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, July 29, 2020

Reading this Saturday!

Hey, everybody!  Make sure to stop by the Scares That Care Virtual Convention this Saturday, August 1.  I'll be appearing with a brand new reading at 9:15 am EST alongside the inimitable Jeff Strand!  Best of all, it's all for a good cause.  You can read more of who will be appearing here.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Night Worms Interview

Hey, everybody!  Check out this interview Wile E. Young and I did with Mother Horror over at Night Worms.  I guarantee it's more exciting than fifteen Super Bowls.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Publish Like a Motherfucker is Back!

Wile E. Young
Hey, everybody.  Due to popular demand "Publish Like a Motherfucker (With Stephen Kozeniewski)" is coming back for a fifth installment.

And this time with special guests!

Stop by my business page this coming Saturday, June 23 at 3:00 pm EST.  We will, of course, record it for posterity, but if you have questions, you'll have to be there live to participate.  And, as always, if you're interested in future PLAM courses, let me know in the comments below, on social media, or during the course.










Date:  Saturday, June 20
Time:  3:00 pm EST
Syllabus:  Now that you know how to write, can you learn how to write together?  With special guests Stevie Kopas and Wile E. Young, in this episode we'll be discussing:

- when is the right time to collaborate?  when is it wrong?
- how can two animals as solitary and persnickety as writers come together?  what are some methods to the madness?
- is a writing duo better than the sum of its parts?

Monday, June 15, 2020

My Thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Protests

I've been very quiet for the last two weeks.  Not entirely silent.  I've replied to a few tweets, maybe commented on social media here or there.  But for the most part I assumed that my role during the Black Lives Matter protests was to shut up, listen as much as possible, and amplify black voices wherever I could.

Trying to take that tack, I reached out to a black author I respect a great deal and asked him to write, well, this blogpost.  However, he encouraged me to express my own thoughts, because too many people are scared to get involved in the messy, complicated discussion of race in America.

Well, so, this may not be very good, but it will at least take up that challenge honestly.  I should also state unequivocally that the opinions presented in this piece are entirely my own as a private citizen and in no other capacity.

Two weeks ago yesterday I was terrified.  Inconsolable, in fact.  Donald Trump had just declared that the military would be moving into the cities to "dominate" the "battlespace."  These are, of course, two words that have been picked apart by every pundit in the universe since then, so by now you've certainly felt the existential dread I felt that day.  If I was slightly ahead of the curve in being shocked, it was only because of my day job.

For the past twenty years (my entire adult life, really) I have served in the military in one capacity or another - as an ROTC cadet, an Army officer, and a civilian employee of the Army and later the Navy.  The first time I heard the words "Posse Comitatus" was as a seventeen-year-old college student in a military ethics class.  Back then the shadows of the Oklahoma City bombing, Waco, Ruby Ridge, and the like loomed large.

For some of you, depending on your age, I suspect you may have first heard the strange legal term this month.  But its meaning has never really changed.  The military does not operate on American soil.  The National Guard, in cases of emergencies, and under the oversight of state governors, occasionally.  But the federal military?  It's quite simply never supposed to happen, like Caesar crossing the Rubicon.

Of course, Caesar did cross the Rubicon and at the beginning of June it seemed that Trump would be casting his own die.  Two weeks ago I was certain that Trump's latest outrage would also be the last and final outrage: the complete destruction of democracy in America.  If the military was called upon to suppress the protests, and I was a part of this military, even in the minor, middling capacity that I am, didn't that make me complicit?  If not merely complicit, perhaps a collaborator?  Perhaps even a war criminal?

For the first time I seriously considered resigning my post in protest.  And it was a terrifying idea.  Would I toss my career of twelve years aside?  Quit my job in the middle of the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression?  Cast aside all of my current and future prospects and safety?

But to support a military coup?  Even in the tiniest capacity?  What would that make me?  What would history say about me, let alone my own conscience?

In discussing this with my girlfriend, she asked me, "Well, aren't service members supposed to disobey illegal orders?"

To which the answer is...complicated.  Yes, of course.  When told to hold a gun to an enemy prisoner's head and threaten him for information, a Soldier is supposed to say, "Sir, I cannot comply with that order as it violates the Geneva Convention, the UCMJ, and the Army's code of ethics."  But even in a cut-and-dried case like that some service members will falter.  Allen West became famous, and was elected to congress, after committing just that war crime.  And if, as is often the case, if it's much, much more complicated than this scenario, it may not always be clear what the correct and ethical thing to do is.

Frankly, as officers, a lot of times we were told that we would have to take responsibility if an order turned out to be illegal.  Sometimes, since you told Private Snuffy to do something, you're responsible instead of Snuffy.  This is why the military has courts and tribunals and more lawyers than you could imagine.

So, the short answer to this already overly long question, is that, yes, some service members would ignore the president's illegal orders.  But some would also immediately feel that wrenching sense of their entire careers disappearing, the same way I did, and would decide, "Well, the commander-in-chief told me to do it, so it's on him, even if it is wrong."  And, some, of course, will face no moral quandary at all, and will simply believe that the BLM deserve to be put down.

In Trump's America, the Justice Department tells us the true story of what happens when people disobey illegal orders.  They just get fired and replaced with more compliant people.  Which would also be in the back of the mind of anyone at the Pentagon considering disobeying Trump's "dominate the battlespace" orders.

In the recent Netflix show "Space Force" General Naird, in being faced with a moral question of whether to resign or not, says something like, "I know I'm not the best, but I also know I'm not the worst."  This struck a chord with me, as it no doubt would with many service members and their DoD civilian counterparts.  In short, maybe I should just roll over on this little issue, because I know I can still do good.  Besides, if I don't follow illegal orders, my replacement surely will, right?  And then the war crimes will still happen, but all I will have achieved is losing my career.

So, in a long and winding, roundabout sort of way, you understand the melancholy I found myself in two weeks ago.  A lot of innocent heads were about to be smashed in.  America was about to do what it has always done: make the black man bleed and blame him for it, like the abusive partner who says, "Why do you force me to hit you?"  And I was on the wrong side of history.  Some of those skulls about to be smashed in were going to be tallied on my eternal soul.

Everything in me screamed that despite all of Trump's outrages over the years, despite the resiliency we had, somehow, as a society, shown up until now, this was it.  The last straw, the end of the Great Experiment, our version of the Reichstag Fire.

Then something unexpected happened.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army General Mark Milley, was videotaped in Trump's entourage during the now infamous moments when peaceful protesters were gassed and cleared out of Lafayette Park ahead of curfew so the president could show off a picture of himself holding an upside-down Bible aloft over his head.  (Never, incidentally, did I think I would write anything like that sentence.)

The CJCS is the top uniformed military officer in the country, subordinate only to the Secretary of Defense and the president.  Now, Tolstoy might have argued with me, but I think future generations may never know how close we came, within a hair's breadth, perhaps, of total immolation two weeks ago, save for one man's embarrassment.  We may also never know if GEN Milley would have made the same decisions he made next had he not been videotaped strolling around the wreckage of Washington, D.C. that day.  I'd like to believe he would have, that he needn't have been embarrassed into it.  But I guess there's no knowing a man's heart, or would-have-beens.

In any case, what happened next was extraordinary.  I received an e-mail from GEN Milley, distributed to the entire military of the United States, stating, in essence, that diversity is our strength, the military does not and will not act on American soil, and be not afraid.

But I still was, of course.  Because Milley could be sacked as easily as FBI Director Comey or Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Ukrainian attache LTC Alexander Vindman or the five inspectors general in the last two months, or the lawyers on the Michael Flynn case, or...well, the list kind of goes on.  It's been like a Saturday Night Massacre every day for the past three and a half years.

A few days passed.  The protests continued but the rioting had quietened down.  I remember initially hearing people saying that the BLM protests had been entirely peaceful but that right-wing infiltrators had stepped in to start riots, shoot at police, and break shit in order to illegitimize the peaceful protests.  I remembered doubting that initially.  Surely not everyone is perfect, right?  That doesn't mean that there's a Proud Boy hiding and chuckling every time a brick gets thrown.

But, whether it was criminals, false flag agitators, or just bad actors within the movement who caused the strife, the protests started cleaning themselves up.  And as they self-policed, it seemed harder and harder to justify the uniformed police bashing in heads.  And Trump's water carriers in the conservative media started to look even more foolish than usual as they cried for the blood of...well, Americans with signs.

Then I received an e-mail from a high-ranking admiral.  Not quite as high-ranking as GEN Milley, of course, but, then again, nobody is.  And her letter said, in essence...diversity is our strength, the military does not and will not act on American soil, and be not afraid.

That caught my eye.  I remembered commenting on it to my girlfriend at the time.  After twenty years interacting with the military in one capacity or another, I can tell you exactly what kind of e-mails a nobody like me gets from admirals and generals.  They fall into three broad categories:

1.)  Happy Thanksgiving.  Stay safe and don't eat too much turkey this weekend.  If you get drunk, call a cab.

2.)  Hi, I'm so-and-so.  Glad to join you./Bye, it was nice working with you.

3.)  The command has accomplished some massive, obscure goal you probably didn't even know about because you're busy doing your day-to-day job.  Kudos!

So, to get two e-mails from leadership in less than a week about current events is...unprecedented, to say the least, in my experience.  The military, in fact, prides itself on its apolitical nature.  Honestly, although nothing very pointed appeared in either letter, the subtext was jarringly direct.

Then the walls started tumbling down.  People in positions of authority (save the president, of course) started...actually listening to the protesters.  With the video tape of a Minneapolis police officer leaning on George Floyd's neck for nine solid minutes, it was hard to argue that he wasn't a straight-up murderer or that the three officers who assisted him were complicit.  They were charged, and Floyd's murderer's charges were elevated.  A few sheriffs and peace officers started kneeling and marching with the protesters instead of antagonizing them.  In small ways, mayors and governors across the country made small concessions to the bare humanity of their constituents, filling the gaping chasm of leadership left, as always, by the White House.

I won't say that the small changes coming from the mayoral mansions are not political and calculated.  Of course they are.  In every negotiation there comes the desire to trade as little as possible in exchange for as much as possible.  So I have no doubt every leader in America is trying to placate the protesters rather than seek meaningful change.  But if this leads to meaningful change, if society continues to hold their feet to the fire, if the protests don't let up, and leaders are reminded of what the people are capable of, and what they're capable of stopping, perhaps we will have meaningful change instead of some tokens exchanged in bad faith.

Then I got another e-mail from an admiral further own the chain.  Then another.  As I said, I have never received an even semi-political message from the leadership in the past.  To receive so many, reminding us all of our duty, the oaths we took to the Constitution, it seemed like a sea change.  While the criticism of the president was nothing even remotely like explicit, the message was still clear: the military will not go marching into any American cities.  That last bastion of non-partisan service may still exist, unco-opted by this nightmarish administration.

So, I don't see a bright and shining future of certainty and Star Trek-level cooperation.  But I see signs, surprising signs, small in some cases, shocking in others, promising in some, that democracy may not be dead.  That is was up to black Americans to bring us to this point is, in some ways ironic, but in truth not the least bit surprising.  The black community has always borne our nation's greatest burdens, often unacknowledged, often uncompensated.  To acknowledge their sacrifice, now, at last, perhaps much too late, is the least the rest of us can do, even as they continue to march and protest and throw their bodies in front of the batons in defense of all our rights.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday, May 15, 2020

Virtual Reality (redirect)

Hey, everybody!

I know we've all been suffering in lockdown for the past two months.  Well, last month over on the group blog I talked about some of the virtual events I've been participating in.  Check it out, and hopefully kill some time. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Publish Like a Motherfucker (with Stephen Kozeniewski)

Hey, everybody.  I've got some exciting news!

One of the things I miss most about the pre-lockdown days is the opportunity to pass down some of my hard-won industry knowledge to aspiring authors at conventions, readings, and signings.  So I've decided to host a series of online courses called "Publish Like a Motherfucker (with Stephen Kozeniewski.)"

Over the next week I'll be teaching the following four courses over Facebook Live at my business page.  I'll be publishing the completed courses later to YouTube so they'll be available for posterity, but one of the things I value is audience participation, so if you're interested, please try to make it to the live events.  

I'm going to plan on each course being about an hour, but if the interest is there I'll happily keep speaking until we get through all of the questions in chat.  Your questions will help guide each course.  And if interest is high, based on these initial courses I may plan more in the future, possibly with guests.  The sky's the limit!

Course 1:  "Writing Non-Shittily"
Date:  Wednesday, May 6
Time:  7:00 pm EST
Syllabus:  The first step to getting published is writing something worth publishing.  In our inaugural course, we'll be discussing:

- the importance (?) of genre
- choosing your literary form (the difference between novels, novellas, short stories, etc.)
- getting it written


Date: Friday, May 8
Time:  7:00 pm EST
Syllabus:  Let's talk traditional publishing.  Is it still the brass ring that all authors are reaching for?  Is it even all its cracked up to be?  In this course we'll discuss:

- what's the difference between self-publishing, traditional publishing, and hybrid?
- finding the right agent or publisher
- when will you start getting that Stephen King money?

Date:  Monday, May 11
Time:  5:00 pm EST
Syllabus:  You could write the word "fart" ten thousand times in a row and be holding that book in your hands by the end of the week.  But is self-publishing the path for your masterwork?  In our third outing we'll cover: 

- the hidden costs of self-publishing
- the hell yeah benefits of being your own business partner
- tips and best practices for the authorial entrepreneur
Date:  Wednesday, May 13
Time:  5:00 pm EST
Syllabus:  You finally did it!  You're now holding that novel or whatever the hell in your grubby little mitts.  So the long road to success is finally over, right?  Well...  In our final (depending on popular demand) outing we'll be talking about:

- social media marketing
- moving paper in meatspace
- getting reviews and attention

Friday, May 1, 2020

Reading and Writing and the Fucking Apocalypse (Redirect)

Hey, kids!

Hope you're holding up.  I haven't been keeping up with my group blog redirects for, um, obvious reasons.  In any case, I wrote a bit about what it was like having a book release the day the pandemic hit home here, so go ahead and check it out.

Stay safe!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

CoronaCon Appearances

Hey, everybody!

I hope you're hanging in there.  In case you missed it, I appeared at a virtual convention on April 18, the first CoronaCon.  If you missed it live, you can still catch up.  I've cued up all three of my appearances below, but the whole thing is worth a watch, naturally.  You can also read a recap by our good friend Erica Robyn here.  Enjoy!

Panel:  "Finding New Readers"
Participants:  Mary SanGiovanni, Stephen Kozeniewski, Aaron Dries, Wile E. Young, Steve Pattee (M)
Timestamp:  c. 41:00



Reading:  Excerpt from "Leader of the Pack," episode six of "Silverwood the Door."  Includes Q&A.
Timestamp:  c. 5:16:00



Panel:  Versatility and Cross-Genre
Participants:  Brian Keene, Jonathan Janz, Stephen Kozeniewski, Shane D. Keene (M)
Timestamp:  c. 5:43:00

Monday, April 13, 2020

CoronaCon or Bust!

Hey, everybody!  I hope to see you all this weekend (virtually, of course) at the first ever CoronaCon.


CoronaCon will be featuring some of the talent that was not able to appear at Scares that Cares Wisconsin, which was cancelled due to the pandemic.  I'll be appearing at a panel at 10:30 am EST and doing a reading at 3:00 pm.  Hope to see all of your pretty faces (comments?) there!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Free Book: MIDNIGHT RITUALS


Hey, everybody!  As authors, one of the small things we can do to support pandemic relief is offer free entertainment for those practicing social distancing.  So, as of today MIDNIGHT RITUALS is free, courtesy of editor (and contributor) Robert Swartwood.

This chapbook also features short works from:

- myself
- Brian Keene
- Mary San Giovanni
- John Boden
- Wesley Southard
- Kelli Owen
- Robert Ford

I hope you'll check it out.  Also, I should point out that this is in addition to my offer of one free e-book, not in lieu of.  So, please take me up on that as well if you have not already.

Stay safe, stay entertained, and most importantly, stay home.  I'll see you all again on the other side of this thing.

Monday, March 16, 2020

New Release: THE PERFECTLY FINE HOUSE


Hey, everybody!  In spite of the existential horror that is apparently just the world we live in now, I'm pleased to announce the release of my "reverse haunting" novel THE PERFECTLY FINE HOUSE, co-written by Wile E. Young and released by Grindhouse Press.  I hope you'll grab a copy and share the new on social media or even just tell a friend.  (On the telephone, please - keep up your social distancing.) 

Also, as a courtesy to my co-author and publisher, if you're taking me up on my offer of a free e-book, please do not request this one, but please do take me up on the offer.  And stay safe out there, everybody!

Friday, March 13, 2020

One Free e-book

Hey, everybody!

Hope all’s going well with you and you and yours are staying safe and healthy.

In the interests of supporting social distancing, I’m going to do what I’ve seen many of my peers and friend doing: offering a free book as a small distraction in this difficult environment.

So, if you’re interested, take a look at my Published Works page.  If something catches your fancy, shoot an e-mail to me at:

skozeniewski at yahoo dot com

I will be happy to send you one free e-book for your personal recreation.  (Although it would be nice if you left me a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or your favorite review site.). I have the following formats available:

.pdf
.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (Nook, Kobo, etc.)

Monday, February 24, 2020

Women in Horror Month #11: Caroline Kepnes


Hi, everybody!  I was shocked and delighted when today's guest agreed to come on the blog.  Let's meet her and then ask a few questions to close out Women in Horror Month for 2020!

About Caroline Kepnes:



Caroline Kepnes is the New York Times bestselling author of YOU, HIDDEN BODIES, and PROVIDENCE. The hit Netflix series "You" is an adaptation of her debut novel and follow-up. She’s currently writing the third book in the JOE GOLDBERG series. After graduating from Brown University, Caroline lived in New York and wrote about pop culture for "Tiger Beat" and "Entertainment Weekly." She moved to Los Angeles and wrote episodes of "7th Heaven" and "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts Caroline now splits her time between Los Angeles and Cape Cod.

Interview:


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

CK:  I've loved to be scared ever since I was a kid. It meant the world to me when Stephen King tweeted about reading YOU. When I was growing up, his books were all around our house, and that was the good kind of house of horrors. I've made friends with a lot of horror writers online and I love to learn about books from "Mother Horror" (AKA Sadie Hartman). Horror people are so much fun. Kealan Patrick Burke just tweeted about my book PROVIDENCE and mentioned people "creepily fapping to Joe from YOU" and I mean that's the horror community. Funny, warm and always passionate about the books that they love.


SK: Who or what terrifies you?

CK:  This morning I was up early--this happens when I'm almost done with a revision. just can't fucking sleep--and I drove to a mini-mall and there was a man screaming at the sky that he just can't take it anymore. It was scary. It was sad. It was disturbing to see other people seeming unbothered. I was a little spooked by those people too because of course, when you live in a city, you build a shell, but those shells can be scary, you know? And then I got my coffee and though about the artificial sweetener in there and this great old documentary "Sweet Misery", which is about how poisonous it is....So yeah, a lot terrifies me in 2020! Especially when I'm writing this much.


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

CK:  Mark Matthews invited me to contribute to an anthology about addition called LULLABIES FOR SUFFERING. Mark's story is incredible, and the same can be said for all the stories in the collection. I mention this experience because I've really connected with the other writers in the collection. It's a microcosm of the horror community. It's good people. 


SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

CK:  Kim Liggett is 's a horror writer. a pathos writer, just a damn good writer. And the kindest person, too. I read THE LAST HARVEST a few years ago and I've gushed to her about that book. It really stayed with me and scared me and it's been so exciting to see THE GRACE YEAR getting a lot of love. I can't wait to see what Kim loves next. And Mary Shelley...well the impact she had on me and countless other writers, I mean she's a perma-icon.


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

CK:  I'm finishing up a draft of the third book in the YOU series. So close to the end that I'm in my own horror state of I wanna finish so bad and I don't wanna finish, I am gonna miss this book! If you watched "You" on Netflix, you would probably enjoy reading YOU and HIDDEN BODIES. And I love to see more people reading my book about the horror of love, PROVIDENCE. I already mentioned LULLABIES FOR SUFFERING but I'll mention it again because it's a great gateway to authors. :) I've got another short story in an upcoming anthology, but it's not time to promote that just yet!

About LULLABIES FOR SUFFERING:



"Chilling. Thought-provoking."
-The Library Journal, (Starred Review)

Addiction starts like a sweet lullaby sung by a trusted loved one. It washes away the pains of the day and wraps you in the warmness of the womb where nothing hurts and every dream is possible. Yet soon enough, this warm state of bliss becomes a cold shiver, the ecstasy and dreams become nightmares, yet we can't stop listening to the lullaby. We crave to hear the siren song as it rips us apart.

Six stories: three novellas, three novelettes, written by a powerful list of talent, all featuring the insidious nature of addiction--damaged humans craving for highs and wholeness but finding something more tragic and horrific on the other side.

FEATURING:
Caroline Kepnes, author of YOU and HIDDEN BODIES
Kealan Patrick Burke, author of SOUR CANDY and KIN
Mercedes M. Yardley, author of PRETTY LITTLE DEAD GIRLS
John FD Taff, author of THE FEARING
Mark Matthews, author of MILK-BLOOD
Gabino Iglesias, author of COYOTE SONGS

"A plunge into the agony and the ecstasy, the inescapable nightmare of addiction."
- Alma Katsu, author of THE DEEP and THE HUNGER

Friday, February 21, 2020

Women in Horror Month #10: Hildy Silverman


Hey, everybody!  I'm very fortunate to meet with today's guest a few times a year at conventions, so I thought it was far past time to invite her on the blog.  Let's meet her briefly and then find out more.

About Hildy Silverman:



Hildy Silverman was the editor-in-chief of "Space and Time" Magazine for 12 years. She is a short fiction author whose recent publications include, "My Dear Wa'ats" (2018, BAKER STREET IRREGULARS II: THE GAME'S AFOOT, Ventrella & Maberry, eds.), "The Lady of the Lakes" (2018, CAMELOT 13, French and Thomas, eds.), and "Sidekicked" (2019, RELEASE THE VIRGINSVentrella, ed.). Her nonfiction articles have appeared in numerous legal and medical professional journals and blogs. In the mundane world, she is the Digital Marketing Manager for Oticon Medical US.

Interview:


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

HS:  Professionally, I was involved as the publisher of Space and Time Magazine for 12 years. Despite the title we published a lot of horror, as did our founder, Gordon Linzner. I also write horror short fiction and am a past president of the Garden State Horror Writers. Personally, I love the genre – I read a great deal of horror and enjoy horror movies and television series.

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

I find concepts related to loss -- of autonomy, a loved one, freedom – most terrifying. The inescapable, the unrelenting. The horrifying thing or fate you simply cannot avoid or escape, no matter what you do.




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

HS:  I have been fortunate – probably because (so far) I only write short stories -- but I haven’t personally experienced any sense of exclusion or loss of opportunity just because I’m a woman. That said, I think gender is clearly still relevant, in that I know many other people have experienced issues due to being other than cisgender straight white men. I’ve been involved in or observed discussions of how horror has been something of a “boys-only club” for a long time. However, I find it encouraging that this is finally being acknowledged, and many established members are helping open up the genre to becoming more inclusive.

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

HS:  Hard to narrow it down! Among authors, the obvious two – Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson – can’t even have a discussion of female horror icons without them. My favorite in fiction are Sigourney Weaver (Ripley) from the "Alien" films and Michonne in "The Walking Dead."




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

HS:  My next horror story, “Divided We Fell” will be released in early March in THE DYSTOPIAN STATES OF AMERICA (Bechtel, ed., Haverhill House Publishing). This story is a favorite of mine, and it has been well-received during various live readings I’ve given as part of promoting the anthology. The anthology is a collection of dystopian-themed horror with an impressive table of contents that I’m honored and humbled to be included in. All proceeds will go to the ACLU, so buyers will not only be getting great stories, they’ll be doing something positive for our country at the same time.


About THE DYSTOPIAN STATES OF AMERICA:



A charity anthology benefiting the ACLU Foundation, featuring dystopian views of the future (for America and / or the entire world) should the current regime remain in power.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Women in Horror Month #9: Lucy A. Snyder


Hey, everybody!  I'm absolutely delighted to have today's multi-award-winning guest today.  Let's meet her and then jump right into the interview.

About Lucy A. Snyder:



Lucy A. Snyder is the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of over 100 published short stories and 12 books. Her most recent titles are the collection GARDEN OF ELDRITCH DELIGHTS and the forthcoming novel THE GIRL WITH THE STAR-STAINED SOUL. She also wrote the novels SPELLBENT, SHOTGUN SORCERESS, and SWITCHBLADE GODDESS, the nonfiction book SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE HEAD FOR FUN AND PROFIT: A WRITER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE, and the collections WHILE THE BLACK STARS BURN, SOFT APOCALYPSES, ORCHID CAROUSALS, SPARKS AND SHADOWS, CHIMERIC MACHINES, and INSTALLING LINUX ON A DEAD BADGER. Her writing has been translated into French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Czech, and Japanese editions and has appeared in publications such as "Asimov’s Science Fiction," "Apex Magazine," "Nightmare Magazine," "Pseudopod," "Strange Horizons," and THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR. She lives in Columbus, Ohio and is faculty in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @LucyASnyder.

Interview:


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

LAS:  I write and edit horror, and I mentor up-and-coming horror writers. In terms of my writing, I frequently contribute short stories to horror anthologies. I co-edited the CHIRAL MAD 4 anthology with Michael Bailey, and I provide developmental editing for private clients, many of whom are writing horror. Most of my mentoring happens in Seton Hill University's Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program, but I also offer writing coaching for private students as well.


SK: Who or what terrifies you?


LAS:  In real life, I'm not bothered by many things that people are typically afraid of, like snakes or spiders or clowns. Okay, I mean, don't test this by leaving a clown in my bed or something; that's gonna be weird for me and the clown. The things that freak me out the most are heights and cockroaches. I would be very unhappy taking a hot air balloon excursion if the basket was filled with palmetto bugs.

But in fiction? If you think about things in just the right way, most anything can be completely terrifying. That's one reason why I appreciate the use of the uncanny in dark stories, because that's all about finding the sinister, frightening aspects in things that should be comfortable and familiar.


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

LAS:  Horror isn't insulated from the things that affect our culture at large; there are many well-documented challenges to being a woman in the arts, so of course there are challenges to being a woman horror writer. Women get published less and once they're published are reviewed less than their male counterparts. There's the issue of sexual harassment and assault at horror conventions. There are a whole bunch of ways that women are more negatively impacted than men are.

The good news is, the situation is getting better, though not as consistently or quickly as would be ideal. But that's a big factor in why I'm a writing educator and mentor: I want to help the next generation of writers along.


SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

LAS:  I tend to side-eye the idea of icons, idols and heroes because while a person's work might be brilliant, people are inherently flawed and we can all point to people who made great art but who did terrible things in their private lives. The dictionary definition of an icon is that it's someone who's the object of uncritical adoration or devotion. All of us working in horror need to approach work (and the people who create it) with our eyes open.

But anyway, in terms of women who have written horror, I most admire the work of Shirley Jackson, CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan, Toni Morrison, and Joyce Carol Oates. Those are my top four; if I list more we'll be here all day, because there are a whole lot of women writing phenomenal horror novels and stories these days.

For horror actors, I've long loved the work of Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver. In recent horror movies, Octavia Spencer, Sally Hawkins, Essie Davis, Jessica Chastain, and Natalie Portman have been great.


SK: What are you working on/promoting currently?

LAS:  This month, my story “My Knowing Glance” will be out in 
MISCREATIONS: GODS, MONSTROSITIES & OTHER HORRORS (Written Backwards). My story “Abandonment Option” will appear in THE DYSTOPIAN STATES OF AMERICA (Haverhill House Publishing) very soon as well.

I'm in the midst of writing a serial novel, BLOSSOMS BLACKENED LIKE DEAD STARS, for Broken Eye Books. It's a Lovecraftian space opera, and once it's complete, BEB will release it as a paperback.

I have two new books coming out later this year. My short story collection HALLOWEEN SEASON will be out from Raw Dog Screaming Press in September. And my new Lovecraftian southern gothic novel THE GIRL WITH THE STAR-STAINED SOUL (Chaosium, Inc.) should be out sometime this year as well.

About MISCREATIONS:



What happens when we make monsters? What happens when we make monsters of ourselves? Grotesque beings lurch from our darkest dreams. Vicious beasts stalk our twisted pasts. Lost souls haunt our deepest regrets. They are the blood on our hands. They are the obsessions in our heads. They are the vengeance in our hearts. They are MISCREATIONS: GODS, MONSTROSITIES & OTHER HORRORS. Edited by Bram Stoker Award-winning editors Doug Murano and Michael Bailey. Featuring a foreword by Alma Katsu, and illustrations throughout by HagCult.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Monday, February 17, 2020

Women in Horror Month #7: Gwendolyn Kiste


Hey, everybody!  I'm very excited about today's guest, one of the most exciting new names in horror fiction.  Let's meet her briefly and then jump right in!

About Gwendolyn Kiste:



Gwendolyn Kiste is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of THE RUST MAIDENS, from Trepidatio Publishing; AND HER SMILE WILL UNTETHER THE UNIVERSE, from JournalStone; and the dark fantasy novella, PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in "Nightmare Magazine," "Black Static," "Daily Science Fiction," "Shimmer," "Interzone," and "LampLight," among others. Originally from Ohio, she now resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. Find her online at gwendolynkiste.com.

Interview:


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

GK: I’m a horror author of both fiction and nonfiction. My debut novel, THE RUST MAIDENS, came out in 2018 from Trepidatio Publishing and won both a Bram Stoker Award and the This is Horror Award. I also have a fiction collection, AND HER SMILE WILL UNTETHER THE UNIVERSE, from JournalStone, and a dark fantasy novella, PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW, from Broken Eye Books. On top of all my fiction, I’ve written a number of articles and essays for numerous outlets including "Vastarien" and "Unnerving Magazine."




SK: Who or what terrifies you?

GK: People in general terrify me. The casual cruelty of humanity is more horrifying than any supernatural force. The only thing that keeps me going is that there’s a great capacity for kindness in human beings as well; without that, the world would be far more unlivable than it currently is.

Loss is also very scary to me, in particular the loss of a loved one. That’s been a kind of terror that’s always been creeping at the margins of my life since I was a child. Life really is so fleeting, and everything you love can be gone in an instant, which is such a horrifying and unsettling reality when you think about it at all. Again, though, being able to appreciate the good moments when you’re living them makes the horror of the world a little more bearable. That’s one of the many ways that horror appeals to me—it doesn’t shy away from any of life’s somewhat routine terrors. Instead, the horror genre faces all those things without flinching, which can sometimes even take away some of its power.


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

GK: There are definitely still a lot of challenges being a woman in horror. Women still aren’t taken as seriously as male writers. Our fiction often isn’t published as widely or considered “important” enough work. Female-centric stories are also sometimes not deemed “scary” enough or even belonging in the genre in the first place. Fortunately, some of these preconceived notions are changing, which is so heartening to see. I do hope that the day will eventually come when Women in Horror Month won’t be needed anymore, but until we get to that point, I’m glad there’s at least one month a year when there is a lot of signal boosting of women writers. It definitely helps draw more attention to the work of female horror creators, and it’s also a really nice time to celebrate the horror genre in general.


SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

GK: Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter are two of the biggest ones for me. Their fiction is so unusual and uncompromising, and their stories have held up incredibly well over the decades. In particular, Jackson’s novel WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE and Carter’s collection THE BLOODY CHAMBER are must-reads for horror fans. As for more modern horror creators, Jennifer Kent is doing amazing work; "The Babadook" is one of my favorite new horror films of the last ten years. And finally, when it comes to horror authors who are writing today, I would say Christa Carmen, Sara Tantlinger, Eden Royce, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Christina Sng, Brooke Warra, and Lori Titus are all doing such exemplary work, and I would recommend their fiction to any horror fans. 


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

GK: My novelette, THE INVENTION OF GHOSTS, is available now from Nightscape Press. It’s all about the occult, phantoms, and complicated friendships, so if you like ghost stories, in particular weird ones, then it might be right up your alley! The book is part of Nightscape’s Charitable Chapbook series, and one-third of all proceeds go to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, so it’s horror for a good cause!

As for what I’m currently working on, I’m in the process of finishing up some short stories as well as some nonfiction articles. Also, I’ll hopefully have a second novel out at some point in the next year. For anyone who wants to keep up with me and my blog (which also features interviews and a monthly roundup of open submission calls), feel free to track me down at gwendolynkiste.com.

About THE INVENTION OF GHOSTS:



One third of all sales of this chapbook will go to support the National AviaryThe National Aviary is America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds. Located in Allegheny Commons Park on Pittsburgh’s historic North Side, the National Aviary’s diverse collection comprises more than 500 birds representing more than 150 species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild.

It starts with rapping in the ceiling and spirit boards that know them a little too well.

Everly and her best friend aren’t your typical college students. Instead of raucous Saturday night parties, they spend their weekends conjuring up things from the beyond. Ectoplasm, levitation, death photography—you name it, and Everly knows all about it. But while this obsession with the supernatural is only supposed to be in good fun, the girls soon discover themselves drifting deeper into magic and further from each other. Then when one evening ends with an inadvertently broken promise, everything they’ve ever known is shattered in an instant, sending them spiraling into a surreal haunting. Now Everly must learn how to control the spectral forces she’s unleashed if she wants any chance of escaping a ghost more dangerous than all the witchcraft she can summon.

A tale of the occult, unlikely phantoms, and complicated friendships, THE INVENTION OF GHOSTS is the latest strange vision from the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of THE RUST MAIDENS.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Women in Horror Month #6: Lynne Hansen


Hey, everybody!  I'm absolutely tickled pink to introduce you today to someone with two parallel and incredible careers as an artist and a director.  We've met at a number of events and conventions, and I know you're going to like her just as much as I do.  So let's meet her and then dive right in.

About Lynne Hansen:



Lynne Hansen is a storyteller who, after directing her first short film "Chomp," discovered that she had been studying her entire life to become a filmmaker. She developed a love of all things creepy huddling beneath the covers watching "Acri Creature Feature" with her dad and big brother. She honed her knowledge of story during her six-year tenure as senior editor for a small press publishing company and as an award-winning author. She developed her eye for visual storytelling designing book covers that required condensing an entire story into a single image. She shepherded her own creative endeavors into the world, and those of others, as a marketing professional, including working with a historic non-profit art-house theater. Having struggled to find her own voice as an artist, Lynne has spoken to students at over 200 schools about how to nurture their own creative spark. She was awarded the 2014 Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival Filmmaker to Watch “Dreamer” award.

You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and see her portfolio site.

Interview:


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

LH:  I’m a horror artist who specializes in book covers. My clients include Cemetery Dance Publications, Thunderstorm Books, and Bloodshot Books, as well as folks like New York Times bestselling authors Christopher Golden, Rick Hautala, and Thomas E. Sniegoski. I also do all the covers for Jeff Strand’s independently published books, ‘cause he’s my husband.





SK: Who or what terrifies you?

LH:  Zombies! To me, there’s nothing scarier than looking at someone who looks just like your husband, sister, or best friend but who is absolutely NOT. I can’t think of something worse than being betrayed by someone you love.




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

LH:  Gender is always relevant. Male or female, it’s always part of who we are as artists. I’ve never felt that I’ve gotten fewer opportunities, or more, just because of my gender. That being said, we need to see more women represented in all the different artistic disciplines within horror. We need more female gatekeepers. For example, if an anthology is edited by a man, or a film festival is curated by a man, these gatekeepers are going to pick the best work from their perspectives. Because they’re men, they’re likely to pick tales that appeal to their male sensibilities. Thankfully there are more and more male gatekeepers out there who actively try to reach beyond what is comfortable for them. Folks like that are the kind of amazing allies we need to get women’s voices heard.





SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

LH:  Artist Jill Bauman, whose amazing cover art has inspired me for decades. You feel the story in every piece of art she creates. Poet Linda Addison, whose words summon such strong emotions. Her passion and joy and centeredness make me want to be her when I grow up. Filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska, who go out of their way to give a hand up to the women around them. Film character Ellen Ripley, who was one of the first positive female role models I’d ever encountered in film. Strong, smart, resourceful, and compassionate, she knew how to get things done despite whatever roadblock might be thrown in her way.



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

LH:  Most of my life is spent working on book cover commissions for amazing authors. I currently have 41 commissions in my queue. How crazy is that? But 2020 is going to be a transformative year for me. I’ll be releasing limited edition collections featuring my art that will include both housewares and clothing so that folks can enjoy my art even when it’s not on a book.

I’m going to launch a video series tentatively called “Behind the Book.” In each episode, I’ll feature a different book cover I’ve created and I’ll discuss my creative process, along with info about the book that inspired it.

Last October I did an insanely popular project called “31 Days of Art” where I created 31 premade horror book covers in 31 days and offered them for sale for half my normal rates. They all sold by the end of the month—some them within minutes of being shared on social media. It was so much fun that I’m hoping to find time to squeeze in another similar project this spring or summer.





Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Women in Horror Month #5: Zoje Stage


Hey, everybody!  I'm very pleased to bring you today's guest, a fellow Pennsylvanian and massively talented horror author.  Let's meet her briefly and then jump right in to the interview.

About Zoje Stage:



Zoje Stage is a former filmmaker with a penchant for the dark and suspenseful. Her debut novel BABY TEETH was a "USA Today" bestseller, a "People" "Book of the Week," and voted by Barnes & Noble, Bloody Disgusting, goodreads, and "Forbes Magazine" as one of the best horror books of 2018. It was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, and the film rights have been optioned by Village Roadshow/Valparaiso Pictures. Her next novel, WONDERLAND, will be published by Mulholland Books June 16, 2020. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

You can find her on her websiteTwitter, and Instagram.

Interview:


SK: Who or what terrifies you?

ZS:  Nothing in fiction or film can compete with the real-life terrors of our world, of which there are many. At present I am terrified that a handful of mega-wealthy individuals care more about their money than about their eight billion neighbors or the planet we call home. I spend a bit too much time pondering if the human species has a fatal flaw, as the lust for power seems to regularly be our undoing.

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

ZS:  My writing—which began decades ago with screenplays—typically has a dark undertone and/or incorporates various speculative elements. My main interest as a storyteller has always been to create realistic, complex characters and then throw them in the middle of something odd and difficult. And regardless of whether those situations are based in reality or not, my goal is to explore how real people might behave. I'm sure on a subconscious level what I write is my process for trying to come to terms with the strange, often scary world we live in, and one of my avenues for doing that is to attempt to take common tropes and dig into them a little deeper.

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

ZS:  Of course, on a creative-intellectual level, gender is irrelevant, but on a social-political level everyone who isn't a white man is still struggling to achieve the "givens"—of respect, worth, safety—that many white men may take for granted. And this applies to human endeavors far beyond writing and publishing. With that said, I feel like this is a great time for women in horror. Maybe all people experience some amount of horror in their lives, but women endure and witness things differently than our male counterparts and I feel like our perspectives are being more valued right now. Unfortunately—fortunately?—some of this is stemming from a growing frustration with a larger system that has not fully seen, heard, or respected women, but every step we take toward course-correcting is a victory. And hopefully this interest and acceptance will continue to expand outward to include everyone who hasn't always been seen and valued.



SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

ZS:  I don't think anyone has ever written a scarier post-apocalyptic world than Octavia Butler, or a more compelling vampire story. In general, I have a terrible memory, but Octavia Butler has burned images into my brain and that’s about the highest compliment I can give. Also, my literary inspiration in many ways has been Ursula Le Guin, and while she may not be considered a “horror” icon she was fearless in tackling social issues via speculative writing.

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

ZS:  My next book, WONDERLAND, comes out on June 16, 2020. It's been described as "If Shirley Jackson wrote THE SHINING…" Like BABY TEETH, this book involves a creative family with young children and I hope readers find it to be just as suspenseful, but the external similarities end there. With WONDERLAND I wanted to create a female protagonist who, unlike Suzette in BABY TEETH, couldn’t care less what the world thinks of her and isn’t insecure about herself as a woman or mother. Unfortunately for Orla, every part of her mental and physical strength is tested when their new homestead in the Adirondacks proves to be more than it first seems, throwing the family into increasing peril.

About WONDERLAND:



If Shirley Jackson wrote THE SHINING, it might look like this "deliciously unsettling"* horror novel from the acclaimed author of BABY TEETH: A mother must protect her family from the unnatural forces threatening their new and improved life in a rural farmhouse.

The Bennett family -- artist parents and two precocious children -- are leaving their familiar urban surroundings for a new home in far upstate New York. They're an hour from the nearest city, a mile from the nearest house, and everyone has their own room for the very first time. Shaw, the father, even gets his own painting studio, now that he and his wife Orla, a retired dancer, have agreed that it's his turn to pursue his passion.

But none of the Bennetts expect what lies waiting in the lovely woods, where secrets run dark and deep. Orla must finally find a way to communicate with -- not just resist -- this unknown entity that is coming to her family, calling to them from the land, in the earth, beneath the trees ... and in their minds.

*(Layne Fargo, author of TEMPER)

Monday, February 10, 2020

Women in Horror Month #4: Ellen Datlow


Hey, everybody!  I'm absolutely over the moon that today's guest agreed to be with us, so let's jump right in!

About Ellen Datlow:



Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for over thirty-five years as fiction editor of "OMNI Magazine" and editor of "Event Horizon" and "SCIFICTION." She currently acquires short stories and novellas for Tor.com and their new horror imprint Nightfire. In addition, she’s edited more than ninety science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies, including the annual THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR, THE DOLL COLLECTION, BLACK FEATHERS, MAD HATTERS AND MARCH HARES, THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP: HORROR STORIES OF THE SEA, and ECHOES: THE SAGA ANTHOLOGY OF GHOST STORIES. Forthcoming are EDITED BY-a selection of stories from her original anthologies (Subterranean), BODY SHOCKS, a reprint anthology of body horror (Tachyon), and FINAL CUTS-all new horror stories about movies and movie-making (Blumhouse/Anchor).

She's won multiple World Fantasy Awards, Locus Awards, Hugo Awards, Stoker Awards, International Horror Guild Awards, Shirley Jackson Awards, and the 2012 Il Posto Nero Black Spot Award for Excellence as Best Foreign Editor. Datlow was named recipient of the 2007 Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention for "outstanding contribution to the genre," was honored with the Life Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association, in acknowledgment of superior achievement over an entire career, and honored with the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award at the 2014 World Fantasy Convention.

She lives in New York and co-hosts the monthly Fantastic Fiction Reading Series at KGB Bar. More information can be found at www.datlow.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter. She’s owned by two cats.

Interview:


SK: What ironic, "Twilight Zone"-style punishment would you be made to suffer?

ED: The one in "Time Enough at Last" in which Burgess Meredith who just needs time to read is surrounded by books and just as he's about to read the first one, breaks his eyeglasses. Luckily I can read without my glasses or contacts.


SK: What was the worst submission you've ever come across in a slush pile? And if you weren't a consummate professional, how would you have worded your rejection letter?

ED: I haven't read slush in decades--very few editors send out personal rejections of slush submissions. There's no time and no point. They generally have a form letter that 's vague and polite. But in reality an editor might want to tell the submitter to give up, but that would be wrong.


SK: How real is the literary black list? Also, I know a few people I think should be blacklisted. How would I go about adding them?

ED: Obviously editors talk to each other and if a writer is too much trouble to work with we might mention it to each other. But is there a specific black list? No.


SK: Assuming my blacklisting plan doesn't pan out, how would I go about committing the perfect murder?

ED: There is no such thing as a perfect murder. Besides it's easier to just not buy a story from someone you don't want to work with.


SK: What's your "method" when you gamble at the casino? How does it work out for you?

ED: I only do penny slot machines that are fun. If there are no bonuses or interesting things going on, I don't use that machine. If I lose a few bucks at one machine I'll move to another until I find one I like-that seems to pay out for me. I don't take more than $80 with me and put in $20 at a time. If I make more than say $25 from a machine, I'll cash out, put the receipt in my wallet and use another $20 bill. It helps me keep track of how I'm doing. Once I run out of the cash I've brought I'm done. My goal is to make the money last as long as I plan to be at the casino. If I come out ahead, great.


SK: You're one of the few people who can answer this with any sort of authority, so: what is the greatest short horror story ever written and why?

ED: There isn't just one. There are many. I could never choose one.


About FINAL CUTS:



Legendary genre editor Ellen Datlow brings together eighteen dark and terrifying original stories inspired by cinema and television. A BLUMHOUSE BOOKS HORROR ORIGINAL.

From the secret reels of a notoriously cursed cinematic masterpiece to the debauched livestreams of modern movie junkies who will do anything for clicks, FINAL CUTS brings together new and terrifying stories inspired by the many screens we can't peel our eyes away from. Inspired by the rich golden age of the film and television industries as well as the new media present, this new anthology reveals what evils hide behind the scenes and between the frames of our favorite medium. With original stories from a diverse list of some of the best-known names in horror, FINAL CUTS will haunt you long after the credits roll.

NEW STORIES FROM: Josh Malerman, Chris Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, Garth Nix, Laird Barron, Kelley Armstrong, John Langan, Richard Kadrey, Paul Cornell, Lisa Morton, AC Wise, Dale Bailey, Jeffrey Ford, Cassandra Khaw, Nathan Ballingrud, Gemma Files, Usman T. Malik, and Brian Hodge.
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