The Seers’ Table – September 2019
Kate Maruyama, Member of the Diverse Works Inclusion Community
I always like to head into fall with a lot of spooky reading, and we have so many recommendations this month! Happy September, everyone; time get working on those Halloween costumes and those scary stories!
Linda Addison recommends:
Marc L. Abbott and Steven Van Patten created Hell at the Way Station, a collection of horror stories about two Brooklyn horror writers who meet up for drinks and a little adventure and end up in a lot more trouble than they bargained for. Armed with only their knowledge of the supernatural and their storytelling skills, they face off against an arcane evil determined to consume them both. Their collection is a nominee for the 15th Annual African American Literary Awards.
Marc L. Abbott is a novelist, playwright, short film director, and storyteller. His written works include the stage plays “A Gamble of Faith” and “Three Isn’t a Couple;” the YA novel, The Hooky Party, and the children’s book, Etienne and the Stardust Express. His other credits include being a contributing writer for The Cocktail Guide of the Galaxy and the New York State of Fright horror anthology. He is a 2015 Moth StorySlam and GrandSlam winner and has been a featured storyteller at Tell It: Brooklyn, The Dump, What Are You Afraid of, Barbershop Stories, RISK!, and BadyHOUSE Storytelling Concert Series. He hosts his own monthly storytelling show in Bushwick, Brooklyn called MAAAN, YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS!
Steven Van Patten is a Brooklyn native, raised in Fort Greene. When he’s not writing scary stories, he can be found stage managing various TV shows in the New York area. As an adult, he has studied over historical research night after night and traveled to various locales around the globe in order to give his stories a proper sense of worldliness. The end result is the Brookwater’s Curse series, three (soon to be four) novels focused on the odyssey of Christian Brookwater, an 1860s Georgia plantation slave who becomes a monster-slaying vampire residing in modern-day New York. If he weren’t busy enough, he’s splitting his time participating in sketch comedy shorts, short films, plays, and guest appearing on podcasts where he openly discusses nerd culture, the supernatural, and how writing his books has changed his life for the better.
Recommended reading: Hell at the Way Station. The throaty growl of the Yamaha V-Star’s 1100cc engine lingered several seconds after the ignition was cut. Steven Van Patten dismounted the motorcycle and glanced at the sign swaying in the autumn breeze above the door of The Way Station. Though the bar had only opened five years earlier, the weathered maroon board gave the impression it had been around for decades. To the right, a single glass door leading to the event space—used by everyone from local musicians to burlesque dancers—looked as if someone was trying to break out. Steven moved closer.
Web-like circular cracks marred the lower half of the glass. They had not breached the outside, so he figured someone inside had kicked it. He placed a finger at the center of the break, then traced the largest crack as it snaked up to the center of the door before making a path to the door handle. Below the handle, the keyhole had melted shut, again, from the inside. A wad of metal protruded from the hole. Only something hot as hell could have caused that; there was definitely sinister work within.
“Whenever I hear the sound of that bike,” came a voice from over his shoulder, “I know all kinds of hell are about to break loose.”
Steven turned slowly. “Says the man who claims to have walked with the devil himself.” He smiled at the newcomer.
“I have.” Marc Abbott adjusted the bookbag on his back. “Trust me, it was no big thrill.”
Find them online:
Steven Van Patten: on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, under either his name or the Internet moniker @svpthinks.
Tish Booker recommends:
Gerri R. Gray is a busy woman. She has been writing since elementary school. Even as a young “filly,” as she puts it, Gerri was writing poetry and short stories in elementary school. From poetry to plays to musicals—with scores composed on her guitar—Gerri has been putting pen to paper as long as she can remember. One of those musical plays turned into her debut novel, The Amnesia Girl, published in 2017 by HellBound Books.
The Amnesia Girl tells the story of a young girl who doesn’t know who she is or why she wakes up in a psychiatric ward. The book takes us through the main character’s journey to self-discovery with her partner in crime, a delusional lesbian who helps her break out of the ward on the search for the truth. Filled with dark humor, the two escapees discover that the outside world can be just as crazy as any insane asylum.
Gerri also has a book of dark poetry and prose published in 2018 by HellBound entitled Gray Skies of Dismal Dreams. However, my recommended work is her latest work, an anthology she edited called Graveyard Girls. With over 500 pages of women writing horror, there is definitely something in there for everyone. The stories range from polite horror to religious fervor gone murderous, each story going down as satisfying as a smooth piece of chocolate melting on your palate. Gerri also has her own story in the anthology. “Of Black Butterflies” gives one woman a glimpse of life after death. Ms. Gray has stated she wanted to offer women writers a chance to have a voice in what is often a male-dominated field. This anthology achieves that goal in a major way.
Gerri is currently working on the sequel to The Amnesia Girl, and I’m sure her fans can’t wait for its arrival.
From “Of Black Butterflies:” Tears of joy instantly welled up in her eyes, and the urge to run to Cliff for comfort twisted her stomach into knots. She felt compelled to scream out her undying love to him, and she ached for him to hold her and make her nightmare vanish. And then her eyes shifted to the bloodstained shirt he was wearing, and her blood turned to ice in her veins. He strolled to the rear of the vehicle and helped the other man load the rest of the bags in the trunk.
The two men embraced in the way that lovers entwine around each other. And as their lips met in a tender kiss, the seam of one of the overstuffed trash bags split open and out rolled a decapitated head. Its face was gruesomely contorted, and despite the dark coagulated blood that matted its hair and clung to most of its face like a mask of gore, Marie was able to make out the features. It was a face that she instantly recognized. It was hers.
Gerri R. Gray can be reached at:
Web site: http://gerrigray.webs.com/
Ace Antonio Hall recommends:
Before I introduce you to a terrific author, I’d like to recommend a must-read. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler was recommended to me by David Gerrold, and he was right, this is one of the best horror novels ever written. Buy a copy today or check it out at your local library.
The late Octavia Butler’s book Fledgling is the story of Shori Matthews: a being who appears to be a ten-year-old black girl, but is, in fact, a 53-year-old vampire. Shori awakens in a cave with little idea of who, or where, she is. Shori’s awakening attracts the attention of mysterious assassins, forcing her to try to unravel the mystery of her identity while on the run.
The author I’d like to introduce to my esteemed peers at HWA is A.J. Locke. She has a fantastical book series called Affairs of the Dead. She is originally from Trinidad & Tobago, but has resided in New York City for over ten years. She knew early on that she wanted to be a writer, penned her first novel at fourteen, and hasn’t stopped since.
Series Summary: Necromancer Selene Vanream helps ghosts settle their affairs so they can move on. But when breaking the rules gets her in trouble, she’s bumped down to tracking ghosts trying to avoid the afterlife. Ghosts like Ethan Lance, who claims he was kicked out of his body when someone else jumped in. Which might be plausible—if such a thing were possible. And if Micah, Selene’s partner, didn’t pull her into an investigation of brutal murders that lead directly back to Ethan. But when the whole mess puts Selene’s life in danger, she suddenly has very personal reasons to get Ethan’s body back. Between her uncomfortable relationship with Micah, and problems with her boss, Selene learns just how much trouble it can be when you don’t follow the rules …
Locke can be found here:
Author’s Blog: http://iqurae.blogspot.com/2015/?m=0
Janet Joyce Holden recommends:
Kali Wallace studied geology and earned a PhD in geophysics before she realized she enjoyed inventing imaginary worlds more than she liked researching the real one. She is the author of the young adult novels Shallow Graves and The Memory Trees and the middle-grade fantasy City of Islands. Her first novel for adults, the science-fiction horror-thriller Salvation Day, will be published by Berkley in 2019. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov’s, Tor.com, and other speculative fiction magazines. After spending most of her life in Colorado, she now lives in southern California.
Recommended Work: Salvation Day. A lethal virus is awakened on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.
They thought the ship would be their salvation.
Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.
But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.
And then they woke it up.
Find the author at kaliwallace.com.
Kate Maruyama recommends:
Merc Rustad is a queer non-binary writer, who likes dinosaurs, robots, monsters, and cookies. Their fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Uncanny, Fireside, Nightmare, Apex, Shimmer, and others. “How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps” was included in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 (edited by Joe Hill and John Joseph Adams). Merc is also a 2016 Nebula Award finalist for their story, “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door,” which has been reprinted in PodCastle (audio), Cicada (2018), and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 (edited by Charles Wu and John Joseph Adams), along with translations into Chinese and Portuguese.
Their story, “With Teeth Unmake the Sun,” can be read here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/with-teeth-unmake-the-sun/.
An excerpt: First Wolf discovers unbearable want the dawn before he eats the world.
It is like this: His liege calls him from his restless slumber on Tau Usher. The pain in his belly has begun to subside at long last. He opens his eyes under the starlight of his home.
“Wolf, I have need of you. Come.”
First Wolf obeys sleepily. He leaps through atmosphere and void and prowls into the ship, holding back a yawn.
His liege’s ship has no name. It glides through void, so very cold, on course for Io Destiny. It hosts ten million souls and is a forest of metal and light: great curves of alloy and webbed neural interfaces, screens patterning the walls like moss. It is like home, this ship: ancient trees, wild meadows, biting rivers filled with ice. First Wolf approves.
He stalks through the ship to the bridge.
Sire. First Wolf bows with his forelegs when he sees his liege, his lower jaw brushing the floor. What is your desire?
The starborn stands on the bridge of their ship, watching Io Destiny on the viewscreen. Their body is silhouetted against the eerie glow of the minor star the planet orbits.
“I want to unmake the Sun Lords,” says the Thousand-Star-Eyed Wolf.
In this state—this stillness—their humanoid form is far more alien to him than when they bared their teeth and shone with brilliance. To a non-wolf eye, the starborn would look unbearably human: willowy, restless, with skin too frail to withstand solar heat. Their head is smooth and their eyes are void.
Merc is mostly found on Twitter @Merc_Rustad and sometimes playing in cardboard boxes.
Lauren Salerno recommends:
Georgina Bruce is a writer and teacher living in Edinburgh. Her fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, including Black Static, Interzone, Strange Horizons, Ideomancer, Shimmer, Salt’s Best British Fantasy, Great British Horror, Best British Horror, and others, and has been short-/long-listed for various prizes including the Bridport Prize and Mslexia short story competition. In 2017, her story, “White Rabbit,” won the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction. This House of Wounds is her debut collection.
Recommended Reading: This House of Wounds. This House of Wounds is the devastating debut short story collection from British Fantasy Award-winning author Georgina Bruce. Haunting and visceral tales for the lost and the lonely. An emotional and riveting debut, with four brand new stories. Publishers Weekly says, “Bruce’s collection of feminist, fantastical short stories has something to please nearly every taste. Bruce’s knack for ethereal tales that cut straight to the core of what it means to be a human (and specifically a woman) will delight readers who enjoy a smattering of the supernatural and blurred edges of reality.”
You can find Georgina Bruce at her Web site: http://www.georginabruce.com/.