Blue sky from corporate to the car. Texting his wife, Mr. Kedder didn’t notice the mosfugito alight on his back — purple, corpulent, cellophane wings, with a proboscis that pushed discretely into Kedder’s time. Then the world heaved. Kedder spun ahead to his house, to bed, to morning with its toothpaste and groans. Years, suckled in seconds, flung children into college, into careers. Wrinkles wriggled across Kedder’s face. “Please…” A gray hair, a wife’s funeral, pills in a white cup. “Please… stop…” And as if in answer, the mosfugito tore from Kedder’s back, engorged on a gray husk bound to wheelchair.
The Horror Writer: A Study of Craft and Identity in the Horror Genre is a comprehensive resource on writing horror. Interviews and essays cover a range of topics from inspiration to productivity, literary elements to marketing, exacerbating your reader’s sense of existential dread to publicizing your book in an oversaturated industry. I especially liked Chat Lutzke’s instructions on hooking the reader through empathetic, universal fears, Kenneth W. Cain’s near-prose essay on maintaining tension, and Kevin J. Kennedy’s frank, personable, and immensely useful observations about the writing profession. I could go on, but then I’d be spoiling this anthology’s secrets. Overall, a treasure trove of good information for the emergent and established alike (including those uninterested in writing specifically for the horror genre).
The book is available for purchase here.
A story in exactly 100 words.
Mother put down baby, avoiding kicking legs, all twelve of them. She wrapped a diaper around baby’s waist, whispering gently. Baby giggled, his mandibles clacking. Mother smiled. “He’s putting on weight. The diapers are getting tighter.”
Underwear secure, baby scurried up the wall.
Father was releasing torrents into the sink. “Another bite?” she asked. Father groaned, hurled, didn’t reply, raised an arm. Gauze barely hid where baby had bit freely. Mother came to the kitchen to hold her husband, to let the sense of wrong invade her, before the fog returned, before she pulled baby back down from the ceiling.
My microfiction “Familiar Girls” was published by Blood Song Books in “Curses & Cauldrons.” Their witch-based anthology boasts “over 200 tiny dark tales of magic, mischief, murder, mayhem & madness” and is available as an ebook or trade paperback. I’m proud to be published alongside so many great writers, including my wife!
Oh, and here’s a great review of the anthology.
This summer, I went to Denver Pop Culture Con, once Denver Comic Con until San Diego made them change the name. The convention had the usual—the cosplay, the contests, the artist alleys and merchant mesas, and many, many literary panels.
Being a dabbler of morbid subjects, I went to a panel, entitled “Death Becomes Her: Representing Death in Fiction,” which sought to explore our literary fascination with death.
The panelists were Brenna Yovanoff, Sherry Ficklin, Cat Winters, and Paul Kreuger, and the moderator was Amalie Howard. I found each of the authors had something to say of importance, and I will collect their best statements below:
- “Literary deaths can be a safe space for readers who need to cope with their emotions. Books allow you to process at the spend you want to process. You have control. You can always put a book down and think a while.”
- “Zombies compel and repel us. It’s the uncanniness. A thing that is supposed to be empty and still getting up and moving around.”
- “Often YAF characters are experiencing things for the first time. First love, first death. It’s a fun playground because everyone reacts differently, everyone copes differently. It’s kind of like coping mechanism origin stories.”
- “The death of an inanimate thing can impact us as much as the loss of a life. The loss of a job, the destruction of an ideal. In fantasy, this can change from ‘my roommate moved to a different city’ to ‘my roommate turned into a cat.’ It’s still the loss of a friendship.”
- “Death is not judgment. Time is the enemy, wearing down heroes and villains alike.”
- “Death in fiction can give us hope that there’s life beyond. Even the restless spirit appeals to us. Says—This might not be it. Death is not a stopping point. However, even if death is not finite, we still will not have what we have now. Death increases our appreciation of life.”
- “Edgar Allan Poe was able to write about being alone, about not knowing how to handle the death of loved ones, the weirdness in our souls. He got away with horror and murder and madness under the stamp of literature.”
- “There is often hope in horror. Sometimes the story ends with the character destroyed, sure, but usually we get to see our protagonist once the horror has passed. We see what the character looks like on the other side of darkness. A stranger, broken, but on the path of healing.”
- “I often think of the post-apocalyptic story. The death of normality, of stability. And compare that to my experience as a millennial. The death of that promise I’ve had my whole life that if I get good grades and graduate from a good college, I will have a happy, cushiony job waiting for me. A house, a car.”
- “Fiction sometimes romanticizes death, but there’s a wide gulf between 13 Reasons Why and the economy of hot or not. I like hot monsters. I’d be okay with the grim reaper having ripped abs. If death were sexier I’d welcome it. But often, when suicide is glamorized, the author is usually the least affected by death, and the least responsible for the effect of their books. I question purpose. Unless its a martyrdom for loved ones, self-destruction is not congruent with hope.”
- “Zombies can be whatever we want. They’re a blank slate. Romero had zombies represent the glut of U.S. capitalism. In Kim Eun-hee’s Kingdom, zombies literally eat the rich. They’re the external manifestation of the rot in South Korea coming from greedy rulers.”
The gray ape scurried across circles, spins, and spirals, the feral geometry of a temple that once gave her the shakes, once reminded her of mournful teeth.
Now the architecture was as familiar as her mate, although there was no time to admire the fractals, to run her hands over the pillars. She was in a hurry.
She was expected.
Before the statue of Ezum, the ape kneeled, said a well-practiced prayer, and unsheathed fifteen arms, revealing parchment and bottles and green-yellow feathers from her sleeves. Every circle priest wore the robe. It was useful for implements and unflattering bodies.
Ezum would arrive. Somehow, someway, through its temple effigy, Ezum spoke, and the priests listened, and replied, and scratched the words into the Elegy of Entrails.
As a writer, how do you format the dialogue of an elder god?
This was the problem I faced while writing “The Elegy of Entrails,” a Lovecraft lovefest set on an extraterrestrial world.
Quotation marks felt too petty. You don’t say “What’s up?” to Cthulhu and expect “Not much” in return. Sure, the gods in Homer’s The Illiad speak like anyone else, but what about those things beyond existence? Creatures more dream than meat?
Very excited to announce that I am now Assistant Editor of Coffin Bell, a quarterly online journal (they also have an annual print issue) that publishes “waking nightmares, dark CNF, dystopian flash, cursed verse.”
I hope to bring my decade of experience in literary circles, workshops, and critique groups (as well as my undergraduate degree in creative writing) to the operating table and get my hands slick with organ rot. I mean weird fiction.
The magazine wanted a headshot so I sent them this:
That’s me, by the way.
Gaiman was the reason I always had purple baggy-eyes in elementary and middle school. The simplicity of his writings, the interweaving of mythology, monsters, and modernity, and the cruel world behind-the-magic offered my child-self something gripping, something utterly fantastic and appalling to explore late in the night. His writing still does—today—in my late twenties. Personally, my favorite work by Neil Gaiman is The Ocean at the End of the Lane (and not only because Fiction Beer Company has a citrus wheat beer inspired by the novel). I have a theory about literature (I’m allowed a few theories, being an English teacher) that great works must inspire the moral imagination, even if the wisdoms aren’t the sort we want to hear. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the title clues us in—Harper Lee wants us to understand that it’s a “sin to kill a mockingbird” for they “don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.” The book indicts an American culture which regularly commits this sacrilege against its disadvantaged and minorities. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, behind an incredible narrative about magic and outsiders, there is an abundance of dark truths about adulthood—its deceptive ontology of control, its routine mindlessness. Gaiman reminds us “Adults follow paths. Children explore;” “Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside;” and—in the most incredible line I’ve read in literature, something that explains the opus of Stephen King and H. P. Lovecraft better than they did themselves—that what marks adulthood is not some maturity or inner growth, but the awareness of how fragile the surface of our lives are, the recognition that reality is “a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger.”