Wednesday, January 11, 2017

THERE'S A WITCH HUNT IN THE MADHOUSE: AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH JULIET ESCORIA

Hello fiendish ones!

Today in the MADHOUSE we're going on a witch hunt with author, Juliet Escoria. Juliet is the author of the short story collection Black Cloud, which was originally published in 2014 by Civil Coping Mechanisms, and in 2015, Emily Books published the ebook, Maro Verlag published a German translation, and Los Libros de la Mujer Rota published a Spanish translation. Witch Hunt, a collection of poems, was published by Lazy Fascist Press in May 2016. She was born in Australia, raised in San Diego, and currently lives in West Virginia. 

Last month, I read Juliet's collection, Witch Hunt, and I really enjoyed the raw honesty that is her voice. Her poems are straight-forward, without any sugar coating, and I loved how raw the collection as a whole came off. Great read-- definitely recommend it. But while you're purchasing her book, let's learn a little bit more about our poet. 

While burning at the stake,
Stephanie M. Wytovich

WYTOVICH: Tell us about your poetry collection. What inspired you to write it and how did you go about doing so, i.e. what was your thought process/research like?

ESCORIA: I was trying to write a novel and it wasn’t going well—I felt confused and lost and insecure about my writing. Lucy K. Shaw asked me for a contribution for The Re-Up issue of Shabby Doll House, so I decided to write a few poems. They came to me quickly, and the process of writing them was really fun, which reminded me of a lesson I learned while writing my story collection Black Cloud – I write because it’s enjoyable. If the act of writing is more struggle than not, the work suffers and it means I’m doing something wrong. So I decided to do something impractical, which is put the novel on hold and write a poetry collection in the meantime. My husband, Scott McClanahan, and I had been joking that poetry isn’t real writing and that a poetry collection could be written in a month, so I decided to try and write it as fast as I could. Every day, I’d go into my office space for an hour or four, and write as many poems as I could in that time. It ended up taking longer than a month – I worked on it solid for around three, and then fiddled with it for a few months more after that. It was a really enjoyable experience. There’s something freeing about poetry, I guess because you are only juggling so many pieces.

 
WYTOVICH: How did you come up with the name for the collection?

ESCORIA: I started writing the book in November of 2014, which was in the middle of Alt Lit-gate. I was disappointed in what happened with that—it seemed like what started as a very important conversation quickly dissolved into sensationalism, a conservative take on female sexuality, and a minimization of the important work female writers had done under the guise of Alt Lit—so the term ‘witch hunt’ was fresh in my mind while I was writing the poems. I have a picture drawn by Carabella Sands above my desk of a witch burning at the stake, and one of the poems in the collections references witch hunts. It seemed like a fitting title for a number of reasons.

WYTOVICH: In regards to your writing process, what do you find is the hardest part? The most enjoyable?

ESCORIA: Waiting is the hardest part. I’m an impatient person. I get frustrated that writing takes so goddamn long. The most enjoyable is maybe the third or fifth go-around on a draft, when I’m doing the ‘embroidery’ – making sure the language sounds how I want it to sound, cutting out unnecessary words, and the like.

WYTOVICH: Who are some of your influences in the genre? Do you have any writing rituals that you tend to follow either before/during/or after you write?

ESCORIA: As far as poetry goes, I was influenced by Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit. While I was writing Witch Hunt, I was exchanging poetry with Elizabeth Ellen (whose collection Elizabeth Ellen will be published shortly – it’s amazing) and her work influenced me as well. Noah Cicero sent me a draft of his collection Bipolar Cowboy in the writing process, and that also affirmed what I wanted to do with my book.

As far as writing in general: Scott McClanahan, Mary Gaitskill, Denis Johnson, Dennis Cooper, Grace Paley, Amy Hempel, Lucia Berlin, Joan Didion.

Rituals: When I’m having a hard time, I light a candle and some incense before I start for the day. I like to listen to music. The last thing I do before I ‘finish’ a piece of work is change the font and spacing, then print it out and read it aloud. I’m very partial to writing on my desk—it’s hard for me to write anywhere else, although sometimes I do fine edits on the couch.

 WYTOVICH:  What books are sitting in your TBR pile?

ESCORIAThe Outsiders is a re-read—I’ve loved SE Hinton since I was a child. The Michael Connelly is a not-so-guilty pleasure—my dad gave me this book for Christmas, and he’s one of the few writers we both like. Proof of the Spirit World I got for free from the local antique mall. It’s from the ‘20s and I am hoping it is haunted.

WYTOVICH: What is next in store for your readers?

ESCORIAI finished the draft of the novel that was giving me trouble and sent it to my agent a couple weeks ago. I’m hoping it’s not too awfully long before publication. It’s a fictional account of my teenage years, when I was having a lot of problems, and contains pictures and scans of old documents. Some of the documents are forged.

WYTOVICH: If you could give one piece of advice to new writers, what would it be?

ESCORIA: Nobody will miss your writing, so only pursue it if you can’t NOT write. Otherwise, do something more useful with your time, like studying engineering or cleaning your bathtub.

Book Summary: The much-anticipated full-length poetry collection by the critically acclaimed author of Black Cloud, Witch Hunt delves into the terror and beauty that occurs when love, madness, and addiction collide.

Promotional links:

Witch Hunt at Goodreads // Amazon // Indiebound


Review of Witch Hunt at Electric Literature
Notes on Witch Hunt at HTMLGIANT

Excerpt of Witch Hunt at the Fanzine


Monday, January 9, 2017

RARE BREED FOUND IN MADHOUSE: AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH ERIK HOFSTATTER

Hello Dark Ones,

Today in the MADHOUSE, I have the pleasure of hosting my friend from across the pond, Erik Hofstatter, to chat with him about all things dark and unsettling. Erik is a dark fiction writer and a member of the Horror Writers Association. Born in the wild lands of the Czech Republic, he roamed Europe before subsequently settling on English shores, studying creative writing at the London School of Journalism. He now dwells in Kent, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry. His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, Crystal Lake Publishing, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Tales to Terrify and Manor House Show. Other works include The Pariahs, Amaranthine and Other Stories, Katerina, Moribund Tales and Rare Breeds.

I recently read Erik's novella this past month, and was blown away by the story, not to mention the ending, so once I recovered from the shock of Aurel and his sweet (ha!) sister, I had to to find out more. Lock and load, friends! This is going to be a rare treat.

With blood-kissed secrets,
Stephanie M. wytovich

·     WYTOVICH: Tell us about your novella, Rare Breeds. What inspired you to write it and how did you go about doing so, i.e. what was your thought process/research like?

HOFSTATTER: In a nutshell, Rare Breeds is about a nuclear family. It dissects a modern relationship and examines human complexities—both physical and psychological. Parental corruption and its inevitable consequences, personal greed and satisfaction, sacrifices in pursuit of desires—it’s all here. The novella focuses on Aurel, a man driven by need. A need for a family. A need to belong, to cosset. He foolishly marries an older woman (already burdened with a daughter) who refuses to bear any more children due to declining years. Aurel respects her wishes, but denial chews his heart. After consulting with his twin sister, events begin to escalate. The initial story slice was inspired by Hemoglobin, a cheap Canadian horror film (adapted from Lovecraft’s Lurking Fear) and it spoon-fed my thought process. My brain was suddenly pregnant with ideas and almost two years later—Rare Breeds was born. Research included human anatomy and DNA theories. I detested research in the past, but now welcome it like a lost lover. It’s fascinating to learn and discover.

·    WYTOVICH: Who was your favorite character to create and explore?
      
      HOFSTATTER: Aurel. He’s a victim of his past and peppered with multiple layers of wrong. The majority of his character defects were sowed by his parents. He was a product of their corruption and I enjoyed exploring his limits. To develop such a complex character required sacrifices of my own, though. I had to dig deep and visit places inside myself I never want to visit again.

WYTOVICH: In regards to your writing process, what do you find is the hardest part? The most enjoyable?

HOFSTATTER: Dialogue is a valued friend. The recipe for effective dialogue is simple—it has to be realistic but that’s about it. I enjoy that particular aspect of writing. Narrative on the other hand, requires skill. A skill I’m constantly honing. I also struggle to embrace my final drafts. What makes the draft final? When you’re finally (ha-ha) happy with it and no longer encounter problems? I have no such luck. I keep shuffling words and sentences until my final draft becomes the final draft of the final draft. I wrote the first part of my novel over a year ago and only recently read it again. It was atrocious. So I rewrote the part, but you know what? If I read it again next year—I’d feel the same. The pursuit of perfection is an illusion. Sometimes enough is enough. If only I believed that.

WYTOVICH: How would you describe your writing style to those who are new to your work?

HOFSTATTER: Someone sprayed me with the “schlock horror” term and I carried it for a while. But to be honest, subgenres confuse me so I’m happy with the generic dark fiction writer title. I write about the darker side of the human experience so call me what you want. As for my style, I don’t really know. My first collection of short stories was described as “Poe influenced” even though my knowledge of Poe was minimal at the time. That’s a good thing, right?

WYTOVICH: Who are some of your influences in the genre? Do you have any writing rituals that you tend to follow either before/during/or after you write?

HOFSTATTER: Primary influences include the kings of urban horror: Gary McMahon, Nathan Ballingrud, and Charles L. Grant. I connected with some gifted writers over the years, too. Karen Runge in particular. I view her as a mentor and consider myself lucky that she tolerates me.  Rituals? When I finish a story—I bathe in mead. Cool, huh?

WYTOVICH: What books are sitting in your TBR pile?

HOFSTATTER: I’m constantly drunk on Gary McMahon, but these books dominate my bedside cabinet: The Nameless Dark by T.E. Grau, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis by Anne Rice, A Long December by Richard Chizmar, Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic by Douglas E. Winter, Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror by Ellen Datlow and so on. You could built an igloo with my TBR pile. 

WYTOVICH: What is next in store for your readers?

HOFSTATTER: Last year I mentioned writing a debut novel: Toroa. A second draft is currently in progress. The story is epic and spans across two continents. Again, the protagonist’s temperament undergoes a major transformation—life can be a cruel teacher. I suppose Rare Breeds contained similar ingredients. I would describe it as dark fantasy with a horror edge—an unfamiliar territory for me but still paved with visceral reactions. I also penned a short story entitled Fountain of Drowned Memories, which has been short-listed for an exciting anthology. Fingers crossed.

WYTOVICH:If you could give one piece of advice to new writers, what would it be?

HOFSTATTER: Persevere—there’s no recipe for success. Just keep doing your thing.

Rare Breeds synopsis:

Aurel and Zora Schwartz are a married couple trying to make a modern relationship work. But an old secret is going to affect them in ways neither of them can imagine. And Zora’s daughter Livie may find herself caught in a trap built long before she was born. The ending will leave you stunned and speechless. Get ready to scream.

Blurbs for Rare Breeds:

“Gleefully twisted.”—Gary McMahon, author of The Concrete Grove Trilogy

 “This tale of mounting dread and unusual horror creeps in like a night fog and wraps itself around your throat, and when its icy tendrils recede, what is left behind will shock you.”—Mary SanGiovanni, author of The Hollower Trilogy

“Erik writes the kind of old school horror fiction that is rarely seen these days, making him a rare breed himself.”—Paul Kane, author of The Rainbow Man

“A haunting, and yet touching story, with plenty of tension, Rare Breeds will seep into your dreams, razor blade glinting in the moonlight, eager to claim new flesh.”—Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration

“I’ve read just over one hundred books this year and Rare Breeds has the best ending of the bunch.” – Frank Errington

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: 130 Books to Madness

Hi Everyone,

Every year, I partake in the Goodreads reading challenge. In the past, my goal has been to read 52 books a year, but I’ve since challenged myself to read 100. This year, I’ve managed to read 130 books and I think you’ll see that no, not all of them are horror. I think it’s important to read outside of your genre, your form, and most importantly, your time period, so this is my latest attempt at continuing my education into being a well-read adult.

Here are some of my favorites off the list:

Poetry: The Sex Lives of Monsters by Helen Marshall
Novels/Novellas: M Train by Patti Smith
Short Story Collections: A Long December by Richard Chizmar
Graphic Novels: Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito
With tired eyes and a full mind,
Stephanie M. Wytovich

Poetry
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton
Class Clown by Victoria Dym
Boneshaker by Jan Beatty
The Switching Yard by Jan Beatty
Mad River by Jan Beatty
The Lunatic by Charles Simic
Hotel Insomnia by Charles Simic
The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands by Nick Flynn
Some Ether by Nick Flynn
My Feelings: Poems by Nick Flynn
Underwater Fistfight by Matt Betts
Strange Vegetables by G.O. Clark
The Sick Bag Song by Nick Cave
The Collected Poems of Georges Bataille by Georges Bataille
Love Poems by Anne Sexton
The Man Suit by Zachary Schomburg
Room Where I Get What I Want by S. Whitney Holmes
Wait Till I’m Dead: Uncollected Poems by Allen Ginsberg
The Shadow Owner’s Companion by Eleanor Hooke
The 8th House by Feng Sun Chen
PseudoPsalms: Saints v. Sinners by Peter Adam Salomon
The Seven Yards of Sorrow by David E. Cowen
The Hospital Poems by Jim Ferris
Blood Song by Michael Schmeltzer
Rubbernecking by Molly Prosser
Voices from Empty Rooms by Lisa Lepovetsky
Elegy/Elk River by Michael Schmeltzer
Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke and Hangry by Samantha Jayne
Freakcidents by Michael A. Arnzen
Poems of My Night by Cynthia Pelayo
Field Guide to the End of the World: Poems by Jeannine Hall Gailey
The Darkening Trapeze: Last Poems by Larry Levis
The Sex Lives of Monsters by Helen Marshall
Witch Hunt by Juliet Escoria

Novels/Novellas
The Chimes by Charles Dickens
Next by Michael Crichton
Little Dead Read by Mercedes M. Yardley
The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson
The Wizard of Oz by  Frank L. Baum
Stolen Away by Kristin Dearborn
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Hannibal by Thomas Harris
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
Asylum by Jeannette de Beauvoir
The Prague Orgy by Philip Roth
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy by Mercedes M. Yardley
Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille
Ring by Koji Suzuki
Ritualistic Human Sacrifice by C.V. Hunt
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris
M Train by Patti Smith
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut
The Death House by Sarah Pinborough
Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Kangaroo Notebook by Kobo Abe
Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear by Margee Kerr
Sea of Trees by Robert James Russell
Point Hollow by Rio Youers
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
The Past Life Perspective: Discovering Your True Nature Across Multiple Lifetimes by Ann C. Barham
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Murrmann: A Tale of Van Helsing by Michael A. Arnzen
A House at the Bottom of the Lake by Josh Malerman
The Sadist’s Bible by Nicole Cushing
Rare Breeds by Erik Hofstatter
And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs
The Eschatologist by Greg Chapman
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Nikolai Leskov

Short Story Collections/Anthologies
While the Black Stars Burn by Lucy A. Snyder
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
Grim Mistresses by Stacey Turner (C.W. LaSart, Mercedes M. Yardley, Allison M. Dickson and S.R. Cambridge)
Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories edited by Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward
Monstrosities by Jeremy C. Shipp
A Long December by Richard Chizmar
Cartoons in the Suicide Forest by Leza Cantoral

Graphic Novels/Comics
Gyo by Junji Ito
The Enigma of Amigara Fault by Junji Ito
Human Chair by Junji Ito
Black Paradox by Junji Ito
Hellstar Remina by Junji Ito
Cat Diary by Junji Ito
Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito
Sandman Mystery Theater, Vol 1: The Tarantula by Matt Wagner
Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol 3: The Vamp by Matt Wagner
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman
Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel by Lloyd S. Wagner
Frankenweenie by Tim Burton
Emily the Strange Vol 1-3: Long, Dark and Bored by Rob Reger
Emily the Strange Vol 2: This Cover Got Lost by Cosmic Debris by Rob Reger
Emily the Strange Vol 3: The Dark Issue by Brian Brooks by Rob Reger
George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead by Steve Niles
The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning by Jimmy Palmiotti
Edward Scissorhands, Vol 1: Parts Unknown by Kate Leth
Edward Scissorhands, Vol 2: Whole Again by Kate Leth
Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
The Great and Secret Show by Chris Ryall/ Clive Barker
Monster, Vol 1 by Naoki Urasawa
Monster, Vol 2 by Naoiki Urasawa
Monster, Vol 3 by Naoki Urasawa
The Joker by Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo
Suicide Squad, Vol 1: Kicked in the Teeth by Adam Glass
Suicide Squad, Vol 2: Basilisk Rising by Adam Glass
Suicide Squad, Vol 3: Death is for Suckers by Adam Glass
Suicide Squad, Vol 4: Discipline and Punishment by Ales Kot
Suicide Squad, Vol 5: Walled in by Mat Kindt
The Green Woman by Peter Straub and Michael Easton
The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks
Stigmata by Lorenzo Mattoti
Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
Colder, Vol 1 by Paul Tobin
Colder, Vol 2, The Bad Seed by Paul Tobin
The Creep by Jonathan Case
Arkham Asylum: Madness by Sam Kieth
Batman: Joker’s Last Laugh by Chuck Dixon
Batman: Arkham Asylum Living Hell Deluxe Edition by Sam Kieth
Green River Kill by Jeff Jensen
Harley Quinn, Vol.1: Hot in the City by Amanda Conner
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Author Interview: Leza Cantoral, Cartoons in the Suicide Forest

Friends and fiends! Gather round, gather round!

Today in the MADHOUSE, there are cartoons in our suicide forest as we welcome author and editor, Leza Cantoral. Leza and I recently had the pleasure of (finally) getting to spend some time with each other this year in Los Angeles where we chatted about feminism, darkness and all things magic. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Leza and her work, she was born in Mexico and she runs CLASH Books and is editor of Print Projects for Luna Luna Magazine. She lives in New Hampshire with the love of her life and their two cats.

Below is an interview that her and I did about her collection, Cartoons in the Suicide Forest, as well as some dialogue about her interests, influences, and upcoming projects. There are links scattered throughout to purchase the book, as well as a book trailer that Leza shot and edited herself that depicts the central scene from the titular story in the collection. Enjoy!

With hallucinogenic nightmares,
Stephanie M. Wytovich

WYTOVICH: Tell us about your collection. What inspired you to compile it and how did you go about doing so, i.e. what was your process like for choosing the stories?

CANTORAL: This collection has been a while coming. There are some very old stories in it, though most are new. I wanted to have them out there. I wrote the titular story once I knew this would be a Bizarro Pulp Press/Journalstone book. The collection felt slim, even with my novelette Planet Mermaid in there. So I brainstormed for a new story that would be true for me for where I was at. After I wrote ‘Cartoons in the Suicide Forest,’ I wrote a few more. A couple are pieces I wrote in a class I took on LitReactor called ‘Taboo Topics.’ It was taught by Juliet Escoria and she did a bang up job. Another thing that ended up in here is something I wrote for Ladyblog for their ‘Bruja’ themed issue. Rios de la Luz reached out to me for something and I’m very grateful. I ended up writing about my first acid experience and this figure I met in a dream that taught me about focus and learning to fly. One was from a Bizarro Oz anthology that I was invited by Zeb Carter to submit to. ‘Eva of Oz’ might be the most sexually sadistic and twisted story I have written. I had a lot of fun writing it.

Check out the book trailer here!
'Cartoons in the Suicide Forest' was a strange story. I was not sure what to write. I had recently quit drinking. The months following going sober were really hard. Not due to some sort of chemical withdrawal but for the psychological crutch that alcohol had become for me.

My main character is on the fence about killing herself. I created a character that was not me but I used elements of my own life, like an abortion I had in my 20s. The story became a way for me to express what being sober feels like. What it feels like when all your feelings come back. It can feel like you are OD’ing on feelings. It can feel like too much. It is a story about despair and making choices. If you do not make a choice someone else will do it for you and you probably will not like the result.

The story became something bigger and the villainess from that story will be the main villain in my upcoming Bizarro novella ‘The Ice Cream Girl Gospels’.
 
The soundtrack for writing that story was Rihanna’s Anti, btw. It’s a good album.

Basically, I chose the stories that I felt best represented what I can do as a writer.

WYOVICH: In regard to your writing process, what do you find is the hardest part? The most enjoyable?

CANTORAL: The hardest part is sticking with it. The funnest part is coming up with ideas and cool settings. I am all about style. I am one of those people that actually reads Proust for fun. The hard part is finishing things. Starting stuff is easy. I often dread editing but that is the easiest part. You already wrote the damn thing.

WYTOVICH: How would you describe your writing style to those who are new to your work? 

CANTORAL: My flash fiction has a surrealistic splatterpunk vibe. My longer stories are more Literary Horror. I like to experiment but I also like telling a good story.



WYTOVICH: Who are some of your influences in the genre? Do you have any writing rituals that you tend follow either before/during/or after you  write?

CANTORAL: I have a lot of influences. Angela Carter, Tanith Lee, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Garrett Cook, Juliet Escoria, are some.

Before I write a longer project, I get a new notebook. If it is a shorter project, then I just start writing it down. I hand write first. I try to induce a trance state in myself when I write. I submerge myself in the visual or audio media that is inspiring me and I try to get into the head space of my main character. I use method acting techniques that I learned from Stanislavski books and theater classes in college. Once I get the voice down I am good.

The day after I am done with a story I feel like a human corpse.

WYTOVICH: What books are sitting on your TBR pile?

CANTORAL: Too many. I have Glue, by Constance Anne Fitzgerald, Puppet Skin by Danger Slater, Shit Luck by Tiffany Scandal, and a pile of Victorian era literature I have been meaning to get into. I am actually reading Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

WYTOVICH: What is next in store for you readers?


CANTORAL:  I have a Bizarro YA novella I am working on, as well as a high concept Bizarro Romantic Comedy. I also have a couple poems in an upcoming Civil Coping Mechanisms antho and a story called ‘Saint Jackie’ which will be appearing in More Bizarro than Bizarro, an anthology by Bizarro Pulp Press.


Praise for Cartoons in the Suicide Forest:

"Lyrical and perverse, like a prostitute on acid in a poetry slam, this collection of the dark, erotic, and bizarre flirts with the heroin fever dreams of a William Burroughs and the horrific surrealism of Charlee Jacobs."- Wrath James White, THE RESURRECTIONIST and THE BOOK OF A THOUSAND SINS
"Playful yet accusatory, brutal but sardonic: Leza Cantoral's short fiction will knock you for a loop. And then may administrator a few more kicks for good measure. Enthusiastically recommended."-Adam Cesare, THE CON SEASON and TRIBESMEN

"Leza Cantoral's writing is the product of a warped and dirty mind. You're in for an experience that is equal parts disturbing, surprising, and sexy."-Juliet Escoria, BLACK CLOUD and WITCH HUNT

“Well-crafted, funny, engaging and horrific.”-Laura Lee Bahr, HAUNT and LONGFORM RELIGIOUS PORN

“A bacchanal of language and imagery; Cantoral delivers the subconscious with voluptuous strokes throughout Cartoons in the Suicide Forest.”-Jennifer Robin, DEATH CONFETTI

“In Cartoons in the Suicide Forest, Leza Cantoral masterfully brings readers into bright, bizarre worlds where anything and everything is possible. In the Suicide Forest, trees “glitter and drip manic panic green in the moonlight.” In Russia, two lesbians get married in a winter wonderland, until a purple smoke bomb goes off, warning them that they are wanted by the government. When you least expect it, a star is born—a porn star who finds her power, destroying men with every candy-coated kiss.  In Siberian Honeymoon, each world that Cantoral shapes is rich in color and texture, and all characters who navigate these worlds have one thing in common: They must conquer something colossal, something wild. And no matter what happens, one thing is for sure: There will be sex, and there will be the unexpected.”-Ashely Inguantana, THE WOMAN ALONE and BOMB

“Sensual, darkly adult fairytales bristling with erotic, dreamlike surprises.”-Kris Saknussemm, PRIVATE MIDNIGHT and THE HUMBLE ASSESMENT

“These stories are killer!”-John Edward Lawson, RAW DOG SCREAMING PRESS

Leza Cantoral's fairy tales are as charming as they are dark and disturbing. They veer off traditional paths towards the uncanny and definitely scary. They could have been imagined by a psychopathic Walt Disney on acid. And that's a compliment."-Seb Doubinsky, WHITE CITY

“Leza’s words burn purple on the page with a fierce, unfettered imagination – she’s painted a strange and vivid world where terrible things happen in beautiful ways. Cartoons in the Suicide Forest, like Planet Mermaid before it, seduces you into scenarios that seems familiar at first but turn out to be unlike anything you’ve read before.”-Andrew Goldfarb, THE SLOW POISONER

"Bubbly with a jagged edge. That's how I would describe Leza Cantoral's writing. She reappropriates the fairy tale for adults with the imperfections, dangers and pitfalls that come with the territory. Sit back, relax, enjoy and more important: don't hurt yourself!"-Benoit LeLivre, DEAD END FOLLIES