Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Author Spotlights

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Adam Howe

The real Bunny Gibbons was quoted as saying, “People want to see this kind of thing.” And you only have to look at today’s thriving, serial killer cottage industry to see that the guy was way ahead of his time. Murderabilia is a big business, and I shudder to think what Ed’s car would be worth today.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: David J. Schow

Q: In “A Home in the Dark,” the horror seems to be more about the stifling and destructive lifestyle of the narrator than the creature in the canyon. Was that your intent? A: It is an interior story about an exterior event, which casts the reliability of the narrator into deep doubt. This follows a more vintage horror form—a detailed rendering of a single event leading to what Poe called the “effect” (the essence of horror), which may be a fever dream or hallucination.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Conrad Williams

In 2002, my wife and I bought a crumbling, old (but very beautiful) farmhouse in southwest France, near Cognac. The first time we were shown around the place by the estate agent, we found a dead owl in the attic. Owls lived in a number of the outbuildings and you could hear them at night when they went out hunting. We’d done a lot of driving around in search of the perfect property, and on some of the roads were these “fantômes,” black, person-sized cut-outs that stood at the edge of the tarmac, signifying a death by road traffic accident. Pretty sobering. Some of them had jagged red fractures in their heads. The story came out of those two elements.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Connie Willis

I’ve been in love with the sinking of the Titanic since I read Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember when I was fifteen. It has everything—horror, pathos, redemption, courage, appalling decisions, irony. Or as the Onion said in one of its great historical deadlines: WORLD’S LARGEST METAPHOR SINKS. It also has calls for help that aren’t heard, rescue that comes too late, drowning children, self-sacrifice—all the elements of a ghost story. I guess you could call “Distress Call” sort of a first attempt at capturing something of the feeling that the Titanic gave me. When I wrote it, I had no intention of returning to the theme and certainly not of writing a whole novel on the subject, but the Titanic and its meaning continued to nag at me through the years, and eventually resulted in Passage.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sam J. Miller

As a reader and a writer, I approach unconventional structures with extreme caution, and perhaps a bit of prejudice. A formal conceit really needs to be earned, and I often find that quirky structures are there partially to distract from a story’s other deficits. But then I’ll find an amazing story that really could not be told any other way, and I’ll happily ditch my bias. My Clarion classmate, Carmen Maria Machado, used a similarly unconventional structure for her brilliant story “Inventory,” published in Strange Horizons, and it reminded me that you can use that kind of format to highlight what’s structured out of the story—in the case of “57 Reasons,” the way the narrator’s selfish and single-minded pursuit of revenge blinds him to the reality of the situation, and his own guilt and responsibility.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Alison Littlewood

So often in life, there are no explanations. We encounter people every day and have no idea of their background or where they’re headed or why. Things can’t always be wrapped up with a neat little bow.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Melanie Tem

Often I know the genre of a story before I start writing, just as I know whether it will be a short piece or a novel or a play. Often, too, I consider taking stories in any of a number of directions. When I teach writing, I invite students to try writing a story in several genres and see how it morphs when written as a science fiction story, a romance, a crime story. Part of the germination process for “Dhost” was determining which “side of the line” would best serve the story.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Dale Bailey

We’re at our most vulnerable when we’re sleeping. Any hidden space—an open door into the hall, a closet door standing just ajar—can serve to terrify us. The bed is worse because you’re right over that hidden space, in the eye of the abyss.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Brooke Bolander

I generally find it more difficult to write flash pieces, because the amount of information you have to pack into such a small space is obviously going to be extremely limited. That said, I’m also terrible at writing anything over 7,000 or 8,000 words, which is why my novel-in-progress generally gets to around 10,000 words on any given draft and then dies twitching on the table. This has been going on for five years and counting. Regimes have risen and fallen. Children have been born and learned to walk, dress themselves, and throw horrific tantrums over gadgets that didn’t exist when I started working on the very first draft. Feral cat genealogies across the same timeline run into the tens of millions.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Alaya Dawn Johnson

The autopsy report was very tricky, since I needed something that conveyed the relevant information without taking too long to get there (not to mention a reasonable medical cause of death).