Nightmare Magazine




Editorial: March 2021

Welcome to issue 102 of Nightmare!

In the Northern hemisphere, March is the first month of spring. Where I live, it’s the month when the dead gray sticks surrounding the house suddenly transform into living trees, all green leaves and pink flowers. Perennials spring up from the dull muddy earth, turning brown to viridian. It is a season of transformation, when magic feels possible, and anything might happen.

The work in this month’s issue all touches on transformation and change. Our first short story is Woody Dismukes’ “A Cast of Liches,” a story of racial injustice and revenge. And, of course, liches. We don’t talk about liches nearly enough—their cousin the zombie gets far more attention. But the lich is a much more interesting creature, a human willfully transformed into something undead and powerful. I think Dismukes’ liches are particularly motivated and interesting, and I look forward to sharing them with you all.

Joanna Parypinski has her fourth Nightmare appearance with her story “It Accumulates.” If you’ve ever opened a closet door and wondered how you crammed so much junk into such a small space, then this story will really speak to you. As for the transformative element? I certainly won’t spoil it, but I will understand if after you’ve read this one, you can’t sleep with the closet door open.

Our flash story this month, the very unsettling “That Which Crawls from Dark Soil” is from Michael Kelly. And Meg Elison returns to Nightmare with the beautiful and touching poem “Modern Promethea.”

In the latest installment of “The H Word,” Donald McCarthy talks about the ways horror has helped him cope with mental illness. We also have a special review of the movie Hunter Hunter, and of course we have author spotlight interviews with our short fiction writers.

We’re continuing our staff interviews with a discussion with our delightful proofreader, Devin Marcus. Devin has recently stepped up to join our author spotlighting team (you can enjoy his work this issue, where he interviews Woody Dismukes). I asked Devin a few questions about working here.

How did you get started working with Nightmare?

Honestly, I kind of came up to John out of nowhere back in college and sent a random email asking if he’d be willing to take me on in whatever position he needed. I was pretty darn amazed when he actually responded! He gave me a quick proofreading test and set me to work manning the slush pile, which I did for about a year, maybe a bit more. After a while, I wanted to get more hands-on, so I asked if I could start proofreading both Lightspeed and Nightmare. I love proofreading; it probably says something about me that I could pore through text looking for tiny minutiae all day and enjoy every second of it! John said yes, of course, and here we are just about five years later! I’ve even recently taken up conducting interviews with some of our featured authors, which I’m very excited about!

What’s your favorite part of your work here?

I mean, there’s a lot to enjoy, honestly. Getting to read all of these amazing stories monthly is a reward in and of itself, not to mention that these stories often inspire me in my own writing. Everybody on the staff is so dedicated to featuring, exploring, and advancing the horror genre in exciting new ways, and you can see the work that’s been put in every issue, from cover to cover. I even pick up tips from our review section from time to time; as an example, I grabbed Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark over the holidays on the recommendation of one of our reviewers, and it’s one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in the last year! It doesn’t hurt that I get to feel like I’m helping to give these authors the platform they so deeply deserve, in whatever way I can.

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

Absolutely I am! I have been ever since the dual-pronged attack of Stephen Gammell’s amazing illustrations in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and a beat-up VHS copy of Scooby Doo on Zombie Island, both of which I was introduced to when I was around five or six. Not so long after, my Aunt gave me my first Stephen King book (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, for anyone wondering) when I was deemed old enough, and things progressed from there. I love feeling scared, and the good news is that I’m a huge baby, so that happens very easily. Nowadays, historical horror fiction like Laird Barron’s “Hand of Glory” and The Witch is what really gets me going. Any recommendations for this kind of stuff are very welcome, and can find a home at Twitter @DubbleOhDevin!

What’s your favorite horror villain or monster?

Sophie’s choice, man. Why you gotta do me like that? Back against the wall, I’d have to go with the Wendigo. There are so many interesting aspects at play within the concept of a Wendigo. For one, it causes cannibalism, which is super cool and terrifying in and of itself. But the method by which it causes this can vary; by some accounts, you have to eat human flesh to become one, but by others, it can be the result of excess greed, and in one very interesting short story I read it causes you to cannibalize yourself as a result of vanity! Not only that, it can look like a skinny zombie-type, it can look like a cool deer-headed giant humanoid (which is my favorite interpretation), and it can even just be incorporeal. Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s the only monster that has a real-world psychosis named after it. There is so much you can do with it, so many ideas you can play around with using a Wendigo, so it’s got to be my favorite.

• • • •

Thanks so much for all your hard work, Devin! Nightmare is all the creepier and cooler for having you be a part of it.

Now it’s time to dive into the actual issue. I hope you enjoy it . . . with your closet door firmly closed.


Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner is the author of The Creek Girl, forthcoming 2025 from Tor Nightfire, as well as the horror novel The Deer Kings and the gothic novella The Secret Skin. Previous work includes the SF thriller An Oath of Dogs and two novels for the Pathfinder Tales series, and her short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in more than sixty venues. She also serves as the managing/senior editor of Lightspeed Magazine, and previously served as the guest editor of our Queers Destroy Horror! special issue. She lives in Oregon with her very understanding family, two large cats, and a Muppet disguised as a dog.