New Badgers!

Callooh! Callay!

From time to time, we like to shake things up in the badger meadows at Shimmer HQ, and we are delighted that all this latest round of shaking has produced three new badgers. (We cannot say much about the process, but it involves thistles, bourbon, and shooting stars.)

We are delighted to introduce you to Suzan, Josh, and Lindsay, who will be helping us read your submissions and decide what’s Shimmery!

suzanSuzan Palumbo lives in Ontario, Canada, where she is an ESL teacher and writer. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, her life is a fusion of Caribbean and Canadian culture. She grows tomatoes in the summer, sips warm drinks in the winter, and is always wrangling her two kids.

joshJosh Storey has only ever had three career ambitions: astronaut, Superman, and writer.  Since he’s no good at math and (as far as his parents will admit) not from Krypton, he’s going with option three. Josh occasionally blathers about writing, comic books, and other geekery on Twitter @soless.

lindsayLindsay Thomas is a writer based in Denver, Colorado. She can often be found playing trivia at her neighborhood brewery, competing in poetry slams, peering at the sky for funnel clouds, or serving as commissioner of her fantasy football league. Her work has appeared in The Skinny and The Fogdog Review. She tweets and retweets at @finstergrrrl.

Please give them a warm welcome! We think they’re going to fit right in…

Stay Crazy, Erica L. Satifka

Nickolas Brokenshire
Nickolas Brokenshire

Shimmer has had the pleasure of publishing Erica L. Satifka’s short fiction twice, “We Take the Long View” (Shimmer 21) and “States of Emergency” (Shimmer 26).

Today, Erica’s debut novel, STAY CRAZY,  arrives from Apex Book Company, and it’s probably quite unlike anything you’ve ever read — exactly like her short fiction is.

Erica dropped by to talk about the book, mental illness, and badgers in books.


Tell us how Stay Crazy came to be.

I had just graduated from college and I was working in a certain big-box store, frozen food aisle, night shift. The work was extremely tedious and to pass the time I started making up stories in my head, and eventually I’d built the story that would become Stay Crazy and I spent the next year thinking about it until I finally started writing it down. I’d also just discovered Philip K. Dick, so a lot of my story ideas were pulled in the direction of alternate realities. The story went through numerous mental revisions, and the only constant was a being that spoke through RFID chips.

Anyway, in 2005 I actually wrote the book, and then I revised it a decade later, because my writing process is counterproductive and makes absolutely no sense. However, I became a much better writer in the time that elapsed between the two drafts, so it’s a lot better for that period of abeyance.

Stay Crazy tackles some big themes, namely mental illness.  How did you approach research?

In the year before I wrote it and while I was working on the revision (these two things happened almost a decade apart), I read upwards of two dozen memoirs written by people with schizophrenia. I read a few clinical books, too, but for the most part I stuck strictly to first-person narratives. Among the best of these were The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks, The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut, and The Day the Voices Stopped by Ken Steele.

But even more than striving for authenticity, I was striving for empathy. Fictional characters with schizophrenia typically only fill one role, that of a killer. In reality, someone like Em would be vastly more likely to be a victim of violent crime than a perpetrator. I also didn’t want the novel to be about mental illness; Stay Crazy isn’t meant to inform but to entertain. If it does happen to change someone’s perspective on people with schizophrenia, though, so much the better.

One of the things I like best about Stay Crazy is that Emmeline gets to be the hero–where normally someone with a mental illness would not be thrust into that role. She’s almost a Cassandra at times–with people not believing her because her illness has caused them to doubt even her normal reactions. Was that a challenge to write–everyone in the book may think Em is unreliable, but she knows her own truth?

That’s actually my favorite thing about the book, the layering of different types of unreality. Even Em doesn’t really know her own truth at first, and she backs off from it several times. And not to get too far into spoilers, but she isn’t always right – I wanted to make her both reliable and unreliable, sort of a broken Cassandra. One coping mechanism used by most people with schizophrenia is reality testing, the constant checking of one’s internal sense of what is real with the way other people are reacting to a stimulus. So there are two conflicting realities; on the one hand there’s definitely something supernatural going on since Em’s coworkers are dying in droves, and her internal senses tell her that Escodex and the entity are real, but she’s been wrong so many times before. And the stakes for her are so high; a neurotypical protagonist who uncovers a sinister plot against the universe might get brushed off, but Em is in real danger of getting locked up in a mental hospital if the people around her discover what she’s doing. This is the kind of ontological quandary that I eat up with a spoon.

I quite enjoyed Escodex, an interdimensional investigator who must’ve been often frustrated by the limitations placed on him in this case. Any plans to explore Escodex’s world?

This is a standalone novel, so probably not. Although I guess if people really wanted a short story from his perspective…

The artwork for Stay Crazy is amazing; who’s the artist? Did you have input on the art?

Isn’t it so great? The art is by Nick Brokenshire. He’s the artist for Amelia Cole, a comic that just finished its run and is available from IDW in 5 volumes. I met him because my friend Adam Knave co-wrote the story with his frequent collaborator, DJ Kirkbride. It also features a young woman in a contemporary setting who stumbles across a supernatural realm.

It was really difficult to find pre-existing art that worked, because a store doesn’t usually make for exciting subject matter. A lot of the potential art just seemed way too dark when paired with the title, so I asked Apex if we could pay for original art instead of licensing something, and Nick came up with some sketches based on the synopsis. So far people seem to really like it! I think it really fits with the tone of the novel, plus it ties into Em’s interest in alternative comic books.

Was there a particular scene in Stay Crazy that was especially challenging or fun to write?

Em’s hallucination scenes were the part of the book that required the most research but also flowed the best once I actually started writing them. The challenge was to always keep two seemingly opposing truths in mind: Em knows her hallucinations are not real, but at the same time they feel so real that she gets swept up anyway. So they had to come across as both true and false, be something that readers can tell is too bizarre to be real yet have them understand how and why a person would still be taken in by them.

Do you think Em has sworn off TV dinners forever?

Wouldn’t you? Of course, one can’t truly trust fresh foods either. Don’t trust anything!

Your fiction is often touching, but still always recognizable for the absolutely weird things going on: eyeballs in unexpected places, sentient forests, cyborg butlers, people selling actual pieces of themselves. Are there any specific writers who influenced your style?

Aside from the obvious influence of Philip K. Dick, I’m also a fan of James Tiptree, Jr., Cordwainer Smith, Samuel Delany, and J.G. Ballard. Among newer writers, Daryl Gregory and Kelly Link are two of my favorites. I’ve had a weird, uneven schooling in science fiction. Never read Asimov, only read one Heinlein and that was as an adult. So I don’t feel constrained at all by any Golden Age nostalgia. I think SF should be as weird as possible at all times.

Do you have a favorite short story among your own?

I’m pretty partial to “States of Emergency” (which appeared in Shimmer #26) just because it was an attempt to be as weird as possible without the hindrance of a cohesive plot. Down with plot! My current best story is still in a slush pile, and saying too much about the story will jinx it, but it may just have the strangest voice of anything I’ve ever written.

Will you put a badger in your next book?

No, but there’s a woodchuck that navigates the multiverse.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I figure it out you’ll be the first to know!

If Stay Crazy had a soundtrack, what would the first three tracks be?

I actually had a full soundtrack for the novel at one point, each song cued to a specific scene, but I don’t know where it is anymore. But the tracks that were most thematically apt (as opposed to just having the right tempo for the scene) were “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies, “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” by Of Montreal, and “Sick of Goodbyes” by Sparklehorse.

What’s next for you?

In January I finished an alien abduction/sinister terraforming novel currently called Human After All, and once Stay Crazy is released I hope to get into editing the thing. I also want to write more short fiction, I haven’t written a single short story in 2016 and that’s way too big of a gap. I’ll be honest, getting this book out was a lot more stressful than I thought it would be, so I’m also looking forward to just relaxing a bit and working on some projects that don’t come with a timeline. Although I hope it doesn’t take me ten years to revise the next book!


Buy STAY CRAZY on Amazon + add STAY CRAZY to your Goodreads + visit Erica’s blog!


Erica L. Satifka is a writer and/or friendly artificial construct, forged in a heady mix of iced coffee and sarcasm. She enjoys rainy days, questioning reality, ignoring her to-do list, and adding to her collection of tattoos. Her short fiction has appeared in ClarkesworldShimmer, Lightspeed, and Intergalactic Medicine Show, and her debut novel Stay Crazy will be released in August 2016 by Apex Publications. Originally from Pittsburgh, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her spouse Rob and an indeterminate number of cats.








Do You Wanna Be a Badger?

Maybe you find yourself thinking, I just don’t eat enough grubs.

Maybe you think your day could be improved by yes, more grubs, and lazy stretches in a wide meadow full of soft, long grass.

Deep down, you’ve always wanted to be a badger, haven’t you?

Badgers wrap rejections for delivery in an industrial factory
Badgers wrap rejections for delivery in an industrial factory

The good news is: Shimmer would love to add a couple more badgers to our dedicated team (why badgers?! ). Your dream of being a badger can come true.

Shimmer is a semiprozine, raised in the wild meadows and skies of a planet called Earth, hand-rolled and assembled by free-range badgers. If you would like to be a first reader for Shimmer (helping us read incoming fiction submissions), we would love to hear from you. The ideal badger will be able to:

  • Dedicate 5-6 hours per week to read incoming stories;
  • Advocate for the stories they love;
  • Come to understand what makes a story Shimmery.

If you want to be a reader for Shimmer, please send an email to, with TEAM BADGER in your subject line. We’ll get back to you with details on How to Be a Badger. We’re taking emails from August 15 to August 20th. The following week, the 21st to the 27th, we’ll choose badgers.

Please note:

  • Don’t self reject.
  • If you are a person of color, we would love to hear from you.
  • If you identify as non-binary or LBGTQIA, we would love to hear from you.
  • If you have ever wanted to read slush, we would love to hear from you.
  • If you are a writer who wants to read slush to improve their craft, we would love to hear from you.
  • Don’t self reject.
  • We would like to add at least two readers this time around; we will be taking applications this week (August 15th-20th), and making decisions next week (August 21st-27th). We reopen to submissions on September 3rd.
  • If we have published you, it’s still okay to apply, but once you’re a badger, you cannot submit stories to Shimmer for consideration.
  • Don’t self reject. If you want to read slush, we want to hear from you.
  • This is a volunteer gig for everyone, however readers will receive a subscription to Shimmer.

Wanna be a badger? You know what to do!

If you have questions, feel free to ask Elise (@ecthetwit) or Sophie (@sayitwhirly) on the Twitters!





School’s Out For Summer

We’re doing something we rarely do around here: we’re taking the summer off!

Shimmer will be closed to submissions from May 31st (midnight your timezone) to September 3rd, 2016.

Our reasons for this temporary closing are good — there’s much more ahead, and we’re eager to share it with you, but we’ve got to tend to those things so that we can share them with you. #Badger Business

This won’t impact stories in the current maybe stack; those stories are still under consideration. And this won’t impact the rest of 2016’s issues; all shall continue! All shall be well!

You’ve got a few weeks before we close. Write us something beautiful! To the guidelines!

Readers’ Favorites

300_Shimmer 27 September 2015Dearest Readers,

In our 2015 survey, you just could not decide between all the wonderful stories we published when we asked for your favorite. But slowly, two rose to the top, like cream!

“Dustbaby” by Alix E. Harrow, and “The Law of the Conservation of Hair,” by Rachael K. Jones were tied for favorites! Both stories were from Shimmer #27.

Lessons from this: publish more stories from authors who use their middle initials!

(The best news is, all the stories were published were someone’s favorite.)

Thanks for voting, readers!

2015: The Stories

A handy-dandy list of the fiction and authors Shimmer published in 2015! We hope you enjoyed the journey — we’ll have a fresh issue for you on January 1st. Thank you for your support!

The Half Dark Promise, by Malon Edwards (3600 words)
Of Blood and Brine, by Megan E. O’Keefe (2900 words)
Be Not Unequally Yoked, by Alexis A. Hunter (7100 words)
Monsters in Space, by Angela Ambroz (5000 words)
The Scavenger’s Nursery, by Maria Dahvana Headley (4500 words)
The Cult of Death, by K.L. Pereira (3000 words)
You Can Do It Again, by Michael Ian Bell (5700 words)
Come My Love and I’ll Tell You a Tale, by Sunny Moraine (2000 words)
The Proper Motion of Extraordinary Stars, by Kali Wallace (7000 words)
The Mothgate, by J.R. Troughton (5900 words)
Good Girls, by Isabel Yap (5400 words)
In the Rustle of Pages, by Cassandra Khaw (4000 words)
The Star Maiden, Roshani Chokshi (4800 words)
The Last Dinosaur, Lavie Tidhar (1600 words)
Serein, Cat Hellisen (2000 words)
States of Emergency, Erica L. Satifka (3800 words)
Dustbaby, by Alix E. Harrow (5000 words)
A July Story, by K.L. Owens (6000 words)
Black Planet, by Stephen Case (2500 words)
The Law of the Conservation of Hair, by Rachael K. Jones (900 words)
Even In This Skin, by A.C. Wise (5200 words)
In the Pines, by K.M. Carmien (4900 words)
To Sleep in the Dust of the Earth, by Kristi DeMeester (3700 words)
A Drop of Ink Preserved in Amber, by Marina J. Lostetter (4500 words)

Silver Rainbows

sapphireCongrats to Jennifer, whose comment (and name!) were chosen in our drawing to celebrate A.C. Wise’s collection, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again. Jennifer, here’s your drink — The Silver Rainbow!


Silver Rainbow
From Sapphire’s Little Black Book of Cocktails 

1/4 cup of blueberries

1 kiwi, chopped

1 1/2 pineapple rings, chopped

1/4 cup mango, chopped

1/4 cup raspberries

3 tablespoons plain yogurt

1 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp pomegranate juice

Edible Gold Dragees

Edible Silver Glaze (such as Sugarflair)

In a blender, combine 1/4 cup blueberries with 1 tbsp yogurt and blend until smooth. Set mixture aside in small bowl and rinse blender. Repeat with this step with the kiwi, then the pineapple.

Next, combine mango with 1 tbsp orange juice, blend and set aside. Repeat this with the raspberries and pomegranate juice. (Note: milk, vanilla yogurt, greek yogurt, or coconut milk can be substituted for plain yogurt in any or all layers.)

Once each separate smoothie layer has been prepared, drizzle Edible Silver Glaze into a tall parfait glass, turning the glass so the silver creates a swirl pattern as it runs down the sides.

Place a small number of Gold Dragee balls at the bottom of the glass. Carefully spoon blueberry mixture on top of the Gold Dragees, followed by kiwi layer, pineapple layer, mango layer, and raspberry layer. This drink is best enjoyed with a Crazy Straw — glittery, if possible!


This drink is time consuming, but, honey, it’s worth it. Not only is it pretty to look at, it’s even good for you. It’s got all the colors of the rainbow, plus a little silver for flair. Now some people might say rainbows are good enough on their own, but I say, if there’s an opportunity to add a little more shine to a situation, you take it. Like all good rainbows, this one even comes with its own pile of gold at the end.

Friendship Is Magic

E. Catherine Tobler was kind enough to interview me about The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again for the illustrious pages of Shimmer. In answering her questions, I touched on something on I wanted to expand on — female friendship. Luckily, Shimmer was kind enough to invite me back to blather on a bit more. So here we go.


In mainstream media, female friendship is disturbingly rare. Women tend to be relegated sidekick roles, love interests, or the damsel in distress, motivating the hero.

By now, everyone has likely heard of the Bechdel Test — the simple test that requires a book or movie to have at least two women share the page or screen and talk to each other about something other than relationships with men in order to pass. Failing the test frequently indicates that the women in question are props in a male-driven story; they have no lives of their own.

the_big_bang_theory_1x08_the_isolation_permutation1A particularly egregious offender is The Big Bang Theory. At a certain point in the series, they had multiple interesting female characters who did nothing but discuss what the guys were up to anytime they got together. They didn’t talk about their jobs (Neuroscience! Pharmaceutical research and development!); they didn’t talk about their families; heck, they didn’t even talk about what they had for lunch. Their lives began and ended with their male-centered relationships.

The lack of female friendships in mainstream media goes beyond failing the Bechdel Test. There’s also the problem of the Lone Exceptional Female. Black Widow in the Avengers is a prime example. As the only woman allowed in the boy’s club, she ends up carrying the entire weight of her gender (something cis-het-white-able-men are rarely asked to do).

Avengers00113These problems are both symptoms of the prevailing sense in mainstream media that stories about men are the only ones worth telling. Women get to fit into whatever space is left over. It gets even worse when the women in question are trans women, women of color,  or anything that puts them further outside the “norm”. Because there is so little space, a sense of competition develops. To be included, you must be the right kind of woman. Play nice with the boys, support their story, punch down and out at each other and climb to the top of the heap.

In this environment, the stories we see about women end up being very narrow. They aren’t the stories about women supporting each other, working together to accomplish a goal, commiserating over their losses, or celebrating their victories. They are stories about women fighting over a man. Stories about one woman surviving while the others are killed off, or simply not there. They are stories about the women left at home waiting while men go off and do important thing.

A study by the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media showed that a group made up of 17% women is seen as being equal, and one made up of 33% women is seen as being female-dominated. Women’s stories aren’t normal, they aren’t universal, they take up so much more space than stories for everyone. If we start letting all those stories about women talking to each other into onto our pages and screens, how will we ever hear the men’s voices over the deafening cacophony?

mlp-girlsThe culture is changing, but it’s a slow change. Still, there are some good examples out there. Parks and Recreation put the friendship between Anne Perkins and Leslie Knope  front and center; My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is based entirely on the idea the ponies are stronger together; and Lumberjanes not only features an all-female cast, but an all-female creative team. One of my goals for The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again was to show that kind of female friendship. The members of the Glitter Squadron don’t always get along. They disagree, they fight, but under it all, they care deeply for each other. And they talk to each other. Occasionally it’s about relationships, but more often than not, it’s about saving the world.

In the spirit of the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron’s friendship, I’ll leave you with a recipe from Sapphire’s Little Black Book of Cocktails, designed especially for my good friends, the Shimmer badgers. What better way to celebrate friendships of all sorts than with a drink?

The Shimmery Badger

2oz Viniq
1 oz Spring 44 Honey Vodka
.5 oz Orange Liquor
Orange twist

Combine Viniq, honey vodka, and orange liquor in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne and an orange twist. The perfect drink for celebrating shimmery deeds.

As I understand it, badgers eat just about anything that won’t kill them, and a few things that will – fruit, roots, hedgehogs, chickens, and even venomous snakes. They’re also fond of honey, so this cocktail pays homage to the spirit of the badger’s diet, without the more…interesting aspects of their culinary choices. I am not designing a cocktail that relies on hedgehog parts for its flair.

Bunny and the Shimmer badgers go way back. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure whether these badgers are actual honest-to-goodness, black and white, digging in the dirt animals, people, or some combination of both. What I can tell you is The Shimmer Badgers sounds like a hell of a band name. When Bunny first mentioned them, I assumed she was talking about the back-up band for the cabaret show she used to do. I overheard Es and Bunny talking once, accidentally, of course. A lady never eavesdrops. Something about ghosts and were-raptors, and sets leading to underground tunnel networks and pocket dimensions. When I asked, they exchanged a super secret look and clammed right up. Maybe if I load them up with a few more of these Shimmery Badger drinks they’ll spill the beans.

Don’t forget: Come get your Glitter Squadron name/drink! A.C. will be picking a random winner, who will get glittery swag! Contest closes Monday October 26.


A.C. Wise
A.C. Wise


A.C. Wise hails from the land of poutine (Montreal) and currently resides in the land of cheesesteaks (Philadelphia). Her fiction has appeared in previous issues of Shimmer, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and the Best Horror of the Year Vol. 4, among other publications. In addition to her writing, she co-edits Unlikely Story. You can find her online at and on twitter as @ac_wise. The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again is available NOW from Lethe Press, and be sure to visit Shimmer #28 for “Even In This Skin,” her newest Shimmer story.

Queers Destroy Horror

Nightmare_37_October_2015Queers Destroy Horror is a double-issue of Nightmare that’s written, edited, and illustrated by LGBTQUIA creators. There is a former Shimmer badger among them — not to mention a couple Shimmer authors in the mix, which we love to see. Today, we’re talking to guest editor Wendy N. Wagner about the project, monsterflails!


QDH is the newest member of the Destroy family. How did this amazing journey begin?

The Destroy projects really ARE amazing. Back in 2013, Christie Yant, one of our Lightspeed Assistant Editors, got fed up with the state of genre fiction. The genre’s main trade organization, SFWA, had included some articles that were disrespectful to women; bloggers and analysts (like Nicola Griffith) were putting together uncomfortable statistics about the ways women writers don’t make recommended reading lists or get reviewed in the same ways that men do. And then an article came out that claimed Lois McMaster Bujold’s books weren’t real science fiction, because they included romance and balls and court scenes with descriptions of people’s clothes. So Christie made a joke on Twitter about how women were just DESTROYING science fiction with all our icky girl germs, and the joke sort of snowballed.

The publisher of Lightspeed and Nightmare, John Joseph Adams, thought the joke could be used to make a positive difference in the industry, so invited Christie to do a special issue of the magazine that would celebrate women’s work in science fiction. They wanted to make it really special and really inclusive, so they decided to run a Kickstarter campaign to give them some extra funds to work with. The Kickstarter exploded! They (we, by that time, because John had brought me on as the Managing/Associate Editor of his magazines, and I immediately wanted to help with Women Destroy SF) raised ten times the amount of money they had hoped to make. And the feedback was phenomenal! People wanted us to destroy everything. And everybody wanted a chance to come out of the shadows and show the world how they could contribute to the field.

Last year, we published Women Destroy Science Fiction!, Women Destroy Horror!, and Women Destroy Fantasy!; this year we’ve asked gender and sexual minorities to smash up the genres. Next year we’ll be putting people of color in the driver’s seat.

Talk to us about this cover art — it’s amazing. How did this concept come about?

When the team was working on the cover for Queers Destroy Science Fiction!, they really struggled to find an image that meant “science fiction” for them. I was just a fly on the wall, listening to their conversation, and I found myself thinking that for me, nothing said horror like a skull. And I immediately had this vision of a skull with this black beetle crawling on it, and the beetle’s carapace had this wonderful rainbow shimmer on it.

So when Cory Skerry, our art director for QDH, asked if I had any ideas about the cover art, I shared that idea, and he thought it would be cool. Neither one of us was really prepared for AJ Jones to come back to us with this image. It’s so much more nightmarish and exhilarating than what we imagined!

Why horror? What draws you to the genre?

The strongest memories I have from early childhood are all about Halloween. My mom and my sisters always made these great costumes and we decorated the house and made a big fuss about it. It seemed like Halloween was made out of some kind of magic — the kind of stuff that let three-year-old kids turn into bats and made candy into an acceptable meal. I loved (and still love!) everything about Halloween. I can not get enough of it. So much of horror looks and feels like Halloween. I can’t resist that aesthetic!

On the other hand, I’m also a super emotional person. Unhappy things affect me deeply, and the heart of horror is unhappiness and darkness and the deep injustice of bad things happening to people. And reading about that stuff in a safe, fictional way helps me cope with the real world.

Plus, being scared when I know I can hide under the covers is the most delicious feeling possible!

After choosing the stories for this issue, what advice do you have for writers working in horror?

Worry less about being original and more about being meaningful. If you infuse your work with a feeling that comes from your core, you can make any situation, any trope, any monster interesting. Look at Let the Right One In. At a time when people were rolling their eyes about vampires, this story came along and hit them over the head. Why? Because it’s such a powerful story about being isolated and lonely and finding someone who gets you. It’s very meaningful and real.

I want to read stories that make me feel. So get out there and scrape up some feelings!

What makes for a great horror story?

A main character whose feelings and thoughts come clear in the prose. Every image and plot development is only as interesting as that character’s response to it, so if your character is a piece of cardboard being dragged along by the story, your story will fail.

In your QDH editorial, you mention falling in love/horror with “The Raft,” from Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew collection. What other authors and stories have influenced your writing (and perhaps editing)?

The unintentionally big influences on my writing are Margaret Mahy, Pamela Dean, Robin McKinley, and David Eddings. These are the writers I read and re-read as a kid and I absorbed them like I was a sponge. I don’t mind writing like the first three, but I am still trying to expunge David Eddings from my brain, because I don’t think I want to write like him. (His books are still fun — they’re just not me.) Some influences I’ve tried to cultivate are Octavia Butler, David Mitchell, Tana French, and Scott Fitzgerald.

But the person who has had the biggest effect on my work as a writer (and editor) is John Joseph Adams. He’s published me a couple of times and the edits he gave me were incredibly insightful—I learned a lot just working on them. And I’ve been his editorial assistant or assistant editor or associate editor on and off since 2010. I’m hoping some of his good taste has rubbed off on me.

You recently did an amazing thing–bringing home a Hugo for the work done on Lightspeed, Nightmare’s parent pub. Is that thing heavy, or what? 

The Lightspeed team won the Hugo for Best Semiprozine, and the group included John Joseph Adams (our editor-in-chief/publisher), Stefan Rudnicki (our podcast producer), Rich Horton (our reprints editor), Christie Yant (head of special projects and Guest Editor of WDSF), and me, so there was rather a horde of us. It takes a lot of people to make the magazine come together!

The Hugo award this year weighs about 8 or 9 pounds. The base is also covered in metal triangles that are quite poky and sharp-edged. It looks like a medieval mace or something. It’s kind of terrifying.

Horror seems to be making something of a comeback with television series like Scream Queens, American Horror Story, and Hannibal. Do you think visual horror is more effective than written horror, or are they simply two sides of the same coin?

I think visual horror is a paper dollar bill and written horror is a gold one dollar coin — they’re equally effective, but most people seem to prefer using paper. Visual horror has a lot of advantages, like jump scares and musical scores, and I think it has the luxury of building on a visual language that has saturated our culture. I mean, even if you haven’t seen the movies, you’ve usually picked up some of the tropes and standard images coming out of popular horror movies. That can make a new horror film/show more accessible to new viewers.

I know a lot of people who say they don’t find themselves as frightened when they read horror as when they watch horror. But I also think that horror is about a lot more than just being scary, and that’s where writers get a chance to shine. Horror is the genre where we get to explore everything dark in the world. Fear is one part of that, but I think it’s just one corner of the playroom.

If you could invite one horror author (dead or alive, naturally) to tea and spider scones, who would it be?

Shirley Jackson! I just read Let Me Tell You, a new collection of shorts and essays by her, and I’m pretty sure we have a lot in common. Plus, I love her work. She’s the writer I most want to be when I grow up. I mean, if I have to grow up. 🙂

What’re you destroying next? What does the future hold?

I am currently revising a novel that is destroying science fiction with werewolves and philosophy. I am very excited about it. I also have a new novel coming out in August, which is a dark adventure set in the world of the Pathfinder role-playing game. It features the same main character as my first novel, Skinwalkers, although it’s not a sequel per se, and I think it’s going to be a really fun book.

Thanks, Wendy! Readers, you can get your mitts on QDH here. The issue is available online, in trade paper, and a variety of ebook formats!



She Walks in Shadows

shewalksinshadows2-846x1269She Walks in Shadows is the newest anthology from Innsmouth Free Press. Best dressed editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia was kind enough to sit down with me in this virtual space and talk about the project, which I and another badger have stories in.


How did She Walks in Shadows come about?

There was a discussion; it started on Facebook and trickled into some other spaces, which made it obvious most Lovecraft fans couldn’t name more than one woman Lovecraft writer (Kiernan), and some couldn’t even recall her. There was even a gross comment that women are biologically incapable of writing Lovecraftian fiction. As often happens in these discussions someone will pipe in and say “if you don’t like it why don’t you do something about it rather than whining,” so, since I actually tend to do things, we got together this anthology project to help showcase the work of women .

The cover art is striking and beautiful. Who did the art and what was the idea behind the image? Was it just “women and Lovecraft, go”?

That’s Sara K. Diesel‘s work. She did the cover for This Strange Way of Dying, my debut collection, and I contacted her for this. I asked her to do something inspired by a rather lousy movie with Barbara Steele called The Crimson Cult. Despite being kind of dull it features Steele in a distinctive headdress. I asked Sara to create a cultist or priestess inspired, but not identical, to the one in that movie. Her sketches were very good and I picked one with a profile pose because it seemed different than some of the other covers we’d done before.

With the anthology, what was it you most hoped to accomplish and what did you want to avoid?

We wanted to feature a wide variety of voices and characters. Not just women as heroes, but as villains, mothers and daughters, young and old. We didn’t want it to be too Mythos heavy. It’s always a delicate dance because some buyers love and only love the “monsters” and deities, but others want stuff that uses less places and people utilized by Lovecraft and is more about mood or ideas. So there’s that back and forth. We didn’t want to just have the Who’s Who of 1920s Lovecraft Mythos and I believe we avoided that. Cthulhu appears, but probably not the way you expect him, we get a kind of funky Asenath thanks to Molly Tanzer, and some people go ahead and spin stories like the opening one, about Lovecraft’s mother, which don’t namedrop any famous entity but are still preoccupied and responding to Lovecraft in some way. The anthology also features a good number of POC contributors, seven as I recall, and other writers who are not POC but are from outside the United States, which is obviously a dominant force in the Mythos market. So you get to meet people like Inkeri Kontro who is from Finland and I think it helps to show how widespread Lovecraft is nowadays.

After all these years, and all these beautiful anthologies from Innsmouth Free Press, why Lovecraft? What is it about him and his stories that continue to fascinate?.

To be honest I don’t know how much longer I’ll be dealing with Lovecraft. I am working on my thesis, and it involves Lovecraft and eugenic thought in the early 20th century, so I’m very much exhausted of reading about him by now. Next year, after that’s done, I think I’m going to take a long stretch of time without him, maybe I’ll even be done with him forever. I’ve had a long time to build a dialogue with him and I’ve worked hard to get more POCs and women noticed in this niche, but at some point I guess we all grow out of certain things and I’m at the point where this might be true for me and Lovecraft. On the other hand, my husband thinks I’ll never stop. I’ve been reading Lovecraft since he’s known me, which is a long time, and he can’t picture me without something vaguely related to him in my hands. We’ll see.

Do you have a favorite Lovecraft monster?

The Deep Ones. It’s not Lovecraft per se, but I liked Derleth’s Ithaqua. I live in Canada so part of the appeal is the snowy landscape.

How did you first discover Lovecraft?

Like most people, as a teenager. I read Poe and then moved onto Lovecraft, and from then on read quite a bit of pulp fiction and Gothic fiction for a while.

After reading, editing, and writing so much Lovecraftian fiction, what’s your advice for writers jumping into the genre?

Know your Lovecraft. There’s a lot out there and you want to know the original sources but also some of the newer stuff that’s been done. But knowing doesn’t meaning imitating. Trying to slavishly replicate Lovecraft’s style is not going to get you very far.

What’s next for you?

My second novel, Certain Dark Things, sold recently and will be out in 2016. It’s about a garbage collector in Mexico City who ends up involved with a narco vampire and they find themselves trying to outrun rival narcos, cops, and almost everybody.

Thanks, Silvia! Readers, you can grab She Walks in Shadows here, in a variety of formats, including a beautiful trade paperback! You should also grab Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise. The badgers give it two paws up.


Speculative fiction for a miscreant world

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