off… and I have a feeling your readers would easily be able to surpass what I did by taking it to another level. But here’s how I did it, with photos — much like Quaid’s snapshots of his victim’s agony — taken along the way:


1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons steak sauce (A1 works nicely)

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Green and Black and Blue Food Dye (can substitute any raw/green seasoning herbs)

A dozen or more crackers (preferably a sleeve of Ritz)

2-4 sirloin steaks (bonus points if you can find or cut them into coffin-like shapes)


First, you’ll just be cooking a steak as you normally might do it in a frying pan.

Prepare the sirloin beforehand by “buttering” the meat with 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, spread copiously so that the pieces of clove look like pustules.  Then heavily marinate the beef in A1 Steak Sauce, sprinkled with salt, pepper and (very optional) a dash of old bay for flavor. Massage these ingredients into the meat and let sit for ten minutes; longer is fine, and purists might leave it covered on a plate in the fridge to marinate overnight. (Clive’s protagonist would leave to marinate in warm open air for several days until reeking and rotten… avoid that, unless you want an extra dash of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis).

Next get your large frying pan ready by cranking the oven top to medium heat, simmering up the oil in the pan until it has a nice glistening sheen of heat on it.  Once the oil is warmed up, gently lay the cutlets into the oil and let them sizzle for a good three minutes.

It should be nicely browned on the edges by now.  Flip steak once at this point (i.e. after 3-4 mins) to sear the other side. Trick: Press against edges of pan to brown the edges of the meat.  Cover with lid or another pan to retain heat and ensure cook-through.

While this is happening, you might want to prep your mold (though it might be easier to do this in advance).

For me, that meant emptying half-a-sleeve of Ritz crackers into a plastic food bag (aka “ziplock”) and crushing them into fine crumbs with many violent punches against the countertop. Then I added a teaspoon of oregano.  You might add your own dried or fresh green herbs to the bag, to taste.  Anything that might resemble green fuzz and fly eggs, but be careful about flavors.  I next carefully added about ten droplets of green coloring and shook. After the green was evenly disbursed, I added another five droplets of black color.  I neglected to acquire blue food dye, but I would have included that in the mix too.  I chose food coloring, so as not to interfere with the flavor of the A1 marinade.  Shake and squeeze and work the dye around the bag so that the cracker bits are as evenly coated as you can get them. There can be white crumbs… the batch does not need to be entirely saturated… and the tiny white pearls of crumb only add to it.

Remove your steak from heat and let sit for one minute. When it’s cooled a bit, drop the steak into your plastic bag of “mold” and shake it around, ensuring the entire cutlet is coated.  It should stick just fine to the oils of the cooked steak but you might need to squeeze it inside the bag a little to ensure full coverage. This will look and feel gross.

That’s really the whole gimmick.  It tasted great, and since the crumble was uncooked it didn’t feel “breaded” like a baked or fried coating (which often would use egg as glue) would feel. However, the dye did leave some staining.  If the reader is wanting to avoid artifice, then a foodie substitute might just be pure oregano and other Italian herbs.  But this might result in an unpalatably herbaceous flavor if you’re not careful.

I enjoyed my steak with roasted red potatoes (since Quaid does eventually give his victim potatoes after she eats his meat) and a salad on the side. It occurred to me that the steak could easily be cut into strips and placed into the salad bowl, making a DREAD STEAK SALAD alternative that is drizzled with a fine dose of irony.

Bon appetite!  There is no delight the equal of dread…steak.

Delicious Horror: John Edward Lawson

Today I have the very talented and very kind John Edward Lawson on my blog with a wonderful contribution to Delicious Horror! I’m very excited to share what he made below — enjoy! And check out submission guidelines here if you want to contribute to Delicious Horror yourself!

Although John Edward Lawson has been called “the forgotten Black man of horror” his novels, short fiction, and poetry span all genres. His writing has garnered nominations for the Dwarf Stars, Elgin, Rhysling, Stoker, and Wonderland Awards, as well as the Puschcart Prize.

John has released five horror soundtrack-influenced metal singles over the last year, and his horror photography is also available online. When he is not creating new works or traveling for events he is busy leading workshops at Broadkill Writers Resort.

In addition to being a founder of Raw Dog Screaming Press, former editor-in-chief of The Dream People, and editor of six anthologies, he currently serves as vice president of Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction and has been organizing virtual events through AllAccessCon since late 2019.

John is a member of the Horror Writers Association, International Association of Innovation Professionals, Internet Marketers Association, and Nonfiction Authors Association. You can connect with John on Instagram, Goodreads, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Spy on him at https://johnlawson.org/

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:

The book I chose to highlight is a translation: Audition by Ryu Murakami. Yes, more than just being one of the films credited with launching the “J-Horror” craze there is actual source material in the form of a novel.

Audition is the story of a widower named Aoyama, and his film producer friend’s scheme to get him a new wife by holding auditions for a fake movie, which is how he meets a young woman named Yamasaki Asami. That totally sounds more like the set-up for a questionable romantic comedy as opposed to horror, but let’s just say things don’t go as expected.

It’s difficult to totally hate or totally like anybody in the story, except maybe the dog Gangsta, and I’m a fan of characters that live in the gray area. Also, it’s excruciating in the way that romantic comedies can be, with it being painfully clear to see how things could go well, how things could even maybe have a perfect ending, except: horror. It’s been 19 years since I first saw the film, then read the book, but I hadn’t seen a story done this way before and it made a huge impression on me.

In terms of currently being timely, there’s a moment when characters bond over the outsider experience of attempting to partake in society by way of dining out. “At it’s worst it’s a culture of collusion,” Aoyama tells Asami, going on to add, “…you need courage to walk into a place like that. It’s a tight-knit little community, and harmony is of the utmost importance.”

I found this relatable on so many levels despite the fact that eating in public is meant to be a communal experience, at least by sociological standards. Now, though? Who isn’t dying for a return to some semblance of normal public awkwardness? Who wouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief to be part of the out crowd publicly dining at the fringe while others take up all the air in the restaurant?

Audition is a story of social isolation, manipulation, naïvité, and unexpected, irreparable harm…things many of us associate with our childhood. It’s like the COVID-19 pandemic in that regard, forcing us to explore this difficult to navigate world through a disenfranchised and powerless perspective. It’s no wonder so many of us are trying to rebel against authority figures amidst all this chaos.

And above all Audition’s antagonist — if you want to call her that — is guided by childlike simplicity.

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

For me the final quarter of the year is what I most strongly associate with childhood, starting with Halloween. My family was poor and only ran our gas oven during the cold months, in part to reduce air conditioning costs during summer but also to warm the home as autumn slowly decayed into winter. That meant baking sweets and casseroles and squashes and, among many other things, one of our family favorites: rumaki.

My mother was fond of hyping up the Japanese origins of the dish, in particular so she could then run down sushi and unsanitary and unsavory while somehow ignoring the fact Japanese cuisine includes so much else. Of course, as an adult I have learned that rumaki was likely concocted by Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr. — a.k.a. Trader Vic — at his Don the Beachcomber restaurant in California, as its first appearance was in their 1941 menu. Some form of the food itself might have come from Japan by way of Hawai‘i, and the name is likely an Americanized version of “harumaki,” the Japanese spring roll.

In this way rumaki goes perfectly with Audition because it is a delightful fraudulence that might be unhealthy in large amounts, not unlike a certain deceptive character in the book. And when it comes to the book, as you might expect with an adaptation, there are things left out of the film. One such element is Aoyama’s obsession with the traditional Christian pipe organ music of Germany, in particular orchestrating a concert for a specific organist from Wittenberg, in the former East Germany, to record a documentary about. Why pipe organs? No idea, but it certainly stood out to me.


Naturally, the way my mind works, I think of literal organs such as chicken livers, and what non-meat substitutes we might find for internal organs. Hence the addition of canned beets. Sure, I love roasting fresh beets, but few foods are as visually visceral as lumps of beet-flesh in the spilled liquid they are packed with, that rich maroon eerily reminiscent of large, freshly spilled quantities of blood that haven’t yet had time to react fully to the oxygen-rich air.

Just like that which was splashed across the news segments of my childhood rife with wounded soldiers, bodies left behind by terrorist or government massacres, and the remnants of car accidents in the background as journalists with butterfly collars and earth-tone jackets tried to work their way up the local media food chain by somberly reciting details of the incidents. The 1970s were wild like that.

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?

·  3 tbsp. soy sauce

·  1 tbsp. brown sugar

·  4 chicken livers, cut into thirds

·  3 water chestnuts, quartered

·  4 strips bacon, cut into thirds

·  1 (1″) piece fresh ginger finely chopped or grated

You’ll find fatty membranes, stringy sinew, and various clumps and blobs attached to the chicken livers. Go ahead and trim all of that off with a knife when cutting the livers into thirds; if it doesn’t look like a liver then it’s not part of what you’re meant to be eating.

Whisk the soy sauce, brown sugar, and ginger in a medium bowl. Add water chestnuts and chicken livers, tossing to coat; place in refrigerator to let marinate for 1 hour.

While preheating your oven to 400° strain the liver and chestnuts, reserving the marinade. Bring the marinade to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan; set aside.

Place 1 slice of bacon on a cutting board, then top with 1 piece of liver and 1 water chestnut. Wrap bacon around liver and chestnut; skewer bacon in place with a toothpick. Repeat process with remaining livers, water chestnuts, and bacon.

Transfer rumaki to a wire rack on a baking tray or cookie sheet lined with parchment or foil for easier clean up.

Bake at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes occasionally basting with the marinade. The bacon should be golden brown and, if cut open, the liver should be

If you want to take things over the top use a pastry/paintbrush to add a glaze — it should be noted that’s not what’s pictured here. While some people advocate all sorts of dipping sauces I’m not a fan since the marinate is already so strong without totally obliterating the natural flavors.

Variations: a Kosher alternate to this bacon-based recipe is to wrap the liver and chestnut in pastrami, and vegetarian options include pineapple or marinated watermelon in place of the liver and extra firm tofu pressed for 30 minutes in place of bacon (not something I’ve attempted, so I’m not sure if the tofu is just added to the skewer or actually wrapped around the other ingredients). Brown sugar substitutions that work well in this recipe are agave or honey.

As for the canned beets, although you can eat them straight from the can I prefer them heated in a saucepan; if you are not using pickled beets I strongly recommend saving the beetroot juice the beets are packed in for use with other recipes, as a natural dye, or for staging a crime scene.

CRADLELAND OF PARASITES is now live on Amazon! —

We promised a follow-up post as soon as CRADLELAND OF PARASITES went live, and here it is: you can now grab Bram Stoker Award-winner Sara Tantlinger’s excellent collection of plague-inspired poetry from Amazon. CRADLELAND OF PARASITES is the latest from the author of THE DEVIL’S DREAMLAND and LOVE FOR SLAUGHTER and this new collection may […]

CRADLELAND OF PARASITES is now live on Amazon! —

Delicious Horror: Hailey Piper

Happy Wednesday, spooky friends! Can you believe we’re three days away from Halloween? This month seriously went by in a blink. To help us count down to Halloween, Hailey Piper is here with a recommended horror read and one of my favorite desserts! Hailey also has a wonderful story in Not All Monsters, which was just released yesterday!

Hailey Piper is the author of The Possession of Natalie GlasgowAn Invitation to Darkness, and Benny Rose, the Cannibal King. She’s a member of the HWA, and her short fiction pops up in Daily Science Fiction, The Arcanist, Flash Fiction Online, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, and elsewhere. She lives with her wife in Maryland, where they sometimes bake monstrosities of the living dead. Find her on Twitter via @HaileyPiperSays or at www.haileypiper.com.

From Hailey: My new cosmic horror novella The Worm and His Kings releases on November 15 from Off Limits Press! A swirl of shadowy monsters, creepy cultists, and a woman trying to find her missing girlfriend in a subterranean world beneath 1990 Manhattan. Paperback pre-orders are up at the Off Limits Press site.

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:

I chose White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi as my Delicious Treats book. In some ways, it’s about a troubled young woman Miranda Silver and her family, but it’s also about the terrible Silver House where they live and operate a bed-and-breakfast, and it’s also about another young woman, Ore Lind, with troubles of her own. But it’s also very much about sicknesses that spread and linger in families, racism as a legacy. White Is for Witching demands close attention; it is a dense, beautiful, haunting novel.

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

Warning: my treat offering isn’t exactly deep! In the novel, Miranda suffers from pica, a condition that compels a person to eat inedible things such as plastic or dirt. Miranda’s number one go-to pica craving is chalk. To that end, my wife and I made lemon bars coated in white confectioner’s sugar. Cut thin as shown here, they’re slivers of chalk that are perfectly safe to eat!

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?

For this recipe, you’ll need:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a bowl, combine flour, butter, and confectioner’s sugar. Pat into an 8×8 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Beat eggs, and then add other ingredients. Whip until frothy and pour into the cooked crust’s pan. Bake 25 minutes. Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar (much or little as desired). Let cool for 1 hour in the fridge for ease of cutting.

Thank you for having me, Sara!

Thank you so much, Hailey! I already want to make these as we plunge deeper into these wintery months. Lemon bars feel perfect for the season.

Check out submission guidelines here if you want to contribute to Delicious Horror! See you all tomorrow with another very delicious post.

NOT ALL MONSTERS arrives early! CRADLELAND OF PARASITES on the way! A sale on COVER ART! AND… we spill some beans about Christmas. —

Ah, best laid plans! They always go EXACTLY how you want them to. And, yes, that’s sarcasm you are detecting. We wanted to offer up a Halloween surprise and make NOT ALL MONSTERS and CRADLELAND OF PARASITES available early for those of you looking for something to settle in and read over Halloween, and… well… […]

NOT ALL MONSTERS arrives early! CRADLELAND OF PARASITES on the way! A sale on COVER ART! AND… we spill some beans about Christmas. —

Delicious Horror: KP Kulski

Today I am very excited to bring you K.P. Kulski’s other two contributions to Delicious Horror! If you missed her first one, which was a dinner inspired by Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts, check out that post here, which also features Becca’s very yummy ghostly cupcakes. You can also check out submission guidelines here if you want to contribute to Delicious Horror.

Today, K.P. brings us treats inspired by Sara Gran’s Come Closer and Hailey Piper’s Benny Rose, The Cannibal King. Speaking of Hailey, she might just have a Delicious Horror post of her own this week, so stay tuned! Enjoy the posts below as K.P. takes us deeper into each book.

K.P. Kulski’s short fiction has appeared in Unnerving Magazine, anthologies Not All Monsters and Typhon Vol. 2. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, an MA in History and is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and Air Force. She has a special interest in feminist horror, historical horror and stories that examine Korean-American experiences. Her debut novel, Fairest Flesh will be released by Strangehouse Books in December.

She can be found at www.garnetonwinter.com or via twitter @garnetonwinter.

KP: Come Closer. Can a book title be more tantalizing? Then you figure out that it’s about demonic possession and holy, GIVEMETHATBOOKNOWTYVM. I love that Sara Gran’s Come Closer gives us a glimpse into the protagonist’s internal fight for control. This is the heart of the terror because as a reader we identify with Amanda, yet with each step she slips away. Or does she?

Naamah, a demon found in Jewish mysticism is all about seduction and taking what she wants. There’s a point that the edges of the demon, Naamah and Amanda blur. Come Closer is a brilliant little read and probably a bit too identifiable for many women who have learned to embody the empty patriarchal pursuit of being good girls. Naamah finds that emptiness and fills it with decadence, impulsivity and pleasure.

Because of this I felt that what I paired with Come Closer had to give off the same feeling. There needed to be alcohol involved and then in my mind, I could see a glass of deep red Sangria in Naamah’s uplifted grip. It seemed just right.

I don’t know about everyone, but Sangria has a tendency to sneak up on me if I’m not careful. It’s refreshing sweetness makes it too easy to feel like I’m drinking fancy juice and it isn’t hard to drink too much without realizing it, not all that different from Amanda’s harrowing experience with Naamah. I opted for frozen dark red cherries and cherry infused apple juice with a solid red wine to give it a deep scarlet color. I added the cherries still frozen to help chill the Sangria. You can add grenadine if you like more sweetness. I’m pretty sure Naamah would have used grenadine.

I purchased with the best contact-free delivery red wine (look I’m on a budget) and cherry apple juice. The ratio of wine to juice is all your judgement call. I used the bottle of wine with 2/3 of the bottle of juice. But really the thing that makes this simple Sangria is the dark red cherries. These soak up the wine, combining to create a treat to consume after you’ve drained the glass. I used one apple and about half an orange, mostly for the contrast in color. Cut these up, then add the cherries. Go ahead, free yourself, pour as many of those beauties as you’d think Naamah would like, I mean you. YOU would like.

As you sip your glass, think about what it would mean for you to be free and what exactly are your true desires? Perhaps what Naamah really means to show us is that if we don’t indulge sometimes, we become easy husks for her to bring back to life. But her way includes much more blood.

So go ahead. Enjoy the Sangria. Live a little.

KP: If you haven’t heard of Hailey Piper, you will.

I eagerly await her upcoming novella, The Worm and His Kings from Off Limits Press. But this pairing is all about Benny Rose, the Cannibal King. Guys, Benny is indeed the king of cannibals and this novella is a work of gory fun. You can’t help but enjoy the ride and then at some point you realize, oh shit, Piper is telling us something more. I can’t share with you exactly what, that is something you’ll just have to read to find out.

BUT I can tell you, it is this that made me fall in love with the book. It is more than entertainment and I always dig stories that give me something deeper to ponder. My pairing… you see, there is a particular scene that has stuck with me where Benny takes a bite out of someone’s head and well, I KNEW that I had to make candy apples for Benny and they had to be pale like Benny’s naked belly. *shiver*

All the credit for this recipe goes to the 1 Fine Cookie food blog. Now this is my first time making candy apples, so my little project pales in comparison. Nonetheless, I’m still quite proud of the blood-splattered dead-flesh, I mean white chocolate with red “festive” flecks apples. The nice thing about working with the white chocolate is that it coats the apples rather easily. You want to be sure to let that coating sit and harden before adding the flecks, or drips if you prefer to give off that Halloween vibe. My daughter wouldn’t eat these particular apples because they were “way too creepy.” So I think Benny would approve. (I used some sprinkles for the other apples so my daughter would consider them acceptable food.)

Excuse me now. Time for a snack before dinner.

Oh, and, have a bloody good Halloween.

Delicious Horror: Ellen Avigliano

Today I am back with a beautiful post created by Ellen Avigliano. I think you will really enjoy these photos and the care Ellen took in putting this together! Find out how to submit a Delicious Horror post of your own here.

Ellen Avigliano is an artist and reviewer based in New Jersey. She can be found on Twitter @imaginariumcs — on Instagram @thejackalopes.warren and @imaginariumarts; and she is also a writer and admin for Divination Hollow Reviews. On her website, she notes that common themes in her art include a focus on “modern cultural issues such as intersectional feminism, mental health, disability, LGBTQ+ rights, diversity, identity/gender roles, etc.” Find her artwork and more at www.imaginariumarts.com

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:

I chose to highlight The Familiars by Stacey Halls.  It is a beautiful story of the power of women, sisterhood, and a generally witchy read. It’s a slow burn, and very thoughtful.  I loved the historical fiction balanced with the fantastic, magical elements of witchcraft.  It isn’t something that is dark, gory, or overtly violent, but contains a lot of themes we often find in witchy reads: misogyny, women’s issues, pregnancy and pregnancy loss, the meaning of family/chosen family, etc.  It is also very moody and romantic in a way. I thought it really leant itself to a non-traditional choice in Halloween baking!  While it’s not the most obvious choice in “Horror” — it’s horror adjacent enough that I felt it had merit to be included. 🙂 Plus, how could you not fall in love with that cover art aesthetic?

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

I wanted to focus on the themes of femininity, witches, natural foraging, herbs, and the home of the characters.  I chose pomegranate and pumpkin seeds to show beauty, growth, and feminine qualities. I chose flax seed since it is recommended to pregnant women as well.  I incorporated the use of Earl Grey Royale tea for its delicate, fragrant perfume aroma and vanilla notes, and it is also representative of the English countryside and traditional teatime.  For my decoration I added starfruit to represent magic, ritual, and religious beliefs.  I thought it best to create something a little heavier and dense, that could hold you over for a time, to represent the fact that many of the characters were working class, may not have a lot, and would need sustenance for awhile. I wanted it to also have a woodsy feel, so using bright red berries, roasted pumpkin seeds, and yellow star fruit gave it an autumnal appearance. I wanted to find a balance between rustic and beautiful, to highlight the contrast between the upper/lower class characters in the story.

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?

“The Familiars” Inspired Fruit Cake by Ellen Avigliano

(Gluten Free, Vegan)

3 Cups of GF Baking Flour (I used: 2c Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 as well as 1c almond flour)

1 teaspoon of finely ground loose leaf Earl Grey Tea (ground mind in a coffee grinder!)

¾ teaspoon of Lavender Sea Salt

2 tsp Baking Powder

1 Cup Earl Grey Milk (1 TBSP Earl Grey Royale Tea, Steeped in 1 to 1 ¼ cups boiled non-dairy Vanilla Milk)

2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

½ Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

¼ Cup Pomegranate Seeds

¾ C White Sugar

¼ Cup Brown Sugar, packed

3 “Flax Eggs”

⅔ Cup Neutral Oil like Canola Oil

1 TBSP apple cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

¼ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Optional: ½ cup of golden raisins or ½ cup of chopped pitted dates

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Boil one to one and ¼ cups of Vanilla non-dairy milk in a pot and set in 1 TBSP of earl grey tea to steep for about 5 minutes.  Strain and set aside to cool to room temperature.  When cool, mix in the 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar and allow to thicken slightly (may curdle, this is okay!)

To make a Flax Egg combine 1TBSP of ground flax seed with 2-3TBSP of water or non-dairy milk, let set aside until it forms a yolky, gel-like consistency. (You’ll need 3 for this recipe!)

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together the GF Baking Flour, Ground Earl Grey Tea, Sea Salt, Baking Powder, Cardamom, Cinnamon, and Pumpkin Pie Spice. Mix together well.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if mixing by hand) combine the following ingredients on medium speed: white sugar, brown sugar, canola oil, and Earl Grey Milk.  Mix well then add in the flax egg until thoroughly combined.

Switch the mixer speed to low, and slowly sift in the dry mixture ½ to ¾ of a cup at a time. Don’t worry about over mixing as gluten free flour does not get tough like regular flour when “overmixed.”  Mix until all flour mixture is well incorporated then remove bowl from stand mixer and gently fold in your pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, and other dried fruit or nuts if using.

Line a 9” loaf pan with parchment paper, and spray generously with non-stick spray.  Pour the batter evenly into your pan and spread flat so the top is even.

When the oven is up to temperature, place the loaf pan on the middle rack close to the rear of the oven.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.   Depending on the size, make, age of  your oven, cook times may vary; convection ovens do tend to have a tendency to cook up to 25% faster.  Some older ovens may take longer to bake (50-65 minutes) so keep an eye on your loaf and check for doneness occasionally.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a parchment lined wire rack to cool. Slice and serve when room temperature. Cake will be more dense and a bit closer to a fruit-cake or date-nut bread texture than a traditional airy cake.

*NOTE*: To achieve the decorated top as I did in my images, you’ll need a little bit of patience and a few extra ingredients. I used 1 ripe Starfruit, sliced into ¼ inch pieces.  Before filling the tin with the cake batter, I carefully laid them into the bottom of my loaf pan, then sprinkled extra pomegranate seeds around and in between. Once your fruit decorations are arranged as you like, carefully and gently pour the batter in over the top! When you demould your cake after it’s done, it should have a slightly caramelized star fruit and beautiful “upside down cake” appearance!

*NOTE*: I like to keep this cake refrigerated in slices separated by parchment. Then I toast them to have along with my morning coffee, with a little shmear of vegan butter like Miyokos, or vegan cream cheese!  Although this cake hardly lasted a week, in the past I have frozen and defrosted similar cake recipes before and it went fairly well! 🙂

Delicious Horror: Jessica Guess & Angela Sylvaine

Happy Friday! To kick off the weekend, Jessica Guess and Angela Sylvaine are here with some excellent drink recipes and horror reading recommendations. I recently read Jessica’s novella Cirque Berserk and had such a blast! And Angela has a fantastic short story, “Antifreeze and Sweet Peas” coming soon in the Not All Monsters anthology, which will be released on Halloween! Thank you so much to both of these amazing writers, and find out how to submit a Delicious Horror post of your own here!

Jessica Guess

Jessica Guess is a writer and English teacher who hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She earned her Creative Writing MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2018 and is the founder of the website Black Girl’s Guide to Horror where she examines horror movies in terms of quality and intersectionality. Her creative work has been featured in Luna Station Quarterly and Mused BellaOnline Literary Review. Her debut novella, Cirque Berserk, is available for purchase on Amazon.

Her story “Mama Tulu” is now available on Come Join Us by the Fire Season 2 via Nightfire.

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:

I’ve talked about The Book of Night Women by Marlon James before, but I don’t think this book is talked about enough, so I’m going to again. The Book of Night Women tells the story of Lillith, a young girl born into slavery in 18th century Jamaica. On the day that she is sent to work in the fields for the first time, Lillith must defend herself from a would-be rapist and ends up killing him. That’s when she meets the Night Women. A group of female slaves who come to her aid and reveal that they are planning a revolt.

This book is violent, disturbing, and at some points hard to stomach, but reading it changed me. In Lillith and the Night Women, I found characters that were intelligent, determined, strong, and vengeful in a time where Black women couldn’t be any of those things. Before reading this book, I had a limited view of slaves and slavery. I thought of it only in terms of brutality and hopelessness. I didn’t think of the acts of defiance, both small and large, the hopes and dreams that women of this time had, the yearning for love and attention. Make no mistake, this book is brutal. It’s one of the most frightening things I’ve ever read and stayed with me for weeks after reading it, but it also awakened in me a sense of pride and adoration for my ancestors who survived the most brutal aspects of history.

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

I’m pairing Sorrel with this book. Sorrel is a drink Jamaicans usually have during Christmas time. You can make it with or without alcohol and it’s super tasty. It starts with using the sorrel flower that you steep in boiling water as you would tea. Then you add the other ingredients and get a flavorful drink that packs a punch. 

I’m paring it with The Book of Night Women because not only is the drink a staple in Jamaica, but because it’s usually enjoyed in the Christmas season, it reminded me of a section of the book. Basically, Christmas was one of the few good times for slaves on the islands because you would get extra food and a day free from work. If memory serves, something pretty momentous happens during Christmas in the book, though I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet.

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?

This is the closest recipe I found to how my aunt makes it but this person didn’t mention that in addition to white rum (which by the way, you need to use Wray and Nephew rum) you also need to add Red Label wine to it. Everything else is on point with the recipe though.

Angela Sylvaine

Angela Sylvaine is a self-described cheerful goth that still believes in monsters and always checks under the bed. She holds degrees in psychology and philosophy. Her work has appeared in multiple publications and anthologies, including Dark Moon Digest, Places We Fear to Tread, and Not All Monsters. A North Dakota girl transplanted to Colorado, she lives with her sweetheart and three creepy cats on the front range of the Rockies. You can find her online at angelasylvaine.com.

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:

I chose Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy by Mercedes M. Yardley, a perfectly creepy fairy tale that I totally devoured. The writing is gorgeous and the theme of women being seen as prey really resonated with me. The tagline, Bryony Adams is destined to be murdered, hooked me immediately. The entire time I read this book I felt utterly hopeless for Bryony, while nursing a secret hope she would be able to escape the inevitability of death.

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

My cocktail is a Sour Cherry Pie Martini, because the fairy tale and Bryony Adams herself are utterly sweet, but the story is tainted by the sour mark of death.

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?

1 oz. Vodka

1 oz. Vanilla Vodka

2 oz. Tart Cherry Juice

A splash of grenadine

A splash of lemon juice

Cherry pie filling

Finely crushed graham crackers

Maraschino Cherries

Spoon cherry pie filling in a wide bowl that will fit the mouth of the martini glass. Dip the glass in the filling.

Spread the crushed graham crackers on a plate, dip the pie filling coated glass in the graham crackers.

Combine vodka, vanilla vodka, cherry juice, grenadine, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the rimmed martini glass.

Cut a slice in the bottom of a maraschino cherry and place on the rim of the glass

Bonus recipe- Use the leftover pie filling to make turnovers! Cut puff pastry into squares, spoon pie filling into the center, seal the edges with egg, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.