Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Editorial

Editorial: August 2021

Welcome to Nightmare’s 107th issue!

We are living in a time of incredible loss. Millions of people have died in the past year due to the COVID-19 epidemic; millions have lost their jobs and their homes due to the economic impact of the virus. When I walk through my city’s streets, I see empty places where my favorite cafes and shops used to be. Climate-worsened wildfires have destroyed some of the most iconic hiking trails and outdoor destinations in the American West, as well as devastating irreplaceable habitat for non-humans. Washington’s remarkable (and adorable) pygmy rabbit, already teetering on the edge of extinction, might have been scorched right off that awful cliff. When it does, it will join the ranks of hundreds of plants and creatures that go extinct every year.

To be alive is to be constantly confronted by loss, and a large measure of who we are stems from our responses to it. When you’ve lost something you care about, how do you respond? How do you keep loss from hollowing you into a shell? Do you let it make you mean? Do you turn hard, or do you crumble and find yourself adrift? Do you count your scars, and if you do, do you revel in them or do you gently massage vitamin E into their silvery tissues?

This month’s issue features four very different snapshots of loss and human response to it. In “Where Things Fall from the Sky,” a story of love, terror, and polar exploration, Ally Wilkes puts loss on ice, with chilling effect. If you like the kids-on-bikes subgenre, you better not miss B. Narr’s story “Cadaver Dogs,” where a group of small-town kids struggle to cope with the loss of their classmates. In the Horror Lab, Osahon Ize-Iyamu delivers a piece of flash fiction (“Now Will You Listen”) whose exploration of loss is best left as a fun surprise. On the serious side of things, P.L. Watts makes loss both personal and physical in her essay “Forensic Analysis of a Body, Still Warm.”

Our nonfiction includes an interview with up-and-coming horror writer Zin E. Rockland, plus spotlight interviews with our fantastic authors. Our H Word is from Christa Carmen, who wonders if horror writers can really write fiction about life on the other side of the ultimate apocalypse: the one where homo sapiens finally exits stage left.

If this all sounds depressing, I promise it’s more creepy and fun than it sounds! And to help lighten things up for our ebook readers, we have an excerpt from The Deer Kings, my new horror novel.

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This month’s interview is with our Assistant Editor, Xander Odell. I’ve been working with Xander almost as long as I’ve been working with Nightmare, so it’s a real delight to share a little more about them.

How did you get started working with Nightmare?

I was walking a forest path and noticed this little patch of bone-colored mushrooms . . .

Oh, wait. Sorry.

You posted a call on Twitter asking if anyone would be interested in taking charge of the author spotlights for Nightmare Magazine. Since I already knew my way around a spotlight and I loved horror, stepping up to the position seemed a good idea at the time.

What’s your favorite part of your work here?

Reading all of the incredible stories before anyone else does! These incredible, wonderful works of short fiction that take my breath away and often forget to give it back, and for the barest, sweetest moment, they’re mine, all mine.

Would you call yourself a horror fan? If so, what brings you to the genre?

Definitely a horror fan, though not so much gore for gore’s sake. I came into horror by way of Fritz Lieber’s Our Lady of Darkness and never looked back. And if you haven’t already read it, do so. Trust me on this.

What’s your favorite horror villain or monster?

I suppose I don’t have a favorite villain or monster. I have a favorite type; the creature of character that tempts, that hints at promises, the character or situation that leaves you quivering with need, willing to offer anything, everything, for one minute more. Then you realize you’re bleeding. And then you realize you don’t care.

What’s your safeword, little boy? You can trust me . . .

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Thanks for everything you do around here, Xander! We’re lucky to have you.

And thanks to all our wonderful readers. I hope each and every one of you has a safe and horrible rest of the summer!

Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner is the author of the horror novel The Deer Kings and the forthcoming gothic novella The Secret Skin (coming fall 2021). Previous work includes the SF thriller An Oath of Dogs and two novels for the Pathfinder Tales series. Her short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in more than fifty venues. She also serves as the managing/senior editor of Lightspeed Magazine, and previously served as the guest editor of Nightmare‘s Queers Destroy Horror! She lives in Oregon with her very understanding family, two large cats, and a Muppet disguised as a dog.