Delicious Horror: Gwendolyn Kiste

Today I have the wonderful and very talented Gwendolyn Kiste on Delicious Horror to talk about a Shirley Jackson favorite! Enjoy the post, and make sure to check out the preorders for Gwendolyn’s forthcoming novel, Boneset & Feathers, one of my most anticipated 2020 reads!

From Gwendolyn: My second novel, Boneset & Feathers, is due out on November 3rd! It’s all about witches, ghost birds, and bones that won’t stay buried. It’s a little bit fairy tale, a little bit folk horror, and a whole lot of bewitching magic! You can pre-order it now from Broken Eye Books.

Gwendolyn Kiste is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens, from Trepidatio Publishing; And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, from JournalStone; the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books; and the occult horror novelette, The Invention of Ghosts, from Nightscape Press. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Vastarien, Tor’s Nightfire, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Unnerving, Interzone, and LampLight, among others. Originally from Ohio, she now resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. Find her online at

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

GK: I had to go with We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It’s been my very favorite book for years now, and Halloween in particular is a wonderful time to revisit it.

There are so many reasons I love this book so much. The prose is achingly beautiful, the characters are richly drawn, the setting is so relatable yet so gothic too. But probably more than anything else, We Have Always Lived in the Castle makes me feel less alone in the world, and I can’t imagine a higher compliment for a work of literature than that.

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

GK: Food is such an integral part of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, to the point that The Toast did a great article a few years back that listed all the food featured in the book.

That being said, when I think of the novel, what immediately comes to mind are the poisoned sugar bowl and the blackberries that the Blackwood family has for dessert—their last dessert.

So I made what I’m calling Merricat’s Sugar Bowl Surprise: giant sugar cookies paired with berry ice cream.

Ideally, this would have been blackberry ice cream, but since my husband and I are still sheltering at home (and will be for the foreseeable future), I decided to just go with the berries we had on hand, which were blueberries. I figured that as introverts themselves, Merricat and Constance would understand the desire to stay locked up safely at home.

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

GK: I made some small adjustments to both, but overall, I was inspired by these two recipes:

Blueberry Ice Cream by Taste of Home

Giant Sugar Cookies by Martha Stewart

After all, at Halloween, you can never go wrong with Martha Stewart!

Monsters, Infection, and Carrion


*The cover for Not All Monsters, designed by the magical Don Noble, is live! I’m in love with it and want the design framed above my bed. It’s gotten fantastic responses so far, which makes me hopeful there will be good interest in this anthology and the future things we may have plans for… 😉 Stay tuned. There’s so much I want to say about the stories in the anthology, but I’m going to save it for later since the book won’t be out until Fall 2020. Good things are worth waiting for, my friends. We’re taking our time to make something really spectacular.

Not All Monsters


*There are 5 days left to submit to Eye to the Telescope #33 with the theme INFECTION, which I am guest editing. PLEASE read guidelines carefully. Poems MUST have speculative elements for full consideration. Deadline is June 15th. I look forward to your deadly contagions. I’ve already received hundreds of poems, so it’s going to be intense narrowing these down!

*If you missed it, Gwendolyn Kiste and I were interviewed by Eddie Generous for the Unnerving podcast. We talked about StokerCon and read excerpts from our upcoming books! My novella (paperback and eBook) will be out July 29th, but if eBooks are your thing, you can pre-order those.

Pre-order Gwendolyn’s chapbook here!

To Be Devoured-2*Speaking of my novella, the first early review is here! Thank you so much to Joe and Charlotte at Horrorbound for the review and interview. The review is lovely and made my entire month:

“While the story was fantastically and grotesquely perfect, it is not just the plot that has me gushing over this. The language in this novella is both beautiful and disturbing. Tantlinger shows off her mastery of language with incredibly poetic lines throughout the novella. I was in awe of the contrast between the perfection of the words used and the twisted subject matter they described.”

*Also last week, I stepped into Stephanie Wytovich’s Madhouse for an interview where we chatted true crime, H.H. Holmes, and more. Thanks so much to Stephanie for having me and providing great questions!

*Thanks for catching up with me — I’m working on story edits for Not All Monsters now and reading through the 300+poems I’ve received so far for ETTT, so maybe next month I’ll be caught up and get back into my own WIP project 😉

WiHM Interview with Gwendolyn Kiste

This year we are celebrating a decade of showcasing women in horror! In honor of something so close to my heart, I am featuring ten amazing ladies in horror on my blog all month long to celebrate their incredible creativity and work in the field.

My next guest is Gwendolyn Kiste! Gwen’s debut novel The Rust Maidens was released in November this past year and it quickly became one of my favorite recent horror novels. I am thrilled to get to know more about her amazing work. Happy reading!

Gwendolyn Kiste Full-Color Headshot

Gwendolyn Kiste is the author of The Rust MaidensPretty Marys All in a Row, and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare, Shimmer, Black Static, and Interzone, among others. A native of Ohio, she currently lives on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. Find her online at




ST: Thank you so much for taking the time to share more about your work today. To start, tell our readers a little bit more about your background with horror? What creative outlets do you channel horror into (writing, art work, film, design, research, etc…)? 

GK: I’m a horror fiction writer. Over the past five years, my work has primarily been Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 4.28.13 PMshort fiction, which includes my first collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, which was released through JournalStone in 2017. I’ve also written a dark fantasy novella from Broken Eye Books about the Marys of folklore called Pretty Marys All in a Row, as well as my debut horror novel from Trepidatio, The Rust Maidens, that just made its way into the world this past November.

ST: Congratulations on the success of The Rust Maidens! It’s an incredible debut novel and I madly adored reading it. Your prose in the novel and in And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe is so gorgeous and poetic. Have there been any particular influences or inspirations who have helped you discover your storytelling voice over the years, or has it developed more from any certain techniques or processes you use?

GK: First off, thank you for your kind words. That means a lot, especially since I admire your work so much, Sara!

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 4.27.58 PMIt’s definitely been an incremental process of discovering my voice as a writer. Lots of trial and error, for sure, and the process is still ongoing. Hopefully, it always will be. I have certain inspirations—Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter—but there have been a lot of other influences that have sneaked in there too. Everyone from Edward Gorey, Richard Matheson, and Ernest Hemingway to Sylvia Plath, Edith Wharton, and Jane Austen have had varying levels of impact on me and how I see the craft. With techniques, perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is to open up more and just let it flow. Don’t be afraid to dig deep into yourself and explore the uncomfortable or frightening places of yourself. When I look back over all my work so far, readers have responded the most to the stories where I was at my rawest and most honest.

At the same time, there’s also something strange and magical in writing. No matter how much you research and refine, there are times you have no idea where it all comes from. That’s probably one of the many things that keeps me intrigued as a writer, the mystery of it all.

ST: I really like your point about the always ongoing process of discovery — I think that’s definitely what makes writing so unique and magical. There’s always room to grow and learn.

Women being drawn to horror has always made perfect sense to me as a way to confront our own daily horrors, to unleash the brewing darkness in our heads, and as a way to just have fun with our creativity. What draws you personally to the horror genre?

GK: Both my parents are fans of horror, so the genre has always been part of my life. In that way, horror is like home to me. It feels oddly safe and comfortable. But it goes deeper than that, too. I was recently having a conversation with a writer friend of mine, and we were going through lists of things that scared us as children. In the course of that conversation, I realized just how many fears, both irrational and rational, I’ve had over the years. Horror has without a doubt helped me with those fears. Having an oasis where fear is not only acceptable but openly welcome makes it easier to express my anxiety without worrying so much about being ridiculed for it. It allows me to go into those depths and look at what scares me and work through it. Writing doesn’t necessarily “fix” the anxiety, but it does allow me some semblance of control over it. In that way, I feel like I wear the fear, rather than it wearing me. That alone is such a huge influence that the horror genre has: to empower you, even at your most afraid.

ST: I now want a t-shirt that says, “I wear the fear” — love that!

What is a piece of advice you’d give to women just starting in the field, or what is something you wish someone would have told you before you started getting involved with horror projects?

GK: The main advice I have for writers in general is to just keep going. Even when it gets hard, keep moving forward with your work. For female writers in particular, this is probably even more important advice, because being a woman in a male-dominated industry is challenging, to say the least. It can be demoralizing to see yet another table of contents with only one or two (or no) female writers. But that means we need these new voices in the genre.

As for what I wish I knew ahead of time, I’m honestly glad I didn’t know everything that I know now. Sometimes, just jumping in and going for something is the only way to do it. I’m afraid that if I knew then what I know now about publishing, then I might not have wanted to move forward. It can be a hard industry with a lot of rejection and a lot of unexpected disappointments, but there are so many wonderful things about it too. Even on the worst days, I’m very glad I’m a writer, so it’s probably best not to know every bad thing that can (or will) happen, because you can so easily lose sight of the good. And there is good, so much of it fortunately, and that’s worth pushing through the bad.

ST: Those are great points! Even through the challenges, it’s difficult to imagine not being a part of this wonderful madness called writing.

I know there are thousands of incredible horror ladies out there, but who is one woman in horror who inspires you particularly? What is it about this person’s work or personality that speaks to you?

GK: Christa Carmen. Her first collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, was released last year, and it’s one of the best debuts in a long time. The stories run the gamut from heartbreaking and quiet to visceral and supremely intense. Such a huge range, especially in a first book. Christa’s also a personal friend, and one I’m so fortunate to have. Her positivity and support of other writers is so inspiring. It’s one thing to be incredibly talented—and she most certainly is—but to also be such a huge force of good in this industry only makes her that much more amazing.

ST: I really enjoyed Christa’s collection, too. I can’t wait to see what else she does!

One of the reasons I enjoy Women in Horror Month is because it gives us a chance to both reflect on how horror is evolving and reacting to societal and cultural changes, and it allows women to highlight the issues and obstacles we are still facing. What are your hopes for the future of women in horror, or just for keeping the momentum going all year long for more diversity within the genre?

GK: This has been said so many times before, but I think it’s worth repeating here: my hope is that one day we’ll not only not need a Women in Horror Month, but that the notion of having to dedicate a special month to female authors will seem really dated. I want to see a future when women writers are given as much time and space on bookshelves as male authors, and that people will take that as second nature rather than something they need to consciously consider.

Fortunately, in the five years I’ve been writing professionally, I do feel like things have improved. Not as much as we’d like obviously, but with the continued steam that Women in Horror Month has gained and now the year-round dedicated team at Ladies of Horror Fiction plus, of course, all the constant hard work of female authors in the horror community, we’re absolutely making strides. That gives me hope, which is what gets me through and helps me wake up every day and get back to writing.

ST: I’m with you 100% on all of that.

What are you working on this year or what do you have coming out? Where can we find you to keep up-to-date with your work?

GK: This year’s new releases are mostly short fiction for me. I have stories forthcoming in Welcome to Miskatonic University from Broken Eye Books, Gorgon: Stories of Emergence from Pantheon, and the Haunted Houses anthology from Flame Tree Press, among a few other publications that I don’t think I can officially announce quite yet. In terms of current projects, I’m finishing up a novella that deals with doppelgangers and cinema and the insidiousness of nostalgia, and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m also in the early stages of outlining a new novel, as well as in the even earlier stages of putting together my second collection. Never a dull moment in a writer’s life!

As for other writer-related activities, I’m also excited to be heading out to some events in the next few months. I’ll be at The Outer Dark Symposium in Atlanta in March, and at StokerCon in Grand Rapids in May. It’s always helpful and inspiring to get away from the computer screen for a couple days and be surrounded with other writers.

Anyhow, in the meantime, anyone who wants to keep up with me can head over to my website at I’m also fairly active on Facebook and Twitter, so you can find me there as well. I tend to talk mostly about writing, movies, witchcraft, and my cats, so be warned! 😊

ST: Thank you so much, Gwen! I’m really looking forward to StokerCon and saying hello to you there. I can’t wait to read your new work that’s coming out this year, too. Cheers!

Make sure to follow Gwen’s links and social media up above. This is a writer whose work you don’t want to miss.

Check back on Wednesday to see who my next guest is!