Horror & Dark Fantasy

The Doll Collection edited by Ellen Datlow

Author Spotlights

Author Spotlight: Chet Williamson

I’d been listening to Beethoven’s late string quartets, and the image came to me of the prisoner/musicians who played in the death camps playing that particular work, and the story grew out of that.

Author Spotlight: Dale Bailey

I think most horror fiction adheres to a very strong set of conventions, actually. In most of them some supernatural force (or serial killer or Godzilla or whatever) disrupts the everyday order of the world and is repelled, restoring the status quo. As King says in DANSE MACABRE, horror is as conservative as a banker in a three-piece suit (though I don’t think anyone wears those anymore). But the kind of horror that really interests me is the kind that doesn’t reassure us that way.

Author Spotlight: Sarah Langan

I typically thought every piece of advice I got from writing professors was terrible, or at least, not applicable to my goals. But in college, a professor announced to the class that you should never have a twist ending. If you know something, reveal it sooner. This is great advice. Twist endings are stupid. As a writer, if I know something and hold back, I also hold my story back. It can’t evolve because I’m depending on a very static ending (Soylent Green is people!). But if I tell you from the outset what’s happening, then suddenly my characters can grow.

Author Spotlight: Maria Dahvana Headley

Shortly after I started writing this story, I flukily moved into a house with actual cellar doors, and a speakeasy behind them. (There’s another nice 1919 reference as to why the words cellar door were considered beautiful — they led to speakeasies, and Prohibition was on!) I’d like to tell you that there’s nothing awful beneath my cellar, but I live in NYC. 1827 was the year that the last slaves were freed in NYC, but New Amsterdam had cellar doors opening onto evil beginning in 1626.

Author Spotlight: Stephen Graham Jones

I think kids don’t necessarily have the shame involved with being afraid that we’ve all been conditioned to have. I mean, we’re supposed to be all rational and adult, we’re supposed to be able to leave the monsters in playland. For kids, though, the whole world’s playland. So being afraid of monsters, it’s just the rational response, as far they’re concerned. And it’s not at all bad to believe in monsters, either. Because cracking that door open, it doesn’t just spill monsters. It can spill some beautiful stuff into the world too.

Author Spotlight: Sandra McDonald

Everyone in the industry knows Robert McKee’s book about story and plot. One of my bosses at CBS Television (he later went on to produce Desperate Housewives) had taken McKee’s intensive boot camp class and carried his book around like a bible. William Goldman and Joseph Campbell were popular as well, especially in my screenwriting classes at Ithaca College. I won a Rod Serling writing scholarship there as an undergraduate, and his work has been a huge inspiration.

Author Spotlight: Kaaron Warren

Like most of my stories, “Mountain” came from a few different inspirations. It is set geographically close to where I live, and we travel over the mountain I describe, The Clyde, every couple of months or so. This mountain is very windy. It’s beautiful by day, but by night, or in the mist, it becomes quite a scary place. There really was an accident where a truck carrying cat food lost its load, and people really did steal it all. At the time I was struck be the greed of this and wondered if the mountain played a role in the temptation.

Author Spotlight: Kealan Patrick Burke

The story was inspired by a number of things, primarily the fact that it seems every Internet comment section, no matter what the article, observation, video, post, or meme, attracts people who seem dedicated to offending, insulting, or bullying others. How such things sometimes graduate to real-life violence is something that interested me, particularly in light of perennial news stories which detail how young people are often driven to suicide by troll attacks.

Author Spotlight: Nancy Kilpatrick

In some genres, particularly horror, females are not popular protagonists unless they are either helpless victims or ball-breaking, kick-ass kung fu masters. Most of the women I know are like me, they get the job — whatever it is that has to be done — done, and they live their lives as women, for whom menstruation, menopause and sometimes childbirth are natural physical and psychological and emotive occurrences, and part of being female. Women take these experiences for granted.

Author Spotlight: Charles Payseur

This story is basically my Wisconsin spring story. Spring normally hits here in May. For the last two years we’ve had snow well into May, and last year was the worst winter in a long time. We had something like a foot and a half of snow on the ground for three months. It was . . . not fun. So the moment it was warm enough to go outside my partner and I were biking on the trails around town. And the first thing you notice here in the spring is the deer corpses.