#HookonWiHM: Monster Artist and Toronto Native Kendra Sartorelli

With this piece in the #HookonWiHM series, I made an executive decision and took a little deviation. Most of the pieces in the series feature a man or women interviewing a woman in horror in some capacity. This is an interview I sought to do myself to add another dimension to those being spotlighted: artistry! I don’t know if you’d normally think of this woman I’m about to introduce as specifically in horror, when you think of gloom and doom, but she does paint monsters inspired by Stranger Things and The Strain, so to me, she’s in! Some of the monsters could be considered cool or even cute, more than scary, but she paints all types and her interest in carving out this niche in art intrigued me. I hope it does you as well. Please join me in celebrating Kendra and her work by learning more about her in this interview.

Again, I’m celebrating Women in Horror Month by featuring various interviews, or guest articles, on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I thank those who’ve taken the time to interview a woman in horror and to those who’ve answered! Because it’s not just a month long endeavor to support women in horror, please feel free to send them in to me anytime throughout the year too. You’ll find more information at the bottom of the post.

For now, let me introduce you to artist Kendra Sartorelli….

Kendra's professional headshot

Best known for her textured acrylic paintings of original monsters, Kendra Sartorelli is a Toronto-based artist who has been showing locally for several years. She received her BFA degree from OCAD University in 2007 and has since shown her artwork in several solo and group exhibitions, most recently at Super Wonder Gallery, Imagine Cinemas, The Mod Club, Black Cat Gallery, Project Gallery and Propeller. Her paintings can regularly be found on display and for sale at See-Scape Sci-Fi Lounge. Originally from Belleville, Ontario, Canada, she now lives in Toronto with her husband, artist Joel Sartorelli, and manages Above Ground Art Supplies in the Junction.

Interview with Kendra Sartorelli –

Your bio says that you are best known for your acrylic paintings of original monsters! They are almost too cool to be “horrible.” Where do you find the inspiration for your monsters and what is your process in creating them?

My monsters are all original and unique creatures, but they are inspired by a variety of different monsters from popular culture and entertainment.  I use my love of monsters and horror to create new monsters in fine art that I hope will put a smile on the viewer’s face.  My paintings are made using a variety of different acrylic paint mediums, as well as several different painting and sculpting techniques.  I use these different methods to create different textures for the various parts of the monster’s body, such as the eyes, lips, tongue, teeth and skin.  Finishing a monster can sometimes be a long process, but I always try to take my time and aim to create the most interesting monsters I possibly can.

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You have a long list of exhibitions in which you’ve shown your work across Toronto, Canada. What is the response like to your work? Does it match what you hope the response will be?

I find that in general, the response is very positive!  I aim to put a sense of humour in my paintings, and I find that most people smile when they see my work.  People of all ages can love monsters, and I’ve had everyone from children to seniors tell me they love my paintings.  I always love hearing about a viewer’s interpretation of my work.  Different people make different associations with the images, and I love that.

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Are your monsters always scary or do they invoke other emotions or feelings?

I try to create images that are open to interpretation, where the monster doesn’t always need to be scary.  The monster could be trying to scare you, but it could also just be surprised to see you, and be just as scared of you as you are of them.  In my painting “We Need Monsters #3,” which features two monsters facing each other with their tentacles intertwined, I like to think that the monsters could be fighting each other, but they could also be embracing.  One of the beautiful things about art is that everyone will have a different reaction to each piece of work.

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What are your favorite monsters in legend, history, currently?

The monsters that I’m most inspired by are from popular culture, and I especially love movie monsters from the late 20th century and 21st century.  Some of my favourite movie monsters are The Thing, the Alien, and the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park.  The monsters in my paintings are often reptilian or amphibian in nature, and I find dinosaurs to be inspiring.  I also find inspiration in Cthulu and the work of H.P. Lovecraft, as well as television shows such as Stranger Things and The Strain, and I’m always finding new monsters to love.

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Do you hope or want to sell your work online or internationally? Where do you sell them now?

I have an Etsy store where I sell my smaller original paintings, as well as merchandise such as greeting cards, prints and stickers.  You can find my work for sale there.

You can also order prints and other merchandise featuring my monsters online at Fine Art America.

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What other hopes and goals do you have for your monster line of work? T-shirts, mugs, posters, etc.? Children’s books?

I’m always open to new opportunities for my monsters.  Some merchandise is currently available for sale online at my Etsy and Fine Art America shops.  I’m currently focused on expanding my “We Need Monsters” series of acrylic paintings, and I have several paintings in my studio that I’m working on.

Where are all the places people can find you?

In addition the shops listed above, you can find my work online at my website.

You can follow me on Facebook.

You can follow me on Twitter: @ksartorelliart

If you live in the Toronto area, you can also regularly find my monster paintings on display and for sale at See-Scape, a sci-fi themed bar and games lounge with an art gallery section.  You can find See-Scape at 2840 Dundas Street West, Toronto, (647) 853-9892.

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Watch for more to come in the #HookonWiHM series….

February is Women in Horror Month! Though I agree women should be celebrated on the same level as men every day of the year, I like to partake in Women in Horror projects as a catalyst for spreading the good news and works of women in the genre in hopes that it will carry on throughout the year. It’s time to celebrate and show off what we got! For those of you reading, men AND women both, try to read and watch more horror produced by women this year.

For the #HookonWiHM, or Women in Horror Month at Hook of a Book, we’ll be hosting interviews conducted by men and women with other women in horror. But I won’t only take them in February, I’ll take them all year long. Read the past articles here. If you’d like to participate, let me know.

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#HookonWiHM: Author David Duggins Interviews Horror and Fantasy Author Angeline Hawkes

Today in the #HookonWiHM series, author David Duggins has interviewed author Angeline Hawkes! I adore Dave, but had never heard of Angeline, so very glad he’s introduced another new woman in horror to me. And not only does she write horror, but she’s a fantasy gal too, which is another genre I love. I feel sad I didn’t know her, she’s been writing a long time and has worked with some excellent presses and has garnered high praise. 

I’m taking interviews by men and women with women in horror, as well as guest articles, throughout the month of February, but will schedule throughout the year too in order feature women in horror all year long. You can find information on this at the bottom of the post.

Let’s introduce you to Angeline and then we’ll let Dave take the white page with his interview..

Angeline Hawkes is from Texas, which means she ain’t got no quit in her.  She’s been busy not quitting since 1981.  She works mostly in fantasy and horror, where her publishing credits include stories in Stoker and Origins Award-nominated anthologies, and enough novels featuring monsters and kick-ass warriors to fill a very large transport trailer. 

Sometimes, she writes with her husband, Christopher Fulbright.  Sometimes she writes by herself.  She always writes hard, bright and true, and her characters live in your head for a long time after you’ve read her work.

Her current short fiction collection, Inferno, is available from Elder Signs Press, on Amazon.  Upcoming works include a new horror novel, Cold Is the Mountain, out later this year through Elder Signs, and a short story, “Strange Gods,” in the anthology C.H.U.D. Lives from Crystal Lake Press.

Angeline’s website is http://angelinehawkes.com/

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Interview with Angeline Hawkes

What are you working on now?

Three barbarian/heroic fiction novels all set in my Kabar of El Hazzar world. The novels are in various stages of completion. Every couple months, Christopher Fulbright and I write a new short story or novella for this project or that. We tend to take those opportunities as they come up and write longer works in the meantime. I also have a few non-fiction articles in the works as well.

Has your writing process changed significantly over the years?

Yes. It’s funny because when my four kids were all babies, I wrote my tail off. For some reason I always thought I’d have more time when they were older. I look back at my writing schedule in those days in awe. I don’t know how I did it all! Now that they are older (my youngest is almost 10 years old), I find I don’t have as much time as I did when they were little.

I don’t despair though. As Stevie Nicks says, time makes you bolder, even children get older, and I’m getting older too.  I know some day I’ll look back at this time in my life and remember it fondly even if I’m not cranking out the fiction at break-neck speed like I was ten years ago. I think I’ve moved into the quality over sheer quantity stage of my career. Not that I wasn’t concerned with quality before, but now, I don’t feel the need to place four stories a week. I do what I can. I write when I can, and I let the chips fall.

What advice would you give new writers?

Practice. Write often. Study grammar and sentence structure. Read outside your genre. I think there is a lot to be learned from the old masters: Hawthorne, Dickens, Shakespeare, Hardy, Stevenson, Conrad, O’Henry, Bradbury, etc. Study history. Study PEOPLE. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? People? Every person has a story. Listen to as many of them as you can. Those tales tucked away in your head are the root of character development. Go hang out in a nursing home and spend some time with some of our forgotten elderly. What tales they have to tell!

Stay away from the haters. Storytelling is a gift. Hone it. Don’t be afraid to try a different approach. If something isn’t working, just put it away. You’ll return to it. If you don’t, it probably wasn’t worth the development and time.

Above all, believe in yourself. This is a harsh industry full of constant rejection. YOU have to believe in your talent, believe in your gift. You don’t choose writing. Writing chooses you.

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Amazon Link

Thanks to Dave for providing a wonderful interview!

David Duggins, Biography –

Dave GuitarDavid Duggins is a writer and CG artist who’s been thrashing around in the genre fiction pool for almost thirty years. While he has published short fiction professionally in magazines like Cemetery Dance and Fear, David prefers the DIY approach, and now publishes under his own Silvern Press Imprint.

You can follow or find information on Dave on his websiteHis new novel, Watershed, is available in the Kindle store. You can follow him on Twitter: @dave_duggins

Watch for more to come in the #HookonWiHM series….

February is Women in Horror Month! Though I agree women should be celebrated on the same level as men every day of the year, I like to partake in Women in Horror projects as a catalyst for spreading the good news and works of women in the genre in hopes that it will carry on throughout the year. It’s time to celebrate and show off what we got! For those of you reading, men AND women both, try to read and watch more horror produced by women this year.

For the #HookonWiHM, or Women in Horror Month at Hook of a Book, we’ll be hosting interviews conducted by men and women with other women in horror. Watch for those spread throughout the month, and if you want in, contact me.

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#WomeninHorrorMonth Live Poetry Reading Tues, Feb 20 – Wytovich, Lynch, and Me (Al-Mehairi)!

Update! If you missed this, you can still go to the YouTube link below and watch it anytime you like. You won’t be sorry. You’ll learn to appreciate the emotion of poetry.

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Join us over at YouTube tomorrow night for a live poetry reading in honor of Women in Horror Month, hosted by Raw Dog Screaming Press and Hook of a Book!

Three female ladies will read from their works: Bram Stoker Award winning poet Stephanie Wytovich, dark fiction writer, poet, and co-founder and rock goddess of the band Ego Likeness Donna Lynch, and me!

We hope that this will allow you to understand and feel our words even more than you might on the pages within our collections. Will you join us?

You can read about each of us over on the Facebook Event Page and find links to our works. And you can watch us live on YouTube RIGHT HERE

 

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Kleenex for Your Valentine: February Reminds Me of My Writing (and Tainted Love)

I meant to feature a post for Valentine’s Day on the site, but last week ended up intense and busy in the indie horror world and other work priorities took up my time, as well I had been pretty ill the days before and was still recovering. Certainly, February (as a whole) is available for talking about love, is it not? Even love gone awry? I suppose we can talk, read, and write about it any time, I know I do, so it’s always a good time in my book (well, IN my writings, if you read them, love is not always a good time). Whether you spent Valentine’s Day happy in love, alone and happy, or crying, I’ve got something myself to say about love. It takes on many forms and is often fodder for writers like me to explore.

First, I’d draw attention to my poem “Chained by Love,” which was featured in the February 2018 issue of Enchanted Conversation: a fairy tale magazine. My poem showcased the love between moral Raymond and sea serpent/mermaid Melusine in medieval France folklore. You’ll see their happiness takes a different turn. You can read it for free in the magazine HERE. I’d like to again say thanks to them for choosing my piece to publish and for putting out such a gorgeous edition.

“A beautiful, tragic fairy tale.” – Author R.J. Crowder

“Very powerful, Erin. I loved it.” – Bram Stoker Nominated Author Jeremy Hepler

“Well done. Enjoyed it!” – Illustrator and Writer Michael Mitchell

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On a different note, I failed to announce on my site here at the end of the year, but I have a story called “The Heart of the Orchard” featured in the anthology HARDENED HEARTS, which released from Unnerving in December 2017. It’s been widely reviewed, shared on social media to high regard, and I’m pleased that my story has been doing quite well. My story is like a crime/serial killer/revenge story wrapped up with a fairy tale vibe. It’s a little bit of something I’ll always do to have a bit of the feel of grim fairy tales in my work. I grew up with Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and other folklore inspiring me and it’s not unusual it transferred into my work. The darker the better, but for me, it’s a way of dealing with trauma and fears.

In this anthology there are all types of stories from love that hurts, to love gone wrong, to weird love, to the love of something unusual, to the loss of a loved one, but always each will get you feeling. Here is the synopsis and list of authors:

“40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover” by Gwendolyn Kiste
“It Breaks My Heart to Watch You Rot” by Somer Canon
“What is Love?” by Calvin Demmer
“Heirloom” by Theresa Braun
“The Recluse” by John Boden
“Dog Tired” by Eddie Generous
“The Pink Balloon” by Tom Deady
“It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” by J.L. Knight
“Consumed” by Madhvi Ramani
“Burning Samantha” by Scott Paul Hallam
“Class of 2000” by Robert Dean
“Learning to Love” by Jennifer Williams
“Brothers” by Leo X. Robertson
“Porcelain Skin” by Laura Blackwell
“The Heart of the Orchard” by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
“Meeting the Parents” by Sarah L. Johnson
“Matchmaker” by Meg Elison

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row (and Bram Stoker Nominated Author) and more. Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless.

Praise for my story in Hardened Hearts, “The Heart of the Orchard” –

“The Heart of the Orchard by: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi – Loved, loved, loved this one—the setting, the tone, the writing—all of it was great!” – Literary Dust

‘The Heart of the Orchard’ by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi is another of the strongest works in the anthology. A dark fairy tale focussing on a young woman with a scarred past who is offered help in her quest to succeed with her fruit orchard by a character known only as The Orchard Man. She gratefully accepts his assistance in the form of herbs for her sleeplessness and fertiliser for her peach trees.” – This is Horror

“THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. This read almost like a warped fairy tale, and as we all know, fairy tales can often be quite grim.” – Char’s Horror Corner (in listing the tales that stood out for her)

“THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi – This one deserved its own book also! A+” – Book Dragon Girl (in listing her favorite stories)

Praise for Hardened Hearts anthology overall –

“…consistently strong gathering of tales which will elicit a number of different emotions. Highly recommended.” – The Grim Reader

“I believe the fact that the authors decided to mix love and horror into the mix was a brilliant idea. The literature was varied but strong, and each to its own was enjoyable to read.” -Happy Booker

HARDENED HEARTS is a collection of love at its best and worst from a group of authors who make an art out of storytelling. There is a story for everyone from fantasy to dark horror and they prove that love makes the world go ‘round and ‘round and ‘round. From the fascinating foreword to the very last word, prepare to be entertained through a myriad of your own emotions and reactions to each tale, all in the name of love.” – The Tome Tender Book Blog

“Love and horror are the very best of bedfellows if done well. “Hardened Hearts” by Various Authors goes far beyond that. These are not your everyday kind of love stories (or maybe for you they are). They are dark, twisted and disturbing. Love will be redefined from one story to the next. 17 brilliantly written short stories by some very talented word artists.” – Books in My Library Blog

“Nearly every single story by this group of majorly talented authors, is unique, horrific, and thought-provoking. There were a couple that were just kind of meh for me, but they do have great merit and deserve a read too. With this eclectic bunch, there really is something for everyone.” – Reeds and Reels

“A brave anthology which does away with binary concepts of gender, love and sex, instead presenting the reader with love that is realistic, heartfelt, though at times, naturally, stepping into the fantastical.” – This is Horror

I was also thrilled that for some, my story resonated, or they found it worthy of special mention. I know that my story, besides having some fantastical components, can also be unsettling because it’s based on some trauma I experienced in my own life. I channeled this into my character, and though she was not privy to it herself (and you’ll see why if you read the story), it had wreaked havoc on her soul and she sought out revenge. I think it is the ultimate in hardening a heart and it was what propelled me to write it when Eddie, the editor/publisher, told me the theme.

 

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In my dark poetry and fiction collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., being in relationships is explored because I wrote my emotions about living in a domestic violence situation for many years into some of my poems. I know they are quite heart-wrenching, but keep in mind, I did live this too. It’s been a process, but nothing has worked quite as good for me in healing over these last 14 years than in finishing this collection and sharing it. If you like love gone wrong, stories about domestic relationships, whether to connect or get a bird’s eye view or for suspense, and you like books like Gone Girl, Dolores Claiborne, Rose Madder, Big Little Lies, and other such, you may want to give some of the poems and stories in my collection a try. For the stories, I’d especially recommend my “Vahalla Lane” mini-series of fiction.

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And I just want to say after all this darkness, I did have a very nice Valentine’s Week, spoiled by time with my kids and making unicorn Valentines, lots of hugs, kisses, and love from both Tim and the kids, and some chocolate and a beautiful flowering rose cactus. I am happy to have a family understand love gone wrong, but also love done right.

As much as I love dark fiction, I also love good suspense thrillers, historical fiction (including some with romance, especially if they are biographical about women in history), and mysteries. I’ll have some posts about those coming up soon.

If you have some good book suggestions in this realm, or comments on any of the above, please feel free to comment. I love them!

Love to you all,

Erin

 

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#HookonWiHM: Horror Writer/Poet Sara Tantlinger Interviews Horror Writer/Filmmaker Kourtnea Hogan

Today in the #HookonWiHM series, the poet/author Sara Tantlinger has graciously interviewed Kourtnea Hogan, a horror writer who also currently attends school at The George A. Romero Film Program where she just finished working on a project with Tom Savini! I personally was not acquainted with either of these ladies prior to Sara contacting me and turning in this interview, so I’m very glad she did!

I’m taking interviews by men and women with women in horror, as well as guest articles, throughout the month of February, but will schedule throughout the year too in order feature women in horror all year long. You can find information on this at the bottom of the post. Take it away Sara – we are anxious to learn about Kourtnea!

Kourtnea Hogan

You recently had your wonderfully sick story “Mantis” published in the Year’s Best Body Horror 2017 Anthology, can you tell us more about the inspiration for that story and about the influence and importance of women writing body horror?

I’m not sure where the inspiration came from, really. I’m fascinated by the mixing of sexuality and violence. I sound like a psycho, but I think about how to mix those ideas a lot. I think it’s important for women to be involved in any and every kind of horror. Women are such a large part of the horror fan base and it’s unfortunate how little of it is really aimed at us. Women have a different perspective and I would love for more of their voices to be heard. I think it would be especially lovely to see more women in body horror. I mean, we do have a pretty close connection to it.

You’re currently studying at the George A. Romero Film Program, what’s been your favorite part of that experience so far and what are you currently working on?

I love absolutely everything about the program. I’ve had an opportunity to be on a few really fantastic sets and work with some amazingly talented people. Everything is hands on, so you’re actually getting trained in what you’re learning, you aren’t just reading things out of a book. I am currently working on getting a small web series up and running called Antique Freakshow with some friends. Solo wise I am currently working on a short film about vore (which is a fetish about being eaten alive) that should be done by the end of March.

Is your creative process with writing and film work similar, or very different? Does working in both areas influence how you write or film something? 

I honestly don’t feel much of a difference at all. I think that being involved in writing short stories and novels for so long has really helped me in the film-making process. I’m used to creating entirely new worlds for my writing, so I feel it helps build a stronger script and visual style to come from that background. I also think that studying literature and really looking for the deeper meaning in things has helped me think of what messages I want to get across in film and how to intertwine a message with a story. I always see a movie in my head when I’m writing anyway. I think that’s every writer. I don’t know that I’ve ever been able to really separate the two.

In regard to feminism and horror, what would you like to see happen more often in the genre, or how can we continue to promote feminist horror?

I think we should continue to push for more representation in every aspect. I want more writers, producers, directors, and everything in between to be women. I feel that more women in powerful high-up positions leads to more women in every position below that. I think women are abysmally under-promoted in the art world and that really needs to change. We shouldn’t have to go out of our way to find women in horror when there is an abundance of them. I personally write my scripts with women in mind. I write very few male characters and intend on making my background actors predominantly female as well. And in my writing my women are strong and in control of their situations. I think when we see more women writing about women we’ll see a lot less of the damsel in distress.

What’s your advice to other women in the horror field? 

My advice is to just keep going. Reach out to other women and ask for help or input. You can do this–I believe in you.

Year's Best Body Horror 2017

Kourtnea Hogan, Biography—

Kourtnea Hogan is a gore-hound from the Midwest. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Education from Seton Hill University. She currently attends school at The George A. Romero Film Program where she just finished working on a project with Tom Savini. You can read her short story “Mantis” in The Best Body Horror of 2017 anthology. Her novella, Consume, will be available in 2019. You can follow her on instagram at kourtnea_z_h and will be able to find more of her short films at her YouTube channel Kourt Zin.

You can pick up The Best Body Horror of 2017 anthology on Amazon.

Sara Tantlinger, Biography—

Sara TantlingerSara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the author of the dark poetry collection Love For Slaughter, and her most recent publications appear in Abyss and Apex and in 100 Word Horrors: An Anthology of Horror Drabbles.

She is a contributing editor for The Oddville Press, a graduate of Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program, and an active member of the HWA. She embraces all things strange and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Twitter @SaraJane524 and at her website. 

Watch for more to come in the #HookonWiHM series….

February is Women in Horror Month! Though I agree women should be celebrated on the same level as men every day of the year, I like to partake in Women in Horror projects as a catalyst for spreading the good news and works of women in the genre in hopes that it will carry on throughout the year. It’s time to celebrate and show off what we got! For those of you reading, men AND women both, make an effort to read and watch more horror produced by women this year.

For the #HookonWiHM, or Women in Horror Month at Hook of a Book, we’ll be hosting interviews conducted by men and women with other women in horror. Watch for those spread throughout the month, and if you want in, contact me! Find more info HERE.

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#HookonWiHM: Female Horror Reviewer Charlene is Interviewed by Curtis Freeman About Her Blog, What Scares Her, and What Makes a Good Horror Book

Today in the #HookonWiHM series, the honcho at Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews, Curtis Freeman, interviews horror reader, blogger, and Goodreads Horror Aficionado’s Senior Moderator, Charlene Cocrane. This is the first in his three-part series on women blogging in the horror genre. I’m glad we are getting the word out about other women in horror in addition to all the amazing authors. It takes a community to make the genre shine! Char is one of the nicest ladies working and supporting the genre.

I’m taking interviews by men and women with women in horror, as well as guest articles, throughout the month of February. You can information on this at the bottom of the post. Take it away Curtis – thanks for a great interview with Char!

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Q: What was the first horror book you ever read?

A: Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat or The Tell Tale Heart.

Q: What is the scariest book you ever read?

A: Salem’s Lot or The House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski.

Q: When did you become a blogger? What made you want to blog about books?

A: I’ve been blogging for about 3 years now because I wanted to help out independent authors and I like talking about books that I love.

Q: What annoys you the most with your blog?

A: It is easy for me to get bogged down with promised reviews and ARCS. If I’m not careful it turns something I love into work. When that happens I lose the joy that blogging brings.

Q: Do you think there is a gender bias in horror fiction? Explain.

A: There are certainly less women writing horror than men; Why that is, I’m not sure. As one of the moderators of Horror Aficionados, (the largest group on Goodreads dedicated to horror books, with over 13,000 members), I know there are a LOT of female horror fans. Most of my favorite horror reviewers are women also.

Q: Do you think there is a gender bias in horror book blogging? Explain.

A: I really don’t believe there is a concentrated effort to prevent women from blogging about horror, I just think that horror is not as popular among women as are other genres. Let’s face it-horror is not for everyone.

Q: How can we fix the bias?

A: See above. That said, I think that more women writing, reviewing and/or blogging about horror may bring more women into the horror fold, so to speak. All we can do is continue writing and reviewing about the genre that we love, and hope that our enthusiasm infects others.

Q: I find it sad that we still live in a world where women authors have to use initials to seem less female. What are your thoughts?

A: I think women have come a long way and using just their initials to get published is probably not as popular a practice as it used to be, especially with the advent of self-publishing.  I have seen so many women build a name for themselves in the past few years, it’s amazing, and that’s both with self-publishing and with traditional. I hope that more women will be drawn to the genre by reading the work of women and becoming inspired by them.

Q: What pushes your buttons with your blog?

A: If you’re asking if there’s something that makes me angry-there are only a few things. Authors being pushy about reviews and authors commenting on negative reviews. I think authors should never make derogatory comments about a reviewer or a review, even if they are right. A reviewer spends their precious time reviewing a book and as such, I believe, they are entitled to their opinions. If I see an author engaging a reviewer or even making fun of a reviewer publicly, I will make it a point not to buy or review any of their books, lest I end up in the same position.

Q: Do you think the Horror Writers Association (HWA) should start recognizing horror book bloggers?

A: No, I don’t. I think it’s an organization created to support writers. Much as I enjoy blogging and reviewing, I don’t believe that I’m a professional writer, nor do I want to be.

Q: How has the horror community treated you since starting your blog?

A: The horror community is AWESOME. On Goodreads, on Twitter, on Facebook and in person-I have met and chatted with some people that are just beautiful human beings. I have made so many friends, on line and in person and they are supportive, intelligent and creative. Every day I feel lucky to have them in my life.

Q: What makes a good horror book?

A: Scares! When you’re all alone in a quiet house reading and you jump at every noise you hear? I love that feeling!  I also have a special place in my heart for the beautiful and creative prose of writers like Shirley Jackson. Their use of words can elevate something boring and commonplace into something to be feared. For instance, from The Haunting of Hill House a perfectly chilling paragraph:

“Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

Q: What scares you?

A: Not too much. To be honest, the thing that scares me the most is dementia. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have the faculties to read and understand a book. As far as horror goes, though, I do love me a well-done haunted house story.

Q: Who’s your favorite horror author? You have to pick one or three authors, but it can’t be two.

A: Today it’s: Robert McCammon, Michael McDowell, and Stephen King.

Q: What books are you most looking forward to in 2018?

The Listener by Robert McCammon (I’ve already read it and it’s amazing!), Providence by Caroline Kepnes, and the latest John Connolly book.

About Char –

I am a happily married mother of one, (a fantastic young man), and I am a warranty claim administrator for 2 automobile dealerships which helps to pay for my book addiction.

I am one of the moderators of the Goodreads Group “Horror Aficionados” which now boasts over 13,500 horror-loving members! I am a member of the reviewing team at  Horror After Dark.

When I was young my parents used to take me to the drive in movies all the time, mostly for horror flicks. That was where my love of horror was born. These days I focus on books instead of films.

Char’s Horror Corner

GoodReads

Twitter

And thank you to Curtis from Cedar Hollow Reviews for his wonderfully insightful interview with Char! What a great addition to the women in horror series.

About Curtis Freeman-

Curtis

Curtis is a lover of horror books and films and a passionate addition to the horror genre. He reviews at his site Cedar Hollow Reviews and has just begun to interview authors via his YouTube Channel. Curtis even grilled me for over 3 hours one evening. His heartfelt excitement for the genre shows. This is the first in a series of three women horror bloggers Curtis is interviewing for my #HookonWiHM project. You can also find Curtis on Twitter.

Watch for more to come in the #HookonWiHM series….

February is Women in Horror Month! Though I agree women should be celebrated on the same level as men every day of the year, I like to partake in Women in Horror projects as a catalyst for spreading the good news and works of women in the genre in hopes that it will carry on throughout the year. It’s time to celebrate and show off what we got! For those of you reading, men AND women both, make an effort to read and watch more horror produced by women this year.

For the #HookonWiHM, or Women in Horror Month at Hook of a Book, we’ll be hosting interviews conducted by men and women with other women in horror. Watch for those spread throughout the month, and if you want in, contact me! Find more info HERE.

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#HookonWiHM: Theresa Braun interviews J.H. Moncrieff about Atwood, a Haunted Island, and Gender Roles

Today, for the #HookonWiHM project, author Theresa Braun has interviewed the Canadian author J.H. Moncrieff! I’m super excited to have both of these women on the site today in promotion of Women in Horror Month. J.H. Moncrieff writes paranormal suspense, thrillers, and horror. I enjoy following her travels especially to all the haunted places. Happily, I’ve recently met Theresa this year as we shared the TOC in the anthology Hardened Hearts together, which published by Unnerving in December 2017.

I’m taking interviews by men and women with women in horror, as well as guest articles, throughout the month of February. You can see information on this at the bottom of the post. For now, take it away Theresa. Thanks for a great interview with J.H. Moncrieff!

Cropped coat

Do you feel the feminist conversation surrounding Margaret Atwood is relevant to the issues relating to female writers and female characters? Does Atwood carry any weight for you personally, since you both happen to be Canadian? 

I have read Atwood’s defence of her stance on the firing of the UBC professor, which fanned the flames and turned even more women against her (which, as a publicist, I could have told her it would. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing), and she raises some valid points. Movements like #MeToo do have the potential to become public witch hunts. And they are the result of a legal system failure: if women’s reports of sexual assault and harassment had been taken seriously, there would be no need for scores of women to go public about the issue on social media (or, at least, less need). However, as women, we need to be extremely careful not to re-victimize the survivors of sexual harassment and assault.

Almost every woman on the planet has experienced one or the other or both, but most of us don’t report it because we still fear the repercussions or assume we won’t be believed or taken seriously. We’re still living in an age where a man who was seen raping a woman spent only three months in jail. Where a police officer said to me that one of the strongest indications a woman was lying about sexual assault was she’d reported it, as most “true victims” don’t. And this was coming from a man most would consider sensitive and enlightened. Where people still get frustrated about the women pointing fingers at their favorite celebrities, but never once get angry at the men for the sexual misconduct and abuse of power.

Atwood argues the pendulum is at risk of swinging too far in the other direction. But perhaps it needs to. Just as many find the “zero tolerance” policy of dealing with domestic violence unfair, and it’s certainly flawed, it’s like that for a reason. Only when we’ve seen genuine progress on these issues, when women are no longer viewed as either sexual objects or prey, can people like Atwood safely call for balance. The problem is that our society has been far too unbalanced for far too long. Publicly critiquing a movement that amplifies survivor’s voices and raises awareness of just how prevalent sexual abuse and harassment are, is certainly going to be seen as anti-feminist, to put it lightly. To respond with guns blazing and a “Screw you, I’ve been called worse!” editorial hasn’t helped matters. The fact we’re both Canadian doesn’t bond us or give her opinion more weight to me, but I am more likely to see her editorials, as Canadian media have always given her a platform and will continue to do so.

Do you consciously include gender issues in your fiction? If so, what are some that you have explored? And are there any that you plan to explore in future storylines?

Monsters in Our Wake features a character who is the only female working on a drillship, and it explores some of the sexism and ostracism she suffered as a result, but on the flip side, the sea creatures in that novel live in a matriarchal society where the females are larger, more powerful, and make the majority of the decisions. Some readers have had a huge problem with this. A man accused me of being “anti-male” because of this novel, and some female readers hated Flora because she came across as weak or timid, while they’d always thrived in male-dominated environments. In City of Ghosts, I explored how women can be their own harshest critics and what can happen when they turn against each other. Again, some women really didn’t like that, and they disparaged how “girl-on-girl crime” has been overdone in fiction.

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But the truth is, I don’t set out to write with a feminist agenda, or any agenda. I write people (and creatures), and people are flawed. Sometimes they’re misunderstood or obnoxious or misguided, and sometimes they’re just plain ugly. While I’ve never been ostracized like Flora was, I have been one of the only women in extremely male-dominated professions and sports, so it was easy for me to feel for the struggles someone less assertive might have. And I’ve experienced a ton of “girl-on-girl crime” in my lifetime–in elementary school, in high school, and in the workplace, both from colleagues and from supervisors. Women are capable of being awful to other women, and refusing to be honest about that would do everyone a disservice.

You have written a lot about characters facing supernatural situations. And you have based several of these novels on real places that you have visited. Which of these has scared you the most? Why?

The scariest place I’ve ever visited was Poveglia, an island off the coast of Venice that is considered to be the world’s most haunted. I don’t spook easily, but I was terrified the entire time I was there. Not only was I completely alone on the island, I was there during a violent thunderstorm. Poveglia has a truly chilling history, which I explored in The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts. Although nothing overt happened to me–I didn’t see a ghost–there were definitely a lot of strange, unexplained sounds and a very strong sensation that something was wrong in that place. It’s very creepy.

Isola di Poveglia

From enca.com / Photo: Flickr.com / tedlum

What future project are you most excited about? Tell us about that.

While I have a lot to be excited about this year–the release of the first book in my new Egyptian series, which was previewed in Temple of Ghosts; the fourth book in my GhostWriters series; a Christmas GhostWriters novella; and a few other projects–I’m probably most anticipating the release of Dead of Winter, which Severed Press will publish this spring. It’s about a famous podcaster who ventures into Russia’s Ural Mountains to investigate what happened on the Dyatlov Pass back in the ’50s. Since The Dyatlov Pass Incident is one of the scariest unsolved mysteries of all time, it was a fun topic to explore and I was really happy with how the book turned out. Best-selling author Hunter Shea gave it a great blurb: “Dead of Winter will freeze your blood! A mystery dripping with terror, the sense of isolation and impending doom kept my heart racing right until the very last line. An instant classic.”

Has there been something that a reader has surprised you with? Something that a reader has come away with that has left you inspired? 

My readers are amazing. I’m still so grateful I get to do this that every positive review makes me teary. One reader emailed me to say Temple of Ghosts helped her get through a difficult time after her daughter’s house caught fire. Another left a review for City of Ghosts that ended with, “City of Ghosts stirs the reader’s childhood fears and mixes them with compassion for all of China’s unwanted little girls.” That really got to me, because I wrote that book for those little girls, but I didn’t think anyone had understood that. When a reader gets you, it’s the best feeling in the world. I bawled. During a recent visit to a book club, the members surprised me with a gigantic gift basket full of goodies like gourmet tea, bubble bath, candles, a hardcover book, a bookmark, pens, etc. It went on and on. It was almost bottomless. I was extremely touched. Book clubs are the best, with or without the gifts.

Check out books from Moncrieff such as:

The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts and Temple of Ghosts 

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Find Moncrieff online:

Website

Books

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Thanks again to Theresa Braun for conducing the interview!

Theresa Braun, Bio –

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Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. Traveling, ghost hunting, and all things dark are her passions. Her work appears in The Horror Zine, Sirens Call, Schlock! Webzine, Hardened Hearts, and Strange Behaviors, among others.

Watch for more to come in the #HookonWiHM series….

February is Women in Horror Month! Though I agree women should be celebrated on the same level as men every day of the year, I like to partake in Women in Horror projects as a catalyst for spreading the good news and works of women in the genre in hopes that it will carry on throughout the year. It’s time to celebrate and show off what we got! For those of you reading, men AND women both, make an effort to read and watch more horror produced by women this year.

For the #HookonWiHM, or Women in Horror Month at Hook of a Book, we’ll be hosting interviews conducted by men and women with other women in horror. Watch for those spread throughout the month, and if you want in, contact me! Find more info HERE.

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#HookonWiHM: Focus on Author Gwendolyn Kiste Via Calvin Demmer

February is Women in Horror Month! Though I agree women should be celebrated on the same level as men every day of the year, I like to partake in Women in Horror projects as a catalyst for spreading the good news and works of women in the genre in hopes that it will carry on throughout the year. It’s time to celebrate and show off what we got! For those of you reading, men AND women both, make an effort to read and watch more horror produced by women this year.

For the #HookonWiHM, or Women in Horror Month at Hook of a Book, we’ll be hosting interviews conducted by men and women with other women in horror. Watch for those spread throughout the month, and if you want in, contact me! Find more info HERE.

Now, without further wait, I’d like to introduce Calvin Demmer who has enthusiastically interviewed the amazing author Gwendolyn Kiste! I am more than pleased to say that I share a TOC with them in the Unnerving anthology Hardened Hearts and very much enjoyed both their stories. Further, I was excited to recently find out that Gwendolyn is originally from Ohio, where I currently live!

Take it away, Calvin – enjoy!

INTERVIEW WITH HORROR AUTHOR GWENDOLYN KISTE –

Gwendolyn Kiste_Black and White Headshot

Was it difficult to select which stories to include in your debut collection And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe (Published by Journalstone)?

Overall, it wasn’t too terribly difficult, though it was so important to me not only to select the right stories but also to curate them in the absolute best order. This definitely took some time, and I was lucky to have my editor Jess Landry there to help me. All fourteen of the stories that I submitted to her for the collection made the cut for the book, but she helped with the order, opening with the avian horror story, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” and closing with the darkly romantic body horror tale, “The Lazarus Bride.” She felt both of those pieces focused similarly on themes of death and rebirth, and worked well in conversation with each other, and I couldn’t have agreed more.

As for other considerations in putting together the collection, several of the previously published stories are available for free online, so I felt it was important to offer readers something completely new. That’s what led me to including five stories original to the collection. Now that’s it been almost a year since publication, it’s interesting to take stock of the table of contents again and realize that I can’t imagine a different order or different stories.

These fourteen tales definitely cover all of my favorite themes: body horror, fairy tales, sisterhood, twisted romantic relationships, and of course, otherness and the role of the outsider in pushing back against the confines of society. I’m so grateful every day to Jess and JournalStone for releasing this book. It’s completely changed my career and brought me to so many more readers, which is the only thing that a writer can ever truly want for their career.

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How did you find the process from writing short stories to writing your novella Pretty Marys All in a Row (Broken Eye Books)?

It was a really wonderful—as well as daunting—experience to make the leap from short fiction to a longer form. In some ways, my approach to short fiction is a bit more free-flow: because the projects are shorter by design, I let them evolve much more naturally and then go back and edit the stories if I find that I ultimately didn’t need certain details or subplots. However, with a novella or any longer fiction, that free-flow approach can become more problematic. What’s easy to edit when it’s only 5,000 words can quickly become a nightmare for a 30,000-word story.

So I would say the main difference for me is how much more planning goes into my longer works. For example, prior to even starting the first draft of my novel, The Rust Maidens, I wrote out an 11,000-word outline. Almost none of those words ended up directly in the novel, but I knew every single direction the book was going to take. Every character, every setting, every scene. There were no surprises at all, which made drafting the book much smoother.

I took a similar approach with Pretty Marys All in a Row, though the outline was a little more informal with a page or two of notes for each chapter that included locations, character goals, and specific starting and ending points for all the scenes. Part of me really loves the spontaneity of letting a story evolve like I do with my short fiction, but when the moment comes midway through a longer project that it starts to become a bit of a struggle, I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve planned ahead. It’s definitely what’s helped to keep me going so far with my longer works.

Pretty-Marys-All-in-a-Row

You collaborated with Emily Cataneo for the novella In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire (which will appear in Chiral Mad 4). How was the experience working with another writer?

I’d never collaborated with another writer before, especially on such a big project, so I had no idea what to expect when we started. Fortunately, Emily and I quickly worked out a good system for how to make the collaboration dovetail with both our visions. Once we had the basic elements for the story—ballet, sisters, witchcraft, turn-of-the-century Europe—we each crafted a point-of-view character, and wrote our alternating sections from our character’s perspective. Then we came together and worked to smooth out any inconsistencies and create a cohesive whole. Ultimately, In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire ended up in novella-length territory, and we were both very excited with how it turned out. When editors Michael Bailey and Lucy A. Snyder accepted it for Chiral Mad 4, I imagine you could hear Emily and I both squealing for joy for a several-mile radius.

Your debut novel, The Rust Maidens, will be published this year. Can you tell us a little about it?

Well, first off, I’m insanely excited and a little nervous about it! Obviously, it’s a big moment for every author to have a novel, but it’s so wonderfully terrifying too. And of course, you want to be sure that it’s the right book for your debut. Fortunately, I think I found a good balance with The Rust Maidens, since it at once includes elements from my short fiction while expanding upon my work in a number of ways that I hope readers will enjoy.

Based primarily in 1980, the book follows one Cleveland, Ohio neighborhood as the economy starts to unravel at the same time that the local girls begin transforming into something otherworldly. I’ve been describing it as David Cronenberg’s The Fly meets The Virgin Suicides. Lots of body horror, gruesome transformations, and coming-of-age themes in the Midwest, which is where I grew up. I never thought I’d “go back home,” so to speak, in my fiction, but once I came up with the concept for this book, I knew it was definitely a direction I was always meant to take. I wanted to write something about the economic losses so many people in the region have dealt with over the years, as well as the ecological disasters that have plagued Lake Erie for decades. To be honest, once I started writing about the Rust Belt, I realized just how much horror haunts the everyday recesses of the area, so it seems very naturally situated for a darkly supernatural novel.

We don’t have an official release scheduled yet for The Rust Maidens, but that date should be coming very soon, so definitely watch my website and the Trepidatio Publishing social media pages for those details!

Who are some of the female horror authors you believe people should be reading?

Honestly, there are way too many to list here, but I will do my best. I’m a huge fan of Farah Rose Smith, Brooke Warra, and Eden Royce in particular. We already mentioned Emily B. Cataneo, but her name certainly deserves to be repeated as well. My editor at JournalStone/Trepidatio, Jess Landry, is also a writer and a fantastic one at that.

Of course, I could go on and on: Lori Titus, Anya Martin, Nadia Bulkin, S.P. Miskowski, Denise Tapscott, Sumiko Saulson, Catherine Grant, Scarlett R. Algee, Rebecca Allred, Carrie Laben, Kenya Moss-Dyme. I usually focus on fiction, but in terms of horror poets, Christina Sng and Saba Razvi are two names everyone should definitely seek out. Truly, there are so many wonderful female horror authors working today, and it’s such an honor to be among their contemporaries

Gwendolyn Kiste_Black and White Headshot

Gwendolyn Kiste, Biography –

Gwendolyn Kiste is the author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, her debut fiction collection from JournalStone, as well as the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare MagazineShimmerBlack StaticDaily Science FictionInterzoneLampLight, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye as well as Flame Tree Publishing’s Chilling Horror Short Stories anthology, among others. A native of Ohio, she spends her days hanging out on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh where she lives with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. You can find her online at gwendolynkiste.com.

Book Purchase Links –

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe

Pretty Marys All in a Row

Thanks so much to Calvin Demmer for highlighting Gwendolyn!

CalvinDemmer

Calvin Demmer, Biography –

Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His work has appeared in Broadswords and Blasters, Empyreome Magazine, Mad Scientist Journal, Ravenwood Quarterly, Switchblade, and others. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at www.calvindemmer.com.

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Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre.

 

 

 

 

 

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February Issue of Enchanted Magazine is Released – Read My “Chained by Love”

Very excited! It’s February 1 and that means that the February issue of Enchanted Conversations: a fairy tale magazine has arrived! You can now read my poem, “Chained by Love,” which is about a sea serpent/mermaid from medieval French folklore and her love Raymond. Fairy tales don’t always end happy, though.

This is an e-zine, and so with my poem, and all the other stories and poems featured, you can go to the link (near end of post), click on each individual piece of cover art like the beautiful one for my poem below, and viola – free to read. I really love the art Amanda Bergoff did for my poem, it truly captured the Gothic feel of medieval France and the beauty and longing depicted of Melusine.

As a professional writer, I’m pleased they paid for each piece, but they are free to read for you, so please support the site anyway you can. Enjoy!

Read “Chained by Love” HERE.

ChainedByLove-AL-MEHAIRI-ArtAmandaBergloff

From the magazine lead-in…

Un rêve d’amour: A Dream of Love

Love can be magical or tragic, star-crossed or end happily ever after–an unrequited love for another or two souls that are meant to be.

In this issue, we asked writers to explore the different aspects of love through stories, poems, and for the first time in the magazine, an illustrated tale in digital format.

How do you search for a love who does not want to be found? Can the secrets of a mountain draw lovers together? Does Hades look different when seen through Persephone’s eyes? Can you find a knight ready to champion your cause, speeding through the desert with the lights of Vegas in the distance? Is a rainstorm at midnight or a snowfall at dawn the gift the sky gives when it falls in love? Should love hold one captive from its true being?…and more tales and poems on the intangible, glorious, frustrating, beautiful idea of the dream that is love.

Follow this link to go to the magazine to read all the stories and poetry and see all the gorgeous art! I very much appreciate being included in this wonderful issue.

Please let me know your thoughts. What is your favorite love duo in myth and legend?

ECFebruaryIssue-LOVE-ArtAmandaBergloff

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Announcement: I’ll be Co-Editing a Gothic Anthology with Unnerving

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Special Announcement!

I let this ball start to drop the other night when Curtis from the wonderful Cedar Hollow Reviews interviewed me on his YouTube channel, but….

I will be the GUEST EDITOR for a really exciting publication: HAUNTED ARE THESE HOUSES, a Gothic anthology coming from the publisher Unnerving in the Fall of this year!!! I’m thrilled Eddie, the publisher, asked me to be his co-editor on this anthology.

Submissions will open end of February (Feb. 28) and run till the end of April and we are looking for short stories and poetry both that are…yes, Gothic in nature! That means you can write anything your creative mind comes up with as long as it is Gothic-related. You can set it back in time or you can set it in the present, as long as the tales give that overall atmospheric appeal. And note, we are advocates of diversity, so feel free to utilize characters from all walks of life and backgrounds. Also, be unique, creative, and think outside the box.

More information will be in the open call announcement about the requirements of what Eddie and I are looking to include. BUT, here is what’s a bit different and exciting for me, since I’m a lover of the classics. We’ll be incorporating reprints of classic Gothic stories and poems from some historic great writers of this corner of horror as well as new, modern voices. I have a fondness for Edith Wharton, Algernon Blackwood, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, to name a few. 

Think on what you’ll send in as your best dark and atmospheric writing! We will consider reprints and new work both from those who would like to submit. More information will be fed to you ongoing – I’m THRILLED to be doing this. Now, are you excited too?

Watch this space, my personal or Hook of a Book Twitter, my Facebook, Unnerving Twitter, or Unnerving website for more information ongoing.

And if you like dark fiction, please consider purchasing Unnerving Magazine, the books, or watch for upcoming package deals on books for 2018. I’m proud to say my dark fiction collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., is published via Unnerving.

-Erin

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