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."

Monday, February 18, 2019

Women in Horror Month #8: Kelli Owen, Author of TEETH

Hey, everybody!  I'm very pleased I was able to wrangle today's guest into appearing on the blog.  Let's all give a warm Manuscripts Burn welcome to the legendary Kelli Owen!  Oh, and she didn't come empty-handed.  Her novella WAITING OUT WINTER is on sale for only 99¢, so go check it out!

About Kelli Owen:

Kelli Owen is the author of more than a dozen books, including the novels TEETH and FLOATERS, and novellas WILTED LILIES and WAITING OUT WINTER. Her fiction spans the genres from thrillers to psychological horror, with an occasional bloodbath, and an even rarer happy ending. She was an editor and reviewer for over a decade, and has attended countless writing conventions, participated on dozens of panels, and spoken at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA regarding both her writing and the field in general. Born and raised in Wisconsin, she now lives in Destination, Pennsylvania.

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


SK: How are you involved in the world of horror?

KO:  Some of my earliest memories are horror—be it books, movies, or simply Halloween. While I was working up the guts to submit for publication, I ran a large horror website where I pimped, pushed, and peddled those with thicker skin than myself through reviews, interviews, news, etc. As my skin grew tougher, I began editing for those around me in the genre. Now (skin thickened, guts good to go) I’m the author of over a dozen books of dark fiction, often teetering between thriller and horror, but occasionally landing squarely in the bloody genre.

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

KO:  The easiest answer: heights and woodticks. The expected answer: something horrible happening to my children. The truthful answer: the dark. I’m actually, not kidding about this, completely totally absolutely and unabashedly afraid of the dark. In hotels, the bathroom overhead stays on to give just enough light. At home, it was always the hallway or closet or a nightlight. I currently have an awesome moon that glows next to me. I’d rather stare at the shadows cast and come up with crazy scary story ideas, than sit in the dark and wonder what is watching me. 

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

KO:  Unfortunately, issues do exist. A little on the side of editors and publishers, though in a true blind taste test I think it’s absent (read as: they’re aware and getting better). More so, I find it is still a thing with the readers (which affects the business side because if publishers don’t think it’ll sell, they won’t put it out). 

Considering those readers (who believe women can’t write horror), I honestly believe it comes down to semantics. What I call horror and what Joe Schmoe calls horror may be different, because “horror,” as an adjective used for fiction, was nothing more than a lovely marketing move we are now stuck trying to define, redefine and fulfill. There are so many subgenres you can tag on before “-horror” it is both easier to find a niche to survive and thrive in, and harder to break out of the misconception that women can’t possibly know what scares a man. And then we run into the conversation about “scaring” someone with horror rather than disturbing, upsetting, grossing out, etc. It’s as tangled a conversation as it is an issue. 

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

KO:  Icons? Mary Shelley and Emily Dickinson completely molded my pre-pubescent love of writing. V.C. Andrews and Anne Rice made puberty interesting. Since then, I’ve had too many favorites to even fathom an honest answer without the guilt of forgetting someone (many of them are colleagues at this point, which is delightful in and of itself). 

Fictionally, I’ve always adored certain characters. Drusilla from "Buffy"/"Angel" both delights me and terrifies me with her broken mind and innocent psychosis. Cersei Lannaster from "Game of Thrones" (there’s zombies, it’s horror!) is absolutely brilliant—she’s wicked and wonderful and hated for all the wrong reasons. And of course, to wrap back around to childhood, Maleficent will always be my favorite Disney character.  

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

KO:  My next two novels are a coming-of-age thriller and an honest to goodness ghost story, respectfully. Meanwhile, I’m still heavily promoting my latest release TEETH, wherein I’ve completely rewritten the mythos of vampires into a reality that is science-based, but also touches on the horrors of both their nature and a society which is prejudiced against everything. Why should folks check it out? Because I really did reinvent them and it was a daunting terrifying task, but one I believe I pulled off (if the critics are to be believed).  

About TEETH:

Image result for teeth kelli owen

All myths have a kernel of truth. The truth is: vampires are real.

They've always been here, but only came out of hiding in the last century. They are not what Hollywood would have you believe. They are not what is written in lore or whispered by the superstitious.

They look and act like humans. They live and love and die like humans. Puberty is just a bit more stressful for those with the recessive gene. And while some teenagers worry about high school, others dread their next set of teeth.

Vampires are real, but in a social climate still struggling to accept that truth, do teeth alone make them monsters?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Women in Horror Month #7: Ania Ahlborn, Bestselling Author of SEED

Hey, everybody, thanks for stopping by.  I'm very pleased to wish serdecznie witamy to today's guest, Ania Ahlborn!  Let's meet her briefly and then jump right in to the interview.

About Ania Ahlborn:

Horror and thriller author Ania Ahlborn

Born in Ciechanow Poland, Ania has always been drawn to the darker, mysterious, and sometimes morbid sides of life. Her earliest childhood memory is of crawling through a hole in the chain link fence that separated her family home from the large wooded cemetery. She'd spend hours among the headstones, breaking up bouquets of silk flowers so that everyone had their equal share.

Ania's first novel, SEED, was self-published. It clawed its way up the Amazon charts to the number one horror spot, earning her a multi-book deal and a key to the kingdom of the macabre. Seven years later, her work has been lauded by the likes of "Publishers Weekly," "New York Daily News," and "The New York Times."

She hopes to one day be invited to dinner at Stephen King's place, where she will immediately be crushed beneath the weight of her imposter syndrome.

Want to connect? Follow Ania on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or her website.


SK: How are you involved in the world of horror?

AA:  I've written seven novels and two novellas, all of which can be considered horror. Though, a few of them do tend to lean a bit more toward the category of dark thriller.

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

AA:  Not a lot used to terrify me, but now that I'm a new mom, spooky babies have become a bit of a weakness. They're terrible, aren't they? 

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

AA:  I like to say that gender is irrelevant, but to dismiss gender completely would be missing the mark. When it comes to women authors, readers have become much more inclined to seek out a well-balanced to-be-read list. If they realize that, hey, the majority of the books they're consuming have been written by men, they tend to balance that out a bit by looking for female authors they're likely to enjoy. I often see posts on social media asking friends and colleagues for book recommendations by female authors, authors of color, etc. And that's fantastic.

That said, I do still see occasional posts about how women can't write horror. To that, I laugh. I mean, it's all you can do, right? To say that a woman can't write a certain genre effectively is ridiculous. So, sure, there are challenges to being a woman in horror. But is it enough to stop us from keeping you up at night? Don't underestimate our power...

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

AA:  I'd be lying if I didn't drop some pretty heavy-hitting names here. Shirley Jackson is indispensable when it comes to the genre, as are Anne Rice's VAMPIRE CHRONICLES (INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE was my first "adult" horror novel experience). And of course, there's the original woman of horror, Mary Shelley, who wrote a masterpiece in response to a challenge posed to her guessed it, dudes. (Guess who got the last laugh there!) I also always cite Gillian Flynn as a favorite, though she's far more of a dark thriller girl. But even with my work, the label of 'dark thriller' is always lingering. So, really, for me, distinguishing between horror and thrillers that go super-dark is splitting hairs. 

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

AA:  I'm currently revising a novel called IF YOU SEE HER, which I hope to have published mid-2019. I should be promoting it all over the place, but I've got an eight-month-old who thinks otherwise. Consider my mentioning it here a big promotional push. ;) Until then, I've got plenty for horror junkies to check out, from stories of demonic possession to stuff about cults and Ouija boards. Whatever you've got a hankering for, I've probably got something out there that'll satiate your spooky appetite. All my titles can be found on my site. You can also stalk me on Instagram and Facebook. I always keep my readers up-to-date on any new offerings coming their way.

About SEED:


With nothing but the clothes on his back—and something horrific snapping at his heels—Jack Winter fled his rural Georgia home when he was still just a boy. Watching the world he knew vanish in a trucker’s rearview mirror, he thought he was leaving an unspeakable nightmare behind forever. But years later, the bright new future he’s built suddenly turns pitch black, as something fiendishly familiar looms dead ahead.

When Jack, his wife Aimee, and their two small children survive a violent car crash, it seems like a miracle. But Jack knows what he saw on the road that night, and it wasn’t divine intervention. The profound evil from his past won’t let them die…at least not quickly. It’s back, and it’s hungry; ready to make Jack pay for running, to work its malignant magic on his angelic youngest daughter, and to whisper a chilling promise: I’ve always been here, and I’ll never leave.

Country comfort is no match for spine-tingling Southern gothic suspense in Ania Ahlborn’s tale of an ordinary man with a demon on his back. Seed plants its page-turning terror deep in your soul, and lets it grow wild.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Women in Horror Month #6: Gemma Files, Jackson Award-Winning Author of SPECTRAL EVIDENCE

Welcome back, everybody!  I'm very pleased today to be able to bring you one of the finest horror authors working today.  Let's meet her briefly and then jump right in!

About Gemma Files:

Gemma Files was born in London, England and has lived all her life (thus far) in Toronto, Canada. She has been an award-winning horror author since 1999, as well as a film reviewer, a teacher, a screenwriter, a journalist, a singer and—eventually—a mother. She also makes jewelry. You can find her on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Tumblr. Her ostensible pro site is, but it hasn't been updated in quite a while. She is currently hard at work on her sixth novel. 


SK: How are you involved in the world of horror?

GF:  I've been writing professionally for about thirty years at this point—journalism, film criticism, fiction—and what I write, primarily, has always been horror. My first important credit probably came back in 1999, when I won an International Horror Guild Best Short Fiction Award for my story “The Emperor's Old Bones,” beating out both Neil Gaiman and Kim Newman. Since then, I've published five novels, over a hundred short stories, four fiction collections and three books of speculative poetry. I won both the 2015 Shirley Jackson Best Novel Award and the 2016 Sunburst Best Novel Award for my book EXPERIMENTAL FILM. I also teach, currently at LitReactor

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

GF:  I've always been terrified by the morally contortionist lengths people will go to in order to avoid looking at their own capacity for darkness, let alone acknowledging it. Maybe it's just that (as an undiagnosed neuroatypical woman in a neurotypical world, let alone the mother of a son with special needs) I've spent most of my life thus far either wondering exactly what the hell was “wrong” with me or what I must have “wrong” and how to live with it, but the very idea that there's some sort of default standard of acceptable “normalcy” which A) is always the same for everybody and B) can never, ever be questioned or debated on pain of social excision has always stuck me as an intensely dangerous one. We're definitely seeing the results of that particular delusion going unchecked right now, globally: tribalism, “nationalism,” capitalism as cannibalism. For me, horror has always been the one genre that embraces the concept of survival through self-knowledge, bending rather than breaking, looking for light through the cracks of a broken, hollow, unknowable world—accepting that fear, as Gavin de Becker once put it, really is a gift, especially in dangerous times. That perhaps it's worth feeling because it makes you vulnerable, enough so to understand what you really love enough to die for. 

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

GF:  There are social challenges to being identified as female, and always have been—that's not debatable, just like there are challenges which come along with being a member of any group not part of the default (not straight, not white, not male, not cis, not “able,” not financially stable, etc.). And those challenges do tend to carry over into horror, the same as they do everywhere else. I think it's useful to realize that if you stick all those non-default groups together, however, we outnumber the default by quite a lot—thus the challenge of intersectionality, of perceiving similarities and rejecting differences, of knowing when to put up and when to shut up. I've been supported by other women for most of my professional life, even back when being “one of the boys” was a badge of honour, and while I certainly don't hate men, I've really learned to value that support.

Similarly, the only place where being identified as female is really irrelevant, I've also learned, is inside your own head—you can write about anything and anyone, from any perspective, while both still holding fast to what makes you you in real life and simultaneously understanding that no one else's identity undermines your own: that no one else's marriage invalidates my marriage just like no one else's basic human rights undermine mine, etc. Where I think you have to be very careful is in understanding that the feelings which drive horror most—fear, dread, existential terror, numinous awe, et al—come most strongly out of the ways in which we are alike (parenthood rather than motherhood or fatherhood, hunger for connection in general rather than hunger for connection with a socially acceptable object of desire, and so on). All of us are selfish, all of us separate the world into things we feel comfortable loving and hating, all of us hope we're doing the right thing; none of us want to die, even when we do. All of us are afraid, when you come right down to it. We're capable of anything—that's the amazement of being human, as well as the awfulness. 

SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

GF:  All the writers who first inspired me back in the day were female-identified: Tanith Lee, Anne Rice, Nancy A. Collins, Kathe Koja, Billy Martin (then writing as Poppy Z. Brite), CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan. I mean, I already knew that there were men out there writing the stuff I was most interested in, from Stephen King and Peter Straub to Clive Barker and Robert Aickman, but these were the people who really showed me that women could go hard, get gruesome, talk honesty and poetically about the full spectrum of horror effects. I wanted jewel-encrusted skulls, dangerous sex of every type, every body as a book of blood, high fucking punk nihilism opera, and I got it. I've been trying to live up to their example ever since, while connecting with a whole generation of new female-identified writers at the same time. These days, my heroes are people like Nadia Bulkin, S.P. Miskowski, Kristi DeMeester, Sunny Moraine, Elizabeth Hand, Livia Llewellyn, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, just off the top of my head—but more every day, thankfully. It's a great time to be alive.

SK:  What are you working on/promoting currently?

GF:  At the moment, I'm bouncing back and forth between a novel, a book of essays and whatever short work I immediately owe somebody. The two things I have out right now are a pair of short fiction collection from Trepidatio, SPECTRAL EVIDENCE and DRAWN UP FROM DEEP PLACES. The first is fairly straight-up horror with an urban gothic slant, while the second is more dark fantasy-inflected, weaving back and forth between two story-cycles set in different time-periods. Both hopefully bring the creep.

SK:  Why should folks check them out?

GF:  Because they might like them, if this is the sort of thing they like. There's no other reason to read anything, really.


Spectral Evidence Gemma Files-small

For almost thirty years, Shirley Jackson Award-winning horror author Gemma Files has consistently served up tale after tale celebrating monstrosity in all its forms: the imperfect, the broken, the beautifully alien and the sadly familiar. Her characters make their own choices and take their own chances, slipping from darkness into deeper darkness yet never losing their humanity--not even when they're anything but.

An embittered blood-servant plots revenge against the vampires who own him; a little girl's best friend seeks to draw her into an ancient, forbidden realm; two monster-hunting sisters cross paths with an amoral holler-witch again and again, battling both mortal authorities and immortal predators. From the forgotten angels who built the cosmos to the reckless geniuses whose party drug unleashes a plague, madness, monsters and murder await at every turn. And in "The Speed of Pain," sequel to the International Horror Guild award-winning story "The Emperor's Old Bones," we find that even those who can live forever can't outrun their own crimes....

Following in the footsteps of her critically praised KISSING CARRION, THE WORM IN EVERY HEART, and WE WILL ALL GO DOWN TOGETHER, this is the first of two new Gemma Files collections from Trepidatio Publishing, bringing together nine of her best stories from the past ten years. So whether you're returning to Files's dark dreamlands or visiting for the first time, we advise you to get ready to review the--


Monday, February 11, 2019

Women in Horror Month #5: Catherine Cavendish, Author of THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE

Hey, everyone!  Thanks for stopping by!  Today we've got a real treat for you.  But rather than listen to any more preamble from me, let's meet today's guest and then jump right into the interview.

About Catherine Cavendish:

Hello, my name's Catherine Cavendish and I write horror fiction - frequently with ghostly, supernatural, Gothic and haunted house themes.

Out now- from Kensington-Lyrical - the third in a trilogy - DAMNED BY THE ANCIENTS - set in Egypt and Vienna and featuring the sinister Dr. Emeryk Quintillus whose obsession has stayed with him past the grave. This completes the NEMESIS OF THE GODS trilogy which started with WRATH OF THE ANCIENTS, followed by WAKING THE ANCIENTS.

My novellas COLD REVENGE, MISS ABIGAIL'S ROOM, THE DEMONS OF CAMBIAN STREET, THE DEVIL INSIDE HER and THE SECOND WIFE have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.

My novels THE DEVIL'S SERENADE and SAVING GRACE DEVINE have also been released in new editions by Crossroad Press, as have my novel of the Lancashire Witches - THE PENDLE CURSE - and my novellas, LINDEN MANOR and DARK AVENGING ANGEL.

I live with a long-suffering husband and a delightful black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

Our home is in a rambling building dating back to the mid 18th century, haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, I enjoy wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

I love connecting with readers and you can find me on social media here: Catherine Cavendish, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, MeWe.


SK: How are you involved in the world of horror?

CC:  I write ghostly, Gothic, supernatural haunted house scary horror stories

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

CC:  I think fearing the unknown is quite common and I certainly do. Strangely enough, I can lie awake terrified about what might happen in some day to day situation, but when a big challenge comes along – such as my recent bout with cancer – I meet it head on.

As far as the world of horror fiction is concerned, it’s what lurks in the shadows, glimpsed out of the corner of your eye. It scares the living daylights out of me – which is why I love writing about it so much!

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

CC:  I have never really regarded myself as a female horror author – but as a horror author regardless of gender. I think in the world of literature generally there has been an historic bias against women writers which has even led many to use initials to disguise their gender. I would like to think the old attitudes are dying out and I think there is some evidence of that. I have been fortunate enough not to have experienced any overt bias against me because of my gender although I do find it amusing when people I meet (who find out I am an author) immediately assume I either write children’s stories or cozy romances. When I tell them I write horror they initially think I’m joking. I would guess a man wouldn’t face that reaction but I don’t lose any sleep over it.

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

CC:  Vera Farmiga for her work in the "Conjuring" series and "Bates Motel." Carolyn Jones who I loved in "The Addams Family." Shauna MacDonald who is great in everything she appears in – loved her in "The Descent" and in "Nails" to name but two, and, of course, the incomparable Kathy Bates – "American Horror Story," "Misery" – she never puts a foot wrong in my book. I am also going to add Shirley Jackson – a unique talent in the art of writing scary horror.

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

CC:  My latest novel – THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE – has just been published by Flame Tree Press and I am so lucky to have received some fabulous reviews. Here’s a taste of what to expect:


Ghosts have always walked there. Now they're not alone.

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released.

Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?

The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De'il is out - and even the spirits are afraid.

You can find THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE at these online sites:

Barnes and Noble
Flame Tree Press

Or order it from your local friendly bookstore.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Women in Horror Month #4: Elizabeth Massie, Stoker Award-Winning Author of IT, WATCHING

Welcome back everyone.  I'm absolutely over the moon about today's guest, who wrote one of my all-time favorite zombie shorts, "Abed."  Rather than listen to me prattle on, let's meet Elizabeth Massie and then jump right into the interview.

About Elizabeth Massie:

Elizabeth Massie is a two-time Bram Stoker Award-winning and Scribe Award-winning author of novels, short fiction, media-tie ins, poetry, and nonfiction. Her horror novels and short story collections for adults include SINEATER, HELL GATE, DESPER HOLLOW, WIRE MESH MOTHERS, WELCOME BACK TO THE NIGHT, TWISTED BRANCH (under the pseudonym Chris Blaine), HOMEPLACE, NAKED ON THE EDGE, AFRAID, THE FEAR REPORT, DARK SHADOWS: DREAMS OF THE DARK (co-authored with Stephen Mark Rainey), BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: POWER OF PERSUASIONIT, WATCHING, and more. She is also the creator of the AMERI-SCARES series of spooky novels for middle grade readers. She is currently at work on a new historical horror novel, THE HOUSE AT WYNDHAM STRAND, a new AMERI-SCARES novel, and other odds and ends. Massie is a ninth generation Virginian who lives in the Shenandoah Valley with her husband, talented illustrator and theramin-player Cortney Skinner. Until her new website launches, she can be reached through Facebook, Twitter, Crossroad Press, Amazon, or through e-mail.


SK: How are you involved in the world of horror?

EM:  I began writing horror – or at least spooky stories – when I was a child. My first professional sale of a very short story (“Whittler”) was in 1983, to an excellent magazine called "The Horror Show," edited and published by the late, great David Silva. Since then, I’ve had countless short stories published in various magazines and anthologies, and have had fifteen horror/supernatural suspense novels and seven collections of horror shorts published. So short answer: I’m a writer.

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

EM:  While I can get major chills from supernatural stories that I read, in real life I’m most frightened by things people do to one another. A person or a government or a religion or a society having total, ultimate control over an individual is terrifying. Also, I’m very claustrophobic….shit, don’t try to put me in that damned thing that rides to the top of the St. Louis arch!

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

EM:  I can’t think of a time when being a woman has hampered my ability to stand tall and work squarely in the horror world. Maybe I’m just lucky? I have written edgy/gritty horror and have written more subtle horror. Neither approach should be considered “male” or “female.” I enjoy writing both – it just depends on what the story requires of me. However, I do know that some of my female horror writer friends have found themselves slighted without any justification other than their gender. They were victims of the idea that women either shouldn’t bother writing horror or can’t write effective, hard-edged horror. It’s changing though. Slowly. These things are generational mindsets that time can, and hopefully will, flip. 

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

EM:  There are so many… Here are a few that always produced or continue to produce kickass works: Lisa Mannetti, Joan Aiken, Shirley Jackson, Nancy Kilpatrick, Lisa Morton, Paula Ashe, and Lucy Snyder. There are quite a few more.

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

EM:  I’m currently finishing up my seventh book of the 
AMERI-SCARES series (scary novels for middle grade readers) which should be out later this year from Crossroad Press. The title is TENNESSEE: WINTER WITCH. I’m also working on a new horror novel for adults, THE HOUSE AT WYNDHAM STRAND and editing a novella, EATING CANCER.  As to what I’m promoting at this time, that would be my novels HELL GATE and DESPER HOLLOW, my insane-rude-and-hilarious trilogy of not-for-kids picture books (DAMN YOU, DEMON, YOU GONNA DIE, FLY, and SUCK IT UP, SLUG), my newest collection IT, WATCHING, and my AMERI-SCARES series (those who have young readers in their lives should check these books out…they are geared for kids 8-13 who love spooky stories.) My website is down as I create a new, better one. But I can be easily found on AmazonFacebook, or the Crossroad Press website.


Turn, and you see nothing.
But it is surely there.

Enter a dark, terrifying world where it’s best to watch where you’re going, to keep a sharp look out, to be very careful. A world where a cheap, traveling circus keeps its darkest secret in the rear of a trailer. Where garden gnomes and ventriloquist dummies plan revenge. Where ignorance is hardly bliss. Where a visit to Grandmother’s house takes a horrifying turn. Where a doctor plays with the sanity of his underling. Where toothed creatures live and follow in the shadows. Where kids who ignore their mamas find trouble in an old oak tree. Where curiosity kills more than the cat.

IT, WATCHING is Bram Stoker Award-winning author Elizabeth Massie’s long-awaited seventh collection of horror short stories. It offers tales of dread, suspense, terror, mystery, and an occasional touch of humor. The stories span Massie’s thirty-three year writing career, with goodies her readers may have missed as well as some brand new tales.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Women in Horror Month #3: Stephanie M. Wytovich, Stoker Award-Winning Author of BROTHEL

Welcome back, everybody!  I'm very excited about today's guest.  I've been planning to have her on the blog for years and finally worked up the courage to ask, so I'm very glad she agreed.  But listen to me jawing on!  Let's go ahead and meet her and then jump into the interview.  

About Stephanie M. Wytovich:

Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her work has been showcased in numerous anthologies such as 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, and SHEET MUSIC TO MY ACOUSTIC NIGHTMARE. Her debut novel, THE EIGHTH, is published with Dark Regions Press

You can follow her on her blog, website, and Twitter.


SK: How are you involved in the world of horror?

SMW:  I’ve been professionally working in the horror industry for about 7-8 years now, and I wear a lot of different hats. First and foremost, I write. I have five books of poetry published, one of which (BROTHEL) won the Bram Stoker Award in 2016. I also have a novel published through Dark Regions Press (THE EIGHTH), and have published a good amount of fiction and nonfiction through various anthologies and magazines.

In my day-to-day life, I teach undergraduate courses (Point Park University) and graduate courses (Western Connecticut State University [MFA], and Southern New Hampshire University [MFA]) in composition, literature, theory, and creative writing. I also tutor writing, mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing, and freelance edit both independently and for Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Something else that I’m looking forward to this year is reviewing books/movies. I’m a huge, huge film buff, and I read voraciously, so when I reworked my website, I added a space for reviews there, so I’m looking forward to critically analyzing some more work in the horror genre as a whole. My first review piece is going to be CARNIVOROUS LUNAR ACTIVITIES by Max Booth III, so be sure to look for it soon!

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

SMW:  Some good gross out calls for me are: hair and spiders. I’m a huge arachnophobe, so just thinking about spiders makes my skin crawl, and then hair just completely guts me and hits my gag reflex like no other. Needless to say, movies like "The Ring" and "The Grudge" were rough for me.

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

SMW:  I think being a female horror writer definitely still has its issues, but it something that I’ve seen being taken really seriously and improving over the past few years. Unfortunately, I tend to see this more in academia than I do on the industry front because I’ve been in some situations where the fact that I write speculative fiction is looked down on and not taken as seriously as someone who is perhaps more literary and contemporary, and that’s unfortunate on a lot of levels (also, a quick shout-out to my fabulous programs I work in now!). But on the industry front, I think diversity and inclusivity is something that can absolutely be improved upon, and I want to thank writers/editors/reviewers like Christopher Golden, Gabino Iglesias, and Shane Douglas Keene (just to name a few) for being such fierce warriors for female writers.

SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

SMW:  My favorite classic female horror icons would be Shirley Jackson and Mary Shelley. I try to teach these ladies every chance I get, and I love that their stories are strong, multi-genre, and deal with very dark real-world applications, regardless of if they are taking about actual monsters or perhaps something a little more political or sociological. Honestly, I could (and have) re-read FRANKENSTEIN and WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE over and over again without tiring of it.

Film wise, however, I’m going to have to go with Thomasin from "The VVitch" and Sabrina from "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina."  Both of them are strong, independent women who are all about free will, strength, and independence, and they own their sexuality and shadow selves in a way I really wish I could. I do however feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jessica Lange ("American Horror Story: Coven") and Jamie Lee Curtis ("Halloween") because Lange is my hero and Curtis is just the queen!

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

SMW:  Right now, I’m finishing up my sixth poetry collection, which is an apocalyptic science fiction book titled THE APOCALYPTIC MANNEQUIN. I’ve been working on this for about two years now, and it’s vastly different from most of what I’ve done before, but there’s still some trademark touches in there, of course. I’m also looking to publish a weird horror novelette titled THE DANGERS OF SURVIVING A SLIT THROAT this spring, and I’m beyond excited for this because it’s my first venture into something a little bizarre, and Matthew Revert drew up the most perfect cover art for it, so I’ll be looking forward to getting that into everyone’s hands soon as well.


Wytovich plays madam in a collection of erotic horror that challenges the philosophical connection between death and orgasm. There’s a striptease that happens in BROTHEL that is neither fact nor fiction, fantasy nor memory. It is a dance of eroticism, of death and decay. The human body becomes a service station for pain, for pleasure, for the lonely, the confused. Sexuality is hung on the door, and the act of love is far from anything that’s decent. Her women spread their legs to violence then smoke a cigarette and get on all fours. They use their bodies as weapons and learn to find themselves in the climax of the boundaries they cross in order to define their humanity…or lack thereof.

Wytovich shows us that the definition of the feminine is not associated with the word victim. Her characters resurrect themselves over and over again, fighting stereotypes, killing expectations. She shows us that sex isn’t about love; it’s about control. And when the control is disproportionate to the fantasy, she shows us the true meaning of femme fatale.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Women in Horror Month #2: Mary Fan, Author of EDGE OF EVIL

Hey, kids!  If you've frequented this blog much at all, then you're probably familiar with today's guest.  I'm pleased to welcome back my good friend and oft-time convention partner, Mary Fan!  Let's meet her briefly and then jump right into the interview.

About Mary Fan:

Mary Fan hails from Jersey City and spends far too much time dabbling in things from kickboxing to opera. Her books include the JANE COLT trilogy (sci-fi), the FLYNN NIGHTSIDER series (dark fantasy), the STARSWEPT series (sci-fi), and STRONGER THAN A BRONZE DRAGON (steampunk fantasy). She's also the co-editor of the BRAVE NEW GIRLS anthologies, which feature tech-savvy girls in sci-fi worlds (proceeds from sales are donated to the Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Fund).

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


SK: How are you involved in the world of horror?

MF:  I write dark fantasy, which exists in that nebulous space between fantasy and horror. The book series, which so far consists of one novel (FLYNN NIGHTSIDER AND THE EDGE OF EVIL) and two novellas (THE FIREDRAGON, FIREDRAGON RISING) takes place in a world in which monsters have overrun the earth, those with magic have set up a totalitarian government, and dark enchantments lurk in the shadows. It's really a genre mash-up... it's got elements of dystopia in there too (there's an underground rebellion). But in my opinion (and the opinion of Amazon's categories), its bones are made of horror. These characters face off with undead monstrosities, bloodthirsty beasts, soul-sucking wraiths... there's two more books planned for the series, and I intend for them to be even bloodier muahahaha...

I'm also diving into full-blown horror soon, with a novella I'm working on. But I'm afraid I can't share any details yet, mostly because I still need to hash them out. 

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

MF:  I will not talk about politics
I will not talk about politics
I will not talk about politics...

Okay, but for real, I write dystopia. Of course I'm terrified of the possibility of an authoritarian government. Of freedoms getting sucked away, of people too enthralled by fantasies to stop it, of ending up in a stranglehold where one wrong word can destroy your life... *shudder*

Oh, and giant bugs with wings. Screw those things.

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

MF:  I definitely think there's still an instinct to look down on women in horror and see their work as lesser than works by men. Or to look at things women like and automatically consider them less serious. And what makes it really challenging is that so many biases are subconscious ("implicit bias" is the academic term, I believe). You may look at a book with a woman's name on the cover and think "oh, that just doesn't seem like my thing," not realizing that your gut is making a sexist assumption without telling your brain.

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

MF:  I mean, it doesn't get more iconic than Mary Shelley. Which is a cliched answer, I know, but it's hard to be the original.

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

MF:  FLYNN NIGHTSIDER AND THE EDGE OF EVIL, the first novel in a planned trilogy, is currently available in e-book, hardback, and paperback! I'm working on the sequel and hope to release it in 2020. The FIREDRAGON novellas, THE FIREDRAGON and FIREDRAGON RISING, are prequels to EDGE OF EVIL. They're currently both e-book only. I plan to write a third novella soon and compile them into an illustrated print anthology.

Check 'em out if you like monsters, mayhem, twists, and dogged revolutionaries fighting back against oppression (that's run by powerful wielders of dark magic).

Thanks for having me! 


Break the enchantments. Find the truth. Ignite the revolution.

A century ago, the Enchanters defeated the evil Lord of the Underworld, but not before he’d unleashed his monsters and ravaged the earth. The Enchanters built the Triumvirate out of what remained of the United States, demanding absolute obedience in exchange for protection from the lingering supernatural beasts.

Sixteen-year-old Flynn Nightsider, doomed to second-class life for being born without magic, knows the history as well as anyone. Fed up with the Triumvirate’s lies and secrecy, he longs for change. And when he stumbles across a clue that hints at something more – secrets in the dark, the undead, and buried histories – he takes matters into his own hands.

Before long, Flynn finds himself hunted not only by the government, but also by nightmarish monsters and a mysterious man with supernatural powers … all seeking him for reasons he cannot understand. Rescued by underground rebels, he’s soon swept up in their vision of a better world, guided by a girl as ferocious as the monsters she fights. But as the nation teeters on the brink of revolution, Flynn realizes three things.

The rebellion is not what it seems.
Flynn himself might be more than he seems.
And the fate of the world now rests in his hands.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Women in Horror Month #1: Sadie Hartmann aka Mother Horror

Hello, everybody!  Kicking off this year's celebration of Women in Horror Month, I'm very pleased to introduce you to Sadie Hartmann, reviewer extraordinaire!  Let's meet Sadie and then jump right into the interview.

About Sadie Hartmann:

Sadie Hartmann, aka Mother Horror is the co-owner of Night Worms and reviews horror for "SCREAM" magazine and "Cemetery Dance" online.

You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, her blog, and Goodreads.


SK:  How are you involved in the world of horror?

SH:  I’ve been a fan of horror and dark fiction since I was a very young reader. I was reading mysteries and grim stories appropriate for my age, like John Bellairs's books. Eventually my eyes began to wander over to my mom's full library of Stephen King and other horror authors. I read SALEM'S LOT at thirteen and never looked back from there. Today, I review horror books for "SCREAM" magazine, "Cemetery Dance" online and a variety of horror blogs. In 2018 I also started a business with a fellow horror lover called, Night Worms, which is a curated horror book subscription service. We deliver quality horror to our clients and they read & review it with the same fervent passion that we encourage through example.

SK:  Who or what terrifies you?

SH:  I’m actually a very timid person in my real life. I have a variety of phobias, the most intense one being my fear of spiders. I’m also extremely nervous about crowded places, sharks, heights, bridges, you name it and I’m probably afraid of it. That’s why I love horror though—I get to feel risky and adventurous through the extreme stories that I read.

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

SH:  I wouldn’t say that gender is irrelevant. My personal experience has been positive for the most part. I feel like I am celebrated for being a female horror enthusiast. I think that men in the industry have grown tired of the gender biases and were looking for some female voices to add something fresh and new to the community. I was intentionally sought out by both SCREAM and "Cemetery Dance" for that reason (not entirely for that reason, I have more than just my gender to add to my reviews, but I do feel that both companies were looking specifically for a female persuasion). I don’t want to overlook that there have been some struggles along the way. I wasn’t embraced by many of the already established male book reviewers. I’m not sure if they excluded me openly because I was a woman or because they saw me as a threat to their own pursuits in the industry but some of the male book reviewers in the community have been hostile and catty towards me and that’s been difficult but only in a “missed opportunity to be unified” sense—it doesn’t hold me back.

SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

SH:  Fun question!! Going off of my “Mother Horror” alter ego on social media, I fancy myself more of a Morticia Addams rather than an Elvira--Understated, quiet, dark and dangerous. Ha! But my horror icons in the horror book industry would be Anne Rice, Agatha Christie, and Shirley Jackson. My modern horror author icons are: Ania Ahlborn, Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters, Nadia Bulkin, Caroline Kepnes, Alma Katsu, Sarah Pinborough, Gwendolyn Kiste, Lucy A. Snyder, Sarah Lotz, and Jennifer McMahon. Just to name a few. *wink*

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

SH:  Like I mentioned in a previous answer, I am the co-owner of Night Worms. We started out as a reading and reviewing group of seven friends who enjoy reading horror books and reviewing them on social media platforms. Over the course of a year, we saw a need to scale what we do into a business opportunity. Primarily because fans of horror fiction want to know what’s available to them and if it’s worth buying and reading. Our book stores fail us in the horror category. Very rarely can you find a dedicated horror section in a new or used bookstore. I also think horror is growing in popularity due to very successful movie adaptations of popular horror books but for the most part, the general public doesn’t understand the horror genre. My business partner and I love to gather the best horror books the writing community has to offer from large/small/indie and self published platforms and send them to eager horror enthusiasts every month. We also include some goodies to enhance the reading experience. It’s been a very successful business venture so far! Our subscribers love Night Worms

About Night Worms:

Image result for nightworms

"Horror is our Happy Place"

Night Worms began in March of 2018 to encourage reading and reviewing horror.  We post photos and consistent, honest reviews to social media and the feedback from authors and publishers has been immensely enthusiastic.  Our desire is to bring in more Night Worms that want to join us on our mission to read and review horror.
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