Thursday, February 28, 2019

READ MORE WOMEN: Madhouse Guest Post from Shane Douglas Keene

Last year I came into the madhouse spewing some pretty blasphemous shit that I was certain would start a flame war of epic proportions. But as it turns out, folks were pretty receptive to it and this year Stephanie M. Wytovich has been kind enough to welcome me back one more time for Women in Horror Month. This year I want to take a bit more serious approach and talk about a problem in our society that is systemic in nature and insidious in our early formation as human beings. I’m talking about sexism in literature, and particularly in genre fiction, where it’s as toxic as a nuclear meltdown and just as deadly to us as readers.
First, let me address two questions that come up frequently when I talk about this:
  1. What makes the problem systemic and insidious?
  2. Why the hell is this a problem that genre fiction needs to own?
Well, the first question is an easy one to answer, though the answer may be a longer one. The second one is more complex than it seems on the surface and if you’re discerning and I do my job well,  it’s answers can be found throughout this essay. But the first one is simple to respond to directly. It’s as simple as this. It starts in early childhood, at the parenting level. Our parents beliefs and habits roll down hill as surely as shit does, and where it lands is on their children. And while this isn’t to dis anyone’s mam or pap, it is to admonish and inform young parents of a problem they likely have and don’t even realize. That is, your reading habits runoff onto your kids, and if you’re embracing sexism, your babies will do the same, knowingly or unknowingly. And it’s a problem that, while it’s a little more exposed due to the righteous outrage of many millennials than it was in my youth, it’s only imperceptibly better, which is about as good as saying not at all.
Let me give you a clear example of what I’m talking about here. As a kid, no parent--and later, no librarian or teacher--ever recommended the works of Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary, just as nobody ever suggested I check out Carolyn Keene or Laura Ingalls Wilder when I started reading more mature materials. No, the recommendations, and thus the literature, of my youth were the works of Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak, Walt Morey and Jack London. And later, when I was becoming more and more interested in horror and adult fiction, my father introduced me to the likes of Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Dean Koontz--back then the holy trinity of horror fiction until Barker came along and delightfully crapped on that party with a new brand of subversive, delightfully erotic and irreverent horror. Every other weekend, I would go to his house to visit, he would introduce me to the work of some new swinging dick to include in my growing repertoire of high quality horror. Skipp and Spector, Michael Slade, Joe Lansdale, a cornucopia of great fucking horror. But not a vagina to be found in the bunch. It wasn’t until I was in college that I experienced the works of Shirley Jackson (that woman I told you to shut the fuck up about last year), Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Mary Shelley. But that brief exposure during what was a tumultuous time in my life did little to change my attitude, which was this: men are just better genre writers than women, unless you’re talking romance or fantasy.
It’s not a problem that’s restricted to the males of the species either. I know plenty of women, including my own sister, who don’t read female penned horror even to this day, believing, as my father taught us, that the female experience just isn’t well suited to most genre fiction. But really? If not women, then who the fuck is? If you think about the female experience for even one minute, that logic starts to crumble very quickly. Women are oppressed throughout their entire lives, marginalized, sexualized, and victimized on a regular basis. They must live their entire lives always wary of the potential for insult or assault, and believe me when I tell you that such is never far away from being reality for them. What the hell is more horrifying than living an entire lifespan under that shadow? Let me answer that: nothing is. Imagine it, folks, just for a minute, picture yourself living that scenario, not just sometimes, or that one time when you were a kid, but all the fucking time. Most dudes would disintegrate like Lot’s wife if made to experience such an existence for one fucking week.
I’m sure, if you’ve read this far, by now you’re thinking, “this is all well and good, but there’s nothing I can do to change it.” But you’re wrong. Dead wrong. It starts with the simple step of changing yourself. I did. I’m 54 years old. My transformation didn’t change until I was 49 years old, the pathetic fact of which I will never stop being sad about. Because I missed a lot of great shit over the years. But let me tell you a little about what happened in my life. It wasn’t me suddenly bursting forth from a magical chrysalis, whole and newly formed as a better me. Nope. It was both grudging and gradual. But gradual is good. It’s all you need in fact, to realize a healthier and more enjoyable reading life.
It started when I began writing book reviews, just five years ago. Simultaneously, I started reading other people’s reviews in an effort to learn and get better. And learn I did, unexpected lesson though it was. Because a lot of those reviewers, both male and female, were raving not only about men’s horror fiction, but were passionately talking about women’s work too. I got curious, but I was timid. I didn’t know where to start, was outright afraid to do so, and I had no real compass to follow. So I went with my greatest passion and started reading women’s poetry, a book here and there, interspersed with the works of my male counterparts. That stuff was a revelation to me. Poets like Addison and Wytovich were taking on some serious and seriously disturbing themes, brutal and blatantly honest, gritty as fuck and gorgeous as sunshine. These ladies had some serious chops. So I took a chance and bought a novel that folks were buzzing about. I remember it perfectly. Life-changing events are always memorable. The author was Caitlin R. Kiernan and the book was Daughter of Hounds. 
There was no looking back after that. I’ve read the works of so many women horror and crime authors I couldn’t even begin to name them all, and I’m even considered by some to be an advocate of women's horror fiction, a thing I struggle with because I never feel like I’m doing enough. Maybe there is no enough. But there is try, and try you should. Start like I did if you must, girls and boys, take it slow. Start with a single novel, hell even just a single chapter. Or read a short story or pick up an anthology like the all women penned Fright Into Flight, from Word Horde. Whatever you do, just do it. You’ll find yourself in a world of wonder and imagination you never believed existed. And if it’s fear that you demand from your horror fiction, go check out the works of Poppy Z. Brite, Caitlin R. Kiernan, or Caroline Kepnes. Those badass women will scare the fuck out of you and broaden your horizons. And if you want more, go check out that piece I wrote here last year. There’s a wealth of wonderful women there.
Finally if you’re a parent, librarian, or educator, these words are even more important. Vital, even. Because they aren’t just important to you, Honestly I don’t give a damn about you and your needs in this instance. I care about the children who will follow in our footsteps, who you teach and influence. Those who will carry your influence into adulthood and pass it on to the children they raise and teach. A change in you is a change for the entire future of society, in both literature and the real world. One that’s necessary if we are to continue to function and grow, even to exist. The second most common cause of extinction in nature, after humankind, is a lack of diversity and adaptability. So shall it be for us. So let’s all put our literary dicks back in our pants for a while and see what all the buzz is about with these ladies. It’s important to the world, and it’s important to you. Get on it.
Shane Douglas Keene
Portland, OR

Follow Keene at:
Review site:
Twitter: @shanedkeene

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


Hello and Good Morning, Friends and Fiends:

This week in the Madhouse, we're talking witches--one of my all time favorite topics, as most of you know! For the past few years, I've been seriously smitten with the archetype of the witch in literature, not to mention the practice of witchcraft in general. I've been reading book after grimoire, casting circle after hex, and the more I learn, the more I fall in love. 

Which reminds me! If you're interested in this topic, I have a handful of podcasts that I would love to recommend to you: The Fat Feminist Witch, The Serpent Cast, The Witch Bitch Amateur Hour, and The Witch Wave.

But I digress! Today we're going to sit down with literal rock star poet, Donna Lynch, my fellow RDSP sister, and chat about her poetry collection, Witches, which is currently on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award. Donna Lynch is the co-founder, lyricist, and singer of the dark electronic rock band Ego Likeness, and a horror poet, spoken word artist, and dark fiction author. She lives in Maryland with her partner- artist and musician Steven Archer, who you folks may know as the insane talent behind my--and the entire RDSP poetry line's--book covers.

So sit back, relax, and snuggle up with your familiars. 
It's about to get delightfully dark.

With raven feathers and cat bones,
Stephanie M. Wytovich

I know one of the most popular questions for #WiHM is who or what got you into horror, but what I want to know, is what got you into witches/witchcraft?

There’s a meme about how many little girls go through a seriously dark phase where they are all about Ouija Boards and games like “Light as a Feather”, and convinced they possess supernatural abilities. I don’t think I ever outgrew that. When I abandoned ship on Christianity at age 13, I spent many years learning about and practicing Wicca, but as I got older, I abandoned that, too. My personal mythology regarding witches is a philosophy and a mindset, rather than a religion. The witches I revere the most are either inhuman entities from folklore and fiction who feed on fear and bones and curses, or actual people who were accused and persecuted for their independence, mental health, or defiance. I want to believe in magick, but have an easier time believing in strong-willed desire. Maybe it’s one in the same.

Your collection Witches (Raw Dog Screaming Press) is currently on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards, and rightfully so! Congrats! Can you tell us a bit about your collection? What gave you the idea to create this book, and in your opinion, what does it represent at its most literal and figurative heights?

Thank you! This book was a chance to honor those characters, embodied ideas, and the spirits of those defiant people—some real, some imagined. Maybe that’s another way I practice magick: offering praises to those entities. When you keep their names on your tongue, you keep them alive and powerful.

Your husband, Steven Archer—who is the best book cover artist in the world (and yes, I said that sincerely and a little bit out of fear)—not only did the cover art for your book, but also did the art for the interior as well. How do you two go about working on a collaboration like this? Do you write to his art? Does he paint to your writing?

While I agree he’s the best, the most he’ll do if you cross him is photoshop dogs giving you middle fingers all over your book cover...or so I hear. I’ve had such good experiences collaborating with him over the years. Daughters of Lilith (RDSP 2010) was our first published collab, but years before that we did a book/ art installation called “Twenty-Six” and then later, The Book of Keys, all in the same format as Witches. Steven gives me the prompts with the painting or illustration and often times a title or a short phrase. It’s my job to find the story. It’s also been an extremely successful method of shaking me out of writer’s block.

There are a LOT of seriously bad ass magical women in your collection. Who was your favorite to write to/about and why? Is there a particular type of witchcraft that you like writing about the most?

My favorites were the ones who were real people or based on real people. I loved implying that their successes, failures, and fame were the result of their otherworldly powers. “Morgan Le Fay and the Algonquin Round Table,” “The True Sight of Mayhayley Lancaster,” “Some Like it Extremely Hot,” “The Father of Crows”—they were the most fun. Tradition-wise, my favorite actual religion to write about is Voudou. It makes the most sense to me and is so raw and graceful, joyous and painful at the same time. Though I really do love extending folklore into modern times. I’ll never tire of writing about terrifying women in the wilderness who eat bones and scratch bloody symbols on your door. One of my favorite movie scenes is in The Blair Witch Project: all of those effigies hanging from the trees. I strive to capture in my writing how that scene makes me feel.

Your poem “Circe & Her Victims” is short, but hauntingly powerful, especially when put up against the artwork behind it. Now for the mythology buffs out there, there are two legends surrounding Circe: 1) that she is the daughter of Hecate and 2) that she is the daughter of Helios (the sun god) and Perse (an ocean nymph). Which lifeline does Circe live in for you? Or do you think she encapsulates them both?

This Circe is the daughter of Hecate, taking care of business as needed.

If you could have one magical power, what would it be and why?

To know things. I don’t know enough things.

As a woman who writes about strong female characters, and in this case witches who were persecuted and executed for their bodies, sexuality, and craft, what takeaway do you hope your readers leave your book with?

One of my main goals in everything I write is to express the importance of pragmatism in a world run by emotion. It seems like—when talking about witches—I have that backwards, but it’s the people ruled by impulse and emotion who persecute those who try to live with reason and rationale. Hysteria doesn’t come from magick—even dark magick, it comes from fear. And my Witches are not afraid.

What books are sitting in your TBR pile?

The Sound of Building Coffins by Louis Maistros, two books by Donna Tartt- The Secret History and The Goldfinch, and Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland.

What is next in store for your readers?

I have a much larger poetry collection slated for release this year through Raw Dog Screaming Press called Choking Back the Devil, a collection of short stories I may release through Patreon, and someday I will pick up the pace on a novel I’ve been struggling with for a few years. I love the premise, but ever since my brain got thrashed by Lyme Disease and the mental fog that comes along with Fibromyalgia, writing (and reading) in large chunks has become very difficult. I keep pushing, though. I have a character who really needs to tell her story and a terrible creature that has a lot to say, too.

What advice do you have for writers working in fiction?

When I figure it out, I’ll be sure to share, haha! Honestly, the question I get most often is “How do you write a story?” I don’t always know if people are looking for encouragement or if they believe there might be a formula, but the answer is simply “to write”. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just write it. Read a lot. Make connections. Be visible. Be humble and kind and make sure people know your name. 

Follow Donna at:

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Solitary Confinement in Char's Horror Corner

Hello Boys and Ghouls,

It's been a wonderful #WiHM so far, and I've so been enjoying reading everyone's posts and adding a ton of books to my to-read list. If you're looking for some additional blog series to follow, please consider reading Gwendolyn Kiste's roundtable, Sara Tantlinger's WiHM interview series, and Thinking Horror Journal's "What is Horror?" series as well.

Today, I'm looking forward to introducing you all to Charlene Cocrane, more commonly known as 
@Charrlygirl on Twitter and Instagram. Carlene is a fantastic lady, and someone who I was so happy to meet at the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival last year. She is a powerhouse reader, and can be found at or on the Goodreads Horror Aficionados page.

Please consider giving her a follow before we kick things off, and if you're interested in reading past interviews in this series, you can find profiles on: Sadie Colleen Hartmann, Emily Reed, and Lilyn George (Sci-Fi & Scary).

With Dragon's Blood and horns, 
Stephanie M. Wytovich 

What (or who!) got you into horror?

When I was young my family didn’t have much money so one of the things we did was go to drive-in movies. My dad was a big horror movie fan and I guess that’s what got me started. I could watch all the killing, violence and mayhem, no problem-but if a boob appeared on the screen, I had to lie down in the back seat!

Who are your favorite horror writers, both classic and contemporary?

My favorite contemporary horror authors would include, (of course), Stephen King and Peter Straub. Other contemporary authors that really float my boat are: Christopher Buehlman, (Seriously? THE LESSER DEAD is a KILLER book!), Robert McCammon, Sandy Deluca, Joe Hill, John Langan, Joe Lansdale, Yvonne Navarro, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro,  John Boden, Chad Lutzke, and  Mary SanGiovanni to name a few.

As far as classic horror is concerned, I do love me some Shirley Jackson, Edith Wharton, (some of the things that happen to women in her books are certainly horrific, even if she’s not considered a horror writer), Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edgar Allan Poe, and so many more. One of my all-time favorites, though, is Michael McDowell. The man was a phenomenal writer and we lost him way too early. I wish he was more well-known.

How did you get into reviewing? Was it always something that you wanted to do?

To be honest, I’m not really sure! I started reviewing for fun on Goodreads and I liked the feedback that I was getting. There’s nothing I love more than to have someone say they read a book I recommended, and they loved it. It’s a warm and powerful feeling- I liked it so much that I started reviewing more often.

What venues/websites do you review for and what can someone expect from you when you read their work?

I started reviewing on Goodreads, but have since started my own blog: Char’s Horror Corner. I also have a Facebook page for Char’s Horror Corner as well.  I review on Amazon and also sometimes contribute to :

When I read a book that I love, an author can expect me to talk, talk and talk some more about them and their book-I love to spread the word. If it’s a book that isn’t working for me at the time, or if I dislike it, I most likely will not finish it and will quietly move on. Life is too short to read books that I’m not enjoying.

You moderate the Horror Aficionados on Goodreads. How did you get involved in this and what comes along with this role?

Let me clarify that by saying I HELP moderate the HA group on Goodreads. It has nearly 15,000 members now and is the largest group on Goodreads dedicated to horror books. I believe we have a total of 8 moderators now and we have a ball! Our author liaison, Ken McKinley, puts together author involved group reads every month, which are quite popular. And we also have group reads and a group listen every month as well. With hundreds of book discussions, recommendations and buddy reads, if you’re a horror book fan, you cannot find a better place to discuss them than Horror Aficionados.

We got to meet (yay!) at the Merrimack Halloween Book Festival last year. As a horror lover and reader, what was your favorite part of the event, and are there any other horror book festivals that you like to go to on the regular?

It was freaking AWESOME to meet you there this year! My friend Andi and I have attended every year since the festival’s inception. It has enabled us to meet so many authors, (like you), and to meet and make friends in the genre. I don’t really have a favorite part of the event, (though I have enjoyed some of the panels from year to year, and I loved hearing Joe Hill give a reading year before last.) I think the part I enjoy best is just mingling…and of course-buying books and having them signed!
I do not attend any other festivals, but if I could afford it, I would definitely attend NECON. So many of the friends I’ve made at the MERRIMACK VALLEY HALLOWEEN BOOK FESTIVAL also attend NECON. It sounds like such a fun event!

I know I certainly have my own habits when it comes to reading, but I’m curious what yours are? Do you like to sit down with coffee or tea? Do you have a favorite reading spot?

I’m not too picky about where I like to read as long as I’m comfortable and it’s not too noisy. My Kindle really helps with that. I read while in line at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, in the dentist’s office, while I’m eating lunch, dinner and while snacking!

I guess my favorite place is at home on the couch with coffee, iced green tea or a glass of wine, and with a kitty or two snuggling with me.

What are a few books sitting in your TBR pile?

I have so many, including one or two of yours! Also, INSPECTION by Josh Malerman, S.P. Miskowski’s latest: I WISH I WAS LIKE YOU, THE BOOK OF FLORA by Meg Elison, and THE TRIAL OF LIZZIE BORDEN by Cara Robinson.

What small-press/indie publishers should readers be on the lookout for?

I’m not sure exactly what qualifies as small-press or independent publishers these days, but right now Trepadatio Publishing, (,  has some great authors on their roster, including (S.P. Miskowski and John Claude Smith to name a few.) Flame Tree Press, (,  has impressed me with their line-up of authors lately, featuring John Everson, Jonathan Janz and more. Sinister Grin, (, has some great things going on and one of my favorites Omnium Gatherum, ( has been consistently putting out great stuff the last few years.

What books are you looking forward to reading most this year?

I’m excited about Christopher Golden’s latest: PANDORA ROOM. Also, Thomas Harris, author of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and RED DRAGON has a new one coming out this year. I’m excited for Martha Wells’ MURDERBOT novel later this year, and Don Winslow’s THE BORDER, due out next month. Lastly, Mary SanGiovanni’s most recent: INSIDE THE ASYLUM: A KATHY RYAN NOVEL due out in May.

Whoohoo! It promises to be another great year of reading!

Find/Follow Char at:

Find Horror Aficionados here:
Char’s Horror Corner is here:
Char’s Horror Corner on Facebook is here:
Horror After Dark is here:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Hello and Good Morning, Friends and Fiends,

We're another week into Women in Horror Month, and today in the Madhouse we're hosting Lilyn George, the owner and co-host of Sci-Fi & Scary, which is a site that provides book and movie reviews in the science fiction and horror genres, as well as guest posts, interviews, and original articles. Before we get started on the interview, give Lilyn a follow on Twitter @scifiandscary and Instagram  @scifiandscary, and if you want to check out the other interviews so far, you can find Mother Horror here, and Emily here!

With snake oil and sage,
Stephanie M. Wytovich
What (or who!) got you into horror? 

Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and parents who had skewed ideas as to what was appropriate viewing for a youngling. For books specifically, it’d be Dean Koontz.

How do you, as a reader, define horror? And what is your favorite kind of horror to read? 

Horror is something written or filmed with the intention to horrify and/or disgust. My favorite kind of horror is paranormal (specifically demonic possession and ghosts), closely followed by creature features. 

You are the owner and co-host at Sci-Fi & Scary. Can you tell us a little about the site and what you do/promote there? 

Sci-Fi & Scary does book and movie reviews in primarily the science fiction and horror genres. We review works aimed anywhere from middle-grade to adult. There are also interviews, guest posts, and original articles. My favorite part of the site, though, is my ‘Coolthulhu Crew.’ I read Mira Grant’s Feed long before I ever considered becoming a blogger. It made a big impression on me. So, pretty much as soon as I started the site, I knew that I wanted it to grow. I didn’t want it to be a one-person show. I also knew that I wanted it to be more than just a team of people that occasionally contributed stuff. I wanted it to be more like a family. I’ve been lucky in finding the right people to make that happen.

So, a shout out to Graciekat, Nico, Jason, Olly, Tracy, Sam, and Sarrah. Also J.B. Rockwell, V. Castro, and Mike Justman. Without the group I’m working with, the site probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. Chatting with them and supporting each other on a daily basis keeps things going.

In a glorious effect to further support women in horror, the hashtag (and website) #LadiesofHorrorFiction was born! How did you get involved in this project and what can readers/writers look forward to this year from the team?

Jen, Toni, Laurie and I had an opportunity to realize we worked well together. We each had acknowledged that women were often overlooked and underrepresented in the horror genre at different times. We decided to band together and use our skills in a way that gave back to the community. Thus, Ladies of Horror Fiction was born. 

As to what to expect this year:  We’ll be continuing to bring you the Ladies of Horror Fiction podcast, keeping you up-to-date on new releases, as well as more interviews and guest posts with women horror authors.

We plan on having quarterly read-alongs. In February we’ll be reading Tananarive Due’s The Between. We invite everyone to grab a copy of the book and read with us! We also have some fun Instagram things planned. 

Along with that, Jen’s just started running several writing groups for female horror writers. We’re going to do more to keep you up to date on news in the horror fiction industry. We are also looking to expand a bit and spend some time on horror artists that operate outside the written word. 

Who are some of your favorite female characters (monsters, scream queens, final girls, etc.) in literature/film? 

Shannon Moss from The Gone World, Georgia Mason from The Newsflesh trilogy, Angela Touissaint from the Good House.

I know I certainly have my own habits when it comes to reading, but I’m curious what yours are? 

This question actually stumped me. I don’t know that I have any reading habits, other than always having a book on me. I read on my phone, on my Kindle Paperwhite, and on my computer. I listen to audiobooks during my commute. My downtime is spent either reading or watching bad movies.

Who are some of your favorite small presses? 

Grey Matter Press is a stand-out to me for quality reads. Crystal Lake Publishing as well. Gracie puts her vote in for Cemetery Gates Media here. There are others that do a good job, but these are the ‘best of’ to us.

Honestly, though, I like any of them that value quality over quantity. See my ‘Small Press Publishing’ article on the site for more information.

What are a few books sitting in your TBR pile? 

The Lake by R. Karl Largent, At the End of the Day I Burst into Flames by Nicholas Day, Vessel by Lisa Nichols, The Invited by Jennifer McMahon, Light by M. John Harrison, and The Enceladus Mission by Brandon Q. Morris

What books are you looking forward to reading most this year?

I don’t have specific books, but I have specific subgenres. This year I want to explore more of what horror has to offer outside my normal paranormal and creature features. I plan on reading some bizarro, splatterpunk, body horror, and more. I know I’m not going to like it all, but at least at the end of the year I’ll be able to say I gave them a good shot. 

How can people work to support female writers in the future? 

Bookmark Remember it whenever you have some money to spend on books. People often say, “It’s so hard to find horror books written by women.” Yeah, it used to be, but that’s not the case anymore. 

Read women horror author’s works. Talk about them. Review them. Nominate them for awards! If you run a review site and do interviews, reach out to them. There is quality work being put out by men and women right now, but men get the majority of our attention. That is by choice, especially once you know we exist, and you can make the choice to change that.

You mentioned awards. Could you tell us more about the Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards?

Sure! These awards are open to anything published Jan 1, 2019 to December 31st, 2019. Authors and publishers are welcome to submit for any of our categories. Women horror writers are doing some phenomenal work, and we want a chance to recognize it! You can find out more on our website.

Friday, February 8, 2019


Good morning, folks:

I hope #WiHM is treating you well and that you're making your way through some wonderful books by fantastically talented women. If you're still looking for someone to read, here are some options (with links to their work): Christa Carmen, Gwendolyn Kiste, Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters, Zoje Stage, Caroline Kepnes, Seanan McGuire, Helen Marshall, Linda Addison, and Mercedes Murdock Yardley. I'll continue to give more recommendations throughout the month, but this should be enough to get you started...

This week in the Madhouse, we're chatting with book reviewer Emily Reed for the second installment of my Women in Horror Month blog series.  For months now, I've been following her beautiful #bookstagram photos on social media and anxiously awaiting her reading list recaps so I can keep tabs on my own ever-growing TBR pile.

But before we get started, head on over to Twitter and follow Emily at @BookHappy08 and on Instagram at @book.happy, and if you're interested in checking out last week's installment with Sadie Hartmann, you can do so here.

With graveyard dirt and coffin nails,
Stephanie M. Wytovich

What (or who!) got you into horror?

I wasn't really allowed to read/watch horror-related things when I was younger, so I think the thrill of accessing something forbidden really sold me on it. Mainly I remember grabbing Goosebumps books when I could, and trying to sneak Are You Afraid of the Dark & Buffy.

How do you, as a reader, define horror? And what is your favorite kind of horror to read?

I define horror as dark storytelling that can cause a variety of emotions (to include fear, but many others as well) in the consumer. My favorite kinds of horror tend to be haunted house and slasher stories, but I'm open to trying different things.

How did you get into reviewing? Was it always something that you wanted to do?

I found GoodReads in 2012, but I didn't start writing full reviews until 2016. I started reviewing because I realized other bookstagrammers were reviewing. I think it was something I always wanted to do, even if it took me a while to realize it. I loved book reports when I was growing up, and I studied literature in college... technically I've always been writing “reviews” for school, just in a high-pressure format & not always getting to say what I wanted to say.

What venues/websites do you review for and what can someone expect from you when you read their work?

I share all my reviews on my GoodReads, Instagram, and Twitter, and then I also have some reviews for Ladies of Horror Fiction & Ink Heist. The main thing that people can expect in my reviews is honesty. I'm not afraid of a negative review when necessary, and I believe that the purpose of reviews is to share your feelings with other readers. I will also do my best to showcase their work with photos when I receive it, when I'm reading it, and when I post my review.

I love following your social media accounts because not only are you constantly reading and talking about great stuff in the horror industry, but your #bookstagram posts are beautiful! How did you get involved in the #bookstagram community, and then where do you get your ideas from, visually, to create such great bookish content?

Thank you! I guess I was looking up some books on Instagram in 2015 & I noticed that people have full book accounts. At first, I spent all my time staring at them & wondering how I didn't think of this. I finally created my own & it was a great decision. I hung out on the edges for about a year & was a little too shy to chat with people. I eventually became friends with Sadie, Mindi, and Ashley (@mother.horror, @gowsy33 & @bookishmommy), and they helped me open up & start talking to people. I get inspired by different things in my house that I can photograph a book with. I also get inspired by other bookish accounts, but change up the backdrops, angles, props, etc. to be my own. Sometimes I match things to a specific book & utilize the plot or colors of the cover to create the picture.

I know I certainly have my own habits when it comes to reading, but I’m curious what yours are?

I mainly read at night, and I don't have a ton of other hobbies. I like being on my couch or bed, and with my three dogs. Sometimes I drink wine; sometimes I don't. I have a book in my bag whenever I leave the house & I'll read anywhere. If I'm waiting on anything, I most likely have a book out.

What are a few books sitting in your TBR pile?

Since it's Women in Horror Month, I'm choosing my reads accordingly. Some of my next few are The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read, The Between by Tananarive Due, City of Ash & Red by Hye-young Pyun, Without Condition by Sonora Taylor, How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison, and Daymares by Kenya Moss-Dyme.

I try to read 100+ books a year, and I know you read 270 books in 2018, so for all the people out there who are constantly telling me that they don’t have time to read, can you share how you fit reading into your schedule?

I do want to say upfront that quite a few of my reads are novellas, poetry books, or graphic novels - these are pretty slim books, so that's part of why I read so much. I do not have children, and I'm also dating a reader, so I have additional free time. I just want to point these out because we all have different lives & amounts of free time, and you just have to fit it into your schedule as best as you can. Like I said in another question above, carry a book with you everywhere & pull it out instead of messing on your phone. Another option - I hate going to the grocery store, so I get mine delivered. A lot of stores also do curbside pick-up now, and this is a practical way to find more time for reading since grocery shopping is so time-consuming. If you really can't find any time, listen to audiobooks while driving, cleaning, etc.

What books are you looking forward to reading most this year?

Some of my most anticipated reads are The Worst is Yet to Come by SP Miskowski, Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk, Second Lives by PD Cacek, The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz, Little Darlings by Melanie Golding, and The Toll by Cherie Priest.

If you could sit down to dinner with any author (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you ask him/her/them?

This is probably a weird answer, but Sylvia Plath & I would want to know if she's at peace now. But I would be disturbing her potential peace by asking her that, so I wouldn't ask. I made this more difficult than it should have been.

Friday, February 1, 2019


Greetings Friends and Fiends!

As most of you know, February is Women in Horror Month (#WiHM), and as such, I usually like to do a curated blog series celebrating women in the horror genre. This year, I want to shine light on some of the female book reviewers and artists who are working tirelessly year round to support female authors and create a community of horror-loving book worms!

First up in the series is Sadie Hartmann, more commonly known as Mother Horror. I first got in touch with Sadie last year when she kindly agreed to review my poetry collection, Brothel. After that, we've kept in touch on social media, and I love seeing what she's reading, especially because when it comes to beautifully framed #bookstagram posts, hers are some of the best!

So pull up your coffin and get comfortable, and if you want to check out more of Sadie's work, follow her on Twitter (@SadieHartmann) and on Instagram (@mother.horror). I'll also be posting giveaways of my poetry collections on Twitter (@swytovich), and doing lots more fun stuff on my blog throughout the month, so please be sure to check in and out of the madhouse as you as frequently as you'd like!

With stakes and coffin nails,
Stephanie M. Wytovich
What (or who!) got you into horror?
My mother is the responsible party for my insatiable love of horror. She is a horror lover herself and had a pretty decent collection of it in the house. I read her Agatha Christie books and some other horror classics but also was intrigued by the covers on her Stephen King books. They called to me. At around thirteen years old, I swooped her copy of Salem’s Lot and read it--I was pretty scared and I felt it was pretty mature for me but the combination of fear and the excitement of it being bootlegged was too compelling. I loved the book by the end and thus began my dark descent.
You review under the persona Mother Horror, which I so love. How and why did you settle on that name?
Oh, I’m glad you love it too! My Night Worms business partner, Ashley dubbed me Mother Horror! She had referred to herself as a “baby horror fan” having just started enjoying the genre in the beginning of 2018 and during the course of many buddy reads she began calling me “Mother Horror.” The name caught on with other friends in the community and so I changed all my social media handles.
Who are your favorite horror writers, both classic and contemporary?
Classic: Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson and Edgar Allen Poe. Contemporary...oh man. A lot! Stephen King, Joe Hill, Paul Tremblay, Josh Malerman, Nick Cutter, Robert McCammon, Ania Ahlborn, Jonathan Janz, Bracken MacLeod, Ronald Malfi, Kealan Patrick Burke, Grady Hendrix, Chad Lutzke, Tim Meyer, Adam Cesare, Stephen Graham Jones, Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters and a host of others but I’ve only read like one book  from them, so I’ll wait until I’ve read some more in order to call them a true “favorite”
How did you get into reviewing? Was it always something that you wanted to do?
I want to give credit to Goodreads for that actually and also bookstagram (the instagram community dedicated to books). I signed up for Goodreads a long time ago and would give star ratings to everything. Then a year or so into it, I would put a little more effort into my feelings for the book, so I’d write a brief paragraph or so--when I created a dedicated bookstagram account, I began pimping my favorite books in my photo captions, which then turned into writing more detailed, lengthy reviews on Goodreads. I gained friends and followers on both social media sites. Last year I was approached by both Cemetery Dance and Scream Magazine to write reviews for them and everything changed after that. I never in a million years thought I would get paid to write book reviews so this is literally a dream come true for me.
What venues/websites do you review for and what can someone expect from you when you read their work?
The aforementioned Scream Magazine in their actual print publications bi-monthly (so six issues), Cemetery Dance Online, InkHeist and High Fever Books, at the moment. I also have my own blog: Mother Horror/Sadie Hartmann
Can you tell us a little about #nightworms and how you got started/involved with this project?
So Night Worms started as a reading & reviewing group of several friends. We were getting the same ARCs and kept buddy reading them together so Ashley and I decided to just form an actual posse or street gang called the Night Worms. Ha! Well, it’s way less exciting than that. But we did start a #promotehorror movement that gained a lot of traction in the horror community. Ashley and I decided to grow the brand into a horror book club that ships curated, quality horror to rabid fans in the US. They get 2-3 books handpicked by us plus some original artwork and goodies to enhance their reading experience. We put all the emphasis on reading and reviewing horror offering rewards for reviews and such. I’m happy to report that authors have come to us saying that having their books in our packages has really boosted their sales and generated new fans for them. It’s like my main goal in life to celebrate horror and shine a bright light on the industry.
I know I certainly have my own habits when it comes to reading, but I’m curious what yours are?
In daytime reading, I love a hot beverage like cocoa or coffee, a warm blanket, and quiet. I live in the PNW, so the weather here really lends itself to an introverted, reader’s lifestyle. At night, I love reading in bed and do most of my large stretches of time while everyone is sleeping. I’m a Night Worm. Wink.
What are a few books sitting in your TBR pile?
I am going to write up a review of DEAD OF WINTER by Kealan Patrick Burke. I read everything he puts out. I read the first story in an Israel Finn collection and I just loved it! That book is called, DREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS. I’m finishing COYOTE SONGS by Gabino Iglesias this weekend. I’m reviewing SAVAGE SPECIES by Jonathan Janz for Cemetery Dance so I need to get going on that. Also, CREATURES OF WANT AND RUIN was in our January package for Night Worms and I want to do a big group read of that--plus about 100 more titles that are threatening to topple over and kill me.
What small-press/indie publishers should readers be on the lookout for?
You know I love my small presses! Word Horde, Apex, Sinister Grin, Cemetery Dance, Bloodshot Books, Grindhouse, InkShares, ChiZine, SST, Deadite, Raw Dog Screaming Press, Broken River Books, Dark Moon, PS Publishing, GreyMatter Press, and so many more!
What books are you looking forward to reading most this year?
SO MANY!! I already read Josh Malerman’s INSPECTION and you can read my review of that on Goodreads as well as Paul Tremblay’s GROWING THINGS, which I also reviewed and should be out soon on Cemetery Dance. But I wrote a blog post of all my most anticipated 2019 reads if people would be interested in that? You can read that HERE.