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 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.


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!


"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.

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.


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.


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 and you can follow her on Twitter at @LucyASnyder.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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 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, on Facebook, and on Twitter. She’s owned by two cats.


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.


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.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Women in Horror Month #3: Sarah Pinborough

Hey, everybody!  I'm absolutely agog that today's guest agreed to be with us, so I won't waste any time before jumping in.  Let's meet her briefly and then go right into the interview.

About Sarah Pinborough:

Sarah Pinborough is a New York Times bestselling, Sunday Times Number one and Internationally bestselling author who is published in over 25 territories worldwide. Her most recent thriller, DEAD TO HER, a dark and twisty, sexy tale of hidden secrets and revenge in high society Savannah, released in the US from William Morrow in Feb 2020 and is in development with First Look Media and her novel BEHIND HER EYES will be airing on Netflix as a six-parter in Summer 2020.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.

You can follow her on Twitter.


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

SP:  Although I'm more widely known as a thriller writer these days, I started out writing straight horror novels. My first came out in 2004 and I wrote 6 straight horror books for Leisure Books (now defunct) in the states. I've also written cross-over novels (MAYHEM AND MURDER are set in 19th century London and use real crimes and people but with a supernatural adversary) and fantasy and fairy tales and even my current psychological thrillers sometimes have a tinge of the otherworldly. I also occasionally still write horror short stories.

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

SP:  Gosh, everything really. And more and more things as I get older. Death of course is where most fears lead back to, but I'm afraid of deep water, flying, heights - anything that could potentially hurt me. I'm also afraid of failure and not achieving everything I want to. That also gets stronger as the years tick by.

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

SP:  Well, I'm probably not so qualified to answer that one anymore. There's certainly no issues in publishing per se - editors are often women as are agents (in the UK at least) and I see the mainstream success of writers like Alma Katsu, CJ Tudor, Michelle Paver, Alison Littlewood and many others who do fine so I don't think in terms of publishing it's any harder for a woman than a man - but perhaps within the 'scene' maybe. I do wonder if women have to fight harder to have their supernatural work taken seriously in the fandom and the community - but I've not been in the scene fully for a while (most of my conventions and festivals are crime ones these days but I will be going to Stokercon!).

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

SP:  In fictional terms? Ripley in "Alien" has to be tops. She's so kick-ass - everything I'm not. Annie Wilkes scares the shit out of me. In terms of horror creators, Daphne Du Maurier and Michelle Paver to me - one old and one modern- are killer at creating proper dread and that awful tingle at the back of your neck.

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

SP:  I'm currently working on some TV stuff for the UK and my new book, DEAD TO HER, is out in the States and is due out in the UK in April. It's a twisty thriller set amongst the Savannah elite.. with some Voodoo thrown in too!


Image result for dead to her"

For fans of Liane Moriarty, Liv Constantine and Lisa Jewell, a twisty psychological thriller about a savvy second wife who will do almost anything to come out on top from the New York Times bestselling author of BEHIND HER EYES.
Marriage can be murder…

Marcie’s affair with Jason Maddox catapulted her into the world of the elite.

Old money, old ties, old secrets. Marcie may have married into this world—

but she’ll never be part of it.

Then Jason’s boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London.

Young, attractive, reckless—nobody can take their eyes off Keisha.

Including Marcie’s husband.

Some people would kill for the life Marcie has—what will she do to keep it?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Women in Horror Month #2: Mar Garcia

Hey, everybody!  I'm very pleased to welcome today's guest, one of the best promoters in indie horror today.  Let's meet her briefly and then jump right into the interview.

About Mar Garcia:

Mar Garcia is an online marketer with the main focus on the horror community. She is a personal promoter for presses, indie authors, other websites, indie films and magazines.  You can follow her on her websiteher book promotion siteher thriller affiliate, and her fantasy affiliate.  Her social media includes the Disturbing Drawings FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Facebook.


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

MG:  That question has a difficult answer... Actually, when I started in this world I worked with any genre. I happened to meet a few horror authors by coincidence, and as this is a small community, one thing led to another and when I realised 80% of my work was horror I thought it was better to focus on one genre so I would be more efficient in my work. And well, here we are!

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

MG:  Actually, nothing. I can't think of anything, which is a bit disturbing. It's very difficult for me to get disturbed by a horror book or movie, so when I review a book I need to think how would the average reader feels with it. A friend of mine used to tell me that my mind is madder than any horror author's LOL.

If I had to say something, I'd say that something would happen to my kid. But that's a parent's general fear I'm afraid.

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

MG:  I think there are unique challenges in being a woman, in general. Some kind of men (which sadly, are a lot) undervalue you as a professional just because you're a woman, and reach out like they're making you a favour for giving you work LOL. They talk to you like a child.

Also, they disrespect you reaching out flagrantly flirting with you. "Hey, gorgeous, I got a new book," "Hi, beautiful, I need some promo...," etc.

If I was a man, they would never reach out like that.

I never work with disrespectful people. My father used to say, "We're poor, but not miserable."

Being a woman is a constant dealing with men treating you like you are four years old and can't stand by yourself.

But I also know and work with lots of men who are perfect gentlemen. These could teach a couple of things to those.

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

There are already thousands worshiping famous authors, so I'll stick to the indie world:

Theresa Jacobs. She's incredibly disturbing and her imagination goes beyond measure. She can make the little concept of a "cat" steal your sleep for weeks.

And then, of course, my deeply beloved Dona Fox. She writes pure madness. The mind of a psychotic soul poured on your hands. She has plenty of short stories and audiobooks. She's just amazing.

I highly recommend checking them out.

SK: What are you working on/promoting currently?

MG: That's difficult to summarise. I work for four publishers and some authors. I also feature magazines, indie films and podcasts. I adapt to what each of them needs.

SK: Why should folks check it out?

MG:  Why? Well... if they need to get their word out there, let's talk!

If they are vloggers, reviewers, columnists, etc, they are always more than welcome to write on the website and join the team.

Also, I usually open projects for free promotion. As often as I can.

I always exchange a few emails with those interested in my work to know them a bit deeper and be able to attend them properly and set the specific goals for them.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Women in Horror Month #1: Melissa Hayward

Hey, everybody!  Welcome to Women in Horror Month 2020.  To kick things off I thought I'd invite one of the most fun people in the genre, who makes Scares That Care a blast every year and even inspired a character in C.V Hunt's COCKBLOCK.  Let's briefly meet our guest and then jump right in to the interview.

About Melissa Hayward:

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

Melissa Hayward runs the Dublin Fright Club.  You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


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

MH:  I've run Dublin's horror book club Fright Club for over 5 years so I guess I fit nicely in the "horror fan" category. Our club meets once a month to discuss the book we've been reading and we also go on regular adventures like ghost hunting excursions, weekends away in haunted houses and play lots of board games and arrange Q&A's with authors. 

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

MH:  Sharks! I'm absolutely terrified of sharks and large underwater things in general. It's so bad I won't go in a swimming pool or have a bath.

One of my favourite genres of film is "terrifying underwater threat"

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

MH:  Na, I think horror is going through a bit of a renaissance at the moment and gender is irrelevant. My own book club is 50/50 male/female, women have just as much screen time as men in in modern horror films and I know so many great women working in film and writing horror. The horror community are the most open and welcoming people.

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

MH:  C.V Hunt is one of my favourite authors, I adore her books.  
Sarah Pinborough is wonderful, her novel BEHIND HER EYES traumatised me for weeks after I finished reading it.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a badass and "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a beautiful story.

I of course want to be Lily Munster when I grow up 

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

MH:  My boyfriend and I have been making coffin shaped home accessories like spice racks, chopping boards and bath boards. Everything is made from wood reclaimed from reportedly haunted spots all over Ireland, our current rage includes items made from wood from a 100 year old haunted barn. If folks are interested in creepy home accessories they can check us out here.
Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)