Women in Horror Month

Ripley and Newt

I’ve wanted to write a post for Women in Horror Month since February 1st, but I couldn’t find the time until now due to a hectic few weeks. With my birthday in the rearview, I finally have some free time to jot down my thoughts. Without further ado, here is a list of my favorite women creating horror.

Gwendolyn Kiste

I had the pleasure of getting to meet Gwendolyn when she wandered past my table at Pulp Fest in search of other writers. She was kind enough to pick up a copy of the magazine I was selling, and I learned she was attending NecronomiCon the next weekend, where I got to listen to her on the Outer Dark’s State of the Weird Podcast. Since Pulp Fest, I’ve devoured many of her short stories, and her novel, The Rust Maidens, which I am planning to write a full review of soon, like I said, February was busy. You don’t even need to take my word for how excellent her writing is because she’s been nominated for two Stoker awards this year. That last line felt like a great one to end this blurb on, but I also must add that if you’re a writer looking for a social media role model, Kiste is an insanely supportive and nice member of the online horror community. She even does monthly submission roundups on her website, which I’ve used to find places to submit more than once.

You can learn more about Gwendolyn Kiste by visiting her website: http://www.gwendolynkiste.com/

E.V. Knight

Few things bond you with someone like going through Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction Program together. I had the good fortune of getting to attend six semesters with E.V. Knight. It was obvious from the earliest days that she was a serious writer who’d hit the ground running after graduation. Now, her first novel, The Fourth Whore, which I’ve heard a little of, is on the horizon, and she is co-hosting the excellent Brain Squalls, a podcast where she and her husband, and sometimes guests, use prompts to create new stories in every episode. It’s incredibly humbling to have gone to school with such a talented and smart writer.

You can learn more about E.V. Knight by visiting her website: https://evknightauthor.com/social

Lucy A. Snyder

While attending Seton Hill University, I was incredibly lucky to get the chance to attend a class on writing and selling short stories taught by Lucy A. Snyder. This class was filled with pragmatic lessons I started applying, and am still applying, to my various short story publication attempts. In fact, I just got good news on that front, and I don’t think I ever would’ve come this far without Lucy A. Snyder’s class. My only regret is that I didn’t get to work more with Lucy A. Snyder while I was attending Seton Hill. The one drawback of that program is that it’s overflowing with talented people to learn from, and you can’t absorb all the lessons in the short time you’re there. Suffice it to say, Lucy A. Snyder is an incredible writer, and you should find her work wherever you can.

You can learn more about Lucy A. Snyder by visiting her website: https://www.lucysnyder.com/

Jennifer Loring

When I was preparing to present my academic paper at NecronomiCon this past year, I was shocked to discover a fellow Seton Hill alumnus presenting alongside me. I am terrified of presenting, as I think many people are, and I was immensely calmed by knowing Jennifer would be by my side because, since we’d both come from the Hill, I knew I could count on her support as a fellow Griffin. The Seton Hill bond is strong, and if you, dear reader, like creative writing, you should go to Seton Hill too. After the convention, I got to read Jennifer’s story, A Violent Beating of Wings, in the NecronomiCon Memento Book, and I loved every word.

You can learn more about Jennifer Loring by visiting her website: https://jennifertloring.com/

Gemma Amor

Time for a break from writers I’ve met or know personally, next is a woman whose stories I’ve loved for years on the NoSleep Podcast. While all of her works on that podcast are excellent, a personal favorite of mine was the tragic tale of weird plants, Foliage. Gemma has also been nominated for a Stoker Award for her first novel, Dear Laura.

You can learn more about Gemma Amor by visiting her website: https://gemmaamorauthor.com/

Olivia White

Another veteran of the NoSleep Podcast, Olivia doubles as both a Content Manager and a writer. That’s something I am in awe of considering I have a tough time managing only six people on New Pulp Tales. I can’t imagine handling an endeavor as huge and successful as the NoSleep Podcast. She recently ran the NoSleep Podcast’s New Decayed mini-season, and it was an eclectic mix of humor, sex, and existential dread. So, in summation, it was a fantastic listen. I’ve been lucky enough to chat with her about Resident Evil games and Lovecraftian board games on Twitter on a few occasions. She’s also got a short story collection called Bright Lights & Glass Houses: Therapy Edition for sale.

You can learn more about Olivia White by visiting: https://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/about/contributors/olivia-white

Sara Tantlinger

In my very first semester attending Seton Hill, I got to watch Sara Tantlinger recite a poem at the annual Speculative Fiction Writer’s dinner. I was incredibly impressed and a little intimidated by her talent and confidence in delivering her work to a room filled with other writers. That night, I made it one of my goals to be able to read at the Speculative Fiction Writer’s dinner before I graduated, like Sara. Side Note: all the writers in the program are incredibly supportive of each other, but you can’t help feeling like every writer in the room is going to tell you how bad your work is when you read it aloud. Fast forward to this past year, and I got to do a reading with Sara at Pulp Fest. While I’d graduated from Seton Hill in the time since I’d last met her, she’d gone on to become a Bram Stoker Award-Winning Poet. She’s also nominated for another Stoker Award this year.

You can learn more about Sara Tantlinger by visiting her website: https://saratantlinger.com/

Serena Jayne

Like Gwendolyn Kiste, Serena Jayne is another pillar of the writing community who always seems to be there to lend support when other writers need it. She’s also the only woman on this list whom I’ve had the honor of publishing in New Pulp Tales Magazine Issue 1. While she writes in many genres, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to sing her praises.

You can learn more about Serena Jayne by visiting her website: http://serenajayne.com/

Kourtnea Hogan

This woman in horror has the distinction of owning the coolest freaking tattoo of John Carpenter’s The Thing I have ever seen. But that’s not all. She’s got an Indiegogo campaign running right now to turn her short film, Mantis, into a feature. Why not support an indie horror endeavor with your cash? She’s also been a guest on the awesome Ink to Film Podcast, where she discussed Raw Head Rex and its film adaptation.

You can learn more about Kourtnea Hogan by reading her work at https://morbidlybeautiful.com/interview-andrea-subissati/

These are just a few of the amazing women working in modern horror, the ones most familiar to me. There are a ton of other exceptional creators who deserve a spotlight shined on them. So, make sure you get out there and support all the fantastic women found in horror. And when you find ones you can’t stop reading or watching, be sure to shout about how good they are on whatever platform you have, even if it’s just a small one, like mine.

Stay Froggy,

Jeremiah

Color Out of Space Review

I got the chance to see Richard Stanley’s 2019 adaptation of The Colour Out of Space (Yes, Lovecraft intentionally spelled color that way for his story) on Wednesday (January 22nd). It was a ton of fun seeing the film with fellow Lovecraft fans, and afterward, my friends and I even did a little movie discussion at an H.P. Lovecraft inspired bar near us, J.B. Lovedrafts. We even saw a special version of the film that included a Q &A with some of the cast and the director.

Since more people seem to watch videos over reading reviews these days, I thought this was a good opportunity to try my hand at a YouTube review. The experience was fun, but I have a lot to learn about presenting a spoken review in front of a camera. I forgot to mention two cool observations, and I didn’t feel I was always as coherent as possible, but I think I still got most of my points across. I also forgot to ask for people who saw the film that hadn’t read the original story to let me know how they felt the film was because I am interested in a non-Lovecraft fan’s perspective.

SPOILER WARNING FOR EVERYTHING BELOW!

If you’re interested, here are the two points I didn’t touch on in the spoiler section that I wanted to. I really liked how the color seemed to affect the members of the family differently. Cage’s character is haunted by a horrible smell, and I loved that particularly because I thought it was probably a reference to the Dunwich Horror, where there’s a line that goes, “as a foulness, ye shall know them,” referring to identifying evil, ancient entities. Also, as my friend Tom pointed out, Lavenia’s character spends most of the film trying to leave the Gardner farm, and at the end of the movie, the color may have granted her wish and teleported her to another world.

 

The Fisherman

The FishermanYesterday, I finished my third book of the new year. I enjoyed John Langan’s short story collection, The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies, so much that I wasted almost no time reeling in his most recently published novel, The Fisherman. After consuming the work in under a week, I can safely say that it includes everything I enjoyed in his short fiction while adding new layers of horrifying goodness.

The narrative follows Abe, an extremely likable widower, as he recounts the haunting experiences and myths surrounding the mysterious Dutchman’s Creek. Here I must pause to deliver an amusing anecdote. While listening to The Fisherman via audible, en route to Philadelphia with my wife, I couldn’t help adding my own soundtrack of “Dun Dun DUN” to the story as Abe recounted the first time he heard about Dutchman’s Creek from his friend, Dan. Immediately after I finished my theme, the narration stated, “If this had been a movie, I guess this would’ve been the moment ominous music boomed on the soundtrack.” My wife and I had quite a laugh, but I think that perfectly illustrates how well Langan knows his own story.

While Abe is the primary protagonist, most of the story is relayed by a different character. He is a cook who bears a striking similarity to H.P. Lovecraft. Besides both people being named Howard, the cook is also described as having a lantern jaw, being a writer, and coming from Providence. Putting all those things together paints a very particular picture, and I loved it. Howard relays the spooky story about Dutchman’s Creek’s origin that he was told by a minister, who heard the story from one of his parishioners in a nursing home. Much like a real fishing story, this one comes via several degrees of separation from the teller. As for the origins of Dutchman’s Creek, you’ll have to read The Fisherman yourself to get all the horrifying details, but I can’t help telling you that the antagonist of the novel is a kind of supernatural Ahab set on capturing a sea creature that would put Moby-Dick to shame.

During the novel, there were at least two references to some of Langan’s short fiction that I loved. The first was a kind of magical right of passage that two characters must make to a city patrolled by bird-like figures who should be familiar to those who read Outside the House, Watching for the Crows in The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu. The second was when Abe passes by the headless statue of a pregnant woman, which readers of Mother of Stone, the closing tale in The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies should recognize. These connections deepened my reading experience and made me hoot with amusement when I came across them.

Alright, I better stop rambling about how much I liked this novel, or we’ll be here forever. In summary, The Fisherman is a great read. It has a protagonist you love (imagine if Pet Sematary was told from the perspective of the kindly neighbor instead of the doctor), a classic Weird narrative (with enough spooky fish to please a resident of Innsmouth), loads of intricately detailed references (to other horror works, Moby-Dick, and more), emotional resonance (anyone who’s ever lost someone will find themselves connecting with the novel’s portrayal of grief), and lastly, it will keep you turning pages toward its appropriately disconcerting ending. I can’t recommend this novel enough if, like me, you’re a horror reader who leans toward the Weird.

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The Tombs of Atuan

The Tombs of AtuanA Wizard of Earthsea is my favorite fantasy book, not written by J.R.R. Tolkien. It was only a matter of time before I read the sequel, The Tombs of Atuan. I went into the book cautiously because I’d heard that the narrative changed the protagonist and took a while to get going. While this is true, the new female protagonist, Tenar, is just as interesting as the last, Ged. Ursula K. Le Guin manages to tell a tale that feels like the other side of A Wizard of Earthsea’s coin. Each book follows a young protagonist finding their place in the world and coming to terms with their own agency and identity. Ged’s journey is about confronting his own potential evil, while Tenar’s is about confronting her own potential good. She’s raised as a priestess of the Nameless Ones, gods who demand sacrifice and darkness. Early in the novel, Tenar accepts the religion that kidnapped her without hesitation and is empowered to decide the fate of trespassers. She’s haunted by her decision through most of the novel. When Ged, the protagonist from the first Earthsea novel, is trapped and at her mercy, she must confront the lies of her religion and the lies she’s told herself. Tenar is a character sheltered by her way of life, and her struggle to confront that way of life is the crux of the novel. Ultimately, The Tombs of Atuan is just as entertaining, enlightening, and powerful as A Wizard of Earthsea. I can’t wait to read the next installment, The Farthest Shore.

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Mistborn

The Mistborn Cover The world of Mistborn immediately enthralled me. Brandon Sanderson’s magic system is incredibly well codified. The plot, a group of high-class thieves are trying to “Ocean’s Eleven” the world’s dark lord out of his rule, is equally enthralling. Vin, the protagonist, is a classic fantasy chosen one, she rises from humble roots to a heroic destiny, and I enjoyed following her adventure. My only warning to future Mistborn readers is to beware of the novel’s middle section. I struggled through it because the plot remains relatively static while Vin attends several fancy-dress balls. These balls are filled with good political intrigue, but it just seemed like there were a few too many, and I felt like the rest of the novel flew by once the plot kicked back in. I would’ve preferred if Sanderson lingered in some of the climactic moments instead of the ball scenes. Aside from that, I loved virtually everything else. I’d certainly read more of Brandon Sanderson’s work, and I’d love to dive back into the world he crafted in Mistborn. It feels both incredibly original and yet perfectly mythic.

Also, there is a board game called Mistborn: House War, based on this series, and I’ve already expressed my love for tabletop gaming in my article The Narrative Appeal of Board Games, so I will have to find a copy to play.

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