Meli’s Women in Horror Month Book Haul

The amount of money I spend on books is a regular point of contention between me and my husband. Actually, it’s not cash flow he’s concerned about, it’s valuable real estate. Shelf and cabinet space to be precise. While my honey, my sweetheart fills his side of the room with vinyl records, the shelves on my side runneth over with books and they’re starting to creep into his territory. It’s hard for my patient and understanding life partner to understand why I continue to buy books when I haven’t read all the ones I have. After all, it only takes him a half an hour or more to listen to an album. It could take me a couple days, probably more, to read a novel or anthology. Still, I can’t stop buying books.

Yeah, I have an Amazon.com wish list, but what if I can’t–or don’t want–to get the book in question from Amazon? What if it’s published by a small press? What if I later forget that I even wanted it? What if it sells out? I can’t take that chance! That’s why I have to get it while the gettin’ is good. To the chagrin of my husband, one book leads to another in an endless cycle of seek and destroy.

For example, my favorite author may reveal in an interview that he/she is heavily inspired by so-and-so and I got another book to add to my to-read list. Then, I read that book by so-and-so and in the introduction they mention a fellow peer whose work has motivated them to pursue writing seriously (or something like that). I add that to my to-read list. Now, with social networking I have a non-stop influx of recommendations from my favorite authors, readers, publishers, bloggers and even strangers, so I may not be able to finish one book before I’ve got five other titles on my shelf!

I have many titles collecting dust while I continue to buy new books. This is precisely why I started The Dreadful Attic, a review section here at Dreadful Tales that is for the sole purpose of getting those books read!

Even though I’m making a concerted effort to finally read some of the lost and forgotten, I struggle to resist alluring novels, collections (my biggest weakness), and my favorite writer’s new releases. Sometimes books that just have cool cover art.

Women in Horror Month proved an irresistible temptation to that feat. I had the opportunity to interview several women throughout February and of course I had to pick their brains about their favorite writers and personal influences. This elicited a number of additions to my wish list.

Every once in while you get in a slump where everything in the scene kinda feels stale and nothing seems to grab you and demand you take notice. Other times, the times I live for as a horror fiction fan, you have the exhilarating realization that the well was never dry to begin with; you were just tapping the wrong vein. With my shopping cart full and my bank account empty, I felt that rush of excitement for the state of horror fiction this past month and I want to share it with you all!

Beyond is the list of books I purchased before and throughout February, and I’ve included some titles I will buy soon also.

Before WiHM kicked off, I was soliciting genre fans for their favorite female horror writers and it was Ron McKenzie, artist and man of exquisite taste, that first mentioned the name Gina Ranalli, a name new to me. Many people joined in to second, third, and fourth that recommendation and in particular the title House of Fallen Trees. I picked up that book along with Brainfused Colorwheel, just because the title sounds trippy. You can browse Ranalli’s titles here and visit her website here.

I’m on an Elizabeth Massie kick lately and I love vampires. Pre-WiHM I snagged a used copy of The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women edited by Stephen Jones and featuring work by Poppy Z. Brite, Nancy Kilpatrick, Gemma Files, Elizabeth Massie, and a dozen other high caliber writers. I picked this up more for my rabid vampire obsession, weakness for anthologies, and Massie fandom than the celebratory month of February, but a fitting title to include here. Used copies are available rather cheap, you just gotta look around. Visit Elizabeth Massie’s website to follow her work and find out more about the multi-talented author.

There were a few titles I added to my collection as a result of my interview with Maria Alexander. Right about the time I was reading (or just finished) Maria Alexander’s short story contributions to Dark Arts Books 2008 anthology Sins of the Sirens, the preliminary Bram Stoker Award nomination ballot was announced. Included among that bevy of talent is, now officially, Maria Alexander’s poetry collection At Louche Ends, published by Monica S. Kuebler’s Burning Effigy Press. Alexander struck a nerve with me, as did all the Sins writers. I had to have At Louche Ends. So I headed over to the Burning Effigy shoppe to pick it up. I figured there was no point just buying one lone title, so I grabbed Ian Roger’s Black Lands novellas Temporary Monsters, The Ash Angels, and Black-Eyed Kids as well. You can get all Burning Effigy Press titles here. Visit Ian Roger’s website here and Maria Alexander here.

After reading Maria Alexander’s At Louche Ends, I was motivated to introduce more poetry to my diet. Not through a direct recommendation, but perhaps subliminal messaging I recalled Wrath James White’s poetry collection Vicious Romantic, which was also nominated for a Stoker last year. I’m anxious to read the most hardcore horror writer’s take on this format which, interestingly, is in traditional Japanese and Korean formal poetic structures. You can pick up Vicious Romantic here and follow White’s projects on his website Words of Wrath.

Another title I snatched up in an effort to get better acquainted with the poetic form is Rain Graves’ Barfodder: Poetry Written in Dark Bars and Questionable Cafes out from Cemetery Dance Publications. As the title suggests, Graves’ poems were written in the shadowed corners of establishments through her travels and is praised by genre icon Neil Gaiman; Rain Graves writes really nasty poetry. She is a mistress of creating images that stick, the kind that you cannot get out of your mind—not even using steel wool and a small, extremely sharp knife.” Even though this collection was published in early 2009, it’s still available from Cemetery Dance Publications here. You can also check out Rain Graves’ website here.

Another author’s name that came up quite a bit during WiHM was, unsurprisingly, Daphne du Maurier, most famously known for her works adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, like the short story “The Birds.” While browsing the Cemetery Dance website, I came across The Doll: The Lost Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier. This collection includes eight stories originally published in the now out of print Early Stories, and five stories from periodicals published during the 1930s. With du Maurier on the brain, I had to have it. The anthology is currently available from Cemetery Dance Publications here, but this is a one-time only run so get it while you can.

While Sins of the Sirens writer and Bram Stoker Award nominee Maria Alexander has inspired me to expand on my knowledge of poetry, the other Ladies of Sins have sparked my interest in a number of books as well. Loren Rhoads created the magazine of weird true stories Morbid Curiosity and collected her favorite published entries from 10 years as editor in Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues. This anthology of unusual tales includes an entry from fellow Sins writer Mehitobel Wilson, “Thanksgiving at Bel’s.” Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues is morbidly cheap and you can pick that up here. Also, stop by The Daphne du Maurier website for everything du Maurier.

Speaking of Mehitobel Wilson, I am now on the hunt for her short horror fiction collection Dangerous Red. From what I can tell this early in my search is the book, originally published by Necro Publications in the early 2000s, is only available used. Prices don’t look unreasonable ($20 or so on ebay), but I’ll keep searching. If you have a good lead, please give me a heads up! (edit: Dangerous Red is available at Amazon.com here There are typically only 5 copies in stock, so if they’re out check back again later) Get to know more about Mehitobel “Bel” Wilson on her website.

There are a few other authors I’m seeking out and books I want to pick up – suggestions from authors and fans – but those are the titles I have on deck or books that are in transit to my mailbox as we speak!

So, what did you get last month (WiHM-related or otherwise)?

-Meli

Dreadful Tales Women in Horror Month Wrap Up!

We’ve been having a non-stop party at Dreadful Tales for February’s Women in Horror Month, but now we gotta clean up these beer bottles and sleep off that hangover! Whether you love WiHM, hate it, support it, or don’t give a damn, we featured captivating women with immense talent that refuse to be ignored. I can’t speak for my brothers in blood, but I’m sure they walked away with as long of a to-read list as I did.

 

While there is no possible way to cover every woman we love in horror literature, we included some of our favorites and pretty damned good ones if I do say so! From veteran, award-winning talent to new genre blood, and behind the scenes folks to artists, we covered an eclectic bunch. Even among the authors we featured, we found they always have more to offer than just poetic, haunting words. Every single woman we featured has a number of projects, interests, and obsessions not limited to literature (or horror for that matter).

 

I look forward to keeping the spirit of WiHM alive throughout the year as I delve deeper into the catalogue of our featured femmes, but also discover new (to me) talent and I’m excited to share that all with you! (ed – except for Jim because he isn’t supposed to be talking to me for a while. Jim, if you’re reading this, don’t forget to pick up Sins of the Sirens!) I might even post the list of my WiHM haul after I place the massive book order I have sitting in my queue!

 

Today we look back and every woman we featured this month, so if you missed it completely or just missed a couple posts, you can catch up here.

 

Onto the rundown!

 

Jason tackled week one with some new voices in the horror genre as well as one woman who is arguably the most recognizable name we featured all month. First, he introduced us to fresh face Belinda Frisch, author of Dead Spell and short fiction collection Crisis Hospital. As an indie author herself, Frisch is a champion of great indie titles, so if you’re looking for new talent, this is the woman to follow.

 

Next up, Jason gives a rundown of Jovanka Vuckovic’s projects past, present, and future. From her legendary stint as Rue Morgue Magazine Editor in Chief, her non-fiction zombie book Zombies: An Illustrated Book of the Undead, and a new movie on the way, The Captured Bird, Vuckovic has done it all! Except been the lead singer in a rock band… Wait, has she done that too!?

 

To close the first week of WiHM, Jason introduced horror photographer Danielle Tunstall. It’s hard to miss Tunstall’s work. It’s striking, freaky, brilliant and beautiful. Not only is Tunstall a master networker, her work is absolutely memorizing. You’ll know it when you see it.

 

I took over the reigns for the week of 2/6 kicking off the festivities with a feature and interview with one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Massie. The film adaptation of her short story of the same name, Abed, is coming soon and we have a set visit exclusive to share so stay tuned for that. Inspired by the upcoming premier, Massie has been furiously creating new Skeeryvilletown zombies, so be sure to check out her Facebook page for those.

 

Massie was followed by fresh face Ania Ahlborn, who, like all the other women featured this month, will definitely be back soon. Ahlborn is working hard to bring us extra creepy fiction, so we’ll be reviewing those here.

 

I had the chance to chat with another one of my favorite authors, Lisa Mannetti. First came the feature and that was followed by an illuminating interview. Mannetti really went all out, and every question got thorough treatment.

 

I also got to interview the hilarious, unabashed Jeff Strand fanatic, author, and artist Ash Arceneaux. She’s got many irons in the fire, so expect to see her name again here too. Ash has plenty to say about the “boys club” culture of the writing world and she doesn’t hold back. Great chat all around!

 

I close out the week with a feature of Creeping Hemlock Press’ co-founder and co-editor Julia Sevin which was followed by an interview later on. Sevin has a great sense of humor and shared a lot of juicy tidbits about upcoming Creeping Hemlock Press / Print Is Dead titles, so check it out!

 

Colum takes over with the sweetest, most heartwarming entry of the month, a feature and interview with his own lil’ Woman in Horror, his daughter, also known as the horror girl who owns his soul!

 

Following the next generation of horror is the current generation of horror. Colum features author Sephera Giron with an interview and tons of other clips of Giron reading her work, so don’t miss it!

 

Colum’s got some new blood to share after that with author Miranda Doerfler’s feature and interview. He’s been raving about her first publications and she’s always working on something, so you’ll be seeing her around Dreadful Tales again.

 

Next up is a feature with modern marvel and genre Wonder Woman, editor, agent, Bree Ogden. What was supposed to be a feature and interview was thwarted by ghosts in the computer. As Colum’s computer took its last breath, it took his audio with it. We should see that sometime soon, though in a profile of Underneath the Juniper Tree here at Dreadful Tales, so stay tuned!

 

Following Bree Ogden is her Underneath the Juniper Tree partner in crime, artist Rebekah Joy Plett. Her art is simply beautiful. A bit of whimsy with a dark undertone, I was awestruck by her creations and I think y’all will be too.

 

I come back for the week of 2/20 with a relatively new voice to zombie fiction, a feature and interview with author Joan Frances Turner. Tuner will be wrapping up her zombie “Resurgam Trilogy” soon, so we look forward to seeing what other tricks she has up her sleeves after that (some of which she alludes to in her interview).

 

For the next four days, I covered the Ladies of Sins of the Sirens, a Dark Arts Book release featuring four exceptionally talented voices in horror fiction. We have features, a couple interviews, and mini-reviews of all the stories in the anthology from Loren Rhoads, Maria Alexander, Mehitobel Wilson, and Christa Faust. Just click on the links to find out more about the Ladies of Sins!

 

Jason, our resident expert on everything indie, kicks off the final week of WiHM with a look at author Thea Isis Gregory’s series Zombie Bedtime Stories. Jason gives a thorough rundown of the series thus far and makes a convincing case for this new blood. Sounds like the kinda fresh meat you can sink your teeth into!

 

Colum closes out WiHM with two phenomenal closing acts. First up is the reader and reviewer (but she’s also a writer!) we all aspire to be, an interview with Sheri White. She shares some interesting stories and fanboys and girls will flip when they hear what she has signed by whom!

 

And last but certainly not least is a woman who wears many hats – publisher, editor, web mistress, reviewer – but this post is all about the author and poet Monica S. Kuebler. There is a wealth of information on this young, hardworking talent and even some videos of her readings. Dreadful Tales is immensely pleased to scream the name Monica S. Kuebler to the skies and we hope you all fall in love with her too!

 

I hope all our Dreadful Tales readers enjoyed Women in Horror Month as much as we did. I also hope we helped open the proverbial Pandora’s box of female literary talent and filled your shelves with great horror reads, whether that be illustrated non-fiction, spooky YA tales, straight horror titles, or poetry.

 

-Meli

Feature: Poetry, Prose and Publishing – The Inimitable Monica S. Kuebler

This post started out as a lengthy gushing about how Monica S. Kuebler is one of my favourite people in the entire publishing world, regardless of her stature as a “Woman in Horror”.

In that piece, I spoke at length about the fact she is an invaluable, knowledgeable, and helpful human being, a credit to the publishing world, and about how she’s got the entire genre in the palm of her hand and doesn’t even know it. In all honesty, being a woman in this “boy’s club” is a tough hand to be dealt, but Monica plays it with skill and humility.

Eventually, I went on to talk about Burning Effigy and the effect that it had on me as an upstart blogger, reviewer, website thingymabobber, and all ’round literature geek – not just horror lit, either. I blabbed on and on about how she introduced me to one of my favourite writers – Ian Rogers; put on or invited me to some incredible and memorable events – Durham Darklit Festival, an Evening with the Authors; and generally stoked the flame for my love of short horror fiction through the output of those in her small press stable and through random conversation. The incredible array of books that Burning Effigy has put out over the span of  time that I’ve known about them is astounding. Rogers’ Temporary Monsters, The Ash Angels, and Black Eyed Kids remain some of my favourite stories, and one of my top 3 favourite series of all time.

I never would have known about them if it hadn’t been for Monica.

And lest we forget the obligatory championing of her involvement in Rue Morgue Magazine (whose new site is freaking spectacular, if I do say so). Truth be told, this site wouldn’t exist without that publication and, in essence, without Monica. Now, I know it has everything to do with the motivation to get something like this up and running and all that jazz, but think about this: I’m sure that the fact that she is an avid reader/writer helped spawn the “Grim Reader” section on the now defunct Rue Morgue Forum, the Rue Mortuary. I can say, without a doubt, that she was one of a handful of people that inspired me to start Paperback Horror, expand to Dreadful Tales, and at the very least come into contact with some incredible talent out there in horror-land. Hell, I met Pat Dreadful and Meli in the Grim Reader, and I’ll go on the record to say that Monica introduced me, by default, to two of the best people I’ve ever worked with, and ever had the fortune of calling friends.

But that’s not what this post is about.

While I was writing it the first time, this post took on an entirely different life of its own, so I’m running with it.

This entry into the WiHM festivities at Dreadful Tales is about progress and inspiration. This post is about one of the most inspirational and frustratingly cool people I’ve ever met. Someone I’ve been waiting to introduce to people since the first day I heard an inkling that she existed.

And now I can finally do it.

This post is about Monica S. Kuebler – the author.

Monica first told me about her YA trilogy, The Cold Ones, in or around November or December of last year. At first, when she got into the idea just a little bit, I was intrigued, but not enough to drop everything and go nuts.

But then Monica got into the story a little bit more. I swear to you, dear reader, when she got into the meat of The Cold Ones, this woman’s eyes took on a determined look of passionate possession. It was as if she was focusing on a world beyond the cramped little library basement we were currently standing in, completely lost in a landscape of her own making.

And then she hit me with some of the main plot points and the bits of action she could divulge. I don’t know if it’s the way she  told me, or the passion I could see in her eyes, but something clicked.

And I instantly found myself intrigued.

See, I’d read some of Monica’s work before. It’s not stuff that the general horror fan would be likely to take on because, well, most of the stuff I managed to score was poetry. And we all know what sort of folks read poetry, right? Ugh. Wrong. But I have to say, I love that stereotype. It’s just so… special.

Listen: I read poetry. The average horror fan who thinks poetry is for goth girls and emo boys is dead wrong, and using Kuebler’s Some Words Spoken as evidence, readers can see it’s one of the most cathartic things a person can do. Getting lost in the realm of a poet’s design is akin to finding utopia while still wrestling with the possibility of heartbreak, horror, and pain just beyond the horizon. Along with Liisa Ladouceur, Monica is my favourite modern poet. Period.

If you need an example, take a look at what Kuebler can do with the most innocent offer of coffee, leading the reader/audience into an epic love affair, and chronicling one of the most lust-filled pieces of modern poetry I’ve ever heard.

In her joint offering with Cynthia Gould, Some Words Spoken, Monica offers up poems like Chocolate Cake Trophy Girl, Visions of the Week it Rained, and Cycles – pieces that speak to the reader about things they would otherwise keep to themselves, coercing an inner dialogue about the truths in one’s heart while at the same time making things a tab uncomfortable just under the surface. These are the things that keep me going when I’m not reading about the baddies that go bump in the night.

And then there are pieces like Passing Over You and Phone S(ex) that send shivers up the reader’s spine and appeal to the erotica fan in me. This is creativity mingling with lust and frustration… in a good way.

Regardless, Kuebler is a woman who is in touch with her words and knows how to wield them in a way that can hurt, heal, and entertain like no other.

The Night We Slept In Poetry houses one of my favourite selections from any piece of poetry I’ve read in a long while.

We fell asleep in poetry,
books like sharp thin limbs jutted out
from beneath your hip, my shoulder.
Life finds us tangled in such unusual ways.
This was always more than a fragile illusion of text,
this was always just mere moments away from realization.

- The Night We Slept In Poetry
Monica S. Kuebler
Some Words Spoken (2002 – Burning Effigy Press)

Getting back on track: when Monica spoke to me about The Cold Ones, my reaction was mixed at first (as I’ve said), but by the end of the short description I wanted more. Now. She assured me that she was doing what she could to get it out there, but that it was a process and I’d basically have to wait it out. I’m not good at waiting. But, ever the humanitarian, she gave me a consolation prize in what I was about to experience, and hoped it would peak my interest a little more. At the time, we were hanging out at the Durham Darklit Festival ’12 in Oshawa, and she was about to go up for a reading.

And she was going to read directly from The Cold Ones.

“Intrigued” no longer fit the bill. Now I was ready and eager to completely absorb this.

In short, I was floored by the snippet that she offered to the crowd that day, and have listened to the following recording many times over. Well, until January 1st, when Bleeder, the online serial prequel to The Cold Ones, went live to the world. You can keep up with the story at the Bleeder website. I do. Religiously.

To me, Kuebler is a study in perseverance and drive. She’s working herself toward her dream, and doing a damned fine job at achieving it.In the latest Rue Morgue Podcast, Monica mentions the fear that she has at releasing her fiction to the masses, and I can’t applaud her more for conquering this fear and gifting us with such a phenomenal story.

Monica S. Kuebler is more than the Managing Editor at Rue Morgue Magazine, Curator and Owner of Burning Effigy Press, and all around modern renaissance woman. She’s also an incredible author, poet, and person.

To sum this up in a few words: apart from my incredible wife, Shelagh, if there was anyone out there in the world that I would want either of my daughters to look up to and aspire to be like, it would be Monica. She’s strong willed, intelligent, creative, and resourceful. She’s everything I want to see more of in the women of this genre, and frankly, in the real world as well.

Check her out at her online portfolio, The Death of Cool, Facebook, and Twitter. You can, and should, follow the online serial novel, Bleeder, at the Bleeder website. Bleeder is also available on Scribd, Wattpad, Facebook, You can also keep up with her happenings at Rue Morgue Magazine, and Burning Effigy Press.

C.

Feature: A Fan’s Perspective – An Interview with Sheri White

As weird as this sounds, I’ve been a fan of Sheri’s since the first time I saw her posting on a message board and on Facebook. And yeah, I know it’s weird that I’m profiling a reader on this site during Women in Horror Month, but seriously… who makes the star-studded events something that people actually have the good fortune to attend?

People like Sheri.

The readers.

Without the hundreds and thousands of Sheri White’s out there in the world, there would be no writers to cater to her dark needs.

The genre would not exist without its readers, and not surprisingly, many of them are women.

Therefore, they are the Women in Horror.  And honestly, this lady is one of my favourites.

Now, I picked Sheri because she’s got the spirit of a true fan, the know-how in the genre, and the authority of a real reader to back her up. The fact is, this little lady can hold her own in a knock-down, drag-out fight about the works of Laymon, Koontz, Keene and various and sundry other writers, and that just astounds me. It also warms my heart knowing there’s another person out there who shares my excitement and is willing to go the distance for the genre.

I didn’t pick Sheri solely based on the criteria that she’s a woman. My reasoning relies mostly on the fact that she’s so damned unassuming and doesn’t bull into conversations and threads like the rest of us gore-hounds do. (ed – if you don’t admit to pulling a little testosterone-driven “I can one-up you” every once in a while, you’re a liar). Sheri is suave and sweet, loves her dogs with a passion, and lovingly updates folks on the things her kids are doing – all while tearing into killer stories replete with scenes so grotesque it would make the devil blush.

And she does it all with a winning smile on her face.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to one of my favourite readers in our dark circle, and one of the only people who would ever actually terrify me if I were an author.

Please welcome: Sheri White.

DT: You mentioned in conversation that an Alfred Hitchcock book of short stories is one of your earliest memories of reading this genre. What book was it and what did you think about it? Are there any more books from your childhood that you would care to share with the younger readers of our site?

S. White: The Alfred Hitchcock book I read (and treasured) as a kid was “Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful.”  (Haunted Houseful).  I wish I still had it; I would love to share it with my kids.  The stories in it were creepy, but not terrifying.  I took that book with me on car trips all the time, even if it was just to go to the store.

DT: Were your parents supportive of your darker lean in terms of fiction? Do you recall there being a book or author that they didn’t let you read?

S. White: I started reading when I was four years old; my grandmother was a reading teacher and taught me early.  She’s who gave me my love of reading, and I’m so grateful.  The only problem with learning so early and reading at high levels at a young age was that The Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew got boring by the time I was eight or nine.  I was reading stuff I shouldn’t have been like “Jaws” and “The Exorcist.” I hid them from my mom, so she didn’t know.  As I got older, she knew I was reading Stephen King, but she never really said anything.  She didn’t understand why I loved horror so much, but she didn’t forbid me from it.  She still doesn’t understand why I’d rather go see a horror movie rather than a “feel-good” movie!

DT: You’ve shared parts of the horror genre with your children. Which books did you find they were most receptive to, and what would you like to see more of in kid lit? When is a story too much for a child? 

S. White: My two older kids have been receptive to Stephen King.  Sarah, my oldest who is now 23, met Brian Keene before he was BRIAN KEENE back in 1999 or so when Brian hosted a con of sorts in his home for those of us on his mailing list “Jobs in Hell.”  He actually published a short story of hers in Jobs in Hell because there was nowhere to submit it since she was only eleven.  She crushed on him for the longest time, and likes his stuff.  (She will probably kill me for telling all this.)   I let Lauren, my 16-year-old, read “It” when she was about 12 or 13.  She really liked it.  My youngest, Becca, who just turned 14, has shown more of an interest in horror lately.  She loves the Paranormal Activity movies.  I’ve offered her “The Amityville Horror” to read, so I hope she takes me up on it.  She’s not as much of a reader as the older two.

I have tons of horror books on my shelves, and I don’t really restrict them on what they can take to read, except for the erotic horror books like the “Hot Blood” series.  It’s not that I’m one of those moms who doesn’t worry about violence but freaks out about sex; it’s just that those kind of books don’t paint sex in a good way.  I don’t want them to get a warped idea of what it’s all about!

I’m not sure when a story is too much for a kid.  Mine have always been pretty cool with scary stuff; Lauren watched Jurassic Park for the first time when she was about three.  She was so into dinosaurs at that time that I thought she’d get a kick out of it, and she did.  She recently watched “The Exorcist” by herself, something I can NOT do.  That movie still scares the hell out of me.

DT: You also wrote to me that you started with a lot of the authors that we would deem classic, or big time, these days. King, Koontz, etc. are examples that a lot of people would give as gateway authors into the genre. As a long-term reader of his work, what do you think of King’s early pieces versus his more recent fare?

S. White: I prefer King’s older stuff to his new stuff.  “The Dome” was OK, but it seems that his writing changed after his accident.  I haven’t read “11/22/63″ yet, but I have hopes for it since I’ve heard a lot of good things.  I know it’s a horrible thing to say, but I think his writing would get good again if he ate a few brownies, if you know what I mean.

DT: Koontz is another writer that you mentioned reading. I’m well aware of your love of Richard Laymon and his work, as evidenced by your inclusion in Cemetery Dance’s book, IN LAYMON’S TERMS. There have been debates about the commonality between Koontz’s INTENSITY and Laymon’s ENDLESS NIGHT, and even a rumor that they planned to write the same book using their own voices, and it branched out from there. Have you read either of the two? If so, what’s your opinion on the closeness of the plots and structure of the novels?

S. White: I’ve read both “Intensity” and “Endless Night,” but they were both so long ago that I couldn’t begin to compare them.

DT: I’m a huge fan of Richard Laymon, and own almost all of his publications. To say that I’m jealous about your contact with the man prior to his unfortunate passing would be an understatement. He is truly a big example of someone taken before their time. Can you tell us more about your inclusion in IN LAYMON’S TERMS? How did this come about? What is your favorite Richard Laymon memory?

S. White: I honestly don’t remember how I got into “In Laymon’s Terms.” I mean, I submitted and Kelly accepted it, but I don’t remember if she personally invited me or if I heard about it.  That was about ten years ago.  I got to meet Dick at Brian Keene’s house at the aforementioned con he held.  It was a weekend event; we all crashed at Brian’s house or nearby friends’ places.  When I was a kid, I remember seeing a book on my dad’s nightstand (before my parents were divorced) called “The Cellar.”  My dad wouldn’t let me read it, of course.  So when I met Dick, I had a copy of it and he signed it for me after I told him the story.  But the coolest thing was that he sent Sarah a copy of one of his YA books written under the name Carl Laymon.  The book was called “My Secret Admirer,” and he signed it special for Sarah.  The neat part is that I myself read that book as a kid, and when I saw the book when I took it out of the package, I was so excited.  I had no idea Dick had written it until he sent it to Sarah.  It was one of my favorite books as a kid, and it’s hard to find, so to have a copy signed by him to Sarah is such a treasure.  It’s such a treasure that even though it’s officially Sarah’s book, I won’t let her take it out of the house.

DT: Some of your favorite genres or sub-genres in horror are Zombies, Haunted Houses, Bugs, or Animals. Can you give us some examples of the more stellar works out there that you’ve enjoyed, but are limited to the above choices?

S. White: One of my favorite haunted house books is “The House Next Door” by Anne Rivers Siddons.  I love “The Amityville Horror,” of course, and I was so disappointed to learn that it was a hoax.  My favorite bug/animal stories are “Mandibles” by Jeff Strand (giant ants), “‘Nids” by Ray Garton (giant spiders), and “Clickers” by J.F. Gonzalez (killer giant crabs).  As for zombies, I absolutely LOVE The Walking Dead show, and had no idea that it was a graphic novel series first.  Now I’m starting to read those, and they are great.

DT: You’ve been reviewing for a while now in the horror genre. Do you have a specific review policy? Are you adverse to writing a negative review?

S. White: The only policy I have in reviewing is to only review the genres I like.  I hate fantasy, and sci-fi stuff.  Otherwise, I couldn’t give a fair review.  I try to find something positive to say in a review, even if the book wasn’t so great.  If it’s so bad I can’t even finish the book, I’ll just pull out of the review.  I am a real stickler for proper grammar and spelling, so it drives me crazy when I book is riddled with errors.  This brings up your Amazon/Smashwords question (ed. see forthcoming question).  While I’m not against self-publishing or indie-publishing, there are a lot of authors out there giving those options a bad name.  I once read an anthology that was such a complete mess, I thought it was a joke being played on me.  Anybody can slap a manuscript on Smashwords and say they are published, but if you can’t take the time to have your book edited, you’re not going to be taken seriously.

DT: What makes a good review? When searching for a book on Amazon or any other site, what do you look for in a review that basically sells you on the purchase of a piece of work?

Sheri: I don’t read a lot of Amazon reviews to choose my horror books.  Since I’m friends with or fans of so many horror authors on Facebook, I hear about great books through word of mouth, which has introduced me new authors.  You can’t always trust reviews on Amazon; many are written by friends or family of the authors and have nothing but five-star ratings, which is suspect.

I think a good review includes a synopsis of the story, some pointing out of great parts, and then a final opinion of the story.  At least, that’s how I do it.  If a story is OK, I’ll still review it, but will point out what could have made it better.  If a story is so bad I can barely finish it, I won’t even review it.  I give honest reviews, but I won’t destroy someone’s soul in the process.

DT: You’ve been published in the small press several times. What made you want to pursue writing, and why did you go to this genre instead of writing something else?

S. White: I’ve been interested in scary stuff for as long as I can remember, back to when I saw The Wizard of Oz when I was two years old.  The witch scared the hell out of me.  I can remember running to my room when she’d come on, but peek around the corner so I could still see her.  I just couldn’t resist the scariness.  When I was a little older, my dad would let me get comic books at the 7-11 when he visited my brother and me.  I always picked the creepy ones, like Tales from the Crypt.  I had a library card, but it was only for the kids section.  I went through pretty much everything there in short time.  I’d lurk around the adult and teen sections, finding the creepy stuff and reading it there since I couldn’t check it out.  It was a sweet day when my mom finally signed the card giving me access to the entire library.  I think was about 11.

My grandmother gave me my love of writing as well as reading.  She liked writing silly little poems, which sparked creativity in me.  One of my favorite Christmas gifts was the year I received a typewriter – it was plastic, and you had to really bang on the keys, but I loved it.  I started writing my autobiography, even though I was only about 9 or 10!  I also wrote a sequel to The Wizard of Oz (the movie), in which the Yellow Brick Road had been paved over due to progress.  I think I still have it somewhere.

DT: You’re the submissions editor for SNM magazine. Can you give us an idea as to what you have to deal with when dredging through the slush pile? What types of stories do you see the most of? What would you like to see more of?

S. White: As submissions editor for SNM, stories are submitted for the theme given, so I can’t really choose what I’d like to see more of.  It’s really interesting seeing how different the stories are for the same subject.  I’ve been doing this for almost a year, and even though it can be hard and time-consuming, it’s a great opportunity that I’m enjoying.

DT: I’m a writer who has no idea who you are, but I still want to submit a story for your magazine. How do I get your attention in a good way, thus making it one step closer to publication? How do I get your attention in a bad way?

S. White: If you want to get my attention, have the story interesting from the beginning.  These are short stories, so those that have lots of words that have no real impact on the story are going to turn me off.  I’ve read so much horror that unfortunately it’s more difficult for me to be scared by it – if you can creep me out or give me chills, I’ll be very impressed.

DT: You proofread for authors in the genre. Beyond geeking out with proofing and finding mistakes, what made you want to do something like this? What is the most common mistake you’ve found while undertaking such a job?

S. White: I used to work for a Navy contractor that put together specs for building ships.  There was a group of us responsible for typing up the architect’s writings into coherent documents, and we also had to proof them for typos.  Since we proofed each other’s stuff, I was always gleeful when I was able to circle errors with my red pen.  There’s something about finding mistakes that pleases me.  Even before that, I was a bit of a teacher’s pet in elementary school, so I was often given papers to correct for the teacher when she was busy.  I guess you could say that was my first editing job.  My favorite was correcting spelling tests – I was straight As when it came to spelling, and nothing pleased me more than finding the other kids’ errors.  That really does sound a little sadistic.

Errors that drive me crazy are the usual ones – you’re/your, it’s/its, stuff like that.  Common spelling errors get to me way too much.  Ackward? Opps?   Mistakenly-used words as well – loose for lose, weary for wary.  Dictionaries and thesauruses are your friends!

DT: You made an interesting comment in our recent correspondence citing The Wizard of Oz as a horror movie. Can you explain that a little more? On top of that, you mentioned feeling uncomfortable with gusts of wind and Tornadoes. What other fears do you have that you can talk about?

S. White: I really do believe The Wizard of Oz is a horror movie, or at least has elements of horror, especially to a little kid.  I mean, green Wicked Witches?  Trying to set fire to a friend?  FLYING MONKEYS???  Yeah, it’s horror.  Not to mention Dorothy and her house being sucked up by a tornado.  Until I was a pre-teen, you couldn’t even mentioned there had a been a tornado somewhere in the country without freaking me out.  I would watch weather forecasts, and cry when I heard the dreaded word, even though we weren’t in a tornado-prone area.  I still get a little weirded out during big summer storms when the winds kick up.  And just today my area was given a high wind advisory, which doesn’t exactly thrill me.

I do have generalized anxiety, which I need meds for because my brain was being a jerk and never stopped whispering what horrible things could happen to myself or my family.  Going to an amusement park?  You’re going to die on the roller coaster, you know.  Family road trip?  You’re all going to die in a horrific car accident.  Stuff like that.  I also have social anxiety in a big way.  If I’m in a situation where I don’t know anybody, I get really stressed.  I pretty much need a wingman in all social interactions, even if it’s just dragging one of my kids along with me.  I also really get stressed talking on the phone, even to people I know, which is why we’re doing this by email.  :-)  Yes, I’m a complete mess.

DT: You mentioned that you’re proofing an anthology and a new author’s novel. What do you think of the state of horror fiction today? Do you find that there’s a little too much attention being paid to certain subjects? What would you like to see less of?

S. White: I think the state of horror fiction today is pretty good.  There are some great new and unknown authors out there.  You just really need to check the small presses and horror sites to find them.  Facebook is a great place to find horror; so many authors and presses have a presence there.  Also, try going to horror conventions that authors attend.  You can find amazing books in the dealer rooms.  Most authors will be happy to talk about their books and sign them for you.

Zombies are big in the genre right now, which is fine with me.  They’re growing on me, especially after getting into The Walking Dead.  Vampires, not so much.  There seem to be fewer vampire stories right now, though.  The Twilight series really turned a lot of people off in the genre, including me, even though I didn’t read them. Which may sound unfair, judging a book without reading it, but previews of the movies showed me all I need to know.

DT: What’s your take on the Amazon/Smashwords Indie revolution currently happening in the genre?

 S. White: Amazon and Smashwords can be great opportunities for up-and-coming writers.  However, I’ve read far too many books that seemed like they were written in a couple of days and throw up onto the sites.  Good books can be found, but you have to go through a bunch of crap to find the diamonds.  Again, dictionaries and thesauruses can make a big difference.  It seems that hardly anybody uses them anymore.DT: The role of Women in Horror has almost always been a “helpless victim” or “supporting character” to a strong male lead. Why do you think that is? What do you think about stories that use women as fodder for rape and degredation in order to produce more shocks and gore than actualy storytelling substance? 

S. White: I think women in horror stories have been mostly portrayed as weak or bitchy because men dominated the field for so long.  There are some great female horror writers, but they don’t seem to get as much attention as the men.  Which is really par for the course.  But women can write some nasty stuff, even nastier than what men can come up with.  Recently I learned that Elizabeth Massie’s amazing story “Abed,” which is a zombie story, is getting the indie film treatment.  Check that short story out and tell me a man could come up with something like that.

If you have to use rape and torture of women just for the shock value and not adding anything of substance to the story, it’s a copout.  It’s the easy way out, and that usually means a bad story.  But it does go the other way – if you’re writing about cutting off a man’s penis and torturing him throughout the story as the story, it’s not going to fly.

DT: Do you find that there are stereotypes regarding women in the genre? What do you think of the idea that female readers are stereotyped as reading mostly Vamp. lit and supernatural/paranormal romance? 

S. White: There are definitely some stereotypes that ring true when it comes to women reading horror.  Vampires are big, especially now with Twilight.  I think it’s because vampires have a bit of an erotic, romantic bent.  A lot of women like that, especially if they are lacking it.  And a lot of people, not just women, don’t know of the small presses and what other kinds of horror can be found.  Mainstream readers read what is marketed to them by big publishers, and don’t look beyond what they find at Barnes and Noble.  But they’re missing out on a lot.

DT: If you could put together an anthology of your favorite authors, using any theme you want, what would the TOC of your limited edition collectable look like? Who would you want to publish it? Can I have royalties for giving you the idea?
S. White: My antho TOC would look something like this – the author could choose any theme for his or her story; I’d want their creativity to flow.

James Newman
Monica O’Rourke
Ray Garton
Bentley Little
Gord Rollo
Brian Knight
Markus Euringer
Brett McBean
Jeff Strand
Elizabeth Massie
Nick Cato
James Roy Daley

That’s just a few off the top of my head of authors whose stories I’ve greatly enjoyed.  I know I’ve left some authors out, but believe me, there are great ones out there if you just look.

I’d want Cemetery Dance to publish it; they do beautiful and professional work.  I’ll split the royalties with you.  :-)

By the way, I was just chosen by Morpheus Tales to edit a special edition of their magazine in a few months – I get to pick the theme, the stories, and proofread and edit it all.  I can’t tell you how excited I am!

To check out more of what Sheri does, go to SNM Magazine Website, and follow her on Facebook. Trust me, she doesn’t bite… but her dogs do. And make sure you keep an eye out for the Sheri White edited Morpheus Tales issue mentioned above. We’ll make sure to give you the lowdown when it drops. 
C.

Zombie Bedtime Stories, A Look At Thea Isis Gregory

Thea Isis Gregory has only been writing for a few short years, but already shows the maturity of a more experienced hand. Let’s get to know Thea in her own words:

Thea writes zombie stories and science fiction. She was raised in rural Quebec, where her imagination was often her only friend, and this upbringing also engendered a fanatical love of reading and books.

Thea moved to the city at the tender age of 17 to study science, eventually majoring in physics, because physics is awesome. Her first love has always been science (fiction), and she maintains an unquenchable thirst for discovery and the unknown.

Thea writes a series (currently on book 5) called the Zombie Bedtime Stories. I’ve had the privilege of reading books 1-3, as well as a mini-prequel. I’ll focus on the actual ZBS, as the prequel was a good introduction, but I know you want more.

Locked In begins the series with a look at Haley and Frank, paramedics out on what should be a routine day, but goes horribly awry when they’re called to a school. We’re introduced to Thea’s intimation of zombies when a homeless man attacks Haley with surprising vigor and power. He’s subdued, but all is not well. Thea’s characters are surprisingly deep and emotive, no small task in a 20000 word story.

The story twists into an explanation of the disease – the word “zombie” isn’t uttered at all – with Thea’s internal examination of the zombie psyche is one of the freshest, and most disturbing in the genre.

Locked Out continues the series in a non-linear fashion with new characters, although they are in the same timeframe and city as Locked In. Anna is head of a research facility whose life gets turned upside down as a result of an epidemic. The military invades the facility, we’re introduced to Major Cliff (I’m still trying to figure out if his name is a pun or inside joke) who subsequently informs Anna that her team has been reassigned to assist with discovering the cause of the epidemic.

This story is incredibly character driven, as almost every scene is occupied by interaction between two or more people, creating a pace that’s panicked yet well within the author’s control. The universe expands, as does the reader’s understanding of what Thea hopes to accomplish: death by ravenous horde.

Up next is Deadlocked which brings the trilogy full circle, as this book focuses on Frank, Haley’s partner from Locked In. Deadlocked begins as Frank and Haley part ways, and immediately recounts Frank’s plot during the time that Locked In takes place. The story follows Frank’s journey to ensure Haley’s safety. This is Thea’s most in depth character study yet, one that takes a lingering fear and exploits it into a full-on apocalypse.

All of Thea’s books are well written, and it’s evident that she has a passion for both her craft and horror. Currently she’s working on books 4-6 of the Zombie Bedtime Stories, and projects that they’ll all hit the digital market during 2012. Thea is also a NaNoWriMo winner, having completed the first draft of her Sci-Fi novel Sanity Vacuum this past November. For more information on Thea Isis Gregory, including links to buy the Zombie Bedtime Stories, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

Feature: Interview with Creeping Hemlock Press’ Co-Founder & Co-Editor / Writer / Artist Julia Sevin

Photo by Donovan Fannon, http://www.donovanfannon.com

The restraining order hasn’t been lifted, but co-founder / co-editor of Creeping Hemlock Press and Print Is Dead Julia Sevin, felt safe enough to grant me a quick and dirty interview, with bodyguards in tow of course. If you don’t know about Creeping Hemlock Press or Julia Sevin, then my feelings are hurt because that means you didn’t read this. Luckily, I’m a forgiving woman.

Twenty-twelve is going to be huge for Creeping Hemlock Press and their zombie imprint Print Is Dead. You’ll see them everywhere, even haunting your dreams! With the release of the zombie road novella by genre favorite Greg Lamberson just around the corner (April 2012!), a collection of zombie tales from Joe McKinney called Dating in Dead World coming soon, and a hoard of other goodies clawing their way out of the graveyard, this’ll be a book apocalypse you can’t escape. And why would you want to?

So, then why all the fuss about Julia Sevin? Isn’t Creeping Hemlock Press / Print Is Dead a husband-wife venture? Well, yes it is. But Julia is the smarter, sexier half of this beast of a small press. She’s also got the most bitchin’ haircut in the entire horror lit community. There I go again, objectifying women by their hairstyles. But seriously, it’s killer.

Besides having the best hair in the biz, J-Sev (that’s what I call her now) is a writer, editor extraordinaire, and artist. In fact, she is responsible for the beautiful cover you’ll see further on down the page, the cover for the upcoming Print Is Dead book Dating in Dead World by Joe McKinney. It’ll make you wanna fall in love in a post-apocalypse world.

J-Sev is smart and wickedly funny (as you’ll find in our interview).

Find out more about the better half of the smallest small press beyond! If you think you can handle it…

 

DT: On the Creeping Hemlock Press website we read that you (and your husband RJ) “were frustrated with the scarcity of generous-paying, atmospheric and bizarre short story anthologies.” Was there something in particular that prompted this venture or was it a general distaste for the market as you mention on the site?

J. SEVIN: If there was “something in particular”, it was simply a financial windfall that came to us and we decided to do something exciting with it. Some folks have coke and Moet benders in Monaco; we have books. Arguably it was not the best choice we could have made but, god damn, we had fun, and we are awfully proud of the result.

We threw everything in to Corpse Blossoms: every dollar, every minute, every heartbeat, in order to make it the best book it could be. In a way, it saved us in return. Just as we were going into the final stage of production, Hurricane Katrina kicked our asses and the failure of the federal levees turned New Orleans into what felt like a wasteland of disregard and despair. Corpse Blossoms gave us something to focus on. We mailed the final galleys to the authors on the road, a week after evacuation, before the public was permitted back into the city, did our final typesetting and design in a 600 square foot apartment housing five people back in New Orleans, and received the entire run of 500 copies at our FEMA trailer. Without Corpse Blossoms, we might have gone around the bend, and who could blame us?

You can see why our love for that book is fathomless. We continue to be delighted that other people seem to find it just as exceptional as we do.

DT: Could you explain the origins of the name Creeping Hemlock Press? In brainstorming names, did this one pop up immediately or do you have any embarrassing names you can share that didn’t make the cut?

J. SEVIN: We were originally known as “Ghostly Haunting Spooks n’ Monsters Press” but then we found out it was already taken. So then we were going to be “Even Better Than Ghostly Haunting Spooks n’ Monsters Press” but we had trouble fitting in a logo on the spine so we cut it down.

DT: In Joseph Nassise’s introduction to Creeping Hemlock Press’ first release, the anthology “Corpse Blossoms,” he talks about how this book came to fruition and RJ’s initial attempt to solicit the Horror Writers Association via their message board. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but he gave it another shot, this time with you on board. How did he approach you about this project? Were you already collaborating on it together? How did the direction change once you got involved?

J. SEVIN: We were already collaborating on various marital projects, so it was kind of a gimme. I believe I was involved as soon as it became a Big-Ass Anthology instead of just a web-zine. A lot of editors complain about wading through slush but we loved it! Corpse Blossoms did not have a stated theme (other than the admittedly vague “quiet horror”), but a pattern that emerged as we made our selections – and which was not even apparent to us until after publication – was that in almost every case, the bugaboo (whatever that may be, the revenant or the walking fungus or the eerie phenomenon) is not nearly as dangerous or fascinatingly broken as the human characters. The evil we can and do effect upon one another, through action and omission, day in and day out, is much more real and much more horrifying than anything a ghost or a jellyfish-like thing in a shack can do.

DT: “Corpse Blossoms” is subtitled Volume 1. What is the plan for this anthology? An ongoing series, 2 volume set, trilogy? Any target date for when fans can expect to see the release of the next installment?

J. SEVIN: Haha! This is a Sword of Damacles Conan over our heads. Yes, we intended to serialize it, thus the name. The plan hasn’t changed, but the trouble with Corpse Blossoms is that doing it as properly as we want involves a lot of capital and putting everything else on hold, and right now we’ve got a fancy little maelstrom of activity happening. Everyone will know when we’re moving on Volume 2 because, as with Volume 1, we will be seeking to fill the slots with roughly half unknown or emerging writers, so you’ll see us all over the market listings during the open submissions period.

DT: The horror community seems to be split when it comes to zombie fiction these days; one group still has a great enthusiasm for the subgenre and the other gives a roll of the eyes and wave of the hand at the mere mention of zombies. Despite the wild popularity of the zombie subgenre, with The Walking Dead TV series, magnets, t-shirts, and endless rows of books, sometimes it seems like that latter group is the majority (although I am not one of them). So, what, in this environment, motivated you and RJ to launch the zombie fiction imprint Print Is Dead? Were you inspired by a particular story or writer?

J. SEVIN: We’ve had our hearts set on the undead for a long time. In fact, RJ and I first got to know each other at George A. Romero’s message board back in 2000/2001. Because our love for zombies brought us together, naturally, we kept up our interest in the stinkers, watched them go from a niche fixation to a mainstream fixture, and always hoped to find a way to do something with them.

It wasn’t until the 2008 Zombiefest Convention (now Horror Realm) at the Monroeville Mall in Pittsburgh, where Dawn of the Dead was shot, that we lived with zombies on the brain every waking moment, bringing our interest back into sharp relief, causing us to re-examine publishing zombie novels. Permuted Press had demonstrated that there was a considerable demand for zombie books. Around the same time, Ingram launched Lightningsource, which we use for printing all our trade paperbacks now, allowing us to put out way more titles than we could before. After wrestling with whether a series of fun, punchy, gory zombie books would be inappropriate for Creeping Hemlock, which we have thought of as pretty quiet and sophisticated. Once we decided to come up with the imprint — Print Is Dead — everything clicked into place!

DT: Since the start of Creeping Hemlock Press, is there a particular moment where you said to yourself “Ah, THIS is why we do what we do!”?

Photo by Donovan Fannon, http://www.donovanfannon.com

J. SEVIN: When we get money. No, for real, when people like what we do and tell us so, we know we’re on the right track. That’s all.

…and money.

DT: When / How did you first get into horror? Was there a particular book or author that started this obsession? How, if at all, has your taste in genre literature changed over the years?

J. SEVIN: I’ve been attracted to the redder side of life since before I can remember. In kindergarten, we once had an activity in which some sixth-graders came to visit us and wrote out a sentence on a two-foot wide scroll of paper describing what we see in our mind’s eye at that moment. The other girls came up with something about ballerinas or princesses. I came up with “I see a dead skeleton with green slime on it.” My mom couldn’t have been prouder; she kept that paper tacked above our kitchen window until it fell apart. She was a big horror reader, kept a whole room as a library stocked in part with Stephen King, Peter Straub, and other great authors and collections. My dad was the one who got me into horror movies. He showed me Texas Chainsaw Massacre when I was about nine, and I must have responded warmly because he continued with a dozen other totally age-inappropriate horror flicks in the next couple of years. He got me hooked. Regarding taste changing, naturally — but only because I was only really exposed to classic, gothic, and mainstream popcorn horror for the longest time, and it’s only in the past few years that more experimental and genre-bending stuff has come onto my radar. I love not knowing where a book is going.

DT: You’re not only an editor and publisher, but a writer as well. You collaborated with your husband, RJ Sevin, and Bram Stoker Award-winning author Kim Paffenroth on the chapbook “Thin Them Out.” Can you tell us about your contribution to this chapbook?

J. SEVIN: Thin Them Out was the very definition of whirlwind. We decided a mere TWO WEEKS before Zombiefest that we wanted to have something special for that event, and we conceived this with Kim and tag-teamed the writing in about a week and had it printed the following week. The division of labor was kept pretty simple; it was round robin style, with Kim penning the first leg, and his bits all from the perspective of a single zombie who is starting to gain some degree of sentience. RJ’s bits are those centering around Wayne, and my bits are those featuring Sue, a fairly awful lady. I accessed some of my worst tendencies to write her. Sue is an anti-Mary Sue.

DT: In addition to “Thin Them Out,” we can find your work in Keith Gouveia’s “Bits of the Dead,” which is a flash fiction piece “The Shunned.” What else is on the horizon for writer-hat-wearing Julia? Where else can fans find your work?

J. SEVIN: I keep saying I’m going to throw a novel into the Print Is Dead hat but boy, writing is hard! I’m overworked as it is so I don’t have any plans for the IMMEDIATE future. I do have something tentative slated, a collaboration with a name you’ll recognize, but I hate to jinx it by saying too much before we actually get it off the ground. Keep your eyeballs peeled!

DT: Along with editing, publishing, and writing, you also designed the website. Oh, and I saw the flier you created for Slow Burn Burlesque. Is there anything you can’t do!? Can you juggle?

J. SEVIN: I don’t juggle. Not since… the accident. [she looks away, her eyes a churning darkness, betraying a tortured and complex soul who only sells the finest horror literature]

I can’t sing, I can’t sew, I can’t meet deadlines, I can’t lie, and my dancing looks like a marionette who might just be considering suicide. I can paint, I can drive, and I can cook like a motherfucker, though that doesn’t place on most curriculum vitae.

DT: Of all the hats you wear in your professional endeavors, is there one you favor more than the others?

Never before seen, super-duper exclusive peek of the Dating in Dead World cover!

J. SEVIN: Sombrero.

I enjoy doing original art for our book covers more than anything else. I did a piece for our upcoming Joe McKinney collection, Dating in Dead World, that’ll really grab ya. I did it while wearing my sombrero.

DT: You got your day job, Creeping Hemlock Press, Print Is Dead, and you’re a mommy! How do you introduce your son to horror, if at all? As a parent, what do you think is an appropriate age to break out the good stuff? And what, for you, is the good stuff?

J. SEVIN: This is a LONG-simmering debate between RJ and me. The kid has seen tons more already than I ever intended but because Mom and Dad work behind the scenes, he understands acting, understands special effects, and takes most of it in stride. Still — as my argument goes — just because he can handle it doesn’t mean we should fill his brain with it and nothing else. We’re directly or indirectly indoctrinating him with a love of zombies and whatnot, but we encourage him in the stuff he has glommed onto all on his own, most recently Real Steel. He adores that movie, watches it regularly, plays the video game, and has tons of toys. We hope that his own interests balance out the ones we force on him, and that he’s just well-rounded overall. He’s a super sweet, unusually smart, highly creative and somewhat absentminded regular seven-year-old. Who occasionally sculpts zombies. He’s perfect for us. Good job, God and/or genetic lottery!

DT: What’s next for Creeping Hemlock Press and Print Is Dead? What’s coming up that every genre fan should know about?

J. SEVIN: Aside from fiery apocalypse, 2012 will bring more zombie goodness from Print Is Dead: there’s The Crossing, a short novella by Joe McKinney currently available as an ebook, coming shortly to print; Slab City, another adrenaline rush from Nate Southard, author of Scavengers; Tom Piccirilli’s apocalyptic crime novel, Vespers, as well as Pale Preachers, a nasty little novella that sets the walking dead against a backdrop of moonshine and mountain magic; Eric Shapiro, author of It’s Only Temporary and The Devoted (read them both NOW!), is working on something dead sexy for us. We have not set dates for these titles, but April brings Carnage Road, from Gregory Lamberson. Not long thereafter, there’s Dating in Dead World, an epic collection of zombie tales by Joe McKinney. And loads more nudity, of course.

All this plus a few big surprises, and 2012 is going to be an awesome year for us.

If you’re not in love with Julia Sevin by now, you’re dead inside!

Keep up with everything Creeping Hemlock Press is doing on their website, follow them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook. Now you can stalk them like I do!

And don’t forget about the zombie imprint Print Is Dead because they’ll be releasing a hoard of flesh-hungry undead from the barn this year.

Ladies of Sins of the Sirens: Femme Fatale Christa Faust

I’ve heard readers say that they can tell if a piece of fiction is by a female author. That’s not necessarily meant to be an insult, and in fact I hear it most often as a compliment to the literary prowess of women. I was never quite sure if I agreed, and not even really sure I understood how women wrote differently, but I finally think I understand why people make that statement. Reading Sins of the Sirens, I couldn’t help thinking that all these short stories were unlike anything I’d read before. There was something utterly powerful about the emotion evoked by them. But I struggle with how to verbalize what precisely makes these stories standout.

John Everson puts it simply and direct in his introduction to Sins; “Women, by virtue of their gender, do have a subtly different take on language, on seduction, on the boundaries of horror, than men.”

Perhaps it’s that subtly that makes it so difficult to pinpoint. But as Loren Rhoads noted in her interview with Dreadful Tales, it’s been proven reader’s can’t necessarily tell the sex of an author so readily when they are unfamiliar with the work. During a game show at a convention, Rhoads read an excerpt from Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds” and contestants were to guess if the writer was male or female. They guessed Brian Keene!

Still, there is an undeniable electricity in the Sins stories. The writers are all exceptionally talented and brilliant wordsmiths of course, but I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t something to the theory that women write different, whatever that might mean.

But I digress… and I’m rambling!

We wrap up the four day Ladies of Sins of the Sirens today with the three short story contributions from Christa Faust. These days Faust writes more hardboiled crime fiction than horror, but she still deserves a solid place among the women of horror. And this week’s post would be incomplete without her to close out the Sins anthology.

While Faust may not us nightmares with her fiction lately, she is notably the first and only femme to be published by Hard Case Crime, the best in modern crime nior and vintage pulp. A few titles of note are Money Shot, Choke Hold, and Butch Fatale; Dyke Dick.

You can browse her books and follower the “torrid confessions from the underbelly of the pulp racket” on her website.

Now, onto the Sins stories!

We start with “Love, La Llorona” which finds the beautiful and seductive Maxine browsing the market in the heart of Mexico City. She stumbles onto a woman selling DVDs, literally, after a strange encounter with a wet, dirty woman carrying (what appears to be) dead babies. Frightened, Maxine backs away from the muddy, stinking woman, tripping over a blind street vendor. When she finally collects herself after the embarrassing fall she finds the strange apparition is gone. Helping the blind woman clean up the mess, she forgets about her encounter and becomes preoccupied with the bootleg DVDs for sale, in particular a title called La Llorona. Maxine rushes back with her purchase to the hotel she shares with her math genius boyfriend Simon, pops in the DVD, and is immediately entranced by the bizarre and unsettling imagery. She watches specific scenes over and over, continues to play the DVD on repeat completely unaware of the time that has passed. When she begrudgingly goes out dancing with her boyfriend, La Llorona is all she can think about. Maxine must understand the secret story behind the scenes on the disturbing footage, but the closer she gets the more she unravels. La Llorona takes over her will like a mental sickness. “Love, La Llorona” is stomach-churning. The reader is left with that heavy, nauseous feeling you get from watching mondo films.  Faust’s bite-size fright is not really graphic or particularly goretastic, but the real life horror on tape is reminiscent of that candid stock footage of shock. I remember that apprehensive feeling before watching one of those “real life” carnage videos, but being unable to resist the impulse to watch. You feel that through Maxine in “Love, La Llorona.”

“Firebird,” like “Heavy Hands,” is a Sins of the Sirens exclusive. Our protagonist Ivy is addicted to Nita’s love, drugs, and sex with Nita on drugs. Faust’s science-fiction love story (I know, I said no labels, but I can’t help it!) starts as a dramatic piece dealing with love and loss, life after death, and revenge. But as the story progresses, Faust takes the reader into a future world where the dead can be brought back and you can get your fix through a golden box. Everson called “Firebird” “a novelette tour de force that brings to bear the gritty despair of the addicted with a Bladerunner-dark sci-fi setpiece and a hero worthy of sequelization.” Damn you, Everson! I couldn’t say it better than that. It’s Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” and “The Three Stigmata of Eldrich Palmer” grounded in the underbelly of the drug world!

Every book has an end and Sins goes down kicking and screaming, grabbing onto your hair for dear life. Ouch! Faust’s final story leaves a memorable impression, like handcuffs locked just a little tight. But if you’re into that sorta thing, you’ll be enamored with “Tighter.” For a Vegas vixen, Persephone, that’s all she can think about. Persephone wants to struggle, wants to be contained. She likes to be tied up, but it’s never enough, she aches for the ropes to be tighter. One day she finally meets her match. Kevin seems like the perfect fit. He ties a mean, boa constrictor-strength knot, the only man who can successfully restrain her. But whose appetite can’t be satiated? What do you do when “tighter” is never enough? This is an aching story about unrequited desire that has an unpredictable, completely unconventional ending. Then again, Faust’s stories are anything but conventional.

I’m reluctant to call Sins of the Sirens horror, but this is a collection I think horror fans will dig. It was published four years ago, but still stands as the type of book to get the jaded reader excited about fiction again. All the Sirens are on to new, great things, but we will always have Sins to come back to.

-Meli