top of page

Uncomfortably Dark Interviews

Find interviews from all your favorite horror creatives here!




1. If you had two minutes to pitch your book, TRANSCENDENTAL MUTILATION, to a new reader of your works, what would you say?

Transcendental Mutilation is the follow-up short story collection to my book Genital Grinder, a more ambitious exploration of several of those themes with some of my most outlandish and depraved imaginings. There are 10 stories, abstractly interconnected like before. Two of the stories—“The Seacretor” and “Angelbait”—won the Splatterpunk Awards for Best Short Story in 2019 and 2020. TM features some of my best writing, while still being sickly obsessed with the grotesque and insalubrious. They are about lost souls transforming themselves beyond the banal limitations of the flesh to something either greater or more horrifying. As the ad copy says, every journey begins with a single slice. Readers of Edward Lee, Chandler Morrison, Clive Barker, Bret Easton Ellis, etc., may be the ideal audience for this odd-yssey.

2. Is there a favorite story in the collection that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is?

Since I get to discuss one of my other favorites later, I’ll talk about “Angelbait” here. It’s the clear winner for the most repulsive story in the collection, something that disgusted me writing it, which doesn’t typically happen. I’m usually too worried about writing a scene the best way to dwell so much on the content, but “Angelbait” is inspired by some of the nauseating acts of people exalted as saints. I’m reminded of a line from Barker’s The Hellbound Heart, re: Frank preparing for a “spontaneous gesture of self-defilement” should the Cenobites request it. It’s a story about the conviction, horror, and absurdity of faith, miracles, and death, and though written for Regina Garza Mitchell & Dave Barnett’s (RIP) anthology The Book of Blasphemy, I try to avoid any hint of the didactic in my work. It’s not meant as a mockery or critique.

3. If readers wanted to get into your mind, musically, while you wrote some of these stories, what five songs would you pick?

I. “Devil Eyes” from the self-titled Mercyful Fate EP: “Temple of Amduscias” doesn’t exist without this one. This was originally intended for a King Diamond tribute anthology where each contributor would use a song from Mercyful Fate or King Diamond for inspiration. 

II. “Ion Storm” from Dodheimsgard’s 666 International. This is the song playing as Alec begins his odd-yssey through Painfreak in “Divine Red.” Would any club really be playing this plunge into the maelstrom? Probably not, but it’s an apt embodiment of the chaos of the scene.

III. “Welcome to Videodrome” - Howard Shore. The unsettling and foreboding sounds and score that opens the Videodrome soundtrack. Many of the Howard Shore soundtracks for David Cronenberg—also Scanners, The Brood, Crash, etc.—were particularly valuable in the creation of “Orificially Compromised,” a blatant Cronenberg homage.

IV. “Inner War” – by Antaeus and Aosoth. Originally an Antaeus song, though I love the “cover” of it by Aosoth, if you can really call it that (some crossover in band members). The Antaeus version has the edge of scathing rawness while Aosoth’s is fuller and shatteringly violent. Many characters in TM are preoccupied with an inner war of consciousness and oftentimes their bodies…and in the lyrics MkM advises to “cut your flesh.” (Every journey begins with a single slice…)

V. “Excoriating Abdominal Emanation” – Carcass. The polysyllabic word play of the Necroticism album may have had a more profound impact on me as a writer, but as a listener, I still prefer the less florid and far more bludgeoning era of Symphonies of Sickness. The rampant black humor and anatomical discourse has its own place in the collection, and there’s a build-up to the mayhem, as with the stories.

Bonus track: “Felch My Beef Broth from Your Sister’s Prolapsed Rectum” by the mighty Corpsefrother. RIP, Giallo Killer.

4. Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style?

As far as the style and to no small degree thematically, Clive Barker. The prose of The Books of Blood resonated with me as I was trying to evolve as a writer, and the beginning of The Great and Secret Show was revelatory with this idea of a hidden world and transcending the banality of the surface world. His characters always wanted to see what was secret, metaphysically and otherwise. He also emerged with the push toward the more graphic content of the Splatterpunks, and I appreciated that as someone who loved gory horror.

…And yet, there’s also Edward Lee. I felt like I had the voice figured out by the time I discovered his books, but his transgressive hardcore classicks from the late 1990s—including Header, The Pig, and The Bighead—and his collaborations with John Pelan (Shifters and Goon, in particular) awakened me to the possibilities of this new niche genre, which was far beyond the excesses of Splatterpunk. Even with the foundation of The Books of Blood, there isn’t Genital Grinder or Transcendental Mutilation without Edward Lee, either.

5. If you could have dinner with any three of your characters from TM, who would they be and why?

I. Otis from “Angelbait.” The guy is a maniac and surely has some appalling anecdotes to share.

II. Anna from “Divine Red.” Rob pretty much abandons life as he knows it for her, so is it evident why?

III. Kendall from “Last Time at Thanksgiving.” Speaking of appalling anecdotes, here is another useful dinner companion. Although by now, he may have forgotten his reservoir of impolite stories.

6. What are you most proud of thus far in your career?
The Splatterpunk Awards are admittedly most fulfilling. It really is great just to be acknowledged in the nominations, but I’ve been fortunate to win for Best Novella (with Edward Lee for Header 3—and sharing the drill with that legend is a career highlight unto itself!), Best Short Story twice (“Angelbait” and “The Seacretor”), and Best Novel (The Night Stockers, with Kristopher Triana). I’m off in my own little world (and inner war), so it feels like vindication that the work matters to readers. There may be something else on that level of vindication way off on the horizon, but we will have to see. 

7. What book are you currently reading and what was your last five star read?
I just finished Jonathan Butcher’s crazy new body horror collection, Something Very Wrong, which is the kind of madness you’d expect from the nutter behind What Good Girls Do, What Good Men Do, and Chocolateman! Now I am moving on to Thomas Harris’s Hannibal, having just revisited Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs through Audible, where most of my reading is accomplished of late. (I may be juggling it with The Scott Burns Sessions whenever it gets here, a book about Scott’s days producing death metal albums in the early days.) Current Audible read is Clive Barker’s Everville, and a few weeks back I also revisited The Great and Secret Show, which is an absolute 5-star work!

8. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Be patient and take the time to learn your craft. Learn what good writing is, which will be to your advantage because so many do not recognize it—particularly its absence. There is no stigma to publishing your own work now, so more people are publishing before they are ready. You only get one first novel, and you don’t want to look back at it even a year or two later with embarrassment, the way I would have if I could have published the first three novels I wrote with no middleman. It’s great if you can be prolific, but make sure it is not to your detriment. You have to give yourself the time to actually learn from experience. If you are endeavoring to write extreme horror, I would also encourage adopting a pen name.   

9. Temple of Amduscias is a brand spanking new story from you. Where did the idea come from and could we see more from this world in the future?
“Temple of Amduscias” is one of my favorites in the book, and I feel it has some of my all-time best writing. As I mentioned above, it was inspired by the song “Devil Eyes” from the Mercyful Fate EP and not more than a little Silent Hill. I had several false starts with it, and I would take one or two things that worked from a failed attempt. This resulted in a motif of zero/nothingness, reflecting the main character, Olivia (a name with an O or zero in it) and her exploration of Naughton (again, a zero or “naught”). Once I had that, the story finally took the shape I needed. Amduscias/the Woodsman is a concept I wouldn’t mind exploring again. I’ve kept a few notes here and there. I was already able to do something fun with a novella called The Profile (collected in the anthology Call Me Hoop), where the FBI agent Kessler is actually running interference for the killer in “Temple,” and InterphaZ from “Junk” and “Orificially Compromised” even gets in on the act, too.  

10. Are there any projects you are working on for 2024?

I am doing my damnedest to have a book out every year after only having a short story in 2022. Next year, it’s my intention to have my long-running collaboration with Bryan Smith released at last. No title or publisher yet, but it’s an insanely gory and black-humored novel where an alien munitions division tests out some of its tech on a small town. We’ve had a lot of fun doing it, just taking our time, but it is in the home stretch at last. That’s the one I’m most confident about, but I have some other books in the planning stages, so maybe one of those will also be ready for 2024. 

Thank you for the interview!


Kevin Bachar

Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker, WGA screenwriter, and author

If you had two minutes to pitch your book “DREAD” to a new reader, what would you say?  

As a screenwriter, we’re always giving the ‘elevator pitch’, you’re told…“Sell me your movie in a sentence or two.” So, if I had to do the same for Dread, I’d describe it as a book existing in that dark place that borders the natural world and the supernatural world. Thousands of people have gone missing out in the wild and this is a collection of tales that offer up some horrifying reasons why.

As an Emmy-award-winning National Geographic director and cinematographer, I’ve swum with sharks, climbed the peaks of mountains, and explored the darkest of forests. In DREAD, I weave together terrifying true stories from my real-life adventures with twisted fiction from the depths of my frightening imagination. I dare you to open the pages and indulge in the dark side of nature. 
How was that? A little longer than two sentences, but I think that gives you a taste of where you’ll be going when you read Dread.

Is there a favorite story in the collection that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is? 

The old “Which is your favorite child?” question. I can’t give you one, but there are few that hit just a little harder for me as they are from real moments that I experienced. The first story in the collection, The Peak of Fear, has elements of a tale that was told to me while I was atop Mount Washington, hunkered down for the night in the Weather Observatory during a raging blizzard in February. We were trapped there, and the two Weather Observers stationed there shared with us some ghost stories. The Peak of Fear was born from that chilling, in more ways than one, that night. 

There’s also a story called, The Itch, which is about a woman hiking alone on the tundra who can’t escape the swarms of mosquitoes and resorts to a gruesome way to solve her insidious itch. This came about from a trip to Greenland where I was filming the calving of icebergs, and I met a woman who was being driven mad by the mosquitoes since she had forgotten to pack bug spray and a head net. And there’s Branching Out, which just scares the hell out of me, and I love it for that.

Tell us about your writing process. Have you found that it changes with every story, or do you have an established routine? 
My process is the seat-of-the-pants style of writing. I don’t really do extensive outlines or overthink an idea. I get some sort of spark and then start fanning the flames by putting words to paper. My routine is that I write every day, sitting at the laptop for the workday either crafting a story, doing research, or sometimes just staring at a white page. But, I’m also writing when I’m driving, sitting at the beach, or lying down with my head on the pillow—thinking about characters and places and what happens to those new friends that I created in my mind.

What can you tell us about your documentary/film-making process and how it differs from your writing thought process? 
There are some things that are the same. You have to come up with an idea, just like with a fictional story. Let’s say National Geographic wants a shark film. I now have to come up with a theme and story to build around sharks. Sharks and…what? What about sharks and boats? We all know in the movie Jaws that the great white shark attacks and sinks Quint’s boat at the end, but does this happen in real life? I begin researching to find out how often encounters with boats and sharks happen. I find some footage, and eyewitnesses to these encounters, as well as meet with scientists who have theories of why these interactions between boats and sharks take place. This all gets woven together and the film JAWS vs BOATS is born. In many ways, there’s more writing involved for a documentary than for a fictional story. To get to the final delivery of the JAWS vs BOATS film, you have to write a pitch, then a detailed treatment, shooting scripts, and then the final narration script. 

Which media do you find the most enjoyable? Film or writing, and why? 
I enjoy them both. The sheer adventure and moments of pure adrenaline from filming a great white shark or being there when they open a tomb filled with mummies just can’t be duplicated sitting at a laptop. But I also love creating new worlds and moments and breathing life into characters that I created and bring into existence with words.

What one thing must you always do or have while writing and why?
I need a cup of coffee at my side. Nothing else really, just a cup of java, black.

Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style? 
I don’t think there’s one. Every time I read a new book, short story, or screenplay, I find something that hits me in a way that makes me want to incorporate that style into my own writing. Whether it be a character description, sentence structure, or plot development. Like a chef tasting a mix of spices in a dish prepared by another cook. That chef might take that combo of spices, but instead of using them in a pasta dish, uses them in a soup, and changes the mix to make one spice a little stronger, and adds a new spice to complement the others. They’ve used some elements of that first meal they had but have altered it in such a way that it’s wholly new and original to the dish they created.
Does that make sense? I hope it does. If not, I do know I’m now hungry.

What has been the best thing that you have learned about writing and/or the publishing industry itself?
The best thing is that there are always new stories to be written and new readers to read them.

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
The thing I love about horror is that it incorporates so many styles and sub-genres. Ghost, monster, slasher, possession, demons, critters and creatures and a host of others are just a few of the themes you can explore. I also love that horror has the ability to engender such strong emotions, literally screams of terror, or howling laughter. Films like Happy Death Day, which had you at the edge of your seat, while also grinning from ear to ear. Or something as monumental as Sixth Sense which had you shuddering in fear and then crying like a baby. No other genre puts you on such an emotional rollercoaster.

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
I recently sold a screenplay to MarVista Entertainment, which is—wait for it–a shark thriller. DREAD is also part of a three-book series called Nights of Madness, and the second book in the series called CREEP, is out in January and available for pre-order now. And I’m also working on my first novel called INTRUDER. It’s about a woman, a dog, a cabin, and an intruder. And I’m still working in the documentary world as well. So, keeping busy!

Kevin's Bio:
Kevin Bachar is a three-time national EMMY award-winning documentary filmmaker and WGA screenwriter. The elevated horror film he wrote - The Inhabitant - was released through Lionsgate and is available on Hulu, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime. If you watch National Geographic, PBS, or The Discovery Channel you’ve seen his work. He’s the idiot in the water with sharks or crawling into caves to film vampire bats. Through his journeys, he’s interviewed scientists who’ve enlightened him, heard folk tales that have frightened him, and he’s seen quite a few things that have filled him with dread.
Kevin won the 2018 Page Awards Grand Prize from Screenwriting, as well the top prize for Screencraft’s Action Thriller contest, which had creative execs from Bad Robot, The Donner’s Company, and the writer of DIEHARD, Steven de Souza, as judges. Complimenting his writing, Kevin has lectured and given presentations at prestigious institutions such as Rutgers University, American University, and the Rubin Museum of Art. He’s also a member of the Horror Writers Association.
You can stay updated on all of Kevin’s projects at

Twitter/X, , Instagram, , and TikTok, .


Lor Gislason

Author of INSIDE OUT

If you had two minutes to pitch your book “INSIDE OUT” to a new reader, what would you say?  

INSIDE OUT is like if The Blob and The Thing had a baby and got a little silly in the process!! Horror is FUN for me, so I wanted to make something that has all my favourite toppings. I made an indulgent pizza.

What sparked this concept for you? And how long did it take you to write the story? 

I hardly ever remember my dreams, but when I do, they’re really detailed and set up like movie scenes—So I woke up with this set of three “scenes” and they became the first stories in the book. Then I had another idea…and another! It took about a year in total, but I had a lot of downtime in between bursts of writing.

Is there a favorite character that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is? 

There’s a little girl named Alice who comes home to find her parents have melted together and it’s the apocalypse outside. She very quietly goes about her life before running out of things to do. It’s definitely how I’d deal with the situation. Just a little sad and pensive, like me haha.

Tell us about your writing process. Have you found that it changes with every story, or do you have an established routine? 

Oh, my process is pure chaos. Some stories are totally thought out and come together easily, others are like pulling teeth one sentence at a time. I write on my phone more than anything, jotting things down before I forget. I’ve been trying to set aside dedicated writing time but it’s still a work in progress!

What one thing must you always do or have while writing and why? 

Zero distractions. Sometimes I write in silence, even music gets to me. Oh, and caffeine, need that fuel.

Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style?

Nick Cutter is someone I admire a lot, especially his descriptions of gore (not to mention he’s a fellow Canadian!) as well as Hailey Piper, for her portrayal of queer characters. B.R Yeager, Judith Sonnet, and Briar Ripley Page are recent faves as well.

What has been the best thing that you have learned about writing and/or the publishing industry itself? 

There are people who truly accept me as I am, who embrace the extreme and weird side of things with an enthusiasm that’s contagious. I’ve made some incredible friends who I can talk to about anything without judgment.

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry? 

I love recommending and being recommended horror, there’s always someone who knows of some tiny obscure film that has 5 Letterboxd reviews and turns out to be the best thing ever. Going “Wow that was amazing!” and then sharing it with the next person, it’s like a wholesome version of The Ring curse.

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention? 

Currently, I’m helping edit Spectrum, a horror anthology exploring the ASD experience. As for personal projects, my next novella Cosmic Dyke Patrol is my main focus. Hopefully you’ll see that next year!

Lor's Bio:

Lor Gislason is a non-binary homebody from Vancouver Island, Canada. Their love of “goopy horror”, takes center stage in debut novella Inside Out, Sick! Stories from the Goop Troop and the Godless 666 Bronze Winner for Short Story, TOOTHWORMS. As an editor, they’ve worked with Ghoulish Books on Bound In Flesh: An Anthology of Trans Body Horror. Find more on their blog,




If you had two minutes to pitch your new release “THE WRETCHED BONES” to a new reader, what would you say?

The Wretched Bones is a mystery horror about Ben Shivers, a paranormal investigator who lives in a camper van with a rescue cat called Mr Trimble. When Ben is called in to probe a series of tragedies at an exclusive resort, he isn't prepared for what he finds. Since its conception, the Regal Retreat has been plagued by tragedy, controversy, and misfortune, and over the years the site has witnessed scores of murders, killing sprees, accidents, and suicides.

As he slowly unravels the myriad mysteries and the investigation reaches fever pitch, Ben uncovers a history littered with family secrets, witchcraft, murder, retribution, vengeful spirits and an ancient curse, all coming together in a perfect storm deep in the heart of the English countryside.

What sparked this concept for you? And how long did it take you to write the story?

I had the initial idea for the Wretched Bones in the summer of 2019 after visiting a hot spring resort in Guangdong, China, where I worked as a college professor. The thing that struck me most was how if anything bad happened there, which it almost certainly did from time to time, it would be in the resort's best interests to keep it quiet. A beautiful, peaceful, luxurious exterior hiding a dark secret. The idea began to coalesce in my mind and merge with other things that were floating around in there, like sin eaters, alternative religion, the power of dreams, and the witch trials in England.

During the Chinese New Year of 2020, I came back to the UK for a visit. Then, Covid happened, international travel was curtailed, and I got stuck here. That was a weird time for everybody, but it did give me an opportunity to focus on The Wretched Bones. I finished the first draft that summer then, as any writer knows, came the second draft, the third, the fourth, and then the laborious submission process, the dreaded wait, and several rounds of edits, which included rewriting the entire book in American English. My natural inclination is to use British English, but whenever I do that, some people assume I'm really bad at spelling! Finally, more than four years after I started it, The Wretched Bones is as ready as it will ever be. 

Is there a favorite character that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is?

His being a jaded hack with a chip on his shoulder, a knack for getting in trouble, and a preoccupation with the supernatural makes the character of Ben Shivers the natural choice. But instead, I'm going to say his feline sidekick Mr. Trimble, just for the way he bullied himself into the plot. When I was working on the first draft I was out walking when I came across an abandoned kitten. It was in a very bad way. I didn't know what to do with it, so I took it to the nearest vet who gave it a 30% chance of survival. I paid for a week of treatment thinking that at least the poor thing could live out his last days somewhere warm and safe, but long story short, he got better. I was so impressed with his survival instincts, I decided to use that as his origin story in the book.

Tell us about your writing process. Have you found that it changes with every story, or do you have an established routine?

It changes depending on my circumstances. I adapt. A lot of people say that they don't have enough time to write. Dude, nobody has enough time. But we all have 24 hours in a day, what we do with them is up to us. If writing was something you really wanted to do, you would make the necessary sacrifices and find time. I wrote my first two books whilst working in a factory. I actually find working a day job helps focus my mind. If I set aside an hour or so a day and plan what I want to do beforehand, I can get a lot done. When I was a teacher, I would get up at 5 am and put in a writing session before class. At the moment my day job is writing for a trade magazine and honestly, sometimes at the end of a long day the last thing I want to do is carry on writing. But it's what I have to do to get where I want to be, so I push through.

What one thing must you always do or have while writing and why?

I know some people say they can't write unless they're wearing their favourite pants or whatever, but I never bought into that way of thinking. To me, that's your subconscious making excuses you're not brave enough to make. Conditions are rarely going to be perfect, and you can drive yourself insane trying to make them so. As long as I have my laptop, a notepad, or my phone, I can set up and write anywhere. Peace and quiet is a bonus.

Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style?

I know it's a cliché, but I have to say Stephen King. I grew up reading him, so a lot of my early fiction resembled his work purely because that (and Enid Blyton) was all I knew. My style developed as I grew older, experienced more, and read more widely. I love the whole King back story, too. The menial jobs, the struggle for success, then the fame, the addictions, the near-death experience. I think most of us can relate to at least part of it. I still maintain that I learned more from On Writing than I did in three years of university education.

What has been the best thing that you have learned about writing and/or the publishing industry itself?

That like almost everything else in life, the degree of success you have in writing is directly proportionate to the amount of work you put in. The harder you work, the better you become, and the more you achieve. Writing is one of those activities you can never really master. There will always be room for improvement, so it's a long process of continuous improvement.

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?

Knowing that I'm not the only freak out there!

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?

I have short stories included in the anthologies This Old House: The Bathroom and Welcome to the Splatterclub 3, neither of which is for the fainthearted. One has just been published and the other is imminent. Early next year I'll be releasing my sixth volume of short fiction, imaginatively entitled X6, and my big reveal is that there will also be a second Ben Shivers book next year called Cuts. This one is about a serial killer in Bristol.


Chris Saunders, who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, is a writer and editor from South Wales. Since gaining a degree in journalism, he has worked extensively in the publishing industry and held desk jobs ranging from staff writer to associate editor. He is currently employed at a trade magazine. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide including The Literary Hatchet, Crimson Streets, 34 Orchard, Phantasomagoria, Dead Harvest, Burnt Fur and DOA volumes I and III, while his books have been both traditionally and independently published, his latest release being the Wretched Bones: A Ben Shivers Mystery, on Midnight Machinations, an imprint of Grinning Skull Press.

Please visit his website or follow his socials for more information:

The Wretched Bones: A Ben Shivers Mystery by C.M. Saunders is out now.




If you had two minutes to pitch “POSTHASTE MANOR” to a new reader, what would you say?  
Posthaste Manor is the deconstructed history of a very haunted house. It's got everything–cat narrators, cosmic orgies, the world's most stressed-out realtor, experimental fiction, humor and absurdity, horror and weirdness. It's a book written by two people who had a blast writing it, I think you can tell. 

How did this collaboration come about and who had the original story concept? 
Carson and I share a book club, and the collaboration came about based on (hopefully) mutual admiration. He had written a book that I really liked, Reunion Special, and his story in Apex, "In Haskins," is, in my opinion, destined to be a classic. I think he invited me to collaborate, but the concept was a dual effort. We basically wrote it by shooting ideas at each other until we found one that we both liked. I think I came up with the idea of the haunted house, Carson came up with the name, and we were off. 

Is there a favorite character that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is? 
For me it's Mrs. Mutilate. I can't give too much away because she's significant, but she's a woman caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, trying to keep her head above water in a world designed to make that very hard. In that situation, giving in to rage is very tempting. I understand how she got to where she did. 

Tell us about your writing process. Have you found that it changes with every story, or do you have an established routine? 
My writing process has been chaos for a while, but I generally draft on my phone because it allows me to write in five or ten-minute snatches when I'm standing in line at the store or taking the dog for a walk. Once I have a pretty solid draft on my phone, I move onto a more traditional sit-down-and-edit process. I also edit extensively. I edit twice as long as I write, generally. 

What one thing must you always do or have while writing and why?
I always have to print out a late draft and read it out loud. That round of editing shows me changes I didn't know I needed to make 100% of the time.  

Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style? 
I always have to give the first shout-out to Shirley Jackson. She and I have similar interests in pointing out how deranged normality is, and the way she exaggerated gendered expectations into horror influenced me deeply.  
However, there is a pulp author named Margaret St. Clair who has had a *huge* impact on my writing. St. Clair hasn't been totally forgotten, but like a lot of women from that era, we've mostly decided to act like they don't exist. St. Clair is a bleak, damning writer. Injustice very obviously makes her sick, especially when it's normalized. She's most often characterized as a science fiction author, but I disagree. Her work wears science fiction clothes, but she uses them to accomplish the tasks of horror. She, like Jackson, is a "devil in the details" writer, and she's also not afraid to assign moral blame but doesn't get heavy-handed with it. She gives her characters enough rope to hang themselves, leading you to the thematic conclusion instead of handing it to you, and I've been trying to follow her lead. 

What has been the best thing that you have learned about writing and/or the publishing industry itself?
Rejection means nothing. So many things go into building an anthology or an issue and publication is just as much about the stars aligning as it is about quality. Like maybe they got three really incredible apocalypse stories and decided to make it the issue theme. It doesn't mean your gothic horror is bad, the stars just didn't align.

What are you most proud of thus far in your career?
I edited an anthology (published by CHM) called Aseptic and Faintly Sadistic, which benefits the Chicago Abortion Fund. We just made our first big donation and I totally cried. The theme of the anthology was hysteria (defined broadly), and the call was limited to people directly at risk from the fall of Roe v. Wade. The work in that anthology is beyond incredible, getting to edit such talent was humbling, many of whom wrote uncomfortably transgressive and important stories. Everyone should read it. My writing career is very very young, but it's going to take a lot to top how I feel about AAFS. 

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
I have a story coming in Apex in November called "All The Good You Did Not Do," which I think is one of my best. I'm currently spending several months preparing to defend a dissertation, but after that, I'm going to work on a themed collection. 


Jolie Toomajan is a PhD candidate, writer, editor, and all-around ghoul. Her dissertation in progress is focused on the women who wrote for Weird Tales and her work has appeared in Upon a Thrice Time, Death in the Mouth, and Black Static (among other places). She is editor of Aseptic and Faintly Sadistic: An Anthology of Hysteria Fiction. Despite all of this, she would investigate a clown hanging out in a sewer grate. You can find her anywhere @JolieToomajan 




If you had two minutes to pitch “POSTHASTE MANOR” to a new reader, what would you say?  
I’d tell them that it’s a gonzo, weird, and distinct take on the haunted house trope that uses the dual perspective of its authors as an interesting way to create a single story, while preserving both of its authors’ voice and pet themes. 
That might be a little too writerly though. So, how about this: it’s a kaleidoscopic sprint through the idea of the Haunted House, a novel depicted in snapshots of Posthaste Manor’s history. 

How did this collaboration come about and who had the original story concept? 

I’m a big fan of working with other authors on fun projects. Stuff that isn’t dependent on the publishing industry, where we can let our hair down and just do something. No submitting, no worrying about audiences. Just creators creating. 
I did this the first time with the Bloodlines anthology, gathering four authors to do a self-published anthology. By the time that was wrapping up, I was getting the itch to start a new one. Jolie was someone I knew was very cool, and we both hung out in some of the same writing communities. So, without really any plan, I reached out to her and asked if she’d want to work on something with me. At that point, I assumed it’d be something short, and would probably be a small anthology or a chapbook or something. 
When we got to talking, Jolie was the one who brought up the idea of doing a series of short stories about a haunted house. Once that was decided, we just went back and forth with some of the key details: the name, location, some general concepts. But after that, we really just let ourselves explore what we wanted to explore. 

Is there a favorite character that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is? 
Otho, the central character of one of the longest stories in Posthaste Manor is sort of special to me. He’s an egotistical, fragile, needy young man who is an amalgam of all of my worst traits, taken up to 11. I love writing characters like this, exorcizing my own negative tendencies, examining them, and creating empathy for both the character (and myself), while also critiquing them. 
I think that’s the thrill of writing characters as an author—finding new ways to understand yourself. 

Tell us about your writing process. Have you found that it changes with every story, or do you have an established routine? 
My writing process is a practical one, built on a mountain of bones. 
I sit down and I write. I don’t typically outline in any significant way. I just write and trust my own internalized instincts to get me to the finish line. 
That said, it’s taken me a very long time to get to that point. I have a lot of manuscripts that’ll never see the light of day. 

What one thing must you always do or have while writing and why?
I think the only thing I need to write is a story in my head. Something I want to get off my chest and onto the page. That’s it. 

Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style? 
Thomas Ligotti opened my mind to what horror fiction could be. His work is so uniquely his own that it immediately inspired me. When I read Ligotti, I knew no one else could be a perfect copy of him because he is such an integral part of his work. That gave me something to aspire to—to be an author that lives on the page beside their stories. 
Brian Evenson is also a huge influence on me in the way he uses language. I was aware of literary minimalism, but until Evenson, I hadn’t seen it applied to the horror genre. Seeing these codified literary techniques used in the genre totally blew my mind. It spurred a minor revolution in my perspective on writing. 
What’s also cool about Evenson and Ligotti, is that they both taught me new ways to be scary. Individually, they’ve both given me the creeps in ways I never thought possible. In trying to deconstruct the way they create unsettlement, they’ve inspired me a lot to dig deeper into my concepts to find those unassuming kernels of terror. 

What has been the best thing that you have learned about writing and/or the publishing industry itself?
This may be depressing, but I think it’s kind of freeing. Almost all of my favorite authors have day jobs. Once you swallow that pill, you let go of a lot of false expectations of success. The industry is so competitive and not always kind to writers, but it’s nice to remember that doing it full time isn’t necessarily the mark of making an impact. 

What are you most proud of thus far in your career?
I’m proud of everything I’ve done, but I think the first moment that it hit me that I was progressing and making good on the idea of being a “real” author, was the publication of Soft Targets with Tenebrous Press. This was my first small press book. It was very surreal having a book in hand with my name on the cover. It also captures so much of what I like to do in writing: examining transgression, modernity, and tragedy through the lens of Weird Horror. 

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
Posthaste Manor, of course!
But besides that, I’m also very excited to announce that my novel The Psychographist will be coming out in spring via Apocalypse Party Press! It’s very weird, transgressive, and features working/middle class malaise, capitalism, and the omnipresence of marketing. 


Carson Winter is an award-winning author, punker, and raw nerve. His fiction has been featured in Apex, Vastarien, and Tales to Terrify. “The Guts of Myth” was published in volume one of Dread Stone Press’ Split Scream series. His novella, Soft Targets, is out now from Tenebrous Press. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.