Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Author Spotlights

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Laird Barron

In a horror story, there’s always the choice to reveal the monster, or monstrous, or leave it to the imagination. I chose the latter as one’s imagination will often supply a far more dire vision than a cold description on paper. If nothing else, whatever is under the tarp signifies the narrator’s connection, and obeisance, to a dread and awful power.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Lynda E. Rucker

The story came from a few different places. One was an actual hypnagogic hallucination I had—which I am normally not prone to. I “woke up” but was frozen and I could hear creepy little girls whispering behind me, and could picture them as well.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Neil Gaiman

In [the] story, the moment of horror, people just sort of chug along with the story, and then the first moment they become uncomfortable is the moment that they realize that the observation has gone beyond simply the observation of somebody standing and having an unrequited love. The moment they realize that the person talking has been in your room, has been looking on your computer, the moment in that letter where the narrator, the letter writer starts talking about “Your password is . . .” and people realize Oh my god, you’ve read all their emails.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Tanith Lee

Q: Do you see “Doll Re Me” as a story about punishment for hubris? A: No, I see it as the punishment for wasteful cruelty, which the main character so lavishly displays towards both people and things.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Caitlín R. Kiernan

Steinbeck was actually a tremendous formative influence. I began reading him in high school, and he was one of those eye-opening authors for me. He’s one of the writers who taught me invaluable lessons about characterization; that stories, novels, are not about events. They’re about people. When they stop being about people, you’re writing shit.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Caspian Gray

I was briefly involved with a man who worked at an entomology lab, and one day when I went to meet him for lunch he was feeding pinkies to their Amazonian giant centipedes. Even though centipedes don’t have the brain capacity for cruelty, the way they fed looked cruel. The centipedes would attack, inject their prey with venom, and then withdraw while the pinkies convulsed. This would be repeated two or three times before the centipedes finally started eating. This is a perfectly viable feeding strategy if what you’re trying to kill can fight back, but with helpless infants it looked like these centipedes were deliberately drawing out the process, and then stepping back to admire their prey’s agony. I suppose centipedes have stuck with me as rather menacing little creatures ever since.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Weston Ochse

I intentionally named the antagonist after Lamont Cranston [the pulp hero, The Shadow]. One reason is that he has been a shadow to the protagonist’s existence throughout his life. He’s always been there and often was able to change the course of events. He also represents humanity. So while the protagonist struggles between two worlds, it is Cranston who resides firmly in the inexorable.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Elizabeth Hand

I wrote “The Bacchae” heavily under the influence of J.G. Ballard, I think in particular his novel High Rise, which I’d just read. I’ve always been aware of how close our world is to the precipice, but I’d always projected the tipping point to be at some indeterminate moment in the future. With High Rise, I saw how the tipping point was right now. So I played with that notion, of the world devolving into a rather effete savagery.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Marc Laidlaw

I was listening to the local live hip hop show one Sunday night on the car radio, and a guy came on talking about how he had been inspired to write a tune about going to the beach and hanging out by a bonfire and kicking around a ball . . . I thought, “That’s not very punk!” They were talking about this song as if it was edgy and “street” or whatever, and I became increasingly annoyed, because I couldn’t think of anything less relevant as a topic for music I associate with social commentary and attitude.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Angela Slatter

The time period is a kind of fugue—when I created this world (for the Sourdough and Other Stories collection) I had a mix of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and Victorian era, all jammed together, bringing the ideas and superstitions of their own times into the one place. When I wrote “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter,” I was using the Sourdough world, but this story had a much more Victorian feel to it. As with all my writing, I’m a bower bird, picking over superstitions from a range of places and remaking them into something new.