You know, sometimes Mother Horror feels a little left out of the conversation. I don’t watch very many horror movies, so when some of my horror fiction friends start bringing movies into a bookish discussion, I’m often left standing alone in the corner with not much to say.
If you’ve read an anthology of horror, science fiction or fantasy stories in the last couple of decades, chances are good it was edited by Ellen Datlow. In addition to editing more than 100 anthologies over the course of her 35 year career, Datlow has served as the editor magazines such as OMNI and Event Horizon, and currently acquires fiction for Tor.com.
Datlow’s impeccably keen eye for talent has made her one of the most important figures working in modern horror fiction. We at Cemetery Dance are honored that she took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us.
In 2018 Alma Katsu took the world of horror fiction by storm with The Hunger, her re-imagining of the tragic story of the Donner Party. The Hunger was named to NPR’s list of 100 Best Horror Stories, and made the “Most Anticipated” lists of a number of media outlets, including The Guardian and io9.
Katsu is currently working on a new novel centered around another historic tragedy—the Titanic—as well as a spy novel and other projects. She was kind enough to take time out of her schedule to chat with Cemetery Dance.
In 1990-1993 I was a skater girl groupie. I wore high-top Converse sneakers, ripped jeans, a flannel shirt tied around my waist and garage band tees. After school and on the weekends, the boys would skate and a few other girls and I would watch. They let us sit on their old boards and we would smoke weed or cigarettes and laugh when the boys ate it and cheer when they landed something.
We listened to The Dead Kennedys, NOFX, the Sex Pistols and the Pixies (theme song: “Where is My Mind”). So when I say that I could immediately relate to Chad Lutzke’s coming-of-age novella, The Same Deep Water As You, it is because I lived that lifestyle and in that same era.
Last year I read my first Jonathan Janz story titled Children of the Dark. I absolutely loved it. Janz expertly fused together a gruesome horror story and a nostalgic coming-of-age tale. The monsters in that book—the lithe, tall, insatiably hungry Wendigos—were a formidable enemy that I enjoyed reading about as they went on a blood-soaked rampage.
After reading nothing but horror for over a year now, is it possible for me to still be scared? I’ve been asked that question quite a bit lately and the answer is: Absolutely. If horror fans are honest with themselves, we are showing up for horror because there is always the potential for something to crawl up under our skin and linger there. We like it.
The book Hag by Kathleen Kaufman is exactly what I’ve always wanted in a novel about witches. Every night, I crawled into bed and let my mind escape to the Scottish lowlands to hear more about the Cailleach — an ancient, matriarchal entity. The folklore and legend is intertwined with the modern day, coming-of-age story of the protagonist Alice Grace. Alice Grace has the ability to see things before they happen and sometimes it startles and scares her but often times, the gift serves her well.
Jeremy Shipp has a unique brand of psychological horror. I read his novella, The Atrocities, earlier this year and was taken aback by Shipp’s bold, almost reckless storytelling choices. It seems like anything can happen in his books which can be quite unexpected for the reader. I would say more often than not these strange, almost absurd plot details are successful in creating an enjoyable reading experience; but sometimes, they’re not.
When a novella starts off with a line like, “Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face,” I’m going to sit up a little straighter in my chair and pay close attention. And that was my reading posture during the duration of time it took me to get to the one hundredth page. Focused.
Kill Hill Carnage is the quintessential Halloween book for any seasoned horror fan or avid reader looking to make an October TBR (to be read) list. The story covers a lot of ground for the genre; easily shelved under several horror sub-genres, which makes it appealing for a wide audience. There’s a little bit of everything here: Teen Drama, Creature Feature, Disaster Horror and Comedy Horror.
Fans of Iain Reid’s first novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things already want this book. They’re looking for more of what he delivered in his debut novel — that “unique, slightly off-kilter, unsettling prose that grabs you and pulls you into the story until it’s over” kind of thing. Rest assured, he’s done it again.
I’ve been saying a different version of the same thing all year but I’ll say it in a unique way for Cemetery Dance:
Social media is responsible for introducing me to a much larger selection of books to read in my favorite genre of horror. Way back when, whatever my mom added to her shelves was what was accessible to me. As I began to shop for books on my own, I was only getting whatever was available at the bookstore, library or thrift stores.
In other words: Traditionally published books.
These days, I’m like a child set loose in a candy store! So many books, so little time! A book that came into view at the beginning of summer is this self-published collection of four short stories called Bones by Andrew Cull.