Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Editorial

Editorial, October 2022

Welcome to our 121st issue and our tenth anniversary issue! That’s right, John Joseph Adams launched the very first issue of Nightmare Magazine ten years ago, and the horror genre has been a more delightful place for it. We’re all so excited to celebrate such a terrific milestone.

I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to the wonderful first readers who have worked so hard to bring these fantastic stories to you. Our slush reading team for the past several months has included Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito, Tania Chen, David Rees-Thomas, and P.L. Watts, who have read more stories this year than most people will read in their lives. Reading submissions is a tough job, especially when we get so many exciting and well-written pieces from so many talented writers. I send many apologies to the team’s family members, who are probably tired of being abandoned by their loved ones, and also to their pets, who would like to sleep with the lights turned off for once.

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One of the hardest things about writing horror is that everyone is frightened of very different things. For one person, the sight of a spider will send them running screaming, while someone else will launch into a long discussion of the environmental benefits of arachnids. Clowns terrify some, while others enjoy their fanciful makeup and oversized shoes. We all feel fear, but we each have our own triggers and responses to it. The job of a horror writer is to so deeply immerse the reader in the story that the reader fully understands the responses and fears of the characters.

The stories and poetry in this issue are about those personal fears and responses. The disagreeable and frightening things inside this issue might not trouble you, but they have deep meaning for the narrators. We start with a new short story from A.C. Wise: “Sharp Things, Killing Things.” If you grew up in a small town, you will understand the narrators of this story, but even if you didn’t, you will understand their fear and despair. In “The Ghost Eaters,” Spencer Ellsworth crafts a tale from the perspective of a dog so good, they’ve kept working long after death. It would be adorable if it weren’t for the things that come after ghosts—even the good ones. In the Horror Lab, Carlie St. George has a flash story (“Tiny Little Wounds”) about exorcism and self-mutilation. Okwudili Nebeolisa is our poet this month, and he’s also tackling the subject of exorcism in his very unsettling poem “Ritual.”

Our H Word column features an essay by Raja Abu Kasm about the way fictional lycanthropes have helped him live with bipolar disorder. Terence Taylor has reviewed some intriguing new novels, and of course, our spotlight interviewing team sat down with our short fiction writers for an insightful couple of mini interviews.

Thanks for joining us on another journey into the dark waters of horror and dark fantasy. We can’t wait to spend another year trying to scare you.

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.