THERE IS SOMETHING STRANGE ABOUT MY BRAIN by R. L. Stine
WILL MY CAT EAT MY EYEBALLS by Caitlin Doughty
MYRRH by Polly Hall
WHERE THE SALT GROWS HEAVY by Cassondra Khaw
WHERE THE DEAD WAIT by Ally Wilkes
With the holiday shopping season kicking off this week, I thought I'd get my monthly reads out a bit ahead of schedule because if they're not already there, these books deserve a place on your TBR pile!
Look, I'm a sucker for two thing: craft books and Goosebumps. As such, I'd long had Stine's craft book, THERE IS SOMETHING STRANGE ABOUT MY BRAIN on preorder, and I tucked right in the second it arrived on my doorstep. A couple hours later, and I have more appreciation than ever for Bob and his work, and the way his wonderfully weird brain works. Even if you don't write MG, even if you don't write spooky stuff, this is still an excellent, accessible, easy read to inspire your inner-writer.
As November is "nonfiction November," and I'm hard at work on the BLESS YOUR HEART sequel, another read on weird, dead stuff was right up my alley, and Caitlin Doughty does not disappoint. Written in short-form Q&A style, WILL MY CAT EAT MY EYEBALLS answers, in essay form, some of our top questions about dead bodies, funeral processes, and other things macabre. Fun facts and filled with heart, you'll forget entirely that you're reading about decomposition.
An advance copy of MYRRH came to me from the UK, and I was happy to read. A short novel (or long novella, depending on where you put 50k-words (about 260pp)), filled with twists and turns, this festering account of the horrors women hold in their wombs--and the ones their daughters inherit--will absolutely f*ck you up.
I red THE SALT GROWS HEAVY as an ARC over the summer, but decided to tuck in for seconds to support one of my MFA students this semester (and she won the Best Student Paper Award from the Brothers Grimm Society of North America based on her critical essay of mermaid in revisionist fairy tales and folklore!!!). On my second read, this novella continues to shine as my favorite Cassandra Khaw read. Vicious and breath-taking.
Already released in the US, WHERE THE DEAD WAIT came to me for the UK Titan release. Slow burning Polar Gothics aren't my go-to read, but Wilkes certainly has a new fan in me. Eerie, atmospheric, and immersive, this tales of how our deeds haunt us, cannibalism, and despair chills much deeper than the bone.
PREFACE by Lindy Ryan
FOREWORD by Sadie Hartmann, “Mother Horror”
MOTHER BEAR by Jacqueline West
SO LOVELY IN THE DARK by Jessica McHugh
ALMONDS by Lisa Kröger
JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER by N. J. Ember
OH, WHAT A TANGLED WEB by Tanya Pell
SKELETON BIRD SONG by M. Halstead
GRENDELSONG: A MEREWIF’S LAMENT by Carina Bissett
MOTHER, DAEMON, GHOST by Stephanie M. Wytovich
MOUTHPIECE by Carol Edwards
COOKIE BABY by Laura Cranehill
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME by Roxie Vorhees
THE HOUSE MOTHER by Kristi DeMeester
THE MOM FROM UPSTAIRS by Teagan Olivia Sturmer
WITHIN THE PINK PAISLEY WALLS by Kelsea Yu
LITTLE MOTHER by Lee Murray
BUTTONS by Emily Holi
SPECIAL MEDICINE by Meg Hafdahl
A BROKEN INHERITANCE by Renee Cronley
DOG MOM by Rachel Harrison
SOMETIMES, IT’S HARD TO LET GO by Caitlin Marceau
NEVER LOVE, NO ROOM FOR MONSTERS by Jill Baguchinsky
PRETEND by Emma E. Murray
MOTHER TIDE by L. E. Daniels
NEW AGAIN by Christi Nogle
MOTHER KNOWS BEST by Crystal Sidell
THE TIRED MOM SMOOTHIE by Brooke MacKenzie
YOUR MOTHER’S LOVE IS AN APOCALYPSE by Gwendolyn Kiste
Today, Black Spot Books revealed the cover for MOTHER KNOWS BEST, a new women-in-horror anthology, edited by yours truly, featuring new and exclusive stories and poems from some of today's fiercest women in horror--with a foreword by MOTHER HORROR, Sadie Hartmann!
I AM STOKED ABOUT THIS NEW ANTHOLOGY.
Rue Morgue also got in on the cover reveal, with an exclusive look here.
More information is coming soon, including a full Table of Contents reveal. MOTHER KNOWS BEST releases just in time for Mother's Day 2024.
Today, Solaris Books–who just last week announced the acquisition of BLESS YOUR HEART for UK readers–is revealing the cover art for the UK edition! I love the vintage feel and Southern Charm on this cover, and the subtle nods to characters Mina Jean Murphy and Snow Leger.
The UK edition of BLESS YOUR HEART drops from Solaris Books on July 18, 2024.
I am over the moon to announce that Solaris Books will be bringing BLESS YOUR HEART to UK readers! The UK edition will drop in July 2024, following the US release from Minotaur Books in April 2024.
From The Bookseller acquisitions announcement:
Solaris has bagged Bless Your Heart, a vampire horror story set in south-east Texas, by Lindy Ryan.
Editor Amanda Rutter acquired UK and British Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Kerry Nordling, vice-president and director of sub-rights at Minotaur Books. The book will be published in July 2024.
Bless Your Heart follows Ducey, Lenore and Grace, known as the Evans women, who are owners of the only funeral parlour in town and must ensure the dead stay dead. When the town gossip rises from the dead it’s clear the Strigoi, the original vampire, has returned: "As more folks turn up dead and Deputy Roger Taylor begins asking way too many questions, the Evans women must take up their blades to protect their town."
Ryan commented: “I’m delighted to steep UK readers in Southern charm and introduce them to the Evans women and their monstrous south-east Texas hometown by working with Solaris on Bless Your Heart.”
Rutter added: “Lindy’s sharp, clever, funny writing is a perfect match for the Solaris list, and I am over the moon that we have signed Bless Your Heart for the UK market. I cannot wait for readers to enjoy the charm and terror of this amazing book.”
Stay tuned for the UK cover reveal coming on Halloween!
I'll admit, I have a soft spot for novellas. I also have a soft spot for holiday hauntings, grieving widows, estranged mother/son relationships, and manifestations of grief that stalk through frozen forests.
In short, I have a lot of soft spots.
Inspired by a somewhat ill-fated holiday trip of my own, COLD SNAP is a story near and dear to my heart, and I am over the moon that it has found a home at Titan Books. I've LONG wanted to work with Titan, and look forward to COLD SNAP being the beginning of a beautiful novella relationship. As I said in the Bookseller trade announcement, "COLD SNAP strips away the bright lights and shiny glare of the winter holidays and looks instead at the darker things we can’t wrap up in pretty packaging and bows. Grief, guilt and isolation are haunting enough, but add in a sinister presence that won’t let you look away and suddenly the cold, dark days of winter are even bleaker than we could have imagined."
I can't wait to tell you more about this book in the coming months as we move toward release in October 2024!
A KISS OF SHADOWS (Merry Gentry #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton
TENDER IS THE FLESH by Agustina Bazterrica
THE INVISIBLE HOUR by Alice Hoffman
NOT FOREVER BUT FOR NOW by Chuck Palahniuk
Wow, my reading list this month says a lot about me! What can I say, other than I'm a well-rounded reader, LOL.
I first read Laurell K. Hamilton in the early-aughts, and lately I've been craving a little guilty pleasure in my reading, so I've decided to re-read the entire Merry Gentry series, beginning with A KISS OF SHADOWS. There's so much to love about an estranged sidhe princess embroiled in fey politics who is told that she might inherit the throne–if she can beat her (rather evil) cousin to producing an heir. Re-reading this first book brought back so many memories from when I first discovered Hamilton's work, and I already know that once I finish with Merry, I'll be ready to re-read the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series.
Speaking of cravings, lately I've become very interested in the theme of hunger in horror fiction. TENDER IS THE FLESH has admittedly been on my TBR for some time, but I gobbled this juicy novella down over the course of two nights and am still recovering from the delicious stomachache. There is so much to love about Bazterrica's cannibalistic future, and her meaty yet subversive discourse on everything from women's roles to factory farming. Highly recommended to those with an iron gut.
Lighter fare is to be found in THE INVISIBLE HOUR, but that doesn't make Alice Hoffman's latest simple. Beautiful woven with Hoffman's characteristical literary voice, this story of two generations of women who lose themselves to and find themselves in a cult (the Community)–as well as ample servings of love, heartbreak, self-discovery, and the enduring magic of books–is a page-turner. Brimming with soiled beauty, this novel is yet another reminder that Alice Hoffman is a national treasure.
Okay, look. I love Palahniuk's weirdness as much as the next girl, but the amount of enjoyment I've had reading NOT FOREVER BUT FOR NOW has caused me some concern. A horror satire that makes A Clockwork Orange look like a children's bedtime story, once you sink into the voice of this novel, you're already a goner.
When Black Spot Books first launched its women-in-horror poetry series in 2021, we wanted to not only give voice to women in dark prose, but through the series, to feature women from cover to cover, and we did: with cover art commissioned from noted horror artist Lynne Hansen, cover and interior design by Najla and Naja Qamber, and illustrations by the incomparable Marge Simon. More important, we wanted to give women-in-horror a platform to speak on topics and themes that speak to her soul, to her heart, and to her darkness.
In our first showcase, UNDER HER SKIN (2022), my co-editor Toni Miller and I collected poems from cis, trans, and nonbinary women across the world themed on body horror, because, as I said in an interview with Cat Lowe at The Nerd Daily, “Body horror is an innate part of the female experience—from the subtle to the obvious—and women have a lifelong relationship with the subject.” And, as I said in that interview, by the time UNDER HER SKIN—which later won the BookFest Book Award for Poetry Collections and Anthologies—released, we were already hard at work on the next showcase.
We wanted the next showcase to be bigger, more brutal, more important. Thus, UNDER HER EYE, this time with Lee Murray joining as co-editor, was born. Lynne Hansen returned with more brilliant cover art, and once against the Qamber sisters transformed the collection into a jaw-dropping showcase. (For a full list of poets, see the Table of Contents here.)
According to a March 2022 study, “over one in four women (or 27 percent) experience intimate partner violence before the age of 50, according to a worldwide analysis led by researchers from McGill University and the World Health Organization. The largest of its kind, the analysis covers 366 studies involving more than 2 million women in 161 countries.”
Focused on the theme of domestic horror, we partnered with The Pixel Project, a global nonprofit focused on ending violence against women worldwide. With this project, we wanted to not only raise our voices, but unite them. We want to bring the topic of domestic violence against women to the forefront of the conversation. We want to stand with women who experience terror in the place they should feel the safest. We want to scream with them and for them.
We want to end domestic violence against women.
UNDER HER EYE, no matter how fierce, how full of rage, how powerful, its poems are, are only a step in that direction–but it is a step. The showcase features work from Bram-Stoker Awards® winning and nominated authors, as well as over one hundred poems from women (cis and trans) and non-binary femmes in horror. Developed in recognition of United Nations General Assembly’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, resources are included in the book's matter as a call to action for those who know women suffering and a resource for who are women suffering.
Domestic violence is not always loud, but sometimes it is.
Domestic violence doesn’t always leave bruises, at least not the visible kind.
Domestic violence can come from a partner, but it doesn’t have to.
Domestic violence isn’t an accident, though it often comes without warnings.
Domestic violence might happen just once, but once is enough.
Regina Yau, the founder and president of The Pixel Project, says: “The Pixel Project is proud to join forces with Black Spot Books on this collection which is so powerful that it is impossible to read all the poems in one sitting because they evoke the truths and horrors of violence against women so viscerally that the reader will need to take a break or two to process it all. The poets participating in Under Her Eye hail from across the world including Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, UK, and the USA, showing that violence against women is a human rights issue without borders. It is our hope that this heart-stopping collection will galvanise readers and poetry-lovers to take action to stop violence against women and girls in their communities worldwide.”
“At Black Spot Books, we are excited to follow our inaugural, award-winning women in horror poetry showcase Under Her Skin with Under Her Eye,” says co-editor and Black Spot Books’ president Lindy Ryan. “Partnering with The Pixel Project to produce this charity showcase is a natural—and exciting—next step to amplify women’s voices in horror while contributing to a cause we care deeply about.”
Ryan’s co-editor, Lee Murray, herself a Bram Stoker Award®-winning poet, agrees. “It is an honour to be associated with this groundbreaking collection of poems by new and established voices in horror,” she says. “I have read Under Her Eye many times now and each time I have been struck by some new and startling insight. I have cried more than once. And while the poems in Under Her Eye are brutal and beautiful in equal measure, I hope that within these stanzas, in the words, and in the pauses between the lines, those who need it will also find comfort, courage, and community.”
Hello readers, and welcome to the end! With September almost officially past, October is soon upon us. Between end of year deadlines, fall semester, and the upcoming High Holiday, things are busier than ever in my little corner of the world. The past few weeks have been packed, and with travel, events, and special announcements coming over the next few weeks, October promises to be just as busy, so let's get to it: here's everything that happened in September!
First, I wrote an open letter to librarians about BLESS YOUR HEART, and the place libraries (and librarians!) hold in my heart. You can read the full letter–along with a brief Q&A about four generations of women tasked with battling a vampire to protect their town–on the Macmillan Library site here.
BLESS YOUR HEART began as an exercise—or maybe an exorcism—to say goodbye to the women I loved most. A way to bring them back to life on the page, hear their voices again, and give them different endings. And not just my grandmothers, but my friends, those kids who, like me, were too different to fit into the confines of their small towns. Those beautiful boys and girls who grew up scared to be themselves in small minds. Who, unlike me, never left. Whose stories, like the Evanses’, refuse to stay buried.
And last, but certainly NOT least: earlier this month I was able to rekindle my love of All Things Boulet Brothers by sharing amazing news–come Halloween, THE BOULET BROTHERS' DRAGULA is BACK with Season 5!
This season promises to be bigger, better, and more horrible than ever and I AM HERE FOR IT. Check out the full announcement over at Rue Morgue where you can also read up on last season, my interview with DRAGULA TITANS winner Victoria Elizabeth Black, and more!
That's it for now! Happy almost-October, and remember, Halloween is only 33 days away!
Currently Reading: TENDER IS THE FLESH by Agustina Bazterric
Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Spooky Season!
As we move into Fall, I'm resurrecting the blog. Expect fun news, announcements, reflections, and other exclusive content, as well as monthly recaps right here–starting, not surprisingly, with the August recap!
Calling August a whirlwind month is an understatement. In sum, we traveled 15 states–from San Francisco, CA alllll the way across the southern half of the US and then up the Eastern Seaboard to NYC.
For our first stop, Finn and I drove up to Pennsylvania and The Highlights Foundation for the Western Connecticut State MFA Summer Residency. We had a phenomenal week working with students, reading and learning, and enjoying live readings from students and other visiting authors, as well as spending lots of time being surrounded by good friends and beautiful nature (check out the pics on Instagram!). From there, we flew to San Francisco and started making our way back east. Along the way, we *finally* got a chance to check out Bone Haus Brewing, a boutique craft brewery I invested in a few years back. When I was first introduced to the company, I fell in love with their branding and art, but after spending time on location, the beer is pretty darn good, too! (My personal fave is the Hilton's Hollow Marshmallow Porter–yum!) Take a gander around the brewery: Porter
Afterward, we took a short trip off-route and headed down to Tombstone, AZ, where we did some sight-seeing (and some fun research!). We brunched at Big Nose Kate's Saloon, visited The Bird Cage Theater, and came home with LOTs of trinkets.
All this time in the Old West made for the perfect backdrop to chat with Charlaine Harris about her brand new book (and the fifth installment in her Gunnie Rose series), ALL THE DEAD SHALL WEEP.
Our last stop of the month, after a quick jaunt by my university to kick off fall semester with grad student orientation and after a quick stop at an upcoming new film studio locale in Hoboken, we made it into NYC for one thing and one thing only.
*Insert primal yell* GROBAN! Specifically, Groban as Sweeney Todd in the Broadway production of SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. I simply cannot tell you how incredible this experience was! We dressed up, we paid too much for merch and snacks, and we cried during "Johanna." Josh Groban and the entire cast did a phenomenal job, and naturally we can straight home and watched Tim Burton's version of the same play, because why not?
By the end of the month, we were home and back to work, and I'll be spending all of September wrapping up one novel and working on the sequel to BLESS YOUR HEART. I'm wrapping up edits on not one but TWO upcoming anthologies, and working on a number of small pieces, blurbs, and other end-of-year projects, before ramping up for 2024.
That's it for now! Happy September, and remember, Halloween is only 57 days away!
Currently Reading: THE INVISIBLE HOUR by Alice Hoffman
Official blog of author Lindy Ryan.