Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Hello my bleeding beauties:

Today in the asylum, we're talking about the podge craze that is sweeping the horror market. Sloane Kady's artwork is gorgeously creepy, not to mention expertly and uniquely crafted, as well as one-of-a-kind, so naturally, we had to scoop her up and take a peek inside her head to see what makes her, and her dashing little ladies and gents, tick.

So sit back, bite your bit, and tune in to a world of art, horror, madness, and dolls.
Because it's about to get all kinds of Child's Play up in here.

WYTOVICH: Hi Sloane! So I recently just treated myself to one of your beautiful handmade horror podges and I’m just over the moon in love with little Borris. What got you interested in art in the first place, and where does your background begin with it?

KADY: I’m so happy you love Borris! He’s a handsome guy.

I came out of the womb with a crayon in my hand. Art has been my passion since as far back as I can remember. As a child, I was always drawing and creating. While other kids fantasized about bicycles and Barbies, I wanted so much to learn to paint and sculpt and sew and crochet and just…everything. My mind was always reeling with new ideas, but it wasn’t until I was in my teens that I discovered my taste was a bit different.

I remember sitting in math class in my freshman year of high school, and my teacher (also the football coach) asked if there were any artistic types in the class. Thinking nothing of it, I raised my hand and waited for the coach to bark at me.

“You,” he said, pointing at me. “Mr. (I don’t remember his name—the art teacher) asked me to keep an eye out for some students he could use for a project. Make me something right now.”

I had no art supplies on me at the time, so thinking quickly, I pulled a Tampon (un-used, of course; I’m not THAT extreme) and two paperclips from my backpack. Under the skeptical eye of the coach, I straightened the two paperclips and inserted them through the middle of the Tampon, fastening them into legs. I drew a face on one end of the Tampon and left the tail loose on the other. I walked up to the coach’s desk and set the mouse down, waiting for him to kick my ass out of class. Much to my surprise, he LOVED it. I was immediately sent to the art class and was told what I’d earned myself. A week later I was painting a mural on the side of a gas station, having my photo taken by the local newspaper. I never did see the article, but I’m sure it made no mention of how I happened upon the opportunity.

It would be years before I’d find my footing as an artist, but this was when I first discovered there were other people who shared in my quirky taste, artistically speaking, and who wanted to see more of what I had to offer.  

WYTOVICH: What gave you the idea to start creating these adorable little monsters and where can readers purchase them at?

KADY: I started making felt stuffed animals for my daughters a few years back. While they were cute, they lacked a certain something. Precious foxes and kittens; no blood and horror. Not really my jam. But my girls loved them, and people reacted really positively to the photos I posted online.

Over the years, I had seen various types of horror dolls and always loved them, but my plate was full. I just didn’t have the time to experiment. After the release of my second novel (the beginning of summer), I had some extra time on my hands, so I pulled out my sewing machine, bought some quality materials (no craft felt to be seen), and set out to make a stuffed horror doll. I had already dabbled with sculpting and had made several polymer art dolls, but this was totally different. I had no idea how the finished product would turn out, but I was immediately hooked. Much to my astonishment, my very first podge sold within hours of making it, and I haven’t looked back since. I’m stunned at the evolution these little creatures have gone through just in the short time I’ve been making them.

You can find my podges on my Etsy shop (Podges tend to go quickly—I’m always trying to play catch-up with my inventory): https://www.etsy.com/shop/SloaneyBoloney

WYTOVICH: Can you talk a little bit about your process and how you get your ideas, the materials you like to use, etc.? How often do you make new podges? Do you take requests/commissions?

KADY: Many of my ideas come from my daughters. They love to draw up ideas for podges and then see what I do with them. Several of my sold podges were designed by my tiny humans. My lovely girls aren’t quite as dark and twisty as their mama (though they’re on their way), so I add all the necessary snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails.

My process is somewhat similar to that of my paintings and drawings, though it’s definitely more technical. When I paint, I completely lose myself in my work. Fingers working, mind free, I get into the zone of whatever music I’m listening to at the moment and just enjoy the journey. With my podges, I have to be very precise with measuring, cutting, placement, sewing, and staining. But make no mistake; I’ve got my horror movie soundtracks playing, which afford me the ability to completely immerse myself in my work. Music is as necessary a part of my creative process as the tools I work with…unless we’re talking The Carpenters, A.K.A. the gateway to Hell.

As for my favorite materials…well…I’ve got a ton of favorite materials, but I’ll just talk podges for now. I love fabric—rich, intricate, high quality fabrics (I’d be nowhere without natural bull denim and high-end upholstery/curtain fabric), high quality thread (Gütermann), wooden buttons, Dye-Na-Flow for staining, Golden High Flow acrylics for painting, various crochet threads for hair, but above all, my sewing machine. It’s a beast and the perfect tool. Thank you, Husqvarna Viking. (No, I’m not getting paid to say that. I just dig their shit.)

Podges take A LOT of time. I’d love to make one every day, but I’m currently making approximately two a week. I actually just dipped my toe in the commission pond. We’ll see how it goes and whether or not I’ll continue with it, but I’m always interested in hearing requests. If something’s up my alley, I’ll give it a go, so long as I feel confident in my ability to knock it out of the park.

WYTOVICH: What do you think is unique about your work that makes it stand out?

KADY: Buyers want something that isn’t readily available in stores. For reasons I can’t begin to fathom, podges aren’t sold everywhere. I think people also like the combination of cute and horrifying. There’s something appealing about a revolting creature that’s also precious enough to cuddle with. Horror fans in particular get all kinds of excited when they see my interpretation of their beloved movie villains. All of that aside, I put a lot of work into each piece, and I’m dedicated to quality. Each podge is a piece of art, and I’d like to think that’s what is so appealing about them.

WYTOVICH: Why horror? What about this genre specifically draws you to create with a dark edge?

KADY: I love everything horror! Always have. From the time I was tiny, I adored horror films. I’ve always needed my art served with an edge, be it music, films, books, art, etc. While other women curl up on the couch and watch romantic comedies, I play horror films when I want to relax and feel at home. When I was eight years old, I wrote to Cassandra Peterson (Elvira Mistress of the Dark) to tell her I wanted to be her when I grew up. Unfortunately, I was never endowed enough to fill such big…shoes.

So, what draws me to this genre? It’s fun, bold, and gritty. There’s nothing mundane about horror, and it allows me the freedom to experiment in ways other genres wouldn’t tolerate. It’s also honest in a way other genres aren’t. That’s the logical answer, the part I can explain. Then there’s the innate. I’ve no idea why I’ve always been drawn to horror, but it comes as natural as breathing.

WYTOVICH: I know that you also like to work in other mediums as well. Can you give us a snapshot into your art life and talk a little bit about your other work with painting and drawing?

KADY: Like I said, I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I began painting in my early twenties and shortly thereafter began working with an art manager. The whole situation fell into my lap, and while it was a tremendous learning experience, I hadn’t yet found myself as an artist/painter. I wasn’t proud of what I was producing. I was terrified of color and had zero confidence in myself, so I played it incredibly safe and colored within the lines. My paintings were dreadfully boring. Average pieces to go with average beige waiting rooms. Barf!

Shortly after my last gallery showing, my husband got new orders and we were off to Cape Cod, where I became pregnant with our second bundle of joy and put painting on the back burner.

As years went by, I kept up my art but never really found my place within it. My family was complete and that’s where my heart was (and still is, but the kiddos are older and don’t always want their mom following them around all day—I don’t know why; I’m totally rad). Along the way, my heart took another detour, and to make a long story short, my writing career began.

I spent years writing, writing, and writing some more, perfecting my craft and finding my role within it. Then began the submitting process, and before I knew it several of my short stories had been published and I had two novels under my belt. Writing is where my focus remained for many years.

Art always called to me, begging for attention, but HELLO, I was busy pursuing my other childhood dream, becoming the next Stephen King-ette. I worked incredibly hard to become successful and only dipped my fingers in paint, picked up a pen, or turned on my sewing machine when time allowed, which wasn’t often enough. But my soul was beginning to wither without art, so I decided it was time for a change. After the release of my second novel, I settled on giving art my undivided attention, which meant putting writing on hold. As any writer knows, this is much easier said than done.  

From sewing, to paintings, to drawing, to sculpting, to crocheting, to the miscellaneous, I work with all mediums, so long as they afford me the ability to unleash my creativity in a bold way. While every day is dedicated to family and home, once everyone’s off to school and the house has been tended to, it’s time for mama to have some fun. Some days are dedicated to podges, some to acrylics, some to watercolors. It depends on my mood at the time, but podges are in high demand and usually take a front seat.

I’ve definitely grown into a bold woman and artist. One of the greatest gifts age has given me is confidence. 
Where I used to use beige, I now use neon pink; where I used to write with a passive voice, I now cut out my heart and let the reader watch it bleed, and what used to be forgettable art pieces are now vibrant expressions of the wonderful chaos in my head.

Each and every piece in my shop will be daring…and probably a bit dark and twisted (with the exception of my Expression Series, an exploration into the mysticism of womanhood—which just got picked up by a wholesale distributor). My art is a celebration of the woman I’ve become and the even wiser woman I hope to grow to be. It’s a celebration of an artist who found her way and who colors way outside the lines, scoffing at the conventional restraints society has placed upon women. I adore what I do, and I hope people enjoy my work, but if not, fuck it. I’ll still go on, happily creating my macabre little things and living in my dark, happy world. I’ve never compromised for anyone or anything nor do I intend to.

WYTOVICH: In addition to being an artist, you’re also a writer and published novelist. Can you tell us a little bit about your work in the written world and describe your style for those who haven’t read your work yet?

KADY: My style is dark and brutally, unabashedly honest. I think that sums up my writing, both in style and subject matter. My short stories are all tales of psychological horror. Irreparable Deeds, my first novel, is a thriller, and Sleight, my latest novel and baby, is an edgy literary fiction drama with deep veins of madness.
My writing is where I expose myself, where people get to know what makes me tick. I’m an introvert. You won’t catch me chatting over Starbucks coffees and matching yoga pants with all the PTA moms. I keep to my own little table, and while I love fiercely and with unbridled loyalty, I don’t extend a seat to many people. My writing is where I’m forced to unearth pieces of myself that would otherwise go unseen—and that is what we call catharsis.

My goal has always been to write with honesty. We go throughout our lives bullshitting one another; passing vacant smiles, nodding along to small talk, exchanging pleasantries that hold no weight. We live in a plastic world, dressed up to look pretty, but we’re void of substance. I won’t write unless I can write with reckless abandon and without fear of the reaction. My words aren’t easy to swallow and the subject matter is abrasive, but that’s why my readers love my books. They’re real. They’re honest. If ever the day comes when I consider everyone else’s feelings before writing, I’ll personally nail the coffin in my writing career. Until then, I’ll never be able to give it up. Just like my art, it’s an extension of me, an essential element of what makes me the woman I am. My husband and our daughters are my pillars, my bones, my heart, my soul. My writing and art flesh me out.

WYTOVICH: Speaking of writing, I love how your artwork is marketing with backstory to the doll’s life, death, creation, etc. To me, it made me feel like I was buying something that had some spirit, and for a creepy doll lover like myself, that really made the art standout as something special. What gave you the idea to start adding biographies to your dolls?

KADY: They deserve it. It’s as simple as that. My art dolls take so much time to make and they’re so expressive. They deserve to have their own stories, as opposed to just a stock number and title. While I’m making them, I truly think about their history and how their afflictions have molded them, no pun intended.

WYTOVICH: Do you have an artist statement or philosophy that you tend to work by? What kind of message are   you aiming to send/make with your work in the arts?

KADY: The world has enough beige walls and forgettable bookshelves. We’re a zero-calorie world. Buy art that moves you, disturbs you, inspires you—something hearty and chock full of ooey-gooey fat. Read what stirs you and breathes life into an otherwise ordinary moment. Do these things, and I promise to keep creating books and art of distorted beauty. After all, honesty, even at its most raw, looks kind of beautiful if viewed in the right light.   

WYTOVICH: Okay, I have to ask! Who is your favorite podge so far? And what about him/her/it makes him/her/it standout?

KADY: Impossible! I don’t have one favorite. But I do have a handful of favorites. Thus far, my favorite podges are Borris (not just blowing steam up your ass), Phoebe Nuttlebonkins, Ferdie, Michael Myers, Horned Harriet, and The Babadook. As for why these are my favorite, well, color plays a role in that, as does attire. I adore Michael Myers, but that’s because my all-time favorite horror movie is Halloween. I love Borris because he’s a sweetheart. He might be creepy, but he’s totally happy about it, and I’m down with that. I love Horned Harriet because she’s one sassy broad. I mean…come on! You’ve got to have some piss & vinegar in your veins to pull off beaded tassels. And I love Babadook because I really deviated from my typical routine with him. Instead of letting the fabric and stitching do all the talking, I had to use paints. Babadook was a blank canvas. Black and white fabric with no depth or personality. I used light washes of acrylic paints to create a sketch-style finish, something that would resemble the children’s book version of The Babadook. In the end, it turned out really well.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016


Happy Sunday, Darklings!

Today in asylum, I'm interviewing fellow Dark Regions Press author (and friend), Paul Michael Anderson. Paul's collection, BONES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN, is coming out this October, and is currently part of the DRP Campaign that is running. If you're interested in supporting the campaign, you can preorder his book and grab a ton of other deliciously terrifying goodies, too. Click HERE to check it out and in the meantime, take a dip in the hydrotherapy tub and read up on our little chat between your ward comes back for you. 

Don't worry. 
It will be our little secret.  

WYTOVICH: Tell us about your collection. What inspired you to compile it and how did you do so?
ANDERSON: I could be all author-ly and what have you but the truth is a lot simpler and a lot less (hopefully) pretentious: I wanted to do a collection because, partly, of Fountains of Wayne and because I couldn't remember my own goddamn bibliography.  

I have a website, called The Nothing-Space (plug time! paulmichaelanderson.wordpress.com); it's a little blog-thing just to have a webspace with my name on it.  In any event, when I was getting the stuff all set up, I had to do my bib...and I couldn't remember all of it.  This sounds more impressive than it is.  I started publishing regularly in late-2010, with a smattering of things previously (like, literally, a smattering--like three pieces, I think) and I'd published, by this point, northwards of 20 and southwards of 30.  Not a lot, but enough that this story or that thing kept slipping my mind.  And it annoyed me.  I'm a bit anal-retentive about organization.

Related to this is that I'm a big fan of Fountains of Wayne, a pop-rock group most famous for their 2003 hit "Stacy's Mom", but had been around since the mid-1990s.  In 2005, they released an album of B-sides and demos called OUT OF STATE PLATES and, in the liner notes, the lead singer wrote, "We had to put all these things somewhere."  

That attitude fueled the initial drive for the book, but I tucked the idea away into the back of my head until it became available.  BONES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN doesn't collect ALL my stories--the really early stuff and a handful of other things--and it isn't chronological by any stretch of the imagination, but it has my favorite stories; the stories that either show what a "Paul Michael Anderson story" is (if, really, there is such a thing) or does something that surprised or entertained me.  

WYOVICH: In regard to your writing process, what do you find is the hardest part? The most enjoyable?
ANDERSON: The hardest part is getting that first hump.  The second day of work.  Before I sit down, I have a what-if in my head--like, 95% of my ideas are situational and I just write myself out of whatever box I'm in--and a title.  These are the key and the lock and will get me to sit down and write that first night--between 1,500 and 2,000 words.  

But it's the second night that's the hardest. I always try to leave at a good spot, but some first nights you just run out of gas, y'know? It doesn't happen AS MUCH anymore, but I used to have files littered everywhere of opening scenes that I love, but never went anywhere.  

Anymore, I try to stack the deck as much in my favor as possible. I tend to think about stories as I fall asleep--my version of counting sheep, which doesn't say much for my work; thinking about upcoming scenes and dialogue and if I left any holes.  It keeps me jazzed for that idea.  Whenever I sit down. I always edit the last bit--an idea I got from Jack Ketchum and Craig Spector--to get myself back in the groove.  Usually those two things help, but until I start adding new words, it's a special kind of hell.

The best part is when I figure out what I'm talking about.  Like I said, I always start with a situation, but 
that's not enough for me, right?  I need a little heart there.  One, it makes the more character seem more real to me; two, it can drive the narrative.  Once I have "real" characters, their flaws become apparent to me and, really, it's our flaws that drive a lot of our decisions.  

But heart always give subtext; some abstract topic that I have in my head will come out.  In a story like "The Agonizing Guilt of Relief", I wanted to discuss those moments where there's nothing but helplessness, where every decision leads to another dead end.  How do you cope with that?  How do you answer that problem?  Once I nail that down--usually between first and second draft, but sometimes while initially writing--it's like I threw some nitrous in an engine.  It's fucking awesome.   

WYTOVICH: How would you describe your writing style to those who are new to your work? 
ANDERSON: Uh...I don't know?  "Horror" immediately pops to mind, but that brings with it connotations of ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedly beasties.  Three of the stories are science-fiction sendups (albeit with an alien creature treated as god and another about a malfunctioning software); two are straight mainstream pieces ("Agonizing Guilt of Relief" and the title novella "Bones Are Made to be Broken").  I would describe them all as horror-ish.  Horror with heart sounds awful, but I wrote one story--"All That You Leave Behind"--with the direct purpose of using an awful situation to both horrify and reduce the reader to tears.

WYTOVICH: Who are some of your influences in the genre?
ANDERSON: In genre?  Richard Matheson, early James Herbert, Harlan Ellison, Jack Finney, Ketchum, Shirley Jackson, Joe Hill and Stephen King (obviously).  

But I read a shit-ton outside the genre.  Lev Grossman, Richard Kadrey, and Neil Gaiman fulfill the fantasy aspect.  Sarah Vowell--her first three books, anyway--for her turns of phrase.  Richard Stark and Elmore Leonard and Shane Stevens for crime.  George Carlin.  Willliam Gibson's Sprawl trilogy.  Charles Bukowski's poetry.  

WYTOVICH: Besides your collection, what other books in the DRP campaign are you most looking forward to and why?
ANDERSON: Well, I've read a shit-ton of your poetry, so I'm looking forward to seeing your prose-work.  Getting out of the perks, it's more about specific writers and stories than the actual books.  I'd love to see the post-apocalypse stories in RETURN OF THE OLD ONES. Even though I'm in it, I want to see what other people wrote for YOU, HUMAN.  I always half-assedly write for a specific market--like I'll like a theme, but I never say/think, "Oh, I'm gonna be in that", even if I'm invited in.  So, I'm always curious to how I stack up against other people--am I in-line, or did I go deep off into left field (which is the case, I think, with my story in CHIRAL MAD 3, but the theme was loose enough that it still works and, anyway, Michael Bailey liked it).  I want to see Josh Malerman's piece, as well as Lucy A. Snyder's and John Skipp's.  

AUTHOR BIO: Paul Michael Anderson's stories and articles have appeared in anthologies, magazines, websites, and podcasts.  He lives with his wife and daughter in northern Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @P_M_Anderson. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Hello Dark Ones—

Today in the MADHOUSE we’re chatting about Hell and everything that it means to me. As most of you know, my novel, The Eighth, is to debut from Dark Regions Press on October 4th, and as such, my editor, Lynne Jamneck, and I had a nice conversation about the project and what’s all in store for you all soon. Check it out below, and if you're still curious and itching for more once you've finished, head on over to the Dark Regions Press Campaign and preorder the book. And if you really want to secure your place in the circles with me, pledge at the Choose Your Deluxe Edition level, and you'll receive an early e-book copy of my novel this week!

Bless me my sins..
Now let's set this page on fire.

JAMNECK-The Eighth comes across as a kind of Romantic paean to Hell; can you tell us about the inspiration for the story and the influences that shaped it?
WYTOVICH-My entire life, people have told me that I’m obsessed with death, with darkness, when actually it’s quite the opposite; I crave life to an almost lethal degree, but I’ve been in situations where I’ve stared down the reaper and had to wipe the blood from the floor, too. In my experience, it’s always through evil that we somehow find the good, both in others and in ourselves, so I wanted to create a story that focused around the broken and what happened when they found something, or someone, they thought could put them back together again. In my world, the light is the dark, Hell is the least of your worries, and when push comes to shove, my characters learn that sacrifice hurts a lot less than the love they’ve been holding onto.

Because after all, what is love other than vulnerability, weakness?
The answer? It’s everything.
The real threat, my friends, is hope.
And that’s what wrote this book.

JAMNECK-Tell us a little about your writing process; does it vary much
according to what you're writing, e.g., poetry, short fiction or novel-length work?
WYTOVICH- My process for writing fiction and poetry is quite different; in fact, believe it or not, I actually have to write poetry in order to write my fiction.

When I sit down to work on my poetry, I write words and phrases, titles and emotions, and then I start to string them together by looking at art, reading through my notebooks, or listening to instrumental music. I really enjoy classical works, especially when they’re done in violin, so a lot of my poetry has a hauntingly romantic feeling about it…even when I’m draining someone of all their blood. My main goal is always to find the beauty in the horror, even if the definition of beauty is somewhat skewed from popular opinion/belief.

Now the process for my fiction is greatly dependent on the above. I was never one to favor outlining, but now with working full-time and editing, too, if I don’t plan ahead of time, I’ll never get anything done. Once I have the idea for the chapter down, the first thing I do is write the poetic version of it. Why? Because fiction is really intimidating to me. If I put it in poetic form first, it doesn’t seem as hard to tackle. because in a way, I’ve already met it head on, plus, at that point I have the turn-of-phrase and emotional intensity that I want behind the scene. After that, it’s really just expanding and filling in the details, all of which is done to music that I carefully pick, put together on a play list, and listen to on loop the entire time I’m writing.

JAMNECK- We seem to be in an exciting time now where genre fiction is beginning to appear all the more frequently in so-called "literary" work. Do you think this is an intentional shift as a result of genre-fiction's popularity in mainstream media? Or are writers, on the whole, becoming more open to the idea of incorporating genre elements in literary work?
WYTOVICH- I’m not quite sure. For the past two years I’ve worked in that scene at my day job, and to me, it was very apparent that literary writers wanted nothing to do with writing or embracing anything with genre/speculative elements…even when it was so blatantly obvious that they were working on and/or publishing horror. To me, I think there is still very much a divide, which is a shame because horror is a literary genre, and a lot of literary works have disturbing, horrific themes that bleed between the pages because let’s face it: life is scary and people do bad things.

I do think that the media is becoming more accepting of the blend, and to me, that’s a real treat to see, even though I still would be hesitant to introduce myself as a horror writer to a lot of publishers/agents outside of our community because of the stereotype that is still placed on our genre. For instance, do I think it’s safe to say “Hi, I’m a dark fantasy writer?” Yes. Hell, I might even say “Hi, I write psychological/religious thrillers.” But if I say horror? I might as well have a bucket of blood dropped on me because now, all of a sudden, I’m Carrie, not a female who has been working and publishing professionally in the industry for five years.

It’s a battle, for sure, but we’re making progress, and I see that and acknowledge it.
I just don’t think we’re all quite there yet for horror.

JAMNECK-In addition to writing, you are also a professional editor and a
lecturer with an MFA degree. When you consider your own experience, what do you see as some of the biggest stumbling blocks for both aspiring writers and writers in general?
WYTOVICH- I think the biggest problem that I see when I’m teaching or editing is a fear for telling the story that the writer wants to tell. I say that with a lot of confidence because that was me, too. My second mentor, William H. Horner, taught me to cut the cord and dive in no matter how much it hurt and no matter how scared I was of what people would think of me. In other words, he taught me to turn off the metaphorical editor and just write because writing made me happy, not because it was something that I was hoping to get published or get a good mark on. Because of him, I went from writing 20 pages a month, to 60-70 pages a month in one semester’s time. He taught me that the first person I needed to write for was myself, and that made all the difference in the world to me because it took off the pressure of making everyone else happy. I mirror a lot of my teaching off of how he worked with me because without him, I would have not only dropped out of graduate school, but I probably would have quit writing, too. Will is pretty incredible like that. I owe him a lot, and I try to pay it forward by being that person for my students and clients today.

JAMNECK-What are you currently working on; any exciting projects in the works?
WYTOVICH-I’m just finishing up my fifth poetry collection as we speak, and last week I started a very exciting project that I’m just thrilled to be working on with Mercedes M. Yardley and Brian Kirk. It’s a deliciously grotesque and beautiful story, and I think it’s going to break a lot hearts…and bones.

Plus, there’s the sequel to The Eighth.
But that’s a story for another time…