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Short fiction recs! May-June 2022

A selection of short stories I’ve loved from May and June: stories that are dark and brutal, funny and light, and warm and moving and lovely.    “The Eternal Cocktail Party of the Damned” by Fonda Lee in Uncanny Magazine As the demons move unhurriedly through the crowd, dozens of giant screens suspended from the ceiling flicker in a rapid-fire onslaught of sound and images. Everything that’s happening in every corner of the boundless and constant underworld party is being recorded and replayed, far too fast for humans to keep up with, which is why infernal caretakers manipulate the screens, keeping the party mood going like DJs spinning dance tracks.   An utterly brilliant story. As the title says, it’s a depiction of the eternal cocktail party of the damned, overseen by the demons Bayzoth and Asphos. And it’s a party that’s all too familiar with anyone who’s spent much time online. The party of the damned is Twitter. It’s social media. It’s all of us online seeking attention, dog

New story! "The Bones Beneath" is now out at Podcastle

  I have a new story out this week!  “The Bones Beneath” is now up at the wonderful Podcastle , and you can either read it there or listen to Tatiana Grey’s beautiful narration. It's perhaps the darkest thing I’ve published yet. I also think it’s one of my best. This story grew out of a lot of things. A slushy, dreary Midwestern spring, and a sudden image of glowing bones. A cloud of swirling thoughts and ideas from the last several years, struggling to find form. There are a number of real-world historical inspirations for the fictional world and history in my story. The Chinese Cultural Revolution is the heaviest and most obvious inspiration. But there are a number of others, from different countries and societies, and from different time periods stretching up to the modern day. And from all sides of the political spectrum.   For me, one of the key passages in my own story is this one, where the young protagonist is struggling to make sense of her world:   She didn’t un

Book review: Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste

 (Note: This book is based on an advance reader's copy provided by the author) Gwendolyn Kiste’s work has been characterized by its focus on women characters and women’s rage in a world that would seek to constrain them; by depictions of strong female friendships; by audacious and sometimes surreal premises; and by absolutely gorgeous prose, strong emotion, and narrators with intimate voices that pull you in and grip you until the end. Her newest novel, Reluctant Immortals , fulfils every expectation set up by her previous work, and then some.   This is the story of two often disregarded characters from classic literature: Lucy Westnera (from Bram Stoker’s Dracula ) and Bertha Mason, the so-called “mad woman” in the attic imprisoned by Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre . In Kiste’s re-imagining, Lucy survives Dracula’s bite and becomes immortal herself.* Bertha (called “Bee” in this book) survives the fire she set and also becomes immortal. Now they’re living togeth

Interview with the Horror Writers Association! (Asian Heritage in Horror series)

I had an interview with the Horror Writers Association (HWA) this month, as part of their Asian Heritage in Horror interview series. I hadn’t really thought of myself as a horror writer before, even though I have indeed written some dark stories, including a ghost story . HWA thought otherwise, and I’m so pleased to be part of their interview series. There’s a great lineup of authors participating, with wonderful insight and wisdom, and I’d suggest anyone interested in this genre to check out the entire series here . Note that HWA is also running a great interview series on Jewish Heritage in Horror this month, so check that out here on the HWA website, too!

Short fiction recs! March-April 2022

 A list of some beautiful stories that I read in March and April. Stories of ghosts, revenge, and other haunted things   “Douen” by Suzan Palumbo in The Dark Meh whole body was wrong. From meh ankles, meh feet was twisted with meh toes pointing behind me. I sit on de grass and try to turn meh right foot around to face de correct way but it wouldn’t go straight. When I walk around de gravestones, meh heels went in front of me but meh feet look backwards. Douen.   A little girl wakes to find herself transformed. A little girl wakes to find herself at her own funeral, watching her mother cry as the little girl’s body is buried. A wonderfully creepy ghost story, steeped in Caribbean folklore and voice. It’s tense and darkly atmospheric,   but what comes through the most is the rage and grief of a child, the abandonment she feels as she witnesses her family—and most of all, her mother—moving on with life without her.   “Xiao Emo—Little Demon” by Ai Jiang in The Dark Ér—the

Short fiction recs! January-February 2022

  Late as usual, but here are some stories I loved in January and February of this year.   Things of the sea and water “False Gills” by M.A. Blanchard in Uncharted Magazine “ I want to be real,” I say, though she didn’t ask. “I want to be like you, an unreal thing more true than real things know how to be. I want to be myself and nothing else. I want to breathe underwater and gnaw on the bones of people who think that they can own me.” Oh, this dark story of desire and rage. A story that starts off in sunlight and domestic bliss. Two women in love live happily in a fairytale forest cottage, filling their days with mushroom hunting, baking, pickling, cleaning, homemaking. . .until one of the women is seduced by an undine who lives in a well. I love the shifts in this story, how we come to realize that what we thought was domestic bliss wasn’t at all; how our view changes of Lorna, the woman whom the narrator loves. It’s a wonderful, weird, atmospheric and shifting piece of cottag

New stories in Lightspeed, The Future Fire and GigaNotoSaurus! And more news!

Light in the sky when the kids get up for school now. The song of birds outside the window. It’s still cold, but the signs of spring are here. The earth is thawing. There are horrors on my news feed, and amid that there are small beauties in the world. Some things I’ve published and other news, if you care to hear:   New stories In case you missed it. . .  “An Address to the Newest Disciples of the Lost Words”  was published in Lightspeed Magazine at the start of the new year, and became free to read on Jan 20. It's a story about a magical language that can say all things. It's about the power and limits of words. And it's almost all I want to say about writing. Stefan Rudnicki gives a marvelous narration (his voice is an exact match for my character’s!) on the accompanying podcast. “Before We Drown”  was published January 30 in The Future Fire . It’s a little flash story about memory and the light between storms. “Once on a Midsummer’s Night”  was published Febr