Tag Archives: women in horror

Guest Article: Tracy Fahey Discusses Contemporary Body Horror in Literature and Her Collection, I Spit Myself Out. #WiHM #HookonWiHM #womeninhorror @TracyFahey

Author and gothic expert Tracy Fahey is a woman in horror who always interests me. I suppose it’s because my first love in horror myself is the gothic sub-genre, but also Tracy always has intelligent and thought-provoking things to say. It’s why, besides wanting to support her, I invited her to write another article for this site during the time frame of her latest release, a collection of female body horror. I knew she’d discuss something that would be make me want to think a bit harder, challenge me. She didn’t disappoint, but extended my thoughts of the pre-conceived boundaries of body horror I had in my mind. And she’s cited one of my favorite stories, and biggest influences, in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman Perkins!

I hope you enjoy it and check out Tracy’s collection too!

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I Spit Myself Out: Contemporary Female Body Horror
by Tracy Fahey, Author of I Spit Myself Out

My new collection, I Spit Myself Out, is yet another addition to the rich tradition of writing the female body in horror. Earlier seminal work includes Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ masterful short story of 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” perhaps the finest portrait of patriarchal repression of post-partum depression ever written. Similarly, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) telegraphed anxieties about female autonomy, while Madge Piercy’s 1976 speculative feminist classic, Woman on the Edge of Time, contrasted the wretched life of protagonist Connie Ramos inside and outside the asylum she is confined to with the utopia of Mattapoisett.

In recent years, there has been a renaissance of work on the theme of female body horror. This can be viewed as a direct response to the increasing anxiety surrounding women’s rights. Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was recently adapted for TV. This powerful series, with its contemporary setting, speaks to real, current fears about female reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, and control. Since 2018, female protestors against the erosion of body rights under the Trump regime have worn the iconic Handmaids’ garb of white bonnets and red robes to signal their visceral fear of a new Gilead made reality. Atwood was spurred on by the march of current events to write a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale thiety years later, The Testaments (2019). In an interview with Laura Lynch, Atwood said of writing this sequel:

I was no, no, no, no, no for a while, but then No. 1: history changed. Instead of going away from Gilead, we turned around and started coming back towards Gilead.

This vision is echoed in Christina Dalcher’s Vox (2016) where women are literally silenced, forbidden to read, and their conversation limited to under a hundred words a day. In Gwendolyn Kiste’s The Rust Maidens (2018) girls begin to transform and to disintegrate, in tandem with the decline of their hometown. Similarly, Georgina Bruce’s magnificent collection, This House Of Wounds (2019), presents a series of visions of the female psyche as riddled with pain, both physical and mental.

In writing I Spit Myself Out, I was conscious of this tradition. There are definite influences that permeate it (there are shades of “The Yellow Wallpaper” in the titular story, and an Atwoodeque fear of the subjugation of the female body in the perimenopausal story ‘Becoming’). However, in this collection, I wanted to find new ways to articulate these concerns. My first influence was Julia Kristeva’s essay ‘The Powers of Horror,’ and in particular by the way she explores the notion of the abject; that which is of us, but which the body casts off.

 “I” do not want to listen, “I” do not assimilate it. “I” expel it. But since the food is not an “other” for “me,” who am only in their desire, I expel myself, I spit myself out, I abject myself with the same motion through which “I” claim to establish myself. That detail, perhaps an insignificant one, but one that they ferret out, emphasize, evaluate, that trifle turns me inside out, guts sprawling; it is thus that they see the “I” am in the process of becoming an other at the expense of my own death.

Justin Park’s wonderful cover design of I Spit Myself Out perfectly captures Kristeva’s idea of the difficulties that arise when we separate ourselves from what we abject. In this collection I wanted to look at these liminal areas of the female body – the skin as membrane, abraded and permeated, eating disorders that purge the body, and, of course, blood rituals that mark the passage of the body from puberty to menopause.

Ancillary to this was my own cultural background of Irish Catholicism and its problematic attitudes to the female body. So this collection is also rife with images of miraculous cures, stigmata, statues, stained glass, and shrines. It also betrays my interest in both forensics (explored in the story ‘The Wrong Ones’) and morbid anatomy (as featured in ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’). The final font of inspiration for this collection was the troubled relationship between the body and the mind. Characters in I Spit Myself Out inhabit an uneasy world where their bodies become theatres of pain, places that play out the tension between the expectations of society, the desire to conform, and the rebellious refusal to do so.

Like Connie Ramos, like Offred, like the unnamed narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the women of I Spit Myself Out face their anxieties about what it is to be female, they find their voices, and, ultimately, they spit their stories out.

I Spit Myself Out, About –

Eighteen unsettling narratives map the female experience from puberty to menopause.

I Spit Myself Out is a collection of female-voiced stories exploring the terror that lurks beneath the surface of the skin. In this collection, an Anatomical Venus opens to display her organs, clients of a mysterious clinic disappear one by one, a police investigation reveals family secrets, revenge is inked in the skin, and bodies pulsate in the throes of illness, childbirth and religious ritual.

Disturbing and provoking in equal turns, I Spit Myself Out reinvents the body as a breeding ground of terrors that resurface inexorably in the present.

You can order it at hyperurl.co/ezgri7, or you can order directly from the Sinister Horror Company

Tracy Fahey, Biography –

Tracy Fahey is an Irish writer of Gothic fiction.  In 2017, her debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. Her short fiction is published in over thirty American, British, Australian and Irish anthologies.

She holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing is published in edited collections and journals. She has been awarded residencies in Ireland and Greece. She has written two collections, New Music For Old Rituals and The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, the mini-collection, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, and the novel, The Girl In The Fort.  

Her new collection, I Spit Myself Out is published by the Sinister Horror Company in February 2021.

You can read another article by Tracy, about Doppelgangers, which she wrote for this site last year, HERE.

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I’ll be celebrating #WomeninHorror and #BlackHistoryMonth in both February and March specifically here, but also still promoting #WomeninHistory month which is March as well. But you know me, I promote women and diversity all year long anyway. But feel free to follow along on my page for Women in Horror for this special honorary time.

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Filed under Feature Articles, Guest Posts, HookonWiHM, women in horror

“Tentacled Stars and Madness” and “Generational Loss” – My Two Award Eligible Poems from 2020 #SFPA #Poetry

As I’ve mentioned several times this year already, 2020 was a dry desert as far as new writing from me after the four years before that increasingly produced all types of work from short stories to poetry. It was just a hard year for everyone, and our home was no less struck in certain ways. On a positive, I also had a lot of work come in as far as editing as well, but it did limit my writing time as much of my free time went to family situations.

I did write a couple poems in 2020, and two I’m proud of were published on the Spreading the Writer’s Word website, during the monthly Ladies of Horror Fiction writing prompt project. I wanted to share them here with my followers as well as mention that they are two of my poems eligible for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s annual Rhysling Award. I would be happy for any fellow SFPA members and readers to also give them a read for consideration. I’ve been enjoying reading through all the posted eligible works myself in the last few months.

But my hope is for all to enjoy my celestial thoughts and mind. Let me know if you liked them! And keep your eyes peeled because I’m writing more already in 2021, as least poetry wise, and I have plans to publish some of my work from the stacks I wrote in 2019! I hope that my writing freeze is over, but keep the inspiration and motivation coming please!

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Tentacled Stars and Madness

I twisted the handle,
and I floated toward the stars,
toward the particles,
toward the tiny fires,
and I landed with one foot upon
the twinkling glow.

I outstretched my arm to the abyss,
and a tentacle clasped my hand,
and I laughed, being pulled away
into the midnight expanse of iridescent
nothingness

or is it encompassing, life painted as a cerebral hemorrhage,
an image emblazoned on our mind of what God is or the gods are,
of our existence.

I rotate through the soft air, looking upward from my back
as the sky creature pulls me toward oblivion,
as if I don’t even care to know where I go,
but enjoy the spontaneity.

The symbols etched in the stars as I go by – I finger them,
the runes of the galaxy;
my brain on fire, each synapse bursting open,
and yet, I’m unburdened.

In its lair, finally, it wraps its long arms around me and crushes,
bright lights flash before me, around me,
my mind downloading all of humanity’s curses and wishes,

and then,

I’m gone, floating in some communal stomach cavity, disintegrating to smaller pieces,
but becoming part of a bigger cosmos we could only dream of understanding…

…from our tiny window below.

–Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / Nov 2020

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If interested, I also had another prose poem on Spreading the Writer’s Word that would be eligible as well. I was able to write it to my good friend and exceptional poet Christina Sng’s beautiful artwork.

General Loss

The night was chilly. Foggy. I pulled my wrap tighter around my shoulders as I rocked in my chair and watched my daughters from the porch.

They traveled, little feet and big minds, down the valley and through the woods, then up the mountain. We lived in this place where anything could be imagined, except health.

They were in search of miracles in the twinkling, night sky. Even the cat, who had tagged along behind them knew to look above to the skies and ask the right questions, fib the right lies.

Summoning gods or demons or angels or creatures, they had no preference. Brave souls with hearts like a fortress and energy like a magnet. The clouds swirled above and the fog dissipated below, and the sounds of far off waves suddenly became war drums.

My young ladies, my hope, my solace, plead in our tongue to the blackened sky that was illuminated by an unnatural light. Asked for their life-giver to be spared the disease of this Earth, to endeavor together to another vastly realm where resolute ladies (and their cats, their protectors) reigned immortal.

Where no tears were cried for death or cough, no graves buried or mourning of loss. Where people worked and lived with passion and grace, mercy and empathy, a true human race.

–Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / 2020

If you’re interested in the SFPA, click to get details, or HERE, to learn about Rhysling and other awards.

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Guest Article: Indie Horror Fundraiser and Scholarship for Women in Horror by Andrew Fowlow, The Book Dad #HookonWiHM #WiHM

I have some exciting news and a really cool announcement for my fellow women in horror! There is an exciting project, headed by horror reviewer and freelance writer Andrew Fowlow, in which you can buy some super cool women in horror merchandise all for a great cause, in order to offer a scholarship and in-kind editing and marketing gifts to help a woman in horror pursue her writing and publication efforts, and beyond that, to help spread the word about the mighty power that is indie horror!

Andrew is here at Hook of a Book to introduce himself to us and explain the fundraiser and scholarship. Those of you who know me know that after my ten years in the genre as an editor, author, PR professional, and more in the horror genre that I wouldn’t be partnering with Andrew if I didn’t believe in his energy, enthusiasm, and heart for the community as well as his skills, drive, and desire to help others. As well, of course, I believe in his professional skills he’s honing not only as a freelance writer, but someone who is learning and excelling in the ropes of marketing. Andrew writes for various publications such as Lit Reactor and HorrorDNA, among others. The horror newsletter he’s recently started for the genre is amazing and sign-up MUST for anyone (you’ll find that link below).

And finally, I am really happy to see in the last few years the amount of men who are stepping up in horror to support women in horror. When we all support and respect one another, the community flourishes.

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Now that I’ve introduced Andrew, I’ll let him have the floor…..

Indie Horror Fundraiser and Scholarship for Women in Horror
by Andrew Fowlow, The Book Dad

If you don’t know me, my name is Andrew, otherwise known as ‘The Book Dad,’ and I am a reviewer of horror fiction. It is my intent to support those in the #HorrorCommunity anyway I can while on my literary journey to reading all things terrifying and suspenseful!

As you know, it’s #WiHM (Women in Horror Month) and I wanted to do something special for our ladies of the macabre! I created a RedBubble store with a few designs for folks to show off their love for HORROR FICTION! There are stickers, to be read (tbr) cart magnets, mugs, t-shirts, you name it.

Find it all at:

thebookdad.redbubble.com

Cool, right?

So, where does the money go?

Scholarship for a Woman in Horror!!

ALL MONEY EARNED IN FEBRUARY AND MARCH WILL GO TOWARDS A FEMALE HORROR WRITER TO HELP FUND THEIR NEXT PROJECT!!

I want to help a woman in horror get their book in readers’ hands. That could mean splurging on a fancy cover, getting a Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) membership, funding an audiobook, WHATEVER THEY WANT!

In addition, FREE EDITING PACKAGE:

The lovely Erin Al-Mehairi from Hook of a Book Media has graciously offered a free developmental and copy editing of a book 100k words or less (over is negotiable) for the chosen writer (with minor guidelines such as when the editing is negotiated for would be based on her current client schedule). This is a huge savings and you will receive an edit from a known and established editor in the genre.

In addition, also, FREE MARKETING PACKAGE:

I, The Book Dad, will also offer up my time to assist with the following:

✅ Marketing Strategies

✅ Full Media Kit

✅ Press Releases

✅ Newsletter

✅ Website/Landing Page

✅ Social Media Campaigns

I invite any female horror writer to email me: Andrewfowlow@gmail.com with their details and a brief pitch telling me what they are working on. Please, don’t be shy. I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Throughout the next two months, I will run a social media campaign to decide on a winner so keep watch. This will be a fun opportunity and I’m excited to connect with you all!

Again, if you don’t know me, that’s ok, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Goodreads or sign-up for my horror fiction newsletter for more content from those in the #HorrorCommunity.

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Thank you so much to Andrew for running with this idea to help a woman a horror. I’m happy to be a part of it and good luck! Get those pitches in to Andrew for consideration and watch social media for more about the giveaway.

Remember to showcase those women in horror you love each and every day!

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Filed under Book Services, Editing, Feature Articles, Guest Posts, HookonWiHM, women in horror

A Prose Poem: Beneath the Surface of Us All by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

As you’ve probably seen, read, or assumed, I’m going to start using my site more often again, offering you content I hope you enjoy. It’s been ten years with this Oh, for the Hook of a Book! site, and to those subscribers who’ve been with me a number of years, to those who’ve followed my writing journey or book talk, I’m so grateful. Thank you!

With that in mind, I’m also going to start sharing some more of my own work again. I’d really love to hear from you on my writing, or any posts really, in the comments. And feel free to let me know what’s new with you too and point me in the direction of one of your posts to read as well. I’d like to limit my social media use and create and reconnect lasting and living connections through other means.

Photo Credit: Unspash

February brings about Women in Horror Month, and I’ll have some content on my site in celebration of that, but you all know I promote women in any genre and any form all year long. It’s evident on this site for one. One of the groups I like to be involved with is a ladies in horror writing group. Each month we are given photo prompts and we write poetry or flash fiction inspired by it. The support of these ladies is amazing. And it really keeps me writing some months! You’ll find a wealth of women in horror to read or discover on this site.

So….. here is my prose poem for January at Spreading the Writer’s Word.

Beneath the Surface of Us All
by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

She has no cares for earthly exploration whether land or water. Mired with no focus, her mind races with anxiety and pain and chaos enough to fire several universes. She floats through life peering through blinking eyelashes and wondering about the tangible dirt most people grab and can feel running through their fingers. She’s been freed from topography constraints and has submerged into a realm saved for a chosen few in which maps aren’t needed, time doesn’t exist, and movements are fluid.

But she’s cold. Cold of heart, stoic of mind, narrow in her observations. It’s a dichotomy but it’s also a trauma effect. She needs my warmth, my clarity. When I reach out my hand to her, she touches only my fingers briefly and I shiver as electrons shoot up inside me. In her own quest for feeling, she opens the darkest places within me, pulls and widens and prods, but I’m not fearful, as instead I crave it.

I start to question my own world, my life, my surrounding stimuli. I sink into her. And then, she opens her maw, and she eats me whole.

End / Erin Al-Mehairi, Copyright January 2021

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You can read many other free poetry and flash fiction by amazing women twice daily most days, at Spreading the Writer’s Word! Thank you to Erin Lydia Prime, Nina d’Archangela, and all the sisterly writing support found at the Facebook group of Ladies of Horror.

Stay tuned for interviews, reviews, and guest articles from women in horror in February for the 12th Annual Women in Horror Month as well as people of color for black history and appreciation month. If you’d like to be considered for inclusion, please let me know!

If you’d like to see what I’ve done in the past, head to my Women in Horror page.

Have a good weekend!

Erin

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Filed under HookonWiHM, My Writing, women in horror

Guest Article: “The Last Convicted Witch” by Catherine Cavendish + mini-review of The Malan Witch @cat_cavendish #themalanwitch #witches #horror

Today, one of my favorite gothic and witch lore authors Catherine Cavendish, joins us! For many years Cat’s books have always been a go-to when I just need to be absorbed in a really good story. I’m a fan of the gothic and witch subgenres, so they usually fit the bill. She writes really atmospheric supernatural and ghost stories as well.

The Malan Witch was a fast read for me, broken up between an hour or so each night before bed. Probably not the best idea in retrospect to be reading in the dark, but I’ve made sure my horseshoe is in proper form above my doorframe and salt is sprinkled on my windowsills. The Malan Witch is such a fast read because Cat writes with a pace that propels you through the page, and though uses superb descriptions, also creates a story not bogged down by them. The ending really ignited some scary action and twists and turns, leaving me perplexed, but then easily wrapped it up for me in satisfying fashion. And it also opened the door for a child character to be a fully formed character in a series of books. I sure hope that’s in the works!

Check out her guest article today about a real life famous UK medium – what a story – who for conducting seances was tried with the witchcraft act!!

Then check out the details for her next book about two scary witches, burned in the Tudor times, and how they’re spirits have come back to haunt a grieving widow in the modern times who goes to spend time in the cottage on the site in which it occurred.

The Last Convicted Witch
by Catherine Cavendish, Author of The Malan Witch

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To many, she was just another Scottish housewife, but Helen Duncan was regarded as a notorious charlatan by some and a martyr by others. So who was this unprepossessing lady who had Parliament in a spin right in the middle of World War II?

Helen Duncan was born in Callender, in Scotland on 25th November 1897 and, from an early age, was noted for her apparent ability to connect to the spirit world and, through the act of mediumship, convey their messages. She was also noted for her apparent ability to emit vast quantities of ectoplasm – an ability that later led to much ridicule and condemnation.

She married young – at the age of 20 – and her twelve pregnancies resulted in just six surviving children. Her husband, who was a cabinet maker, had been injured in World War I, so Helen was a much-needed breadwinner. She worked at the local bleach factory during the day and conducted Spiritualist sittings by night, earning a small amount of cash in the process. It is reported that she would often use these funds to help her friends and neighbours – who were in similar dire financial circumstances to herself – by paying their medical bills.

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Helen gained a reputation for her accuracy and, by 1931, she was making her living conducting seances up and down the country. She was a minister to a number of Spiritualist churches. But things began to go badly wrong. She was publicly denounced as a fraud by the Morning Post and the London Psychic Laboratory. Then, in 1934, Helen was prosecuted by the Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court as a ‘fraudulent medium,’ for which she received a £10 fine and a month’s prison sentence.

Undeterred by this unpleasant experience, Helen continued to practice, but chose to transfer herself to Portsmouth during World War II. This was where the Royal Navy was based, and it led directly to trial at the Old Bailey.

During a seance, through her spirit guide Albert, she claimed to pick up the spirit of a sailor who announced that he had just gone down with HMS Barham.

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The only problem here was that the sinking of that ship wasn’t made public until many months later and certainly wasn’t in the public domain at the time of her séance. Whether this was a product of genuine mediumship, or something more sinister (as some alleged), it was certainly enough to bring her to the attention of the authorities. On 19th January 1944, one of her séances was raided by police. She and three members of her audience were arrested.

Eventually, she was prosecuted under section 4 of the archaic Witchcraft Act of 1735, which carried a maximum twelve month prison sentence. At that trial, her supporters rallied round and raised funds to bring witnesses from all over the country – many of them pillars of the community – all prepared to testify to the authenticity of her séances. As to whether she produced ectoplasm, (or cheesecloth, as had been alleged by the prosecution), one witness stated that the substance could not possibly be cloth as, if so, its colour would have changed under the red light of a séance room. Far from it, attested Hannen Swaffer, respected journalist and co-founder of the Psychic News. In Helen Duncan’s case, the manifestations remained uniformly white.

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The trial resulted in daily, sensational newspaper headlines and, it was even proposed (by the defence) to put Helen into a trance and let the jury see for themselves what transpired. This caused a furore among the prosecution lawyers. Supposing, somehow, she managed to pull it off? Or worse, if she didn’t, the whole British legal system would be held up to ridicule. They declined.

Helen was found guilty and, after some debate, her sentence was set to nine months incarceration under the Witchcraft Act, for pretending ‘to exercise or use human conjuration that through the agency of Helen Duncan spirits of deceased persons should appear to be present.’ She was also charged with offences under the Larceny Act for taking money ‘by falsely pretending that she was in a position to bring about the appearances of the spirits of deceased persons.’ She served her sentence in the notorious Holloway women’s prison.

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So, she became the last person in Britain to be jailed under the Witchcraft Act of 1735, but not the last to be convicted under it. That dubious privilege was left to the septuagenarian Sara Rebecca Yorke, who was tried in late 1944, but was bound over and received a fine, in view of her advancing years.

Although she is often called ‘the last witch,’ Helen was never specifically tried as a witch. The Act of 1735 had done away with the barbaric practices of the past that had resulted in such travesties of justice as the Lancaster Witch Trials of 1612 (aped by those in Salem, Massachusetts eighty years later).

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Helen’s infamous trial did, however, provide a catalyst for much needed change. A political campaign was begun, supported by Winston Churchill, who had described the charges against Helen Duncan as, ‘obsolete tomfoolery.’ Churchill himself had long held a serious interest in spiritualism, inherited from his American mother, the charismatic Jennie Jerome (who became Lady Randolph Churchill on her marriage to Winston’s father). Finally, the campaigners succeeded and the Act was repealed in 1951, to be replaced by the Fraudulent Mediums Act, which is still in place today.

As for Helen, she was released from prison in September 1944, but never managed to slip entirely under the police radar. In 1956, they raided a séance when she was in mid-trance. Generally regarded as a spectacularly dangerous thing to do, they manhandled her while in this trance-state and took her away. She was said to exhibit second degree burns and was bleeding from her mouth. As a diabetic, with a heart condition, she was sent back home but was later rushed to hospital.

Helen Duncan died thirty-six days later.

So was she – as some have alleged – a spy? Was she a genuine medium? Or was she a most accomplished clever fake? Opinions were, are, and will always be, divided. Those who believe will believe and those who do not, will never be convinced.

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Read Cat’s latest work now!

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‘Naught remained of their bodies to be buried, for the crows took back what was theirs.’

 An idyllic coastal cottage near a sleepy village. What could be more perfect? For Robyn Crowe, borrowing her sister’s recently renovated holiday home for the summer seems just what she needs to deal with the grief of losing her beloved husband.

But behind those pretty walls lie many secrets, and legends of a malevolent sisterhood – two witches burned for their evil centuries earlier. Once, both their vile spirits were trapped there. Now, one has been released. One who is determined to find her sister. Only Robyn stands in her way.

And the crow has returned.

You can order The Malan Witch here:

Amazon

pic 8Catherine Cavendish, Biography –

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include The Garden of Bewitchment. The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

In addition to The Malan Witch, her novellas include The Darkest Veil, Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife

Her short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies including Silver Shamrock’s Midnight in the Graveyard, and her story The Oubliette of Élie Loyd will appear in their forthcoming Midnight in the Pentagram, to be published in October this year.

She lives by the sea in Southport, England with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat called Serafina who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

MeWe

Editor’s Note: All photographs were supplied by the author.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Guest Posts, women in horror

Cover Reveal & Giveaway for Halloween Season by Lucy A. Snyder. Trick-or-Treat with Us for Cool Gifts! RT pls. #halloween #halloweenseason #RDSP

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Every Day is Halloween

Halloween decor is in select stores, and though we are still “enjoying” summer, October is just around the corner. Today I have a cool cover reveal of a new Halloween story collection and giveaway as part of Trick-or-Treating adventure, which means some of you may be dropping by from social media or another site, but let me give a little background for my subscribers as well.

Raw Dog Screaming Press (RDSP) is an award-winning indie press of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, crime, and more that I’ve worked with in regards to PR and publicity for several years via my business Hook of a Book. One of the exciting authors I get to work with published by them is a fellow Ohio author, the multi award-winning Lucy A. Snyder. On Oct. 5, 2020 we are excited to say that RDSP is releasing a collection of stories by Snyder for Halloween called…. you guessed it, Halloween Season!

Whether Halloween in person festivities are canceled this year due to Covid (so do your duty so we can all have fun this Fall, will you?) or not, you can always partake in some online escapades. For instance, let’s start a bit early with RDSP in a digital rounds of trick-or- treating to celebrate the reveal of the seasonal cover created by artist Lynne Hansen of Halloween Season!

How Trick-or-Treating Works – 

There are five houses to visit on this block: author Lucy A. Snyder, cover designer Lynne Hansen, mine here at Hook of a Book, co-owner of RDSP and author John Edward Lawson, and Raw Dog Screaming Press. Visit any of them first and feast your eyes on the amazing cover created by Hansen, then pick up a different “treat” (or giveaway) from each post also featuring the cover reveal. Keep reading to check out my giveaway and the other stops below…. after we meet the artist and see the cool cover.

But first….

Meet the artist, Lynne Hansen – 

RDSP was looking for a cover that captured all things Halloween and turned to artist Lynne Hansen. “I have over fifteen years of experience in marketing and promotions including art and design,” Hansen said. “I started creating book covers when my husband Jeff Strand decided to make his humorous horror novel The Sinister Mr. Corpse available as an e-book. Once people saw Jeff’s next e-book Wolf Hunt, I started to receive requests to design covers for other authors. Now I get to tell other people’s stories through the art of the book cover and I love every minute of it.” For more info about Lynne head over to LynneHansenArt.com and make sure to browse her gallery.

So without further ado, here’s the cover!

HalloweenSeasonByLucyASnyderlowres

Cool and festive, right? Excited as much as I am now?

Halloween Season launches October 5th but you can preorder now!

Order from RDSPOrder from Barnes & NobleOrder from Amazon

Media Requests – 

If you are a member of the media or reviewer, I’m also happy to put you on the list for e-arcs or print copies, just let me know! I’ll also be sending requests, but do feel free to let me know also either in the comments or to my e-mail. Also, I’m scheduling Lucy for select interviews as well.

Now look at this FULL SPREAD! 

Adobe Photoshop PDF

About Halloween Season – 

Halloween is the most wonderful part of the year for many of us. For dedicated fans, the season begins when the leaves start turning autumn colors and doesn’t finish until Hallowtide ends in November. With it comes a whole lot of fun: scary movies and stories, haunted houses, seasonal sweets, spooky decorations, costume parties, and of course trick or treat. But Halloween is also a deeply spiritual time for some; it’s an opportunity to remember and honor loved ones who have passed on.

Master storyteller Lucy A. Snyder has filled her cauldron with everything that Halloween means to her and distilled it into a spell-binding volume of stories. Within these pages you’ll find thrills and chills, hilarity and horrors, the sweet and the naughty.

One of the best things about Halloween is you don’t have to be yourself. So go ahead and try on a new mask or two … you may discover hidden talents as a witch, a pirate, a space voyager, a zombie fighter, or even an elf. This is the perfect collection to celebrate the season of the dead or to summon those heady autumn vibes whenever you like. You may even find a couple of tales that evoke a certain winter holiday that keeps trying to crowd in on the fun.

In the worlds within this book, every day is Halloween!

Trick or Treat Giveaways – 

Now for the goodies! Thanks for participating in our trick-or-treat cover reveal!

My Giveaway –

1) I’m offering to one (1) US winner a copy of one of my favorite autumn poems I’ve written, previously published online at Spillwords Press, BUT this would be a hand-lettered original, probably with a little original art on the border to follow the theme. It will be signed. This is one of a kind! Please leave a comment below or e-mail me (hookofabook at hotmail dot com) to be entered.

2) For both US and international, if you e-mail me, I will send all who contact me a .pdf for you to download that you can print of the original mentioned above. It will have my digital signature.

This giveaway I open from July 23 to July 31, 2020. Entries after that won’t be considered but feel free to comment anytime.

Head to ALL the Stops –

Visit all the houses on the block to collect all the treats. Here are the current stops and treats:

  • Stop #1 Lucy A. Snyder (excerpt from Halloween Season)
  • Stop #2 Cover artist Lynne Hansen (printable bookmark)
  • Stop #3 Raw Dog Screaming Press (postcard promo pack)
  • Stop #4 Hook of Book publicist Erin Sweet Al Mehairi (that’s me! You’re here. See above about a signed, hand-lettered Halloween poem)
  • Stop #5 John Edward Lawson (Halloween card and story)

Lucy A. Snyder, Biography –

Lucy3Lucy A. Snyder is the five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of over 100 published short stories and 14 books. Chaosium will release her novel The Girl With the Star-Stained Soulsometime in 2021. She also wrote the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, and Switchblade Goddess, the nonfiction book Shooting Yourself in the Head for Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide, and the collections Garden of Eldritch Delights, While the Black Stars Burn, Soft Apocalypses, Orchid Carousals, Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. Her writing has been translated into French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Czech, and Japanese editions and has appeared in publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, and Best Horror of the Year.

With Michael Bailey, Lucy also co-edited the critically-acclaimed collaborative dark fiction anthology Chiral Mad 4. When she’s not writing, she’s faculty in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction and also works as a freelance developmental editor in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @LucyASnyder.

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Thanks for stopping! Did you say TRICK-OR-TREAT!? Don’t forget to enter to win.

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#HookedOnPoetry: “This Was Supposed to be About Poetry” by Bram Stoker Award Nominated Poet Donna Lynch @geeklioness #poetry #writing

Donna is fast becoming one of my favorite people and poets. She has an honest way about her I really like and, whether she knows it or not, she’s taught me a lot about letting things go and being easy on self. She’s super funny, creative, and kind. She has some stellar work out there in the music, writing, and poetry world. Her last two collections Witches and Choking Back the Devil earned Bram Stoker nominations and both were worthy of wins even among the highly exceptional field of poetry in horror. She’s a beautiful lyricist and her words flow so smoothly and with such passion.

I asked Donna for a poem or a reprint and then…. in true Donna form, she writes this instead and asks me what I want to do with it. Ha! I just felt in this moment, that it was perfect. It explained exactly how I’ve been feeling about writing myself, even poetry, which sometimes breaks through when I’m blocked otherwise. These days I’m too stressed and tired. I want to clean too. It’s a weird thing. I don’t know if any of you other writers can relate to this, but I hope you can. We will all rise from this with some major emotional dumps onto the page eventually.

Thanks for the piece, Donna…. and readers, feel free to discuss in the comments!

HookedOnPoetry

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This Was Supposed to Be About Poetry
by Donna Lynch, author/musician/poet

Are we tired of talking about the pandemic yet?

Yes, of course not.

“I’m so glad we’re doing this tonight because I really need a break from all the COVID-19 talk,” we say to our loved ones via the video chat platform of our choosing, then immediately start talking about COVID-19. Maybe not the virus, itself, but about our futures and our right nows.

I’ve probably told twenty people no less than thirty times how happy I am that my husband and I finally cleaned up our porch. The weather will be nice soon and now it’s like I have a whole extra room in the house, I say. I keep saying it. When people ask me how I’m doing, I tell them about the porch. I don’t feel like saying much else about how I feel. I’ve had a couple episodes of word vomit in regard to my feelings, which I immediately regretted, so now I’m just really fucking happy about the porch. That’s what I say.

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Photo by Avi Werde on Unsplash

This piece is supposed to be about poetry. I write horror poetry, and I’ve written a couple novels, a novella, and so on and so on. It bugs me that anytime I talk about being a poet, I can’t help but mention the novels, as though the poetry isn’t enough. That is, of course, bullshit. I’m a horror writer. That should be enough, right there. But right now, nothing feels like enough.

I’m envious of the 100+ writers I follow on Twitter, because they all seem to be making the most of this situation. For a horror writer, how much more firsthand material could you ever get access to than the realities of a world-wide, modern-day plague? I feel like they’re reading and writing and thinking and observing and taking advantage of this sudden, threatening, and unsolicited gift of time, meanwhile I’m staring blankly at a huge to-do list and an empty Word document each day, calling up friends around the country at 2am, while busting into yet another box of wine that smells like Lysol.

I don’t begrudge them their productivity. I’m happy for them. And I’m jealous.

The thing is, though, there’s nothing about me that makes me unique or exempt. There’s nothing about them that’s superhuman. They’re making themselves work through the stress and anxiety, I’m sure, just as I could be doing. But it’s harder than I thought, and I’m using my pre-existing hurdles as excuses. No sense in lying about it. Writers tell the truth, except when they’re lying their asses off and kidding themselves. Or maybe I’m projecting.

Here’s an issue that I can’t decide if it’s me kidding myself or not: Two of my most prevalent topics in the horror genre are body horror and existential dread, and a pandemic does a fantastic job of creating both, which has left me feeling paralyzed. Could Stephen King write The Stand right now? Could Josh Malerman write Bird Box?

Probably, because neither strike me as the type to make a lot of excuses, but maybe I need to hold on to the idea that, for me, Fear in the Time of Corona would be easier to bang out once we get a vaccine. So, I guess my workaround is to revisit my ghosts and witches and vengeful creatures, because I’m not afraid of them when I go to the store.

And there’s the punchline. I’m not having Imposter Syndrome about being a writer. I’m having it about being a horror writer, because now that we’re here, staring directly into the void I attempt to toss readers into through my poems—you know, to really make them face the things they fear the most—I’m suddenly speechless. I feel like I talked a lot of shit, and now I have to put my money where my mouth is.

Poetry. This was supposed to be about poetry, so I’ll share a tiny poem that I managed to write the other day inside of someone else’s journal.

 

Karma resigned / Do crime / But be kind

 

I don’t know what to say about it. It’s what was there in my hands when I picked up the pen. It was honest.

One bright light is that artists are truly being appreciated throughout this. I thanked a front-liner recently and they thanked me back, saying that if it wasn’t for books and music and Netflix series, they’d lose their mind. That was humbling to hear. The gratitude this past month has been the shiniest silver lining I’ve seen in a very long time, and with that I think about how that gratitude will be the thing that will make me sit down and face my fear. I will write. I will make music. I will use the gifts this monster inadvertently gives me and I won’t let it consume me. I will try to give back hope, or maybe just some distractions.

The truth is, I really have no choice. I don’t have another porch to clean.

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Donna Lynch, Biography –

AUTHORS-DonnaLynchDonna Lynch is a dark fiction writer and the co-founder—along with her husband–artist, and musician Steven Archer—of the dark electro-rock band Ego Likeness (Metropolis Records).

Her written works include Isabel Burning, Red Horses, Driving Through the Desert, Ladies and Other Vicious Creatures,, Daughters of Lilith, In My Mouth, and her Bram Stoker nominated Choking Back the Devil and Witches poetry collections. She and her husband live in Maryland.

 

About Choking Back the Devil (2019) –

BOOK-chokingDonna Lynch’s poetry explores the horror of losing control of mind, body, and autonomy. Whether it be through death, hauntings, violation, mental illness, violence, or the demons in our brains that terrorize and tempt us all, no one is immune to the nasty surprises of life. Yet somehow we must go on. Choking Back the Devil documents the attempt to get through the worst of what life can through at us.

Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch is an invocation, an ancient invitation that summons the darkness within and channels those lonely spirits looking for a host. It’s a collection that lives in the realm of ghosts and family curses, witchcraft and urban legends, and if you’re brave enough to peek behind the veil, the hauntings that permeate these pages will break seals and open doorways, cut throats and shatter mirrors.

You see, these poems are small drownings, all those subtle suffocations that live in that place between our ribs that swells with panic, incubates fear. Lynch shows her readers that sometimes our shadow selves—our secrets—are our sharpest weapons, the knives that rip through flesh, suture pacts with demons, cut deals with entities looking for more than a homecoming, something better, more intimate than family.

It’s about the masks we wear and the reflections we choose not to look at, and what’s most terrifying about the spells is these incantations show that we are the possessed, that we are our greatest monster, and if we look out of the corner of our eyes, sometimes—if we’ve damned ourselves enough—we can catch a glimpse of our own burnings, what monstrosities and mockeries we’re to become.

So cross yourselves and say your prayers. Because in this world, you are the witch and the hunter, the girl and the wolf.

Praise for Choking Back the Devil

“Lynch mixes in childhood fables with waking nightmares, the result is electrifying; sometimes in a few razor sharp words; sometimes in longer numbered verses counting down the cycle of a damaged life. The silent cries of souls tormented to healthiness by pills and poultices, force fed by imperfect humans, echo in the silhouette of these poems. I smiled at the shadows unexpectedly delivered by her words, as will you.”

—Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend and HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner

“This collection is not for the chronically disturbed, as fear is doled out in terse, potent portions. I got the shivers reading these unsettling poems.”

—Marge Simon, Bram Stoker Award winner, SFPA Grand Master Poet

Cover Artwork: Steven Archer

Find Choking Back the Devil, and her other works, HERE.

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Enjoy yesterday’s poetry by Joseph Van Buren over at Kendall Reviews, then stop back by there again tomorrow for another poetry piece. That one will be by Stephanie Evelyn. Next week we’ll host more poetry on both sites, starting back here on Tuesday.

Keep sharing and spreading the word, please!

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#HookedOnPoetry: Award-Winning Latina Author Cina Pelayo Brings Us a New, Original Poem, “Scrying.” #poetry #latinxbookmonth @gjkendall

To start off the features for the #HookedOnPoetry project this week, I’d like to share a poem by someone who in many circles needs no introduction. She’s a powerhouse of smarts, wit, and kindness. I love Cina to pieces. If you DO happen to need an intro, she is an International Latina Book Award winning author and writes novels, short stories, poetry collections, and more. Her poetry collection, Poems of My Night, is published by Raw Dog Screaming Press.

She’s sharing with us a little about her poetry and writing below, and then we’re giving an original publish on a new poem by her, which will hopefully grace the pages of an upcoming collection of hers.  I absolutely loved it!

Take it away, Cina…

HookedOnPoetry

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I like to think of myself as both a poet and a fiction writer. I enjoy writing horror because I enjoy exploring this dance between good and evil. I also very much enjoy mystery writing because I enjoy working with puzzles and logic and clues. Then there is poetry where I feel I can be most creative in a short space of time. Writing poetry to me feels almost musical. I’m not a musician, but there’s something about a great poem and a great piece of music that seems so similar because I just physically feel both.

I have been focusing on some fiction projects lately, but I’m slowly plugging away at another poetry collection. Below is one of those poems.

I hope you enjoy.

Cina

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Photo by David Boca on Unsplash

Scrying

She searches for her futures in a smooth glass

Cobbled together by onyx and obsidian

The pendulum swings above her misfortune

Settling on those crumpled petition papers, black ink

The secrets in the candle wax are obscured by

Herbs, and bark, and the desperate bits of angelica root

Muddied tea leaves give no clarification

Tossed bones jumbled together and fail her as well

The runes laugh at her, the celestial bodies above remain silent

And the cards, how hopeless they are? The Empress is still

The Hierophant turns his head and ignores all earthly pleas

The Wheel of Fortune reversed, and the tarot card of the great

World slips into burning charcoal, erupts, and with that she has her answer

– Cina Pelayo

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Cina Pelayo, Biography –

Cina PelayoCynthia (Cina) Pelayo is an International Latino Book Award winning author. She has written LOTERIA, SANTA MUERTE, POEMS OF MY NIGHT, and multiple short stories, poems and articles.

Her upcoming novel, CHILDREN OF CHICAGO, will be published by Agora.

For more information or to contact or follow –

Website: cinapelayo.com

On Twitter where I’m most active: @cinapelayo

On Instagram: @cinapelayoauthor

Poems of My Night Poetry Collection

BOOKS-poemsofmynightCynthia Pelayo constructs a narrative in her poetry in response to the work of Jorge Luis Borges that examines the themes and subsequent consequences of insomnia, death, and blindness. There’s a visionary quality to her work that dances along the line between the present world that we inhabit and the other world that lingers beyond the veil. Her poetry folds back this blanket of darkness, and shows readers the quiet violence and beauty that hides beneath waiting to be exposed, experienced, and encompassed.

Pelayo showcases this scream of silence through an urban and metaphysical night as she reflects on the spiritual, the occult, and the everyday happenings that become extraordinary in their own rights. Her poems are sermons, prayers to the voices that surround us in the dark, and comforts to those who watch over us as we sleep. Her style is honest, raw, and her voice will leave readers asking questions about what waits for them in the beyond, and whether or not their sins and frustrations are trapping them in the here and now.

She shows us that all too often, there is nothing to be scared of when the sun goes down, but that sometimes, we have every reason to be afraid, especially as we enter her world of blackness and decay, of smudged fingerprints and burnt pictures. These poems are cautionary tales for those who choose not to cover their eyes, warnings for those who refuse to find the light. And when our dreams come to roost, when our sleep eases us in, Pelayo shows us what nightmares are made of, and why there are some stories we can never escape.

Order direct at Raw Dog Screaming Press

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Take a peek at the last posting here and be sure to check out tomorrow’s poetry by Joseph VanBuren over at Kendall Reviews. You can see all of them in the series and from the past projects here as well. We’ll be sharing poems each week in May, or as long as they last, in celebration and awarness of poetry! Please share and spread the word!

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Interview: Haunting and Horror Writer Pamela Morris Talks Books, Women in Horror, and Historical Locations #WIHM #womeninhorror #historicalhorror

Tomorrow is the last day of February and the closing of Women in Horror Month, but I know that I for one won’t stop celebrating women all year long. Stay tuned in March for a little announcement on how I will do that even more on schedule than I have before on this site, even though a majority of people featured here has always been predominately women.

Today, join me for a last segment in my mini women in horror month series. Pamela is a cool horror writer I met online years ago through our mutual friendship with horror author Hunter Shea. She likes her ghouls and haunts and history and so this will be a fun and interesting interview to read. Enjoy!

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Hi Pamela, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you could join us. I have strong coffee or tea, whichever you’d prefer, or stiff drink. Take your pick, and if the former, tell me how you take it.

Pamela: Hey, Erin. It’s nice to be here. *checks the time* Coffee sounds great, with a double shot of Jameson and some whipped cream sounds about right after that chilly walk over here.

Erin: That sounds incredibly wonderful! Let’s carry them into the dining room and begin our chat!

I’ve known you for quite a few years, meeting you online from Hunter Shea. I know you are a fan of the paranormal and write many books in that vein. Can you tell my readers a bit about that and what you write?

Pamela: I have always been interested in all things occult and paranormal. It was something I grew up being very curious about and was never discourage away from learning. I’ve also been an avid reader all my life, so I guess the two just went hand-in-hand. First you read it. Then, in my case, you start writing about it. My first paranormal story was a three-page tale titled “The Strange Well” that I wrote when I was ten.

As I grew older, the stories got longer until now, I focus mainly on novels. My first two supernatural novels also happened to be murder-mysteries and are set in Barnesville, the fictionalized version of the small town I grew up in. Barnesville is home to a secret coven of witches who keep an eye on things. Currently I have four books set in Barnesville and there will be more eventually. These books lean towards the YA crowd.

In addition to The Barnesville Chronicles, I have a psychological horror that is very dark and deals with some taboo subject matter: abuse, rape, incest, murder, etc. Not YA in the least. Lastly, I wrote ghost story where a lot of the story is told from the perspective of the three ghosts involved. You don’t just see or hear what they are doing, but you get to know them as they were in life and why they are doing what they are doing, not just to the living but to their fellow trapped spirits.

Erin: What is your newest book and what’s that about? What did you find the most fun about writing that one and why?

Pamela: Last year I released a novel and a short story. The novel was the second part and conclusion to “The Witch’s Backbone” one of my Barnesville books. It’s very much a coming-of-age type tale. Five kids living in a small town decide to find out the truth about their local urban legend. The legend involves a witch named Rebekkah Hodak who is rumored to haunt a narrow ravine just outside town. It’s said that if you go to where her body was found, see her, and meet her gaze, you’re cursed to die an early, and possibly gruesome, death. One of the kids, twelve-year-old Tara Fielding, accidently sees what she believes to be this witch. Her panic and belief in the legend are what spawns the organization of a camping trip into the nearby woods. Horror ensues.

The short story is all about my personal fear of spiders, “Because, Spiders.” It’s about a nine-year-old girl whose fear is even greater than my own. She’s convinced there’s a giant spider hiding in the shed behind her house and she’s pretty sure it caught and ate the neighbor’s dog, too.

Erin: Do you feature any strong female in starring or supporting roles in your novels and stories? Tell us about a few and what their traits are?

Pamela: Most of my lead characters are women. In The Barnesville Chronicles, that would be Nell Miller. She’s the local small town librarian, who also happens to be a member of the coven mentioned earlier. She’s very out about being Pagan and confident in her magic abilities. She’s a bit of an instigator, always wanting to know more, do more, take action. She’s no Nervous Nellie, that’s for sure. She’s not one to turn down a challenge and will often drag her reluctant friends into helping her out.

In “Dark Hollow Road”, the psychological horror, one of the lead female characters is Mary Alice Brown. She’s the eldest of four and after the death of their mother, she’s the one responsible for taking care of all the rest. She struggles a lot with all that entails, including dealing with their abusive, alcoholic father. She does her best to protect them from him, even if that means she gets hurt in the process. She’s very shy, not well educated, and the victim of a lot of bullying both at home and around town, but she retains her sense of what is right and wrong, she has her hopes and dreams. She’s a fighter.

Erin: I love mysteries and historical research as well. How do those two loves of yours factor into your work?

Pamela: Every year for many, many years I’d get at least four Nancy Drew books for Christmas. I’d have them read by the end of January and craving more. That’s where my love of mysteries started and what greatly influenced what I write. Later I’d graduate to Agatha Christie and Wilkie Collins, but Nancy Drew was really the one that taught me that a mystery doesn’t always have to involve a murder.

My maternal grandmother was really interested in family genealogy so I think that may be where my love of history started. She liked antiques and all that. From 2004-2011, I was an American Civil War reenactor. That required a lot of research to know what the heck I was doing or talking to others about as my living history persona. The two main ghosts in “No Rest For The Wicked” are from that time period. I like to keep things as historically accurate as I can so all the research I did for my reenacting, was poured into them. The witches of Barnesville are descendants of the people accused of witchcraft in Connecticut from 1647 to 1663. No Salem witches for me – too typical. I wanted to be different, at last a little bit anyway. So, yeah, lots of real history worked in to everything I write – including that secret Barnesville coven that allegedly existed in my real hometown when I was a teenager!

Erin: What is one piece or location of history you’d like to explore of have explored for your writing or just for general interest? What interesting things have you found?

Pamela: Probably the Salem Witch Trials. I wrote my final high school English paper on the possible causes of the events that took place there. At the time, my mom was working at the main research library at Cornell University and that gave me magical access to the collection of documents housed there on the topic. I got to sit in a locked room with nothing but a pencil, paper, and some of the original document from which I took notes. With those and a few other books I owned at the time, I put together my paper. In 1989 my first husband and I went to New England for our honeymoon and decided we needed to spend the day in Salem. It was a rather whirlwind tour of the place, but still pretty neat. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I’d learn one of the women accused was a distant relative! It was also much later while doing some genealogy research for a friend that I learned about the Connecticut Witch Trials that preceded Salem by about thirty years. It was from this research that I drew the founders, and first coven members, of fictional Barnesville.

Erin: That’s so cool!! How hard do you feel it is to write mysteries and tie up all the points? How do you do so? Outline? What are the challenges and what are the rewards?

Pamela: Only my first two books were murder-mysteries and it was a lot more difficult than I’d initially thought. I’m normally a pantster (meaning I don’t outline … at all), I just write and kind of know where I’m headed or want to head. The mysteries wouldn’t allow that much freedom. Not only do you have to know who committed the murder, why, and how – but you have to come up with believable alibis for all the suspects, the reasons they might have committed the crime, and a secret they have that would cause them to lie about their whereabouts or motivations. Good grief! Plus, if you’re going to touch on police procedures that’s another layer of research to look into. All this is a bit more restricting than I like being, but … the reward of pulling it off, for misdirecting successfully, and it all still making sense in the end feels great.

Erin: You grew up watching horror, I believe. What are some of your great influences and what do you prefer to watch now? Same then with the reading, let us know reads you’ve loved and those who influence your work.

Pamela: Yes, I’ve been watching Horror since I was a wee thing. It started with the local Saturday afternoon horror show, “Monster Movie Matinee’. With the cartoons over, it was time to sit on the floor with a little tray of lunch and take in the creature feature. They showed mostly Universal movies – Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Abbot and Costello Meet The Wolfman, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken – family friendly horror, I guess. I grew into the Friday and Saturday night programming after that, darker stuff that started after the 11 o’clock news. Hammer Pictures, a lot of Christopher Lee. I love me them vampires! “Let’s Scare Jessica To Death”, “Night of the Living Dead”, “The Haunting of Hill House”, and “The Legend of Hell House”, “The Other” and “Dark Secret of Harvest Home” are the most memorable ones. Once in a while they’d have a great Made-For-TV movies on. “Night of the Scarecrow” was terrifying to me and my novel “Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon” was directly inspired by it. Elements of “The Other” also come into play in my book. Lastly, being from Rod Serling Country in Upstate New York, I adored both Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.

Oddly, I have a harder time coming up with books that influenced my writing. The style of certain authors inspired me, but maybe not so much the stories themselves. Tanith Lee, a British author, had a collection of kind of Horror\Sci-fi stuff that involved twisted fairy tales. Before her, I’d never heard of doing such a thing. I thought it was super cool and tried my hand at it with varied success. The fine art of short stories eludes me, though I keep trying. I liked Stephen Kings whole ‘small town – weird secret’ theme, too. That can be found in the Barnesville books. Of course, there’s good old Nancy Drew, again. I really enjoy books that make me think more about what’s going on, stories that misdirect the reader and have a lot of unexpected twists, endings that make me sit there and go, “Huh. I never saw that coming at all.” That’s what I try to do.

Erin: I’m a history buff too, and I know you were a Civil War re-enactor for a decade. What role(s) did you play? What was exciting about it? What type of horror or haunts did you learn? Have you used any of your time doing this in your writing?

Pamela: I played the wife of a field embalmer – aka an undertaker. It was very uncommon at the time, but not unheard of. It was also a very lucrative business. A lot like selling life insurance. My job was to gather the personal items of the deceased, write the letter home to his family, and mourn the poor soul appropriately. That involved sitting next to the coffin while dressed in black, wearing a black veil, and weeping (or pretending to weep). Those Victorians viewed death a lot differently than we do, mourning and a proper Christian burial was paramount. Embalming was a new science – formaldehyde hadn’t been invented yet so there was a variety of embalming fluid recipes. All very morbid to a lot of people. A lot of visitors wouldn’t even stop at our display. As I mentioned earlier, the two main ghosts in “No Rest For The Wicked” are from this time period and the man, Beauregard Addams, was the owner of a funeral parlor as well as having been a field embalmer and surgeon during the war.

Erin: That’s so interesting! Also, a mutual fan of road trips, do you take any to historical or haunted locations?

Pamela: No, we have not intentionally sought out haunted or historical locations. My husband isn’t into the whole paranormal or horror thing as much as I am, though I did manage to drag him to Granger, Texas to see the house used in the 2003 remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s not far from where his mom lives. So, that was cool. I also dragged him out to Terligua in West Texas for the Day of the Dead in the cemetery there. He humors me in all my ghostly, cemetery, haunted weirdness ways.

This summer we are hoping to make a delayed trip out to Boston Harbor to see the USS Constitution, might swing by Salem, but I want to go to Danvers, Massachusetts to see the homestead of Rebecca Towne Nurse who was one of the woman accused and hung for witchcraft back in 1692. She was also my 7x great aunt so I’m kinda curious about all that. We also plan on swinging over to Plimoth Plantation followed by Fall River to see Lizzie Borden’s old stomping grounds then west to wander through Sleepy Hollow for a bit before heading home.

Other road trips are much shorter, day trips or a weekend long adventure on the motorcycle. Anything beyond a four hour ride gets a bit sore on the old bottom!

Erin: Oh nice! That came in once near where son is in DC (the USS Constitution and other tall ships) and he loved it. He’s huge on that stuff (me too). That sounds like some amazing road trip stuff! I want to do all of that too. haha!

What are you working on now and what are your plans for the near future in terms of your writing?

Pamela: I am just finishing up the 4th draft of what I’m calling a Texas Gothic Horror titled “The Inheritance”. It should be ready this summer. I’m a big fan of the classic Gothic genre, old stuff, like Bram Stoker, Poe, and Wilkie Collins and really wanted to write something along those lines. But, I also wanted it to be contemporary, so I set it in the West Texas desert, added some bad ass bikers, and a band of really pissed off Apache spirits. Good times! This was great fun to write! And using the traditional plotting schemes of a Gothic novel really made things zip along. The most fun maybe was doing the research for this – ya know, actually being in the West Texas desert and taking notes, soaking it all in. Creating the biker gang was a blast, too.

Erin: What tips do you have for other women in horror in support of each other or sharing work?

Pamela: I’m really happy that I’m seeing more and more female writers in the Horror genre. There were so few that I knew of as a kids and for as much as I loved King, it would have been every nicer to have had more women to look up to.

I’ve always written what I loved to read and that’s the first thing you need to do, male or female. If you love monsters and freaky creatures, write about them. If you love vampires, write about them. If you love ghosts facing off against bad ass biker chicks, write about them! Your personal passion will come through in your writing. Start there and run with it. Read other female Horror authors. I’ve found their work so much more relatable. Where the men tend to go for the more violent, blood-slinging slasher, women, at least in my readings, tend to be more subtle and devious. But, hey – if you’re a lady and enjoy wielding that machete or ax, swing away!

Enjoy yourself and with any luck at all, those who read your work will enjoy reading it as much as you did writing it. It’s all about having fun after all, right?

Erin: Thanks so much for joining us today, Pamela! You’re welcome anytime, especially if you’ve got a good haunting story. Haha! Let us know where readers can find you, please.

Pamela: It was great chatting with you, Erin. All my titles can be found on Amazon and everything is available in both paperback and Kindle formats. I also have a website, pamelamorrisbooks.com. There are a few free short stories there and a blog where I babble about crows and other random weirdness, sometimes Horror-related, sometimes not. On Facebook, I can be found at Facebook. Folks are welcome to Like an Follow me there, of course. I’m pretty active on Twitter if folks want to follow me there, @pamelamorris65.

Thank you for having me over and letting me babble on about my work. I must say, you make a mean Irish coffee. And with that, in the words of Morticia Addams, “Have a delightfully dreary day!”

Erin: HAHA!! Anytime. It’s rather snowy here so I shall have a freezing night for sure. 😀

Pamela Morris Biography –

PamelaMorris_2019_2Raised in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, but forever longing for the white sands of her birthplace in New Mexico, Pamela has always loved mysteries and the macabre. In high school she quickly found herself labeled ‘That Witchy Chic.’ And school dances? Forget about it! You’d be far more likely to find her at the local small town library on a Friday night or listening to a Horror movie soundtrack in her darkened bedroom.

When her nose wasn’t buried in a vampire novel or any number of books penned by her favorite authors such as Poe, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, Tanith Lee, Shirley Jackson, and Wilkie Collins, Pamela was probably watching ‘Monster Movie Matinee,’ ‘Twilight Zone,’ ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” and a myriad of Hammer Films that further fed her growing obsession with Horror.

All grown up now, Pamela has raised two children and enjoys drawing and painting, watching bad B-Movies, remaining ever vigilant to the possibility of encountering a UFO or Bigfoot, an taking road trips with her husband on the Harley. She feeds the local murder of crows in her back yard and still hasn’t quite figured out how she became the Cvlt Leader for The Final Guys Podcast.

TWB1_Curse_CoverFrontThe Witch’s Backbone – Part 1: The Curse

It’s 1980 and the dog days of summer have settled over the small farming community of Meyer’s Knob. Five friends have spent their time at the local creek swimming and gathering crayfish, riding bikes, and mostly just trying to avoid boredom.

When tomboy Tara Fielding reports she’s spotted what she believes to be the witch of their local urban legend, and is now subject to that legend’s deadly curse, her friends rally ‘round and decide they’re going to prove there’s no such thing. After lying to their parents about where they’ll be, the friends head out to The Witch’s Backbone where, the legend claims, the witch waits for foolish travelers who dare pass that way at night.

What the group witnesses during this late summer field trip and what they find out after they return to civilization, does little to put anyone’s mind at ease, least of all Tara’s. Not only do they now believe this long-dead 19th century witch is real, but that she has friends who are still practicing the Black Arts, friends that will see to it that the legend’s curse is carried out.

Are there evil witches stalking the woods and sun-starved ravines between Meyer’s Knob and the neighboring town of Barnesville? Or have the kids just let boredom, the oppressive summer heat, and their own imaginations get the better of them?

Link to Amazon

NRFTWfront_coverNo Rest For The Wicked

 Theirs was a hatred that lived beyond the grave.

A powerless domestic who searches for escape. Naked and screaming, the ghost of Sadie Price wants nothing more than to strike terror into all who dare enter Greenbrier Plantation.

A murderous wife who seeks justice. Lucy thought shooting her philandering husband and his mistress would bring her peace, but her subsequent suicide only creates a more hellish existence for her in the afterlife.

A sadistic doctor who refuses to relinquish control. Dr. Addams stalks the house and grounds of Greenbrier Plantation using his dark powers to control his Earth-bound spirits and anyone living who dares get in his way.

Can peace ever come to these tortured souls or are they eternally damned to walk the earth as proof that there really is no rest for the wicked?

Link to Amazon

DarkHollowRoad-FrontOnlyDark Hollow Road

 A past filled with terror.

On Dark Hollow Road, Mary Alice Brown and her siblings know little more than poverty and abuse at the hands of their father. Getting rid of their tormentor seemed the answer to bringing joy back into their lives. But when that doesn’t work, Mary takes it upon herself to see that justice is served.

A present full of dread.

After an unusual visit from an elderly woman looking to borrow sugar, the theft of his coloring book, and complaints about other kids bothering him in the middle of the night, six-year-old Brandon Evenson, who lives within sight of the house on Dark Hollow Road, goes missing.

A future obsessed with revenge.

Desperate, Brandon’s parents seek answers from Lee Yagar, a local who’s warned people time and again of the dangers lurking at the old Brown place. But, Lee’s suggestion that Mary is involved in Brandon’s abduction makes little sense.

Mary is presumed dead, as she’s not been seen in decades, but is she? And is the house truly as empty and abandoned as it appears to be?

A psychological horror driven by hate, fear, and every parent’s worst nightmare.

Link to Amazon

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Guest Article: Seeing Doubles by Gothic Fiction Author Tracy Fahey #WiHM #womeninhorror #gothic

Welcome back to another segment in the small Women in Horror (WiHM) Series I’m running as we prepare to usher out February. Today, I have a guest article from Irish Gothic writer Tracy Fahey. I think most of you know how I myself feel about Gothic work, both in my own reading, writing, and study. I’m all in, so I’m pleased to present this to readers on my site today.

In 2017, Tracy’s debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. In 2019, her short story, ‘That Thing I Did’ received an Honourable Mention by Ellen Datlow in her The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11, with five stories on Datlow’s Recommended Reading list for 2019. Her short fiction is published in over twenty-five Irish, US, and UK anthologies. She holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing has been published in edited collections and journals.

Today, she talks about the lastest installment of her work and her infatuation with doubles. That’s right, check this out twice if you find that uncanny. Join us!

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Unheimlich Manoeuvres: Doubling Up On The Uncanny
by Tracy Fahey, author of Unheimlich Manoeuvres

I’m obsessed with doubles. They fascinate me. Doppelgängers. Twins. Fetches. Reflections. Mirror images. In a world where so much is made of the virtue of individuality, what is more terrifying than the idea that you exist elsewhere? Or the notion that you are somehow (even worse) divided within yourself? This is something that’s been a recurrent theme in my writing. In March 2020 my publishers, the Sinister Horror Company are releasing two collections, the third, deluxe edition of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre and the chapbook Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both of which explore the idea of the uncanny double. But why this fascination? It’s been a long-running obsession.

As a child I followed Alice through the looking glass into the shadow-world beyond, and consequently spent hours in front of my own bathroom mirror, watching my image closely for signs of tell-tale deviation. As a teenager I devoured Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr Hyde and savoured the queer thrill that came from contemplating a truly double life; one where the very self was sundered and broken, one where the self was plunged in a morass of unease, unable to even remember what the divided self had done. Later I would become absorbed in Ira Levin’s tales of replaced women (Stepford Wives) and clones (The Boys From Brazil). Movies fed and continue to feed this obsession with uncanny doubles: Invasion of the Body Snatchers with its narratives of paranoia and pod-people, Coraline, the sublimely uncanny tale of a doubled, ‘other’ world. More recently, there’s been It Follows, a clever, twisted movie where contagion rages and no-one is what they seem, and of course, Jordan Peele’s Us, the horror of which is almost entirely premised on otherness and doppelgangers. Us doesn’t entirely work—it suffers from an excess of ideas—but when it does, it is magnificent. Who can forget that superlative, long shot of the shadow-family standing silently at the foot of the driveway? Those unmoving, dark silhouettes that equate exactly to the panic-stricken five looking at them—it’s a marvellous, and utterly uncanny moment.

US JP

But why is the double such a terrifying figure? Well, firstly because embodies the very definition of the uncanny – Freud’s 1919 essay on ‘The Uncanny’ refers to ‘Schelling’s definition of the uncanny as something which ought to have been kept concealed but which has nevertheless come to light.’ He also discusses specifically the idea of the double, and Otto Rank’s ‘Der Doppelgänger’ which outlines the various modes of double from mirror-image to shadows, souls and to Egyptian sculpture as funerary repository of ka, or spirit. Freud points out that the double profoundly upsets our sense of self—it becomes an object of terror.

In both the new edition of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, and in the accompanying chapbook Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, I want to thoroughly explore the different dimensions of the uncanny, using the unifying trope of the Gothic home. A significant part of this was exploring the double. In doing this, I was not only drawn by Rank, Jentsch and Freud’s writings on the doppelgänger, but on the uncanny double that haunts Irish folklore, the fetch a double that appears at the moment of death to fetch the soul away. And so, images of the dark, mirrored self flow through the stories. There’s the theme of the self divided by illness in ‘Coming Back’ and ‘Something Nasty In The Woodshed.’ There’s a doppelgänger that flits through the pages of ‘Ghost Estate, Phase II.’ There’s an examination of twin as uncanny double in ‘I Look Like You, I Speak Like You, I Walk Like You.’ In both chapbook and new edition, there’s also an additional story, ‘The Wrong House’; a tale populated by troubling doubles of the protagonist, his wife and his daughter, and a previously unpublished story, ‘Possession,’ where the main character feels her sense of self erode in the anxiety that arises from that most terrifying of all possibilities—that she no longer knows who exactly she is.

So, welcome to my nightmares. I invite you into my world where nothing is as it seems, a world where every mirror image is charged with a dark power, a world where we may (or may not) exist in multiple, fractured forms. For me, the double continues to be a haunting and compelling evocation of the uncanny. Given that our sense of self, how we perceive ourselves, is a corner-stone of our mental health, the idea of the uncanny double is one of the most terrifying concepts in horror literature.

As the protagonist of one of my unheimlich stories puts it:

“I look like you. I speak like you. I walk like you.

But I’m not you”

The Unehimlich Manoevure –

The Unheimlih Manoeuvre Deluxe EditionIn 2020, the deluxe edition of The Unehimlich Manoevure will be released together with a companion chapbook of new material, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both published by the Sinister Horror Company. Both contain a new essay, ‘Creative Evocations of Uncanny Domestic Space,’ five new stories, a print and piece entitled ‘Remembering Wildgoose Lodge,’ and complete story notes on all nineteen stories in this new edition.

The Unheimlich Manoeuvre explores the psychological horror that occurs when home is subverted as a place of safety, when it becomes surreal, changes and even disappears…

In these stories, a coma patient wakes to find herself replaced by a doppelgänger, a ghost state reflects doubles of both houses and inhabitants, a suburban enclave takes control of its trespassers, and a beaten woman exacts revenge.

Unheimlich Manoeuvres in the DarkJust as the Heimlich Manoeuvre restores order, health and well-being, The Unheimlich Manoeuvre does quite the opposite.

This new edition contains revised versions of the original stories and a brand new tale, “Something Nasty In The Woodshed.”

Praise –

“A modern-day gothic whose Kafkaesque otherworldly stories are beautifully disturbing.” – Lol Tolhurst, The Cure

“It is, quite simply, pure art, and we can only wonder what works this writer will produce in the coming years.” – This Is Horror

“This a very assured first collection…. Although there are twists, Tracy Fahey never plays for cheap shocks.” – Priya Sharma, Shirley Jackson Award winner

Tracy Fahey, Biography –

Tracy Fahey photoTracy Fahey is an Irish writer of Gothic fiction.  In 2017, her debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. In 2019, her short story, ‘That Thing I Did’ received an Honourable Mention by Ellen Datlow in her The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11, with five stories on Datlow’s Recommended Reading list for 2019. Her short fiction is published in over twenty-five Irish, US and UK anthologies.

She holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing has been published in edited collections and journals. She has been awarded residencies in Ireland and Greece. Her first novel, The Girl in the Fort, was released in 2017. Her second collection, New Music For Old Rituals, collects together her folk horror stories and was released in 2018 by Black Shuck Books.

In 2020, the deluxe edition of The Unehimlich Manoevure will be released together with a companion chapbook of new material, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both published by the Sinister Horror Company. Both contain a new essay, ‘Creative Evocations of Uncanny Domestic Space,’ five new stories, a print and piece entitled ‘Remembering Wildgoose Lodge,’ and complete story notes on all nineteen stories in this new edition.

More information at her website www.tracyfahey.com

Thanks to Tracy for this wonderful article and to all of you for reading along in this #wihm series. Stay tuned for one or two more and then I’ll announce something I’ll be doing for women in horror all year round.

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