Feature: A Terrifying Beauty – Discussing the Work of Artist Rebekah Joy Plett

One could say virtually anything about a piece of art. The expression of emotion, exploitation of the senses through visual stimuli, the evocation of memory and, more importantly in this situation – fear, have been tinkered with through visual arts since the dawn of time – for lack of a better cliché. People of all standings have opined about it ad nausea:

“A picture is worth a thousand words” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“A picture is a poem without words” – Horace

“All art is but imitation of nature” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament” – Oscar Wilde

And on and on.

But sometimes art is something more.

Vastly more.

In the case of Rebekah Joy Plett, it might be best for all involved if we *don’t* know what words lay behind these sometimes unsettling images. We can already see the darkness that influences the nature of Plett’s pieces, but to know what influences *the artist* in her pursuit of her creations may be too much for the casual viewer to handle. Her artwork is, in itself, a disturbingly unnatural experience that creeps in just under the skin, but ultimately leaves the viewer thoroughly satisfied.

A beautiful brutality

And as for Wilde’s opinion that unique results are borne of unique temperaments… well… I challenge you to find another artist in this genre with quite the same vision as Plett. There are a few pieces in Plett’s portfolio that don’t demand dissection. The artist’s motivation is readily evidenced, and yet the images retain a mysterious and vague element begging the viewer to delve that little bit deeper into *their own* mind in order to figure out exactly what is going on.

To make a point, we’ll just wait to see how long it takes you to finally see “the whale”.

The Bather

Plett’s output is intricate, harrowing, and oftentimes hits close to home for those of us who remember the innocence of a childhood tinted with the shadow of fearsome fiends.

The mind of a child is one of those places where untold wonders exist completely unhindered by the jaded experience of growing up. It’s there that Plett finds her place, drawing upon the little things that we may not deign to consider as adults.

I envy this artist’s youthful exuberance and appreciation for the finer (and grimier) things in life.

Marjorie Merle and Tex

As was the case in yesterday’s post with Bree Ogden, I came across Plett’s output as a direct result of my love of Crow Toes Quarterly, though it wasn’t until the advent of Underneath The Juniper Tree that I had a chance to fully experience the scope of which Plett’s talent spans.

The first release of UTJT introduced Marjorie Merle and Tex to a readership that combined a healthy mix of middle grade, YA, and grown up readers alike. The stories and art showcased in UTJT speak to all generations of kids on a different level, leaving each person who cracks (or clicks) open an issue, the opportunity to experience it in a different way.

Plett’s involvement as artistic director in the publication brings a different perspective to the process. Her sinister visions drive the eye from one story to the next, and are richly accompanied by the artwork of other talented spirits in the genre, ranging from ghoulish and grotesque to stark and creepy.

Getting back to Plett’s personal portfolio, it’s common to find an commingling of innocent and monstrous images splayed upon the canvas, wood, board, or screen of the artist’s choosing. If you were to take a look at any of Plett’s “works in progress” posts, you’d find that a fair amount of the images go from quietly serene and beautiful to morbid and gruesome, almost as of the natural transition demanded it. In fact, the initial drafts and their finished counterparts are often so close in appearance that any small modification can easily be dismissed. Upon closer inspection, though, the finer details pop up and give credence to the chills the viewer may have experienced but just couldn’t explain away.

My Monster

Plett is a perfect example of the immense grip with which women hold this genre up. Her ability to captivate the viewer and tell an entire story with images is a powerful tool that this genre could not do without. Joining Plett’s pieces with the stories found in UTJT is a sort of wish fulfillment for me. Growing up reading things like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and similar books dedicated to kids like me who dug things darker in fiction, it was disappointing to reach teenage and adulthood and find that feeling drained from horror fiction. Plett and UTJT have resurrected that feeling for me, and will most assuredly bring about the resurgence good quality dark literature to the youth of the genre.

Creative Monster

Plett is a valuable player in the horror genre, in my opinion. It’s her artistic vision that drives UTJT to be the voice of children’s horror fiction, and will ultimately lead the publication towards a bigger audience and the notice it deserves.

You can check out more of Plett’s work at her blog, and at Underneath The Juniper Tree. She’s also on Facebook and Twitter, and can be found haunting other places on the web as well.


Feature: Horror’s Wonder Woman – Super Agent Bree Ogden

I first came across the mad musing of Bree Ogden in the pages of Crow Toes Quarterly – a print and electronic publication designed and dedicated to children’s literature of a darker lean.

Her web presence at that point was almost completely unknown to me, but I eventually found myself becoming more aquainted with her on various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the like. She seemed, to me, to be a very vocal proponent of the cause to keep kid lit scary, re-kindling the fire inside my heart for the myriad things that spooked me as a kid.

In my insane hyper-attentive way, I dug a little deeper and discovered that Bree was not only a writer and editor, but that she was also an agent of the macabre. And by that, I don’t mean she’s a vessel by which nefarious things creep about our plain. Well… I do mean that, but I also meant that she’s a literary agent as well.

From Ogden’s “Meet Bree” page at her website:

Bree graduated with her BA in Philosophy from Southern Virginia University where she served as editor-in-chief of the University’s newsmagazine. She was awarded Most Valuable Player and Editor of the Year, as well as SVU’s Pioneer Award, an honor the University awards to two students each year. She then received her MA in Journalism with an emphasis in editing and expository writing at Northeastern University where she worked on both the New England Press Association Bulletin, and also served as the features editor of the premier campus music magazine, Tastemakers Magazine.

Soon after finding out about the publication, Shelagh and I found out that Crow Toes was closing its doors, leaving both Shelagh and myself in the position of trying to find another publication that would cater to both the needs of spooky kids everywhere, and the creepy little demons inside ourselves.

Enter: Underneath The Juniper Tree.

It was only by our involvement in the genre that we found out about this interesting venture. The publication, basically hosted by the young Marjorie Merle and Tex, her charismatic sidekick with an insatiable hunger for toes (whether his preference is for young, old, human, or animal, I’d unknown at this time.)

From UTJT’s “About” page:

My name is Marjorie Merle and on the right is my ever faithful companion Tex. I am Keeper Of The Stories and I will tell you where I found them. My story begins one night when I started up the stairs to the attic to retrieve some candles during the storm; my knees were knocking together, my fingers quivered. Dusty beams of light from the cloud-swept moon leaked into the attic, landing on sheets of paper with spidery writing – but it wasn’t just writing; drawings and photographs littered the floor as well. There were stories of old days, of the future, of the times in between and each had with it a drawing relaying every dreadful and delicious detail into my mind. I drank in the stories greedily with an unquenchable thirst. Now I am sharing them with you, dear reader. Enjoy and remember, don’t get lost. You don’t want to end up underneath the Juniper Tree.

Quickly coming to the conclusion that this was the perfect avenue to direct our young friends and readers toward, Shelagh and I reveled in both the perfect choices of stories and the supremely creepy, yet accessible artistry contained within. This was something we could get behind AND try help promote. Aften all, this life is about the kids, isn’t it?

You couldn’t possibly imagine our excitement when we found out that Bree was one of the people behind it all.

As it turns out, Bree Ogden and Rebekah Joy Plett had joined forces and – from the ashes of what we believe was the best horror-centric children’s publication out there – developed, produced, edited, designed, and utterly ruled over the future of kids horror lit through this new offering to the genre.

Without missing a beat after the demise of CTQ, Ogden surrounded herself with incredible artists and authors and compiled the first incredible issue of Underneath The Juniper Tree. The Table of Contents didn’t read like a “classics” offering either. This was all modern, and all geared towards the youth of today. 77 pages of creeptastic fiction for the monster lovers in all of us. Now 8 lovingly crafted issues in, and it doesn’t look like they’re about to stop any time soon.

While UTJT is a joint venture borne of the mad amalgamation of minds between Ogden and Plett, it’s the former’s position as editor, agent, guru, and creeper that have earned her a profile today.

Working in her daylight hours as a literary agent for D4EO Literary Agency, Ogden combs through YA and middle grade manuscripts in a variety of sub-genres, and has a specific style that she enjoys (like all agents do.) Her lean towards horror literature sits nicely in our little house of horrors, and gives us faith in the fact that there’s someone out there who has the pull to bring the “fear” back to fear street.

A great example of what Ogden is looking for can be found at the D$EO website:

Seeking: Middle grade, Young Adult, New Adult fiction (readership: ages 18-30), Graphic Novels, YA Nonfiction, and Art books

• Email submissions only
• Paste the first five pages of your novel below your query
• No attachments

Bree’s wish list: (don’t limit your queries to these!)
Young Adult:
• Dark (not angst-ridden)
• Realistic
• Psychological horror (with no paranormal elements)
• Hard sci fi. Meaning no fantasy, or magical realism at all
• A Dexter-ish type YA black comedy
• A Roaring Twenties historical for YA
• A manuscript written in the era of Mad Men with panache and style
• A unique and theme-driven art book

Manuscripts I will not look at:

• Paranormal or fantasy (that includes urban fantasy)
• Romance (unless there is a superb dark, psychotic element)
• Magical realism
• World building

Claiming an influence that ranges from Alvin Schwartz and R.L. Stein, and swinging a bag of tricks dripping with grisly gore, we’re sure you can agree with us when we say that, with Ogden at the helm, the kids definitely aren’t gonna be alright… in a good way.

Keep watching the site for a prfile of UTJT, and to listen to a conversation with Ogden and Plett (my computer died and took the audio of that conversation with it.)

I’m proud to call this modern marvel a friend, and regard her as a true Wonder Woman of the genre. It’s not every day that someone with the spunk and ability comes along in the genre championing great quality fiction for the little ghouls and boils.

So, Bree Ogden, Dreadful Tales salute you. You’re a beacon of much needed darkness on an otherwise sparkly scene, and we appreciate the mess of grue you leave in your wake.

You can check out more of Bree Ogden’s work at Underneath The Juniper Tree, D4EO Literary Agency, her blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.


A Fabulous Feast of Frights for a Fantastic Freakin’ Friday

I don’t tend to enjoy Fridays as much as y’all. Something about the working world and my specific job just doesn’t jive. Fridays (for me) are always wicked busy, full of running around, and never anything less than a break neck pace. But eventually I find myself winding down and looking for something to read. Mind you, I’ve always got some reading on the go, but sometimes I want something different. Something quick, but enjoyable.

Under The Juniper Tree always has the most incredible covers... *swoon*

Enter Underneath The Juniper Tree – The September Issue.

108 pages of ghoulsih delights from the likes of D.M. Cunningham & Roberta Baird (The Sugarplum Incident), Lux Canary & Abigail Larson (Voodoo Child), Ken Lamug (Toe Eaters), and many more. You’ll also find a plethora of incredibly amazing art courtesy of Rebekah Joy Plett, Louise Grant, Shannon Hilson, Filipa Malva, and more than my baby blues could possibly be able to handle.

Y’all know I love great art!

As always, the quality of this free (yes… FREE) magazine is incredible. I never have a complaint about it, and don’t expect that I ever will. The kids horror lit. scene is a favorite place of mine, and UTJT absolutely solidifies my love.

I know we’ve said it before, but you really need to check these guys out. Get your hands on the September issue here.

And as a note of interest, if you have an Android Phone, you can subscribe to, and download issues of UTJT for free from Issuu. Take a look at m.issuu.com for more information. If you don’t have an android phone, you can download the PDF and import it to your favorite PDF reader on your iPhone by clicking the “download this publication” button. DO EEET!!

Check back at the beginning of every month, and we’ll update you as to the new issues.


I’ve also come across another site of interest and, lordy lordy is it a doozy!


Heralding from the West Coast of Canada and bonding over vegan Caesars, Vampire Smut, and glorious, wonderful books – Kat and Cara – the two beautiful and brilliant minds behind Bibliobabes.ca, have dedicated themselves to bringing you book-related radness, copious amounts of cussing, the most awesome tidbits of literary matter, and…well… Babes. It’s a win/win/winwinwin situation.

Beyond the beauty and  the punk rock/horror inspired tattoo imagery, these two ladies write with a practiced authority that would make even the most seasoned authors nervously await their reviews. We’re no professionals over here at Dreadful Tales, but we’ve been in the game long enough (at various places on the interweb) to know when something is going to grab the public’s attention.



Kat and Cara hold their own, and have enough attitude and experience to back it up a thousand-fold. They write like I talk, think, and act, and have enough swagger to fell a boat full of saucy sailors.

From one literary site to another – I implore you to go take a look. You won’t be disappointed. Hell, I want these ladies to live in my ‘hood so Shelagh and I could have late night ramblings with like-minded folk, on a porch full of badass literature.

That said, we hope you enjoy the hell out of your long weekend, and get a metric shit-ton of reading done. There are going to be some more chances coming up soon for you to grab a copy of… well… whatever I feel like throwing at you. In fact, I’ll send David Winnick’s Heart of Glass at the first person who can correctly tell me what time it is. How’s that?

Happy Friday!