Tag Archives: dark fiction

Writing: The Playground of Lost Toys

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Creative Commons: Ninha Morandini

“Usually at least once in a person’s childhood we lose an object that at the time is invaluable and irreplaceable to us, although it is worthless to others. Many people remember that lost article for the rest of their lives. Whether it was a lucky pocketknife, a transparent plastic bracelet given to you by your father, a toy you had longed for and never expected to receive, but there it was under the tree on Christmas… it makes no difference what it was. If we describe it to others and explain why it was so important, even those who love us smile indulgently because to them it sounds like a trivial thing to lose. Kid stuff. But it is not. Those who forget about this object have lost a valuable, perhaps even crucial memory. Because something central to our younger self resided in that thing. When we lost it, for whatever reason, a part of us shifted permanently.”

Jonathan Carroll

Ursula Pflug and I will be co-editing a speculative anthology titled The Playground of Lost Toys. This will be published by Exile Editions, in time for the holiday season. See below for guidelines.

Our childhood toys embodied our emotions. We just knew our favourite doll loved us, and that our toy soldier was as brave as we would be if given the chance. A child easily attributes magical powers, personality or secrets to a coloured stone or a twisted stick, but don’t we continue to do so as adults, just in different ways? Certain objects accrue power from the home or the landscape, absorbing our dreams and wishes, and the elemental energies that lie buried in a sandbox, hidden in the closet, or in the bole of a tree.

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Stories should touch on wonder, mystery, dread, awe: the delight when a strange toy appears, or loss when a cherished plaything is broken. A tale might, for example, explore the classroom ritual of show and tell, or the lost and found box in the corner of the gym in the moon colony.

Toys are often gendered so that beloved hockey stick might belong to a girl and the flying figure skates to a boy. Dolls reflect not just societal notions about gender but also about diversity; Mattel, for example didn’t issue a black Barbie till the late 60’s and then amidst controversy. These tensions can all be rich sources of speculative inspiration!

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Creative commons: photosteve101, flickr

What if there was a Matryoshka doll where each smaller container held mysteries to the seven wonders of the world, or a toy spaceship that entered other dimensions? Imagine a paper fan that controls the wind, a whistle that calls back the dead, a Chinese tiger hand puppet that protects. While these suggestions are fantastical, we also want stories about “normal” toys in science fictional or fantastic settings. Additionally, the toy itself needs to appear or disappear, to be “lost” or “found.” This need not be the core of the story arc, but it should be an element. Toys don’t have to be physical but could be metaphorical or allegorical as well.

Speculative subgenres from steampunk to magic realism will be considered. Excessive gore will be a hard sell. Sex is okay, if it’s integral to the story. Tales that are multi-faceted and go beyond a simple nostalgic trip down memory’s lane will have a better chance. We welcome QUILTBAG and/or People of Colour authors. At least 90% of the authors must be Canadian (or pay taxes in Canada); we can consider only a small percentage from other locales.

SUBMISSION LENGTH: Original, unpublished prose up to 5,000. Slightly longer works are okay but query for longer lengths. No reprints, no multiple submissions. Canadian spelling. Please follow standard manuscript format. If you don’t know what that is google William Shunn’s manuscript format. If we reject your story before the deadline, you’re welcome to send another.

PAYMENT: .05/word

SUBMISSION PERIOD: Feb. 1, 2015-Apr. 30, 2015 (midnight PST)

RIGHTS: English World rights, one-year exclusive print and digital, non-exclusive reprint rights, Exile Editions

PUBLICATION DATE: Nov. 2015 (tentative)

SUBMISSIONS: Through submittable. (this link might not work until Feb. 1)

NOTE: If your address is outside of Canada, please indicate whether you are Canadian expat (and paying taxes to Canada) or what your citizenship is. We have very limited space for stories from outside of Canada.

We are getting a LOT of doll stories. Please note the guidelines. While a doll story or maybe two could be accepted, we won’t be taking all that many. This is to be a diverse anthologies that covers toys that were, toys that are and toys that are yet to be.  Think about the word “toy.” What do people toy with? There are adult toys; computers are toys, people are toys, animals have toys, aliens have toys. Go wild! Make something up and think outside the sandbox!

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The Chi Reading Series

ChiSeriesVancouverPoster - July 2014The truth is I’ve been far too busy to blog of late and so my blog has been suffering badly. My day job became overwhelming and has eaten all of my energy. I’m hoping that will change soon. So, in trying to keep a toe over the threshold and into the world I’d like to mention that I’m still hosting the ChiSeries Vancouver, part of the Chiaroscuro Reading series started in Toronto some five or so years ago by Sandra Kasturi and friends. In Toronto, where the wild things are, and there is an abundance of culture and population, the series has run successfully every month.

Cov_TheDoorThatFacedWest_large

On sale at the reading, as well as A Parliament of Crows, and Of Thimble and Threat The Life of a Ripper Victim

Last year, along with Ottawa and Winnipeg, we launched in April, and ran quarterly, with readings in July, Oct. and then in February. The next one would have been May but EDGE Publishing was bringing dark fiction author and vampire aficionado Nancy Kilpatrick in May so we did a reading with Nancy, which included  Rhea Rose and me reading as well. With these readings we had several hurdles to get beyond. One was the venues brought some challenges, and with the new reading for this July 22nd we will be moving to the Cottage Bistro at 4468 (or possibly 4470) Main St. The Cottage Bistro is known for hosting live music as well as several other reading series and is happy to have the ChiSeries on stage.

This is an exciting and very central venue so I’m hoping that many people will come out and enjoy the tales. ChiSeries is free and the readers are TheIncomingTidepublished authors of speculative fiction and poetry. This includes science fiction, fantasy, magic realism, mythical, dark fiction, horror and all subgenres in between. This July, we have guests arriving from Oregon: Alan M. Clark, Kirsten Alene, and Cameron Pierce.

Some people might recognize Alan’s name. He has been a well-known and award-winning artist in the dark fiction genre for a number of years. He was this year’s emcee for the World Horror Convention, as well. His paintings range from thoughtful to disturbing and he has created illustrations for hundreds of books, including works of fiction of various genre,s nonfiction, textbooks, young adult fiction, and children’s books. Awards for his illustration work include the World Fantasy Award and four Chelsey Awards. He is the author of thirteen books, including seven novels, a lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. His latest novel, The Door That Faced West, was released by Lazy Fascist Press February, 2014.

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Kirsten Alene’s book will be available at the reading.

Writing couple Kirsten Alene  and Cameron Pierce live in Portland, Oregon. Kirsten’s books include Japan Conquers the Galaxy, Unicorn Battle Squad, Love in the Time of Dinosaurs, and the forthcoming short story collection, Rules of Appropriate Conduct from Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2015. Her work has appeared in such places as Amazing Stories of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens, Innsmouth Magazine and The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction.

Cameron Pierce’s ten books include the Wonderland Book Award-winning collection Lost in Cat Brain Land, Our Love Will Go the Way of the Salmon, and the forthcoming novella The Incoming Tide. His work has been praised by The Guardian, Cracked.com and many others. Cameron is also the editor of three anthologies, most recently In Heaven, Everything Is Fine: Fiction Inspired by David Lynch, and is head editor of the popular indie publisher Lazy Fascist Press.

The reading runs from 7:30 until about 10;30 pm on July 22. Come join us or leave me a message here if you’d like to get onto a mailing list for future events. If you’re interested in the other ChiSeries events in the other cities, check out the Facebook pages and the website:  http://chiseries.com/

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Tesseracts 17 Interview: David Jón Fuller

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Tesseracts 17 is now out with tales from Canadian writers that span all times and places.

David Jón Fuller joins me from Manitoba, for another Tesseracts 17 interview.

CA: “Sin A Squay” is a tale of overcoming monsters. We have heard the horror of residential schools and new nightmares seem to be unearthed every day. What drew you to putting this element into your story?

 It’s a national horror that was made worse by decades of denial despite more and more residential school survivors coming forward. Despite some indications that people allowed or even wanted their children to attend the schools in the early part of their existence, they just became an institution of systemic abuse and earned their appellation of an instrument of genocide. I wanted to explore this in a context of what that does to people over time – how even escaping them can have a cost, and that the oppression that was perpetrated against the children in the schools – treating them as less than human, and the endemic abuse that comes to light more and more – can leave a lasting mark.  But I also wanted to explore how those horrors could be confronted and overcome.
I had doubts whether this was a subject I should even write about, no matter how much research I did – I worried that it wasn’t something that, as a white person, I had a right to write about.  But I felt without trying to address it in some way through my fiction, I would just be ignoring it, and adding to the silence, in a sense.  Whereas I think anyone who learns about what the residential schools system did to so many First Nations people for so long would be within their rights to condemn it as horrific.

CA: Have you seen or experienced aspects of residential schools or your own childhood traumas that you used to draw on for this story?

 No – nothing on the scale of something like this. Tough times for me as a kid meant dealing with the occasional bully or being the “new kid” at school. Definitely not a systemic oppression, or even life-scarring single event. And like the majority of white people in Canada, I grew up privileged to live with many doors open to me as a default. I relied a lot on research to create the characters and the background for this story.

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David Jón Fuller explores the horrors of residential schools in Sin A Squay.

CA: You have two different monsters in your tale; the beasts that prowl the mythic landscape and residential schools. Why did you feel this story worked better with the mythic or horrific element?

 Partly because I think the fear of certain monsters says something about the culture in which they are feared. Some monsters have embodied fears of our animalistic natures, and of the “wilderness” – and I think that speaks to a Western European (particularly continental) fear of predators. Hand-in-hand with that went the European colonialist attitude that white people were “civilized” and everyone else was to some degree “savage” (read: wild). I wanted to turn that around a bit, and look at how that attitude itself – of seeing certain people as “less than human,” which is certainly what the residential schools embodied: the view that “Indians” were lesser people, savage, or inferior – was monstrous.

I do tend to think that in mainstream pop culture these days, certain monsters are “othered.” Vampires are currently glorified – embodying, I think, our fear of old age, since the “eternal youth” trope seems played up nowadays as opposed to the “foreign devil will seduce our women” theme that ran through Dracula.  Werewolves, on the other hand, are frequently the lackeys and/or cannon fodder if they appear alongside other creatures in a given show, or they are stuck in an endless retread of savage/animalistic/bestial archetypes. This isn’t as true in a lot of urban fantasy fiction, but it seems to be the gear they’re stuck in in movies and TV. And I hate that!

Also, considering the way the characters’ relationships change in the story, I wanted to explore whether what one culture sees as “monstrous” or less than human, might actually be a source of empowerment, and how an oppressor’s sense of invulnerability might actually become a weakness.

Those things being said — no matter how terrifying I might make the mythic monsters, for me, the more I learned about the residential schools the more stunned I was that this had gone on for so long.  Much of what I put in the story pales in comparison to what actually went on in many of the schools.

CA: Often survival comes at great cost. Do you feel your main character has only survived through her years of escape, or is it just that life can bring ghosts back to haunt you even if you have triumphed in the past?

 I think Marion gained a lot in her initial escape from the residential school, but while her body got free, a part of her was still trapped there, and in the abuse she experienced there.  She was not able to bring who she became as an adult to bear on those old fears, and fully put them to rest, without confronting someone or something from her days there. The opportunity to face down one’s oppressor, and have that oppression acknowledged as such, is something that has been denied to generations of residential school survivors. Canadians are still denying a lot of what went on, despite mounting evidence, and that kind of brushing it under the carpet just perpetuates the injustice of it, in my opinion.  I thought that perhaps by putting Marion in a situation where she was forced to face those old horrors, she might be able to hold them back, or even triumph over them.

CA: What other pieces are you working on right now and what are you exploring within those tales?

Mostly working outside my comfort zone and doing a ton of research. I’m trying to work on not just including non-white, non-male perspectives in my fiction, but on making them central.

After submitting “Sin A Squay” to Tesseracts, I started working on other stories in the same world.  One of them,  “No More Good Indian,” is about Marion’s escape from the residential school, and it placed second in the Robyn Herrington Memorial Speculative Fiction Short Story Contest.  I worked backwards from there to write a story about Marion’s grandfather, and how his experience of shell-shock as a First World War veteran had disturbing parallels with the post-traumatic stress his children experienced after residential school – and on how this could be if not healed, at least helped, through familial bonds, tradition and shared experience. That story, “A Deeper Echo,” was accepted into the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, due out next year.

I’ve also been delving into human evolution, megafauna mass extinctions and prehistoric Canada – it’s fascinating to see how much our knowledge has grown over recent decades, and how this is changing the way we look at the past.

When I’m finished writing a few other short stories before the end of the year, I’m going to take a hard look at a novel manuscript I was letting lie “fallow” and then apply what I’ve learned this year to tune it up and start submitting it.

David Jón Fuller was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he now lives, and has also lived in Edmonton, Alberta. He earned an honors degree in theater at the University of Winnipeg and studied Icelandic language and literature for two years at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík.

His short fiction has been published in Tesseracts 17, In Places Between, The Harrow and in the upcoming Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From the Margins of History. His short story “No More Good Indian” took second place in the 2013 Robyn Herrington Memorial Speculative Fiction Short Story Contest. He currently works as a copy editor for the Winnipeg Free Press, and as time allows he blogs at www.davidjonfuller.com.

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Chi Reading Series Vancouver

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The ChiSeries features published authors every quarter. Also in Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

Coming next week  is the third event in the ChiSeries Vancouver, which Sandra Kasturi and Helen Marshall first started in Toronto. I chair the Vancouver branch and we started in April with Claude Lalumière, Camille Alexa and Steve Erikson, with a second in July with Eileen Kernaghan, Linda DeMuelemeester and Hiromi Goto. This third reading has Peter Darbyshire (also writing as Peter Roman) author of Mona Lisa Sacrifice, Melia McClure with her first novel The Delphi Room, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, editor of Innsmouth Free Press and author of the collection This Strange Way of Dying.

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Melia McClure’s The Delphi Room debuts this month.

Melia McClure’s The Delphi Room is a quirky, darkly surreal novel currently out from ChiZine Publications. She has adapted The Delphi Room into a screenplay. Her fiction has been shortlisted in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) National Literary Awards, and she is the editor of Meditation & Health magazine, which is distributed in multiple locations in the United States and Canada as well as in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Melia grew up dancing and acting, and now, when not penning strange tales populated by quirky characters, or creating other varieties of writing, she can be found collecting vintage coats, dabbling with paint and perfecting her Charleston.

Click on Melia’s name above and you’ll get a taste of her very evocative writing. If you can’t make Oct. 9, she is having the official launch of her book on Oct. 18 at the Cottage Bistro at 4470 Main St.

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Peter Darbyshire’s novels have received rave reviews.

Peter Darbyshire is the author of the books The Warhol Gang and Please, which won the ReLit Prize for Best Alternative Novel. He’s also the author of the supernatural thriller The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, under the pen name Peter Roman. When he has time, he writes strange short stories, but they’re never as strange as real life.

Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia Moreno-Garcia lives in Vancouver with her family and two cats. Her short stories have appeared in places such as The Book of Cthulhu, Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing and Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction. She has edited several anthologies, including Dead North and Fungi. Her first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, is out this year. Her first novel, Sound Fidelity, will be out in 2014.

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Silvia Moreno-Garcia is editor of Innsmouth Free Press and author of This Strange Way of Dying.

These authors have impressive writing styles and they’ll be reading from their works next week. The event is free, as are all the Chiaroscuro Readings Series (sponsored in part by ChiZine Publications) across Canada. Other reading events are in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto (which receive some sponsorship from the Ontario Arts Council), where national chair and co-founder Sandra Kasturi has been running monthly readings for about four years.

It’s a great way to spend a rainy or cool October evening. Come out and meet the authors and listen to them read. If you’re in other parts of Canada, check out the ChiSeries there and keep an eye out for more events in other cities in the future. The next one for Vancovuer will be in January. https://www.facebook.com/ChiSeries

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Writing Update

It’s been a while since I posted about writing. The last few months I was caught up in co-editing, with Steve Vernon, the Tesseracts 17 anthology. I hope to be able to announce the table of contents soon. As well, I’ll be giving a demographic breakdown of the submissions once the details are revealed. Suffice to say, we had around 450 submissions. This was an open theme, which means there were more submissions.

I was so busy in fact, that I didn’t even mention the stories that have come out recently so here we go. Deep Cuts came out in February and my story “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” has received one favorable review. There aren’t many reviews yet so if you are a review try contacting the editors (or me and I’ll let them know) and they might send you a copy to review.

“P is for Phartouche: The Blade” came out in  Demonologia Biblica in March from Western Legends Publishing. It’s edited by Dean Drinkel of the UK, and is available at http://www.amazon.com/Demonologia-Biblica. Again, reviewers can contact the publisher.

And I’ve been told that imminently Bibliotheca Fantastica is about to be released from Dagan Books. My story “The Book With No End” deals with books as does every story, edited by editors Claude LaLumiere & Don Pizarro. Book covers have often been made of different types of leather and let’s say this is a book of leather of a different type.

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Demonologia Biblica out through Western Legends Publishing, with “P is for Phartouche: The Blade”

Likewise, as imminent, and in this week, Irony of Survival  is also about to be released from Zharmae Publishing. This is a very massive volume of stories and my alternate history “Tower of Strength” is one of the many tales.

Rumors were abounding that BullSpec had folded but they told me they were just behind and issues are coming out so I hope my poem (with them for two years) will be out this year. I’ve also just received the contract for “Gingerbread People” to be released in Chilling Tales 2 this fall by Edge Publishing: Michael Kelly is editor. And perhaps I’ve had the kiss of death with Fantastic Frontiers who paid me but seem to have folded before publishing my short piece and don’t answer emails.

While stories are coming out this year I haven’t yet sold a lot with this first part of the year being about editing. I’m now getting back into the writer’s seat and hoping to hit some deadlines before the end of May. So hopefully you’ll see a few more posts from me.

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Women in Horror: Sandra Wickham

Women in Horror Month is over but I’m still featuring Canadian writers. Today’s author is Sandra Wickham whose short stories have appeared in Evolve: Vampires of the New Undead, Evolve: Vampires of the Future Undead, Chronicles of the OrderCrossed Genres magazine and in the upcoming Urban Green Man anthology.  She blogs about writing with the Inkpunks, is the Fitness Nerd columnist for the Functional Nerds and reads slush for Lightspeed Magazine. Her friends call her a needle crafting aficionado, health guru and ninja-in-training.

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Sandra Wickham likes her dark fiction with bite.

SANDRA WICKHAM

1.     Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I didn’t set out to write horror but for some reason the best things I write come out as dark and often horrible. Even with all of our knowledge and technology there are still many things we fear, including the darkness that resides within all of us and I can’t help wanting to explore those shadowy places. I also write fantasy and often go to the other end of the spectrum with light, humourous stories.

2.     What dark themes do you explore?

Fear of the unknown, including things we can’t explain, as well as the loss of loved ones. I tend to write the underdog, perhaps stemming from being a petite woman in a world that still favors aggression and strength.

3.    Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

It is an important genre for us as writers and readers to deal with the things that frighten us. We know a lot about our world these days, but there are still things that are unknown or unexplainable that we are afraid of and they’re worth exploring. (not to mention loads of fun)

Early on I was heavily inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short stories and of course, Stephen King. More recently, I’m inspired by the darker urban fantasy writers who manage to combine frightening gore with humor. There’s nothing like being scared out of our wits while laughing hysterically.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)human rights, womens rights, writing, horror,

Women are underrepresented across the genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror. The old school boys club still rules the roost.  I have to believe that with so many talented female writers currently producing amazing work, this will begin to shift.

5.     Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are or what we can do to stem the tide?

rape, womens rights, abuse, sexual abuse, horrorI think the internet has been a useful tool in bringing these issues to light, in bringing awareness to the plight of women all over the world. We’re no longer in an era of hiding these awful things in the dark or turning a blind eye to it. It’s going to take more women and men standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves to make a significant change.

6.     Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

Thank you for highlighting Women in Horror and giving us a chance to spread the fear, I mean, love.  🙂

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Women in Horror: Colleen Anderson

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Yes, today, the last day of February and Women in Horror Month, I’m interviewing myself. After all, it’s only fair to subject myself to questions I gave the other writers. But stay tuned through March as there will probably be more women in horror and even a guy or two as well. I hope to expand on the interviews with some people.

I’m a twice Aurora Award finalist in poetry, and have received several Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (or Science Fiction) honorable mentions, as well as being shortlisted for the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, the Rannu competition, the Friends of Merril contest and the Speculative Literature Foundation. The anthology Deep Cuts with my story  “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” is hitting the shelves (and the virtual world) as we speak. Check out Evil Jester Press. Bibliotheca Fantastica is about to be released with “The Book With No End” from Dagan Books. Then, by April “Tower of Strength” in Irony of Survival through Zharmae Publishing, and “P is for Phartouche: The Blade” in Demonologia Biblica should also be released through Western Legends Publishing, with a poem out in Bull Spec later this year and a story in Chilling Tales 2 by fall.

COLLEEN ANDERSON

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

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Colleen works for Chizine Publications, full of dark and disturbed things.

I actually span the landscape from fantasy, SF, mainstream, poetry, erotica to horror or dark fantasy. I never did set out to write dark fiction but found even when I thought a story was just fantasy I was getting comments from magazines that they didn’t take horror. A few years ago I sold a dark tale to Evolve and one to Horror Library IV and I realized I was selling more of the dark fiction than other works. In fact, I guess I’m not as funny as I think I am because no one buys my humorous stories. I seem to be more a natural at digging into the viscera of a tale. I’ve only ever written one tale, a flash fiction piece where I set out to write something truly gruesome and horrible. In doesn’t dig much into a person’s psyche but is just a tale of terrible deeds. That’s probably why I could sustain it past 500 words.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

I was asked this once by a fellow writer and I had no clue but in the process of compiling my reprint stories for Embers Amongst the Fallen it became clear that I do a fair number of morality tales. These aren’t overt but the protagonist may be faced with making a hard decision: honor their dying partner’s wish or take revenge, follow the rules of society or satisfy their own desires, become a monster or give compassion, etc. We make decisions every day and many aren’t life or death or defining moral character but I find it fascinating and squirmy to put characters into these dilemmas. Through them, I define myself better and hopefully get people to think.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

The fact that we separate tales into genre is a falsified categorization by marketing departments the world over. The dark side is inherently part of our lives. We cannot appreciate the light without the darkness to counterbalance it. This is in every tale from gods and heroes of the ancients to Luke Skywalker confronting his fallen father. If you have conflict, in some ways you always have darkness. Horror for the splatter and gore of it only isn’t that deep but some people enjoy it because of that thrill of terror that lets us know we’re alive and that our lives are better than what we’re watching.

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A collection of previously published speculative fiction, available through Smashwords and Amazon.

With the more fantastical tales, it lets me take something to an extreme, to show a story and make one think and ponder the what-ifs. Sometimes there’s too much political finger pointing and the world of the fantastic lets us explore these things or say, you know it could go this way if we’re not careful. Sometimes we write cautionary tales.

As a child I loved reading the Norse myths, then those of Ireland and Greece, and fairy tales of course. Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Edgar Allan Poe were probably the first to pull me onto the road of the fantastic. My older brother left a lot of his books behind, and then there were shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, not to mention scary movies with Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

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Demonologia Biblica comes out this spring with “P is for Phartouche: The Blade”

I can see how this could be a problem in the movie industry more, and there is still a predominance in mainstream literature to believe that only if you’re a dead white male was your writing worth studying. That’s shifting both in terms of the living and the non males. I don’t think it’s much of an issue anymore as some of the best writers out there are women. Though I recall a collection being put out last year called something like the Decade’s or the Centuries Best SF. There wasn’t one woman listed and the editors were lambasted so it’s not completely equal yet. But I don’t think I’ve ever run into my stories being taken or rejected because I was a woman.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are or what we can do to stem the tide?

I actually worry because some people feel that this is a backlash because women are getting stronger. Contrarily, I think it’s because religion is become less centralized and more dichotomized into fundamentalism. The fact that some men feel they need to fear and/or control women does not mean women are getting a better shake at things. A picture posted going around shows Mogadishu with women in front of a college in the 1960s and one in recent years. Only in the recent one is every single person veiled and covered head to toe. That’s not progress. That’s not giving equality to women but putting them back in the basket where women caused the downfall of mankind, or are vixens or seductresses. We have a very long ways to go yet.

What we can do is to not step back, not be complacent. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This goes for women as well. If we pretend or think it won’t happen to us, all you have to do is look to the US and how right-wing fundamentalism is trying to take away women’s rights. It’s partly why dark fiction lends us a canvas where we can paint something as simplistic as a revenge fantasy but we can also show the strength of women and that all people of any gender can be good or evil. We have to continue to speak against this or one day even women will believe they shouldn’t have the right to vote because they should be in the kitchen serving the power of their man. And it makes me sad that some women have no opinion about this. Really?

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

I have several pieces eligible to be nominated in this year’s Aurora Awards in which Canadians can nominate and vote.

I have three stories:

The collections is also eligible as well.

There are three poems:

women in horror, viscera organization

THE MISSION

Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.

THE VISION

A world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression.

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Women in Horror: Stephanie Bedwell-Grime

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

February is winding down but it’s still Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization. I have been highlight Canadian dark fiction authors and today’s To date I’ve had more than twenty novels and novellas and over fifty shorter works published. I’ve been nominated for the Aurora Award five times and have also been an EPIC eBook Award finalist.

My horror fiction has appeared in the anthologies Northern Frights, Northern Horror, 365 Scary Stories: A Horror Story A Day, TransVersions, Read by Dawn, Sick Things and Blood & Water.

My newest horror story Going Up is due out from Samhain Publishing in April.

STEPHANIE BEDWELL-GRIME

Stephanie Bedwell-Grime

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I’ve been fascinated by the supernatural since I moved to a house beside a graveyard when I was twelve. Looking out the window at the cemetery every night got me thinking about the paranormal and I spent most of a decade searching for a ghost. I never did see one there, but I still remember the unsettling feeling of wondering if there wasn’t something out there in the darkness.

I write in other genres from speculative fiction to paranormal romance. When beginning a new work I look for the best way to tell the story. Often that turns out to be horror. I find that elements of horror leak into my writing in other genres as well.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

Themes of greed, betrayal and the hidden malice in everyday things all seem to work their way into my horror fiction.

Stephanie’s book Going Up will be published by Samhain Publishing this year.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I find that horror provides an immediate visceral feel. It allows me to explore the forbidden and the terrifying.

As for inspirations, I’d have to say Tanith Lee and C.L. Moore for their wonderful dark fantasy.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

I can only say that personally, no one has ever told me I couldn’t write horror because I’m a woman. (I wouldn’t have listened even if they had.)

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

I’m always happy to connect with readers through my website at www.feralmartian.com

women in horror, viscera organization

THE MISSION

Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.

THE VISION

A world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression.

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Women in Horror: Barbie Wilde

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera organization and today’s Canadian woman of  horror is Barbie Wilde who has also been a female cenobite. And if you know Clive Barker’s work, you know what that means. Some of her recent fiction credits include “Sister Cilice,” Hellbound Hearts anthology (edited by Paul Kane & Marie O’Regan, Pocket Books), “U for Uranophobia,” Phobophobia (ed. Dean M. Drinkel, Dark Continents Publishing), “American Mutant: Hands of Dominion,” Mutation Nation (ed. Kelly Dunn, Rainstorm Press), “Polyp,” The Mammoth Book of Body Horror (ed. Paul Kane & Marie O’Regan, Constable Robinson). New works to come out this year are: “A is for Alpdrücke,” Demonologia Biblica (ed. Dean M. Drinkel, Western Legends Publishing), “Beauty and the Skell,” The Screaming Book of Crime (ed. Johnny Mains, Screaming Dreams), “The Cilicium Pandoric” for The Followers of the Pandorics.

Canadian authors, dark crime, horror, women writers

The Venus Complex is Barbie’s debut dark crime novel.

Her debut dark crime novel, The Venus Complex, published by Comet Press, November 2012 received some great reviews: Ginger Nuts of Horror – Books of the Year 2012: “This brilliant look into the mind of a serial killer is full of poetic anger and beautiful vitriolic ranting that it makes you wonder from which pit of hell the lovely Barbie came from.  In a genre saturated with bland serial killers, and even blander plots, this book shines out like a beacon.” HorrorTalk – Top Books of 2012: “A novel by a female Cenobite that gives the world a smart, artistic, cynical, cultured serial killer who could give Hannibal Lecter a run for his money. On top of that, this is a poignant, funny, sexually-charged, hardcore critique of popular culture and a deconstruction of relationships, academia, and art.”

BARBIE WILDE

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I suppose that the dark side has always interested me, even as a child. Instead of the “girlie” books my mother encouraged me to read, I devoured the SciFi and Fantasy tales that my brother and father were reading. My father introduced me to Sherlock Holmes at an early age and I was fascinated by the character of Moriarty – the bloated spider crouching at the center of Victorian London’s crime world. Early viewings of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Film Noir also influenced me.

Even my early female TV role models were a bit dangerous: Morticia, Mrs. Peel from The Avengers and detective Honey West. I loved the freedom that these characters enjoyed. Maybe that’s why I chose the unconventional life of an actress before I became a writer–eventually moving to London, England and ending up in such movies as Hellraiser II and Death Wish III.

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Barbie Wilde

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

As a writer, I’ve always been intrigued by transgressive themes, including the sexual mindscape of art history professor Michael Friday, who decides to become a serial killer in The Venus Complex. I loved getting into my lead character’s mind, as uncomfortable as it was, and delving into psychological horror, art and eroticism. And writing in the first person from a male perspective was very “interesting,” to say the least!

In my short story, “Uranophobia,” I used the themes of child abuse and the phobias of a shut-in to tell the story. In another short story, “Sister Cilice,” I explored the sexual frustration and isolation of a nun. However, in “Polyp” I just wrote about a giant colonic polyp terrorizing a hospital. Now that was fun to write!

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I think that it’s a very important genre that’s extremely popular with the general public. Horror is part and parcel of the human experience. And although I write horror, I don’t consider myself a horror writer. I’m a writer, pure and simple. (After all, one person’s horror is another person’s crime novel, or literary fiction novel, etc.)

As mentioned above, I’ve always been fascinated by the shadows in life rather than the sunlight. Certainly as an actress, it’s always much more fun to play the baddies than the goody-two-shoes. (And didn’t we all love Arnie a little bit more when he was the Bad Terminator? And what about that special affection that Darth Vader holds for millions of people?) So writing about so-called “evil” characters is far more interesting to me. (By the way, I hate using the word “evil.” Humans are humans. There are no supernatural forces making us bad, in my opinion – just the extraordinary scope, length and breadth of humanity.)

Inspiration: What truly inspires me is human behavior — good, bad, indifferent — we are such interesting creatures!

Clive Barker, horror, dark fiction, fantasy,

Barbie as a female Cenobite.

Inspiring artists: I love Clive Barker’s work – his writing is so muscular, sexy, funny and imaginative. I admire true crime writer Colin Wilson. I think that Red Dragon and American Psycho are two of the best books about serial killers I’ve read. (However, the original Psycho is still my favorite serial killer movie.)  I love Rod Serling for his genius. I love stories and books by Paul Kane, Shirley Jackson, Margaret Atwood and Sarah Pinborough. I admire the Soska Sisters for their audacious films. And last but not least, I love Quentin Tarantino for being a “silver-penned devil,” as actor Christoph Waltz recently called him at the BAFTA Awards 2012.

4.  Do you feel women are under represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

It appears that there are plenty of women writing in the genre, which seems to be a pretty healthy sign to me.

Something like 3.5 million books were released last year – not including Kindle versions – which is a pretty devastating statistic whether you’re a male or a female writer! However, it is a man’s world and some of us will always be fighting to get our voices heard.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are and what we can do to stem the tide?

The Venus Complex, dark crime, women in horror, Canadian authors

The Venus Complex by Barbie Wilde

As mentioned above, it’s a man’s world – even now, after all the battles to get our right to vote, own property, etc. And although your examples of Third World cruelty towards women are valid, there are a lot of things to continue to fight for in the Western World: one only has to cast one’s mind back to the recent American election–when some right-wing politicians were saying some outrageous things about rape–to be reminded of the primitive mindset of a lot of people throughout the world.

It’s a difficult job to try and change the way men’s (and some women’s) minds work, but only legislation and more importantly education can turn the tide. Of course, religion (one of the biggest culprits in the propagation of women as second class citizens) is another obstacle. I remember seeing the head of the American Catholic Lay Association on CNN some years ago. He said that the reason women couldn’t become priests was that it was Eve’s fault that we all got thrown out the Garden of Eden. Gobsmacking.

However, trying to wean people off the “addictions” of religion, superstition and tradition will not be easy. I can only hope that at some point, people will just want to live in peace with each other, no matter what sex, or religion, or political party, or sexual orientation they belong to. (Unfortunately, the ideology of Star Trek: The Next Generation is still centuries in the future!)

For more info, reviews and interviews, please go to: www.barbiewilde.com

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Women in Horror: Nina Munteanu

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Today’s Canadian woman in horror is Nina Munteanu, who likes to splice a bit of darkness into the cells of her science fiction. Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera Organization.

My writing comprises a wide range of genre and type. For instance, I write humorous children’s books, hard SF, time travel fantasy, space adventure and erotica, in addition to dark SF. Examples of my works of dark SF include:

  • “Virtually Yours” (published in Hadrosaur Tales, 2002; Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine, 2004; Nowa Fantastyka (Poland), 2006; Bli-Panika (Israel), 2006—short story nominated for Speculative Literature Foundation Fountain Award
  • “A Butterfly in Peking” (published in Chiaroscuro, 2003; Nowa Fantastyka, 2005; Dramaturges of Yann (Greece), 2004
  • “The Cypol” (eXtasy Books, 2006)—novella nominated for ECATA Reviewers Choice Award
  • “Five Minutes” (published in Justus Roux’s Erotic Tales, 2004)
  • “Neither Here Nor There” (published in Another Realm, 2005)
  • “Framed and Julia’s Gift will be published in Natural Selection, my collection of short stories by Starfire World Syndicate in spring of 2013.
  • The Splintered Universe Trilogy (novel published by Starfire World Syndicate, 2011, 2012, 2013).
women in horror, dark SF, science fiction, women's equality

Ecologist and writer Nina Munteanu

NINA MUNTEANU

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

While my work spans a vast literary landscape from comedy & adventure to thrilling suspense, most of my adult fiction contains elements of brooding darkness. I feel that the darkness adds a compelling element of tension, reality and thrilling victory in the story arc. Without such chiaroscuro to add depth to a story, art is “flat”; it lacks contour, meaning and direction.

2What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

I write primarily science fiction; themes like achieving forgiveness, love & compassion, overcoming fear, taking control of one’s fate & fulfilling one’s destiny, etc. are often played out through the encounter of—and often clash with—“the other.” The “other” may be aliens, some new technology, a fantastical unknown entity, or a place with strange powers. In the end, the POV characters must overcome their own darkness, reflected in “the other” to ultimately prevail.

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The Splintered Universe by Nina Munteanu

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

Definitely. Oscar Wilde once said: “Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.” Susan Sontag said, “Real art makes us nervous.” Art can be beautiful; great art will have a layer to it that disturbs, knocks you off balance and takes you out of equilibrium; this is usually through darkness. This can be achieved through beauty too; in fact it may be most impactful through beauty. For me, that is what good art does: it examines our world and presents us with new perspectives to ponder, and evolve from. Without darkness to contrast it, light cannot be recognized for its virtues, nor can it even be properly seen; darkness is the platform from which light emerges in all its glory. I’m not just talking about good and evil. Metaphorically, darkness represents anything within us that is repressed, that we’re ashamed of or uncomfortable with. It is the unknown (the stuff of science fiction… 🙂 ). My main sources of inspiration came from the classics (Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky) and the metaphoric writings of Ray Bradbury.

The Splintered Universe, SF, horror, women in horror

The Splintered Universe combines elements of SF with darkness.

4.  Do you feel women are under represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

If you asked me this question five years ago, I might have contended that we were under-represented, particularly in some aspects of SF. I think that is changing and quite rapidly now. This is most prevalent in Canada. So many excellent women authors are emerging who are contributing fine writing in speculative fiction. I think in the hard SF area, we are still terribly outnumbered. But that is also changing. And that’s a very good thing. Women writers, particularly in the speculative genre, offer a very different perspective on story and idea and vision of our world and our future. It is an important perspective that we really need right now.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

summoner, women in horror, dark fiction, Nina Munteanu

The Last Summoner is a new novel by Nina, published by Starfire World Syndicate. Watch the trailer here:      http://youtu.be/jvbe91qbWG0

All this hubbub and mayhem is actually a good sign; it means that women are finally waking up—all over the world—and reporting these atrocities (all this violence and abuse has been going on for a very long time—in silence). Women are saying to the world, “that’s enough; no more. We aren’t dumb, frail, hysterical, lesser beings.” Women are pushing out from the domination of an androcentric society and patriarchal rule. We are reaching out to our sisters around the world; we are teaching the world with our compassionate intelligence, our Gaia-wisdom, and our universal altruism. The Dalai Lama said, “the western woman will save the world”; I strongly believe that one of the ways we will achieve this is through “story” and “storytelling.” It is up to women to tell a new story. One that openly examines the horrors enacted in the world—often by righteous patriarchs—and points to a new zeitgeist of equality, respect, compassion and cooperation. A story of victory. Victory for all of humanity and the planet.

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

Being a Romanian and an ecologist, I celebrate my position as writer on the fringe of SF and horror: dark SF. There is a term for this in ecology, for riding the edge between two worlds or genres in this case. It’s called an ecotone, that zone or region where through the interaction of two ecosystems (or the collision of two worlds) generates vibrant life. Ecotones are recognized as the richest and most diverse places for life (e.g., estuaries between rivers and the ocean; marshes and forest edges are other examples). Benefiting from what the two single ecosystems offer, ecotones team with a thriving community that takes from the rich interaction of both ecosystems. This is what dark SF does in my opinion. It infuses elements of darkness into an otherwise idea-rich, often mechanized and somewhat unemotional platform of science fiction. Just as in the chiaroscuro of light on an object, darkness in fiction adds surprising and compelling depth and perspective to an otherwise dispassionate technological and scientific “what if” scenario in SF.  Thanks so much for this opportunity, Colleen.

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