Delicious Horror: Nicholas Diak and Corey Niles

It’s happy hour on Delicious Horror! I’ve been having so much fun with these posts, and I hope you have been, too! Today, I am delighted to welcome Nicholas Diak and Corey Niles. They have two delicious cocktails for us, along with some wonderful recommended horror readings!

Nicholas Diak

Nicholas Diak is an academic writer who focuses on the margins of pop culture: sword and sandal films, industrial and synthwave music, Italian Eurospy films, H. P. Lovecraft studies, and exploitation cinema. He loves crafting cocktails and especially diving into the realm of tiki culture. He is the editor of The New Peplum: Essays on Sword and Sandal Films and Television Programs Since the 1990s. Along with Michele Brittany, he is a co-host of the H. P. Lovecast Podcast, a co-creator and the co-chair of the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, and co-editor of the Horror Writer Association’s first academic book, Horror Literature from Gothic to Post-Modern: Critical Essays. He can be found at www.nickdiak.com

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

Mikel Koven’s La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film is probably one of the most important texts I’ve ever read; it has had a huge impact on my writing and my scholarship. 

The book proper looks at the Italian giallo phenomenon, a niche genre (or, better yet, a filone) of low budget films made in Italy in the 60s and 70s. Oftentimes thought of as the precursor of the slasher genre, the gialli were films that combined detective fiction with horror, and featured iconic tropes such as assailants in featureless masks, clad in black, with gloves and wide-brimmed hats, dispatching nubile young women (and men!) by slashing or choking them. Many of the films were beautifully shot with gorgeous prismatic colours contrasted against stark dark shadows. Many famous Italian genre directors, such as Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Antonio Margheriti, and others, all contributed to the giallo canon.

Koven’s book dives deep into the world of the gialli, creating the most authoritative text on the subject. While I do appreciate the giallo genre, it is Koven’s second chapter in the book where he lays out his theory of vernacular cinema as a way to appreciate and understood these films at their level that is the most important to me. It provided a stark contrast to auteur theory and instead proffered an alternative and constructive way to talk about populist cinema. It was eye opening, and it had a profound impact on me: 1) it opened my eyes to appreciate a wider range of films and 2) my first forays into academic writing was taking Koven’s framework and applying it to the Italian Eurospy genre of films. The outcome of that become my first published essay in an academic book: “Permission to Kill: Exploring Italy’s 1960s Eurospy Phenomenon, Impact and Legacy” in James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictional Superspy edited by Michele Brittany.

I cannot recommend the book enough, especially in regard to what it sets out to accomplish. For horrors fans, the book is a must have as it opens a whole new world of a different type of horror film that many folks may not be privy to. For film scholars or aficionados, it provides the tools to appreciate and talk about movies, especially genre films, in a different way. 

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

As a book that focuses on a distinct, yet niche, style of Italian films, it seemed fitting to pair it with an Italian cocktail, but one that is probably not as well known as a Negroni or an Americano. The Buona Vita is a perfect sibling to these cocktails, Italian in origin, but a little under the radar. The cocktail combines gin, Campari, and grapefruit. Depending on your grapefruit, the outcome of this drink after preparing it can be quite (blood) red!

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

Buona Vita

1 oz gin

0.5 oz Campari

2 oz grapefruit juice

Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a lowball glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange peel. 

The original recipe calls for Moletto Gin, which is a tomato-based gin and also uses .5 oz of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. However, a London dry gin will work perfectly and is much more accessible. 

Corey Niles

Corey Niles was born and raised in the Rust Belt, where he garnered his love of horror. His recent and forthcoming publications include “Demon Stump” in The Oddville Press, “The Crows Belonged to Me” in HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. VII, and “What Lurks in These Woods” in Pink Triangle Rhapsody: Volume 1. When he isn’t nursing his caffeine addiction or tending to his graveyard of houseplants, he enjoys jogging on creepy, isolated hiking trails.

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

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley has been noted as the first true work of science fiction, the first novel to legitimize the horror genre, and a work that blends elements of the Romantic movement and the Gothic novel with anxieties concerning scientific advancements of the time. For me, it was a novel that I had to read over the course of one night during my junior year of high school because I had a test the following morning. A fever dream about a bizarre scientific experiment and the subsequent fallout, which had little to do with a green creature with bolts in its neck, was all I thought of the novel upon my first reading.

Years later, once I was writing about my own monsters and trying to find out why people like me are so fascinated with them, I revisited the work. I noted the way that Frankenstein’s monster, similar to many of my favorite creatures, is little more than a mirror that reflects the ugliest fears, anxieties, and realities of humanity. I wondered if the true antagonist of the story was this creature, who is seeking belonging, or if it was the man, Frankenstein, who is fueled by blind ambition and incapable of taking ownership of his actions. While very little of this book is definitive, the questions it raises about what it means to be human, how evil is created, and if we have control over anything in this world–much less what we create–are still relevant over 200 years later. I can scarcely watch a creature feature or write about a monster without thinking about what the beast is saying about humanity, and I have Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to thank for it.

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

When the monster is first brought to life, I was struck by the description of its yellow eyes opening and its matching skin that barely covers Frankenstein’s work beneath it. Only then does Frankenstein realize that his blind ambition and obsession with creating life has resulted in something truly monstrous, foreshadowing the bitter end of this tale. Consequently, a stiff drink seemed like a perfect pairing, especially one that captures the monster’s visage and the sour taste that that dark tale can leave in a reader’s mouth. Thus, I present a new twist on an old favorite: The Lemon Eye Drop cocktail.

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

Ingredients:

3 oz. of vodka

1.8 oz. of lemon juice

0.5 oz. of triple sec

Directions:

  1. Freeze 0.8 oz. of lemon juice in an Eyes Silicone Candy Mold (for two frozen eyes)
  2. Combine 3 oz. of vodka, 1 oz. of lemon juice, and 0.5 oz. of triple sec in a shaker with ice
  3. Shake
  4.  Strain into chilled glass
  5. Garnish with a lemon slice or a sugar rim

Delicious Horror: Gaby Triana

For our second “Sleepy Hollow” feature on Delicious Horror, check out this gorgeous creation by the fiercely talented Gaby Triana! She recently launched a very fun YouTube channel, The Witch Haunt! Gaby is a great writer, friend, and baker, and I was so thrilled when she agreed to do a post for this! Enjoy!

GABY TRIANA is the author of the Haunted Florida series (Island of Bones, River of Ghosts, City of Spells), Wake the HollowCakespellSummer of Yesterday, and more novels, as well as a contributor in DON’T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and co-author of PARADISE ISLAND: A Sam and Colby Story.  

Published with HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Entangled, and Alienhead Press, Gaby writes about witchy powers, ghosts, haunted places, and abandoned locations for adults, teens, and kids alike. She has ghostwritten 50+ novels for bestselling authors, won an IRA Teen Choice Award, ALA Best Paperback, and Hispanic Magazine’s Good Reads Award. Gaby also runs the boutique writing services agency BookwitcheryYouTube Channel The Witch Haunt, and lives in Miami with her family and gaggle of four-legged aliens. She is currently working on her next YA novel, Moon Child

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

Not necessarily a horror book, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving is a favorite Fall short story of mine. I chose it because, growing up a little Cuban-American girl in Miami, Florida, a place with only two seasons—dry and rainy—“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” showed me what an American autumn could be like. With its apple pies, pumpkin soups, bite of crisp, cool weather, a love triangle, a clash between the classes, and a legendary ghost riding over the hills and rivers (I didn’t even have hills and rivers), this short story is a colossal dose of atmospheric moodiness to make my gothic heart happy.

I love this story so much, I make my whole family sit down every September to watch Disney’s Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. My kids cringe now but they’ll appreciate it when they’re older (ha ha). I used to play the movie in my classroom years ago when I was an elementary school teacher after we read the story together, and it’s even the backdrop for my YA novel, WAKE THE HOLLOW, about a Latina 18-year-old who learns that her estranged mother has passed away in Sleepy Hollow under mysterious circumstances. What follows is a paranormal thriller set in Irving’s homeland of Tarrytown, NY with “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” serving as the subplot to a fresh main plot at its core.

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

I am pairing the short story with “Heads Will Roll Apple Cider,” a lovely macabre drink for a brisk Fall day. Although “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is mostly the story about schoolteacher Ichabod Crane meeting the coquette merchant’s daughter Katrina VanTassel, and being cockblocked (can I say that?) by the town hero Brom Bones, we can’t think of this tale without the iconic Headless Horseman coming to mind. This ghost of a Hessian trooper rides over the Pocantico River in search of his head and has been known to lob off a few for his collection. So I’ve made an apple cider punch, infused with cinnamon sticks and anise pods, throwing in a few bobbing shrunken heads as well. Enjoy!

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

  • 1 gallon of your favorite brand apple cider
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 5-6 whole cloves
  • 3 round apples, such as Braeburn or Gala variety
  •  Chunks of dry ice, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Peel 3 apples, then slice off 2 sides of each apple to create 6 “faces.”
  3. Using a melon baller, ¼ teaspoon, or a paring knife, core out eyes, nose, and mouth on each face. Try to make each face different. Get as creative as you want here. The more detail, the more lifelike and spooky the final result.
  4. Place cut side down on a baking dish and bake for about 2 hours, or when heads are dried, shriveled, and lightly brown on the outside. When done, cool on baking rack.
  5. Warm the apple cider in a large pot on medium-high. Throw in cinnamon sticks, anise pods, and whole cloves. Once the cider comes to a light boil, turn off the heat and remove the cider. Let cool. 
  6. Transfer the cider to a punch bowl (remove the cloves but leave the cinnamon sticks and star anise pods) and float the shrunken head apple faces on the surface.
  7. Add a chunk of dry ice to the punch, if you wish to create a spooky effect, and serve!

Check out this video of the drink bubbling with dry ice that Gaby sent! And you can also now catch the whole process on her YouTube channel here!

Delicious Horror: Sonora Taylor

Welcome back to Delicious Horror! Today and on Monday we will have a Sleepy Hollow double-feature! I am very excited about both of these posts, so if you’re a fan of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” be sure to check in on Monday to see who our second post is from. Today, Sonora Taylor is taking us down into the hollow on a delicious pumpkin journey.

Sonora Taylor

Sonora Taylor is the award-winning author of Little Paranoias: Stories, Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories.  Her short stories have appeared in multiple publications, including Camden Park Press’s Quoth the Raven, Kandisha Press’s Women of Horror Vol. 2: Graveyard Smash, The Sirens Call, Frozen Wavelets, Mercurial Stories, Tales to Terrify, and the Ladies of Horror fiction podcast. Her latest book, Seeing Things, is now available on Amazon. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.

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

I love a good scary story, but come autumn—especially October—I also like cozy autumnal reads. Ones that highlight the harvest, the changing seasons, and the goldenness of everything as the veil thins. I especially love it when ghosts and witches appear, but less as monsters and more like chills in the air, women (and men) in tune with nature, natural shifts, and the like.

I’ve loved Disney’s version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow since I was little, and in my twenties, I finally read the short story by Washington Irving. It’s more folklore than horror, which disappoints some readers (especially readers coming to the text from the Tim Burton adaptation), but it pleases me. I see myself walking by golden cornfields and through ominous woods when I sit down to read this story with a cup of tea in my hand and chimney smoke in the air.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is in the public domain, so you can download it for free for most e-readers. There are also wonderful illustrated versions in print.

In addition to “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” I want to highlight as an addendum Brian Jay Jones’ Washington Irving a biography about the author himself. It’s really well-written, interesting, and a great autumn read if you’re looking for something cozy to settle in with for a week or two (the biography is around 500 pages). One of many highlights? Washington Irving and Mary Shelley were acquainted—and it’s possible that Shelley wanted to be more than friends!

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

I cook seasonally and, as much as possible, locally. Pumpkins grow in Virginia, and they show up at the farmers market around mid to late September. I like to buy sugar pie pumpkins and make my own puree, though last year, I used a large, turquoise-skinned (but orange-fleshed) Cinderella pumpkin I’d used for decoration in early fall. I had so much puree that I still have some in the freezer!

I of course make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, and also enjoy pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin apple bread. But I also like to use pumpkin for savory dishes. In the States, we associate pumpkin with sweet treats—“pumpkin” is usually synonymous with “pumpkin pie spice” when we describe the flavor profile—but as a squash, it’s a warm and cozy addition to curries, soup, and macaroni and cheese.

Yes, macaroni and cheese! I make a savory pumpkin mac-and-cheese every autumn. The pumpkin puree turns the sauce golden, as do the olive oil-soaked bread crumbs and toasted walnuts. A little sage makes it smell and taste like Thanksgiving. It comforts me the way folklore like “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” does. Go ahead, bake a batch and read the story while it cooks—and maybe use pumpkin-shaped pasta to give it something extra!

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

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups dried elbow macaroni or small pasta of choice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whipping cream (you can sub with more whole milk if you wish)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crushed
  • ½ cup soft bread crumbs (Panko is fine in a pinch)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated is better!)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sage leaves (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.

2. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

3. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.

I also have a recipe for a good vegan version if anyone wants it!

Thank you to Sonora for sharing her photos with us!

Delicious Horror: V. Castro

Welcome to a new October series I’m hosting called Delicious Horror! I’ve asked my guests to pair some recommended horror reads with a meal, treat, or drink inspired by the work! The submissions have been amazing, and I can’t wait to share them all! To start us off, please welcome the lovely, talented, and deadly V. Castro!

V. Castro is a Mexican American woman originally from Texas now residing in the UK. You can find out more about her books at www.vvcastro.com or on Twitter and IG – @vlatinalondon

V. Castro

She is also the co-founder of www.frightgirlsummer.com. This is a website dedicated to amplifying marginalized voices in dark fiction.  

The following are her forthcoming releases.
Goddess of Filth – Creature Publishing (March 2021)
The Queen of The Cicadas – Flame Tree Press (June 2021)
Mestiza Blood – Flame Tree Press (2022)

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

I chose to highlight three Latinx books because it is Latinx Heritage Month until October 15th!

Loteria by Cina Pelayo is a wonderful collection of horror stories influenced by Latinx culture. Her writing is rich and poetic.

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias is a beautiful and heartbreaking journey through the Texas/ Mexican border. The prose is elegant yet gut wrenching.

Hairspray and Switchblades is my Chicana shifter story set in Texas. Jaguars were very important in Aztec belief and I wanted to reflect that. It is also a story about living in skin that is more than it seems. This is my experience as a woman of color. We are often judged before we are truly known.

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

It’s a Devil’s Margarita! The Margarita because I’m Mexican and it’s my favorite drink when I’m back in Texas. It’s topped with red wine that I also love. How cool are the split colors!

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

Devil’s Margarita

  • 1 1/2 ounce blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce red wine (ideally a fruity medium-bodied wine such as cabernet franc)
  • In a shaker filled with ice, pour in tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup.
  • Shake until chilled and pour into glass of choice.
  • Set a spoon at a 45 degree angle barely placed inside of the margarita. The back of the spoon should be facing the ceiling.
  • Pinch the top of the wine bottle with your finger and slowly pour red wine onto the back of the spoon and let it drizzle on the surface of the margarita.
  • Pour until you have about 1/4 inch of red wine in the glass.

Thank you so much to V. Castro for sharing these excellent books with us (seriously, all amazing authors that you need on your shelves if you’re missing any of them.) Who will be next and what delicious horror will they share? Find out very soon!

CRADLELAND OF PARASITES SPECIAL EDITION PRE-ORDERS NOW AVAILABLE VIA ROOSTER REPUBLIC —

Hello there, and thanks for stopping by! Our special edition of Sara Tantlinger’s CRADLELAND OF PARASITES is now available for pre-order. This 134-page hardcover is 6×9 and sports a dust jacket with gloss finish. Only 100 of these will be printed. Cover art and interior art are exclusive to this particular release.

via CRADLELAND OF PARASITES SPECIAL EDITION PRE-ORDERS NOW AVAILABLE VIA ROOSTER REPUBLIC —

Step into the Cradleland of Parasites

Cradleland

Did this month even happen? I’m not entirely convinced it did. I am, however, very tired and feeling that whole quarantine brain fog thing often. In better news, my forthcoming third collection of poetry, Cradleland of Parasites, is just about done! I’m on the revision/editing stage right now, which is my favorite of the writing stages! When I sent my publisher a proposal last year (I think in the fall) to see if he’d be interested in a poetry collection inspired by the Black Death, obviously I never thought I’d be researching bacteria, Medieval burial rituals, different ways plague spreads, and the earliest cases of biological warfare during a time of real pandemic, but here we are. The contract was signed, I was determined, and now I just hope it gathers some interest instead of great dismay and sadness. Then again, maybe now is the perfect time to step into the Cradleland of Parasites…

 

Cradleland of Parasites

You will walk in blood after the birth
and the very violence of such a thing,
how an origin shreds through membrane
how copper stains your lips and tongue,
will terrorize each atom in your body.

Sickness has always been here,
waiting in light and dark, hovering
in your air, and swimming through
each breath and drop of water,

did you ever think something as microscopic
as a germ could hurt this much?

You will take my hand when the air aches
when clouds have only acid lakes to absorb,
before your organs break down into dust
before life exits your body in an angry burst,
shut your eyes, tell me what bacterium curses you.

In the cradleland of parasites, beginnings
are always brutal, the way plague rips
venomous disease from contagion’s womb
spilling her gore across a vermillion wasteland,

does love still exist in this place where flesh
spills open and the maggots come to feast?

You will walk in blood after the birth,
taste spores sprouting through atmosphere,
remember the origin must always be violent
remember humankind will not survive this,
we will rebuild our cradleland from their bones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT ALL MONSTERS SPECIAL EDITIONS NOW AVAILABLE VIA ROOSTER REPUBLIC —

Well, hello there… We are still several months out from the standard release of our anthology, NOT ALL MONSTERS, but we have decided to make the illustrated special editions (in hardcover and paperback) available, starting today. These editions are only available from Rooster Republic, and will never be available anywhere else. The hardcover edition is […]

via NOT ALL MONSTERS SPECIAL EDITIONS NOW AVAILABLE VIA ROOSTER REPUBLIC —

WiHM: NOT ALL MONSTERS Roundtable Part IV

Welcome back to the fourth and final roundtable question! Thank you SO much to the authors behind Not All Monsters for sharing their ideas, insights, and inspirations! Check out all the roundtable questions here.

How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person? Who are some contemporary women in horror that you love reading? 

 

angela-sylvaine-

Angela Sylvaine

Angela Sylvaine: I think being a writer helps me understand that every character, and therefore every person in real life, is rich and complicated. Good or bad, we all have motivations and baggage and fears and dreams. No one is just what they appear to be on the surface.

Some of my favorite recent women’s horror includes Bunny by Mona Awad, which was achingly beautiful, extremely brutal, and completely confusing. I’m still not sure I understand what happened in that book, but I was enthralled. In young adult horror, I loved both Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer and The Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand. Both featured richly developed young women as strong characters, and I love reading great YA horror.

Hailey Piper: Writing has helped process dealing with various aspects of life, and I’d like to think that gives me a better understanding of what I’m going through. It doesn’t always work, of course.

As for contemporary women in horror, that reading list is a mile long! But Sara Tantlinger, Claire Holland, Marjorie Liu, Joanna Koch, Eden Royce, Christa Carmen, Gwendolyn Kiste, Priya Sharma, Eliza Chan, Laura Mauro, A.C. Wise, V.H. Leslie, Tracy Fahey … I could go on. Forever.

Joanna Roye: Becoming a writer has actually helped me become more sure of myself, of my identity and place. By figuring out my voice, it’s helped me reflect on who I am and how I can interact with the world. I love reading Gwendolyn Kiste, Kelly Link, Tananarive Due, and Mariko Koike.

Joanna Koch: I used to do art to get the demons out. Words require commitment. I’ve become more honest with myself and with others through writing. Dare I say I’ve become more human? I guess I’m going to get kicked out of the robot club now. I was really counting on that new mechanical body. Damn.

There are too many excellent female identified authors to keep up with in horror! My TBR list is ever-expanding. It’s a good problem to have.

Fellow “Not All Monsters” authors I’ve loved reading include Christa Carmen, Jessica McHugh, and Hailey Piper. Piper is a favorite who I’ve watched grow tremendously over the past year. I can’t wait to see where she takes her work in the near future. Writers who glean literary respect beyond the genre like Carmen Maria Machado, Kathe Koja, and Alma Katsu blow me away with vastly different but equally rich and complex works. Some women I’m planning to read more of soon include Georgina Bruce, Gwendolyn Kiste, Damien Angelica Walters, Claire C. Holland, Laurel Hightower, Stephanie Wytovich, and Christina Sng. I do love a good horror poem, and your name definitely goes on my list! I’m honored to talk with you, Sara!

Leslie Wibberley: CNF allows me to explore my reactions to problematic events in my

Leslie Wibberley

Leslie Wibberley

life, either in the past, or as they unfold. Once the emotion settles, the act of writing those reactions on the page allows me just enough distance to be objective, helping me to work through the issues.

Fiction does the same. Placing my characters into challenging situations and playing with their reactions, often helps me in my own life. But unlike CNF, I’m the one who chooses the final outcome, and I love the heady sense of power that brings.

A few of my favorite women in horror are Angela Slatter, Kelly Link, Carina Bissett, Angela Carter, K.T. Wagner, Shirley Jackson, and a fresh new voice in the horror world, whose writing is as lyrical as it is disturbing—Sara Tantlinger.

Christa Carmen: Being a writer has helped me as a person in that it gives me a creative outlet for all the things I love or fear or obsess over or just want to know more about in the world. Being a horror writer in particular allows me to grapple with issues that worry me or invoke unease, and I’m grateful that I discovered early on that it was, indeed, horrorfiction that allowed for this in-depth exploration as opposed to, say, poetry or creative nonfiction, because I’m far better at penning a horror tale than I am at conceptualizing a memoir or stringing together a haiku.

Some contemporary women in horror that I love reading are Gwendolyn Kiste, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Nadia Bulkin, Ania Ahlborn, Jac Jemc, Alma Katsu, Christina Sng, Elizabeth Hand, Nancy Holder, Joyce Carol Oates, Claire C. Holland, Anya Martin, Erin Sweet Al-Mehari, Renee Miller, Theresa Braun, Carmen Maria Machado, Kelly Link, Damien Angelica Walters, Lauren Groff, Caroline Kepnes, Ruth Ware, Sarah Pinborough, and all the amazing women in the Not All Monstersanthology.

Briana McGuckin: It comes back to that idea of subverting power as therapeutic. I have cerebral palsy, and when I was a kid – when I started writing – I was skin, bones, and surgical scars. I was in and out of a wheelchair. The only extra-curricular activity I did was dance class, as physical therapy – but there were recitals, so I always felt I was bringing everybody else down. When I rode the short bus, I got shoved in lockers and called “retarded.” I knew I was smart. It’s not that you believe what bullies say about you – it’s that you know they’re wrong, and yet there’s no changing the atmosphere. You don’t make the rules. But when you write, you control everything. You can put down what it feels like to be you, and no one can erase it. It gives you space for your narrative.

As for contemporary women in horror, I just read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It’s packed full of everything you want in a classic gothic horror novel – the old house, the weird family, things being on fire – and yet it’s so readable for a modern audience. It feels like rich, aged, time-tested fiction.

Jennifer Loring: Much like reading, writing helps you become empathetic. This is especially important when you’re writing characters that aren’t representative of yourself, as I often do. Being a writer has also helped with my anxiety disorder; I used to avoid public speaking and social events in general, but now I love attending conferences and conventions and getting to know other writers. As far as contemporary women horror writers, I love Gwendolyn Kiste, S. P. Miskowski, Livia Llewellyn, Gemma Files, Kristi DeMeester, Betty Rocksteady—and you, of course! 😊 Also, despite not being “horror” writers per se, Gillian Flynn and Sara Gran have written some pretty horrific stuff (Sharp Objectsand Come Closer, respectively).

J.C. Raye - Mercury

J.C. Raye

J.C. Raye: I am ashamed to say that I have learned more about geography, culture, and world history from writing my first dozen short stories than during my entire K-College education. I spent the first twenty years of life trying to get by without studying all those juicy details which make a story rich. Now, I can easily spend two weeks seeking out exact names of native foliage for a midwestern ghost town, studying traditions of Vietnamese paper-lantern making, or discovering what caves exist off the coast of Ireland.

I love reading ANY women in horror. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And the darkness of a woman’s imagination truly has no bottom. Want to stay up nights? Yeah? Read a horror story concocted by a woman.

Juliana Spink Mills: I came to writing late, though I’ve loved words my entire life. I only started writing seriously when I turned 40 and my kids were old enough to not need me all the time. Writing grounds me, but also gives me room to spread my wings and soar. It’s something all mine, a myriad of secret worlds to explore and special places only I can access and bring to life. Writing completes me.

As for other writers, I tend to read more fantasy and sci fi than horror, though there is a lot of bleed-through (ha! blood!) from one to the other. I loved Holly Black’s Folk of the Airtrilogy, for instance, which is technically fantasy but does have some horror elements. Northern Irish writer Jo Zebedee definitely blurs that line between horror, sci fi, and fantasy, and I’m a huge fan of her work. In her Waters and the Wild, for instance, she goes quite dark indeed. And in terms of actual horror writers, you can’t go wrong with the fabulously talented Gwendolyn Kiste.

G.G. Silverman: Writing has helped me have a safe space to explore my own thoughts and feelings. It has also helped me become more empathetic, and notice more about my surroundings, and about people. It forces me to be mindful, and present, and to witness. It has also brought me great friendships, people I’m certain I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for my writing habit.

As for contemporary women in horror I love reading, I really love Carmen Maria Machado. Joyce Carol Oates’ work is also really amazing. Then there are peers who are doing great stuff, like Sarah Read, Stephanie Wytovich, and Gwendolyn Kiste. There are so many great female voices in horror. It’s an exciting time to be a writer *and* a reader.

Amy Easton: For me, writing is invaluable for making sense of the world and my place in it – I would be far less grounded without it. I love bringing narrative elements into my therapy work and horror is particularly well-suited for meaningful representation. I tend to read nonfiction soam excited to explore the darker side of fiction through the works of my anthology sisters! As for recommendations, current favorites are Kier-La Janisse’s House of Psychotic Women and Sady Doyle’s Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers.

Kayleigh Barber: I think being a writer has helped me in so many ways. It’s helped me

Kayleigh Barber

Kayleigh Barber

develop my sense of empathy, as well as helping me step out of my comfort zone. There have also been times when it’s been an escape, a way to step back from life or even my own brain and work through things in a way that I can shape and control.

For female horror authors, I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Sara Tantlinger. To Be Devoured still makes me shudder when I think of certain scenes. Mira Grant’s Feedtrilogy is one of my all-time-favorite reads. Donna Lynch’sChoking Back the Devilwas wonderful. I also have books by Gwendolyn Kiste, Sara Gran, and Christa Carmen that I can’t wait to read!

Annie Neugebauer: Writing has helped me in more ways than I can easily pin down and articulate. I do know that writing has been a creative outlet for me, of course, and a way to better understand myself and other people. It’s one of the ways I process life and explore the world. It’s also an escape: something that’s mine and only mine that can always be exactly what I want it to be. It’s given me empathy, wisdom, healing, understanding, joy, and contentment. But all of that sounds trite compared to how it feels.

As far as contemporary authors go, I’m absolutely obsessed with Tana French’s work. She’s incredibly brilliant, whether veering toward or away from horror. I also consistently love Gillian Flynn, Laurell K. Hamilton, Gemma Files, and Sarah Waters. And I’ve read fantastic books lately by Zoje Stage, Catherine Burns, Lauren Beukes, and Marisha Pessl. That’s just the tip of the iceberg; there are so many women crafting incredible short fiction, for example, that I can’t even begin to list them all!

J.H. Moncrieff: Writing has helped me use my voice to educate and inspire others, and hopefully help them see things differently. When I’m writing regularly, I’m a much happier, more content, and focused person. I’m never lonely because my characters surround me. Writing helps me unpack a lot of negativity, worries, and fears that would probably otherwise drive me crazy, like the poaching and senseless killing of animals (see #1). As for contemporary women in horror, I love Catherine Cavendish, Somer Canon, Lee Murray, Susan Hill, and Sarah Pinborough. I’m probably forgetting many, so please forgive me.

Sam Fleming: I’m neuro-atypical and have hypergraphia. I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. It took about four decades for me to start submitting, though, and I need to differentiate between the writing I do because I haveto, and the writing that tells stories. Being the kind of writer who sends stuff out has made me much more robust to, and yet also open to criticism, and taught me to be kinder myself. I am a terrible perfectionist, and competitive to boot, but you can’t control what an editor wants to see. You might have a great story and still see it rejected, because it wasn’t right for that market at that time. It has enabled me to segregate personal criticism from criticism of my work, and my time in crit groups has taught me to be more sensitive to other people. I’m so much better at tailoring a message for my audience than I used to be.

I have favourite stories rather than writers. I loved Michele Paver’s Dark Matter, and Carole Johnstone’s “Better You Believe”. That said, if a contents page lists Kelly Robson, A.C. Wise, Leah Bobet or Gwendolyn Kiste, I’ll probably read those stories first.

Jessica McHugh

Jessica McHugh

Jessica McHugh: I don’t think I’m great at expressing myself verbally. When I was a kid, I’d often sit up in bed at night besieged by anxieties I couldn’t articulate, so I’d just scream at the top of lungs. My poor parents probably thought I was being murdered the first time it happened. Even when I got better at discussing my feelings, I’ve always felt more comfortable channeling them through a character. Flannery O’Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say,” and that rings true for me as well. Writing is screaming at the page, and editing is figuring out why I needed to scream in the first place.

When it comes to contemporary women in horror, it almost hurts not to list 20+ names because there are so many kickass ladies rocking the genre right now. Some of my favorites are Betty Rocksteady, Damien Angelica Walters, Stephanie Wytovich, Sarah Pinborough, Carmen Maria Marchado, Sheri White, Emma Johnson, Sarah Read, Tananarive Due, and Lucy Snyder.

K.P. Kulski: Writing is the ultimate outlet. There’s that great quote attributed to Sappho floating around the internet, “what cannot be said will be wept.” I really want that quote to be something Sappho said, but there is no proof of that. However, I love the quote even if she didn’t say it. I think it also describes what writing can do. Fiction can be the display of truth through the creation of lies. Words like sorrow and rage by themselves convey nuanced meanings, but works of fiction give us the depth of the meaning. We can say, “I am sad” but saying it with a story is the weeping of truth that cannot ever be given proper justice without the fiction.

I can gush forever about writers, especially women writers. I recently read Shawna Yang Ryan’s Water Ghostsand it is the most crushing, beautiful and haunting story. It flits along the threshold of horror, but that’s something about it that I absolutely adore. I’m a fan of graphic novels as well so I have to mention Marjorie M. Liu’s Monstress series, not only is the story and world gripping, the art by Sana Takeda is horrifying and breathtaking and gorgeous all at once. I had the honor of being at a poetry reading with Donna Lynch, Saba Razvi and a woman named Sara Tantlinger… you might know her. I’m pretty sure I looked like a rabid fan as I immediately purchased their work so I could spend my life reading their books by candlelight. I may have also used their poems to curse the wicked. As one does.