Delicious Horror: Sam (@literaryhooker)

Today on Delicious Horror I have my favorite Canadian, Sam, aka @literaryhooker over on Twitter! Through the Woods is already on my TBR, and Sam has made me want to read it even more now! Check it out below and find out how to submit your own Delicious Horror post here.

Sam is a reader, reviewer, and all around fan of all things spooky. She lives in Quebec, Canada with her husband and their cat, both of whom mostly tolerate her love of horror films. When not reading, Sam can usually be found cross stitching, knitting, staring at her stacks of unplayed video games, or taking on a new and ill-advised hobby. You can find Sam’s reviews on Sci-Fi & Scary, or on Instagram @theliteraryhooker and Twitter @literaryhooker.

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

I chose Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods as my book. I read this one earlier this summer, and it immediately became one of my top books of the year. The stories are deliciously gothic, and Carroll’s artwork is beautifully paired with the tone of these stories. It’s a perfect read for this time of year too – lots of autumnal colors in the illustrations, and of course the creepy woods in each story!

This is the first graphic horror “novel” (it’s actually a short story collection) I’ve read, and I loved it so much that I’ve since added a few others to my TBR so that I can explore the genre and format a bit more. I love a book that opens new horizons, and this one definitely did it for me.

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

While the whole book is fantastic, “The Nesting Place” was definitely the story that stuck with me. There’s one panel in particular that made me react out loud as I was reading, it was THAT horrifying. Without giving away the story, apples play a significant role, so doing something with apples seemed like the obvious choice. I decided to make caramel apple tarts – with the pastry creating a nesting place for the apples, and the hidden caramel centre representing the hidden monsters in the story (except much tastier, I promise!).

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

Definitely! This one is a bit of a mishmash. The pastry was made following this recipe from Love Foodies. For the apples, I peeled and diced 3 Granny Smith apples, mixed them with ⅓ cup packed brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and let them sit for a bit while I rolled out the dough. Those little soft caramel squares work well for the caramel, but a thick homemade caramel sauce is an extra layer of deliciousness. I used this recipe from Of Batter and Dough for my caramel, and it’s well worth the effort!

Delicious Horror: K.L. Lord

Welcome back! Today my lovely and talented friend K.L. Lord is chatting with us about Tananarive Due‘s The Good House — a book that has been sitting on my TBR for way too long, so I need to get on that ASAP. Enjoy the post!

K. L. Lord is a lover of all things ink. She grew up in a small suburban town in Southeastern Michigan. She’s lived all over the country, including a three-year stint in Hawaii, before settling (for now) in Northern Virginia. She teaches English by day and works on her stories at night. Her poem “Sliver” is in the spring 2018 issues of Infernal Ink Magazine; her short story “Till Death Do Us Part,” Ink Stains: A Dark Fantasy Anthology (April 2019); and her short story “Mona…Lisa” will be in Propertius Press’s Summer 2020 anthology Whispers From the Universe. She’s currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Catholic University of America. When she’s not writing books or teaching, you may find her haunting the local tattoo shops expanding her collection of tattoos.

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

I chose The Good House by Tananarive Due, published in 2006, because it is a beautiful work of gothic fiction. This modern haunted house story is on par with Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. This book quickly became a favorite of mine. Due combines family, loss, and strong African-American themes with the supernatural and a long-standing family curse to terrify her readers. I was frequently unnerved and taken by surprise by this gorgeous modern ghost story.

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

I paired this work with this Strawberry Chocolate Mirror Cake because it’s dark and rich, just like the story Tananarive Due so intricately weaves. The book takes place in a house known by locals as “the good house.” It’s been a place of healing for many, but also an infinite source of pain. The cake holds hidden depths, just like the good house. From the outside, it is an innocent chocolate cake. Once inside, it’s a decadent confection filled with white chocolate mousse and strawberry jelly.

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

Here is where I found the recipe:

https://www.homecookingadventure.com/recipes/strawberry-chocolate-mirror-cake

Delicious Horror: EV Knight & Stephanie Wytovich

It’s a very spooky Sunday here on Delicious Horror with two wicked and wonderful guests. Check out what EV Knight and Stephanie Wytovich have in store!

E.V. Knight

EV Knight writes horror and dark fiction. Her debut novel, The Fourth Whore, was released in early 2020 by Raw Dog Screaming Press. A novella titled Dead Eyes is due to be published in November 2020 as part of Unnerving’s Rewind or Die series.

EV’s short stories can be found in Siren’s Call magazine and the anthologies: Monstrous Feminine from Scary Dairy Press, The Toilet Zone from Hellbound Books, and More Lore from the Mythos and its upcoming second volume due to be released in 2021 from Fractured Mind Publishing. She also had a poem in the HWA 2019 Poetry Showcase titled “Nothing”.  A graduate of Seton Hill University, she received her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction in January 2019. She enjoys all things macabre; whether they be film, TV, podcast, novel, or short story. She lives in the cold northern woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with her family and their three hairless cats.

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

American Psycho, in its mundane realism, terrifies me. Patrick Bateman, a rich yuppie, has no feelings, no empathy or remorse. He is, in fact, a psychopathic serial killer. And yet, he blends in perfectly with his niche of rich WASPy young men and women. Everyone in this group is shallow. It’s not about who you are, it’s what you have and when you have a lot, you can get away with anything, which Bateman does time and again. There are many instances in the book when Patrick flat out tells his friends and acquaintances that he is a monster, he admits to his crimes, yet no one is really listening to each other and if they are, they don’t care enough to clarify.

Patrick Bateman from the film adaptation

Bateman’s ability to hack a friend to bits or relentlessly torture and sexually degrade women then follow his actions with a fourth-wall-breaking essay on Whitney Houston or Genesis, tells you everything you need to know about this empty shelled being that only appears human. He is a monster, one that couldn’t be reasoned with, couldn’t be loved enough to stop, and couldn’t be concerned with his frequent blood-stained drop-offs at the dry cleaners. The most frightening thing about American Psycho is how easily this might happen, how realistic Bret Easton Ellis’ portrait of an American killer in the late eighties still holds up today as potential reality.

In the current political climate, American Psycho works as a metaphor. The shallow, self-centeredness of the powerful and/or financially elite allows them to look away as those they deem “less” die. The refusal to see and hear what is being pushed in their faces, blatant and straight from the mouth of the antagonist mirrors our modern American situation perfectly.

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

I created a cocktail served in a champagne glass. I call it “Hardbody” after Patrick’s misogynistic slang for an attractive woman. In the picture I chose to show it layered or “stacked” but for quicker service, it can be mixed together or “stained.”

The drink consists of cherry syrup, topped with a mix of Goldschlager and dry prosecco for a cinnamon cherry flavor profile. I knew I wanted to use Goldschlager to symbolize Bateman’s status as well as his spiciness. The cherry syrup represents blood at the bottom of his glass. The prosecco adds some bubbly Italian wine as a nod to Bateman’s culinary adventures at all his favorite NYC clubs.

It is meant to be drank as a shot, because, let’s face it, the quicker you get drunk, the sooner Bateman can get to work on you.

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

Ingredients:

1 oz Collins Cherry Syrup

2 oz Lamarca Prosecco (any dry Prosecco will do) chilled

2 oz  Goldschlager Cinnamon Liqueur (kept in freezer)

Edible gold glitter or gold flake for rim if desired

Preparation:

To make the drink “Stacked” (as pictured):

Reduce the syrup to ¾ of its original volume by simmering on stove top, then chill to refrigerator temperature

If gold rimmed glass is desired, wet the rim of the glass and pour a very small amount (1/4 tsp) of gold glitter on a sheet of paper. Rub the wet rim over the gold until the rim is coated

Shake Goldschlager bottle to stir up gold flakes in the liqueur

Mix Prosecco and Goldschlager in a small glass or measuring cup with pour spout

Pour reduced syrup into bottom of flute

Pour mixed Prosecco and Goldschlager very slowly over the back of a spoon on top of syrup to maintain layers

Drink as a single shot

If you don’t want to get super fancy with the “Stacked” look, the drink can be served “Stained”.

To mix the cocktail this way, omit reducing the syrup and combine all ingredients in a gold-rimmed champagne flute. The flavor is the same, you just don’t get the “blood” in the bottom of the glass.

Stephanie M. Wytovich

Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her work has been showcased in numerous venues such as Weird Tales, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Fantastic Tales of Terror, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 2, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 8, as well as many others.

Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Point Park University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare, and most recently, The Apocalyptic Mannequin. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press.

Follow Wytovich on her blog and on twitter @SWytovich​.

Check out her poetry collections, her novel The Eighth, her personal website, and her book reviews.

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

Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite holds a special place in my heart. When I was in undergrad, I knew I wanted to write horror but I had only ever been exposed to mainstream media (and truthfully, not even all of what’s considered mainstream media); honestly looking back, I was very sheltered without even knowing it.

Needless to say, when I picked this book up, it opened my eyes to what horror could be. It pushed boundaries, was beautiful and disgusting, romantic and villainous, and it married sex and horror in a way that I had never seen or even thought was possible. It was my gateway drug for body horror, and it wasn’t long after that I started reading Clive Barker, watching David Cronenberg films, and focusing on artists like Francis Bacon.

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

So I paired this erotic horror story with a haunting glass of Blackberry Sangria to both match its cover and speak to the alluring yet dangerous nature of the book (because truth be told, both the book and the drink were a little more intense than I thought they would be, but delicious and memorable nevertheless!).

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

Sure thing! The recipe is as follows and this typically makes about 5-6 glasses:

  • Add 2 cups of blackberries and a ½ cup of sugar to your pitcher and gentle mash them to a light pulp.
  • Then add 1 cup orange brandy and 3 cups of red wine and lightly stir.
    • Note: I chose a medium-body red wine for mine, nothing too sweet.

One you mix that into your pitcher, I served it in a chilled glass and cut it with Sprite (to my liking) and then added blackberries and mint leaves as a garnish.

Thank you so much Stephanie & EV! Be sure to check out their work, and stay tuned for another post on Tuesday!

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!

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.

WiHM: NOT ALL MONSTERS Roundtable Part III

Welcome back! If you missed Part I and Part II of my roundtable with the amazing authors of Not All Monsters, make sure to check them out. Nick Day recently sent me a hardcover proof of the book, and it’s safe to say I’m obsessed and this book is going to be a beautiful collector’s item.

What would be your dream job besides being a successful author?

Annie Neugebauer

Annie Neugebauer: Probably a professional organizer and/or interior designer. I have a passion for home aesthetics, and a knack for helping people sort through their clutter. On the other hand, I can also easily imagine loving being a lit professor!

Angela Sylvaine: I would love to be a chef or a food critic. I enjoy cooking and when I travel, I love to try new and interesting foods.

Briana McGuckin: I was an academic librarian before I started pursuing my MFA full-time, and that was close to perfect for me. I love doing research, and I love re-framing ideas to help people understand them or see them in a new way. I got to do a bit of teaching in that position, and I wish I could do more. I just want to get to the bottom of everything – anything, whatever’s weighing on a person’s mind when they talk to me. They’re the same, I think – emotional upset and the thirst for knowledge – because that’s when we want to know things: when we feel we’re missing something important. I’ve been told I missed my calling as a therapist. But my favorite writers are my therapists for the time that I am reading their work, so maybe I’m still well-situated for that.

Juliana Spink Mills: Travel writer! Especially now that my kids are nearly done with high school and almost ready for college…

I traveled a lot when I was younger; to Australia and around Europe. All over Brazil. To Peru with my now-husband (and then-boyfriend). A group of us once drove over 8,000 miles from Brazil to the southernmost tip of Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, and back again, crossing Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina. I’ve skied the Rockies, the Alps, and the Fitzsimmons Range. After college, I spent two months backpacking Canada by myself. I love traveling. And hey, I could write my fiction at the same time; perfect!

Leslie Wibberley: I used to want to be a forensic sculptor, but sadly computer-generated images and reconstructions have now made that occupation obsolete.

I sculpt, but only as a hobby. But if I couldn’t write I’d be a professional sculptor. For me, sculpture is the only thing that has ever come close to the magic of writing. In both, we create something from nothing. Beautiful works of art from amorphous lumps of clay or imaginary worlds filled with people who don’t exist, doing things that never happened, using only thoughts and words.

Amy Easton: I think I am lucky enough to have it! I am a therapist working with survivors of trauma and there is nothing else I would rather do. One day, I hope to be able to live in the woods with a whole pack of dogs but I don’t think there’s much money in that path.

Christa Carmen

Christa Carmen: I’d either do something with animals—but something wild like assist a team of Australian biologists in cloning the DNA of a Tasmanian tiger to bring the striped marsupial wolves back from extinction—or something with the occult, like become a traveling tour guide for the most haunted places in America or the most sought after spirit photographer this side of the Great Beyond. See, this is why my actual dream job is to be a successful author, because the jobs I just described are ridiculous and seem completely made up.

Joanna Koch: Personal masseuse to an immortal and benevolent cat deity. Preferably a chunky ginger boy.

Jessica McHugh: I love dancing. In my life, I’ve been a ballet and tap dancer, a stripper, a Just Dance and DDR enthusiast, and I even trained to be a ballroom dance instructor. I don’t know how I’d make money doing it these days at nearly 40 years old, but hey, I guess that’s why it’s a *dream* job!

Jennifer Loring

Jennifer Loring: I did my undergrad in studio art; being an artist was my first real “dream job.” Obviously it didn’t work out, but I still dabble in several media—painting (digital and acrylic), collage, mixed media, book-making, photography. I’m debating whether to put an online store back up. I love a good side-hustle, but I’ve already got a day job and the whole writing thing!

K.P. Kulski: Archaeologist. I would be the female version of Indiana Jones. I would fight Nazi’s and make grand archaeological discoveries. Honestly, I’d also be happy being an archaeologist who lived in reality. I’d love to specialize in the ancient Celtic, Norse and Mongolian cultures. Yes, all three. I don’t care how far Mongolia is from the other two. I do what I want.

G.G. Silverman: I have always loved nature, and in our current time, news of places like Australia being destroyed by wildfire has really gotten my attention. I’m currently exploring opportunities to learn about how to make a better impact on the environment—whether or not that translates to a job that earns money remains to be seen. It’s important work, regardless.

I also love visual art, and am a graphic designer for my day job, so I’m looking at ways to expand my offering as an artist to include things that are more illustrative—successfully selling more visual art would absolutely be a dream come true.

I also love teaching (I currently teach creative writing at my local college), and community-building, and in the future I hope to build some kind of space (real or virtual) that brings people together to work on their own dreams, and support each other.

Hailey Piper: Multiverse cartographer. I’d write a guidebook and draw maps to parallel universes so people would know which to travel to … there are still books involved, but that’s different from being an author, right? There’s walking involved!

Art work by Don Noble

J.H. Moncrieff: A forensic psychologist (profiler) or a marine biologist, but since I haven’t actually done either job, it might be best to try them out first. I have been a journalist, a publicist, an editor, a marketer/communications specialist, and a teacher.

Sam Fleming: Climate Research Scientist in Antarctica? Dragon whisperer? Raven wrangler? When I was little, I wanted to be James Bond. I was oblivious to the misogyny, as a clueless 7-year-old, but being sent to dangerous places to save the world from bad people appealed. The Armed Forces wouldn’t have me.

I’m not sure it’s wise to have a dream job. You always have to sacrifice something, and then wonder whether or not it was worth it. If you can find something that makes you want to get up in the morning and do it, and someone is willing to pay you for it, then that is as close as you can get to a dream job. I know what I want from a job – to be needed and wanted (not the same thing), a moderate degree of excitement, plenty of variety and challenge, a degree of autonomy that equates to being left to get on with it, and knowing my efforts will leave the world a better place. Preferably without having to talk to too many people, but where I can bring my dog.

So battlewitch in charge of guarding a powerful sacred relic on a remote island, I suppose.

Joanna Roye

Joanna Roye: Running a horticultural garden to propagate native species of plants. Or bee-keeper, opossum rehabilitator? Something in the area of wildlife conservation.

Kayleigh Barber: I would love to open a bookstore, possibly with a café attached. Did you finish book 1 in a series at midnight, and now you need book 2 and some caffeine stat? Come on in, or choose the delivery option at checkout!

J.C. Raye: Goats. I’d like to raise them. Run with them. Build massive wooden jungle gyms for climbing and watch them knock each other off in their seemingly endless game of king of the mountain. That game never gets old with goats. Watch them sometime and you’ll see.

WiHM: NOT ALL MONSTERS Roundtable Part II

If you missed Part I of our roundtable, find it here!

If you could transport yourself to any time period and place for a year to write a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose to go?

 

 

J.H. bio photo

J.H. Moncrieff

J.H. Moncrieff: I’m working on a series set in ancient Egypt, which has been a complete nightmare. It would be so much easier to just live there for a year, and experience things as they actually were.

Joanna Roye: The Terminal Classic period of the Mayan empire, either in bustling Chichen Itza or the partially abandoned regions of central Peten. 

 

Sam Fleming: All my stories are alternative Earth stories (even the ones set very far away start here if you go back into their history far enough – I’m one of those writers who keeps world bibles). They are set in places that are familiar, but not exactly the same as here. I have a story in Clockwork Phoenix 5that is set in a version of our world, but say, twenty minutes into the future (to quote Max Headroom), and with added magic. If I could spend a year in the ancestral pile of the family that world revolves around, I would love to do that. So many stories! It would be like John Crowley’s Little, Bigas told by Scottish Twitter. And yes, for those who are interested, “Pretty Little Vampires” is set in the same universe as “The Prime Importance of a Happy Number”.

Jennifer Loring: That’s a tough question! I think I would probably want to be in Paris during the time of the Decadents and Symbolists. Despite being not particularly women friendly, I love so much of the literature and poetry that came out of the period, and I imagine it would be very inspiring for my own work in turn. 

 

Hailey Piper author headshot large

Hailey Piper

Hailey Piper: Assuming I was completely safe to write? I’m not sure where, but the time period would be among prehistoric humanity, when our species seemed to have little chance of survival, the shadows loomed largest, and we were first developing the concepts that would both explain the world and help it haunt us for ages to come.

 

 

Kayleigh Barber: I’d have to say sometime between the late 70s/early 80s. That’s when the slasher genre really took off; I’d love to write a book along that same vein.

Jessica McHugh: 1920s Baltimore. I’ve always loved the ‘20s, but I recently did a lot of research about living in Baltimore during the prohibition era for a Booze & Bites tour I lead in Frederick, MD, and I would love to set a novel there one day.

J.C. Raye: Oh my! England. Medieval times. Swords and sorcery and all that jazz. Wait, no! I completely forgot about The Inquisition. Those heresy-battling folks were quite fond of us roguey-breasted types. Maybe that’s not too good an idea. Ok. Well how about the Golden Age of Piracy then? 1700’s or so. Buccaneers. Tortuga. Life at sea. Oh. Right. The woman thing again. And there were only a few BlackBeard-ettes at the time. My understanding of history is that those gals didn’t end well at all. Hmm. What about the future then? Um, no. Civilization will probably morph into some Soylent Greenscenario, Charlton Heston or no. Women becoming the furniture which accompanied any apartment rental. Yeesh. This is hard. No point time-traveling to write the book if the chances of getting it back to the publisher are slim to none.

You know what? let’s just go with Central Jersey in 2020. That I can handle.

 

Juliana Spink Mills

Juliana Spink Mills

Juliana Spink Mills: I think I’d go and stay with my grandparents in the south of Brazil in the early 1950s. They lived in a self-contained company village belonging to a meat packing corporation, with its own stores and port, and a private railroad connecting the docks to the cattle ranch and processing plant. My mother always tells stories of running wild with her friends as a child, biking everywhere, playing by the railway tracks, and fishing from the docks. It’s basically a writer’s dream setting, with every possible element in one neat package: small town, farmlands, sea, port, railroad… It’s all there!

 

Christa CarmenI have actually been working on a novel for the past year set in Rhode Island at the end of the 19thcentury, and I would love to be transported back to that time period to see just how well my research has served me. New England is a place that has inspired no shortage of isolation and hopelessness, both in the people who have called it home and in those individuals who’ve felt compelled to write about the region; I’d be curious to witness some of the paranoia and fear that caused events like the Salem witch trials or the Mercy Brown vampire incident of 1892—which is what my novel is based on—firsthand… from a safe distance of course, so I could avoid being burned or stoned or having my tuberculosis misdiagnosed as vampirism! 

Leslie Wibberley: Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1692, just as the witch trials were beginning. I’d love to write the story of a powerful witch who changed the outcome of those trials by educating the people who would listen, and destroying those who wouldn’t. 

 

Joanna Koch

Joanna Koch

Joanna Koch: I’m torn. I can imagine so many fascinating times and places! I’d adore the chance to live contemporaneously with either the Impressionists or Surrealists in France at the height of those movements and just hang out. Painting, writing, arguing, starting scandals, and destroying everyone’s idea of good taste. What a blast.
I’d also like to visit our future, maybe after Mars has been terraformed by say, 2190. I’d like to see how we evolve as humans — will we become more mammalian (emotional, warm, connected), integrated with machines and technology (intelligent, efficient, individualized) or something utterly unpredictable? I’d like to see how leaving or losing our home planet changes us. Actually, can I have more than one year, please?

 

Briana McGuckin: I’m working on a gothic novel that’s a cross between Secretary andTess of the D’Urbervilles – a Victorian BDSM novel. And I’m trying to show what responsible BDSM looks like, because I think what we tend to do more often is make Dominants titillating villains and then “fix” or tame them, which is problematic for readers owning their desires and for the BDSM community. Anyway, believe it or not, the Victorians got up to some kinky stuff. I’d love to plop myself down in the middle of those secret spots because, even having done the research, I still can’t quite make the high-society drawing room and bondage play mesh in my mind. It’d be fun to be a fly on the wall, to really get the feeling right, because I think of BDSM as sort of like dreaming, or therapy: it’s a way of processing the rest of one’s life, for catharsis. There are powerful forces at work on you whatever time period you live in, and BDSM lets you subvert that power – lets you play with it, for a little while. Against what were those Victorians rebelling? You’d have to be there, to sense it.     

GGSilverman_Dec2018

G.G. Silverman

G.G. Silverman: The Victorian period seems super interesting to me. The way melancholy, memory, and mourning was so ritualized, with its own uniform: mourning jackets, and jet jewelry, and jewelry made from a loved one’s hair. I would love to explore that some more.

 

Amy Easton: I was three years old when the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl took place and I grew up with an awareness of the impact of this terrible event. I visited Pripyat a decade ago and fell in love with the abandoned beauty and the incredible resilience of those still living and working there. To live in Ukraine during the 80s or 90s and write about the affected communities, wildlife and environment would be a wonderful experience.

Annie Neugebauer: Hmmm. Dangerous question! If I’m granted some sort of safety net that protects me against, say, catching the plague or being kidnapped by pirates, I’d love to go to a castle in the south of France in the early 1600s to research for my gothic novel series. If there isn’t any “save game” button, I think I’ll stay right here and keep using research and my own imagination. 🙂

K.P. Kulski: I have to write a book? I mean, my choice would be a shieldmaiden during the Viking Age, so I probably won’t have a lot of time for writing as I will be cutting down my enemies and stealing their stuff. In this imaginary life, there wouldn’t be sexism, there would be antibiotics, daily baths and I would be the best fighter on Earth. To be fair, the Norse were remarkably well-bathed and groomed for their time, but more cleanliness is good. Eventually, I become a general of a whole army of shieldmaidens and we take over the world.

Women in Horror Month 2020: The Authors Behind NOT ALL MONSTERS

This year for Women in Horror Month, I am ecstatic to bring you a roundtable feature each Monday with the authors behind Not All Monsters, an anthology by women in horror that will be out later this year from Strangehouse Books.

Thank you so much to the authors who could join me and so generously shared their time by answering these questions. You can check out the bios for all the authors in the anthology here.

Enjoy!

Without giving away any spoilers, tell us a little bit about your story in the Not All Monsters anthology. What’s the title? Was there any particular inspiration behind the tale? 

 

K.P Kulski

K.P. Kulski

K.P. Kulski: I think as women we are all so intimately aware of the threat of sexual violence as well as the emotional destruction of body shaming and beauty standards. Too many of us are more than just aware. “Black Feathered Phlogiston” is about being pissed off as hell. It’s about women who are just done with the whole system. We’ve been eating shit for so long that it changes us. Phlogiston was an 18thcentury pseudo-science word for the element believed to be contained within every combustible. Like something just waiting to be ignited. The black feathers refer to harpies, cause harpies are cool.

Joanna Koch: My story “The Revenge of Madeline Usher” makes no secret about its inspiration. At age eleven, I discovered Poe. I was obsessed. Of course, I didn’t know the word misogyny and didn’t apply any sort of critical framework to his writing. Revisiting “The Fall of the House of Usher” decades later, Madeline’s near absence from the tale shocked me. Her presence haunts the original, yet she never speaks. She has no “screen time” besides the male glimpse. She’s not there long enough to call it a male gaze! I recognized this situation all too well. How many women have I known who were eclipsed by men, regardless of their importance in a family, job, or community? How many have been left out of history, and the arts and sciences?

I wanted to give Madeline a voice, and turn Poe’s (unintentional) misogyny inside-out. I also wanted to play with his style, and indulge myself with elaborate sentence structures and ten pound words. For this story, I let my purple prose flag fly.

Christa Carmen: I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘but he was such a nice guy’ refrain that occurs after the Ted Bundys and John Wayne Gacys of the world are discovered. When Ariel Castro was found to have kidnapped three the women, keeping them locked in various parts of his Cleveland, Ohio home for eleven years, neighbors and family members recalled going to Castro’s house for BBQs and Thanksgiving dinners. Castro’s own inability to see himself as anything but a “nice guy “and “not a monster” is beyond horrifying, and that dichotomy between the way monstrous men see themselves and the actual, barbarous ways they harm the women unfortunate enough to land in their paths was the inspiration behind this story.

The title, “And Sweetest in the Gale is Heard,” is a line from the Emily Dickinson poem “Hope is the Thing With Feathers,” and arose from my musings over what could possibly be strong enough to carry someone through the trauma of being held captive by a vile monster in a basement without egress. I realized that, in a situation so appalling, a feather may be plenty strong enough to place one’s hope upon, when hope is such a fragile thing.

Leslie Wibberley: My story, “Unfettered”, first took life in a story generation class taught by the wonderful Carina Bisset. In these classes, Carina pairs fairy tales, folk tales, or world myths with a scientific theme. “Unfettered” was inspired by the fairy tale The Firebird, and bioluminence. After a long journey that encompassed multiple versions and countless rounds of revisions, it arrived at its final destination. A magical realism tale featuring a former ballet dancer whose career was cut short by a terrible car accident, and the abuse she suffers before her resourcefulness and fortitude lead her to a new world of infinite possibilities.

Briana McGuckin: “The Good Will” envisions an after-life in which gods are dress forms

McGuckin_Briana_Una_Photo

Briana McGuckin

and the soul is a quilt. It’s a playful take on ancient Greek philosophy. Socrates says that there are “forms,” or blueprints, for everything. There’s a form for a tree – the perfect tree. But there are also forms for truth, justice, goodness – things that confuse us in the mortal world because they are imperfect, clarified to their essential parts.

According to Socrates, when a soul leaves the body, it looks upon these forms and understands what truth, justice, and goodness actually are. When the soul enters another body, it gets distracted and forgets. This is meant to explain learning – how we come to know things we don’t know. Socrates says we are remembering.

So, I sent a character through that process, to meet the (dress) forms, and I based her on my mom – not the events of her life, but her struggle with identity. It felt important to the theme of remembering, because she remembers stuff she wishes she didn’t. But I believe that her knowledge of her past is essential to her deep inner strength because she knows what she survived; she knows she is a survivor.

Jennifer Loring: My story is called “A Certain Age,” and it was inspired by the Filipino legend of the aswang. This creature can represent a number of monsters (vampires, witches, werewolves, etc.), but during the day it blends in with regular people. At night, it shape-shifts to hunt. “A Certain Age” is about racism and misogyny, and always feeling out of place. The aswangseemed like the perfect vehicle for telling that story.

Juliana Spink Mills: My story “The Sugar Cane Sea” started, as many stories do, with an image. A farmhouse I remember visiting as a child in my home country Brazil, nestled like a gemstone in the middle of a sea of shivering, rustling sugar cane. From there, the questions emerged: why would my main character be there? Was this a safe port from a storm, perhaps? And if so, whatwas the storm that drove her there?

There is a lot of farming in the state of São Paulo, where I grew up — sugar cane, yes, but also oranges, coffee, cattle, and others. I visited a lot of farms and sitiosin my years in Brazil, and it was fun to draw out images from my past and stitch them together into something new — and perhaps a little more sinister than my sunny childhood memories!

G.G. Silverman: My story is called “The Miraculous Ones.” Inspiration came from a few places—my love of sea monsters, my Italian heritage (the setting was loosely based on the village my dad came from in Italy), and my experience as a recently disabled person. I wanted to explore the superstitious culture of my heritage, and I also wanted to write a story where baking somehow factored in (my dad was also a baker, in one of his first jobs in America). Plus, I was obsessively watching The Great British Baking Showat the time, and was hungry, A LOT.

Amy Easton

Amy Easton

Amy Easton: My story is “Wasted”. It was initially inspired by media coverage of convicted rapist Brock Turner but is also a reflection on the assumption that teenage girls hold all the sexual power within intimate relationships, as well as the weird conflation of sex and violence which seems so prevalent in Western societies.

Angela Sylvaine: The title of my story, “Antifreeze and Sweet Peas”, is a nod to Arsenic and Old Lace. Let’s just say poison is involved in both. The inspiration came as I thought about vigilantism. As a woman, I often feel that the system isn’t doing enough and that some of those who are guilty, particularly powerful or seemingly upstanding men, don’t get the punishment they deserve (for example, the many examples of convicted rapists receiving minimal jail time or probation). This tale follows a woman who is uniquely qualified to dispense justice when society fails to stop predators and explores the moral grey area and consequences of being a vigilante. 

Annie Neugebauer: “The Problem With Being a Monster” is a quirky story about a monster longing for human connection. It took its own path once it got going (as any good story is wont to do), but I started out aiming for that sweet spot between funny and scary that “Subsoil” by Nicholson Baker lands so beautifully. I think mine ended up more between funny and sad with a dash of macabre, but I’m not mad about that.

J.H. Moncrieff: The title of my story is “The Heart of the Lion”.It was inspired by the real-life death of Cecil the Lion. I’m a huge animal lover, and the thrill killing and poaching of animals infuriates me, so I thought it would be fun to write a story where the animals get revenge.

68856097_2506265212752389_3077253190370983936_o

Art by Don Noble

Jessica McHugh: My story “This Can Happen to You” was inspired by a real-life lottery win. In 2017, a Massachusetts woman won the largest single-ticket jackpot in North American lottery history and took the lump sum. Almost immediately, people were judging her for the decision, and I was so confused as to why strangers thought they deserved an opinion about it. Add in the fact that lottery winners in Massachusetts (and Florida, where my story is set) aren’t allowed to remain anonymous after claiming their money, and I had a bunch of elements perfect for an intrusive horror story.

J.C. Raye: The fine print and the aftermath. That’s “Cake”. Most of the fairy tales we clung to as children tie up the details oh so neatly at the end, don’t they? The pendulum swings one way or another. Main characters are either rewarded for their goodness and sacrifice, thus acquiring that dream come true, or are punished for their wickedness and greed. Here, you’ll find neither. Here, you’ll find the hell which exists between.

Hailey Piper: My story is “Without a Face,” and it follows Mercy Harper at her 30-year class reunion. A horrid incident at a now decades old fencing tournament has kept her away, but circumstances have pressed her to face the past. Only, a fencing mask has no face, and she sees that darkness everywhere she looks. I was inspired both by a fascination with the way a fencing mask obscures the fencer’s face and that attending a class reunion sounds like an absolute nightmare.

Joanna Roye: For “A Portrait of a Girl in Red and Yellow I was inspired by the true crime tale of the Three Sisters in Black. They were a triad of women who made a living via insurance fraud and eventually murdered their niece by drugging her and drowning her in a bathtub. I was fascinated by the alternate modes of power available to women of that era. How they can be twisted toward cruelty or embraced as secret freedoms. 

Kayleigh Barber: People tend to stop and stare at notorious things, but what happens when those things stare back?  “Midnight in the Garden of Life and Death” is about Jo, who works at a rather infamous farm near her hometown, and what happens one festival night when curiosity finally catches up with the cat.

Inspiration-wise, I was digging around on the internet, as you do, trying to come up with an idea for a story. Somehow in my searching, I came across a picture of a pitch-black apple. What sort of orchard would grow pitch-black apples? Thanks be to the Google Gods, because after the question popped into my head, I had to answer it.

Sam Fleming: Like many in the UK, I feed the birds in my garden. We Brits spend £200 million (about $260,362,000) on garden birds every year. More than half the UK’s species of birds dine out at our expense. One Christmas, we had family over, and one looked out

Sam Fleming

Sam Fleming

and said, “You’ve got a rat.”

Sure enough, there was a large specimen of brown rat performing acrobatics to get to the sunflower seeds. We could either tolerate the rat – which we did until another half dozen appeared – or… Not.

“Pretty Little Vampires” came from that, from experiences I had when I was warden for the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire, and with various would-be witchy types in general. There’s a naivete in certain samples of the pagan population, which I used to think was just ignorance but later decided was willful. I don’t want my characters, particularly not the women, to languish in willful naivete. It’s one thing to start out believing that all is white candles and roses, but it’s another to maintain that belief in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Women are more than capable of dealing with bad things. Even when men are giving them bad advice.