Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Women in Horror Month: Last Call with Sandra and Helen

Throughout February, ChiZine Publications has celebrated Women in Horror Month ( by profiling female authors and our staff. We hope you've enjoyed the profiles and we look forward to hearing from you, either here or when you join us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

The final post for Women in Horror Month 2012 on The CHIZONE presents a few final thoughts from Co-Publisher Sandra Kasturi (L) and Managing Editor Helen Marshall (R). Find out who should give Sandra a call!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Women in Horror Month Feature: Nancy Kilpatrick

Throughout February, ChiZine Publications is celebrating Women in Horror Month ( by profiling female authors and our staff.


Nancy Kilpatrick has published 18 novels, over 200 short stories 6 collections of her stories, 1 non-fiction book, and has just edited her 13th anthology.  You can check her latest news at: and also join her on Facebook.


How did you get started with your writing?
My grandfather brought home a typewriter for me when I was eight years old and it’s been uphill or downhill (depending on your perspective) since then.  As to actual publishing, I faced a lot of rejection early on but kept going because I’m a stubborn idiot and also because this is what I love to do and, dammit, nobody is going to stop me!  (OK, I said I’m a stubborn idiot, didn’t I?)  

I was wounded by rejections of my first two novels (one of which was eventually published as BLOODLOVER) and reverted to short fiction which required less of a commitment of everything, not least of all emotional  mapping onto the work.  5,000 words is different than 95,000 words.  I broke all the rules because rules have never worked for me, I don’t understand them and I can’t follow them (and this applies to life in general as well as publishing), so I had to go my own way and I simultaneously submitted to ten publications at a time.  This is back when there were ten at a time to send to.  So I managed to publish quite a bit of short fiction and that led me back to novel writing.

After 35 rejections of BLOODLOVER and with only one publisher having read it over a number of years, I  contacted an editor I found on a list at Pocket books and called her first (back when you could do that) and she asked me to send it. Receiving no reply after eight months, I called Pocket, only to discover that she had left. I talked to her replacement who said he had not seen the manuscript, but asked me to send it to him. After another six or seven months with no word, I mentioned it to Rebecca, my editor for another story being published with Pocket (in FREAK SHOW, ed. F. Paul Wilson,) and she told me that the second editor had also left the company. She was very apologetic on behalf of Pocket (I told you this was the past!) and looked for the manuscript. It was found in my mail that very day, along with a badly-photocopied form letter from Pocket informing me that they did not accept unsolicited manuscripts. In a snit, I phoned Rebecca back and she asked me to send it back. She bought it. None of this is tried-and-true formula, but it worked for me. True to my dark star history, Rebecca left the company a month before the book came out, though it did very well and still brings in royalties from Pocket to this day.

How would you describe your writing?
Dark.  Wedged between worlds.  Erotic.  Pessimistic.  Hopeful.

Who are your influences?
Everyone I’ve ever read and that is a lot of categories and genres. I have no one influence and even a badly written book or story brings something, if only to say that this is what not to do.

Why do you write horror?
For me, the world of light is obvious. I figured it out pretty quickly in my childhood. What fascinated me was anything hidden in the darkness. I think life is full of grief and fear and interspersed with this are bits of joy.  At least this is my life, and I have to write the emotional life I know. Horror and dark fantasy, more than any other genres, dovetail with my life. And before anyone asks, no, I am not a victim of rape or incest or the survivor of a serial killer, but my emotions are strong and deep and what I’ve experienced and what I feel rolls through these kinds of situations. Such a high-strung nature as mine needs either an outlet or heavy medication.  I’m just lucky I like to write and also lucky that people publish my writing.

Horror's top creature features: who would you date, marry and kill?
I might date Dead Girl, just to see if I could out-succubus her.

I might marry Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula, although that would require some some mutual attitude adjustment.

I might kill The Creature from the Black Lagoon and invite my friends over for a fish fry.


"Vampire junkies, vampire justice and a poignant meeting of the living and the undead. One of the most astonishingand thought-provokingshort story anthologies I've ever read." 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Women in Horror Month Feature: A.C. Wise

Throughout February, ChiZine Publications is celebrating Women in Horror Month ( by profiling female authors and our staff.

A.C. Wise was born and raised in Montreal and currently lives in the Philadelphia area. Her work has appeared in ChiZine, Apex, and Clarkesworld, among others, and is forthcoming in The Best Horror of the Year Volume 4. In addition to her fiction, she co-edits the Journal of Unlikely Entomology, an online magazine dedicated to short fiction about bugs. You can find the author online at

How did you get started with your writing?

Writing is something I’ve always been drawn to as far back as I can remember. It’s the one thing that stuck with me among everything else I took up and abandoned – horseback riding, martial arts, ballet, drawing, rowing, soccer, and learning to play the guitar, piano, clarinet, and ukulele, among others. I was lucky enough to have teachers who encouraged me early on, and helped me submit my work to various competitions and local publications. The fact that a few of those stories were published or won prizes showed me maybe there was something to this writing thing, and maybe I should stick with it. As a result, I still want to be an author when I grow up, but I no longer want to be a veterinarian, a psychiatrist, a cop, an actor, or a doctor. Okay, I’ll admit, part of me still wants to be a superhero, or a Jedi, or the King of France, but being an author seems like a much more achievable career goal, and besides, writing is something I can’t not do. Even if I never sold another story, and no one ever read my work, I’d still write.

How would you describe your writing?

My writing tends toward the dark. Even the non-horror pieces are usually touched with melancholy, or anger, or sadness. My characters are often unhappy people. Sometimes I let them catch a break, and things work out in the end, but it’s usually a hard road that leads them there. I don’t do light-hearted humor; it’s not my thing, and I would be terrible at it if I tried. Stylistically, I try to paint word-pictures, but take it beyond the visual as well, immersing the reader in scent, sound, taste, and feel. There’s an element of my prose that wants to be poetry when it grows up, even though the idea of writing poetry terrifies me. I appreciate the was poetry plays with language, the flow of words, and I like mashing words together, bending them and twisting them and forcing them to behave in new ways.

Who are your influences?

My earliest influences are probably fairytales, myths, and ghost stories, endlessly devoured in various iterations. In terms of specific authors, I’d have to say, hands down, Ray Bradbury. I discovered his work when I was around twelve or thirteen. He cracked my skull open, and filled it with beauty and joy in language and story. I wanted to write like him, be him, do what he did. To a certain degree, I’m still chasing his shadow. My more recent influences, the authors who inspire me and make me want to write bigger, better, and bolder are Catherynne M. Valente, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Jeff VanderMeer, China Mieville, and Laird Barron, among others. Ellen Datlow’s anthologies have always inspired me, too. They made me really appreciate the short story as a form. Some of my influences in the horror genre are  Robert Bloch, Robert McCammon, Edgar Allan Poe, and Alfred Hitchcock, though oddly enough it was the anthologies he put his name on, more than his movies that spoke to me as a young, impressionable devourer of horror fiction. I also have a particular weakness for old black and white horror movies, the classics, as well as those of questionable quality, and their later Technicolor counterparts churned out by the likes of Roger Corman, particularly anything with Vincent Price in it.

Why do you write horror?

I’ve always been drawn to horror; it’s one of my first loves in fiction, both in writing and reading. My mother frequently despaired of me, often suggesting that perhaps I might like to read or write stories that were ‘nicer’ or at very least had slightly less blood in them. Obviously, I ignored her. There’s some primal need satisfied by reading and writing horror – it takes all the darkness and the monsters and makes them safe, puts them in your control. If you have to, you can always walk away. Most horror is also, luckily, completely outside my personal experience, which makes it endlessly fascinating. I want to explore those situations, which are unlike anything in my personal life. What drives people to cause pain, how does the mind of a killer work, how do people react to situations of extreme stress, what do you do in the face of an implacable and uncaring enemy, or what do you do in the face of evil that knows exactly what it’s doing, and has no intention of stopping, regardless? Reading and writing horror is a way of trying to understand the darkness from a safe distance.

Horror's top creature features: who would you date, marry and kill?

Hmm, this is a tough one. I think I’d go with the classic Mad Scientist for dating. They’re passionate about their work, and those early days of the relationship are bound to be a whirlwind of excitement full of wild scheming, and occasional moonlit grave-robbing. But it’s not the kind of relationship you want to be in long term. Marry a Mad Scientist, and before you know it, your head is being grafted onto a giant robot, your DNA is being spliced with a monkey’s, and your organs are being harvested to power a machine designed to travel back in time and raise Genghis Khan from the dead. For marry, I’ll go a little more specific, and say The Phantom of the Opera. I’ve always found him appealing. Sure, he has a slight murdering and kidnapping problem, but he’s also a brilliant DIY kind of guy, especially if the renovation project you have in mind happens to be a fiendish death-trap. Plus, there are the romantic boat rides through the catacombs of Paris, and you can’t go wrong with a man who knows how to use his organ…to play beautiful music, of course. Finally, I’d have to go with the shambling, Romero-style zombie for my kill. They’re lousy conversationalists, they never want to share their food, and they have extremely poor hygiene. Plus it’s just common sense from a basic survival standpoint.


A.C. Wise's story "The Final Girl Theory" first appeared on Coming May 2012, it appears in The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Four, edited by Ellen Datlow!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Women in Horror Month Feature: Nancy Baker

Throughout February, ChiZine Publications is celebrating Women in Horror Month ( by profiling female authors and our staff.

Nancy Baker blames her life-long love of horror and fantasy fiction on the first horror story she can remember: The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter.  She dabbled in rock and roll (writing lyrics and singing in basement bands during her university years) before switching to writing fiction.  She made her first professional sale in 1988, to Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone magazine and has subsequently published 3 novels.  She is at work (slowly, very slowly) on her fourth – which she claims has no vampires in it.

By day, she makes her living as business manager for a large Canadian magazine publisher.

How did you get started with your writing?

I started writing fiction in about Grade 3, with a series of stories about talking cats.  I graduated into adventure stories about superheroines, spy thrillers modelled on Modesty Blaise and then finally into fantasy and horror.  My first publication was in a Canadian zine called Cadre and my first professional sale was to The Twilight Zone magazine back in the late 1980s. I have to credit the U of T Writer’s Workshop in the early 1990s with giving me the courage to submit my first vampire novel to Penguin.

How would you describe your writing?

My horror fiction is mostly psychological (not very “wet” as one observer put it) and I’ve always been more interested in exploring the consequences of the intrusion of the unknown than in violence.  My fantasy writing has the same slant, so I tend to work on a much smaller scale than the “epic battle between good and evil for the fate of the world” that’s common in fantasy.

Who are your influences?

I love writing that combines poetry and precision.  I’ve been influenced by writers like Tanith Lee, Shirley Jackson, C.J. Cherryh, Ruth Rendell, and Robin McKinley but I’d sell my soul to be able to write half as beautifully as Patricia McKillip does.

Why do you write horror?

I was drawn to horror because of its immediacy, its impact and the fact that it didn’t require the extensive world-building that fantasy does (still one of my struggles).  I loved the way a great horror short story draws you in, unsettles you, gives the knife a vicious twist and then ends, job done.  I liked the fact that there were all these pre-existing but surprisingly flexible mythologies we could use to tell the stories that interest us.  One of the strengths of vampires, for example, is that they can take so many forms, both narratively and metaphorically.

The truth is that at heart I’m probably more of a fantasy writer, despite my world-building challenges.  It was my first love and is still the primary country of my imagination.  But I’m a happy to play tourist in the horror realm on a regular basis.

Horror's top creature features: who would you date, marry and kill?

I’d date the right vampire (definitely Dimitri Rozokov).  I’d certainly kill the wrong one (anyone who sparkles or the terrifying creature in Michael Rowe’s Enter, Night).  All monsters strike me as a bad bet for marriage (though many a story has come out of the tendency of humans to keep making that particular mistake).


Learn more about Nancy Baker at her website:!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Women in Horror Month Feature: Sèphera Girón

Throughout February, ChiZine Publications is celebrating Women in Horror Month ( by profiling female authors and our staff.

Sèphera Girón has books published in horror, erotica, romance, and non-fiction under several different names. When she's not writing, she's a professional tarot reader and loves to go on paranormal investigations. Find out more about her at:

 How did you get started with your writing?

I was a precocious kid who loved to read. My parents were teachers so I learned to read and write long before I ever went to school. Once I realized I could tell my own stories, I never stopped.

How would you describe your writing?
Dark, strange, twisting, humorous, sarcastic, unflinching

Who are your influences?
Original fairy tales, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Mary Shelley, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Wolf, it goes on. I was a huge bookworm growing up.

Why do you write horror?
I write stories. I tend to have naturally dark sensibilities and it emerges in my work. I blame my Spanish heritage with all those bullfights, Goya, Picasso, the Inquisition, etc.

Horror's top creature features: who would you date, marry and kill?
Maybe I'd date Pinhead for a while and have some SM fun in the pits of hell then escape before he tears my soul apart. I'd marry the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I think he'd treat me well and he'd always be off swimming so I could write. I love swimming too so we could have adventures.  I'd have to kill Jigsaw.


Ms. Giron has a delightfully disturbing knack for taking ordinary people who would be our neighbors, waitresses, and grocery clerks and exposing their emotional frailties to us in an ant-farm fashion. 
–C.D. Winters


Buy the print edition of The Witch's Field Here!
Buy the ebook edition of The Witch's Field Here! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bakka Phoenix recommends The Pattern Scars

"Inventive, well-written and unique, The Pattern Scars examines how even the best of emotions can be twisted into something strangled and perilous. Not for the faint of heart." - Chris Szego for Bakka Phoenix Books

Read the recommendation!

Order The Pattern Scars!

Two more great reviews of Every Shallow Cut!

Dead End Follies raves: "EVERY SHALLOW CUT is as beautiful as it is sad and depressing. ... It will resonate inside you like somebody smacked you upside the head with a baseball bat. I will read EVERY SHALLOW CUT again, many, many times for it's a work that has staying power."

Read it here.

And there's a very in-depth review up at Open Letters Monthly, analyzing the book's plot and characterization in great detail. Craig Dowd writes: "Every Shallow Cut is not so much a broken window into the battered soul of the Everyman, but a broken mirror, lined with age and ignorance, showing each and every one of us what we’re capable of – and, more specifically, so very close to becoming."

Check it out. (spoiler-heavy)

Order Every Shallow Cut.

Imaginarium 2012 now available for preorder

ChiZine is proud to present Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, now available for preorder. Co-published with Tightrope Books, this is a collection of the very best speculative short fiction and poetry published in the last year. It features stories and poetry from Kelley Armstrong, Cory Doctorow, Gemma Files, David Nickle and many more.

Find out more about Imaginarium here!

First review of The Steel Seraglio

Publishers Weekly has posted their review of the upcoming The Steel Seraglio, a tale of Arabian intrigue by Mike Carey, Linda Carey, and Louise Carey. They write:
"The Careys nest smaller tales within the larger story and often jump around in time; it’s a good approach, backed by fast pacing and great characters . . . a thrilling tale."

Read the review.

Learn more about The Steel Seraglio and preorder it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Women in Horror Month Feature: Halli Villegas

Throughout February, ChiZine Publications is celebrating Women in Horror Month ( by profiling our female authors and staff.

Halli Villegas is the author of three collections of poetry, Red Promises, In the Silence Absence Makes and The Human Cannonball, and several anthology pieces. She has published online erotica under a pen name. Her poetry and prose have appeared in places such as the LRC, Exile, Kiss Machine, Pagitica and, most recently, Variety Crossings and The Windsor Review. Halli has received funding for her writing from the OAC Works in Progress in 2006, the TAC mid-level writers in 2007 and 2009, and the OAC Works in Progress in 2009.

She is also the publisher of Tightrope Books and the administrative director of the Rowers Pub Reading Series.

How did you get started with your writing?

I wrote all my life but I never thought seriously about being a writer until I took a writing workshop with Dr. Bruce Meyer at U of T many years ago. He introduced me to my first publisher and the rest is history. I started out writing poetry and the odd short piece for anthologies and such, but my heart has always belonged to horror. I wrote a few stories and loved doing it so much I kept going. Now I am working on a novel. The kind words that Ellen Datlow gave me on my first book, The Hair Wreath, and her encouragement when I met her in person has been a big incentive to keep on writing. Sandra Kasturi has also been a huge supporter and made me feel like this is something I could do.

How would you describe your writing?
A lot of my writing comes from my dreams, or ideas that occur to me after a dream. It is more psychological horror then gory horror, or horror that has a neat conclusion (like the typical "Oh! It's because they were living on an old Indian burial ground. Who would have thought?" school of horror). I like to use contemporary settings - suburban or urban - that are not on the surface creepy, but have an underbelly of dystopia. I try to have a sense of uneasiness in my writing, and moments that make your skin crawl. I don’t like to provide easy answers to the questions I raise.

Who are your influences?
There have been a lot of influences on my writing and the list constantly grows. Some of my all time favourites are Kelly Link, Shirley Jackson, Joyce Carol Oates, Ian McEwan, Edith Wharton, Henry James, those cheap true ghost story books that were popular in the 70’s, and books on epidemiology.

Of course Stephen King’s The Shining is still a huge influence, just like The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

Why do you write horror?
I write horror because I love it. We are a family of ghost story tellers, superstitious and haunted by all sorts of personal demons set down in the very white bread, upscale, perfect suburb of Grosse Pointe Michigan. I spent a lot of my childhood in my friend’s houses wondering what was behind the closed doors, hearing muffled arguments or crying in other rooms. I saw dead squirrels crushed in the street by soccer moms in shiny SUV’s rushing to get their blond children to the game. The streets just over the border where the houses were burnt out, abandoned and no one walked down them.  It seemed and still seems to me that there is something there, some message, clue or pattern, and I write to try to put my finger on it, but it always remains just out of reach.

Horror's top creature features: who would you date, marry and kill?

I don’t think I would date or marry any characters in horror. Most of them are headed for disaster, or are sociopathic, or just plain nuts.  I’ve spent my life trying to avoid that in relationships.

I would like to kill Sloan Man, because his picture scares the shit out of me and gave me one of the worst nightmares I’ve had in a long time. Since he is the Chizine mascot I am constantly being confronted with his face. Someday I’m going to rip it off their banner and stomp on it.


A touch of magical realism, a whiff of the dark. Great emotional intensity is wrought in only a few pages. Domestic skirmishes, open ended mysteries and always—in the midst of life—the delicate scent of corruption. Villegas's fresh voice promises a great future in speculative literature.
Ellen Datlow


Buy The Hair Wreath Here!