Every year, Little Person (I know, I know…not so little any more) and I do a mother-daughter photo project. It’s a collaborative effort; we design together, she does the modelling, and I do photography and edits. Our theme is always something supernatural, and past projects have includes ghosts, faeries, and mythological monsters.
For our 2022 project, we decided to deep-dive into the spirit of the season. Literally.
It’s that time of year again! Autumn brings us all sorts of little joys: fall colors, cool weather (such a relief after our sauna of a summer), horror movies (okay, more horror movies), and of course, eligibility posts. Apparently, it’s customary for speculative fiction writers do a little announcement about the work they’ve published in the past year that’s eligible for the various speculative fiction/horror awards, and who am I to argue with a good idea?
If any of my published short stories from the past year made you smile or cry or shiver in the dark, please feel free to nominate for the Bram Stoker Award,Best Horror of the Year, or any other awards that strike your fancy!
“Fins” Published in Cosmic Horror Monthly Magazine Issue # 25 (July 2022). Fins pairs the deadly, real-life condition of hyponatremia with a bizzaro twist in a no-punches-pulled story about regrets, dissolution, death…and sharks…in canyon country.
“Blood, Ashes, Wine” Published in Frost Zone Zine Issue # 6 (March 2022). Inthis atmospheric dark-fantasy tale, a bereaved vintner plots long revenge on the men who overthrew her city.
“Low Tide” Published in Cosmic Horror Monthly Magazine Issue # 20 (Feb 2022). A soft, surreal modern-gothic about loneliness, dementia, and a set of stairs that don’t always go where they should.
Things have been nothing if not hectic, lately. Writing, day job, all the other little things needed to keep a household running…and for the past few weeks, it’s all been compounded and complicated by an unplanned but necessary kitchen reno. That’s a story in and of itself, but the too-long-didn’t-read version is this is what happens when your stove dies, you try to replace it, and you discover the entire thing (stove, gas pipes etc. ) was an illegal after-market installation by the previous owners that your home inspector failed to catch. Grrr.
Needless to say, I’ve been low on energy. REALLY LOW. But I still want to read. What’s a horror-loving girl to do?
Graphic novels, that’s what.
So, without further ado, here (in no particular order) are some of my favorite horror and horror-adjacent graphic novels.
My latest short story Fins is now available in the July 2022 Issue of Cosmic Horror Monthly.
Every writer has their own process, and Fins is a perfect example of mine. I’m not a plotter. I’m not a panster either. If pressed, I guess I’d say I fall somewhere in the middle, but that’s not really it either. My favorite approach to writing anything, from a short story to a full novel, is to figure out the broad-strokes emotional beats I want to hit (where do we start, how do we change, where do we end), find the voice, and then sit back and let the characters do the driving.
Fins came out of a writing prompt in my critique group, the aptly named “Blood-soaked Doodleslaves”. We were all challenged to write a story inspired by two random words, in this case “Shark” and “Reckless”. I’d just finished re-reading Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon by Thomas M. Myers and Michael P. Ghiglieri (PS – if you’re a fan of survival horror, disaster movies, and risk analysis (which, of course, I am) this is the book for you!) and the weird idea for Fins was born.
As always, I started writing long before I knew everything about the story. I knew where I wanted to set it, the mechanism behind the horror, and how I wanted it to end…but everything else was nebulous. And that was okay, becasue I also knew who was doing the talking.
For Fins, I decided on an MC who was, for lack of a better work, a complete asshole. Having established very little else about him, I dove head-first into that voice (woohoo for toxic masculinity) and started writing. As the MC navigated the (admittedly horrible) situation into which I’d thrown him, he told me about himself — his family, his friends, his history — and revealed a depth I’d never planned but totally embraced.
Of course, being a “voicer” means having to go back and connect the dots in later drafts, but I don’t mind at all. Learning about my characters and watching them come to life organically as I work is one of the incomparable joys of writing.
We’re behind on shows. Like, really behind. By the time we get around to watching *the thing everyone’s been talking about* for the last who knows how many years, not only is the buzz dead, it’s been buried, resurrected, buried again, and left to moulder away in obscurity. Put it this way — we still haven’t finished The Walking Dead, although that probably has more to do with comic vs. show angst. And the fact our daughter can’t stand how “stupid everyone is, all the time” (her words, not mine). We haven’t finished Grimm yet either, or Orphan Black, or Penny Dreadful.
When it comes down to it, we’re bad at watching TV. In retrospect, the fact that we’re only 3 years late on The Witcher is actually pretty impressive. Woohoo! Go us!
We’re 1.5 seasons in, and we’re enjoying it (so far). It’s exactly the kind of quick-paced, plot and character-driven fantasy we all needed. In fact, it’s delivering the same kind of not-much-brain-required comfort as our go-to stress-watch: the baking show.
But I have thoughts, and in no particular order, here they are:
Thought # 1: Geralt is attractive. No, I’m serious. This is a thing, because I don’t usually find BIG AND BUFF appealing, and I don’t find Henry Cavill attractive in his other roles. I gravitate towards androgynous looks and sharp features. Loki over Thor, any day. Little Person and I were discussing this, and we came to the conclusion that he’s attractive because he’s gentle and expressive, albeit in a mostly non-verbal way.
Thought #2: Predictable is comfortable. This show doesn’t surprise me, and that’s okay. What I need from my entertainment right now is comfort and fun, and by giving us a dark fantasy romp that has yet leave me guessing, The Witcher is delivering on both accounts.
Thought #3: Yennefer is 100lbs of tropes in a 10lb sack. What do I mean by that? Well, here are some examples:
She couldn’t be really powerful until she became beautiful.
She couldn’t be really powerful until she became inhuman.
She gave up her fertility for power.
Despite willingly trading her fertility for power and beauty, she feels unfulfilled and yearns to be a mother….
See where I’m going with this?
All of these tropes are common in fantasy portrayals of women (I wrote an essay on this topic in university) and are often used as a stand-in for actual character development. (Oh oh…let’s make it so she has to give up something for her power! What would matter most to her? Well, she’s a girl, so…her womb? And then…get this…she wants to have a baby! So tragic!) I mean, really…it’s 2022. What kind of gender-essentialist bullshit is this? Yennefer comes across as a men-writing-women attempt to create a complex female character, and ends up being reductionist as hell. This is my main complaint about a show that I’m otherwise enjoying, and it’s very much a personal opinion.
If you’re a fan of genre-defying fiction, hopeful futures, audio books, and glitter, have I got just the thing for you!
I am honored to have my story, the “The Rainmakers”, featured in Issue #74 of Fantasy Magazine. “The Rainmakers” is now available online to read and as a podcast!!! If you are interested in behind-the-scenes stuff, it is also accompanied by an author profile that explores the story and my creative process.
If you enjoy this story, the entire issue is available for purchase for just $2.99, and/or you can subscribe for just $23.88/year.
The internet has informed me that it is customary at this time of year for speculative fiction writers do a little announcement to let people know about the work they’ve published in the past year that’s eligible for the various speculative fiction/horror awards.
Given I still do a little happy-dance every time I get a good review, even the thought of having my work recognized is overwhelming…but, you know…in a good way. If any of my published works from the past year made you smile, or cry, or shiver in the dark of night, please feel free to nominate for “best of the year” or any other awards that strike your fancy!
“Isobel Dreams of Childhood Things” Published in Issue #3 of Frost Zone Zine (March 2021). In this gently unnerving gothic short, a content middle-aged mother comes to regret the vampiric promises she made as a teen.
“Jenny” Published in Dark Waters, edited by Rhonda Parrish (Sept 2021). In this dark, voicy tale, an elderly Muskoka woman tells a visiting private detective about what really happened to her missing neighbors, and why you should always carry iron near Green’s Lake.
“Here There are Dragons” Published in Bodies Full of Burning from Sliced Up Press (Sept 2021). ‘When your monthly blood stops flowing, it’s time to feed the dragons’. This horror-fantasy mash-up celebrates the transformative power of menopause.
“The Rainmakers” To be published in Fantasy Magazine on Dec 28, 2021. Sorry, no summary yet – I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!
“Jenny” and “Here There are Dragons” are available in Kindle and paperback formats via Amazon, and I think a review copy of Bodies Full of Burning was provided for HWA members. Please contact me via this blog if you are a reviewer/nominator and would like to request a copy.
Check out the Goodreads reviews for both anthologies (“Dark Waters” and “Bodies full of Burning”) and the Ginger Nuts of Horror review of “Bodies full of Burning”, which can be found here: gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/book-review-bodies-full-of-burning-edited-by-nicole-m-wolverton. I’m honored to have my work in such great and well-received collections.