February is Women in Horror Month and I’ve already got my TBR stack locked and loaded. I’m really looking forward to tucking into these tales of the strange and unusual. Some are brand new to me, and others are staples that never disappoint. What’s on your list?
New York City, 1990:
When you slip through the cracks, no one is there to catch you. Monique learns that the hard way after her girlfriend Donna vanishes without a trace.
Only after the disappearances of several other impoverished women does Monique hear the rumors. A taloned monster stalks the city’s underground and snatches victims into the dark.
Donna isn’t missing. She was taken.
To save the woman she loves, Monique must descend deeper than the known underground, into a subterranean world of enigmatic cultists and shadowy creatures. But what she finds looms beyond her wildest fears—a darkness that stretches from the dawn of time and across the stars.
Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer.
In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.
Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?
The answer lies deep in the darkness…
Maria is a wanted woman. She’s wanted by and Aztec trafficker, a cartel boss, the people she fights for, and now the Devil she can’t resist.
Her journey begins as a would-be immigrant turned vampire in Juarez, Mexico until the injustices of the world turn her into somehting else. She’s not just out for blood, she wants answers.
Maria spends twenty-two years in motel cleaning purgatory trying to keep her faith and sanity intact. When she feels all hope is lost she meets an ex-boxer that offers her a new job and teaches her to fight. During this time, she becomes an unlikely bad ass enforcer of justice for the community that has embraced her. Is she a saint or an old God from a forgotten past?
Not only does she evolve into the woman she always hoped to be, but she finds her creator – Adam- he is nothing like she imagined. He invites Maria to travel with him to England to join The Keepers, a vampire organization led by the ancient Mordecai and Dr. Elizabeth Appleton.
Learning that the true vampire way isn’t destruction but the safety of humanity, Maria joins The Keepers as they uncover a plot set into motion by Lucifer himself. The Keepers must end his corruption through political manipulation or watch as the world hurtles towards self-destruction.
Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.
Once upon a time, there was a woman, and she was tired. Tired of pushing. Tired of being pushed. Tired of feeling alone. Tired of so much.
So she gathered together a pack of wolves, a band of mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, partners, friends, lovers, survivors, victors and brilliant, shining things, and she told them to sing.
And sing they did.
The result is WE ARE WOLVES, a chorus of of terrifying, moving and heart-breaking stories from some of horror’s finest contemporary writers including Gemma Amor, Laurel Hightower, Cina Pelayo, Sarah Read, Hailey Piper, V Castro, Sara Tantlinger, Sonora Taylor and many more.
All proceeds from the sale of this charity anthology will go towards helping the survivors of abuse and assault.
Did you know there are other horror writers of the stronger and fairer sex than Anne Rice, V.C Andrews and Shirley Jackson? Two of the three have long since stepped off this mortal coil, yet they seem to garner the most attention, even on a special month like this.
Stephen King may be the king of horror, but every king needs a queen.
For those who don’t wade too deep into the genre pool, I have something to tell you. There are more brilliant women penning horror fiction than ever. In fact, there are so many, we may not see a need for WIHM in the near future because every month will be a celebration for all those who write scary stories.
My job today is to list some of the best and brightest horror scribes working today, along with a new and rising star. Please click the links with their names to explore their incredible worlds. You’ll thank me later.
I’m going to kick things off with one of my personal favorites. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of J.H. Moncrieff. I simply love her books and as amazing as she is as a writer, she’s an even better human being. We’ve had her on our Monster Men podcast a couple of times so she could talk about her exploration of haunted Poveglia Islandand a trip to Dracula’s castle and Romania’s haunted forest. I’ve read and adored every one of her books. Her latest, Those Who Came Before, published by Flame Tree Press (yep, we’re joined at the hip), is a must read.
Hopping over to the other side of the pond is another Flame Tree Press rock star, Catherine Cavendish. If you love ghost stories with a gothic yet modern flare, you are in for a treat. She has a formidable library of books to explore, so shine up your glasses and fluff up your comfy reading chair.
I first came to know Somer Canon when I read Vicky Beautiful a few years ago. Call me hooked! Follow her on Instagram and she’ll make you envious of the cocktails she’s mixing up. Read her books and sip her beverages and you’ll be in reader heaven.
I’d been hearing a lot of chatter online about this debut author and her compelling book. To honor WIHM, I purchased Whispers in the Dark by Laurel Hightower. Damn, this is one addictive read. I’m halfway through and hooked like a hungry trout. I expect many, many more good books to come.
I would be remiss if I neglected to add the always cool, Kelli Owen. If you’re not reading Kelli, you’re doing yourself a disservice. And you’ll fail my horror 101 class (you know, when I teach it some day). As my buddy and reviewer Shane Keene would say, you best unfuck yourself and read her stuff, pronto.
In my mind, I can’t talk about Kelli without automatically going to Mary Sangiovanni. What I remember most about Mary is the time at Horrorfind many moons ago when she was so kind to my little girls who were a little overwhelmed by the crazies who attend horror cons. Such a sweet person, with a very disturbing imagination! A perfect combo.
One of my favorite coming of age horror books was penned by Pamela Morris. Talk about someone who deserves to stand up and get noticed. She’s a little shy, so I need you to read her books and do some shouting out for her!
Talk about buzz, whenever Ania Ahlborn puts out a new book, the bees starting going cray-cray. She has a legion of followers for a damn good reason. Best part is, you can find her books in just about any bookstore (if they still exist by you).
K.S. Merbeth is a writing road warrior. At least her books make you feel like you’re living in the barren, ugly world of Mad Max. I devoured Bite and Raid and I’m ready for more!
Rounding out our top ten list in no order whatsoever is Kritin Dearborn. Man do I dig her books…and her killer bats tattoo! I still plan to copy it some day. Everything she’s written has been aces. Discover her for yourself.
For those of you who don’t know, February is Women in Horror Month. I really wish we didn’t need a month to dedicate to the incredible women who bring the horror to us day in and day out. With so many talented writers, artists, directors and more, every day should be about women – and men – in horror. That being said, it is true that the genre does need more female voices to be heard and seen.
In light of that, I bring to you a wicked cool Kickstarter campaign by artist Christopher Stoll. He’s creating a book called THE FEMINOMICON, an incredible collection of artwork on mythological women from all around the world.
Here’s a little on THE FEMINOMICON in Christopher’s words –
I first met Damien Walters Grintalis at the Horrorfind con in Gettysburg, PA last Labor Day weekend. I was immediately struck by her sharp wit and great sense of humor. We were at the Samhain author table and believe me, she could hold her own with the boys. I especially loved the 50’s era dresses she wore that made her stand out from the crowd. She was promoting her debut novel, Ink, months before it was scheduled for release.
Because her book is about a tattoo that takes on a sinister life of its own. she had made little temporary tattoos to hand out to promote the book. By the end of the weekend, a first time author was the most popular person at the booth. Remarkable. And her novel, Ink, is even more so.
I’m happily seeing more women getting recognized in the horror field, especially on the writing side. No need to dress skimpy and scream a lot when you’re creating a world of terror. This being Women in Horror month, I though it was appropos that I kick things off with Damien. But when you get down to it, man or woman, she’s an extremely talented writer.
It’s very apparent that Damien worked very hard on her craft before submitting for publication, which I think a lot of new writers kind of skip over. We’re all so eager to make our mark on the publishing world that we jump into marketing and promotion before making sure our manuscript is as tight as it can be.
I was very happy that she wanted to appear on the blog and chain and talk about her road to publication, upcoming work and most creative way to die.
To prepare myself for this interview, I read, or more accurately, devoured, your debut novel, Ink. I promise not to give away any spoilers, but I will say that it was one of the top 5 horror books I’ve read in the past few years. Would you care to tell everyone a little bit about the book? Jason, the main character, is fresh out of a bad marriage and he makes an impulsive decision to get a tattoo by a tattoo artist he meets in a bar. Can you say bad decision? Neither the tattoo artist nor the tattoo are what they seem and Jason ends up in a world of hurt.
Ink is truly one of the more original and inventive stories I’ve seen in a long time. Where did you get your inspiration? I was walking out of a tattoo shop and had a what-if moment. Then I had a picture in my head of a man with a strange walk. I wasn’t sure how he was connected to the story, but I knew he was. I tried to replicate his walk in my living room and after a few minutes, the reason for his odd walk and his connection to the story became very very clear.
Speaking of Ink, do you have any tattoos? I have a few myself and now I’m a little nervous when I feel an itch on my arms. Yes, I have six. It may be tempting fate, but I’m contemplating a griffin on my left arm.
I know from my own writing that characters are often drawn from the people who have touched my life in one way or another. Your characters are so reach, so vivid, I just know there are some real life folks in there. So, care to spill the beans on who Jason. Mitch, Shelley and even Sailor are? Jason is a construct of a few people I’ve known. I did not want to write about the big burly alpha male who fixes everything with a flex of his pecs. I wanted someone less confident. Someone breakable. Mitch, on the other hand, is strong and self-reliant. If anything, she’s the White Knight in the story. Jason’s father is based on my own, although the catchphrases he uses belong to my husband.
Sailor isn’t based on anyone I know, but a concept that evil can be anyone, anywhere. There is no one face, one look, for evil and a man in an expensive suit can be just as dangerous as a homeless man with wild hair and crazy eyes. (And no, I don’t believe all homeless men are dangerous, just that many people perceive to be.) Take Ted Bundy, for example. He was good looking, he was charming, but beneath the pleasant exterior, he was a monster.
After I read Ink, I said to myself, “where has Damien been hiding all these years?”. What was your road to publication like and how did you become a part of our Samhain family? I wrote Ink initially in 2009. It wasn’t my first novel, but it was the first one I felt confident about. When it was edited and pretty, I started to query agents. I had several offers of representation, which shocked me. Fast forward a handful of months and I heard about Don D’Auria joining Samhain. I talked to my then-agent, he sent Ink to Don, and a few months later we had an offer.
OK, your debut novel is out and on the Samhain topseller list. What new book or books are you working on and when can we expect to see them in print? My new novel, Paper Tigers, about a disfigured young woman and a haunted photo album, is still in the horror genre, but of a different sort than Ink. My agent and I have been going back and forth with revisions, trying to make it as shiny and sparkly (of the non-faux-vampire type) as possible. I have two other novels waiting in the wings for edits and in between the novels, I also write a lot of short fiction.
If aliens made themselves known to us and asked you to come with them to their planet, never to return to earth, would you accept the invitation and why or why not? No, I would not. My family, my life, is here.
Here’s a series of rapid fire questions: Favorite movie? Favorite food? Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry? Most creative way to die? Kittens or puppies? Alien. Soup. Tom & Jerry. Um…jumping into an active volcano? Puppies. Definitely puppies.
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog and chain. Please let everyone know where to find you and any parting words of wisdom.
You can find me online via my website: www.damienwaltersgrintalis.com , my blog: dwgrintalis.blogspot.com, or on Twitter @dwgrintalis. Parting words of wisdom? Never investigate strange noises while wearing only underwear, and always check behind the closed shower curtain.
So, have we piqued your interest? Trust me, even if you’re not a horror fan, Ink will captivate you. What’s your publication journey been like? And more importantly, what is your most creative way to take a dirt nap?
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