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Interview: Cynthia Pelayo

Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo is an International Latino Book Award winning and three-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated poet and author. She is the author of Loteria, Santa Muerte, The Missing, and Poems of My Night, all of which have been nominated for International Latino Book Awards. Poems of My Night was also nominated for an Elgin Award. Her recent collection of poetry, Into the Forest and All the Way Through explores true crime, that of the epidemic of missing and murdered women in the United States, and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and Elgin Award.

Her modern-day horror retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale, Children of Chicago, was released by Agora/Polis Books, and won an International Latino Book Award for Best Mystery.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College, a Master of Science in Marketing from Roosevelt University, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is a Doctoral Candidate in Business Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Cina was raised in inner city Chicago, where she still lives.

Cina, welcome to Nightmare Magazine! You’ve done a ton of work in the horror field, but before we dive into that, could you please introduce yourself and tell our readers a little bit about what kind of fiction you write?

Thank you for having me!

My name is Cynthia Pelayo, and I write fiction and poetry. My fiction tends to blend various genres together, such as horror, crime, dark fantasy, and so on.

In terms of my poetry, my most recent poetry explorations have been in the areas of true crime and crime.

I’ve recently been incorporating more historical elements into my writing. I don’t want to say what I do is historical fiction. It’s not. But I do believe that the events of the past, particularly those unresolved events of the past, are why we find ourselves where we are. And my fiction tends to have multiple running themes throughout. Everything is a mirror back to ourselves. So, I do find it to be important to incorporate research and historical elements into my writing. I don’t want to write anything boring. I don’t want to be boring. I don’t want to write just an A through Z narrative with a down on their luck protagonist who is challenged by the establishment, fights it and wins at the end. I’m not here to write happy stories with happy endings. I want to write stories that make people mad. If you’ve thrown my book across the room, then I probably did the right thing. I made you think about the awful world that we live in.

People have said my writing skews dark fiction or horror or crime or speculative fiction. I do incorporate the fantastical and the impossible into my writing, more so as a punctuation to the story that anything can happen, just like in life, in many ways.

As an author, you’ve worked with many different forms—short stories, poems, novels—and that’s not even getting into your work as an editor or publisher. For readers who may not yet be familiar with your work, where would you recommend they start?

For poetry, I would recommend Into the Forest and All the Way Through. I think Into the Forest and All the Way Through is reflective of my intent of incorporating research into my writing.

For fiction, I would say please start with Children of Chicago, and if you hate Children of Chicago then just never read my writing again, because this is what you’re going to get, a blend of genres and an unconventional narrative (see response above: I don’t want to be boring).

My much earlier works, many of which are out of print, were young adult and dealt with Latin American folklore, legend, and myth. That’s certainly not what I’m writing today. The focus of my fiction has changed considerably and my goals as a writer have changed considerably since my earlier writing.

You’re also an editor of several anthologies and the journal Black Telephone Magazine, as well as running the publishing company Burial Day Books. Having been on both sides of the page, is there one that you prefer? Have you found that your experience in one has helped you to improve the other?

Editing stresses me out! There’s so many people depending on you, not just readers, but writers, and co-editors. There’s a lot of pressure. I’ve stepped away from doing multiple open calls a year and I’m just trying to stick to a few key projects that also give back to me mentally and creatively. So as of today, my only plans for editing include my work with Black Telephone Magazine, a charity anthology, and maybe, just maybe, another anthology for a convention many of us are familiar with.

I do prefer sticking to my own page and just being a writer and a poet, but I feel like my spirit of uplifting community and other writers required me to be involved at another level, that of editor and publisher to highlight talent.

What editing and publishing has taught me is that there are a lot of talented people out there. Many more than you think, and that the industry of publishing is really built to suppress some voices while uplifting some pretty bland voices. There are a lot of exciting stories being told out there that are not getting attention, and certainly are not getting paid. So, just because something is Big 4 or Big 5 or basically published by a global corporation doesn’t mean it’s the best piece of writing. It just means it’s been packaged for wide consumer consumption.

In addition to writing fiction, you have a background in journalism. Do you find that your experience as a journalist affected how you approach writing fiction or vice versa? For example, were there techniques, methods, or even interests that you’ve taken from one to the other?

My specific major in journalism doesn’t even exist anymore, I think. So I’m dating myself. My undergrad major was news reporting and writing. I trained to write articles for newspapers, and guess what? Right when I was gearing up to graduate undergrad, major newspapers were folding all around me. Nearly all of the newspapers I wrote for way back no longer exist. It was a different time. It was a different way to tell and capture a story. I was a community journalist, so I was right out there in the neighborhood talking to people, every day. I’d stay overnight with homeless people in the parks. I covered articles on community displacement and disinvestment, and more. I also covered crime, and it was in covering crime where I just realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I showed up to a story and there was a body in the street, bullet holes in his back and lots of police all around him saying he had fired at them. But there was no gun. So, I quit reporting that day because no one would let me, way back then, write the story I wanted to write.

So ultimately, dedication plays a major part in all of this. You have to want to write that story, and if someone is not going to let you write it then guess what? You can still write it. Write that story that needs to be told. In a way, Children of Chicago is that story I wanted to tell, of people being harmed by authority. I’ve been wanting to tell that story for so long.

Chasing a story in the streets of Chicago as a community journalist is similar, in many ways, to me playing out over and over the logic and scenarios that will lead me to my next story. You have to do your research too, if research is key, which for me, it will always be. I just can’t sit down and begin writing. I need to research what it is I want to say. My stories have to be grounded in something, and that’s all from training and working as a journalist. An old-fashioned reporter on the street with her notepad in one hand and a tape recorder in the other, asking people questions. That was my research then. My research today is obviously a little different.

Before we move on, I have to ask: Your bio on the Burial Day site says that you grew up in a haunted house—is that true? Do you have any good stories? How did growing up that way affect your relationship with horror as a genre?

So growing up, yes, there was curious activity in our house. We’d hear people running back and forth upstairs when there was no one there, the doors slamming, and when I asked my father about it, he told me not to talk about those things, that speaking of those things gives it power, whatever that “it” was. We did have an exorcism in the house, and there’s other strange activity that occurred there during my upbringing, but in my adulthood, I’ve tried replicating that. I’ve been unable to.

I know I was very young when all of that happened. So, maybe I was misinterpreting something? Maybe my parents, who are very superstitious, were misinterpreting something and projecting it on us? Who knows? What I do know is that since that time, and I was like maybe five or six years old, I have never experienced something supernatural. Have there been curious coincidences? Sure. But the human mind is funny that way, if we search for a pattern in something or meaning, we’ll find it.

For years, I’d visit cemeteries, participate in seances, and readings, occult rituals, ghost hunts, and have visited so many places that are purported to be haunted. I’ve sat in darkened abandoned homes and buildings, stared down cursed objects, but I’ve yet been able to manifest something that I would consider supernatural into the physical world.

So, I do not believe in ghosts. I do not believe in the supernatural. I do not believe in heaven or hell. I do not believe in the afterlife.

I believe only in you and me and here and now.

In terms of my relationship with writing horror, I suppose in a way many of my characters struggle with belief, or maybe they want to believe. They want to believe that there is something greater, that there is some grand answer to justify why all of these awful things happen. So I include the fantastical and the supernatural into my writing to serve as an answer for my characters.

Yet, I wish I had an answer. I think ultimately, for me, there is no grand answer to life and why there’s so much evil. There is no simple solution. This is chaos, and we’re all just trying to hold on to something. We’re all just trying to make meaning of something, and that’s what that house where I grew up taught me.

Your 2021 Stoker-nominated novel Children of Chicago is a fantastic blend of fairy tales and contemporary problems, history and horror. It’s also a perfect example of a setting that really is a character, incorporating so much of Chicago’s real history. What was the impetus behind this novel? Did you have to do a lot of research into the city, or were these things that you’d already picked up as a longtime Chicagoan?

Much of the research were things I had known or studied throughout college, but I did go back and revisit all of the research discussed. I did go back and revisit all of the fairy tales discussed as well, including academic literature and analysis on those fairy tales.

It was important to me for Chicago to be a character. This is very much Lauren’s story, no doubt, but there is no Lauren Medina if there is no Chicago.

The same goes for me. Who and what I am today is because of Chicago, and it was so important for me to honor and celebrate this city, that’s given me the worst days of my life, but also the most beautiful days of my life.

I know that if nothing and no one else loves me again, that Chicago will always love me. It’s the one constant I can hold onto.

Therefore, it was important for me to tell you how much I love my city.

Children of Chicago is also in many ways my story. I was that kid who lost friends to gun and gang violence. I was that kid who was jumped and beat up by gangs, and then there was gang retaliation for them harming me. I’ve lost people in this city for simply walking down the street. I’ve lost people in this city who were simply walking to their car at night after a night out with friends.

I’ve grown pretty detached from a lot of this, and it’s hard for me to get close to people, because I don’t know if I’m going to lose them. So I sit in my office most days for twelve, fourteen hours or more, and work and write and stare out my window out into the street. I spend a lot of time just pacing or thinking, and in many ways trying to remind myself that I’m okay. That I made it out alive, in many ways, and that I’m safe, but then I wake up in the morning and it repeats . . . this fear that today is my day to die in the city on the street.

And so, that’s where Children of Chicago came, it came from my own trauma and my own fears, and that quiet sadness that will never go away but that coldness that always remains.

In the same vein, though, Children of Chicago doesn’t hesitate to take the city to task for its problems. The specific events may be fictional, but they clearly take place alongside real world violence that affects children in the city. How did you decide to take this approach? Did you ever worry about being “too mean” to your city?

No, and that was important for me to depict. I was born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago. This city has been my home since I was two years old. Every neighborhood is different, and our neighborhoods have changed considerably over time. For example, Wicker Park today is in no way what Wicker Park was in the 1990s or other areas like the South Loop. Chicago in the 1980s definitely had that grittiness that, in many ways, I sort of miss and I’m still sort of chasing. Gentrification has contributed to this shift, as well as the disinvestment in many communities.

I didn’t worry about being too mean about my city because the story told in Children of Chicago, save for the supernatural elements, is tame, and rated PG-13 compared to what I’ve lived through in Chicago.

The violence I have lived through, especially as a child in the city, and have seen others experience has changed our life trajectories. The violence experienced doesn’t go away, in some regards. That trauma remains. Of course, I’ve worked through a lot of what I’ve seen and experienced, but the street, gang, and gun violence of my youth was very real. It was very real for me and for many people I know. It’s still very real for many of us today.

It’s become a part of me, that constant fear that maybe one day that violence, that does exist here, and that many ignore—will eventually find me and be the cause of my death.

So, no. If someone says I was too mean, they probably either don’t live here or they live in one of the neighborhoods with mini mansions and their own private security.

In addition to Chicago’s past and present, the novel deals with the relevance that fairy tales have in our daily lives, with a focus on the Brothers Grimm, particularly “The Pied Piper.” Where does your interest in fairy tales come from? Did you have a particular favorite when you were growing up?

I completed a Master of Fine Arts at The School of the Art Institute at Chicago. At the time I was there, genre was not really a part of the curriculum. I’m not sure what it’s like there now, but there was a clear effort to shun away from genre and to focus on literary fiction and all applications of non-genre. However, I was lucky enough to work with Jesse Ball and Ruth Margraff, who were both of my graduate advisors. Ball, at that time, taught coursework on the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Margraff is a playwright, with a fascination for mythic tales. So I was able to learn a lot from both of them. Additionally, I took coursework there on Detective Fiction. So, this story, or some version of it, has been living in my head since around 2008, a story that would incorporate fairy tales, myth, and detective fiction.

As part of my coursework we had to read all of the Grimm’s Fairy tales, at least twice, and we worked on adapting some of them. There are over 200 of those fairy tales, and goodness, so many more once you start looking at other authors, and regions. So this is a short way (I know, the shortest answer I could give here) to say that I love fairy tales. I could go into an entire presentation on why, but I’ll hold that for another time.

My favorite fairy tale is Hansel and Gretel. It touches me even today, this little boy and little girl who are abandoned by their father and stepmother, only to walk into more cruelty—and all they had to protect them was each other.

Do you have any advice for other writers who are similarly inspired to bring fairy tales into their contemporary fiction? How do you tap into the root of the story without being beholden to the “ye olde times” trappings?

With Children of Chicago, I wanted to tell it so that you felt, in my ways, that you were reading a fairy tale.

I think it’s important to first read the fairy tale that you want to adapt. Read it several times. Hell, read it aloud. Then dissect it: Who are the characters? What are their motivations? What was the fantastical/magical element? Was there one? Then I would recommend seeing what other adaptations have been done. Your work isn’t done. Then dive into the academic research and exploration of these tales. What does that analysis tell you?

You need to absorb all of that information and then ask yourself why it’s important to adapt this particular fairy tale. Why is it crucial to use that fairy tale as a framework in your story? What type of weight or texture will incorporating that fairy tale into your story provide?

Because Children of Chicago deals with how fairy tales and beliefs take hold, grow, and spread, do you ever worry about adding to the mythology? If knowledge or consensus reality can create harm, do you ever worry—in either a literal or figurative way—about spreading these ideas through horror fiction?

No, I don’t worry about it. In fact, I want to be able to contribute to the body of lore, folktale, urban legend, and fairy tale, because why not? Why can’t we continue adding and building this amazing tapestry we have of stories we tell one another to help explain the bad things that happen?

I’ve had readers message me and say they’re afraid to look out their window at the streetlight below, because they fear seeing a man in a black suit and top hat outside standing beneath the light. I’ve had readers tell me that they grew cautious of looking into the mirrors throughout their homes after reading my book, and I just love that. I love that my words somehow made them question their reality. That’s pretty profound, that my words not only have an emotional and/or physiological effect on people, but they can influence an individual’s physical movements through their space. That is the power of words. That is the power of story.

On the topic of ideas, the novel is far from the only time you’ve drawn inspiration from real tragedy. Your Stoker-nominated poetry collection Into the Forest and All the Way Through took inspiration from true crime and the cases of over one hundred missing and murdered women in the US, and your upcoming 2022 poetry collection Crime Scene appears to address similar topics. What was the inspiration for tackling those themes in that way? What was it like to work through that pain and, hopefully, to come out on the other side?

I tell people that I’m still recuperating from Into the Forest and All the Way Through. It was a difficult collection to write. Murder as entertainment has always been curious, and I say this as someone who used to consume quite a lot of true crime.

My intent with Into the Forest and All the Way Through was to write something that was victim focused. When I started writing it, there was a lot of renewed attention in Ted Bundy. There were newly released documentaries on Bundy and a Netflix series, and people talking about how he was handsome, and I’m sitting back, observing all of this very problematic attention thinking to myself, this is a man who would decapitate women, have sex with their corpses, raped and murdered a child . . . what is wrong with you all?

I always think about the victim in those last few minutes. How terrifying must that be in those last few moments of full cognition that you will never see your family again? How terrifying must it be to know that your body is being violated by a monster? We just see the words and think nothing of it—“rape,” “torture,” “kill.” But we are so disconnected that we fail to realize the absolute pain and brutality that the victim experiences, the anguish and terror of being dragged away from home, touched forcefully, tortured, and then killed . . .

So the initial inspiration was to explore our excessive true crime consumption, and how I take issue with that. Then it evolved into wanting to tell the story of the victim, while incorporating something actionable, which is why I included their names, date they went missing, and an investigating agency telephone number for individuals to call in if they had tips that could lead to solving the case.

I don’t think I’m okay, even today, after working on that collection. My consumption of true crime has dropped off considerably. I don’t know if I will be fine for some time, given a lot of what I researched lead me to really and truly believe that we’re out here on our own, and there are very few safety nets for us.

Do you think that fiction, particularly horror fiction, can convey messages or reach people in a way that straight facts can’t? Is there a benefit or even a necessity for the fictional approach?

I think so. By day I’m a marketing research consultant, and my job there is to tell stories through data. We try to build stories regarding consumer, nonprofit and government trends or actions with data. People need story in order to grasp the information that is being conveyed, at times.

In terms of horror, for a long time, horror was that sticky, dark, festering thing that lived in the basement beneath the stairs, but I no longer think that’s the case. And look, I’m the first one to tell you that I hate terms like “literary horror” or “elevated horror,” and to elitist assholes that use those terms, look, fuck you. It’s horror. Call it what it is and stop being a coward. It’s horror.

People that don’t consume horror wander around the world closed to the reality that one day they will die, that one day every single person that they loved will die. Also, not everyone is going to die this idyllic death, at old age, in bed and surrounded by loved ones. Some of us will die by accident. Some of us will die by disease. Some of us will die a violent death. Start coming to terms with your mortality now, and that of everyone around you that you love, and then, maybe finally then you will start really and truly living. Horror reminds us of that.

Building on that, do you think that writers—horror writers, in particular—have certain responsibilities in their fiction? For example, a greater responsibility to the community?

Short answer: No. We are artists.

Long answer: I’m not responsible for your feelings, and it’s not my job to tell you how to manage your emotions. If you’re hurt or offended by something I’ve written, that’s not my problem. People took issue that I wrote what they called a “mean female protagonist.” Like, really? We’re living during a global pandemic, but you want to place your energy on what your worldview tells you is a “mean female protagonist?”

My job is to write, not to monitor people’s feelings. If you have time to take up issue with me, then maybe you have time to take up issue with your local political representatives and work towards real actionable change on this planet.

A writer is only responsible for the words on the page. That’s your job, to write. Your job is not to ponder how other people are going to react to it.

Although, I will say that as an artist you have to be prepared for discourse around what you create. If you write some problematic shit, like stereotypical depictions of people, then guess what? People are going to call you out on it.

On that idea of responsibility, at the time we’re conducting this interview, you’re in the process of assembling and editing a charity anthology in support of the victims and survivors of the Uvalde school shooting. How did that idea come together and what was the call to action?

Seeing the events in Uvalde were heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking. I have a child the same age as many of those children that were murdered in Uvalde. As the news was breaking, my partner was on his way to pick up our kid from school, and I just can’t imagine that utter anguish those parents went through, and are going through.

I wanted to do something. I just feel like social media can be such an awful tool some days, but it’s because of social media that I’ve been afforded so much opportunity and have met so many wonderful people. So I wanted to put social media to good use.

Polis/Agora books picked up the charity anthology and we’re currently working on some items and are hoping to release it this year. Proceeds from the anthology will go towards the victims’ families and to an organization working to end gun violence.

Going back to community, you’re very active on social media—helping to promote other authors, bring them together for projects, and work to platform otherwise marginalized voices. What do you think is the importance of community in the online space? In particular, how do you view the online horror community?

I’ve told many people this—I wish when I started out in fiction fifteen years ago that there was someone to help me. I had no one, absolutely no one to champion me and my work. It was very difficult to feel so utterly alone, embarrassed, and like a failure each and every day.

So I figured, what I can do now, given that I do have a small platform, is give back, given the last few years have been good for me in my career.

It’s particularly important for me to uplift marginalized voices.

So many people operate with this assumption that there are limited resources, a limited number of book deals, movie deals and so on, and there’s really not. The universe is completely unlimited. We can all work towards the same goal together, and if other people want to get published and get noticed, then they should be helped.

Granted, I have been depleted in the last few months, with PitchWars (now the program has ended), mentoring for HWA, and my general mentoring, so I’m stepping back a bit from hands-on mentoring. But I’m here to give people shout-outs on social media if they need it.

On that topic, who are some of the current horror authors that you admire or look forward to reading? Who are some currently working writers that our readers should check out?

All of ’em. Also, if you’re not reading widely in horror then you’re not doing it right; this includes reading works by marginalized writers and looking in the indies where coincidentally you’ll also find many, many works by marginalized writers. I wonder why that is? Maybe because big publishing houses don’t publish many marginalized horror writers. I said what I said.

Gemma Amor

Linda D. Addison

Christa Carmen

V. Castro

Johnny Compton

Tracy Cross

Jessica Guess

Eve Harms

Shane Hawk

L.P. Hernandez

Laurel Hightower

Gabino Iglesias

Ross Jeffery

Todd Keisling

Gwendolyn Kiste

R.J. Joseph

Joe Koch

Red Lagoe

John Edward Lawson

Usman T. Malik

Janine Pipe

Hailey Piper

Eric LaRocca

Zin E. Rocklyn

Briana Morgan

Michael J. Seidlinger

Sara Tantlinger

Sonora Taylor

Diana Rodriguez Wallach

L. Marie Wood

Erika T. Wurth

Stephanie M. Wytovich

On a final note of community, you’re going to be a Guest of Honor at the Horror Writers Association’s 2023 StokerCon in Pittsburgh! Congratulations! How does that feel? As a Guest of Honor, is there any particular vibe that you’re hoping to bring to that gathering?

It’s a huge honor! Absolutely. I started crying when I was asked, because this is incredible to be thought of this way by these people I love so much. I just love the HWA and I love working with them.

It’s funny, because in terms of vibe, this past StokerCon I kept pushing people to dress up! I wanted people to just feel happy and confident in themselves, given that this was our first gathering in a few years because of the pandemic. So, StokerCon in Denver just felt so great. People felt so happy just to be out of their house and to connect with old friends and to meet new friends, and to talk all things horror.

For Pittsburgh, I’ll see in terms of vibe, but I feel like I’m a good hype woman. So I’ll definitely be hyping everyone up for it leading to the event.

2023 will also see the re-publication of an expanded version of your early collection, Loteria. What can you tell us about the structure and theme of this collection? As you look at this now, do you see changes you’ve made as an author? What about ways that you’re the same?

I wrote Loteria in 2008. It’s a collection of fifty-four short stories and poems. Each story and poem is specific to a card in the Loteria deck. It’s a Mexican game, similar in concept to bingo.

I think I had pitched it to 400 agents, editors, and publishers between 2008 and 2010. No one wanted it. No one cared about Latin American folklore, legend, and myth for a long time. It was my thesis from my MFA and I self-published it, then took it down, and it was that project that just kinda built up this little following of people wanting to read it, but being unable to find it.

Polis/Agora picked it up. While I no longer write the way I did in 2008—because I’ve evolved as a writer and my interests have changed considerably—I am adding new material to the collection. I’m going to include a few new short stories, so I will be swapping out some of the older stories for new stories, and I will be including a novella. I hope that these new pieces are able to sit side by side with my old work so that people can see how I’ve grown. Ultimately, I do hope people enjoy Loteria. It’s definitely campy and pulpy compared to what I write now, but it’s who I was then, and I’m happy it finally found a real home, after having written it fifteen years ago.

In terms of where I’m still similar, well, the collection is all based in Latin American folklore, legend, and myth, and I will always be fascinated with lore and legend, myths, and fairy tales.

Also, I understand we can expect the second book in your Chicago series—The Shoemaker’s Magician—in 2023. While that’s still a ways away, what can you tell us about that to whet our appetites? Can you tell us if it builds on Children of Chicago or if it splits off?

The Shoemaker’s Magician isn’t a continuation of Children of Chicago. So I’m sorry to people who are looking for a continuation for that story. However, you will learn what happened to Lauren Medina, the protagonist from the first book.

The Shoemaker’s Magician is told in multiple POVs. The protagonist of that book is Paloma Ramos, who hosts a horror YouTube channel and is fascinated with silent film and the history of silent film. The story still takes place in Chicago and incorporates a lot of Chicago history.

I think The Shoemaker’s Magician’s energy is very different from Children of Chicago. Where Lauren Median was aggressive and driven, Paloma is very soft and quiet and reserved and that energy really does follow throughout this book, which is in many ways much more fantastical.

I positioned Children of Chicago as a fairy tale.

I’m positioning The Shoemaker’s Magician as a fable.

So people may be Googling now, “What’s the difference between a fairy tale and a fable?” I’ll save you the search engine search:

A fairy tale is a short story with fantastical elements.

A fable is a short story, generally with animals, that conveys a moral.

Finally, what’s coming up next for you? In addition to those projects already scheduled, is there anything new that you’re working on and can share with our readers?

My third poetry collection Crime Scene comes out this October from Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Currently, I’m working on a Gothic, genre-blending novel that blows up everything that we think a Gothic novel can do, because I’m not sorry—the Gothic novel is tired and boring and needs a refresh.

The other novel I’m working on blends elements of science fiction, crime, and fantasy.

So hopefully those two works find a home.

We’ll see. I’ve done things my way for a long time in this industry. So we’ll see what the next few years look like and where the opportunity will come.

Gordon B. White

Gordon B. White is a Seattle-based author of horror and/or weird fiction. He is a Shirley Jackson Award finalist, a Clarion West alum, and the author of As Summer’s Mask Slips and Other Disruptions; Rookfield; and And In Her Smile, The World (with Rebecca J. Allred). Gordon’s stories, reviews, and interviews have appeared in dozens of venues, including The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 12. You can find him online at or on Twitter @GordonBWhite.