Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Editorial

Editorial: June 2021

Welcome to issue 105 of Nightmare, and welcome to summer!

Summer is the perfect time to strip off some layers—to risk revealing a bit more than you might in winter’s chill. When we first take off our sweaters and long-sleeved tees, our skin is pale and tender, like a grub exposed from its rocky shelter. Thin and pasty, it chaps quickly in the breeze. Our hearts quiver at the new sensations on our delicate flesh. I know that when I pull out my summer shorts, I’ll be wincing every time my Oregon-white skin catches my eye.

This month’s issue is all about honesty and revelations, about pulling back the veil to share some of the more intimate—and perhaps unsettling—details of life. We start with Caspian Gray’s return to the magazine, “Empty Houses” a new dark fantasy piece that rips the covers off first-time home ownership . . . with some nasty revelations. Steph Kwiatkowski makes her first-ever appearance here with her story “Cake Between the Teeth,” the story of the connections we form perhaps in spite of what we try to hide from each other. Our Horror Lab works continue the theme with E.K. Wagner’s very personal essay “Let Me Be Clear,” which delves into a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder you don’t see in movies. And Monte Lin will make you squirm with his miniature story “See with Your Eyes, Not with Your Hands.”

As ever, our author spotlight interviews delve deeper into the backgrounds of our short fiction. We’re delighted to have John Wiswell join us for the new installment of our “The H Word” column, where he takes a look beneath the toxic masculinity in the ’80s classic film Predator.

It’s an issue of quiet revelations and unsettling truths. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have building it!

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Our interview this month is with the talented Marina J. Lostetter. If you’ve ever scrolled through the table of contents on our website and noticed the wonderful featured images that appear beside each story—images that always seem to capture the spirit of the tale, no matter how strange or dark it might be—it’s courtesy of Marina’s terrific eye and brain. She reads every story for Nightmare (and Lightspeed!) and then tracks down stock images that coordinate with each one. Marina is also the writer of the successful Noumenon series and has two novels out this year, including the very creepy looking The Helm of Midnight.

How did you get started working with Nightmare?

I’ve been volunteering for Lightspeed and Nightmare since late 2016, when the call for a stock-photo-finder went out.

What’s your favorite part of your work here?

It helps keep me up-to-date on my short fiction reading, and lets me explore my love of art in a unique way.

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

I am a big fan of monsters specifically. I think we put a lot of our anxieties and fear of our own primal instincts into monsters. And as much as we want those feelings to go away, the horror of monstrosity is how we allow ourselves to sit with those emotions for a while. That’s what’s great about horror literature—it’s a place where we accept the discomfort, purposefully spend time with it.

What’s your favorite horror villain or monster?

The xenomorphs from the Aliens franchise are by far my favorite!

Thanks for everything you do around here, Marina! You definitely make Nightmare a creepier and more beautiful place.

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.