Horror & Dark Fantasy



Editorial: May 2022

Welcome to Nightmare’s 116th issue!

This year I’ve tried a fun experiment—I’ve been digging stories out of my “trunked” stories folder and revising them—often brutally—to fit calls for submissions. Some of these stories have been buried for years, so I’ve reached a distance where it’s extremely easy to shave off thousands of words, tweak the characters, and see the kind of work a piece needs in a way I couldn’t see when I first wrote it. When it comes to stories, I find that distance might not make the heart grow fonder, but it does make the eyes grow sharper.

In fact, some stories are impossible to write when you’re too close to the events that inspire them. Your feelings can be so huge that they overpower fascinating situations or wonderful settings. There are places and events in my life I’ve tried to write about that simply refuse to be transformed into words. Despite my impatient nature, I’m learning to wait for time to rub the rough edges down so I can get a better grip on the material.

The works in this month’s issue all somehow grapple with time and distance. Some deal with physical distances: Juan Martinez’s short story “Esther (1855)” is about an actual journey across the desert, and Rowan Wren’s flash story “In the Water” follows the route of a dead girl carried downstream. Some deal with time: Priya Chand’s poem “Field Notes from the Anthropocene” sets our current time frame against the last Ice Age. James L. Sutter’s story “And All Their Silent Roars” looks back to the 1980s, when the narrator moved to the suburbs and lost his siblings. These are all quietly miserable stories that draw distance and loneliness around them like a cloak. They need the emptiness of distance—whatever its form—to drive their icepick most deeply into your heart.

Luckily, our nonfiction this month is a little more community-minded. In our “H Word” column, author and editor Alex Woodroe joins us to talk about the unique state of horror writers in Romania. Lisa Morton interviews author and filmmaker Taylor Grant, and of course we have our usual mini-interviews with our short fiction authors.

It’s another terrific month for dark fiction, poetry, and nonfiction—so creep in a little closer and enjoy every last sip.

Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner is the author of 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 fifty 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.