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.


Meli Gives Thanks!

There are so many things I love about Christmas. Seeing my friends and family for (usually) only the second or third time in the year, eating grandma’s home cooking, mixing my liquors, giving presents, and enjoying laughs with the people who know me best, basking in the glow of a wine (Champaign, shot-o-whiskey) buzz and thousands of Christmas lights. But above all else, one of the best parts of this holiday season is the thankful reflection everyone is so inspired to employ. As we near the end of 2011 (where did the year go!?), I think about all the events that made it the best one yet. I have many thanks to give to my family, of course, but I want to share my Dreadful Tales-related thanks here today.

I am thankful to be a part of this wonderful family of literature obsessives who all share my passion for horror fiction and have turned me on to all sorts of wonderful authors that I may not know otherwise. But when I follow the bread crumbs back to where it all began it led right to Rue Morgue Magazine. The truth is Rue Morgue Magazine kinda changed my life.

I’m originally from Indianapolis, IN.When I was offered a job about 4 hours away in Northwest Ohio, former home to the Gleefully Macabre writer Jeff Strand, I traded in my corn cobs for buckeyes and never looked back. Ohio isn’t much of a change from Indiana. This is still the Midwest, so the brutal winters, backyard BBQs, and sports fanaticism make me feel right at home, but I still left behind all the people I love. I didn’t really know anyone here that shared similar interests, namely horror movies. Even if I did, to view most new releases you’d have to drive at least 2 hours away. There wasn’t even a bookstore within a 20 mile radius! So, with plenty of time on my hands and no cable to rot my brain, I got back into reading. I was never a big horror fiction reader though. I didn’t grow up on Stephen King, although I did grow up watching film adaptations of his work, and I had never even heard the term Splatterpunk.

About 5 years ago all that changed. On an excursion to the bookstore just 45 minutes away from my new home, the Grindhouse cover of Rue Morgue Magazine caught my eye. It was issue #66. Despite being a horrorhound in my youth, growing up on a steady diet of cheesy b-movies, sci-fi oddities, and slashers, I had no idea there was such a thing as a horror mag. I indulged in horror movies, but when it came to rags I stuck with my Sassy Magazine, until it went defunct. On the ride home, with my then-boyfriend at the wheel, I tore into Rue Morgue Magazine issue #66 and it blew my mind! I couldn’t believe there was a magazine chock full of everything horror, everything I love! That Christmas in 2007, my boyfriend gifted me a subscription and I knew he was the man I would marry!

I always discover something new, overlooked, or forgotten in Rue Morgue Magazine. I sought out many of the cult classics they featured, or just regular good ole classics, that I missed in my youth and started rebuilding my horror arsenal. But more than just discovering new favorites and celebrating old memories, Rue Morgue is the reason I am writing this today.

I never nerded out on a message board before, but when I found out there was an online hangout for followers of my beloved mag, I signed up. Known as the Rue Morgue Mortuary, this would be the forum where I would meet Colum, who y’all know, Dark Mark, fizzmaster, GradeCCCP (Pat Dreadful), and a horde of other really great people who I never met in person (even to this day!), but I consider my best friends. I started posting on the Rue Morgue Mortuary boards in 2008. I peeked in and out of various threads trying to find a place and eventually ended up hanging out in the Grim Readers thread on a daily basis. While my compadres read the latest Bryan Smith, John Everson, Edward Lee, and a number of other current horror writers, I was digging back into the classics. When it came to contemporary horror fiction I had no idea where to begin. Even if I picked a household name like Stephen King, where the hell do you start!?

I don’t remember how it happened or why, but Colum and I made a deal to swap books. He sent me a copy of The 13th by John Everson, an author who is now one of my favorites, Victims by Shaun Hutson, and The Serial Killers Club by Jeff Povey which to this day I haven’t read (sshhh, don’t tell him!). My to-read list just grew from there and hasn’t slowed down since. After finishing those titles, with the exception of one, Colum was very adamant I read Jeff Strand’s Dweller. I loved it! And little did I know that would be the subject of my first review ever. I also couldn’t have predicted that I’d actually get dressed up like the guy in an article for a website that at the time didn’t even exist!!

That first Dweller review was for Destroy The Brain, which I also discovered through the Rue Morgue Mortuary family, and I was only able to do it because Colum gave me the encouragement and Andy Triefenbach gave me a chance. Eventually, Colum had his little black heart set on starting something bigger and badder than Paperback Horror, which was my go-to for all things horror fiction back then, and asked me to come along for the ride. So, here I am. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I know that life will never be the same as it was before I found Rue Morgue Magazine.

For all those reasons and more, I’d like to thank all the people at Rue Morgue who make the magazine possible. To the editor in chief past, present, and future for bringing it all together, THANK YOU! To the writers, the designers, and artists, the office manager, the people who clean the office, the web designer, inventory control, quality management, marketing, sales, the interns, and that chick hangin’ around who doesn’t actually work there, but always makes a fresh pot of coffee when you need it. OK, that last one I’m not sure exists, but if she / he does – THANK YOU!

Thanks to Rue Morgue for existing, but a deep, heartfelt, most sincere thanks to the best friends I have never met. Colum, thank you for encouraging me to take this passion one step further. Shelagh, thank you for joining us in this mission, bringing things together, and always reigning us in! Pat, thank you for inspiring me to read more and write better. Jason, thank you for joining the team, being a great late night Twitter pal, and offering sage advice to a hopeful amateur.

Also, thanks to the Grim Readers, Dark Mark, fizzmaster, GradeCCCP, Typical Lydia, RedSoxFreak67 and a number of other people who have made me feel rich in friendship even though we are miles apart.

Thanks to them, my book collection has grown exponentially over the years. With their suggestions and book-swapping, my shelf overfloweth with macabre reads!

And finally, thanks to you, dear Dreadful Tales reader for listening 🙂

To all y’all, Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year!

 Love, Meli