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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, February 19, 2016

Women in Horror Month #13: Tonia Brown, Author of SKIN TRADE

Today's guest needs no introduction.

About Tonia Brown:

Tonia Brown is a southern author with a penchant for Victorian dead things. She is the author of BADASS ZOMBIE ROAD TRIP, LUCKY STIFF, RAILROAD, and many others. She lives in the backwoods of North Carolina with her genius husband and an ever fluctuating number of cats. She likes fudgesicles and coffee, though not always together. When not writing she raises unicorns and fights crime with her husband under the code names Dr. Weird and his sexy sidekick Butternut.

You can find out more about her on Twitter, her professional Facebook, her personal Facebook, or her website.


SK:  What are your horror bona fides?

TB:  This immediately made me think of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?

"He’s bona fide!"

"Do not seek the treasure…"

"I don’t want Fop, goddamn it! I’m a Dapper Dan man!"

Oh, sorry, I am easily distracted by shiny things. Though, to be fair to me, you don’t hear the word bona fide often. I don’t know if I have bona fides. Sounds like an infection. Like, I got the bona fides and now I have to take these antibiotics. Well, I suppose my bona fides are a couple of novels, a couple of stories, and a couple of other projects.

Okay, okay, in all seriousness (and this is really hard for me as you know) I am the author of the heeeeelarious BADASS ZOMBIE ROAD TRIP, the horrific SKIN TRADE series, the severely depressing DEVOURING MILO, and the zombie sex fest known as LUCKY STIFF. I have some short stories in various anthologies such as the recently released FRIGHT MARE: WOMEN WRITE HORROR edited by Billie Sue Mosiman. I also write a crap ton of other genres, but I enjoy horror almost as much as humor. I am currently penning a terrible web serial, but we will get to that later. *whispers* I read ahead in the questions… wait… a head… ahead... a head… ahead! Definitely ahead.

SK:  Who or what terrifies you?

TB:  Aw, geesh, several different things scare the poopies out of me. On a very realistic level, I am terrified of responsibility. I try to dodge it when I can. It’s not that I am not a responsible person, I just don’t want to be responsible. It’s not the doing, it’s the fucking up. I think at the heart, what I am really afraid of is disappointing people. Wow, that was like a super revelation.

I am also scared of spontaneous human combustion. That shit is no joke. One minute you’re relaxing in the bed with a cigarette or on walking down the beach with a pocketful of fireworks or sleeping far too close to the fireplace or napping next to a frayed wire in the wall and voom! You go up in unexplainable flames! It’s horrifying!

SK:  Are there unique challenges to being a woman in horror or do you feel like gender is irrelevant?

TB:  I know the poor thing is old and rotten to the point of being nothing but a husk of a horse, but get out your paddles because we are going to do this thing. I sincerely believe that folks are swayed by the thought that a woman wrote the novel. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have things like Women in Horror Month. Hit the corpse of the horse harder, damn you! I think most folks don’t mean to let it flavor their opinion. But, and bear with me here as I smack that deceased Equus caballus, I think there are a handful of folks, both male and female, who look at the author’s name and think, “Ah, crap. This horror novel was written by a lady with gross lady parts. She probably wrote it with her gross lady parts, too. That means it’s going to be full of feeeeeeelings and roooomance and kisses and junk. Not for me!” (imagine them tossing the book to the floor and moving onto the next book, then imagine them getting arrested for roughing up bookstore property… yesh! Justice!)

Just for the record, I have never written a novel with my vagina.

SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

TB:  Sigourney Weaver is one of my faves as far as actresses in horror. She made running from a terrifying face eating space monster the most badassiest thing in the history of evah. I also have to give props to the scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis. Then there are those incredible directors, the Soska twins. Twins, Basil! Those ladies know what they are doing and they do it so good.

In the written word, I am a huge fan of Shirley Jackson and Anne Rice. I slobber over anything that Ellen Datlow gets together in anthology form. Oh! I mean I highly respect her opinions. (And totally slobber…) I have a lot of contemporary peeps I respect and would like to give mad props to as well, but I will stop myself before this becomes a ten page shout out list. You ladies know you all rock!

SK:  What are you working on/promoting currently? Why should folks check it out?

TB:  I am currently writing the third novel of the SKIN TRADE series. It’s slow going.

Aaaaaand I am also erratically turning out a new web serial, "Dick of the Dead." It’s awful. No, seriously. It’s sexist and offensive and generally terrible. Not badly written, it’s just offensive. And hilarious. (if you haven’t figured it out, that’s the whole idea…) Weird I should bring this up during Women in Horror month, because the protagonist, Dick, is the last man alive amongst a world full of zombie women. And Dick is oh so true to his name. It’s written in a loose journal format, following Dick around the US as he tries to stay alive. All zombie women want him, all men want to be him. Well, the men used to want to be him before they died. I should really call the series "Don’t Read This Offensive Shit Because You Will Get Offended and Stuff."

Here’s the link if you want to read it. Forget everything I said before, you should totally read it!


The Great Undead Uprising of 1870 devastated the western frontier and destroyed the Indian Nations. Though the Army was able to contain the menace before it could devour the entire country, the United States lost claim to her western territories as the survivors fled to the relative safety of the east coast.

Samantha Martin is among the rare folks traveling west, seeking asylum within the infected territories. Running from a past that threatens to consume her, the young Sam dons the mantle of a male and hides in an all boys’ workhouse that borders these Badlands. From there she is thrust into the service of the skin trade; the terrible deed of trapping and skinning zombies for profit. The work is grueling and perilous, but along the way she finds out what it takes to be a man, why she misses being a woman, but most of all she learns what it means to be human.

Can Sam keep her masquerade up long enough to flee the Badlands, or will the outlaws that rule the western frontier find out she’s female before she can escape?

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