13 Dark Issue #1 Dead Voices: A Review

After an unlucky stumble with Kickstarter, followed by a successful Indiegogo crowd sourcing, the first issue of 13 Dark is out.

While this project had to change from its original concept of 13 individual stories, released separately, the final product is no less stunning. And it holds fast to its original promise of story theme: Light and dark. Sacred and profane.

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Comprised of short dark stories by three authors, each with an intro by editor Joseph Sale, 13 Dark also gives each tale searingly gorgeous artwork packaged with an eerie cover.

A bit about each…

Bethesda by Ross Jeffrey

From the Intro: This story is a dialogue, both interior within the narrator, and exterior, presented in the two key voices of the story: the ‘pale man’ (Joe) and ‘Captain Haddock’. One is an atheist who has turned to God in desperation (and subsequently vilifies Him when he seemingly doesn’t get what he wants) and the other is a devout religious evangelist who talks about the Bible stories as though they were things that happened to him on the way to the shop. We walk the middle road with our narrator, and witness something truly spectacular.

Jeffrey uses atmosphere to present differences so well in this story. The beach is our setting, but it doesn’t have the sun-warmed sands we think of for a vacation. It is cold; the wind is damp and clinging. I shivered when reading, feeling the cold slant through me. In a windbreaker with the vibrant colors of Jamaica, the pale man — in his three-piece suit — looks out to sea. As he has done every day…

Our narrator observes the pale man’s ritual and relays the event to the reader, and it’s all done smoothly, this style that is more typical of a bygone age. Perhaps this is why it works here. Save for some modern touches of barista coffee and the like, the story feels as though it could take taken place at almost any time. The narrator’s conversations with rusty-edged Captain Haddock, a local beachcomber, fill us in on the details of how long the pale man has come to this stretch of beach, and watched the tides.

Bethesda is about a man who has given up hope, who is floundering with the hardest thing he’s ever dealt with, while beachgoers walk by him each day. Never stopping, never looking, never really seeing. Until he finally makes a desperate decision. He lifts a frail, wasted young man into his arms and begins walking into the sea.

At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Jeffrey has written about sacrifice, love, and miracles.

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Under Soil by Tice Cin

From the intro: …A tale of love, it would seem, but scrape away that painted veneer (again a Gothic concept) and you will see a buried truth, a dark beating heart. It is this hair-raising moment of revelation, when the illusion of our desiccated world falls away and reveals something buried beneath it all that must be seen, that makes Under Soil so powerful.

Anyone who reads my reviews with any frequency knows I love Gothic tales. Beauty giving way to decay, family secrets, doomed loves and lives. Under Soil gives me all of that and more.

Cin’s writing style flourishes with this dark tale. The language is like bouquet of flowers, each one chosen specially to convey a feeling that is almost beyond words. The hopefulness of love comes with a crack, a sharp sting that our protagonist relishes. Feeds on. Quickly, love and lust weave together, become something unrecognizable, unwanted.

I am surprised to write these next words: Cin was written body horror is such way that leaves me with both a churning in my stomach and a breathless fascination with its delicacy.

Simultaneously sensual and unnerving, Under Soil shows that Gothic has moved from mist-shrouded castles to wear a new, and modern face.

Undertow by Samuel Parr

From the intro: Descending into hell is such a popular theme in literature that there is even a specific word for this trope: katabasis. And Undertow is one, a modern katabasis that takes us into the river of eternity itself. As with all of Sam’s work, however, all is not as it seems. That which seems grandest can be most fragile, most illusionary, and that which is most fragile-seeming can be made of steel.

Mirabel enters the sewer-like Undertow to save her brother. But she is no ordinary girl.

Parr has created a quest in this story, one where a young magic-user encounters creatures of the grotesque as barriers to her goal. They are at once fearful of and hungry for her, but she has armed herself well. With a soul to barter.

Another tale with a narrator watching from afar, Undertow creates a vision of Hell that will stick with me for a long time. Fearsome monsters clamor for the new, the fresh. It’s what they see so little of, and what they desire most.

Parr seamlessly moves through this world and its sinister beasties, allowing the narrator to come ever closer to Mirabel, revealing a unusual nature, and finally becoming part of her story. It’s a fascinating, engrossing read. A tale of redemption, of resistance, of sacrifice.

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Editor Joe Sale ends the collection with one of his stories first published in Storgy magazine.

“Night Drive” is a great fit for this collection of tales. It’s dark, even claustrophobic at times, making the reader feel the impending doom closing in on the driver, the former Reverend John. Perfectly paced, it winds between a frantic pace and moments of relief, where we drag in deep cleansing breaths before plunging back into the pit again.

Reverend John can’t outrun his past—of lust, power, and baneful gods. He can’t outrun what he himself has called forth through poorly advised ritual.

You can get a paperback copy of 13 Dark Issue #1 at Lulu. Use code LULU25 to get 25% off the purchase price.

 

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My Interview on Talking With Authors

I do a lot of interviews, I rarely am interviewed myself.

But Curtis Anderson of Talking With Authors reached out and asked me for an interview. I’m so glad he did. We spoke about my influences, Southern Gothic horror in general, and why some people may shy away from horror as a genre. And of course, we spoke about my writing!

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Curtis is a phenomenal interviewer– enthusiastic and engaging, and his questions are thoughtful and fun. For those who are nervous about being interviewed on live audio, he also makes you feel comfortable, and if I may say it… really good about yourself and your work.

Thanks to Curtis for this amazing interview, and for reaching out in the first place. I appreciate all he does to boost and bring attention to our work. Listen to the entire interview below:

 

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe: A Review

I love short stories.

I love beautiful, touching horror.

So it stands to reason that I love Gwendolyn Kiste’s work.

I’ve been reading her short stories in various publications for a while now, and I always get this little thrum of anticipation when I see her name as byline. Now, JournalStone has published a full collection of her stories and it is what you need to escape. To delve into another world and lose yourself… just for a while.

One of the things I enjoy about the collection is that it’s horror that’s decidedly pro-woman and girl. In these stories, we have voices and take action — we drive the story forward in these dark and lingering tales.

Head on over to The Horror Review to read the full review of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe.

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The Missing Girl: Pre-Release

Coming from BLACK LAWRENCE PRESS in September 2017, is THE MISSING GIRL, a flash fiction chapbook by Jacqueline Doyle.

In Doyle’s collection of flash fiction tales, The Missing Girl, the voicelessness of the missing is palpable, the girls’ stories whispered into a vacuum or recounted from the point of view of a predator, murderer, or voyeur. Violence lurks below the surface here, haunts the back pages of newspapers, takes up residence in your dreams.

You know a missing girl.

BLURB:

A driver lures a young girl into his car. A woman recalls a not-so-innocent childhood game. A man reveals much more than he’ll ever tell the police. After a high school girl is murdered, everyone has an opinion. A girl wakes beside a dumpster to find slut scrawled on her body. A girl speaks up after a crime—but is she telling the truth? And could you blame her if she’s not?

The Missing Girl is available for pre-order at a discount ($6.95—$2 off the list price) on the Black Lawrence Press website.

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Advance praise:

“In these dark and edgy stories, Jacqueline Doyle has made a dispassionate study of the degradation of girls and the twisted hearts of those who harm them. Most chilling is the ease with which these characters fall prey to violence and how quickly depravity finds its way past the surface of ordinary situations. Prepare to be very disturbed.”

–Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen (National Book Award Finalist 2016)

“Full of sex, lies, and vivid insights into the human compulsion to do the wrong thing, these stories go down easy but hit hard. A powerful and provocative collection.”

–Frances Lefkowitz, author of To Have Not

 

AUTHOR BIO: 

Jacqueline Doyle has published creative nonfiction and fiction in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her flash has appeared in magazines such as Quarter After Eight, [PANK], Monkeybicycle, Sweet, The Café Irreal, Post Road, The Pinch, and the anthology Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence. She lives with her husband and son in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she teaches at Cal State East Bay.

Find her online at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

 

13 Dark: A Fiction & Art Project

Are you ready for a journey into the dark? 

I’ve been asked to be a part of an amazing project.

13Dark (stylized to †3Dark) is a unique project that will showcase both written and visual artwork of some of speculative fiction’s greatest creatives.

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All of the work will explore the sacred and profane, the holy and damned, the beatific and the demonic. Think of the kind of subtle supernaturalism and religiosity of something like True Detective, or Craig Clevenger’s story “Act of Contrition” from The New Black.

 

Who are the writers?  Established names including Richard Thomas, Moira Katson, Veronica Magenta Nero, and Christa Wojciechowski as well as newer voices such as Matthew Blackwell, Andy Cashmore, Samuel Parr, Tomek Dzido, Anthony Self, Ross Jeffery, Jamie Parry-Bruce and Tice Cin. And myself, of course.

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The aim is to release 13 unique short stories monthly, in digital and paperback form, accompanied by custom artwork from Shawn Langley, and with cover artwork by grandfailure. These editions will be beautifully produced, melding the visual and written elements, offering unique insight into our world, and the darkness it holds.

Each story will be edited and have a foreword written by editor Joseph Sale. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something colossal. Joseph has put together a YouTube video for 13 Dark, where he talks about the project and why he quit his job to bring his vision to fruition.

Here’s the Kickstarter link. Check out the amazing rewards, including magazine subscriptions from Gamut and Storgy, custom designed artwork, and professional editing for your novel or novella! Then share, and donate if you can. Talk about the project on your social media channels.

Keep up with new releases, artwork, and how we’re doing on Facebook and Twitter.

Oh, are you wondering what my story is about? (It’s scheduled for release in January 2018.) I have some ideas, but it isn’t written yet, so feel free to leave me a comment if you want to throw out a suggestion.

Day 12: Kenya Moss-Dyme

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Kenya Moss-Dyme began writing short-form horror in her teens and won several scholastic writing awards for her creative tales, whose characters ranged from a grandmother with healing hands to a runaway seeking redemption from the other side.

For Moss-Dyme, short horror stories are a favorite to both read and write because “…you have to hit them hard and fast, and make the shivers last long after the story has ended.”

While she loves zombies and the supernatural, there’s nothing scarier to her than humans and capability of reaching the depths of depravity. These are the depths she explores in her work, and she doesn’t shy away from vivid description of violence, blood, or sex. This is especially evident in her Amazon best-selling dark romance series, A Good Wife. The third installment of the series, entitled A Good Wife: Post Coital, will be available on February 14th, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

She is also one of the founders of Colors in Darkness, a place where authors of color and authors who write characters of color to find support for their dark fiction projects.

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In her collection, The Mixtape, Moss-Dyme has compiled seven of her short stories that have previously appeared solely online in various publications or were available as free downloads. The catch is, it’s ONLY available in print through her website or at one of her live appearances.

Find out more about Kenya on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Day 8: Nuzo Onoh

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Nuzo Onoh is a British author from Enugu in the Eastern part of Nigeria, in what was formerly known as the Republic of Biafra. Their civil war with Nigeria, which she experienced firsthand, had an enormous impact on her writing style. In her books The Reluctant Dead and Unhallowed Graves, you get a deep draught of local Nigerian culture and her writing reflects the oral storytelling traditions of the Igbo tribe. Onoh doesn’t shy away from the gritty details when creating trauma to put her characters through.

She states that her goal is to establish African Horror as bona-fide horror subgenre, rather than the general perception of the term as a negative condition of the continent portrayed by the popular media. It is Nuzo’s hope that soon, African Horror will be recognized and enjoyed as other regional horror— Japanese, Korean, and Scandinavian.

 Her latest release, The Sleepless is her first novel. Buy it here. (Beware, if you are put off by injury to animals, skip the first few pages.) Her other works, The Reluctant Dead and Unhallowed Graves, are short story collections steeped in actual practices and chronicle the divergent lifestyles–all dread-inducing–of characters in Nigeria.

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Onoh publishes her work on June 28th so her readers will always know when to expect more from her. For more information about Nuzo, please visit her website and follow her on Twitter.