Chromophobia Roundtable 4

Question: I’m saving my favorite question for last because obviously, we have to talk about color! Without giving away any big spoilers, tell us a little bit about your story in Chromophobia. How did color (or colors) inspire the tale? Please feel free to share any other general thoughts on how color can influence a story, especially a horror story.

Nu Yang: I wanted to explore a person’s “aura” in “Elegy.” When I was a newspaper reporter, I had the chance to go ghost hunting with a team of paranormal investigators, and I learned about orbs and what different colors represent when they are captured in photographs. I thought that was an interesting idea. Then, I imagined what it would be like to be missing an “aura” or essentially the color of a soul. Colors usually indicate life, so if someone is missing the color of their soul, what would that mean? My story explores that possibility.

Lillah Lawson: “Burn the Witch (Red)”is a gender-swapped retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It’s a fantastical horror story, incorporating elements of traditional folk and fairy tales from our childhoods. It’s not a gory slasher, but I hope it’ll unsettle you anyway. I grew up with this huge tome of illustrated Grimm’s fairy tales; while the stories were the usual ones you remember, those illustrations were dark. I wanted to write a fairy tale like that, for grownups – one that has teeth.

K.P. Kulski: Color is always a big part of my stories and the opportunity to write to this for Chromophobia was quite exciting. Every story I write has a color scheme in my mind, even if it’s not all on the paper. Kung Fu films like Hero and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon where color plays a big role in each scene has been an influence in how I envision my own scenes.

For Chromophobia, my story “From These Cold Murky Depths” came to me as a dark version of the beach discovery scene from the Little Mermaid, but with quite different power dynamics. A shadowed beach where forms are hard to differentiate, the blue-black of the lapping ocean hinting at the unknowable things it holds, a midnight sky, a new moon, then the rich shimmer of golden hopes, metallic kisses, and the smears of blood it all leaves behind.

Horror and color are intimate partners because color gives distinct impressions. Red for anger and love, red for death. Black for the scary things in the dark. Green that suffocates and infects. Our associations are ingrained into the subconscious and deeply connected to survival instincts. The perfect playground for horror storytelling.

Sonora Taylor: My story, “Eat Your Colors,” is about a woman who gets more than she bargained for when she follows an influencer’s recommendation to improve her eating habits. I’m familiar with all the ways diet culture seeps into our everyday lives and how easily it controls our thinking–I’ve been fat since I was eight years old and no one has let me forget it, especially the media showing me thin bodies that got that way by just eating this or restricting that. I often see the phrase “Eat your colors” sprinkled around food and health posts, and separated from diet culture, it’s not bad advice: It’s the idea that if you eat every color of the rainbow that day, you’re getting the most nutrients. But even something as innocuous and common sense as that can lead to compulsions, stress, or otherwise unhealthy relationships with food; especially in our diet-obsessed culture that’s also obsessed with organic, fresh, raw, and the best possible way to consume that food. You can’t just have tomatoes–they need to be heirloom varieties! What are you doing with those canned vegetables? Eat them fresh! And don’t even think about adding a dressing or dip.

The woman in “Eat Your Colors” ends up in an extreme situation when she takes the influencer’s advice, one that’s highly fictionalized. But a lot of what she goes through mentally was inspired by my own dieting stressors. The scene where she has a back-and-forth about spinach was very personal in terms of how one talks themselves into going against their own intuition in pursuit of following some kind of rule to be healthy. It’s agony–one that’s very profitable to a lot of people.

J. B. Lamping: I wanted to subvert the idea of pastel colors being soft and delicate. I wanted to show how the crisp white and yellow of daisies can be used in a different way. We tend to think of bolder colors as sharper and tougher. I wanted the scariest place to be a pastel kitchen. 

Chelsea Pumpkins: I was so intrigued by this call when you first posted it: an anthology of women writing horror inspired by color. I stewed on the prompt for a while until it hit me, right in the uterus.

For many women, menstruating is a mundane fact of life. It’s something we live around and tolerate, but rarely talk about. Over time it’s been considered sinful, taboo, disgusting, and so we’ve been taught to hide it. But under the surface, we’re enduring a transformation, and often it brings pain, emotions, and…its own catalog of colors. Women—check. Horror—check. Colors—check. This is what I wanted to write about!

My story is ultimately about transformation. It’s rooted in a somewhat-universal experience, but morphs into something perhaps more ominous.

Jacqueline West: With my Chromophobia story (“Bluettes”), I wanted to play with the way colors and memories interact. Often we’ll recall a thing as looking a certain way, and then when we see that thing again after a long span of time, our memories and reality will be dramatically different—and still, we’ll swear that house was white, or that his eyes were brown, not blue. That’s a thread that runs through a lot of my fiction: Differences in perception, a character seeing or sensing things that others can’t. In my story, the narrator’s reality is layered with colors and memories of colors, and under those layers are truths about awful things that may have happened, but that she hasn’t yet faced.

Red Lagoe: As much as I love red, choosing that color felt too obvious considering my name. So I closed my eyes and let some colorful imagery come to me. One of the first things I pictured was a sunset. A busy summer boardwalk, backlit by the setting sun—a tangerine sky. An image so beautiful, I wondered what could be horrific about it. We as writers are told to write what we’re afraid of, so for this setting, I wrote just that. Every moment, no matter how lovely the setting seems, girls must keep an ever-present mindset that someone might be targeting them. Just like every other girl, I grew up with a fear of being taken. Now that I’m older, I still fear being a target for assault, but I have children to worry about too. It makes me ask, “How civilized can we really be if we must train our children to evade predators of our own species?” It’s infuriating! “Tangerine Sky” explores those fears and frustrations.

Jess Koch: “Hollow Bones”is a story about a woman who makes a radical choice to change her life in hope to get back something she lost. To her, color represents beauty and worthiness. Without giving too much away, I was inspired by colors in nature and in particular the colors of tropical birds for this story. I started thinking more seriously about the role of color in stories–and specifically horror stories–after watching Midsommar and seeing that horror can be bleak and terrifying but also visually beautiful.

Jeanne E. Bush: Color can add so much to a story. Darkness can express fear or evil; a pink sunrise in the morning can show hope; red is blood; green is nature. I knew immediately that I wanted to submit to the Chromophobia anthology because the idea of color used in horror is so intriguing. With my story, “Wheels”, I knew the story I wanted to write, a woman caught in a precarious situation. As the story unfolded, instead of forcing the use of color, the colors unveiled themselves and were influenced by the story. It was a magical event. I wanted the colors in my story to add both a melancholy mood and a dreamy quality. As beautiful as a rainbow is, there are many colors outside of that spectrum, and for my story, the colors I used gave it a depth that I didn’t expect.

Tiffany Morris: I wanted to play with a little bit of literalism around having “the blues”, and mental illness as a sort of possession, so the two came together in interrogating what it would be like to be ‘possessed’ by a color. Color itself is kind of contradictory – it speaks to our radical subjectivity in terms of preferences and perceptions, but also operates in a shared cultural language of symbolism. As such, I think color is a great tool for creating and emphasizing uncanny inversions and strange symbolism.

G.G. Silverman: My story, “The Gray”, is inspired by my experience of living in the Pacific Northwest for the last decade, and how atmospheric conditions affect so much of our lives here. I wanted to take the mood I’ve encountered in many of my wilderness and coastal explorations, or even at home in my neighborhood, and use that as inspiration for a terrifying ubiquitous threat. When the call for submissions for Chromophobia opened, I had been tumbling the story around in my head for about a year, musing about it every time I was outdoors on our characteristically gray days. 

Color can influence a story on many levels, from the obvious to the more subtle. I once took an enlightening writing workshop taught by the Chilean author Lina Meruane, of Seeing Red, and she gave us an exercise to write while informed by the energy of a color, even if we didn’t explicitly name the color. It was an incredibly thoughtful exercise and I learned a lot from it.

To that end, I’m really excited to see how my fellow Chromophobia authors explored color!

Geneve Flynn: My story “Double Happiness” revolves around the Chinese practice of ghost marriage. Dying unwed brings great shame to families, so the families will sometimes match their son or daughter to another deceased person. Not all arrangements are above-board because of the unbalanced ratio of males to females in China; there have been cases of grave-robbing and murder in recent years.

In Chinese culture, the color red is considered very auspicious. It symbolizes joy and luck, and is often used at weddings to wish the couple vitality and fertility. Couples are gifted money in red packets with the logograms for double happiness printed on the front.

In western society, red often signals danger, or bloody horror. It’s fascinating that color can mean such different things in different cultures. I played with the two opposite meanings to create a tale about greed and just desserts.

I think color can foreshadow the terror that’s to come if you play to tropes, but it can also surprise the reader and create a nice, jarring juxtaposition that will put the reader on the back foot.

KC Grifant: In my day job I’ve learned a lot about neuroscience, including how the brain is influenced by the space (shapes and colors) around us. Studies have demonstrated that spatial environments can have a dramatic, though temporary, effect on our brains’ activities in areas ranging from retail to healthcare. For example, the same food served on differently colored plates can lead to a person reporting different tastes. While visual artists have a deep understanding of color, I think the use of color to elicit emotion is sometimes under-appreciated in writing.

I had fun experimenting with drawing out and honing color themes in “The Color of Friendship” in a way that is hopefully subtle but effective. In it, a sickly green hue underlies the tone of the story—that murky, icky feeling that embodies a life that hasn’t gone according to plan, a wrong turn that is hard to shake. Coupled with the character’s dissatisfaction is the intense jealousy and resentment toward her friends, who seem to have the secret to securing the successful life she wishes she had. And, since it’s horror, the story shows what happens when those bottled feelings and emotions finally find an outlet.

Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito: I’m inspired by Chinese mythology and folklore.  Color plays a big part in Chinese superstition and tradition.  Red is often associated with good fortune.  Red clothes for a wedding and red signs/posters for Lunar New Year.  White, on the other hand, is the color of mourning clothes.  And, black, can portend something ominous.  For my story, Hei Xian, I wanted to invert the connection of the color red with love/fortune to create the fear factor tied to black.  Everything in the story focuses on the effect of color and superstition on relationships and decisions.  I had this story in my head for a long time and was so grateful for the Chromophobia call that finally pushed me to write it all out.

EV Knight: My story “Red Light/Green Light” was inspired by my childhood days spent playing at my grandmother’s house and the inevitable pains that come with growing up especially as a girl/woman. When I look back in my memories, the colors at my grandmother’s are so much more vivid than any other time in my life. There were neighborhood kids and cousins to play games like Red light/green light with. Most importantly, my grandmother and I had this close relationship that made me feel safe, happy, and invincible. But life happens, we grow up, people who are fixtures in our lives grow old and pass away. I tried to take all those emotions and put them into a story as a homage to my love for my grandma who would have been 100 years old this year.

Kathryn E. McGee: My Chromophobia story, “Golden Hour,” is about a selfie museum gone wrong. I think there’s something inherently unsettling about selfie museums and have been wanting to use one as a story setting for a while. For those who haven’t gone down this rabbit hole, selfie museums are spaces designed around providing backdrops for selfies. They often have themed rooms and lighting engineered for photography. I’ve been following the Museum of Ice Cream on social media for some time. That one has a multitude of colorful rooms decorated with ice cream-themed backdrops seeming to escalate in their whimsey (a ride-on animal cookie, a banana swing) and climaxing in a room consumed by a giant pool filled with plastic sprinkles. The sprinkle pool selfie (taken on your back making sprinkle-snow angles) seems to be the shot everyone makes sure to get. I couldn’t help relating this sequence of unusual and colorful spaces to the color-specific rooms in Poe’s story, “The Masque of the Red Death,” in which the rooms get increasingly creepy, culminating in the dreaded black-and-red room. This line of thinking influenced my own story, which relates the colorful, seemingly harmless rooms of a selfie museum to one visitor’s dark thoughts and feelings.

Ali Seay: My story “Nesting” is about a widow’s devastating loss and the urge to give up totally. I know the first thing that sprang to mind when I read the Chromophobia call was the song “Yellow” immediately followed by a mental image of the chakra chart. I read (very briefly, this was not in-depth research by any means) that the yellow chakra (solar plexus) could come into play with rebirth. The overall feel of my piece is a weird juxtaposition of utter despair and an exhausted kind of hope. The color yellow is not one that rushes to mind when thinking of horror, so I liked that a lot about my brain’s choice (lol). Red and black are the most obvious, so a sunny color usually associated with happiness was an interesting turn of events.

Pippa Bailey: “Achromatica” is less about colour and more about the absence of colour. I wrote the story in the wake of the George Floyd murder. I spend a significant amount of time thinking about the importance of colour in the world and what would happen if everything was white. I hadn’t meant for the story to reflect anything more than what it is, a story of an unknown creature’s impact on our world. As I wrote, it became so much more. I found myself looking at the effects of whiteness on our planet and the damage it causes, not only at a social and cultural level but down to the very basis of the scientific impact on our surroundings. We need colour; we need variation; we need the inclusion of everyone and everything. You can’t think of love without red, coffee without rich hues of mahogany, sunshine without its glorious yellow, and the crispness of green grass on a dewy morning. Horror is crimson blood, ochre mud on knees, the bloom of a violet bruise on scarred knuckles, and the crystalline blue of an eye, staring through a hole in the wall. We live a rainbow existence, and we need to keep it that way.

Jo Kaplan: I’ve been fascinated by impossible colors for a while. Colors outside of the rainbow aren’t new to horror (see “The Color Out of Space”), which makes sense in a genre interested in exploring beyond ordinary experience. We can see chimerical colors, temporarily, by staring at one color long enough to fatigue receptors the eye and then looking at another color. Hyperbolic orange, for instance, happens if you stare at cyan and then look at orange. The afterimage is a super-intense orange. You can see self-luminous red by staring at green and then looking at white, which creates a red afterimage that is somehow brighter than white. Then there’s stygian blue: both very dark and impossibly saturated. Stare at bright yellow and then look at black, and you’ll see a blue afterimage that is as dark as the black. It’s a color we’re not supposed to be able to see. Would staring at such a color for too long begin to affect not just our sight, but our minds? In what strange depths might we discover not just our attempted recreation of the impossible color, but an actual manifestation? That’s what was on my mind when I wrote “Stygian Blue.”

Lauren C. Teffeau: Well, my story “Gray Rock Method” is more or less literalizing the metaphor for a technique used for coping with high-conflict individuals. I’ve put my own twist on it, of course. I hope my use of color heightens the dramatic tension and highlights the emotional arc of the main character. Color has lots of unconscious symbology that is always fun to play with as a writer, and it can be a really great shortcut for punching up the atmosphere in a story. I can’t wait to see how the other anthology contributors have used it in their stories!

Bindia Persaud: My story takes place in a quasi-matriarchal society where traditionally female arts (in this case, textile arts) occupy a higher, more honored place than they do in our world. In this world, color, instead of being merely ornamental and decorative, is of vital importance.

Christine Makepeace: Well, my story involves some body horror, and no spoilers, but the insides of bodies are very colorful places. Color is always a great way to communicate mood and help readers see the world you’ve built more clearly.

Christa Wojciechowski: I’ve been studying color lately for my current series-in-progress. It’s a fascinating topic. Objects don’t really possess color in the way we intuitively think about it. They reflect a color of light. As humans, we assume that what we see is objective reality. We are only seeing a version of it. Other organisms in the animal kingdom see an entirely different world. The mechanisms that allow us to see and use color in our brain are mind blowing. We are lucky to perceive such a beauty. My sister is blind, so I never take the ability to see color for granted.

We human have attached emotion to color. It makes an instant impression and can be more efficient in triggering a response than a handful of words. In “The Oasis”, I used colors to make the atmosphere and tone more vibrant and palpable. I also like to invert their associations. For example, green makes us think of plants, growth, freshness, and life. On the flip side, green can signal putrefaction or infection. Red symbolizes love, but it can also tell us death is near. If you see too much red, things are not going well! I like to play with those juxtapositions.

Chromophobia Roundtable 3

Question: I always love reading recommendations, so I have to ask, who are some contemporary women in horror who we should be reading? Any favorite books by women in horror that you hope other people will check out if they haven’t yet?

Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito: I’ve loved reading the Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women. Growing up, I didn’t see myself represented in that much American horror. Things are changing and I’m really enjoying reading horror from diverse storytelling perspectives. 

And, I love Wendy Wagner. Nightmare Magazine is such an awesome labor of love. I slush read for them. And her new book, The Deer Kings, is great.

Jeanne E. Bush: I have been happy to see so many published novels, poems, and short stories written by women. It’s a special time for women in this genre and I can’t wait to see where it goes. The latest books I’ve read by women have been amazing. Recent authors include Gwendolyn Kiste, Sarah Pinborough, Elizabeth Massie, Alma Katsu, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Sarah Waters, Toni Morrison, and Cynthia Pelayo, to name a few. I like them because they write strong women characters who figure out how to survive.

I also started reading more horror poetry by authors such as Linda Addison, Stephanie Wytovich, and Strangehouse’s very own Sara Tantlinger. The poems these women write make me want to read even more horror poetry! I recently read The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. These aren’t considered horror novels necessarily, but the ideas in these books, set in a dystopian time, are so frightening! They are quite a lesson in unfolding the story slowly and with tension. If you haven’t read these, I strongly recommend them!

Christa Wojciechowski: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a treat for classic gothic lit fans. My favorite books may not be purebred horror, but they have dark psychological themes.

Tampa by Alyssa Nutting is a wild ride. Nutting commits to her depraved character with the same relentlessness as Brett Easton Ellis wrote Patrick Bateman. Delightful and appalling.

Lost Girls and Love Hotels by Catherine Hanrahan. A witty female protag, and existential crisis, debauchery in a foreign land, and doomed lovers. All my favorite elements!

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell is about a young girl who becomes her professor’s Lolita. Vanessa’s teenage and adult points of view show how her perspective has changed as their affair comes to light amid the #metoo movement. Russell walks the razor’s edge in this story. I loved the psychological depth and complexity of the relationship. Just brilliant character work.

Bindia Persaud: Recently, I’ve enjoyed two short story collections: Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties and Julia Armfield’s Salt Slow.

Red Lagoe: All of them! There are so many.

Laurel Hightower’s Whispers in the Dark and Crossroads were fantastic, and her short fiction packs a punch. Hailey Piper is basically the queen of indie horror right now, so go pick up anything by Piper if you haven’t yet. Jessica Guess knocked it out of the haunted amusement park with Cirque Berserk, and I’ve loved her short fiction too. Looking forward to seeing what she’s got for us next. Short or long fiction, check out anything by V. Castro. Her novel Queen of the Cicadas was beautifully written. Dark, grisly, and gorgeous. I could go on and on.

But my favorite contemporary story by a woman in horror goes to the editor of this anthology, Sara Tantlinger with her book To Be Devoured. I adore everything about it. The insanity, the intensity, the gut-twisting gruesomeness, the heart, imagery, symbolism… Seriously, I think everyone needs to read it.

Kathryn E. McGee: 

I highly recommend Sara Gran’s novel, Come Closer, which is an enthralling demon possession story. Sarah Langan’s novels, Good Neighbors and Audrey’s Door are two of my absolute favorites. Mackenzie Kiera’s novella, All You Need is Love and a Strong Electric Current is wonderfully clever, touching, and funny. Tananarive Due’s novel, The Good House is a terrifying and gorgeous haunted house story. Lisa Quigley’s novel, The Forest, is a fabulous survival story about a mother and her infant son.

Sonora Taylor: I adore V. Castro. I’ve read almost everything she’s written. She creates amazing characters and just slices through you with a sentence or an observation. My favorites from her are Sed de Sangre, Hairspray and Switchblades, and Goddess of Filth.

Other women authors and the books I recommend: Eve Harms (Transmuted), Laurel Hightower (Crossroads), Jessica Guess (Cirque Berserk), Gemma Amor (Six Rooms), Alexis Henderson (The Year of the Witching), and Red Lagoe (Lucid Screams).

I have so many favorites and I want to apologize in advance for anyone I inadvertently left out! I’m always recommending authors on Twitter and on Goodreads if you want ongoing recommendations.

Nu Yang: I’m currently reading Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz . I think the title says it all!

Christine Makepeace: I’ve been reading a lot of Tananarive Due’s work and can’t recommend it highly enough. Her writing is so immersive, and I always find myself heavily invested in her characters. The Good House is one of my favorites.

K.P. Kulski: I’m always singing the praises of Nuzo Onoh, Unhallowed Graves and The Sleepless are among my favorites. Aliya Whiteley’s The Beauty ranks up there as one of the greatest mind-bending works I’ve read. Marjorie Liu, who writes the Monstress graphic novels, also has a short story collection out called The Tangleroot Palace and there’s a few stories in there that lean horror. I particularly recommend “Sympathy for the Bones” *chef’s kiss*. The work that Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn are doing with their anthology Black Cranes as well as the addition of Christina Sng and Angela Yuriko Smith for their poetry collection Tortured Willows, just dark, gorgeous, and cuts so deep. I can’t recommend them enough.

EV Knight: Women in horror are so amazingly talented. There are so many it’s tough to pick a few, but I’ll go with some recent favorites: Fairest Flesh by K.P. Kulski, Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper, Tidepool by Nicole Willson, and The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling.

Jess Koch: A few great contemporary horror writers are Carmen Maria Machado, Mariana Enríquez, and Kelly Link. I would recommend picking up anything they’ve written but if I had to choose one to start with it would be Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link.

Geneve Flynn: Oh my gosh. How much space can I have? Here goes:

All of the Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women contributors—Alma Katsu, Lee Murray, Angela Yuriko Smith, Rena Mason, Christina Sng, Elaine Cuyegkeng, Nadia Bulkin, Gabriela Lee, Grace Chan, and Rin Chupeco. I’d also recommend the following authors: Alp Beck, Angela Slatter, Carlie St. George, Carol Gyzander, Cassandra Khaw, Cindy O’Quinn, Crystal O’Leary Donaldson, Deborah Sheldon, Doungjai Gam, E. Lily Yu, E.V. Knight, G.G. Silverman, Gwendolyn Kiste, Isabel Yap, Jess Landry, Jill Girardi, K.P. Kulski, Lauren Elise Daniels, Linda D. Addison, Lindy Ryan, L. Marie Wood, Lisa Morton, Lucy A. Snyder, Rebecca Campbell, Rebecca Fraser, Sarah Read, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Stephanie Ellis, Stephanie M. Wytovich, and Yangsze Choo.

I could go on and on. There are so many talented women writers producing interesting, powerful stories today.

As for books, I’d recommend anthologies by women editors, which center or simply feature women writers, such as Not All Monsters (I know, I know, total suck-up move, but this one blew my mind), and Paula Guran’s and Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best series. Generation X-ed, edited by Rebecca Rowland, is terrific too. Anthologies are always a great place to find new authors.

KC Grifant: Dead Souls by J. Lincoln Fenn utterly blew me away with its fascinating and disturbing prose and plot. I could not put the book down, which is rare for me.

The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper was another one that was completely absorbing and a cosmic tale unlike any others I have read.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado is a brilliant horror collection that stayed with me long after I read it.

Other modern women authors of novels and short stories I have really enjoyed include Gwendolyn Kiste, EV Knight, Donna J.W. Munroe, Nicolle Wilson, Alex Woodroe, Victoria Nations, Cynthia Pelayo, Kathryn McGee, Kate Maruyama and so many more!

Jo Kaplan: A couple of recent favorites include Soon by Lois Murphy, The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell, The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher, The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon, and Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan.

Tiffany Morris: Obviously, there’s a lot of great work out there from authors in this anthology, as well as from our editor! Aside from that (which is a good start), everyone needs to read the story collection We Are Here To Hurt Each Other by Paula Ashe. It’s a brutal and astonishing journey through the inhumanly human.

Ali Seay: There are so many which is a good thing for readers! The first that spring to mind are Hailey Piper, C.V. Hunt, T.C. Parker, Lisa Quigley, Laurel Hightower, Samantha Kolesnik, and J.A.W. McCarthy. I could go on but I’ll behave.

Chelsea Pumpkins: You must read The Good House by Tananarive Due. Not only is it my favorite horror book, or favorite women writing horror book—it’s my favorite book, period! Due builds tension that permeates and lingers, and she neatly ties together an intricate web of details. It’s equal parts creepy and satisfying. Her collection Ghost Summer is fantastic too.

I’ve likewise been haunted by Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica. I’ve never read anything so bleak and gruesome, yet strangely sterile. I’ve found that the world she created is transferable to a lot of corners of our own world, which is a frightening realization.

I’ll also pick up anything with Caroline Kepnes or Samantha Kolesnik on the byline, and most recently I’ve enjoyed V. Castro’s Goddess of Filth, LaTanya McQueen’s When the Reckoning Comes, and Tiffany Jackson’s White Smoke. My TBR can’t get enough women in horror!

Pippa Bailey: One thing that makes my heart sing is knowing that I am sharing pages in Chromophobia with some of the many incredible, unsung women of horror. I love that many of the names I list here will also appear on other people’s lists; it only goes to show that through our determination to promote women in horror, our voices are being heard. Please go seek out Laura Mauro’s Sing Your Sadness Deep, Penny Jones’ Matryoshka, Marie O’Regan’s Celeste, Priya Sharma’s All the Fabulous Beasts, and Sue York’s On the Cusp of Sleep.

G.G. Silverman: There are so many great authors and books—it’s an exciting time! One of my favorite contemporary horror novels by a female author is Mona Awad’s Bunny. It’s trippy and weird and terrifying but also darkly hilarious. A modern masterpiece. I gobbled it in one sitting.

J. B. Lamping: I recently read The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. It was wild and weird, and I didn’t expect it to go where it went. I also read The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. It was so interesting and at times a little gross but I couldn’t stop reading it. I loved Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Perfect gothic novel. 

Lauren C. Teffeau: I don’t think I’ve ever fully recovered from reading Wait Till Helen Comes and The Doll in the Garden by Mary Dowling Hahn in middle school. As a result, I have to be in the right mindset to approach horror media and don’t actively seek it out unless it’s filtered through the speculative fiction umbrella. That said, I’ve found the horror short fiction from A. C. Wise, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia to all be top quality.

Lillah Lawson: I love thrillers written by women. I’ve read so many great ones in the past few years, but one that stands out in particular is A Peculiar Curiosity by my friend and Regal House Publishing sister Melanie Cossey. It’s a Victorian-era horror novel that is genuinely scary. It has all the best elements: the mad scientist, the quiet dread of an unreliable narrator, the slow descent into madness, the frenzied, bloodied conclusion – plus rats! 

Jacqueline West: If anyone hasn’t already read Carmen Maria Machado’s short story collection HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES or her memoir IN THE DREAM HOUSE, I can’t rave about them enough. I also loved, loved, loved Shirley Jackson’s collected letters, which were just published last year. They’re such an incredible window into her process and thoughts and daily life. And there’s so much fantastic middle grade horror being written right now, by authors like Justina Ireland, Daka Hermon, Lorien Lawrence, and Ellen Oh.

Chromophobia Roundtable 2

Question: I think horror is such an eclectic genre. We have a ton of great sub-genres that stem from it, and horror also allows writers to push past a lot of boundaries. What draws you to writing horror in particular?

Jacqueline West: Ever since I was a (high-strung, anxious) child, I’ve been drawn to scary stories. Horror fiction has provided space for me to explore my own many, MANY fears, to examine and confront and survive them. As a writer, I even get to play with those fears. I turn them around, I reconstruct them, I use them like shades in a paintbox—hey, a color simile! And to me those darker shades are often the most intriguing and beautiful ones.

Red Lagoe: I grew up on the slashers of the 80s and loved every second. But as I got older, I saw beyond the layer of blood and guts spilling and scabbing at the surface. Horror has the ability to explore the darkest crevices of the human mind, to open scars, to cut into our hearts, or to navigate emotions, whether it be grief or fear or rage. We all hurt. We all bleed. And we all heal or die after the trauma. But either way, we’re never the same. And horror allows us to talk about that, unfiltered & unapologetically.

Lillah Lawson: I’m fairly new to the genre – this is only my second horror short (I’m also working on a thriller novel, but it’s in the early stages). My Dead Rockstar trilogy loosely falls under the horroromance genre, which is a newer one.

I’ve always loved reading horror, but it has taken me a while to feel comfortable writing it. It’s all about pacing, tone, and the things you don’t say. To me, the best horror is the stuff that leaves things unsaid; the unsettling questions that linger like a bad taste in your mouth. That feeling of unease you can’t quite identify.

Lauren C. Teffeau: What I like about horror is the way it allows writers to compartmentalize our fears and uncertainty. By putting them into a story, and then taking the time to revise and refine that story, I come out at the end of that process in a better place having put in the work to understand the source of those fears and to brainstorm the possible trajectories those fears can take. It sounds like some kind of psychological training montage, I know, but if I can look into the abyss and make sense of one teeny tiny slice of it for myself and potentially my readers for a very particular set of story conditions, that’s a win—particularly during this time of upheaval we’re all going through.

J. B. Lamping: I just don’t like happy endings (I’m kidding, mostly). A horror story can draw out so many emotions. not just fear or anxiety. It can give you excitement, revulsion, panic, elation, satisfaction. I don’t feel like other genres can put you through as much emotionally. I love ambiguous endings as well, which are perfect in horror. The audience is always imagining things worse than you could describe it.

K.P. Kulski: Oddly enough, I feel like horror has chosen me. I grew up submerging myself into poetry, fantasy, and history books to escape home life. From the Wheel of Time series to Emily Dickerson, I read continuously and voraciously. When I sat down to write my own stories, the pain came out every time, always in the form of morbid darkness. I’ve embraced it and love the genre for exactly this. There is no other genre that fits my voice as horror does.

Jo Kaplan: Judging from my answer to the first question, you might say I have a morbid sense of humor. I’ve long delighted in the way horror subverts the status quo, transgresses beyond what is considered acceptable in polite society, and plumbs the depths of humanity by forcing us to confront our darkest impulses and our place in the universe. It’s a way of living through intense experiences vicariously. I think horror teaches us a lot about ourselves.

Kathryn E. McGee: I love how extreme and truly surprising horror stories can be. The fact that the genre can be profound in reflecting life’s horrors and absurdities while simultaneously telling a high-stakes story about a haunted house, a homicidal clown or a demon burrowing inside your soul makes it so intensely entertaining.

Jess Koch: I find there’s a lot of freedom in horror to play with tropes, twist expectations, and play with genre. I’m particularly drawn to writing stories that play with elements of horror but might not sit that comfortably on the horror shelf.

Jeanne E. Bush: This is such an exciting time to be a part of the horror genre, especially as a woman writer. So many subgenres have opened up and are available for writers to explore. Splatterpunk, gothic, poetry, body horror, or comedic horror all give us the opportunity to express ourselves in this genre. I’m a person who has always been afraid of many things, so it’s fun to play on those fears, to write them out and to face them. Somehow writing about the scary stuff makes me feel stronger. I’ve read so many genres in my lifetime, but writing horror stories is not only fun, but it lets me explore the darker regions of my imagination. The sky’s the limit with where my vision and creativity can take me.

Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito: My grandmother. We watched a ton of American horror movies when we immigrated to the U.S. Horror was easy for her to understand with limited English. Watching her watch horror made me want to write in a genre that has the potential to bridge gaps and barriers between cultures and language. Everyone knows what it is like to be scared. It’s the perfect genre to bring people together.

KC Grifant: My favorite subgenres are cosmic and weird horror—really anything to do with the unknowable terrors beyond our everyday lives. As a kid, I was fascinated by the sense of something unthinkable in the darkness, and adored the disturbing endings in the Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt and Goosebumps. I had a lot of anxiety and horror was a way to deal with those fears. Scary stories show you that things could be just as bad as you think—and in fact worse—but you can survive it (at least as the reader). Facing that terrible unknown in fiction can be a very cathartic experience. Horror also helps me accept that one can do everything “right” and things can still go horribly wrong due to our misconceptions or circumstances beyond our control.

G.G. Silverman: In writing horror, I love the ability to revel in atmosphere and the unseen. I love that I can plumb the subconscious for weird imagery and explore things that genuinely terrify me.

Geneve Flynn: I don’t think I can help it. I was recently invited to contribute to an anthology that called for humor with a “dash of darkness,” and it was such a struggle—I don’t do just dashes! I went through countless story outlines and rewrites before I finally managed to get something that worked. My brain naturally heads down dark and creepy alleyways.

I also happen to think that horror is one of the most honest genres, and has the capacity to say things that sometimes aren’t allowed in polite company. I have to admit that I get a special thrill when someone tells me my story kept them awake at night, or affected them deeply, and that I don’t seem the sort to write such things. As a woman, there’s a lot of pressure to be nice, to be a nurturer, to make space for others. Horror gives me the permission to be as forthright and shocking as I want to. It’s quite a heady rush of power.

EV Knight: It’s always the feeling of “that could really happen.” Even in books of the paranormal or the monsters. Horror authors have a way of making their characters so realistic, so “everyday” that you relate to them, find yourself going mad along with them or fighting evil beside them. It crosses the boundaries into the safety of our daily life and takes us on a rollercoaster ride. No other genre does that for me.

Christa Wojciechowski: Strangely, I never set out to write horror. My first attempt at fiction was in 2012 for National Novel Writing Month, when I planned to write a romance just to see if I could do it. What came out was so dark and disturbing, it freaked me out. Clearly, I had some issues to resolve.

As I continued to experiment with writing, I realized that dark fiction was my happy place. I don’t write about monsters or demons. I don’t have to. Human beings are mysterious and frightening enough. What’s funny about humanity is that good and evil are our constructs. The universe is oblivious to our pain, fear, and anger. We create huge, unnecessary drama for ourselves. So I like to use horror to explore psychology and motivation behind our desperately clutching species. When we have a deeper understanding of why we do what we do, heinous or good, then we ground ourselves in our own truth. Knowing ourselves and forgiving ourselves empowers us to have more compassion and appreciation for all we experience.

Christine Makepeace: For me, the draw to horror is its ability to be both literal and metaphorical at the same time.

Pippa Bailey: I’ve always enjoyed horror, whether watching, listening, reading, or writing. I love that horror isn’t constricted by society’s boundaries placed upon other genres. For example, if you’re approaching a murder mystery, you’d expect a resolution, an answer to the question set to the audience at the outbreak. If you’re looking at romance, you’re expected to create a barrier to love for your main character, have them rediscover themselves, and fall in love with the person who had been there all along. Of course, I’m just throwing generalizations out there. Horror means never having to say; I’m sorry I stabbed your mom, ate your cat, and found romance, whilst fighting a sock monster, in the portal, inside the arsehole of a taxidermy goat that stands at the entrance to the blood museum of Sodom and Gomorrah. Horror is fluid, and I adore it in all its squishy, sticky moistness.

Sonora Taylor: I have a dark sense of humor, one that leads me to look at (seemingly) innocuous things and add a dark twist to them. What if a stick figure family on the back of a car window signaled a body count? What if a murderer’s mother displayed trophies from their kills on the wall like a painting or perfect test score? What if someone could see the dead, but no one wanted to talk to them? Even though the stories I write usually come from thoughts that make me laugh, they ultimately become more dark than dark comedy; and horror is a natural response to what happens when the characters’ journey is no longer a laughing matter.

Chelsea Pumpkins: I absolutely love the creativity and imagination that is the foundation of the horror realm. One of the scariest things we face as humans is the unknown, and horror creators plunge themselves right into that deep dark place simultaneously devoid of rules and full of possibilities. From that amorphous blank space, they tap into the most elemental instincts of the human condition—fear and survival­—and they emerge with a fresh idea, new monsters.

I also find horror to be a source of bonding. When writing, I investigate the things that scare me. By tapping into my own fears and anxieties, I create an experience born from something personal with the hope it’ll resonate with others. And the magic is that it usually does! The individual can become universal, and there is beauty in that. What’s more powerful than your most private vulnerabilities being seen and validated?

I was inspired to try my hand at writing after reading lots of short fiction. It’s not a format I grew up with, and I never really pictured myself writing a whole novel. Once I saw what was possible—that big stories could be told in few words—I wanted to try!

Nu Yang: I like exploring the dark side of people, places, and things. Whether it’s supernatural or human, evil exists in the world. But why does this evil exist? How was it created? Where did it come from? Can it be destroyed? Those are all questions I like to explore in my fiction. And as a horror writer, I get to create fear, but I also get to control that fear. I can turn it up or dial it down as much as I want!

Bindia Persaud: I’m drawn to horror because it’s more visceral than other genres, and it allows one to approach difficult and painful topics in a slantwise fashion, so to speak.

Tiffany Morris: I love the expansiveness of horror, which is also part of why I write both horror fiction and horror poetry. As a genre, a mode, and a style, horror points to the dark that exists beyond the bright veil of our mass culture’s many distractions. What I love about horror is confrontation: it allows us to turn over the rocks of consciousness and reveal the rich, subterranean, shadowy life that teems underneath.

Ali Seay: The honesty of it. You can lay out all your fears—rational or otherwise—and it’s going to resonate with someone. Fear is a great shared experience.

Chromophobia Roundtable 1

Question: Let’s start with a little icebreaker. You can have dinner or a drink with any fictional character, who do you choose and what are you eating or drinking with them?

Ali Seay: This is an impossible question because there are so many possible answers. I guess I’ll have to go with the first person who sprang to mind—Jud Crandall from Pet Sematary. He was always one of my favorite characters from the time when I first discovered horror. I can picture sitting on the porch drinking Arnold Palmers and talking with Jud who reminded me very much of my grandfather. Much like my grandfather, I bet he could spin a tale that has very little to do with anything and yet is still utterly entertaining.

Tiffany Morris: The three witches from Macbeth! Or any one of them, I suppose, if we’re being strict about interpretation. We could do divination out in Scottish forests and drink strange potions and punish people for their hubris via semi-cryptic prophecy.

Bindia Persaud: It might be fun to spend some time with Merricat Blackwood from We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It’s probably wise to refrain from eating or drinking anything when she’s around, though.

Nu Yang: I’m having dinner with my favorite Avenger—Steve Rogers! I would probably introduce him to sushi (my guess is he has never tried it), and then a round of karaoke and sake afterward.

Chelsea Pumpkins: Of course I get stumped by the ice breaker—Tough one! I’m much more apt to become infatuated with subjects of non-fiction, and most of my favorite books feature miserable or unscrupulous characters. Teenage me would never forgive me for not choosing a romantic dinner with Legolas, but I’m going to go out with Joe Goldberg from Caroline Kepnes’ You series.

We’ll get some apps and beers at a bar that’s not too fancy, but not too hipster (Joe would hate that). I’ll probably order a fresh pale ale, and I think Joe will go for a simple, clean lager. Given his history, I’ll need to take some precautions. First off, he’ll need to be crystal clear that this is not a date. Then I’ll carry a burner phone and lock my real phone and credit cards in a safe; I’ll wear a couple different tracking devices; and a friend will post up in a hidden corner of the bar to keep tabs on me.

Once my safety is secured, I look forward to getting drunk and talking shit with Joe. I think we’d have compatible senses of humor. We’ll chat about books and movies, and judge the local bar patrons.

Sonora Taylor: I’d love to share a bourbon or a fine brandy with Hobbes from “Calvin & Hobbes.” It’d be fun to talk philosophy and current affairs with him.

Pippa Bailey: I would have dinner with Death. I’d suggest pizza, but she’d prefer afternoon tea. So we’d get dressed up and go to a disgustingly posh restaurant, all bells and whistles, switching out the Earl Grey tea for flutes of champagne. We’d scoff the cakes and sandwiches and drink far too much bubbly, cackling over the state of the world. Death and I would stumble, a little worse for wear out of the restaurant, accompanied by disgusted looks from the upper echelon of class, or as we’d call them under our breath, wankers, and into some dive bar, collapse into a couple of comfy chairs and guzzle tankards of pain, sorrow, and despair until the world melted around us and nothing remained but the warmth in our bellies, the saccharine smell of sweat on old leather seats, and the sea of time stretched out before us, waves of darkness soon to follow.

Christine Makepeace: I would love to have tea with Eleanor from The Haunting of Hill House.

Christa Wojciechowski: I think every writer most wants to meet their own characters in real life, but I will not bore you with that. If I could choose another author’s character, Anne Rice’s Pandora jumps to mind. I revisited that book in 2020 while in lockdown and enjoyed it immensely. Pandora lived through fascinating times, from Ancient Rome to modern day, and used her strength, intelligence, and resourcefulness to navigate a man’s world like a boss. I’d love to ask her about all she’d seen and done, make her my BFF, and then convince to her to give me eternal life. I’m still so sad Anne Rice is no longer with us.

EV Knight: I gave this a lot of thought. And a theme came out pretty quickly. Norman Bates? Hannibal Lecter? Patrick Bateman? Obviously, I want to chat with a killer, I want to get inside their head. But who?

Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter Morgan. That’s my answer. He’s safe–at least for me, I don’t meet his criteria but he is an emotionless psychopath/sociopath. He wants to tell someone; he wants someone to try to understand him. I want to get inside the head of a killer. We’re perfect for each other. Obviously, we’d have Cuban sandwiches and maybe a blood orange mimosa.

Geneve Flynn: The Ghostbusters is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I’d have to say Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore. I love to read and write horror, but when I hang out with folks, I also like to laugh, and those guys would be so much fun. Can you imagine the stories that would go around the table?

I’d order in Chinese takeaway in those white cardboard boxes. We only have clear plastic containers in Australia, and eating out of a white cardboard box with little fold-out flaps seems like such a New York thing to do. And we’d drink boba tea, just because little black goo balls seems like something Egon would appreciate as a collector of “spores, molds, and fungus.”

G.G. Silverman: I would invite Sethe from Toni Morrison’s Beloved to put her feet up and rest awhile. I’d make biscuits and we’d slather them with butter, and we’d sip warm, sweet milk.

KC Grifant: If we’re going with a relatively modern literary fictional character, I’d have to pick Sherlock Holmes. Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated with this iconic character – I even visited his “house” at 221B Baker Street on a trip to London many years ago. It’d be awesome to have the chance to pick his brain as an adult, maybe learn a few observation tips over dinner, and hopefully hear him play the violin. Plus, the selfie would be epic.

If we’re going with any fictional character, I’d select Athena because Greek mythology had a hugely formative influence on me as a second-generation Greek American. I’d ask her if she has any advice for our current global crises and who in the pantheon is her ride-or-die.

Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito: Great question. I’ve always been fascinated with Lady Meng in Chinese Mythology. She’s an immortal who waits for the souls of the dead to cross over the Bridge of Forgetfulness. On the bridge, she brews the Tea of Oblivion. Once you drink it, you forget the joys and pain of your mortal life and re-enter the cycle for reincarnation. So, she’s basically a barista for the deceased. 

I probably wouldn’t drink anything she made for me, but it’d be interesting to see what other drinks she mixes up for dinner.

Jeanne E. Bush: What a fun question! Do we have to choose only one? I always enjoy strong female characters in the stories I read. In my younger days I might have said Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice because Elizabeth was so smart, bold, and clever. Today I’d likely choose someone with plenty of adventures who had great tales to tell. One that comes to mind is Annie Hebley from The Deep by Alma Katsu. She worked on the Titanic and interacted with so many famous people. It seems as if she’d have very interesting stories to share. Since Annie was born in Ireland, maybe we’d enjoy some delicious Irish stew with a good single malt whiskey.

Jess Koch: It would have to be the main character from Fleabag and I have to assume we would be drinking canned gin & tonics.

Kathryn E. McGee: Annie Wilkes from Misery, so she can motivate me to quickly finish my next novel. I’m sure she’d want me to drink coffee to keep up the productivity, but I think I’d ask for a cocktail or glass of Dom to take the edge off any anxiety and keep the creative juices flowing.

Jo Kaplan: Hannibal Lecter. I’ll be eating whatever gourmet feast he cooks up… perhaps with a nice chianti.

K.P. Kulski: Is it too easy for me to say Tyrion Lannister? I would greatly enjoy an evening of alcohol and conversation with my dear complex friend who has already kept me company many an hour. I’m sure there would be wine… lots of wine in a palace somewhere. We will probably have a meal made with rare and expensive ingredients.

Next, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel. Absolutely going to be in a bar, probably while traveling world. We will drink excellent beer, dance to music, and laugh our asses off. Food will be from a late-night restaurant that specializes in quick meals for folks drinking until the wee hours.

J. B. Lamping: I’d love to drink champagne with Jay Gatsby. He’s such a beautifully tragic character. He made so many bad choices but somehow remains so hopeful.

Lauren C. Teffeau: Philip Marlowe. I’ve always had a thing for film noir and the hardboiled detective fiction that inspired it, so it would be a hoot to sit down with him over a bottle of bourbon and talk about how he sizes up characters and criminals as well as the nuances to the moral code he follows in his work as a private eye. Since writers and detectives often explore the human condition from opposite directions, we can learn a lot from each other—assuming he’d have the patience to shoot the shit with a wisecracking dame like myself.

Lillah Lawson: My first thought was Pennywise, but I suppose I’d be on the menu if I did that!

I’m going to take it back super old-school and have dinner with Roderick Usher and the narrator from Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher. Usher is your typical sort of brooding, Byronic hero, with a dash of Munchausen-by-proxy – he’d be insufferable, but also incredibly entertaining. I suspect he’d have really, really good wine. And maybe I could figure out what one earth was going on with that house!

Red Lagoe: Stephen King’s Carrie. Maybe we’d go grab some pizza and soda after school, or some forbidden dish her mother wouldn’t allow. Sometimes, all it takes is one friend, one positive person, one point of light in a person’s life to keep them from breaking. Maybe Carrie wouldn’t have snapped if there was just one person to go grab a bite and vent with after school. Plus, if I can’t have telekinetic powers, then I may as well have a friend who does.

Mid-Year Recap 2021

End-of-year recaps stress me the hell out, but I enjoy having them completed and posted on my blog. They’re like a time capsule that can also be used for reflection, not just at the end of that year, but any future years, too. Taking the time to reflect on our goals and plans as writers, for me at least, has been quite helpful in realizing where I want my focus to be in upcoming years.

This year, I decided to try a mid-year recap instead to make the inevitable year-long review in December a little easier on myself. I also thought this would be a great time to talk about the upcoming women in horror anthology, Chromophobia, and what I am hoping to see from those submissions! Before I get into it all, I want to say thank you as always to the horror community for your support, the constant inspiration you provide, and for all the amazing material you keep writing, even if my wallet doesn’t thank you, but it’s a good problem to have to keep buying all of your books!

Social media is…sometimes a firestorm of heartbreak, confusion, and anger. It is often a tough place for conversation since intent and tone can get muddled in tweets. However, I hope our community continues to come together and lead with kindness and patience, and on the other hand, remember you don’t owe that kindness to anyone who has abused your trust or friendship, or who has proven their one-time apologies were not sincere. Social media drama is not worth your exhaustion. As a writer or reviewer or any creator within horror, you determine your own value. No one can take that from you, and you do not need to be validated by anyone, especially anyone who would rather shout hot takes on social media for the sake of stirring people up.

Of course, it’s important to be informed. Do I want to know when a writer or publisher or reviewer is spouting off hate speech? Absolutely. That’s not someone I ever want to work with. At the same time, you don’t have to spend hours sifting through confusing threads and guessing who people are talking about and never even knowing for sure. I’ve tried. I want to be informed. I don’t want to interact with abusers, but when the whisper network rules and half of us don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, you can’t take all your anger out on people who have tried to know and are simply remaining in the dark because they cannot find the information. I’m pretty done with it. I’m here to write, and I’ll avoid harmful people to the best of my knowledge, but like all of you, I don’t know everything about every single person in this industry. So, I’ll write, I’ll support and encourage others, and I’ll continue to celebrate the amazing world of horror fiction.

Speak out when you need to and feel comfortable doing so, but also don’t beat yourself up for removing yourself from the situations, either. There’s a whole real world out there, and while social media is important to help get our work out into that world and support each other, it is so far from being the most important thing in anyone’s life. Seek out your peace and your joy. Hold onto it, cherish it; life is too short to do otherwise.

Mid-Year Recap 2021


2021 was off to a good start! I was a guest on Visited by Voices and my flash fiction piece “Dewdrops and Blood” was published in Campfire Macabre. I also started my third semester as a mentor for the HWA Mentorship Program! Working with mentees this whole year has been such a joy.


February saw the release of the Spanish translation for To Be Devoured (Ser Devorado). Working with Dilatando Mentes Editorial has been an exceptional experience. They did such beautiful work with the translation, and I am forever grateful.

I participated on a really fun women in horror month panel hosted by the HWA and moderated by the wonderful Gwendolyn Kiste!

I posted some Horrormance recommendations over on my blog!

My interview with This Is Horror was released. Doing this interview was a huge career highlight for me. I had such a blast! The interview is in two parts below.

Part I

Part II

My flash fiction “Unspooling Screams” was published in Twisted Anatomy and my ghostly short story “Moonflowers” in The Horror Collection: Yellow Edition


I had a blast meeting up (online) with our Pittsburgh HWA Chapter, and I did a really fun interview with The Horror Club!

My poem “Etched in Autumn” was published in a great charity anthology, Like Sunshine After Rain, put out by RDSP and edited by Heidi Ruby Miller.

Cradleland of Parasites received a great review over on Cemetery Dance!


April came with the announcement that I’d be one of the guest judges in this year’s HWA Poetry Showcase! Angela Yuriko Smith and I will be judging the submissions alongside editor Stephanie Wytovich. As I’m writing this, we are all currently reading through the poems, and wow, so many good, gory, gooey stanzas! Some tough decisions ahead for sure. Thank you all for the solid submissions.

For National Poetry Month, I wrote an article hosted by the wonderful Ladies of Horror Fiction in which I talked about what poetry means to me, some inspiring collections, and I created a list of poetry prompts!

I had such a blast with Hailey Piper and the Last Bookstore Horror Book Club as the members read To Be Devoured and Hailey’s The Worm and His Kings. It was a delight to hang out with everyone and discuss our books!

I announced a few poetry acceptances, as well. “The Rattling Howl” will appear in the forthcoming WereTales, and “To Bloom in Blood” and “Shredded Alterations” will appear in Under Her Skin.

I was honored to have a flash fiction piece inspired by Eliot’s “The Waste Land” chosen as one of the winners for April’s issue of Cemetery Gates Society (they do flash fic contests each month, check it out!). My story “To Garden the Bodies” appears alongside wonderful tales by Red Lagoe and Shane Douglas Keene, plus an interview with Jessica Ann York and an article by Gabino Iglesias with publishing tips!

I also got fully vaccinated this month! Hooray!


In May we announced Chromophobia! The next anthology by women in horror published by Strangehouse Books.

Thank you to the wonderful team at Altavoz Cultural for having me as a guest in their first international interview to chat about the To Be Devoured and its translation!

A new Delicious Horror post! Patrick Tumblety chatted with me about Laurel Hightower’s Crossroads novella and made such a great treat to pair with the heartbreaking book.

*Please keep sending me submissions!!!

I chatted with The New Panic Room Radio Show and had so much fun talking with Xtina Marie about all things poetry!

Virtual StokerCon! I was and am still so absolutely honored to have Cradleland of Parasites and Not All Monsters nominated for Stokers. It’s amazing and I’m forever grateful. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees! I had a great time at the online event and participated on the Steel City Horror panel, Horror as a Fairy Tale panel, and I read from my Stoker-nominated poetry collection. Thanks to everyone who checked it out and left such kind words!

I was honored to contribute a little advice in Mark My Words: Read the Submission Guidelines and Other Self-editing Tips, an excellent guidebook created by Lee Murray and Angela Yuriko Smith.

The Devil’s Dreamland received a great mention on this very fun list by Gwendolyn Kiste of “5 Fictional Horror Books Based on True Crime Stories.”

I did a little traveling for my birthday in May, too. I am now in the last year of my 20’s…I don’t want to talk about it…but I had a great time seeing the beach again 🙂


The Stoker-nominated Not All Monsters is finally going to Kindle! From the publisher: “NOT ALL MONSTERS finally makes the jump to Kindle, and you can pre-order the Halloween release HERE. We are offering the Stoker-nominated anthology for 9.99 but ONLY during the pre-order window. After Halloween, the Kindle price will be raised to its regular retail price.”

Otherwise, June has been packed with the day job, things going on behind the scenes, and just me trying to organize my life, as always. I did, however, venture into Pittsburgh twice — the first time since lockdown! I visited the very cool Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru event and got a new tattoo (pictured above).


Now, let’s talk about the forthcoming Chromophobia: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror. Submissions open August 1st — please read the guidelines carefully here and remember this is a limited demographic (which I mention since I have had a few well-meaning cis men express interest in submitting, I appreciate you guys, but Strangehouse focuses on uplifting the voices of women in horror).

Chromophobia refers to the irrational fear of/aversion to colors, but the stories can really do whatever you want with color. It does not have to exclusively focus on the fear of colors. I want writers to feel free to take the general theme in any direction they want, as long as it’s horror.

I am so excited to read the submissions for this. I love the way color can play such interesting, important parts in stories, especially with horror. Don’t be afraid to get weird here. I’m hoping to be surprised — as horror writers, we might tend to use colors like red and black often, so terrify me with pastels and watercolors, too! (Definitely not opposed to stories where red or black are the focus, though). I’d love to read stories of how colors are seen and used in different cultures and parts of the world. What would a world devoid of color be like? What if one color tried to take over other colors? Keep asking those “what if” questions and come up with something wonderful or horrifying or completely bizarre. Colors laced with poison. Historical horror. What will colors in the future look like?

Need some musical inspiration? I made a Color Theory playlist on Spotify!

Whether color is the main focus or something more subtle, really aim to have fun and tap into a story only you can tell. I want diverse stories from a plethora of writers, whether you have dozens of stories published or you’re seeking your first publication. I’ll be reading every single story to fill the slots — this is not one of those anthologies that’s already pre-filled with just one slot remaining (don’t even get me started on that subject…). While it will take me some time to go through all of the work, please know I read everything, consider it carefully, and really think about how the stories flow and fit together to carefully curate what I hope will be an incredible anthology.

The only thing I don’t like about editing is sending out rejections. Oh my god it’s awful. Sending rejections to people I know and consider friends and sending them out to anyone really is TERRIBLE. I hate it, but it’s part of the process. Please know in advance, my rejections are never personal. So many factors and decisions go into that final selection process, and even if your story doesn’t make it here, I have so much faith in everyone that your story will find a great home.

The only way to fail in writing is to quit altogether. Rejections aren’t fun for anyone, but it never ever means your worth as a writer is devalued. Persist.

Thank you so much for your time, for your trust in me as an editor, and for your support, always. I look forward to what the rest of the year brings!

Take care, friends.


Strangehouse Books Seeks Submissions for Horror Anthology ‘CHROMOPHOBIA: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror’ — Rooster Republic Press

For immediate release. Please, feel free to share far and wide! CHROMOPHOBIA: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror This upcoming anthology will be edited by Bram Stoker Award-winner Sara Tantlinger and released by Strangehouse Books in the fall of 2022. From the editor: “The use of color in literature is something that has been studied, analyzed, and…

Strangehouse Books Seeks Submissions for Horror Anthology ‘CHROMOPHOBIA: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror’ — Rooster Republic Press

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:

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?


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


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!