Posts Tagged ‘Angela Slatter’

Hi Everyone,

The Suspended in Dusk 2 anthology was picked up by a new publisher, Grey Matter Press.   As with part 1 of the series, Suspended in Dusk 2 is anthology of horror and dark fiction that continues examines themes of change and the moments between the light and the dark.

I’m very thrilled to announce that January 2018 will see the publication of Suspended in Dusk 2.

Just check out this sexy terrifying cover, created by the incredibly talented Dean Samed:

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The book features and fantastic introduction from British Fantasy Award and World Fantasy award winning author Angela Slatter, in addition to 17 stories from some of the best horror and dark fiction writers today.

Table of Contents:

Introduction – Angela Slatter
Love is a Cavity I Can’t Stop Touching – Stephen Graham Jones
The Sundowners – Damien Angelica Walters
Crying Demon – Alan Baxter
Still Life with Natalie – Sarah Read
That Damned Cat – Nerine Dorman
The Immortal Dead – JC Michael
Mother of Shadows – Benjamin Knox
There’s No Light Between Floors – Paul Tremblay
Another World – Ramsey Campbell
The Mournful Cry of Owls – Christopher Golden
Riptide – Dan Rabarts
Dealing in Shadows – Annie Neugebauer
Angeline – Karen Runge
The Hopeless People in the Uninhabitable Places – Letitia Trent
Wants and Needs – Paul Michael Anderson
An Elegy to Childhood Monsters – Gwendolyn Kiste
Lying in the Sun on a Fairytale Day – Bracken MacLeod

I know Grey Matter Press and myself are really forward to getting this fantastic book into the hands of readers in a few months time! Stay tuned!

 

 

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Front_End_Loader

One trick for starting a short story is the trick of front-loading, so that the overarching fantastic element, source of melodrama, or underlying theme or emotion, is presented to the reader immediately or shortly after the story commences. This technique is often useful because within the first few lines or paragraphs of your story, the author still has the readers’ complete trust. The reader has not had a chance for doubt to creep in and impinge upon their suspension of disbelief. In short:  At this point, they’re still open to buying what you’re selling.

Now before we go any further I should probably point out that this is just one technique which can be used effectively when commencing a short story. It is not the be-all-end-all of how to start a story. There is no single one right way. To quote Nick Mamatas once more from his fantastic collection of essays, Starve Better:

Write what you want, when you want, and how you want to write it. If you keep finding yourself staring up at the lights while the ref counts to three, try another strategy. There are plenty to choose from … whatever gets the story published and enjoyed is what works.

Getting back to the idea of front-loading: Using the term “curse” as a byword for melodrama in plot, Ansen Dibell says in her book :Elements of Fiction Writing – Plot:

There are straightforward ways of setting your curse in the middle of solidly credible things and declaring it right from the beginning. There are other methods of misdirecting attention so that the curse has already happened and been accepted before the reader has a chance to holler, “Hey, now, wait a minute!”

I’ll start with the front-loading ways first—putting the unusual right up front and making it part of the story’s fundamental reality.” (Simon: Emphasis mine)

Ansen then goes on to list a number of ways to do this, and gives examples of:  the protagonist in Kafka’s Metamorphosis awaking and realising he is an insect, the opening scene of Star Wars: A New Hope being laser fire between spaceships, and the vampire talking into the tape recorder at the start interview with a vampire.  (Note:  Ansen’s book is a great book, buy this book.)

Kristi DeMeester, author of Split Tongues, whose short fiction you can find at places like Black Static Magazine, Shimmer zine, and Shock Totem Magazine, says:

“That great short story idea you had? Put it up front. Make it your lead. If your story is about a woman birthing plastic dolls who is then deemed the new Madonna/Mother Mary, start there with the shiny, plastic birth.”

And what a start to a story that would be! In fact, I want to read that story. (Kristi, fill your boots!)

Joe Hill, author of novels such as The Fireman, Heart Shaped Box, NOS4A2, and fantastic short story collections such as 20th Century Ghosts, says on his blog Joe Hill’s Thrills:

“Readers are inclined to just go with you at the very beginning of a story, which is why it’s the best place to drop a whopper on them. I began my short story “Pop Art” like this:

My best friend when I was twelve was inflatable.

The reader’s response? Oh, okay, Joey! Inflatable friend. Got it.

Also: think about if you saw a U.F.O. or a ghost. If you were telling a friend about it, you’d probably drop that shit on them right away: Dude, I was driving back from work last night and I saw a fuckin’ U.F.O. And it landed! And a ghost got out of it!!

You wouldn’t tell him about the business account you lost during the day, the conversation you had with your Mom that made you angry, and the nap you took under your desk. You wouldn’t even *think* of telling him about that stuff, not at first. YOU SAW A U.F.O., DUDE. Start with that part. Don’t be afraid to be amazing right from the beginning.”

Often this kind of declaration of intent that a writer makes, is actually a method of introducing that The Event as well (Refer to Part 1 of this series for more on that)

The following except is from the beginning of Angela Slatter’s British Fantasy Award winning story, The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter and I think it makes a fantastic case study of several cool techniques, including front-loading:

The door is a rich red wood, heavily carved with improving scenes from the trials of Job. An angel’s head, cast in brass, serves as the knocker and when I let it go to rest back in its groove, the eyes fly open, indignant, and watch me with suspicion. Behind me is the tangle of garden—cataracts of flowering vines, lovers’ nooks, secluded reading benches—that gives this house its affluent privacy.

The dead man’s daughter opens the door.

She is pink and peach and creamy. I want to lick at her skin and see if she tastes the way she looks.

“Hepsibah Ballantyne! Slattern! Concentrate, this is business.” My father slaps at me, much as he did in life. Nowadays his fists pass through me, causing nothing more than a sense of cold ebbing in my veins. I do not miss the bruises.

In this scene, Angela does a number of cool things:

  1. The arrival at the house of the dead man is The Event. The house, more specifically who lives there and the business the protagonist Hepsibah has there, is central to the entire story. So her rocking up on site really is the beginning of the story here.
  2. By describing the door and the knocker she impresses upon the reader the importance of what is behind the door and instils a sense of trepidation. What horrors lurk behind this portal?? Perhaps also mixed with wonder or intrigue, as the description of the plush garden and reading nooks, and the general affluence of the house is raises questions. Who lives here??
  3. Then the dead man’s daughter opens the door, leaving us thinking “Who died? And what importance does their death (and perhaps death generally!) have to this story?” Additionally, the contrast of the pale, peachy, lickable maiden who answers the door versus the suspenseful description of the door from the preceding paragraph and the horrors it implied,  is masterful.
  4. And finally, and most crucially as far as this post goes, she front-loads that fantastic—she reveals Hepsibah’s dead ghostly father is beside her berating and beating her “as much as he did in life”.

Within 4 short paragraphs, I’m anticipatory; I’m intrigued and tantalised; I’m not even blinking my eye when she’s telling me there is horrid ghostly fathers that follow around their children cursing them. Hell, I’m buying what Angela is selling, folks!

Alternatively, rather than front-loading the element of the fantastic, an author can front-load the theme of a story or the underlying emotion of a piece for incredible effect.

I’ll use the opening paragraphs (which includes one of the very best opening lines I’ve ever read) from Jack Ketchum’s novel The Girl Next Door:

You think you know about pain?

Talk to my second wife. She does. Or thinks she does.

She says that once when she was nineteen or twenty she got between a couple of cats fighting—her own cat and a neighbor’s—and one of them went at her, climbed her like a tree, tore gashes out of her thighs and breasts and belly that you can still see today, scared her so badly she fell back against her mother’s turn-of-the-century Hoosier, breaking her best ceramic pie plate and scraping sick inches of skin off her ribs while the cat made its way back down her again, all tooth and claw and spitting fury. Thirty-six stiches I think she said she got. And a fever that lasted for days.

My second wife says that’s pain.

She doesn’t know shit, that woman.

Yes, that poignant question is the opening line of a novel rather than a short story, but it illustrates the point I’m trying to make here. Straight away we know what this tale is about. We have some idea of what the subject matter is, the primary theme the novel is going to explore. When you read that opening line you immediately  question yourself, you question that knowledge you think you have about pain.  I know about pain, asshole. I think. Don’t I??

When you read the following description of the lady who got mauled be the cats, and the narrator’s assertion “My second wife says that’s pain.”, you know know this novel is going to be a treatise on or an exploration of pain. And, indeed, that’s what it is (along with an extreme social commentary on rape culture, mob mentality and many other things).

Important notes/sub-essay in the margin:

When I’m talking about front-loading, I mean front-loading the element of the fantastic or melodramatic; front-loading the theme, front-loading the central emotion of your piece etc. What I’m NOT talking about is front-loading exposition (scene, descriptions of the fucking weather or descriptions of characters) or back story.

When you start up front with backstory, you’re missing the Inciting Incident Describing back story, Donald Maass, literary agent and owner of the Maass literary agency, says in his book The Fire In Fiction:

Backstory is the bane of virtually all manuscripts. Authors imagine that readers need, even want, a certain amount of filling in. I can see why they believe that. It starts with critique groups in which writers hear comments such as, “I love this character! You need to tell me more about her!” Yes, the author does. But not right away. As they say in the theater, make ’em wait. Later in the novel backstory can become a revelation; in the first chapter it always bogs things down.

I’m telling you now folks, this is as true of the first scene of a short story as it is of a novel.

Here I’ll turn to Thomas B. Sawyer, head writer of the classic TV show Murder, She Wrote and author of Fiction writing Demystified:

Don’t front-load your exposition.

Sure, you’ve fully imagined your characters, given them complexity and dimension. You’ve created concise and solid biographies for them. You know a lot about them (though you’ll learn more as your story progresses), and you’re anxious to use it, to tell your readers about it.

Resist, with all of your strength, the temptation to squeeze all that great stuff into the first scene, into those first moments that this or that character is onstage.

Why? Because, as far as the Theory of Locomotion is concerned, exposition is dead writing. It’s not moving things forward at all. Rather, if we do what was suggested in Part 1 of this series and start with or near The Event, and then frontload our story with something appropriate, the start of your story can be a powerful and adroit delivery. On time and on point, so to speak.

Having said that you can still have a slow burn story—one that starts slow and builds up. It doesn’t have to begin with vampire fangs, ghosts, or the apocalypse. There is no requirement set in stone that one must, or necessarily should, front-load the fantastic/theme/etc. There are different horses for different courses, and there are no rules. At the end of the day, what works is what works, what gives the best effect, and what results in a fiction sale is what was appropriate.

For example, one might start near the Event, yet not really front-load anything.

In my own “Little Spark of Madness” (forthcoming 2016, Morbid Metamorphosis, Lycan Valley Press) , we can see that I open it like this:

“She wore a fluffy, pink dressing gown and a vacant stare. The lady stood outside the large red brick house at the end of the cul-de-sac, set well away from the other houses; a building cast under a shadow, as though a cloud had parked itself directly above.”

In this instance, The Event is the character Brodie is meeting the other main character, Sally,  in the story for the first time. It’s equivalent of the “Stranger comes to town” archetypal beginning. In this story, and particularly in this beginning, there are no UFOs, no ghosts or full moons, no overt element of the fantastic. There are no laser beams. What relationship or effect this lady is going to have on the protagonist is not immediately apparent. And that’s OK. What I hope the reader might be thinking at this point is:  “Who is the woman? Why is she staring vacantly? Is she sick/sad/etc?”. Perhaps they might too consider the contrast between the pink and fluffy dressing gown and the lady’s catatonic appearance.

Nick Mamatas says the following in Starve better, and I think he makes a good point here:

“Start with a hook” is bad advice, ultimately, because of the word ‘hook’. A hook is an important part of a story to be sure, and could do anywhere. It is the motor of the story—it can be the twist at the end, the broad concept, the compelling change the character undergoes, the language or clever structure of a piece…whatever makes a story worth reading is its hook. A hook may go in the beginning, but it need not. Beginnings are for something else. The start of a story, its first paragraph, should assure the reader that they are in capable hands. The beginning of the story should tantalize, not hook, the reader.

Starting with a “strong hook”, front-loading the fantastic, grabbing the reader by the balls, laser beams—is just ONE way to start a story. It is ONE technique.

Try it. Experiment with it. See when and how it works for your fiction.

SiD 2 Title2

Hi everyone,

I’ve been waiting for a while release the table of contents for Suspended in Dusk 2 but all the contracts are in and my hands have been unshackled.  There were a couple of changes to the line up. Unfortunately, Mercedes Yardley and Nikki Guerlain wont be joining us due to other commitments. I do very much hope to work with them both soon on future projects.  As sad as that is, there are some fantastic new additions to the line up whose work I am thrilled to be including in the anthology.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order,…

Suspended in Dusk 2 – Table of Contents

  1. Introduction by Angela Slatter
  2. Deadman’s Road by Joe R. Lansdale
  3. The Mournful Cry of Owls by Christopher Golden
  4. The Immortal Dead by JC Michael
  5. That Damned Cat by Nerine Dorman
  6. Another World by Ramsey Campbell
  7. Angeline by Karen Runge
  8. Mother of Shadows by Benjamin Knox
  9. Love is a Cavity I Can’t Stop Touching by Stephen Graham Jones
  10. Crying Demon by Alan Baxter
  11. The Sundowners by Damien Angelica Walters
  12. Still Life with Natalie by Sarah Read
  13. Riptide by Dan Rabarts
  14. Dealing in Shadows by Annie Neugebauer
  15. There’s no light between floors by Paul Tremblay

Editing continues apace and I’m looking forward to receiving some cover art soon, which I’ll no doubt share in due course!

This book features a few Easter eggs for readers too:

Mother of Shadows by Benjamin Knox is a continuation of the story from the original Suspended in Dusk anthology, A Keeper of Secrets. Ben and I worked hard to ensure it reads very fine as its own standalone tale, but readers of the first anthology should be enjoy the continuation of this story.

In what is becoming a Suspended in Dusk tradition, I’ve included a story which is dark yet also quite humorous, Nerine Dorman’s That Damned Cat.

Lastly,  there are several fantastic art pieces by the incredibly talented artist Aaron Dries,  which will appear exclusively in the paperback version of the anthology.

I am very happy with how this book is shaping up and I know there will be something for all horror readers and readers of dark fiction within these pages.

 

Simon Dewar

 

 

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Hey everyone.  One of today’s WiHM7 interviews is with Dr. Angela Slatter.  Angela is a British Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winning author; a Dr of Creative Writing; an incredibly kind and generous person who has been especially welcoming of n00bs like myself, ever since I stumbled into the world of writing, editing and genre fiction. Probably one my ginuwine favourite interwebz people, although legend has it she also exists on the corporeal plane… the stupendously talented Angela Slatter:

Dr-Angela-Slatter

A. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

AS: I’ve always been a voracious reader and I’ve always scribbled, but I only made the decision to start writing seriously about twelve years ago. I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and think “Jeeez, I wish I’d given that a go.” So I threw in a high-paying job in Sydney, moved back to Queensland and started learning the writing craft from scratch. I did a Grad Dip in Creative Writing and was lucky it was a good practical program, then started an MA and produced a collection of rewritten fairy tales, all of which were published before I submitted my finished project for marking − my first sale was to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and the second was to Shimmer. I started a PhD, which I eventually finished, and have been consistently publishing since 2006. I’ve had six short story collections published (two with Lisa L. Hannett), there’s a seventh coming out in October 2016, and last year I signed a three-book deal with Jo Fletcher Books for an urban fantasy series − the first book, Vigil, comes out in July 2016.

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  

AS: I think it probably crept up on me … I read a lot of horror as a teen, a mix of Richard Laymon, Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, and anthologies edited by Stephen Jones which brought together the likes of Kim Newman, Steve Rasnic Tem, et al. I sought out female horror writers like Tanith Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Marghanita Laski, Barbara Baynton, Mary Shelley, because I often found them more subtle and more chilling (not all the time). One of the first stories I remember writing was about a woman obsessed with books who killed someone in order to get a book that she’d been denied. Probably my first dark detour! Writing for me has been a lot of trying out different genres and styles, as well as reading a lot before I found my own voice.

When I write a fairy tale influenced piece, I’m always drawing on the old horror of the original tales. When I write a modern horror story, I’m still drawing on some inflections of horrific elements in old fairy and folk tales. I think the horror stories that I’ve written that creep me out the most are “Finnegan’s Field”, “Winter Children” and “Cuckoo” … I think they all cut very close to the bone of women’s lives.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 

AS: I’m not precisely sure what ‘jimmies’ are … if you mean scared the bejesus outta me, then there have been a few for different reasons:

I’ve said a lot of times that Marghanita Laski’s “The Tower” was the first horror story I read that I just adored coz it’s so atmospheric and filled with dread. Then there’s Barbara Baynton’s “The Chosen Vessel”, which I realise I read much earlier than the Laski, when we lived out at Longreach − I was still in primary school and the story is about the murder of an isolated woman, the wife of a drover and her child left on a property while her husband goes off shearing … I think because the story echoed the landscape I was living in it was extra disturbing. Then there’s anything by M.R. James. but particularly “Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad”. There’s Saki’s “Gabriel Ernest” and “Sredni Vashtar”. The “Wendigo’s Child” by Thomas F. Montelone gave me nightmares as a kid.

What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

AS: Seven short story collections, two novellas, one novel, and over 150 short stories. All are listed here http://www.angelaslatter.com/publications/, but the ones that are of most interest:

  1. Sourdough and Other Stories (Tartarus Press, 2010) − shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award and Aurealis Award for Best Collection
  2. The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales (Ticonderoga Publications, 2010) − won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection
  3. Midnight and Moonshine (with Lisa L. Hannett; Ticonderoga Publications 2012) − shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Collection
  4. The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (Tartarus Press, 2014) − won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection, shortlised for the Aurealis Award for Best Collection.
  5. Black-Winged Angels (Ticonderoga Publications, 2014) − shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards for Best Collection.
  6. The Female Factory (with Lisa L. Hannett; Twelfth Planet Press 2014) − won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection.
  7. Of Sorrow and Such (Tor.com novella series, 2015).
  8. Ripper (novella in Stephen Jones’ Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear, Jo Fletcher Books 2015)
  9. A Feast of Sorrows: Stories isn’t out yet but will be out in October 2016 via Prime Books in the US, which will be my first collection specifically released in the US. It’s mostly a reprint collection, with two new novellas in it.
  10. Vigil: Book 1 of the Verity Fassbinder Series, out in July 2016, from Jo Fletcher Books in the UK and Hachette in Australia.

General points of interest:

  1. I’m the first Australian to win a British Fantasy Award (for “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” in Stephen Jones’ A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books).
  2. In 2014, I had three collections out and in the 2015 Aurealis Awards all three were shortlisted in Best Collection − Lisa and I won with The Female Factory.
  3. In the 2015 Aurealis Awards Shortlists, I had two entries in Best Fantasy Short Story (won with “St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls), and one in the Best Horror Short Story (which I won with “Home and Hearth”).
  4. The Female Factory got an Honourable Mention in the Norma K. Hemming Awards.

Also: I cannot pick a favourite child. Don’t Sophie’s Choice me, dude.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

AS: At the moment I am being squeezed mercilessly by March deadlines. I’m editing the last novella (Darker Angels) to go into the Prime collection A Feast of Sorrows: Stories (mostly reprints but with two new 20k novellas); I’m finishing the novel Corpselight, which is the sequel to Vigil; I’m working on a weird noir story for Joe Pulver, called “Dahlia Blues”; I’ve just agreed to write something else for someone else; I’ve got about four secret anthology projects that I’ve got to write stories for … and there’s a novella called The Briar Book of the Dead that either needs editing or turning into a novel … and when I finish Corpselight, I have to start writing Restoration, which is the final Verity book in the trilogy … then I have to start looking for a new three-book deal! AND I’m also doing a book of film criticism for Neil Snowdon and Electric Dreamhouse Press (an imprint of PS Publishing) this year focusing on the Karnstein Trilogy of films made by Hammer Horror.

Q. You do the odd spell of freelance editing and you certainly have the talented and skill to go down that path if you ever felt like it. Do you ever see yourself editing an anthology or other forms as a career or creative choice? 

AS: Every so often I think “Yeah, I could edit a really interesting fairy tale, mosaic world anthology” … then I go and have a lie down until the feeling passes, because I remember precisely what’s involved. Not just the sourcing stories (managing whinging from writers you didn’t contact or whose stories you didn’t accept), gladhanding and ego-massaging the writers whose stories you need to edit, dealing with contracts, printing, finding a publishing house you can rely on, getting typesetting done, commissioning cover art that doesn’t just look like a stock photo with bad font over the top, then ensuring everyone’s paid … then marketing the damned book, finding reviewers, eventually (if you’re lucky) then having to dole out royalties to authors … and all that time and stress is time and stress I could be usefully applying to my own work. So if I ever say “I’m editing an anthology” you’ll know I’ve been kidnapped and am trying to give a signal or I’ve gone mad.

Similarly, occasionally I think about writing a film script: “Hey, 90 pages, how hard could it be?” It’s fucking hard!!! That’s an art form all on its own and I am not a master of it. A mate of mine did something like four scripts (commissioned) in two months − hats off to him, the mad sod, but he did it, and he did it because it’s his field and he’s an expert at it. So, I’ll stick to what I know!

Q. Is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? s

  • Knowledge of grammar, spelling and sentence structure. The general skills any good editor in any genre should have as well as contacts in the industry rather than just a whim/fancy to be an editor.
  • The ability to help the writer tease out the story’s best shape, NOT t he desire to make the story into the one they would have written if they’d had a chance.
  • Open-mindedness about the various forms horror can come in, so it’s not all just “Saw”, but rather things that are more subtle, a mix of light and dark, not just body horror.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

AS:  Argh! How can you choose? Why would you ask me that? Why?

I love the particular subtlety a lot of female horror writers bring to their work, even though it’s that very subtlety that often causes them to be dismissed as horror writers. “There’s not one chainsaw, NOT ONE in this work, how can you call her a horror writer??” But the more subtle and insidious the tales are, the more I like them. So, I will make a list that cannot possibly be complete and some will say “They ain’t horror authors”, to which I reply “You ain’t reading them right.” Tanith Lee, Thana Niveau, Alison Littlewood, Nalo Hopkinson, Tananarive Due, Lisa L. Hannett, Nnedi Okorafor Kirstyn McDermott, Kaaron Warren, Kelly Link, Gemma Files, Damien Angelica Walters, Lisa Tuttle, Caitlín R. Kiernan,Shirley Jackson, Sarah Langan, Molly Tanzer, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Lynda Rucker, K. Tempest Bradford, Maura McHugh, Margo Lanagan, Anna Tambour, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro …

All are women who’ll lead you in quite gently then unsettle you and then slap you in the face with some terrible thing that isn’t simply about body horror, but the actual destruction of a soul, of happiness, of love. Examples? Nalo Hopkinson’s “Greedy Choke Puppy”, Lisa Hannett’s “Forever, Miss Tapekwa County”, Tanith Lee’s “La Dame”, Damien Angelica Walters’ “Sing Me Your Scars”. And I must add Kelly Robson’s “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” as I just read it the other day and it blew me away − extremely visceral, haunting body horror very skilfully done.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

AS: The TBR pile is presenting a danger to all and sundry, but these are the ones I’ll pick out: Will Lawson’s When Cobb & Co Was King, the Audrey Niffenegger anthology Ghostly, Mary Norris’ Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, Delia Sherman’s The Porcelain Dove, C.S.E. Cooney’s  Bone Swans, and I’m re-reading John Connolly’s Nocturnes collection as well as Dark Hollow.

Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?

AS: I’ve been relatively lucky, but the main ones are either dismissal on the grounds of having a lack of white penis (or indeed any penis at all) − “She can’t write horror for she has no wang!” − or reviews that smack of hurt male feels − “She’s written about awful men doing awful things to women! She must hate all men! Also: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!”

Both of these things are childish and tiring.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 

AS: I admit to feeling conflicted about it. It annoys me that we need it, like some kind of remedial training to remind certain readers we’re here. It feels a bit like we’re Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny: mythical creatures that people remember once a year. Remember folks: a female horror author isn’t just for Christmas, she’ll scare the crap out of you all year round.

But on the other hand I’m happy to see my fellow female horror writers highlighted and for readers to get to know work they might not naturally seek out.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

  • Keep writing.
  • Learn your craft and never ever think you know it all.
  • Develop a thick skin, but realise that story criticism is aimed at making the story better, not at making you feel bad about yourself.
  • It’s better to have someone find problems with a story before you send it out into the world.
  • Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships with other writers and publishers, not just about you getting what you can.
  • Don’t send Facebook friend requests to other writers and then ask them to like your page and buy your book: (a) it’s just rude and (b) other writers are not generally your audience.

 

Angela Slatter Links:

Website: http://www.angelaslatter.com/

Blog: http://www.angelaslatter.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelaslatterauthor
Twitter: @AngelaSlatter

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005QQ9FOA

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2847546.Angela_Slatter

 

 

 

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Sophie Yorkston is the extremely talented and awesome editor of SQ Magazine. She took home the Australian Shadows Award for Best Edited Publication, for SQ Mag issue #14 (IFWG Publishing). She’s quite active in the speculative ficiton scene and has several short stories of her own published. I look forward to reading more of her edited and written works!  Thanks so much for dropping by, Sophie!

SYorkston
Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
SY: I’m a bit of a wanderer (my muse is too) who has lived all over the east coast of Australia. I’m also the Editor in Chief of Australian speculative fiction ezine, SQ Mag (which best of all is free!). In my day job, I’m a scientist, with a love and interest in many scientific fields, and I think that really gets into my writing.
 
Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  
SY: I admit, I started out with horror as my first foray into the genre, somewhere between Christopher Pike and Goosebumps. My tastes evolved, but for me it’s a toss-up with exploring the dark side of supernatural beliefs or alternatively how easily humans cross the line with misguided morals. A story I’m writing at the moment is all about people responding violently to someone they perceive “deserves” it. 
 
Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
SY: That’s a very difficult question to answer. I really like the stories where there’s an element of futility, in that whatever the protagonist does, they still get caught in the mire. 
 
Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
SY: My current published works include a short suspense story titled Downpour in Subtropical Suspense (Black Beacon Books). A friend of mine said it reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock’s brand of fright, and I thought that a high compliment indeed. I also have a fun story called Manuka Mischief in a kids Christmas collection from New Zealand’s Phantom Feather Press. I’m shopping to find the right home for my favourite story I’ve written. And not to forget SQ Mag, which I edit, and whose Australiana edition won the Best Edited Work in last year’s Australian Shadows Awards. Still pretty chuffed about that.
 
Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audioboo
SY: My work is largely about in short stories, but I think translating them to audio formats is a great way forward. And so many are so suitable to short film as well. One of my hobbies is photography and I think there’s a lot of scope for horror in visual mediums. Horror as a genre is a gold mine, particularly in its ease of translation to many different media types.
 
Q. What are you working on at the minute?

SY: My computer and notebooks are always littered with dozens of shorts, from scrappy notes through to polished pieces striving to find a published home. I’m also chipping away slowly at a magical realism novel that was inspired by my time living in Canada.

 

Q. You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference? 
SY: I love to write, and I was lucky enough to fall into working with SQ Mag and with IFWG Publishing (both Australian and international imprints). Editing is mostly wonderful, apart from having to deal out rejections, because it opens you up to a lot of different stories and voices. If you’re lucky, you get to work with some of the true professionals of the business and learn something. But I have to admit, my own words on a page is still a special thrill.
 
Q. What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? 
SY: I’ve always wanted to help; I’ve unofficially been editing work for decades for friends. We all get too close to our work and need the help of a little perspective. I don’t know that it’s only a horror genre issue, but I think what makes you a good editor is being able to hear your writer’s voice and not overriding that, to make their story the best it can be. It also helps to read widely to know the tropes of your chosen genre, in as much as you can (only so many hours in the day and many of us have day jobs). Lastly, I have to say, because part of it means I get to know new (at least to me) writers, and do what I love (second) best: read!
 
Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?
SY: Don’t make me choose! There’s many I love for different reasons. Anne McCaffrey, Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, Emma Newman. Their explorations of the dark ways of human relationships and interactions are a real draw for me. 
 
Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
SY: There’s some amazingly well run publishers (who coincidentally are run by women) in Australia producing great works and anthologies; Fablecroft and Twelfth Planet for example. I’m in awe of what they’re doing. Some of the anthologies showcasing women behind the stories and at the centre are pretty exciting, like She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press, eds. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles), Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga) and the Women destroying (Lightspeed & Nightmare magazine) have been great for us as readers to know who to keep an eye out for.
Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
SY: Oh, so many! I’m trying to diversify the voices I’ve been reading: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; I’ve just finished and am reviewing Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also trying to support Australian and New Zealand writers and read and review as much as I can.
 
Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
SY: I think the greatest challenge for women in genre is that we’re silenced purely by the gender we were born into, unconsciously or otherwise. Including our experiences and our stories. Horror luckily has some excellent editors who are more egalitarian than others, who rectify that by giving equal credence on the basis of excellent writing.
 
Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 
SY: I think it’s really important to make sure we work against a system that actively works against female writers. Particularly given we have such a wealth of talent here in Australia with internationally-recognised writers like Kaaron Warren, Angela Slatter, Margo Lanagan, and that’s just off the top of my head; there are many more excellent writers than I have named here. And for the lack of recognition of excellent writers in our own countries. 
 
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
SY: Connect up with other writers and offer to help beta read their work. You learn so much about your own work from the very first time you do it. And if you’re lucky, you end up with a great group of friends!
Plus, read, read read! (And don’t forget to review if you got any enjoyment at all!)
 
 
Website: www.sqmag.com
Book Links:

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Simon Dewar <simon.dewar83@gmail.com>

Feb 1

to sophieyorkston

Hey,

See below … attach your approved and endorsed personal image I can post with the interveiew.  If there is anything you want me to ask or want to discuss, let me know. Now is a chance for you to have take the mic. Make my blog your bully pulpit if you like.  I might shoot back some additional questions (*if I have time) based on stuff you say.
Thanks
S.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?
What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
What are you working on at the minute?
You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference?
What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically?
Who is your favourite woman writer?
Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you?
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Website:
Blog:
Facebook:
Twitter:
Lnkedin:
Pinterest:
Amazon Author Page:
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)
Goodreads:
(* Any order you like and if I’ve missed anything, just type it in.)

Sophie

AttachmentsFeb 15 (2 days ago)

to me
Hey Simon,
Sorry this has taken a little while to get to you.
Hope it’s not too late!
Sophie


Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2016 21:28:05 +1100
Subject: WIHM Questions
From: simon.dewar83@gmail.com
To: sophieyorkston@hotmail.com


Hey,

See below … attach your approved and endorsed personal image I can post with the interveiew.  If there is anything you want me to ask or want to discuss, let me know. Now is a chance for you to have take the mic. Make my blog your bully pulpit if you like.  I might shoot back some additional questions (*if I have time) based on stuff you say.
Thanks
S.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a bit of a wanderer (my muse is too) who has lived all over the east coast of Australia. I’m also the Editor in Chief of Australian speculative fiction ezine, SQ Mag (which best of all is free!). In my day job, I’m a scientist, with a love and interest in many scientific fields, and I think that really gets into my writing.
 
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  
I admit, I started out with horror as my first foray into the genre, somewhere between Christopher Pike and Goosebumps. My tastes evolved, but for me it’s a toss-up with exploring the dark side of supernatural beliefs or alternatively how easily humans cross the line with misguided morals. A story I’m writing at the moment is all about people responding violently to someone they perceive “deserves” it. 
 
What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
That’s a very difficult question to answer. I really like the stories where there’s an element of futility, in that whatever the protagonist does, they still get caught in the mire. 
 
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
My current published work include a short suspense story titled Downpour in Subtropical Suspense (Black Beacon Books). A friend of mine said it reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock’s brand of fright, and I thought that a high compliment indeed. I also have a fun story called Manuka Mischief in a kids Christmas collection from New Zealand’s Phantom Feather Press. I’m shopping to find the right home for my favourite story I’ve written. And not to forget SQ Mag, which I edit, and whose Australiana edition won the Best Edited Work in last year’s Australian Shadows Awards. Still pretty chuffed about that.
 
Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
My work is largely about in short stories, but I think translating them to audio formats is a great way forward. And so many are so suitable to short film as well. One of my hobbies is photography and I think there’s a lot of scope for horror in visual mediums. Horror as a genre is a gold mine, particularly in its ease of translation to many different media types.
 
What are you working on at the minute?
My computer and notebooks are always littered with dozens of shorts, from scrappy notes through to polished pieces striving to find a published home. I’m also chipping away slowly at a magical realism novel that was inspired by my time living in Canada. 
 
You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference?
I love to write, and I was lucky enough to fall into working with SQ Mag and with IFWG Publishing (both Australian and international imprints). Editing is mostly wonderful, apart from having to deal out rejections, because it opens you up to a lot of different stories and voices. If you’re lucky, you get to work with some of the true professionals of the business and learn something. But I have to admit, my own words on a page is still a special thrill.
 
What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? 
I’ve always wanted to help; I’ve unofficially been editing work for decades for friends. We all get too close to our work and need the help of a little perspective. I don’t know that it’s only a horror genre issue, but I think what makes you a good editor is being able to hear your writer’s voice and not overriding that, to make their story the best it can be. It also helps to read widely to know the tropes of your chosen genre, in as much as you can (only so many hours in the day and many of us have day jobs). Lastly, I have to say because part of it means I get to know new (at least to me) writers, and do what I love (second) best: read!
 
Who is your favourite woman writer?
Don’t make me choose! There’s many I love for different reasons. Anne McCaffrey, Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, Emma Newman. Their explorations of the dark ways of human relationships and interactions are a real draw for me. 
 
Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 
There’s some amazingly-well run publishers (who coincidentally are run by women) in Australia producing great works and anthologies; Fablecroft and Twelfth Planet for example. I’m in awe of what they’re doing. Some of the anthologies showcasing women behind the stories and at the centre are pretty exciting, like She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press, eds. Silva Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles), Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga) and the Women destroying (Lightspeed & Nightmare magazine) have been great for us as readers to know who to keep an eye out for.
What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
Oh, so many! I’m trying to diversify the voices I’ve been reading: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; I’ve just finished and am reviewing Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also trying to support Australian and New Zealand writers and read and review as much as I can.
 
What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
I think the greatest challenge for women in genre is that we’re silenced purely by the gender we were born into, unconsciously or otherwise. Including our experiences and our stories. Horror luckily has some excellent editors who are more egalitarian than others, who rectify that by giving equal credence on the basis of excellent writing.
 
Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you? 
I think it’s really important to make sure we work against a system that actively works against female writers. Particularly given we have such a wealth of talent here in Australia with internationally-recognised writers like Kaaron Warren, Angela Slatter, Margo Lanagan, and that’s just off the top of my head; there are many more excellent writers than I have named here. And for the lack of recognition of excellent writers in our own countries. 
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Connect up with other writers and offer to help beta read their work. You learn so much about your own work from the very first time you do it. And if you’re lucky, you end up with a great group of friends!
Plus, read, read read! (And don’t forget to review if you got any enjoyment at all!)
 
 
Website: 
Pinterest:
Attachments area

Sophie

12:32 PM (39 minutes ago)

to me

Hi Simon,

I was just going to email to ask if you could include a link to SQ Mag as well. http://www.sqmag.com

I also spotted some typos/mistakes in my replies–crumbs. Probably what happens if I do these things late in the evening. I’ve bolded the questions below where I made answer changes if it is at all possible to just copy paste those responses.
Thanks Simon for the opportunity. It’s been great to see all the interviews, and to see writers whose other spec fic stories I’ve enjoyed that are also horror!
Sophie

From: sophieyorkston@hotmail.com
To: simon.dewar83@gmail.com
Subject: RE: WIHM Questions
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 19:21:52 +1000

Hey Simon,
Sorry this has taken a little while to get to you.
Hope it’s not too late!
Sophie


Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2016 21:28:05 +1100
Subject: WIHM Questions
From: simon.dewar83@gmail.com
To: sophieyorkston@hotmail.com

 


Hey,

See below … attach your approved and endorsed personal image I can post with the interveiew.  If there is anything you want me to ask or want to discuss, let me know. Now is a chance for you to have take the mic. Make my blog your bully pulpit if you like.  I might shoot back some additional questions (*if I have time) based on stuff you say.
Thanks
S.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a bit of a wanderer (my muse is too) who has lived all over the east coast of Australia. I’m also the Editor in Chief of Australian speculative fiction ezine, SQ Mag (which best of all is free!). In my day job, I’m a scientist, with a love and interest in many scientific fields, and I think that really gets into my writing.
 
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  
I admit, I started out with horror as my first foray into the genre, somewhere between Christopher Pike and Goosebumps. My tastes evolved, but for me it’s a toss-up with exploring the dark side of supernatural beliefs or alternatively how easily humans cross the line with misguided morals. A story I’m writing at the moment is all about people responding violently to someone they perceive “deserves” it. 
 
What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
That’s a very difficult question to answer. I really like the stories where there’s an element of futility, in that whatever the protagonist does, they still get caught in the mire. 
 
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
My current published work includes a short suspense story titled Downpour in Subtropical Suspense (Black Beacon Books). A friend of mine said it reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock’s brand of fright, and I thought that a high compliment indeed. I also have a fun story called Manuka Mischief in a kids Christmas collection, The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, from New Zealand’s Phantom Feather Press. I’m shopping to find the right home for my favourite story I’ve written. And not to forget SQ Mag, which I edit, and whose Australiana edition won the Best Edited Work in last year’s Australian Shadows Awards. Still pretty chuffed about that.
 
Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
My work is largely about in short stories, but I think translating them to audio formats is a great way forward. And so many are so suitable to short film as well. One of my hobbies is photography and I think there’s a lot of scope for horror in visual mediums. Horror as a genre is a gold mine, particularly in its ease of translation to many different media types.
 
What are you working on at the minute?
My computer and notebooks are always littered with dozens of shorts, from scrappy notes through to polished pieces striving to find a published home. I’m also chipping away slowly at a magical realism novel that was inspired by my time living in Canada. 
 
You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference? 
I love to write, but I was also lucky enough to fall into working with SQ Mag and with IFWG Publishing (both Australian and international imprints). Editing is mostly wonderful, apart from having to deal out rejections, because it opens you up to a lot of different stories and voices. If you’re lucky, you get to work with some of the true professionals of the business and learn something. But I have to admit, my own words on a page is still a special thrill.
 
What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? 
I’ve always wanted to help; I’ve unofficially been editing work for decades for friends. We all get too close to our work and need the help of a little perspective. I don’t know that it’s only a horror genre issue, but I think what makes you a good editor is being able to hear your writer’s voice and not overriding that, to make their story the best it can be. It also helps to read widely to know the tropes of your chosen genre, in as much as you can (only so many hours in the day and many of us have day jobs). Lastly, I have to say because part of it means I get to know new (at least to me) writers, and do what I love (second) best: read!
 
Who is your favourite woman writer?
Don’t make me choose! There’s many I love for different reasons. Anne McCaffrey, Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, Emma Newman. Their explorations of the dark ways of human relationships and interactions are a real draw for me. 
 
Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 
There’s some amazingly-well run publishers (who coincidentally are run by women) in Australia producing great works and anthologies; Fablecroft and Twelfth Planet for example. I’m in awe of what they’re doing. Some of the anthologies showcasing women behind the stories and at the centre are pretty exciting, like She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press, eds. Silva Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles), Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga) and the Women destroying (Lightspeed & Nightmare magazines) have been great for us as readers to know who to keep an eye out for.
What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
Oh, so many! I’m trying to diversify the voices I’ve been reading so I’m currently reading: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; I’ve just finished and am reviewing Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also trying to support Australian and New Zealand writers and read and review as much as I can.

Simon Dewar <simon.dewar83@gmail.com>

12:37 PM (34 minutes ago)

to Sophie

Cool. Got it. And thankyou 🙂  You’re coming up soon… along with Ellen Datlow, Lauren Buekes and so many women my brains is turning to mush.

Good fun though.
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Hi Everyone. One of today’s WiHM interviewees is  Kirstyn McDermott. She’s an incredibly talented writer from Australia. When I decided to do WiHM interviews she was one of the first potential candidates who sprung to mind. Kirstyn’s short story Mary, Mary is going to be reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2016, edited by Paula Guran. How cool is that? Did I say she was a fantastic writer already?

Without further ado…

kmcd_wall_02

Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

KM:  Gosh, that’s a wide open question to start with! Let’s see . . . I’m a short story writer and novelist, mostly working in the genres of horror, dark fantasy and contemporary gothic, and for some masochistic reason I’m currently pursuing a creative doctorate as well. I also record a monthly literary discussion podcast, The Writer and the Critic, with my dear friend, Ian Mond. Which I’ve just realised will be hitting its 50th episode in March! I grew up in Newcastle (NSW), moved to Melbourne in my early twenties where I lived for almost twenty years, and now I’m based in Ballarat, a regional town northwest of Melbourne – quite the change of pace. My partner is also a horror/dark fantasy writer which does make things rather interesting at times, but it’s invaluable having a beta-reader, editor and proof-reader so close at hand.

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”? 

KM: I’ve been asked some version of this question countless times during my life and I still don’t have a definitive answer to it. Part of the attraction is aesthetic, part of it is philosophical. There’s the fascination with darkness and taboo subjects, with things that we don’t really want to look at too closely or talk about in polite company. When someone tells you not to look, really, how can you not? Even if it scares the proverbials off you. For the most part, though, I don’t write about things that scare me precisely; I write about things that intrigue, disturb, and make me think about the world in a different way. I can’t say there’s ever been a defining moment of wanting to write a horror story exactly – those are just the stories that seem to rise up and grab me. It’s how my writer brain works, I guess. For the most part, I’m just not predisposed to happy endings.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?

KM: It’s hard to pinpoint an absolute favourite but “Father Father” by Paul Haines is unbelievably vile; it’s the kind of story that makes you want to take a shower after reading it. It’s just a common, everyday horror but so intimately written in the first person that the reader is made almost complicit in the narrator’s pathology. It packs a tremendous punch for such a short piece and it’s not one I’ll ever forget.

Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

KM: I’ve written quite a few short stories over the years as well as two novels, Madigan Mine (2010) and Perfections (2012) both of which have been recently re-released by Twelfth Planet Press. I also have a short story collection with them, Caution: Contains Small Parts, which includes what is probably a personal favourite – a novella called “The Home for Broken Dolls”. But I also really, really love my novel Perfections, an affection that has been a long time coming, let me say. I had such a fractious relationship to that novel during the writing of it, and for some time after. It was only during the proof-reading of the latest version for Twelfth Planet Press that I realised it actually was a damn good book. If there is anything I’d recommend for someone who hasn’t come across my work before, it would be that.

Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook

KM:  I adore short fiction, both as a reader and a writer, and novelette/novella lengths feel like the perfect medium for me right now. I can tell a good story, with enough space for texture and depth and “mess” as Karen Joy Fowler would put it, and without the need to extend it to novel length if the core narrative won’t readily bear it. It’s also a perfect, one-sitting reading length, which I just love. Though, having read a couple of mosaic books recently – in particular Lament for the Afterlife by Lisa L. Hannet – I’ve become fascinated by the potential of that literary form. It might even have solved the problem of how to tell this one story that I’ve been thinking about for a few years now. Maybe a post-PhD project . . .

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

KM: Right now, the PhD is occupying most of my writing time and energy for the immediate future. My research centres around contemporary re-visioned fairy tales, focusing on the relationships between female characters, and I’m writing a suite of reworked fairy-tale novelettes of my own to serve as the core of the project. It’s been fantastic to have the opportunity to immerse myself in fairy tales – a genre I’ve only come at tangentially, and with a healthy dose of side-eye, until recent years – and I’m enjoying the challenge of working with them.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

KM: I can’t possibly narrow that down to just one! My list of favourites would include Caitlin R. Kiernan, Kathe Koja, Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, Nicola Griffith, Helen Marshall and Catherynne M. Valente. And, closer to home, Kaaron Warren, Margot Lanagan, Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter. I could go on forever, honestly.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

KM: Between the PhD research and the podcast books, I don’t get to read much else these days! My TBR pile – AKA the Shelf of Shame – has way too much on it even though I’ve slowed down my rate of acquisition dramatically in the past few years. I’ve had the last two Stephen King books waiting to be read since October, which would have been unheard of once upon a time, as well as a volume of previously unpublished stories by Shirley Jackson, and a whole bunch of an anthologies that I just haven’t had time to get to. I think once I finish my PhD I need to have a year of doing nothing but catch-up reading. Which sounds quite blissful, actually.

Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?

KM: I have some bland personal anecdotes – the occasional male reader who has expressed surprise that I write horror so well; people who have argued that women literally don’t have the balls to write the really dark stuff – but nothing particular egregious. It’s more the culture in which you swim. The lists of recommended authors/books which include a handful of women if you’re lucky. The great swathes of wordage that are written about male authors as opposed to female authors. The wealth of sexist tropes that feel woven into the very fabric of the genre and are so difficult to unpick. The influential editor who, when interviewed, gives his “who to be stranded on desert island with” list that includes three male writing buddies and a female author as an afterthought because, after all, the boys are bound to get sick of shooting crap after a while and will need to think about repopulating the earth. (I’m not even joking.) It’s exhausting and dispiriting, this suspicion that you’re placed a dozen yards behind the starting line simply due to your gender. So there’s that.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important?

KM: It’s always important to highlight female writers/artists, especially those working in genres which are (still) perceived to be masculine. Just as its important to highlight writers/artists of colour, and queer writers/artists, and writers/artists from non-Western backgrounds, and others working from outside the dominant cultural perspective. Diverse perspectives, diverse approaches, diverse voices makes the genre better. On one hand, having a special month can feel tokenistic – but this just speaks to the need for it, sadly. I look forward to the day when it will genuinely seem ridiculous, because female writers/artists actually are as respected, promoted, cited, read, reviewed, awarded and lauded as much as their male counterparts.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

KM: Read. Read widely and thoughtfully. Read inside the genre you want to work in, and read outside of it as well. Think about the reasons why what you read works – or doesn’t work – and how you can adapt – or avoid – such things in your own writing. Don’t just look at it from a basic prose level either; think about structure, about how characters are built, how themes and motifs are worked into a piece of writing, how plot is revealed, how pacing is handled. Careful, critical reading is something that every writer – aspiring, emerging, or established – should incorporate as part of their practice. And hey, it’s the kind of homework that’s fun, right? Every writer worth their salt has started writing because they loved reading. Shelves of shame aside, it’s important not to lose sight of that.

Kirstyn McDermott Links

Website/Blog:   http://www.kirstynmcdermott.com

Facebook:          https://www.facebook.com/kirstyn.mcdermott

Twitter:         @fearofemeralds (https://twitter.com/fearofemeralds)

Linkedin:             https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstyn-mcdermott-62b56a32

Amazon Author Page:    http://www.amazon.com/Kirstyn-McDermott/e/B00JVMU9UY

 

Book Links:

Perfections

http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/products/novels/perfections

Madigan Mine

http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/products/ebooks/madigan-mine

Caution: Contains Small Parts

http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/products/ebooks/caution-contains-small-parts-2

Goodreads:        https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2731811.Kirstyn_McDermott

women-in-horror-month

 

I haven’t posted for a while.I’m lazy, I’ve got kids, and I’ve been trying to get some stories out on submission and drum up another editing gig. These are all good reasons to not be blog posting. A good reason to be log posting is Women in Horror Month! WiHM is actually February, but the added benefit of me being lazy, is that March can now be WiHM too! YAY!

So many amazing women are doing cool things in horror. I like to think that they’re not overlooked or treated differently from male writers although I know this isn’t true. Aside from general issues relating to sexism that women face within the publishing industry (It exists, I’ve seen it first hand), they have to put up with a bizarre niche of misogynistic writers who feel that women can’t or shouldn’t write horror. I wasn’t really surprised when we had a number of idiots come out during WiHM and say bizarre and offensive things. Not only did we have an emerging author bullied and insulted, we had women in horror in general referred to as “hags” (amongst other offensive comments), and one well-known and respected author was derided as “over-rated”, “awful” and only successful because women like her and she has a large female readership (as though that is a bad thing).

These events were quite frustrating but I was heartened by the supportive response of the guys in the horror fiction community who spoke out against the few douchecanoes. I was also heartened by the response of many publishers who spoke out against this disgusting behaviour. Good on them.  This raised the issue of publisher and editor blacklists, whether they exist, and how professional they are.  Different people have different views on the matter but I think it is healthy that people are having a conversation about how to deal with issues of sexism, misogyny and general asshattery.

Many of the writers I know and respect most are female horror writers.  Whether it is established authors such as talented and lovely Kaaron Warren, the amazing Angela Slatter, or emerging writers friends of mine such as Sarah Read or Karen Runge, there are some fantastically talented women writing in the horror genre who deserve the recognition they’re attracting and the awards that they’re receiving. I’ve learned a lot from them, both in the professional aspects of writing and in the art of storytelling. I aspire to be as capable and as successful as these women. I look forward to learning more from the women in our fiction writing community and collaborating with them. I look forward to reading their fantastic stories… many of which I find more confronting or terrifying than the work written by a lot of men, perhaps because the ladies are writing from a different place.

Below are a list of 10 writers, including publications where there work may be fonud. Most of the listed publications are horror although some of the authors write in multiple genres. Among their ranks are British Fantasy Award winners, Aurealis Award winners, World Fantasy Award winners and nominees, Shirley Jackson Award winners,— and others who, I’m sure, will be receiving similar accolades in the near future! I know some of these ladies personally and have had the pleasure of working with some of them. (The list is slightly biased towards Australian writers because I’m Australian and have gone out of my way to read some fiction by Australian authors.)

Kaaron Warren – Slights, Mistification, Walking the Tree, The Gate Theory (Collection), Through Splintered Walls (collection), Nightmare Magazine.

Margo Lanagan – Tender Morsels, Sea Hearts, Blood and Other Cravings, Exotic Gothic 4, Black Juice (Collection) , Cracklescape (Collection).

Karen Runge – Shock Totem magazine, Pseudopod (podcast), Suspended in Dusk (anthology), Death’s Realm (anthology)

Sarah Read – Black Static Magazine, Suspended in Dusk (anthology), Pantheon Magazine (editor), Vine Leaves Literary Journal.

Angela Slatter – Sourdough and other stories (collection), The Bitterwood Bible and other recountings (collection), A Book of Horrors (anthology), Nightmare Magazine, The Spectral Book of Horror Stories (anthology), Weirder Shadows over Innsmouth (anthology).

Icy Sedgwick – The Guns of Retribution, The Necromancer’s Apprentice, Bloody Parchment (anthology), Suspended in Dusk (anthology).

Wendy Hammer – Pantheon Magazine, Suspended in Dusk (anthology), Cross Cutting novella trilogy (forthcoming 2015)

Nerine Dorman — Inkarna, Raven Kin [The BlackFeather Chronicles], Bloody Parchment (editor), Dark Harvest (editor), War Stories (anthology), Midian Unmade (anthology).

Felicity Dowker – Scary Kisses (anthology) Aurealis Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Bread and Circuses (collection), Midnight Echo Magazine.

S.G Larner – Equilibrium Overturned (anthology), Suspended in Dusk (anthology), SQ magazine, Phantazein (anthology), Bloody Parchment (anthology).

 

 

 

 

 

Suspended in Dusk has been released on Amazon.  Link: myBook.to/Dusk 

Epub and print versions are to follow shortly. I’ll post again once they’ve been released.

——

“Disquieting and at times terrifying, SUSPENDED IN DUSK shows that horror can, and should, have substance.” ~ Kaaron Warren, Shirley Jackson Award winner, and author of Slights, Mystification, Walking the Tree.

“SUSPENDED IN DUSK offers a delicious assortment of chills, frights, shocks and very dark delights!” ~ Jonathan Maberry, Bram Stoker Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of Fall of Night and V-Wars

Suspended In Dusk NEW

Dusk: A time between times.

A whore hides something monstrous and finds something special.
A homeless man discovers the razor blade inside the apple.
Unlikely love is found in the strangest of places.
Secrets and dreams are kept… forever.

Or was it all just a trick of the light?

Suspended in Dusk brings together 19 stories by some of the finest minds in Dark Fiction:

Ramsey Campbell, John Everson, Rayne Hall, Shane McKenzie, Angela Slatter, Alan Baxter, S.G Larner, Wendy Hammer, Sarah Read, Karen Runge, Toby Bennett, Benjamin Knox, Brett Rex Bruton, Icy Sedgwick, Tom Dullemond, Armand Rosamilia, Chris Limb, Anna Reith, J.C. Michael.

Introduction by Bram Stoker Award Winner and World Horror Convention Grand Master, Jack Ketchum.

Originally, I was going to co-edit Suspended in Dusk with a good friend, Nerine Dorman .  Nerine is a very big fan of Angela Slatter and so, mostly for shits and giggles, I made her a bet that I could convince Angela to lend a story to Suspended in Dusk. Due to over-commitment to her many projects Nerine could no longer work on the project, but somehow I did manage to convince Angela to lend a new story to the anthology!  This is super exciting for me because Angela really is highly awarded and very well respected Australian writer.

I give you the super talented, super nice – Angela Slatter:

angela2

 

Tell me a bit about yourself, where are you from and what brought you into writing? What drives you to continue writing? 
I’m an Australian writer of dark fantasy, horror and something that only very occasionally resembles science fiction. I’ve always been a voracious reader and scribbler, but only made the decision to try writing as a career in about 2004. I keep writing because all the stuff in my head has to go somewhere, or said head will explode.
What are your thoughts about short stories and the short form? Do you have a particular favourite short story? 
I love short form because it’s such a challenge to fit everything in and convince a reader they’ve just dipped into an very immersive new world for a while. I love the challenge of sending a reader away feeling as if (a) they’re still half in the story world and (b) the story is still going on somewhere. Favourite short stories include: “The Tower” by Marghanita Laski, “Gabriel Ernest” by Saki, “Looking for Jake” by China Miévielle, “Singing My Sister Down” by Margo Lanagan, “Wild Acre” by Nathan Ballingrud, and “Wolf Alice” by Angela Carter. Favourite short story writers include: Aimee Bender, Lorie Moore, Karen Russell, Karen Joy Fowler, Kelly Link, Sheridan Le Fanu, M R James, and Lisa L. Hannett.
What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?
Winning a British Fantasy Award for “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” (from A Book of Horrors, Stephen Jones ed.)
Do you have any outstanding writing goals you’re working to achieve? (sale to a particular market or publication/book deal/award/NaNoWriMo/etc) 
My main goal is to just finish things and get them published. I’ve never had any ‘goal’ markets as I think that sets you up for an obsession that you may never fulfil. Similarly, while awards are nice, they’re not something you can predict or count on. They’re not something you deserve and they certainly don’t make you a better writer if you win, or a worse writer if you lose. They’re a nice bonus, that’s it.
Do you have any interesting projects on the horizon that you’d like to share some info with us about? 
I’ve got three collections out this year: The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (Tartarus Press), which has illustrations by Kathleen Jennings and is a prequel to Sourdough and Other StoriesBlack-Winged Angels (Ticonderoga Publications), a limited edition reprint collection, again with illustrations by Kathleen Jennings; and The Female Factory (Twelfth Planet Press), which is a collaboration with Lisa L. Hannett.
What advice do you have for new or aspiring writers? 
Write, learn, write, pay your dues, be polite, write, don’t be an ass.
You can find Angela online here:
Twitter: @angelaslatter

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since  I’ve had a chance to post. Work has been flat out, my beautiful wife is pregnant with twins that are due mid-June and I’ve been buried deep in the second round of edits for the Suspended in Dusk anthology.

Because of all these hectic goings-on, I’ve neglected to give you all a teaser about Suspended in Dusk, so here I am to remedy that.

Here is the (unordered) Table of Contents for the anthology; a fantastic list of authors and a fantastic line up of stories.

Alan Baxter – Shadows of the Lonely Dead
Angela Slatter – The Way of All Flesh
Anna Reith – Taming the Stars
Armand Rosamilia – At Dusk They Come
Benjamin Knox – The Keeper of Secrets
Brett Rex Bruton – Outside In
Chris Limb – Ministry of Outrage
Icy Sedgwick – A Woman of Disrepute
J C Michael – Reasons to Kill
John Everson – Spirits Having Flown (Reprint)
Karen Runge – Hope is Here
Ramsey Campbell – Digging Deep  (Reprint)
Rayne Hall – Burning (Reprint)
Sarah Read – Quarter Turn to Dawn
Shane McKenzie – Fit Camp (Reprint)
S. G. Larner – Shades of Memory 
Tom Dullemond – Would to God That We Were There
Toby Bennett – Maid of Bone
Wendy Hammer – Negatives 

Some of the names above are quite well known but there are also  a few fresh new voices in the mix. All of the stories are, in my opinion, of a fantastic standard. All of them, in some way or another, literally or metaphorically, deal with the title theme Suspended in Dusk, and do so in vastly different ways.   I’m honoured to be working with such a fantastic and august line-up of authors.

Simon.