Horror & Dark Fantasy

AMITY by Micol Ostow

Author Spotlights

Author Spotlight: David Morrell

In the 1970s, to research a novel called Testament, I spent thirty-five days on a survival course in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. If anyone’s curious, the course was conducted by Paul Petzoldt’s National Outdoor Leadership School and trained its students in a variety of mountaineering skills. At the time, I lived in Iowa City, where I was a literature professor at the University of Iowa. After I descended from the mountains, I drove back home along Interstate 80, but my car developed engine trouble, and in the Nebraska panhandle, I had to leave the highway, hoping to find a mechanic. That’s when I came to this very unusual, very scary town.

Author Spotlight: David Sklar

A lot of things went into this story, but the main thing was reading a news article about transgender teens using online games to explore gender identity. At the time, I’d recently written a story in which a man takes on a female identity online for practical purposes so he could post things he perceived as “girly” without attracting attention. But it hadn’t occurred to me that an online gender swap could be such a powerful tool of self-discovery. So I wanted to explore that.

Author Spotlight: Karin Tidbeck

I think there are a lot of clichés about trauma and how you’re supposed to respond to it. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” carries with it the expectation that if something doesn’t make you stronger, you’ve failed. Another one is that hardship is a gift/challenge/etc., that is, something you should be grateful for and have to learn from. While it’s true that a lot of people come through a trauma or an illness stronger, countless others are worn down or broken. Many live and cope with pain but do so as very fragile people. Are they strong? What is “strong,” for that matter?

Author Spotlight: Maria Dahvana Headley

The Victorian death photos are straight out of my own childhood. I found a book of them in an Idaho library when I was little. I’m pretty sure I’ve been ruined ever since. They were on a bottom shelf. There were no names in the checkout log. Unlike the narrator here, I didn’t steal the book, but oh, oh, I thought about it.

Author Spotlight: Livia Llewellyn

would like to destroy this notion that some editors have that there seems to be a lack of women writing horror (not “dark fiction.” I mean horror. Real. Damn. Horror.), or that they’re unable to find new and different women writers to contribute to their various anthologies, which is why they can only invite the same two or three women to contribute to their anthologies…. Well, I guarantee that more than two or three women are writing horror—women all over the world are writing the fuck out of horror and knocking it out of the ballpark.

Author Spotlight: A.R. Morlan

I used mythology in this work as a metaphor for the type of power some people have in regard to their wealth and the attributes of theirs which helped them achieve that degree of wealth and power in the first place. That level of power would, I thought, culminate in a desire to not only control, but totally dominate another living creature . . . and in this situation, I thought the ultimate show of power would be to bring down and thoroughly subdue a being (or beings) more inherently powerful than the man of power.

Author Spotlight: Gemma Files

Mythology is something that’s fascinated me since childhood, especially the ways in which societal power-shifts can cause myths to mutate. The worship of Persephone, for example, was a mystery religion long before Dionysus came on the scene, one reserved specifically for women, and if you trace the Persephonean myth back far enough, you’ll find that she transmutes into a sort of “death queen” goddess who actually pre-dates both her supposed husband, Hades, and the sacrificial son-lover figure of Dionysus or Attis.

Author Spotlight: Lisa Tuttle

The original inspiration was the photograph of one of the “bog bodies”—ancient, mummified corpses found in a Danish peat-bog. I don’t know much about them, although there have been books written about them, but my memory of it is that there were different theories about how they came to be there—some thought they were ritual sacrifices, others that they’d been executed for some crime and then dumped in the bog, where the effect of minerals in the soil kept them in an amazing state of preservation for centuries.

Author Spotlight: Daniel José Older

The origin of the story is the line in the first paragraph—the bit about how high rates of drug abuse are for pet store workers. A friend of mine that worked at a pet store told me about that in high school and it always stayed with me for some reason—the idea of all these cynical, high teenagers taking care of small animals and being friendly to customers, or not, just demanded a story

Author Spotlight: Charles L. Grant

What strikes me in re-reading “Old Friends” for the first time in many years is how perfectly it encapsulates his approach and style. The first story I read of his in that Arbor House collection was the oft-reprinted classic “If Damon Comes,” which has stylistic and thematic elements that are similar to “Old Friends.” I remember pressing it on friends (we’re talking 8th graders here) who just didn’t get it, and couldn’t dial in to the emotional unease and elliptical style of the story.