Manuscripts Burn


MANUSCRIPTS BURN

"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

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."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Feast of Horror...For Your Ears!

https://www.amazon.com/The-Ghoul-Archipelago/dp/B071NLTTVS/


THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO is now available as an audiobook!  You can purchase it from:

Amazon
Audible

If you've never read TGA before, this is now the Cadillac of ways to enjoy the book.  And if you have, voiceover artist Jennifer Fournier has turned this into a wholly novel experience, well worth revisiting.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tips For Conducting an Interview

If you've been following my group blog closely (and if you haven't, really, what's wrong with you?) you've probably noticed that there's been more emphasis on interviews this year.  That was a deliberate choice at the suggestion of contributor Kimberly Garnick Giarratano. 

Interviews are great for content.  They essentially double your audience, because you tap into the audience of both interviewer and interviewee.  I've done a lot of interviews here on the blog, and I've also been the subject of a number of interviews.  So here are some of my thoughts on how to conduct a good written interview:

1.) First of all, do some research on your subject. You may find questions just jump out from that. For instance, I was writing questions for an author and I found out his dad was a general in the British army, so I asked what that was like.  Whenever you can ask about things other than their basic bitch job, you're showing that you know about them, which is a good thing, and you're giving them opportunities to talk about subjects they may not always get to discuss.  Which dovetails with my next suggestion:

2.) Don't ask questions that have been asked a million times. I, and every other author who ever lived, has already answered "Where do you get your ideas?" and "When did you start writing?"  These are boring questions.  They're boring because they're boilerplate, and they're also boring because they're hard to put a fun spin on.  Your interview subject will probably have a canned response and that's no good, and nobody likes answering those questions anyway. Things that are constantly changing like, "What are you working on now?" are fine, because at least the answer can be different from interview to interview.

3.) You can throw in one whackadoo question, but I recommend keeping it to just one unless you know the person really well. I once asked an actress from Edmonton, which is famous for its dinosaurs, what her favorite dinosaur was. It had nothing to do with acting, but it was fun to hear the answer.  You could even just something straight crazy like, "If you were a hot dog would you eat yourself?" It lets the subject know things aren't too serious, and at a minimum it's a question they've never heard before. Sometimes those even have the best answers.

4.) If you're into them, like really into them, don't be afraid to ask super deep cut questions. If somebody asks me, "What was your first novel" I instantly switch over to "fuck off" mode, and I'll probably stay that way for the rest of the interview.  Also, the reader doesn't care. But if they're like, "Listen, I noticed in BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS you said there were no animals, but then on p. 163 there were a bunch of birds, what was that all about?" then I know the interviewer is actually a fan, and, counterintuitively, that stuff is actually really interesting to the reader even though it sounds like it's only for superfans. Sometimes you find out stuff in those answers you didn't even know you didn't know.

So what do you think?  Do you have any tips or tricks for conducting interviews?  If you've done a bunch, what do you like to hear from your interviewer?  Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, April 28, 2017

What the Fuck is the Buddy System?

Countless great movies have been made about one man's quixotic struggle against a vast, dark conspiracy.  And some not so great movies, too.  (I'm looking at you, Sandra Bullock vehicle "The Net.")

What's compelling about the idea of a dark cabal in charge of things is that it both suggests that the vague unease we all feel about living in a complex, sometimes amoral society is legitimate, without really being existential.  Sure, the world is evil, but only because a couple of bad apples are pulling the strings.  Let Arnold Schwarzenegger or somebody explode all the bad guys and all will be righted.

The truth, of course, as most adults grudgingly come to accept while somehow not descending into a wallowing pit of despair, is that the world is actually quite fucked up, society is deeply dysfunctional, and while individual humans can listen to the better angels of their nature, humanity as a whole has mostly allowed its collective id to run rampant.  Corporations aren't so much evil as avaricious, governments aren't so much repressive as bureaucratic, and people aren't so much cruel as blithely, banally self-centered.  That, of course, is a wholly unsatisfying answer, hence why conspiracy theories are so popular.

But this is all a roundabout way of introducing today's topic: the buddy system.  For most of you, of course, the buddy system is nothing more complex than elementary school kids holding hands in the pool or on a field trip so that the teacher can easily count the pairs.  But for members of the horror community, the buddy system has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years.

The buddy system conspiracy theory is (and I don't believe I'm misrepresenting it here) begins with Stephen King and Simon Schuster in the late eighties deciding to cripple one of their employees - a promising young writer named Bradley Snow - and then blackball him from the industry for the next thirty years.  During these three decades of unwarranted McCarthyism, the horror industry shriveled on the vine, being reduced to its current state of mostly being produced by small presses (which don't count and/or are simply porn.)  The other authors who came to prominence during this period are not "true" horror authors in the sense that no Scotsman who disagrees with your premise is true.  One can only surmise that had Snow been allowed to continue writing that we would be in a golden era of horror, perhaps one where the most popular show on television was a zombie saga and horror was consistently increasing in popularity across all media forms.  It is but to dream.

Of course, don't take my word for it.  Snow has been promising to publish a tell-all for years.  I think the back cover really says all you need to know about "the buddy system," and straight from the horse's mouth:


Of course, the conspiracy version of the buddy system is entirely the feverish creation of one dull-witted and mentally ill troll.  Now, to clarify, I suffer from mental illness myself and I have a great many friends who do as well.  But we have all either sought out help or learned to live with our conditions with the support of our friends and family.  Bradley Snow has decided to lash out at horror creators and publishers of all stripes, meaning that what's important about him is less the fact that he's clinically delusional and more the fact that he's an asshole.  You can certainly be mentally ill without being an asshole...but that's not the case here.  And while they may not all use the juvenile term "the buddy system," there are quite a few authors and schmauthors who feel the same way.

It's kind of a shame that the trolls have decided to latch onto this conspiracy concept because I think it's entirely possible that what an adult would call "nepotism," "favoritism," or even (were he struck by a fit of poesy) "the good ol' boy system" may be a concerning factor in the outcome of publishing deals.  Certainly, I've heard more than a few stories of very average novels getting major Big 5 deals before it's revealed that the author was the niece of a big time editor at Penguin or something similar.  So nepotism is certainly a possible factor in the state of publishing today, if you consider it doomed.

But what Snow and his ilk are describing is something far less insidious.  He's absolutely furious that big-name authors and publishers all seem to know each other and, what's worse, like each other and even sometimes help each other out.  There's nothing particularly confusing about that to the non-diseased mind.  Everybody in politics know each other, everybody in the recording industry knows each other (how often do you see hit singles "featuring" another recording artist), so why is it strange that everyone in the horror industry knows each other?

Horror authors (well, any authors, really) need to network to succeed.  I've been in I-don't-even-know-anymore-how-many anthologies with the likes of Jay Wilburn, Shana Festa, and even luminaries like Mark Tufo.  I've done a collaboration now with Stevie Kopas.  I've worked with four small presses and met friends and like-minded individuals at all of them, even at the ones I didn't ultimately publish with.  I've met horror authors at conventions and on Twitter and Facebook and all over the place.  We're all like-minded individuals setting out to succeed in a tough industry, and we often like each other.  Do I have enemies?  Sure, unfortunately.  Are there people I find distasteful and like to avoid?  Hell, yeah.  But for the most part, if you're a horror author, you're part of my tribe, and I'm going to help you any way I can.

Unless you act like Bradley Snow.  That's my one caveat.  If you've decided you're a frustrated author because a mythical "buddy system" is keeping you down, then you may as well just give up right now.  No one's going to welcome that kind of vitriol into their lives, and you're going to remain on the outside, unwelcomed by all.  Hell, I'm a frustrated author.  I don't have nearly the level of success that I'd like.  But instead of blaming others, I work constantly on becoming better at my craft and networking with my fans and, yes, other authors and publishers.  I don't want to alienate anyone who could potentially give me a hand up one day.

Now, where I would agree with Snow is if I felt that I had been given chances I didn't deserve because of my personal relationships.  If I felt that I was doing sub-par work and only getting published because of who I know, then that would be an issue.  But I haven't.  In fact, I was recently accepted into an anthology I'm very excited about and the editor assured me that I wouldn't have been accepted if my work wasn't up to snuff, and in fact he had broken the hearts of a few of his much older and closer friends because their work wasn't good enough.  That's the way this stuff really works.  Good relations will get your foot in the door, but only quality writing will get you accepted. 

So what is the buddy system?  Just an excuse for poor writers to go on being terrible and blaming everyone but themselves for their lack of success.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Carlisle High School SciFi Saturday or Bust!

If you live anywhere near central Pennsylvania, it would behoove you to stop by Carlisle High School this coming Saturday.  Carlisle High School SciFi Day is one of the best-run conventions that I attend.  The kids work really hard to take care of the vendors and guests.  And there is a lot of great charitable work that goes on.


If you're interested, the address is:

623 W Penn St
Carlisle, PA 17013

The hours are 11:00 am to 5:00 pm EST.  I'll be participating in the following panels:

Saturday 2:30 pm - LGI - "Q & A for Aspiring Authors"
Saturday 1:00 pm - M41 - "Promoting Yourself in 2017"

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 3, 2017

New Release: THE HEMATOPHAGES


Hi everybody!  I'm very pleased to announce the release of my sixth novel, THE HEMATOPHAGES, from Sinister Grin Press.  It's something like a combination of "Office Space" and "Alien."  It's available now in e-book and paperback formats through the following fine booksellers:

Amazon

You can also add it on Goodreads.

Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind. 

Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld. 

Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort. 

But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS is Back, in Audiobook Form!

http://www.amazon.com/Billy-Cloneasaurus-Stephen-Kozeniewski-ebook/dp/B00L7RXG6U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418930188&sr=1-1&keywords=science+fiction

BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS is now available as an audiobook!  You can purchase it from:

Amazon
Audible

If you've never read BATC, this is now the premiere way to experience it.  And if you have, why not take a moment to revisit it, enjoying the dulcet tones of Voiceover Arts Awards-nominated Steve Rimpici?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Scares that Care Shrimp Feast or Bust!

Hey kids!  As you can probably tell by this point I am a big proponent of the Scares That Care charity.  Scares That Care is a horror-themed charity organization which benefits a different set of three ill people each year: a victim of pediatric cancer, a victim of breast cancer, and a burn victim.  I attended the Scares That Care Weekend last July (and I'll be attending again this July) which is an absolute must-attend for anyone who's a fan of horror literature. 

But Scares That Care isn't just a one-weekend event.  They have pop-up events and charity drives all throughout the year.  For instance, I attended the 24-hour Horror Show telethon in January which raised over $10,000 for the deserving families.  And this weekend I'll be attending the STC Shrimp Feast in Baltimore, MD.

This isn't exactly an open event, because tickets were sold and I'm not sure if they'll be available at the door.  But if you are present, and you want to talk to me or have me sign a book, cool.  I'll also have a few books in my car, but, trust me, bookselling won't be my focus.  I'll probably have to grab a few dozen wet naps to clean off before I sign anything for you.  And if you just happen to be in the area, tweet or FB me and I'll meet you in the parking lot to sell you some books, provided you promise not to bone collect me.

The Shrimp Feast will be at:

Jimmy's Famous Seafood
6526 Holabird Ave, Baltimore, Maryland 21224

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Back to Jack

Hey kids!  I haven't forgotten about the Re-Animated series, I've just been bogged down a bit lately.  We'll get back to it, but not today, despite appearances.

With Re-Animated being focused on adult animation, I hadn't originally intended to cover the gorgeous, brilliant, but children-focused early '00s Cartoon Network series "Samurai Jack."  Recently, though, a change has occurred which has made me re-evaluate that decision.

"Samurai Jack" original ran for four 13-episode seasons from 2000-2004.  The show never got a series finale, so the story was never officially finished, although due to the time-travel-centric nature of the show (SPOILERS from here on out) the viewer learned Jack's fate: after walking the earth for many years, maybe decades, he finally returns to the past as a wizened warrior-king, a far cry from the humble samurai we had watched and loved for four seasons. 

As a children's show, never showing this evolution made sense.  "Samurai Jack" didn't precisely hit the reset button each week, but it wasn't exactly fucking "Breaking Bad" either.  The set-up was that our blank slate warrior ran into a crazy sci-fi conundrum each week and solved it through the power of Batman-level fighting skills and a noble heart dedicated to bushido.  Kids weren't exactly going to tune in for "Jack loses his way and goes grimdark," (though one suspects the brilliant minds behind the show could've made even that work.)

Thirteen years after its cancellation, though - now, in other words - the kids and teens who watched the show during its original run are now in their twenties and thirties.  And with the advent of Cartoon Network's adult swim brand, there's even a home for grimdark Jack.  And we've been fortunate enough to get it. 

But this is not the Re-Animated entry on "Samurai Jack," and I fear I've droned on too long already about the whys and wherefores of this show.  My actual intent with this entry is to address something that's been weighing on my mind all week since the Saturday premiere of the new season (remember, SPOILERS already abound):

Where's Aku?

Now, I've been known in the past to complete over-analyze TV shows and even fuck my analysis completely up.  So it's possible I'm being premature on this one, maybe even likely, but just go with me on this, if you please.

Here's what we know with certitude based on the first new episode of "Samurai Jack": Aku has abandoned his cult.  The cultists intend to kill Jack for the stated purpose of catching Aku's attention and bringing them back to him.  So we know that he was once with them, and abandoned them for unknown reasons.  They're not just crazies who took to worshipping Aku as a distant unknown.  He was there and then he wasn't.

And here's a second, mildly interesting factoid: Aku does not narrate the opening introduction as he did through the entire run of the original four seasons.  Jack is a terse, laconic character.  It doesn't make much sense that he would unspool his origin story a whole lot.  We get a glimpse of what a Jack-narrated introduction might have sounded like in the early episode "Jack in Space" - and with it, a clear idea of why Aku always narrates instead.  Jack is too humble to unfurl the story with clarity.  Aku, on the other hand, is a braggadocious blowhard, one who will talk himself up, and talk all the appropriate shit about Jack.  By flipping the script suddenly in season 5, a shift is obviously intended.  This season has so far been a closer examination of Jack's psyche, so it makes sense that the new introduction is from his own lips.  But it also again raises the question: where's Aku?

At first this made me wonder if Aku has totally gone missing from the world.  But then, later on in the episode Scaramouche, a robotic assassin, challenges Jack and claims to be Aku's favorite.  Okay, so maybe Aku is still around.  Then, when he learns the crucial piece of information that Jack has lost his sword - the only weapon which can harm Aku - Scaramouche calls Aku on the phone to let him know...

...or so we're led to believe.

I have a couple of problems with this.  First of all, the voice on the other end of the phone sounds nothing like Aku.  Now, there's a simple explanation for this: Aku's original (and might I add, brilliant) voiceover artist, Mako, passed away while the show was off the air.  So, obviously Aku is going to sound slightly different.  However, the voice on the other end of the phone sounds nothing like Aku.  Aku's delivery and diction is so distinct, I don't feel that it would be hard for even a nominally capable voiceover artist to replicate Mako to the extent that I would recognize it as Aku.  But, shit, man, I could do a better Aku than this.  This leads to two possibilities:

1)  The creators of "Samurai Jack" decided to re-cast Aku using someone who is absolutely unrecognizable in the very distinct role of Aku, or

2)  The voice on the phone is not meant to be Aku's.

I can't really fathom why they would opt for the first choice.  But, okay, let's ignore our meta knowledge.  Let's just look at just what we know in-show.  The voice on the phone, instead of saying, "Yes, Scaramouche, my most trusted assassin?" says with irritation "Who is this?"  This leads to two further possibilities:

1)  This is really Aku, Scaramouche got his phone number, and yet Aku doesn't recognize a guy he gave his number to...which is really weird considering how secretive Aku is in 99% of instances.  Jack has, in the past, gone to great lengths just to get an audience with him.

2)  Scaramouche is a blowhard (this is borne out by, well, all of his behavior up to and after this point) and he doesn't actually have Aku's digits.  He just pulled the old joke of, "Oh let me call so-and-so" and dialed a random or simply different number. 

Again, I'm hard-pressed to see why the answer would be the first one.  It's possible that this is another goofy ol' Aku joke, like the show sometimes likes to play.  But when you couple this phone call with the rest of the information in the episode - Aku never appears, the cultists are no longer in contact with him, and perhaps most interesting of all, Aku no longer narrates the introduction, we're suddenly presented with what I think is a mystery:

Where is Aku?

Nothing can kill him except Jack's sword...which is missing.  Again, with the caveat that I may be utterly over-analyzing this whole thing, "Samurai Jack" has always been a simple show, one that largely wears its heart on its sleeve.  Jack has lost his purpose - which is to defeat Aku - because he has literally lost his purpose.  Aku has already been defeated.  Aku is gone, and without his nemesis, Jack is lost.  At least, in my humble opinion.  Otherwise, why would a show that essentially has only two characters reboot with one of those characters unseen for an entire episode?  Amongst all the other hints we've seen here.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Call to Action: Help Me Win the Podcast Wars

It has been brought to my attention recently in a moment of kind, private, candor that my interview on The Horror Show With Brian Keene is now the least popular episode of all time.  OF.  ALL.  TIME.

I have no recourse but to attempt to unfuck that.  And so it is with a heavy heart that I must ask you, my beloved fans and friends, to do one or all of the following:

a)  Listen to the episode

b)  Download the episode

c)  Share the episode link all up and down social media

d)  Encourage your friends to listen to the episode

Part A couldn't be any easier.  Since you're here, all you have to do is click the right-pointing triangle below:



Thanks for the support, everybody!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Women in Horror Month #12: Rose O'Keefe, Owner of Eraserhead Press



For the final entry in WiHM 2017 I am delighted that today's guest agreed to stop by as she is one of the most singularly influential people working in the field today.  Without her, modern extreme horror - as well as the the entire bizarro genre - would look nothing like it does.  Let's meet her and then pick her brain as we save the best for last in this year's WiHM interview series.

About Rose O'Keefe:



Rose O'Keefe is the owner/ publisher of Eraserhead Press, the leading publishing house of Bizarro Fiction since 1999. Eraserhead Press is comprised of one main line of books and three imprints: Deadite Press, Lazy Fascist Press, and Fungasm Press. Under O’Keefe’s direction, Eraserhead Press has released over three hundred titles and developed an international cult following for its cutting-edge weird fiction which has been praised by The Guardian, Chuck Palahniuk, Jack Ketchum, Boing Boing, and Cracked.com, among others.

As a leader in the Bizarro Fiction community, she hosts monthly writer's gatherings, writer's retreats on the Oregon Coast, and the annual convention/art event, BizarroCon.

In addition to being a full-time publisher and editor, she’s also a homebrewer and Argentine tango dancer. She lives in Portland, Oregon. You can find her on: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Interview:


SK: What are your horror credentials? 

RO:  I am a lifelong fan of horror and have been professionally involved in the industry for nearly two decades. I am the publisher/owner of Eraserhead Press and our imprints Deadite Press, Lazy Fascist Press, and Fungasm Press. I publish powerhouse authors Brian Keene, John Skipp, Edward Lee, Carlton Mellick III, Monica O'Rourke, Wrath James White, J.F. Gonzalez, Bryan SmithTiffany Scandal, Jan KozlowskiShane McKenzie, Molly Tanzer, Stephen Graham Jones, Laura Lee Bahr, Ryan Harding, Autumn Christian, Geoff Cooper, David Agranoff, Brian Allen Carr, Bryan Killian, Adam Cesare, Robert Devereaux, and many others. I also support the work of artists and filmmakers working in the genre and as programming chair of the 2014 World Horror Convention, I was the first person in the history of the event to make sure there were women seated on all the panels.  

SK: Who or what terrifies you? 
 
RO:  So many things! And that's what keeps me interested in horror. Rather than running from the things that terrify me, I'm interested in confronting them, dissecting them, seeing what makes them tick. Some of the big ones are parasites, going blind, narrow confined spaces, losing my memory, unpredictable people, willful malice, natural disasters, and loved ones in danger.


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

RO:  The challenges to being a woman in horror are less about the horror genre in particular and more about being a woman in a patriarchal society. Even in 2017, being taken seriously as a woman in business has its obstacles. For example, it is still a frequent occurrence in meetings of mixed genders that myself or another woman will put forward an idea and the men at the table won't hear the idea until another man repeats it. This can be very frustrating and is one of those things that women frequently have to pick their battles on. As a woman in a position of leadership, I make sure to create space for women's voices wherever I can and encourage the men around me to learn how to listen. Similarly, I've had other experiences of being overlooked. Like the time I was setting up my table in a horror convention dealers room and one of my employees, a man, was down on his knees on the floor digging through boxes of books organizing our inventory. Meanwhile, I was standing next to the table overseeing the setup and telling him what I wanted him to do. A writer walked over with some questions about our company and addressed the man on the floor. My employee looked up at him and said, "You should probably ask my boss those questions, she's standing right next to you."  These are things I think women in any business can relate to and unfortunately things I consider just part of the landscape of being a woman. But the most beautiful challenge for women in horror, as well as men in horror, is the risks they take with their subject matter. Creating art that delves into the darker parts of the human psyche and holds a mirror up to our most depraved aspects as well as our best and most fragile strings of hope takes empathy, compassion, and bravery. It is no easy task and can turn people off if handled improperly. At its best, horror has the ability to transform the reader/viewer and reveal things about the human experience that they may otherwise have left unexplored. To truly appreciate this requires being open to diverse voices and the women who create horror are some of the fiercest among them.

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

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

RO:  I'm excited to announce that this Fall Eraserhead Press will be releasing a new novella by Amber Fallon titled THE WARBLERS. I've been following Ms. Fallon's work for a while and was delighted to receive this book during our open submission period last year. It knocked my socks off! It is about a young farmer who is plagued by strange cryptozoological creatures and what it will take to save his family. Anyone who loves heartfelt, weird and creepy stories is going to love it. It comes out September 1st.

Out now, I'd love to bring the attention of fans of women in horror to the dark comedy SHIT LUCK by Tiffany Scandal:

About SHIT LUCK:



"One of the most exciting new voices to emerge in years. A deft, masterful mix of both bizarro and horror." 
- Brian Keene, author of THE RISING and GHOUL

"Dark and grim and surreal." 

Mondays suck. You get mugged, your car won't start, you miss the bus, and your stylist burns a bald spot into your head. Suddenly you're single and unemployed, and the only friend you have left is a cat. By Tuesday, you've been murdered. But death isn't the end. You find yourself on an odyssey between weird worlds, reborn each time you die, stalked obsessively by the man who killed you.

Even in death, you just can't seem to catch a break. Call it Mercury in retrograde, call it Murphy's law, call it...SHIT LUCK.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Women in Horror Month #11: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor of Apex and Author of THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS



I first encountered today's guest in the middle of a stupid Twitter conversation where a filmmaker was accusing her of stealing the title of her latest release.  Of course, you can't copyright a title, which is why Mick Jagger can't sue Holly Lisle for naming her book SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL...amongst billions of other examples.  In any case, I admired the way she handled that stupidity and got to go to a signing and have lunch with her in person a few months later.  Oh, and we're also Sinister Grin stablemates.  So I'm very pleased to have her with us today, so let's meet the guest and jump right into the interview.

About Lesley Conner:


http://www.lesleyconner.com/

Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in MOUNTAIN DEAD, DARK TALES OF TERROR, A HACKED-UP HOLIDAY MASSACRE, as well as other places. Her first novel THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. BEST OF APEX MAGAZINE: VOLUME 1 marks her debut experience in anthology editing. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter.

Interview:


SK:  What are your horror credentials?

LC:  I’ve had short stories published in anthologies such as MOUNTAIN DEAD, A HACKED-UP HOLIDAY MASSACRE, and DARK TALES OF TERROR. Lately I’ve been focusing on writing novels, and had my alternate history horror novel THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS published by Sinister Grin Press back in 2015.

SK:  Who or what terrifies you?
 
LC:  There isn’t a whole lot that terrifies me, but the one thing that gets me is the thought of something happening to my children. I have a 14 year old and a nine year old daughter, and the older I get, the more I worry about somebody hurting them or there being an accident. The way it’s going, I’m going to be one of those horrible helicopter moms before they graduate from high school. 

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

LC:  There aren’t unique challenges in terms of women being able to create/enjoy horror. We’re just a capable as men. But there are in the way people perceive women in horror. Many times I’ve been told I don’t “look like a horror writer.”  What is a horror writer supposed to look like?

I’ve also had people who know me in my real life be incredibly surprised by my novel. They know I wrote a horror novel, but they also know I’m a mom and a Girl Scout leader. They see me as this sweet lady who children love and who drinks way too much coffee and fits the image of a frazzled, over-achieving mom rather than someone who could write a vicious book about serial killers and demons. They assume I must have written some sort of cutesy scary book, and then they read THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS and are completely shocked. How did that book come out of my imagination!?! Well, I’ll tell you how – being a mom/Girl Scout leader in no way impairs my ability to write some scary, messed up shit.

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

LC:  I know this probably isn’t original or anything like that, but I have to say Shirley Jackson. Most people seem to know her best for her story “The Lottery” and her novel THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, but my favorite work of hers is WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE. It isn’t a horror novel in terms of there being a supernatural element or a serial killer or a monster. It’s a story about people and how horrible we can be to each other. She takes this surreal setup and transforms the everyday people into the monsters. It is terrifying in the way that it is so believable and realistic. I recommend everyone read it. Great, great book!

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

LC:  I’m working on a second novel about speakeasies and jazz and mysterious deaths, but it is coming very slow. It could be a while before it’s out where people can read it. Writing has been really difficult for me lately. I actually wrote an essay about it for CLICKERS FOREVER: A J.F. GONZALEZ TRIBUTE which will be coming out as a limited edition hardcover through Thunderstorm Books and in paperback and digital through Deadite Press. It’s going to be a terrific anthology and I’m incredibly honored to be a part of it.

And if you like the sound of horror set in medieval times and the ultimate power struggle between a serial killer and demon, then definitely check out THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS.

About THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS:


amzn.com/B015M3XLIW/

Gilles de Rais has control over every aspect of his life: the servants he employs, the village he lords over, the carefully crafted visage he shows to the world. He dictates where his subjects live, what they eat, if they live or die. He has ultimate power and wields it with a flourish to conceal the dark desires that lurk behind his smile and the despair within his castle in Machecoul.

When a wizard tasked with raising a demon loses control of the beast, Gilles's tight grasp on his world begins to slip. His cook plans to flee, taking her son away from the dangers of the castle. His guard wants to claim Gilles’s lifestyle as his own. His wizard frantically searches for a way to survive both his lord and the demon he has called into the world. And the villagers – like Jeanetta and her family –move through life in Machecoul too consumed with the task of surviving day to day, and oblivious to the turmoil building within the castle that is threatening to break out and consume them all.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Women in Horror Month #10: Kindra Sowder, Founder and CEO of Burning Willow Press



I've been friends with today's guest for a few years.  We were both, urm, let's say...disappointed by the behavior of a small press we had been involved with.  Nobody likes getting burned by a publisher, but I have enjoyed watching her deal with her disappointment. Instead of stewing over it, she forged her own small empire.  Today I'm pleased to introduce to you all the founder of Burning Willow Press.  Let's meet her briefly and then dive into the interview. 

About Kindra Sowder:




Kindra Sowder was born and raised in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA until the age of 12, when her family moved to Spartanburg, SC. She graduated from high school in 2006 with full honors and as a member of her high school Literary Club and the Spanish Honor Society. In January 2014, she graduated with her second degree in Criminal NeuroPsychology. She married her husband Edd Sowder in May 2014 and still lives in Spartanburg, SC where she is basing Burning Willow Press. Her works have earned multiple award nominations.

To keep up with Kindra Sowder: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedInBlogGoodreads.

Interview:


SK:  What are your horror credentials?

KS:  I’ve been writing for years, mostly fantasy and horror. At this moment in time, I am the founder and CEO of Burning Willow Press, LLC. Home of all stories horror, science fiction, fantasy, and all subgenres therein. Not only that, but I am the author of countless horror novels and short stories.

SK:  Who or what terrifies you?

KS:  There isn’t a lot that terrifies me. I can watch a horror film and never once cringe or look away. But I do have one weakness. Heights. They terrify me. My husband always says that it’s not the height that scares me, it’s the fall. He could be right, but I’m going to keep saying it’s heights.

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

KS:  I do feel that there are definitely struggles to being a woman in the horror genre. We aren’t taken as seriously as the men in our genre but, if you ask anyone, women write the best horror. We don’t have the same hang-ups mentally and even write the darkest and most loved works of the genre. And, because of our gender, we aren’t treated equally among the men. One day, that will change, and I hope it’s sooner rather than later.

SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

KS:  Anne Rice has been my idol in the horror genre since day one and has inspired so much of my work. Mary Shelley is another. Most recently, Rhiannon Frater and S.C. Parris captured my heart with the amazing worlds they create. I don’t know where I’d be in my career without these amazing ladies as inspiration.

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

KS:  Currently, I am working on the third book of my dystopian fantasy/science fiction series, THE PERMUTATION ARCHIVES as well as some other works. I am writing my horror/science fiction short story for the third installment of BWP’s CROSSROADS IN THE DARK anthology series, MONSTERS UNDER YOUR BED.  Another MISS HYDE novella is also in progress, which is a mixture of erotica and horror. I believe, and have been told, that I bring some very unique aspects to the genres I choose to pursue that everyone should check out any of my works. One shining example of this is the MISS HYDE novellas, where I take the story of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE and turn it on its head.


About THE HARVESTED:


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There are only a few things Mila is afraid of. Most are pretty common fears, but there is one that sets her apart from those around her. The fear of a secret. With one drop of blood, her secret of a power beyond anything anyone had ever seen before is unleashed, landing her in a place where she is a prisoner. And an experiment. And there are only a few that know their dictator’s ultimate goal. Some are willing to save her, others want to exploit her for their own dark and sinister intentions, and it is up to her to stop them before it’s too late.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Women in Horror Month #9: Nikki Howard, Reviewer and Owner of Horror After Dark



Whenever I have a new release, the first person I go to for a review is today's guest.  She runs hands-down one of the best horror review sites in the world. She doesn't pull any punches, not even for her friends' books, (which is a shame because I'm glad to also call her a friend.)  Her unwaveringly honest review style has earned her the nickname "The Panther" among those of us who know her.  I look forward to introducing her to the rest of you today.

About Nikki Howard:



I love to read, buy books, watch movies, search for more books, game a little, and buy more books. I also make candles and wax melts.

Since I love books, I decided to promote them on my site Horror After Dark.  (Yup, you guessed it. Horror and stuff) with an awesome team.

Authors, feel free to contact me through the site for your promotional needs.

Mother to one son.
Business Owner: Captivate Candle Co.
Reader of many books
Motto: Do Better Be Better

You can find me here, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Interview:


SK:  What are your horror credentials?

NH:  I'm the owner of Horror After Dark which is a blog dedicated to the darker stuff. I own over 3,000 books and review whenever possible. I'm a member of Goodreads and  a member of Netgalley and other book clubs.


SK:  Who or what terrifies you?

NH:  I don't scare easily. I'm all about atmosphere. Those almost imperceptible sounds that your mind questions. A flash of someone or something in your peripheral vision. The description of blood and your hand scrabbles for purchase after a fall. Yeah, those are the things that creep me out.

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

NH:  I don't feel like there's a problem with me being a woman because I am basically spreading the word for all authors so that puts me at an advantage. You want reviews and sales? Well, that's what my team and I do. It doesn't matter if you're a woman or not as long as you get the job done. However, I do see that women, in movies and books are outnumbered. Where are all the ladies at?

SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

NH:  Hmm. I love Mary SanGiovanni's work and I always recommend her first. Then there's Anne Rice (THE WITCHING HOUR), Tanith Lee (THE BOOK OF THE DEAD), Sarah Pinborough (FEEDING GROUND), Monica J. O'Rourke (IN THE END, ONLY DARKNESS.)

As far as the big screen when I think horror, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, "Alien") comes to mind first. Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" makes her a memorable lady. And of course, Jamie Lee Curtis ("Halloween") who took her babysitting job seriously.

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

NH:  Next on my reading roster is CHAOS by Mary. You don't want to miss anything she writes. It always help when the author or actress is a nice person.

About Horror After Dark:


Horror After Dark is one of the top horror review sites in the world.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Women in Horror Month #8: Amber Fallon, Author of THE TERMINAL



I've had the pleasure of meeting today's guest at a number of conventions and I've learned one thing: she is ravenous.  Ravenous to attend events, ravenous to learn about the industry, and ravenous to produce and publish.  I expect she's going to go a long way, so I'm pleased to be able to feature her, before she takes everything over.  Let's meet her now.

About Amber Fallon:



Amber Fallon lives in a small town outside Boston, Massachusetts that she shares with her husband and their two dogs. A techie by day and a horror writer by night, Mrs. Fallon has also spent time as a bank manager, motivational speaker, produce wrangler, and apprentice butcher.  Her obsessions with sushi, glittery nail polish, and sharp objects have made her a recognized figure around the community.

Amber's publications include THE TERMINAL, THE DAUGHTERS OF INANNA, SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE BRAINS, DAILY FRIGHTS 2012, WOMEN OF THE LIVING DEAD, ZOMBIE TALES, HERE BE CLOWNS, HORROR ON THE INSTALLMENT PLAN, ZOMBIES FOR A CURE, A QUICK BITE OF FLESH, DAILY FRIGHTS 2013, MIRROR, MIRROR, OPERATION ICE BATPAINTED MAYHEM, and RETURN TO DEATHLEHEM.

For more information, please tweet her or visit her blog and listen to her podcast, "It Cooks" on Project iRadio!

You can also find her on Amazon and Facebook.

Interview:


SK:  What are your horror credentials?

AF:  I've been a horror fan all my life. I was actually supposed to be named after Edgar Allan Poe...then I had to go and be born a girl...on the 134th anniversary of his death no less. I wrote my first horror story at age 9. I've been published in a variety of small press anthologies and my debut novella, THE TERMINAL, is available now.

SK:  Who or what terrifies you?

AF:  Giraffes terrify me. They are awful. I also have a mild case of trypophobia.

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

AF:  There are some challenges to being a woman in the horror industry. There's a good deal of bias still out there, that's for sure. I once had a sexist jerk insist that I didn't write horror, it was "paranormal romance" (which is laughable if you've read my work. I don't pull punches when it comes to gore or violence, but there is very little in the way of love or sex in anything I've written) he also called me "sweetheart" in a condescending tone... and I'm not alone. I would be willing to bet that any female horror fan, author, artist, musician, or filmmaker could give you similar accounts of BS they've had to deal with.

SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

AF:  Shirley Jackson. Ruby Jean Jensen. Mary Shelley. R. R. Ryan. Mary SanGiovanni.

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

AF:  I have a book coming out from Eraserhead Press in September. It's called THE WARBLERS and it's a coming of age tale about a young boy in rural Appalachia around 1900... oh, and there are monsters.

About THE TERMINAL:


30792803

Air travel during the holiday season. Yuck. Stupid people, flight delays, and long lines at security are pretty much the worst things ever - or so Dirk Bradley thought until a horde of bloodthirsty psychopaths from beyond the stars invaded the airport, cutting a swath of death and destruction through everything he knew and loved. Can he survive the attack and live to tell the tale? What hope does an average Joe have against a race of brutal killers bent on world domination?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Women in Horror Month #7: Mary SanGiovanni. Author of CHILLS



I got to meet today's guest around Halloween in 2015, and since then she's been very generous with her time and talent both with me and my friends.  She's also one of the greatest horror authors in the world, and I couldn't have hoped to ever host a better guest.  Let's meet her and then dive right in.

About Mary SanGiovanni:


me

Mary SanGiovanni is the author of the THE HOLLOWER trilogy (the first of which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award), THRALL, CHAOS, CHILLS, and the forthcoming SAVAGE WOODS, and the novellas FOR EMMY, POSSESSING AMY, THE FADING PLACE, and NO SONGS FOR THE STARS and the forthcoming A QUIET PLACE AT WORLD’S END, as well as the collections UNDER COVER OF NIGHT, A DARKLING PLAIN, the forthcoming NIGHT MOVES and A WEIRDISH WILD SPACE. Her fiction has appeared in periodicals and anthologies for the last decade. She has a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Pittsburgh, where she studied under genre greats. She is currently a member of The Authors Guild, The International Thriller Writers, and Penn Writers, and was previously an Active member in the Horror Writers Association.

You can find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.


Interview:


SK:  What are your horror credentials?

MS:  In a career spanning almost two decades, I've written about a dozen books, including novels, novellas, and short fiction collections. My first novel, THE HOLLOWER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and I received the Lavinia Kohl Award for Excellence in literature for one of my first short stories. I have a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, and was one of the first women writers to speak to the CIA about writing. My most recent novel is CHILLS.

SK:  Who or what terrifies you?

MS:  There are many real-world things that I find absolutely terrifying. The thought of people I love going missing, particularly the children in my life, is probably at the forefront, and recently have been investigating ways that I might help missing and exploited children and their families. I'm terrified of fire and strangely, have an acute discomfort around iron things. I have an irrational fear of faceless things -- or maybe it's not so irrational. And I'm absolutely, almost loathsomely averse to hospitals and gurneys. I think I have a fear of abandonment due to illness, mental or physical, and somehow, my mind has designated hospitals as a symbol of that. So...I suppose a fire in a hospital while I'm tied to a gurney by a faceless person and everybody thinks I've gone missing is my ultimate nightmare.

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

MS:  I believe there are some unique challenges to being a woman writer in horror, though the extent has decreased over time. I think women have only just gained a foothold as recognizably relevant figures in the genre, and so we don't have the historical cachet to our names that frequently lead to invites to commercial anthology slots, film and television adaptations, or foreign markets as often as male counterparts, for example. It's not that it never happens; I think it just doesn't happen as often quite yet. I've been lucky enough to watch the decline in acceptance of sexual harassment of female writers, editors, publishers, and agents and also, I've seen a remarkable acceptance of women's work by readers as well as peers. New generations of writers, both male and female, now cite female writers as influences and favorite authors as often as males. This may not sound like much to some, but having seen the change happen -- being able to remember when these things were not the standard case -- is encouraging. Even if the proportions haven't quite evened out, recognition of women's work as on par with men's in the horror genre is certainly balancing out -- a trend I hope to see continue.

From a business perspective, I think women face the challenges they do in the business world, particularly in that women have historically been taught not to be bold or assertive. I think this makes women somewhat hesitant to insist on better pay rates per word, say. It makes them uncomfortable to cross out clauses in contracts we know are not in our best interest. It makes us uneasy to cold-contact an editor or make use of a networking opportunity. I saw it in the corporate world as well; in many cases, men get promotions and better pay and nicer offices and more latent and overt respect for their skill and knowledge simply because they demand it. Women are taught that's...bitchy or unladylike, somehow. I think the women who can get past that and in addition to being prolific and talented, they can also command respect and push their own careers forward will make immense strides in our field.

SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

MS:   I admire Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), who combined beauty, wit, business acumen, and talent to reach an iconic status in horror. I admire Kathy Bates, who I suspect, from things I read in interviews, had never much wanted to be an icon of horror, but I believe she is incredibly talented. I admire Sarah Pinborough and Sarah Langan, both supremely talented writers and great people. I admire their ability to juggle so much vibrance in their own personal lives with such success in their professional lives. I also admire women like film directors Ida Lupino ("The Hitch-Hiker"), Jen and Sylvia Soska ("American Mary"), Jennifer Lynch ("Boxing Helena"), Kathryn Bigelow ("Near Dark"), so many others), Jovanka Vuckovic ("The Captured Bird"), Izzy Lee ("Innsmouth", "Postpartum"), Mary Lambert ("Pet Sematary", much more), and Jennifer Kent ("The Babadook"). I think it's important to acknowledge talented directors like these because let's face it -- a primary portal to the world at large for horror is through movies. These women create more than just hack-n-slash, by-the-numbers stuff. They create work which speaks to the female as well as male experience, which showcases the textured, emotionally complex artistry of horror and its viability as an artistic expression. They give visibility and respectability to our field while stretching its boundaries and contradicting the stereotypes that characterized so much of horror -- books awe well as cinema -- for so many decades.

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

MS:  Currently, I have a non-fiction book on writing, life, and other topics called A WEIRDISH WILD SPACE, due out this year from Thunderstorm Books. I also have a short story collection due out from Post Mortem Press due out in July called NIGHT MOVES, which collects novelettes and short fiction that is rare, out of print, or relatively new to the world. I will have some short fiction and a novella appearing in various places toward the end of the year, and my newest novel, SAVAGE WOODS, is due out from Kensington Books probably in the fall. I'm currently working on the aforementioned short fiction and novella, as well as an additional novella due out from Cemetery Dance called A QUIET PLACE AT WORLD's END and when I make some headway on those, I have a new novel and two new collections of original and unpublished short fiction.

I hope folks will consider checking them out because I have a son to put through college, hahahaha. Seriously, I'm particularly excited about these upcoming works for a number of reasons. A WEIRDISH WILD SPACE explores over a decade of developments, personal and professional, of a writer in the field. It features advice for women writers in particular and all writers in general, shows the history of change our genre has experienced in the last 12 years, notes important events that shaped the current landscape of publishing, and remembers some great creators in our field. I think readers interested in getting to know me and writers interested in books on writing will enjoy it. SAVAGE WOODS might be one of my favorite books since THRALL, much more visceral than my usual work, while retaining that supernatural/psychological blend of creepy that I strive for. I'm also excited about NIGHT MOVES because I think some of my best and most intense short fiction is all available in one book.

I look forward to 2017 and 2018 as prolific and productive years, and I sincerely believe if readers have enjoyed what I've put out so far, they're going to really enjoy these upcoming works.

About CHILLS:


28502853

It begins with a freak snowstorm in May. Hit hardest is the rural town of Colby, Connecticut. Schools and businesses are closed, powerlines are down, and police detective Jack Glazier has found a body in the snow. It appears to be the victim of a bizarre ritual murder. It won't be the last. As the snow piles up, so do the sacrifices. Cut off from the rest of the world, Glazier teams up with an occult crime specialist to uncover a secret society hiding in their midst.

The gods they worship are unthinkable. The powers they summon are unstoppable. And the things they will do to the good people of Colby are utterly, horribly unspeakable…

Monday, February 13, 2017

Women In Horror Month #6: Crystal Connor, A Trusted Name in Terror


I asked last year's slate of WiHM guests pretty much the same questions as this year, including "Who are your favorite female horror icons?"  Mary Shelley was far and away the winner, but a number of other names popped up several times.  Remaining stubbornly dead after nearly two hundred years, it seems unlikely I'll ever get to host Mary Shelley here on ye olde blogge, but I am pleased to announce that I did manage to swing last year second most popular horror icon for today's blog post.  So let's meet her and then get straight to the interview!



Master Imaginationist Crystal Connor is a Washington State native, currently working in the Department of Sleep Prevention as the Chief Imagineer overseeing the Nightmare Division.

She loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains. Not 'those' kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.


She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?


When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net.

You can find her at her website and on Twitter.


Interview:


SK: Hi Crystal, Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Women in Horror Month!

CC: Are you kidding, thanks so much for asking me! 

SK: What are your horror credentials?

CC: Oh my gosh that’s sounds so official, lol. Ok let’s see here my 2010 debut novel, THE DARKNESS which is book I in the SPECTRUM Trilogy was the finalist in two categories, best cross-genre and best multi-cultural fiction in the International Book Awards and also made it to the final round of the Amazon Breakthrough  Novel Awards in the same year.

My anthology AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER! you can download a forever free audiobook version from here earned a 4 Star review from Reader’s Favorites.

I have 11 publications under my belt and one of my short stories has been slated to be turned into a short horror film to be included in an upcoming anthology called "7 Magpies: The Movie" which features 6 other Black women in horror and 7 Black women film directors

I review independent horror films for Horroraddicts.net under the title Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor and I am a judge for this year’s Crypticon’s Film Festival and I think that’s it. lol 


SK: Who or what terrifies you?

CC: Though I enjoy a good old fashion slasher I really like psychological horror and suspense. I think the concept of things and their subsequent implications is what I find the most terrifying. 

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

CC: I think that gender is unquestionably relevant and I believe race is too. In "The Monster," one of the stories in AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER! I tell a story about a black woman who locks herself in a cabin in the middle of the woods in Alabama with three white racist men because she feels safer with them than what she is running from.

Think about that for a second. Who else but a Black woman can tell that type of terrifying story? It resonates with the fans because "The Monster" remains in the top 3 most downloaded stories from the free site and "The Monster" is one of the stories brought up at every convention I attend when I am meeting new fans.

There are a lot of people who want more diversity in their horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy entertainment and that’s what women and people of color bring to the table, our unique perspectives offers fans a point of view they may not be familiar with. It allows the reader to safely walk a mile in our shoes. Yes, as a white man being in the presence of three racist men would be unsettling. But as a white man all you would have to do is bide your time until you could remove yourself from their company. Yes, as a white woman being in the presence of three racist men could possibly be dangerous, but then again, if the cards are played right she could walk away from them unharmed. If you are white those two scenarios are easily imagined. Now, come with me and let me show you how I would fare…. It’s a whole new level of OMFG! and let’s not forget she willingly locked herself in that cabin with them. Now you have to wonder what it is she’s running from to make her think she’s safer inside with them rather than taking her chances outside.

One of the challenges I see being a woman who writes horror and or science fiction is simply being taken seriously. Years ago I remember reading a review for one of the books in Eloise Knapp’s THE UNDEAD Trilogy and the male reviewer biggest highlight was not that only was she a woman but that she was younger than he was. He just couldn’t believe that she who was younger than he was could out write him the way she did. I see stuff like that all the time. Not only that, if I had a just one nickel for every man who expressed how impressed they were by my fight scenes or the accuracy of the military procedures that, as I woman, I write about I would have enough money to purchase two properties and spend an entire year traveling. And that’s not an understatement.

Another thing I see that women who write horror, including me, have to deal with is men trying to explain to us how things should be. A couple of years ago I was speaking on a panel when a male audience proceeded to tell me that I was wrong about how the Urban Anti-Terrorism Task Force, UATTF for short, would respond to a call. The UATTF didn’t exist until I said it did. But there I was being corrected about an imaginary agency that has no grounding in reality. 


SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

CC: Joyce Carol Oats, Linda D. Addison, Anne Rice, and because as oftentimes science fiction is the evil twin of horror I am also going to add Octavia E. Butler. Since we’re talking about women in horror coupled with it being Black History month I would like to mention and share a link for a nonfiction reference book by bestselling author Sumiko Saulson called 60 BLACK WOMEN IN HORROR FICTION. It’s an excellent resource for those who are looking for more diversity in their horror entertainment.  

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

CC: I have several things going on. I am currently working on unseating Stephen King so that I can reign supreme in the world of horror, after that world domination! Lol, just kidding. I am compared to Stephen King all the time, but no matter how many times I hear that it always knocks the wind out of me. Every time I am compared or mentioned in the same sentence as one of the Titans: Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe it takes me awhile to regain my equilibrium because its unbelievably amazing to be compared to the people you idolized as a kid.

Last year I did a midnight horror reading at Westercon Portland and one of the people in the audience was John Shirley. I already get super nervous when I am reading out loud in public but with John Shirley, who is considered a living legend in the science fiction world, I made a gazillion mistakes but then afterwards he came up to me to tell me and said, “You write really well.” And then gave me the contact information to his agent and told me to tell her he sent me. I nearly fainted.

And when you reached out to me and asked if I would grant you an interview, explaining that last year someone listed me … me as female horror icon, second to Mary Shelley, as the in mother of science fiction it sent me into a tailspin, hours later I started crying. Even though it’s what my delusions of grandeur envisioned, never in a million years did I think that someone like me would actually be compared to authors such as those.

So to answer your question the things I am working on right now are preparing for the convention circuit. The first Days of the Dead horror convention is Feb 3-5 in Atlanta and I will be attending all five of them. I am also going to be at all three Crypticon conventions. I’ll be returning to LA for the Midsummer Scream Halloween festival, back to Portland for Westercon 70 and I am going to Finland! For Worldcon 75.

I am currently working on two novels. One is entitled THE FAMILY, and the other is a second collection of short stories. I’ve also been included in a horror anthology SYCORAX'S DAUGHTERS which was compiled by professors Kinitra Brooks, Susana Morris, and the first African American woman to win a Bram Stoker Award, Linda D. Addison. I am terribly excited to me a part of this amazing collection of work. I am hoping to attend the launch party later this month in Atlanta and the second launch in New York.

I would love for people to attend one of these conventions because they’re a blast, I love meeting new people and of course I want people to read my books. I think people should pick up a copy of SYCORAX'S DAUGHTERS because there is not greater bang for your buck than anthologies when you’re looking to discover author’s to add to your personal library.

Thank you so much for this interview, it was super fun!


About SYCORAX'S DAUGHTERS:



“Sycorax’s Daughters introduces us to a whole new legion of gothic writers. Their stories drip with history and blood leaving us with searing images and a chill emanating from shadows gathered in the corner. This anthology is historic in its recognition of women of color writers in a genre that usually doesn’t know what to do with us.”

- Jewelle Gomez, author, The Gilda Stories

A powerful, revealing anthology of dark fiction and poetry by Black women writers. The tales of what scares, threatens and shocks them will enlighten and entertain you.

SYCORAX'S DAUGHTERS' stories and poems delve into demons and shape shifters from Carole McDonnell’s “How to Speak to the Bogeyman” and Sheree RenĂ©e Thomas’ “Tree of the Forest Seven Bells Turns the World Round Midnight” to far future offerings from Kiini Ibura Salaam’s “The Malady of Need”, Valjeanne Jeffers’ steampunk female detective in “Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective II” and others.

These thought-provoking twenty-eight stories and fourteen poems cover creatures imagined— vampires, ghosts, and mermaids, as well as the unexpected price paid by women struggling for freedom and validation in the past—slavery to science-fiction futures with transhumans and alternate realities.

Leave the lights on and join these amazing authors as they share their unique vision of fear.
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