Women in Horror: Recommended Short Stories (Part 3)

I’m feeling generous so today I bring you three horror stories by women, all worth reading.

“Broken” by Mercedes M. Yeardley

This story is not available online, but can be read in Mercedes’ first short story collection, Beautiful Sorrows. It’s only twenty-one words long, but it is everything you need for a horror story. Every time I step on a twig, I shudder and think of it.

“Secretario” by Catherynne M. Valente

Can be read here. This is the story that introduced me to Catherynne’s work. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a horror story, but then again I find that sometimes horror works better as a component of a story rather than a genre since “horror” as a genre carries a lot of baggage. But really, you shouldn’t need an excuse to read a fantastic tale so just go do it.

“Dreaming Like a Ghost” by Kat Howard

Read it here. This story was just published today so I’m still processing it; it’s poetic, haunting, and violent in a way I did not expect.

Go forth and read, my friends.

Women in Horror: Recommended Short Stories (Part 2)

Better late than never, here are two more wonderful short stories in celebration of women in horror month.

“Need” by Lisa Tuttle

Available to read here here. A foreboding piece of “quiet” horror. When I lived in Ohio, we were within walking distance of a cemetery that we found ourselves visiting quite often. The images of Corey walking through the cemetery remind me of that cemetery and has caused this story to stick with me since I first read it.

“Construction Project” by Desirina Boskovich

Click here to read this one. A claustrophobic piece of fiction that seems to close in on the reader as they venture further into the story. The first story I read in Nightmare Magazine, which ended up cementing my love for the market.

Just a few more days to win a copy of Damien Angelica Walters’ debut novel, Ink.

Women in Horror: Recommended Short Stories (Part 1)

To continue with the celebration of women in horror, I’m going to post a few of my favorite short horror stories by women. Please take no offense if your favorite author is not on this list, I’m actually working on a much larger list to be posted at a later date. For now, here are my first two recommendations.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Read it here. I don’t know when I first read this story — sometime in my late teens, I think — but I fell in love with it immediately. This is one of the few weird stories that the general public might be familiar with (besides Poe, or maybe Lovecraft) because it is assigned reading in many higher-education classes. It’s an important work of 19th century feminist literature and maybe the first instance of feminist writing in the weird genre. (Do feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)

“A Redress for Andromeda” by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Sadly, this one isn’t available to read online, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking it out. It can be read in The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, a fantastic tome that everyone should already have on their shelf. “Redress” exemplifies everything I love about Caitlin’s writing. I would say more but Desirina Boskovich has already said everything there is to say, and so much more eloquently than I could.

Now go do your reading, friends. Expect a couple more short story recommendations each day until the end of the month.

Don’t forget, there’s still time to win a copy of Damien Angelica Walters’ debut novel, Ink.

Women in Horror: Interview with Damien Angelica Walters

damienContinuing the celebration of women in horror and the contest to win a copy of Ink. Here is the interview with Damien Angelica Walters that I promised.

Do you consider yourself a horror writer?

That’s a good question. Am I? If I had to label myself as something other than just a writer, I’d go with speculative fiction writer, not because I think negatively of the term horror but because what I write tends to span across the spec fic umbrella. My most recently published short story, “The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter“, is science fiction and I have a story coming out in Nightmare later this year that I almost didn’t submit because I wasn’t sure it was dark enough for the magazine. I prefer to let people label me however they decide; I’ll just keep my head down and keep writing.

At what point did you realize you were afflicted with the horror writing bug?

I’ve always been partial to darker-tinged work when it comes to books and movies, so I don’t really think I was afflicted with the horror writing bug so much as it’s just what I’m naturally drawn to. Not certain what that says about me, but…

What inspired your novel, Ink?

My son wanted a tattoo for his eighteenth birthday and on our way out of the tattoo shop, I joked about writing a short story about a guy covered in tattoos, a guy who’s addicted to ink, who gets ‘just one more’, and then all his tattoos come alive and devour him. That’s not quite how Ink turned out, but that was the initial spark that started the story.

Do you have any tattoos yourself?

Yes, I currently have six: A Celtic dragon in the center of my back; a Celtic knot between my shoulder blades; ‘Once upon a time’ on my inner right forearm; ‘A paper tiger to swallow me whole’ on my inner left forearm; a curlicue on my right inner wrist; ‘Nevermore’ on my outer right ankle.

Congratulations on your upcoming collection of short fiction. If you had to pick a favorite child, which story would it be?

That’s a tough one. I have a few that speak to me for different reasons, but I think my favorite is “Girl, With Coin”, which appeared in Shimmer 17 and will also appear in my collection.

What are you working on now? Do you have another novel waiting in the wings? Maybe one about a cello with the taste for human blood?

Interesting you mention that. My recent human cello story has inspired a new novel, or maybe the novel idea was there already and just needed a spark to bring it to life. Either way, I’m in the New! Shiny! phase where the blank pages are filled with infinite possibility. Give me a month and I’ll no doubt be in the This is the worst thing ever. What was I thinking? phase.

I have four other novels sitting around in various states of progress although three of those four are about to be tucked away permanently in the trunk of forgotten things and one is in the hands of my agent.

What’s a day in the fabulous “writing life” of Damien Angelica Walters like?

Coffee, email, coffee, freelance editing work, coffee, words. Rinse. Repeat.

Do you have any particular writing rituals or daily goals?

When I’m first drafting a novel, I usually set a daily word count goal, but I’ve started writing the new one longhand (a first for me) so I’m not sure if I’ll set a daily page count or not.

I am fascinated when I hear writers discuss their struggles with the actual act of writing. Is writing a joy or a chore for you?

Both. There are days when the words flow and the excitement of filling up the blank pages is a great rush. There are other days when the words won’t come out right or the story won’t come out right and I end up gnashing my teeth and muttering under my breath. Luckily, I have more days of the former rather than the latter.

Have you read any good horror by women lately that you can recommend? Anything that’s blown your mind or made your skin crawl?

Hair Side, Flesh Side, a collection of short fiction by Helen Marshall, is brilliant. Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales, edited by Paula Guran, is a collection of short fiction and some of the stories are definitely within the realm of horror.

Who are some of your favorite authors or whose work do you draw inspiration from?

Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jacqueline Carey, but lately I’ve drawn inspiration from E. Catherine Tobler, Sunny Moraine, and Helena Bell, three incredibly talented women whose prose makes me weep, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Hard hitting question time. Coffee or tea? Beer or wine?

No contest. Coffee and wine.

Anything else you’d like to share? Any particular question you’ve always wanted to be asked?

Where do you get your ideas? I know, I know; writers don’t ask each other that because we know, without a doubt, that those ideas are buried deep within the brainmeat and require a strong constitution, an ice pick, and tweezers, to get them out.

Thanks for your time, Damien.

You can find Damien online at damienangelicawalters.com or @DWGrintalis.

Love in the Time of Cthulhu

My latest story, “Love in the Time of Cthulhu”, is now available for your reading pleasure over at Flash Fiction Online. I’m super happy that this little story found such a great home. I promise that it will at least be the second best short story about speed dating elder gods that you read today.

And if you’re feeling extremely generous, you can buy a copy of the whole issue in which the story appears.

A Look Back at 2013

Well, the year is over. I guess now is as good a time as any to look back at what I have accomplished.

  • I wrote approximately 80,000 words of fiction. That doesn’t even include my non-fiction stuff (blogging here or for Apex). That includes 12 unfinished short stories, 9 completed short stories, 2 unfinished novellas, and the ever-present unfinished novel.
  • I submitted 14 short stories. For my efforts I received 8 form rejections, 3 personal rejections, 3 acceptances, and 1 anthology invite. I had 3 short stories published.
  • I attended 2 cons and 1 writing retreat. I was even on my first panel and had my first interview.

Overall, I’m quite happy. It was a productive year. A lot of people read my work (I’ve even had a few reviews) and I made a lot of great connections and friends this year. I do have way too many unfinished short stories. I need to remedy that and finish the novel. I’ll probably write a blog post to outline some goals for 2014.

I hope everyone’s year was as productive as mine!

Occasionally, I Read Short Stories: The Latter Half of 2013

Here is the second part of the best short stories I’ve read this year (though they were not all necessarily published this year). And in case you missed it, here is the first half of my list from a few months back.

“Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring” by Brooke Bolander
“The Diane Arbus Suicide Portfolio” by Marc Laidlaw
“In the Greenwood” by Mari Ness
“The Beasts of the Earth, the Madness of Men” by Brooke Bolander
“The Ballad of Marisol Brook” by Sarah Grey

It would be impossible to put them in any kind of meaningful order, but if I had to pick an absolute favorite it would be Brooke Bolander’s “Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring”. That story stuck with me more than any other. Feel free to post a comment and tell me about your favorite short stories you read this year.

I can’t wait to discover what wonderful short stories next year will bring…