WiHM Interview with Christina Sng

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 Christina Sng! I adore Christina’s work and am thrilled to have her here today. Not only is she so talented, she is one of the kindest writers I have had the pleasure to interact with. Happy reading!

ChristinaSngChristina Sng is an award-winning poet, writer, and artist. Her work has appeared in numerous venues worldwide, including Apex Magazine, Dreams and Nightmares, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, New Myths, and Polu Texni. She is the author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning A COLLECTION OF NIGHTMARES (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2017) and Elgin Award winner ASTROPOETRY (Alban Lake Publishing, 2017). Her poems have received nominations in the Rhysling Awards, the Dwarf Stars, as well as honorable mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and the Best Horror of the Year. Christina is also an avid gardener and an accomplished musician, and can be found most days in a dark corner deadheading her flowers while humming Vivaldi to the swaying branches.

ST: Christina’s poetry book, A Collection of Nightmares, is an incredibly beautiful and dark compendium, which earned her a Bram Stoker Award for poetry, and she is the first Singaporean to win the accolade! Congratulations on all your hard work and success! I know you are always writing and sending new work out. Did having your collection do so well let you breathe for a few moments before working on something new, or did it pressure or maybe inspire you to get right back into writing the next project?

CS: Thank you so much for your well wishes! Part of me still thinks I dreamed it all. 😀 I do feel compelled to get my next collection out sooner, which is a good thing or else I could be sitting on it for another twenty years like I did the first one!

ST: I’m already looking forward to it!

You also do some beautiful artwork, and from the pieces I have seen online, the work often contains fantastical or science-fiction themes. Do you approach horror and science-fiction in a similar way, or does your process differ when you’re concentrating more on one theme than the other?

CS: Thank you for your lovely words on my artwork! With art, I tend to go where the inspiration takes me, be it science fiction or horror or fantasy. Art, for me, is deliberate. I need to be absolutely calm or in a rage, my mind “in the zone” before my hand will paint or draw. Conversely, with poetry and fiction, it just flows. I often puzzle at the difference. Maybe it is simply that I’ve just had more practice writing over the years.

When I paint, I tend to stick to one theme till I’ve exhausted myself of it. When I am painting in oil, I try to master the sky and grass. With ink, it is always a tree and everything around it, usually a darkness or space objects. Clearly, I have mastered neither because I am still at it. 😀

To tell you the truth, the familiarity is comforting. Art brings me a sense of peace and completion, probably because when it is done, it is done. What you see is what you get, and if it looks nice, it goes on the wall. There aren’t many on the wall!

ST: I love that contrast between your processes for writing and art. I also wish you many more paintings to hang on the wall! 

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?

CS: I think growing up in the 80s helped, being immersed in an era where horror was completely revered. As a child, I spent a lot of time alone, playing in a shadowy haunted house built opposite a former World War II torture chamber. With such a legacy, I was wary but I never saw anything supernatural. After a time, the dark no longer frightened me. I felt safe in the pitch black and became drawn to horror like a honey bee to a flower.

Horror movies were huge on TV back when we had just 4 channels. My older brother is a big fan and introduced me to the genre when I was 7. This was a time when there was no remote control on a video recorder to fast forward the scary bits, so I sat through them, mastering the art of defocusing my eyes when I didn’t want to see what was on the screen.

My first horror movies were The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, and Hell Night. That is possibly why I am not fond of slasher or supernatural horror but much prefer creature features with vampires, zombies, demons, and giant monsters that like to eat people, as evidenced by my absolute favorites from that era: Demon Knight, Invitation to Hell, The Bermuda Depths, The Blob, and Deep Rising.

In bookshops, there were shelves and shelves of horror novels and I devoured every one I could get my hands on. I must have read each of my favorite novels at least 20 times in my life. Over the years, I have justified my huge library by reading my books over and over. It appears that my son has inherited this trait from me. We will need floor-to-ceiling bookshelves very soon. I better go pick up carpentry.

ST: I’m all here for floor-to-ceiling bookshelves! I love that your son has inherited that trait, too. 

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?

CS: Just write. Write something every day. Use prompts if nothing inspires you. It creates Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 6.58.13 PMa habit of writing that keeps you going.

Connect with other writers. Writing can be a lonely journey without others who understand the writing life and support you.

ST: 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?

CS: I can’t name just one. Women in horror have been incredible. We are a tribe. Each woman inspires me in so many ways, most of which is how we all play our part in keeping us together as an inclusive and supportive community.

I greatly admire you, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Gwendolyn Kiste, Stephanie Wytovich, and so many other women interviewers and reviewers who take time out of your own hectic schedules to give women in horror a space to showcase and promote our work. My publisher Jennifer Barnes who has been the gale force behind so many magnificent books by women.

Women editors with whom I’ve worked with many times and who I can’t stop writing for, including Teri Santitoro, Terrie Leigh Relf, Dawn Albright, and Susan Shell Winston, among others.

Nina D’Arcangela and Erin Lydia Prime for the wonderful Ladies of Horror Flash Project. They have inspired me through flu and drought to write numerous poems and stories, one of which has just been nominated for a Rhysling Award and another which is my very first sale to Daily Science Fiction!

Women who run and support the organizations that promote horror, such as Lisa Morton, Rena Mason, Angel Leigh McCoy, Kathy Ptacek, FJ Bergmann, Diane Severson Mori, Renee Ya, Deborah P Kolodji, and so many more.

Linda Addison and Marge Simon who have been titans and community leaders in the industry, always supportive and kind. Their work is exquisitely beautiful and their embrace of poetry, fiction, and/or art as one practice has inspired me to do the same. I am so grateful for the advice and support they’ve given me over the years. I would not have made it here without them.

ST: Wonderful, thank you for all these great names for us to know and keep up-to-date with! And congratulations on the Rhysling nomination and sale to Daily Science Fiction!

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?

CS: I hope that our stories become brighter, more hopeful, and joyful as a reflection of a better, kinder world for women.

ST: 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?

ACollectionofNightmareswithStokerAwardCS: I expect to finish my next three collections of poetry this year—one horror, one haiku, one children’s, get more fiction published for my eventual short story collection in 2028, start on my already-drafted three-part novel (I hear my muse laughing her head off at this one), and write more dark poems before the light overwhelms me.

Facebook carries my latest updates, Twitter is updated about once a week, and my website, if the planets align, once a fortnight.

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview! 😀

 

 

ST: Best of luck! And I am totally in awe that you have a project for 2028 planned already! That’s amazing. I’ll eagerly await all your forthcoming work. Thank you, Christina! 

Be sure to keep up with Christina’s work on her website, http://www.christinasng.com and connect on social media @christinasng.

Ordering information for A COLLECTION OF NIGHTMARES: http://bit.ly/acollectionofnightmares

 

 

WiHM Interview with R. J. Joseph

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 R.J. Joseph! I am thrilled to share her wonderful perspectives in the answers below, and encourage everyone to check out her work. Happy reading! 

Author Central PicR. J. Joseph is a Texas based writer and professor who must exorcise the demons of her imagination so they don’t haunt her being. A life-long horror fan and writer of many things, she has finally discovered the joys of writing creatively and academically about two important aspects of her life: horror and black femininity.

R. J. is absolutely thrilled to have a story in the 2018 Bram Stoker Award nominated anthology Sycorax’s Daughters and a featured poem in the Horror Writer’s Association Poetry Showcase, V. When R. J. isn’t writing, teaching, or reading voraciously, she can usually be found wrangling one or six of various sprouts and sproutlings from her blended family of 11…which also includes one husband and two furry hellbeasts.

 

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…)?

RJJ: Hi, Sara! Thank you so much for having me over to chat. It’s always a pleasure to talk with someone who crafts wonderful interview prompts and questions.

I’ve been a fan of horror since I was a young child, and that has been quite a long time. I devoured everything horror related: books, movies, comic books—everything. But even though I’ve been a lifelong fan, I haven’t always felt comfortable enough to create my own manifestations of horror. It was difficult to reconcile my desire to explore the horrific with my Southern Baptist upbringing and my femininity. I would write things and hide them because I wasn’t sure what their, or my, reception would be. I’d send out the occasional story and get good feedback, but I’d always go back into what I thought was safer space.

Then, I finally found a horror writing tribe at Seton Hill, and those magnificent creatures accepted me as one of their own. I couldn’t deny that part of my creativity any more. Since venturing out, I’ve found that my horror creator persona lends herself best to short stories, poetry, and academic writing. The academic part was a bit of an accident that has worked out pretty well because I love picking stuff apart. I’ve just started on my first screenplay and a novella that has been waiting around in my head for years finally might see the light of day this year.

ST: I love that combination of using the feminine along with a Southern Baptist upbringing to inspire stories. I bet that leads to unique ideas. Good luck with the screenplay and novella, I’ll keep an eye out for them! 

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?

RJJ: Horror is really cathartic, and honestly, living as a black woman has shown me many horrors. I’ve always seen the monster hiding underneath the veneer of regular life, fooling everyone into thinking it isn’t a monster. My fascination grew when I figured out the monsters fool us so many times because we want to be fooled. Sometimes I wanted to be the monster and lean into the freedom and exaltation provided in the shadows. I think it’s easy to want to lean into monstrosity when the monsters have so much power. I like to examine why all the monsters aren’t allowed to unleash that power. Also, I just have an innate darkness. I present as a bubbly, outgoing suburban mom type, but inside beats a murky heart powered by an even darker soul.

ST: Such a poetic answer! I really like the image you paint here, of that freedom the shadows may hold.

We both recently had the honor of having the top 3 featured poems, alongside the wonderful Donna Lynch, in the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume VYour poem “So She Burns It All Down” is a fiery, heartfelt piece that I adored. Have you been writing more poetry? How does your process for poetry compare to writing prose?

RJJ: That was such an exciting honor! I read yours, Amalgamation, and rooted for the monster. She was perfection, exactly the type of monster I long to see more of in the horror genre. I wanted her to finally lean in and accept her power as a beautiful creature, even though I enjoyed the tension that existed within her.

I have been writing more poetry, but poetry is an almost lyrical process for me, one that’s slower than writing prose. First, a character or setting comes to me and I study how the character moves and exists in space or how the setting uses the area around it. This movement provides me with the rhythm of the poem. The words then start to dance to those beats. The way I arrange the words and the way they sound, when it works well, ultimately become a manifestation of that character or place.

Writing prose is based more on my inquisitive nature. I’m full of questions. I can see something and my mind immediately goes to question what I’m seeing and the circumstances surrounding the situation. The stimulus can be as innocent as hearing a noise that intrigues me or walking through a garden looking at the plants. The whole story might come to me all at once, or in vignettes. I play around with it inside my head until I think I can type up a reasonable draft. Sometimes I sit with stories for years before they’re ready to be birthed into the universe.

ST: Thank you for your kind words on my piece, too! I really enjoyed reading about your processes above.

Some of the other recent books you have had pieces published in include Sycorax’s Daughters and Black Magic Women, two really beautiful collections. What were the inspirations for your work in these anthologies?

RJJ: I’m really proud of both of those books and honored to be included alongside the other contributors. Most of my works revolve around various aspects of trying to navigate the societal expectations often placed on black, female beings. In “To Give Her Whatsoever She May Ask”, from Sycorax’s Daughters, I was inspired by the idea that Screen Shot 2019-02-17 at 7.18.44 PMsometimes we’re betrayed in ways we can’t imagine, such as by our own bodies and our faith. Ingrid relies on her faith to give her what her body desires and is unable to produce, but when she realizes that may not work, she decides to ask for help somewhere else. I’ve found myself in that position many times, questioning why things didn’t work the way I wanted them to and having a hard time accepting that maybe my desires weren’t meant to be. That faith can be fragile.

“Left Hand Torment”, in Black Magic Women, was my first effort at historical horror. I’m fascinated by historical horror stories and I just don’t see them done a lot by modern horror writers. (This is a good place to tell you I can’t wait to read The Devil’s Dreamland. I’m sure it will give me the creepy, historical delight I enjoy so much.)

I wanted to write about a black woman who was doing something in the past other than Screen Shot 2019-02-17 at 7.18.12 PMnavigating chattel slavery. Black women were doing other things throughout history, like taking advantage of social systems and practices to gain social and financial freedom. Placage, a form of common law marriage practiced in New Orleans during the 18thand 19thcenturies between black women and white men, often provided the women entering into these arrangements with binding agreements where they could own property and their children could inherit assets from their fathers. I wanted to tell the story of a young woman in such an agreement, where the desire for freedom and positioning in society led her to the horrors of being considered someone’s property. Her arranged union was a different type of bondage from chattel slavery, but still bondage, nonetheless.

ST: Thank you for sharing some background inspiration for your stories!

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?

RJJ: I wish someone would have told me that some gatekeepers would defend the gates for a really, really long time, and continue to provide fertile ground for sexism, racism, and other bigotry. There have been numerous people of color and people of varying gender expressions allowed to play in the horror arena, especially during the past few years, and I’m excited about that. But it seems superficial. I feel there are still practices in place that make it super hard for us to really break ground and build permanent residences here. I see resistance in places where I would think it wouldn’t exist and I realize that although many of us have done this long enough to not let that resistance stop us from producing and staying in the game, a newer and less experienced writer might not have that same experience. They might be turned off or scared away from working in our industry because they just don’t feel welcome or safe.

ST: Your excellent points go right into my next question.

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?

RJJ: I hope that more varying experiences and expressions will continue to be embraced within the genre. Get Out was earth shattering because it introduced the idea that racism is a repulsive horror, so works that examine it fit squarely within the horror genre. The terror faced by the parents of the disabled children in Hereditary and A Quiet Place showed that fraught situations which anyone would find dreadful are utterly petrifying for families with disabled members. Stories told through varying gender lenses are necessary so we get a truly diverse array of what scares different people with different experiences.

There are still naysayers who say these voices don’t belong in horror, that social justice efforts are being forced on audiences who only want the same fare they’ve been given repeatedly. These people would rather see the genre cannibalize itself by producing and celebrating the same stories based on the same ideas by the same writers over and over again, growing stagnant in its refusal to mature and represent more citizens of the world. I hope the authentic, varying voices soon start to drown those out. This innovation and freshness is necessary if we want the genre to continue on into perpetuity and gain new fans.

ST: I’m with you 100% on that, and it’s one of the reasons why I am constantly drawn to horror. It provides an outlet to come face-to-face with the very real horrors and terror we create as a society every day. I try to believe that confronting those realities will generate important conversations.

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?

RJJ: I remain in perpetual awe of Linda Addison. She’s simply marvelous. Not only is she a brilliant writer who can create magic from mere words, but she’s a delightful person. I let my membership in HWA drop for a couple of years because I really struggled with whether or not membership and the community provided the support I need as a black, female horror writer. But then I saw Linda in action. I listened to her words and watched what she did. She gives back to the horror community in ways that often go unacknowledged. She’s always willing to give a word of encouragement without the practiced air of someone who just goes through motions. Her kindness is genuine. Also, she manages to provide editorial feedback that doesn’t leave you feeling eviscerated but is honest and always makes the piece better than it was before.

Without knowing of my struggles and doubts, Linda showed that she is and always has been an integral component in building an organization and shaping an industry that will be good for all horror writers. She has single-handedly—and I’m pretty sure, unknowingly—been responsible for me continuing to renew and participate. Through her example, I’ve realized that I want to engage with the community and give back where I can.

ST: Linda is amazing! And like you said, her kindness is so genuine and encouraging.

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?

RJJ: Right now, I’m working on my first draft of an academic essay for the collection Not a Fit Place: Essays on The Haunting of Hill House, edited by Dr. Kevin Wetmore. I’m not sure if we have a publication date just yet, but I’m thrilled to write a chapter about this series. I’m in my element when I get to examine and analyze and put different ideas together.

I currently have a few short stories out with editors, so I’m hoping those find homes. Also, I’m working on a novella and screenplay, as well as pulling together short stories for a story collection to shop around. I hope to have good news on those before the end of the year.

My Amazon author page is where I usually keep releases updated.

Uncovering Stranger Things: Essays on Eighties Nostalgia, Cynicism and Innocence in the Series made it onto the preliminary ballot for the Stoker awards in the non-fiction category this year. I can’t even brag about my own essay in the collection because the others are beyond remarkable.

I’ve enjoyed chatting with you and I look forward to reading more of your work, Sara.

ST: Wonderful! I can’t wait to see what you create in the future. Thank you so much for sharing your insights today.

Keep up with R.J.’s work and thoughts on her social media! Find her on Twitter @rjacksonjoseph and Instagram: @rjacksonjoseph

and on her personal Facebook or official author Facebook

Follow her blog at rjjoseph.wordpress.com

Check back on Wednesday to read about my next guest!

WiHM Interview with Kathryn E. McGee

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 Kathryn E. McGee! Not long ago she was a guest on the Ladies of the Fright podcast and I adored her feature on haunted houses. I wanted to find out more about Kathryn’s work. Happy reading!

KathrynEMcGeeKathryn E. McGee’s horror stories have appeared in Gamut Magazine and anthologies
including Dead Bait 4, Horror Library Vol. 6Winter Horror Days, and Cemetery Riots. She has an MFA in creative writing from UC Riverside Palm Desert and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. Her monthly horror book club, The Thing in the Labyrinth, meets late at night at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. She is also co-author of DTLA37: Downtown Los Angeles in Thirty-seven Stories, a non-fiction coffee table book about Downtown L.A. For more information, please visit http://www.kathrynemcgee.com.

 

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…)?

KM: Thanks for including me! I write horror fiction. I’ve published a handful of horror short stories and have a novella in the works. I also moderate a monthly horror book club at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles.

ST: 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?

KM: I’ve always been drawn to the dark and supernatural and love writing in a genre where anything goes. Stories that are bizarre but also relatable give me the sense that there is more out there, there’s always something left to discover. That feeling of the potential in things, what could happen, is so exciting to me. I think horror also offers an amazing opportunity to express ideas through metaphor. Some ideas are too difficult to understand without that kind of abstraction. The haunted house story, for example, offers a wonderful framework for plot and character development. There’s nothing like trapping a protagonist in a bad place with a haunted history and watching them try to sort out their internal issues while lost in an endless hallway, while seeing ghosts appear in the mirror, while avoiding that dead woman waiting for them in the closet that looks a little too much like their mother.

 ST: I’m a fan of the metaphors as well, especially since so much of horror reflects society back at us in one way or another.

I loved your guest spot on The Ladies of the Fright Podcast where you showcased your background expertise on haunted houses and how the way we occupy space can completely change human behavior. Do you have anything in the works for (or have you ever thought about writing) a non-fiction book exploring all the excellent points you discussed on the podcast? 

KM: Thanks for listening to the podcast. It was really fun discussing haunted house fiction—one of my favorite topics. I would love to write a non-fiction book or essay about it at some point. While in my MFA program a few years ago, I gave a lecture on why Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 10.17.39 PMcharacters tend to stay in haunted houses, as opposed to simply leaving when the ghost shows up or when bad things start happening. I focused on examples like Fall of the House of Usher, The Haunting of Hill House, Burnt Offerings, and The Shining. Since then, I’ve been reading haunted house stories written more recently in an effort to study how the form is evolving. The way we use domestic space is always changing and it’s interesting to see how fiction responds. I just read Dale Bailey’s recent novel In the Night Wood and was blown away by how he did something new with the form. To answer your question, I don’t have any non-fiction in the works, but I’ve been continuing to think about the subject and would definitely like to write something on the topic soon.

ST: That research sounds great! Please do keep thinking about doing something down the road with that topic 🙂 I’d love to read it.

In addition to writing, you also moderate The Thing in the Labyrinth, a monthly horror book club at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles! Do you think being active in book discussions has helped your writing or inspired ideas within your own writing? Does living in LA creep into your writing, too? I imagine the unique culture of LA must come with some inspirations for horror? 

KM: I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to moderate the book club. We have a really smart and fun group of people attending, and the discussions have been great. Plus, we meet late at night in the dark, which makes it even better. So often you read a book on your own and just move on to the next one. Having to sit down every month and figure out questions to ask the group and ways to tease apart the story—what the author was really trying to get at, how they crafted the narrative—has been really cementing the stories in my mind. We’ve been reading mostly new releases. Staying on top of what current horror authors are doing has given me a ton of fresh ideas. It’s a great way to study the craft of writing. I always go home feeling inspired.

Life in LA can’t help but creep into my writing. One of my best friends finally told me I needed to stop writing stories that start with people driving, but I sometimes find it impossible to think of my characters doing anything else! Also, the city has a ton of unique history. There’s so much here. Lots of potential settings. I work as an architectural historian, so I’m often doing site visits in old buildings and learning about obscure aspects of local history. There’s something new around every corner and I find it to be a constantly engaging environment.

ST: Your job sounds fascinating! The history must be amazing for inspiring new story ideas, and just learning about the obscure aspects in general seems really intriguing.

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?

KM: Just keep writing, keep getting feedback, and write more. It’s terrifying to share your work the first few times you do it. It’s actually scary every time. But you get used to that fear. You stop feeling ashamed when you write something that doesn’t work, because sometimes you write something that does. Horror is such a wonderful vehicle for self-expression. It allows us to express our feelings on some of the darkest subjects. You might think your ideas are too weird or that no one will relate, but there might be someone out there who needs to hear what you have to say. Keep writing, relish the strange.

ST: 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?

KM: I think Carmen Maria Machado’s work is amazing. Her collection, Her Body and Other Parties, is so beautifully written. She deals with issues regarding the female experience in a fresh way with stunning prose. Her story, “The Resident,” is my favorite in the collection. I read it as a modern retelling of The Haunting of Hill House and was so inspired by how well it was written that I felt emotional by the time I got to the end.

ST: 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?

KM: I just hope women and diverse authors continue to create the meaningful art they are already making within the genre. While horror can be extremely fun and entertaining, it also provides a wonderful framework for telling important stories with relevant social or cultural messages. I’ve read many books by both men and women this year that have done an amazing job of conveying current topics of critical importance. Samantha Schewblin’s Fever Dream, Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World, and Jennifer Wolfe’s Watch the Girls are all good examples.

ST: Great points. I loved Tremblay’s novel, and will definitely be checking out those other two works!

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?

KM: I’ve been focusing on longer works and recently finished writing a novella about a haunted studio apartment. I’m also editing a novel, which is a dark thriller set in a historic hotel in Los Angeles. Information about my other work and book club is on my website at www.kathrynemcgee.com. I post about what I’m reading on Instagram @kemcgee30.

ST: Thank you so much, Kathryn! I am already eager to get my hands on that novella.

Make sure to follow Kathryn and her work! It sounds like she has some amazing things brewing. Catch her on Twitter @mckat30 and check out The Last Bookstore!

I HIGHLY recommend the LOTF haunted house episode: https://www.ladiesofthefright.com/podcast/2018/10/30/lotf-23-tropisode-2-haunted-houses-with-kathryn-e-mcgee

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

WiHM Interview with Rachel Autumn Deering

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 Rachel Autumn Deering! She’s pretty metal, is so much fun to talk to, and is a fantastic writer. Read on!

rad

Rachel Autumn Deering is a rock ‘n’ roll witch with a heart of slime. She lives with a bunch of monster masks in suburban Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…)? 

RAD: Hey, it’s my pleasure! Thanks for having me.

It truly feels like I’ve always been into horror. I had an uncle who would babysit me a lot while my dad worked and he was really into creature feature movies and old horror comics and heavy metal music, so I was exposed to darker ideas from a very young age. I think by associating those things with my uncle, who was a generally happy and positive person, I realized horror wasn’t something awful or forbidden or made for bad people, but it was something to be enjoyed on a certain level, you know? I would put on a tape of cartoons and a tape of something like Night of the Demons back to back and could see the value in both. It was never a taboo thing in my family so I never treated the horror genre as anything more than great stories.

Of course some of that stuff scared me stiff, but I loved it. Horror media was something I consumed in a way that seemed to stick with me more than the rest. And those darker themes carried me through my childhood and into my adult life where I applied a horror sensibility to nearly everything I did. My career started with horror comics back in the early 2000s. I was living in Columbus Ohio at the time and writing for a local horror-themed rock ‘n’ roll comic. From there I went on to write and self-publish a horror comic series until that was eventually picked up by a publisher in the UK, and all along the way I landed gigs with various publishers to write comics like Creepy and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and so forth. I released a really hefty hardcover horror anthology comic in 2014 called In the Dark, and was nominated for the Eisner and Harvey Awards for that work. During my time in comics I also wrote supplemental lore for the horror video game Diablo III, but that’s been my only experience with the interactive media side of things. From comics, I transitioned into writing prose with my debut novella, Husk, and I’ve been firmly planted in the literary garden ever since. I’ve gone on to write a number of short stories for various publishers, design a small handful of book covers, and I’m currently editing a witchy anthology for Titan in the UK with my good friend Christopher Golden as well as chipping away at two new novels, one of them co-written with Irish author Matt Hayward.

And, lest you think I’m not busy enough, I am also the lead vocalist and primary lyric writer in a horror-themed heavy metal band called Cryptlord.

ST: I love your extensive background — I’m also amazed you have time to breathe. Rock on! 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?

RAD: I honestly can’t be certain. I don’t tend to analyze the how and why of things I enjoy. I think if I had to venture a guess, I’d say I like the idea that there’s something out there scarier than my fellow man. That no matter how awful people might be, there’s something more to fear in this world. In that way, I suppose horror is a sort of redemptive thing for me. The older I get, the less I write about creatures and the more I have made humans the focus. That tends to be the narrative arc for most people, I think. We get older and we lose our rose-colored glasses, and we shrug off the presumptions of innocence, and we start to see the world in a much more mature (and oftentimes sinister) way. I don’t want that to be true, but at this point in my life that’s how I feel. I’d love to go back to relating to the fun, campy, redemptive sort of horror some day but given the current social climate, I don’t imagine I’ll be holding my breath.

ST: I think you’re spot on with that observation about the narrative arc and how writing changes as we get older. Your bio mentions you are from the hills of the Appalachia. I think Appalachian horror is an underrated subgenre that more people need to explore. The environment is so rich for storytelling. How has the surrounding and culture crept into your work?

RAD: Well, Husk was set in a small Kentucky town with small Kentucky townfolk, so it’s Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 7.01.53 PMpretty easy to see the influence there. I’ll almost always have at least some passing mention of Kentucky or a small town somewhere, even when the story is set in a larger city. Often a character will have a certain way of speaking that makes them a little more down-home and friendly, especially if they’re the central antagonist. I don’t know why I love a friendly villain, but I’m guessing that comes from the hills in some way, too. People tend to tell me I’ve got a very straight-forward, no-nonsense way of telling a story that somehow finds a way to still be lyrical. That comes from my childhood, sitting around on porches, listening to the adults telling stories about loving and lusting and fighting and fishing. I moved away from Kentucky before I began my writing career, but I’ll always carry Appalachia in my heart.

ST: Along with writing, you have designed book covers (the cover you did for the upcoming book Limbs from Grindhouse Press is still hauntingly fresh in my mind!), and you have extensively written, designed, edited and more in the comics industry. What are the challenges you have faced as a woman in these industries? What changes would you like to see in the future to help make these industries more diverse?

RAD: Outside of the few odd comments about my looks, I haven’t come up against too many knuckleheads myself. And I’m thankful for that because I’ve heard some stories that’ll make you mad enough to fight. It might be that I’ve got that rough and tough lesbian edge that keeps me from having to deal with the nonsense, where someone else who might be a little more soft-spoken and gentle in demeanor would be seen as an easier target. It might just be the company I tend to keep, but it feels like creative industries as a whole are being dominated by forward-thinking, progressive people who show an active interest in making the working world a better place for women. There will always be holdouts and radicals who try to keep women from achieving anything meaningful, but it seems to me that those types are increasingly more afraid to speak out. I think it’s only a matter of time before their kind dies off completely and there will be no more reason to make a fuss about gender in any industry. I know there are people out there who struggle every day with their identity and how it impacts their work-life. I would not, for a second, want to discount their experiences and I’ll be there to stand with them any time I’m needed, but I try to have an optimistic outlook for the future. Here in Michigan where I live, we appointed a woman to every statewide office in this most recent election, and even sent a decent chunk of ladies up to Congress. That’s massive progress, and I find a lot of hope in that.

ST: 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?

RAD: I’d say you shouldn’t wait around for someone to give you permission to tell the stories you want to tell. You don’t need a publisher to say it’s okay to write your book. You can distribute your work through Amazon these days and get it out to anybody in the world. Do your own thing, be unique, be the exact type of writer you want to be and don’t ever flinch. Definitely don’t try to hide your femininity or feel like you need to be as macho as the dudes to fit in and be taken seriously.

ST: Great advice. 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?

RAD: I like Sarah Pinborough quite a bit. It seems you can’t really put her in a box when it comes to her writing and I like that. She’s definitely horrific, but I don’t think she feels the need to be defined as a horror writer. I read Behind Her Eyes last year and it really had an impact on me. I hadn’t been that thoroughly entertained in a long time, by a book or a movie or anything else. She incorporates elements of thrillers, romance, body horror, paranormal, and everything in between and it makes for a really wild ride. I have her new one, Cross Her Heart, on my night stand now and I’m looking forward to being able to dedicate some time to that.

ST: 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?

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 7.01.06 PMRAD: I am finishing up the all-female witch anthology, Hex Life, for Titan Books at the moment. After that, I will be writing a non-fiction history book for an existing horror franchise that must remain nameless until after it is announced. I have a number of short stories coming out in various anthologies this year as well as my novel Wytchwood Hollow and the novel I’m co-writing with Matt Hayward called Pestilent. You can find me on twitter @racheladeering to keep up to date on all of those projects and more.

ST: Thank you so much to Rachel for joining us. Check out her website and Twitter to stay updated on her amazing projects!

Check back on Monday to read about my next guest! 

WiHM Interview with Michelle R. Lane

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 Michelle R. Lane who has a debut novel releasing this year! Read on to find out more.

Michelle-Lane.jpgMichelle R. Lane writes dark speculative fiction about women of color who must battle their inner demons while falling in love with monsters. Her work includes elements of fantasy, horror, romance, and occasionally erotica. In January 2015, Michelle graduated with an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Her short story, “The Hag Stone,” appears in the anthology Dark Holidays, available from Dark Skull Publications. She lives in South Central Pennsylvania with her son.

 

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…)?

ML: My primary creative outlet is writing, but horror almost always finds its way into other things that I do. Even if I’m decorating Christmas cookies, I use cutters shaped like tombstones, conjoined twins, bats, and witches. Each year I attend a cookie decorating contest with friends, and several of my cookies won this year, including an Illuminati-themed eyeball cookie and a voodoo doll. One year, I made stuffed voodoo doll ornaments for my friends and family and I still hang mine on the tree. My interest in horror was groomed by my family who were avid readers of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and later, thanks to me, Clive Barker. Saturday afternoons were spent watching Hitchcock films or Hammer Horror on Creature Double Feature. I remember writing some stories with dark subjects as a kid, but I don’t think I wrote my first horror short story or poetry until I was a teenager. At that time, I started devouring every vampire novel I could get my hands on and I’ve never stopped.

ST: Congratulations on your forthcoming novel Invisible Chains with Haverhill House Publishing! That’s very exciting and I can’t wait to read the book. What are your favorite elements that you’ve incorporated into the novel? What was the most challenging?

ML: Thanks, Sara. I’m excited about having my first novel published, but also very nervous. Invisible Chains is a horror novel, but the elements of horror are primarily based in the horrors of historical slavery in America. The novel is a fictional slave narrative told from the POV of a young slave who experiences a lot of terrible things first-hand and witnesses other slaves being tortured and killed. This is an uncomfortable topic and I look forward to and dread having people read the novel.

There were a lot of challenges in writing this book, and even though slavery is obviously horrific, I struggled with whether it would be considered a horror novel by mainstream readers. There are monsters, human and supernatural, there’s magic and rape and torture. All these elements come together to create a horror story in my opinion, but as a woman of color writing about a woman of color, it isn’t always clear where my stories fit even when they have elements of horror in them. I think the challenge for many women of color writing horror, is to simply be considered horror writers and published as such. Fortunately, Haverhill House recognized my work as horror, and have been kind enough to publish Invisible Chains.

ST: 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?

ML: Well, aside from being raised on a steady diet of horror fiction – novels, film, and television – being black and female in America can be a horrific identity to occupy. Writing horror seems natural to me. I wouldn’t say that I’m a pessimist, but I often see the darker aspects of life and I tend to expect the worst-case scenario in most situations. Racism and sexism are simply part of being black and female in America. Navigating this landscape can be treacherous at times and when people reveal their true faces, like monsters hiding behind masks, life can seem very much like a dark fairy tale or a horror story. Who do you trust? Is it ever possible to feel “safe”? So, telling the stories of women of color surrounded by monsters seems like the most natural thing to me. But, my stories, no matter how dark the subject, still have the possibility for hope and strength and growth and survival.

Horror, unlike any other genre, allows you to really dig deep into your emotions and show the world through a skewed lens that may make sense to someone going through similar struggles. Horror opens itself to allegory and gives writers a space to explore the darkness inside and outside, and no matter how bizarre or terrifying, you can almost always find a nugget of truth about humans and the society they live in.

ST: Those are wonderfully profound points for all of us to think about. The threads between horror and identity, especially for women and minorities, can truly change how a story is written and how it is perceived to different readers, too. 

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?

ML: Don’t be afraid to tell your story. Don’t worry if your story is going to upset a particular demographic. Write the story you need to tell and don’t be afraid to tell the truth. Tell the truth, because there’s probably someone out there who needs you to tell that story and they might not have the words to tell it themselves. I still struggle with this myself, so it’s a work in progress. Each story I write makes it easier to tell the truth. So, keep writing and don’t worry if your story makes people uncomfortable. That’s kind of the point.

ST: Great advice! 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?

ML: At the moment, I’m reading Zoje Stage’s Baby Teeth, and I am connecting with this story in ways that are both comforting and disturbing. I’m only half-way through the novel and I am seeing myself in Suzette. While my son isn’t maliciously trying to get rid of me, I see a lot of parallels to what I have experienced in terms of raising a child with behavioral problems that aren’t easily diagnosed. My son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder roughly two years ago, but we are still struggling to get him all the support and resources he needs. I need. I can really relate to Suzette in terms of witnessing behaviors that others may not see and having to fight to get an appropriate diagnosis and support. This is especially difficult as a single mother. So, even though Suzette is living a nightmare, I resent the fact that she is financially secure and has a reasonably stable partner. How screwed up is that?

So, what speaks to me about this novel isn’t just that I can directly relate to the characters, but Stage has this remarkable ability to depict the horrific in everyday life and take it to a level that makes it scarier because you realize that lots of people are living this horror in our current society. And, she does a great job of showing the imbalances between women’s work and men’s work and how women are expected to be perfect no matter what traumas they face. I think it is a wonderfully written modern tale of the horrors of being female in America without relying too heavily on the trope of motherhood and insanity like so many horror films seem to be doing these days. You’d think the only people going crazy in our society are upper-middle class white mothers. I’m here to tell you, that just isn’t the case. Just once, I’d like to see a horror film that features a single black mother struggling to pay her bills while seeking help with her child’s behavioral problems and simultaneously being blamed for them. That will make you crazy.

ST: 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?

ML: I’d like to read more horror fiction written by women of color, trans women, any woman who has a unique perspective on horror and how they relate to it. I’m a bit of a voyeur and I want to see inside other people’s minds and experience their fears through the lens of different cultural experiences and realities.

ST: 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?

Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 7.50.28 PMIn January, my short story, “Crossroad,” was published in the anthology Terror Politico: A Screaming World of Chaos, from Scary Dairy press. The anthology is loaded with great stories that follow the theme of political horror.

My goal for 2019 is to draft the sequel to Invisible Chains, and I’m currently working on a story for an anthology coming out later this year that looks at the monstrous feminine.

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know all there is to know about me and what I’m working on. I also have a blog, Girl Meets Monster, where I feature the work other horror writers and review horror fiction, films, and TV shows.

ST: Thank you so much to Michelle for joining us. I so enjoyed reading her responses and thoughts on women in horror. I encourage everyone to follow her delightful blog and keep up with her work. Looking forward to reading Invisible Chains!

Check back on Friday to read about my next guest! 

 

 

 

WiHM Interview with Karlee Patton

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 first guest is Karlee Patton, whom you might know as the artistic mind behind A Stranger Dream. I am so excited to get to know more about Karlee.

karleepKarlee Patton is a Horror Illustrator and Fine Artist living and creating in a small town called Duryea located in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She received her BA in Visual Art from Keystone College with a concentration in painting and drawing in 2017. She was the Keystone College Outstanding Graduate of the Year (2017) and won numerous awards for art and poetry at Keystone including the Edward M Cameron IV Poetry Award (2017), Keystone College Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts (2017),  Undergraduate Research Poetry Award (2017), 1stPlace at the Keystone College 2ndAnnual Draw-a-Thon, was Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities (2017), was a Keystone College Presidential Fellow, and a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society. Along with being an artist, she is a heavy reader as well as a closet writer, which got her into the business of creating bookmarks. Her self-started business, A Stranger Dream, allowed her to take her love of reading, writing, and drawing and intermix them. She creates one-of-a-kind illustrations and transforms them into extraordinary bookmarks that seem to come to life. Her passion to be creative and unusual certainly is exhibited through her life and work, and you hardly ever see her without a good horror novel, or a paintbrush.

 

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…)? 

KP: My love of horror began when I was in grade school. I found the book In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz. I was most infatuated by the story in that collection called The Girl with the Green Ribbon. This story starts out sounding like a fairy tale, but spoiler alert: at the end, Jenny’s head falls off when the love of her life unties the green ribbon around her neck.

I would check out this book from the library as often as possible just to bring it home and read it to my brother with my “creepy witch voice” before bedtime. I just recently bought his daughter a copy because she is already taking a liking to the horror genre. She loves when I tell her the monster in my basement will eat her if she acts up (which makes her act up more because she wants to meet him!) and already is growing a keen addiction to skeletons “ooooo, spooky!”

I always loved to watch horror films especially the old ones, but my favorite subgenre of horror is the supernatural. My favorite thing to do on a Sunday is sit on the couch in my PJs and watch Ghost Hunters or Supernatural. I also love to read any book with a title beginning with “The Haunting Of…”  or anything about exorcisms.

kp work1

Patton’s gorgeous artwork! This reminds me of Poe’s “The Black Cat” and I am in love with it!

However, I’ve never really created anything to do with horror until college. My research in college began with magick and symbolism. I created my own set of symbols to tell stories in my paintings. My paintings and drawings were generally low-key and some would say, creepy. The main character of this body of art was a black cat with white eyes that glowed from within. The cat was the symbol representing myself and my consciousness and was my way of inserting myself into the story. I was unable to finish this body of work in college due to time restraints and my research had me studying deeper into things like witchcraft, the afterlife, and the underworld. My final body of work in college consisted of large abstracted paintings that all derived from a domestic cat skull. (No cats were harmed!) It was hard for some people to see that they were cat skulls though, so I generally tried to not tell them at my exhibit’s opening night. A lot of people were set back by the fact that they were cat skulls when they found out, and thought I was a little whacky!

ST: 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?

KP: I am personally drawn by the artistic freedom to be a “little whacky.” If I painted a skull around here, you guys would love me for it. It’s socially acceptable to think of dark things in this genre and not be charged with insanity. Horror unleashes my inner psychopath.

Women being drawn to horror makes my heart so happy. I hate the generalization that women have to be cute and proper and passive. I love to be in your face, loud, and maybe even a little frightening. If a woman with a ton of confidence, their own mind, and their own individuality bothers you, you need to grow some balls.

ST: Your creations for A Stranger Dream are amazing. I’m obsessed with the bookmarks. Did your artwork always lean toward the darker side or is that something that has developed over the years?

KP: As I said in my big long tangent I went off on in the first question, my artwork didn’t seem dark to me, but to others they were definitely leaning to the dark side. My cat skull

kp work 2

Patton’s beautiful cat skull series of work.

series was about being a vessel, and about celebration of the bones that contain our spirits and the things our spirits can latch onto, but, when the general public sees a skull, they think of death. But, as J.K. Rowling once said, “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

The artwork for my bookmarks sprang from my love of reading and writing, and honestly when I first started A Stranger Dream, I was all over the map. The first few bookmarks I created were for Harry Potter, then IT, and then Beauty and the Beast respectively. I actually even made bookmarks for Six of Crows! I do love to read a wide variety of books including YA, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi so I am not ashamed of creating these things and may even do so again in the future. Some of my favorite fandoms include The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, and of course, Harry Potter. I began to stick solely to creating horror pieces when I fell in love with the amazing online community, and my creative freedom felt unleashed from there. I always wondered where my artwork fit in the artistic community and wondered what my calling was. I’m proud to finally announce, horror is my passion. I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged anywhere, but I belong here, amongst you. I belong to the horror community.

 ST: Your website mentions that you now write graphic novels, illustrate for other authors, and are creating book covers for horror novels. Congratulations on how your beautiful work has taken off! Do you have any favorite projects you have worked on over the years, or is there something in particular you’re really looking forward to working on? 

KP: I haven’t published anything yet, but I am working on writing the words to my very first graphic novel. Of course, it is about a haunting! It will all be done in digital painting, and if you are on my patreon, when I have some artwork completed, you will be the only ones to see sneak peeks on it before it’s released! I also have a few small chapbooks up my sleeve that I hope to share soon!

None of the work I have done has been released yet, but I recently did a book cover for Edward Lorn! He is the first book cover I have done, and I really hope to do more in the future because I had a blast doing it. This book hasn’t been released yet either, so keep your eyes peeled!

Another project that I’ll be doing in the future, is a collaboration with J.Z. Foster! We will be creating a graphic novel together, and I’m so stoked for this project. It’s still a long way off so don’t expect it any time soon, but I have goosebumps just thinking about it!

ST: I never hear enough about women in graphic design and horror artwork as much as I want to. I think it’s probably an even more difficult field to solidly break into because it’s been male-dominated for so long, much like comics. What kind of impact do you think more women in horror art could have, or what unique qualities will they continue bringing into these fields?

KP:Women generally have to fight harder in order to be taken seriously. So, when you have HEARD of a woman in art, or you have HEARD of a woman author, she is usually a BADASS. For this reason, I think a woman’s work will always be better because she freakin’ fought for that. She busted her butt making it happen. So, I believe women in horror will always break the boundaries, raise the bar, and will always take it to the next level.

I love to show people what I’m made of, and I can’t wait to release my own comics and blow everyone’s mind.

ST: 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?

KP: One woman who always makes my heart flutter is Emily Carroll. She is a kick ass graphic novelist who creates stunning images and books that you just need to have on your shelves. Her stories are short, but pack just enough punch. The artwork is what truly sends her stories over the edge for me. Whenever I’m working on my graphic novel, I have a stack of woman-powered graphic novels and novels next to me that I use for reference and take note of how they got something to happen in their novels. Emily Carroll is always in my research stack and I seriously look up to her.

Emily has a new book that is available for preorder right now on amazon!

It is called When I Arrived at the Castle and it is set to release on June 19, 2019.

ST: 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?

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 2.58.43 pm

Karlee’s work is a horror lover’s dream! You have to check out her website and shop. Links below.

KP: This year, I won’t really be “restocking” my shop with old designs, but I will do it on occasion to have big sales etc.. My plan is to create more artwork and new designs constantly so that the bookmarks will “retire” faster. Meaning, I will create new designs and there might only be 50 of them in existence. I think this will make my work more collectible for those who collect them. I’m also toying with the idea of numbering my bookmarks, so those people know they have a collectible in their hands.

My goal for this year is to finish my first graphic novel. So hopefully by 2020 you will have some spooky goodness in your hands!

Get exclusive peaks into Karlee’s work through her patreon account.

To see her new artwork for bookmarks as she creates them, and to keep up-to-date with her releases, follow Karlee on Instagram: www.instagram.com/astrangerdream

on twitter @astrangerdream

To see her amazing shop, visit www.astrangerdream.com and to see her fine art, follow this Instagram:

www.instagram.com/karlee.patton

ST: Thank you so much to Karlee for joining us. As you can see, she has a beautifully macabre and creative mind, and I strongly encourage everyone to keep up with her work and support our fellow horror sister!

Check back on Monday to read about my next guest! 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
-Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII

Ah, amour.

What does today mean? It means I work all day in retail later and I’m sure after today I’ll never want to see roses or boxes of chocolates again (*cue the last minute shoppers.* Oh, they will come, believe you me). And today means I have a writing deadline for grad school by midnight. That’s about it.

Valentine's Day means zombie hearts, right?

Valentine’s Day means zombie hearts, right?

Oh wait, it also means I can write you a love poem or two, *says the horror writer as she cackles and slips back into the shadows.*

I love love. Especially dark, twisted love. So much in fact that I wrote a whole poetry collection about it (that I will totally have published someday and share it with you all…right?!)

Anyway, here’s two love-filled poems from me to you. Now go tell someone you love them, even if it’s your cat.

After the Massacre

The candle burned auburn,
and he thought of her hair,
of her lipstick after dessert,
and her red velvet tongue.

He remembered her blood,
how easy cutting her was,
and how she bled like drops
of rain over the flower garden.

He thought of her skin, daisy-
petals painted with scarlet flecks
and how she tasted like Valentine’s
Day, right after the Massacre.

I Am Love

This is me breaking the glass over your head,
watching wine and blood mix together, and
I wonder if you will still want me then, when
the sirens scream and the police kick in the door?
And that is the end of our battlefield romance,
of bloody love in the sunshine state, and god,
your skin smells like smoke and I am inhaling
you until my lungs blacken like boiled tar.

I have found darkness. I have crawled inside its
angry mouth and begged forgiveness, but our sins
had already been slayed, been splintered into red
caskets and buried beneath dirt blessed with holy
water, and I cannot touch it, I cannot dig our lust up
from the cursed soil because our wicked passion
resides in my atoms, my eyelashes, is curved beneath
my fingernails, and how can I compete with that?

I know you intimately, the way sand beneath the ocean
knows its foaming grip, its salted perfume. I know you.
Darling, I am you. I am crawling out of your ribcage,
breaking bones like they are sand dollars disintegrating
between my feral teeth. You can tell me you don’t love
this, but I know better. You can say you are sick of my
kisses that taste like copper, but raw and bloody are
the only ways I know how to teach this lesson.

Maybe we just liked the flavor of ruin too much, and I spent
too long imagining the taste of your marrow dancing on my
tongue, the way I longed to swallow you whole and have your
life marinate inside my veins. Now we are left at the end of
the world, waiting for the bang, for the whimper, for whatever
promise the writers scripted. You never could decide which
ending you liked better, and I was just trying to survive. You
chose now. You chose me. I am Love, and I am your destruction.