The Seers’ Table January 2021
The Seers Table!
December 30, 2020 by HWAWeb
Kate Maruyama, Member of the Diverse Works Inclusion Community
Linda Addison Recommends:
Hailey Piper writes horror and dark fantasy, and is a member of the HWA. She is the author of The Worm and His Kings, The Possession of Natalie Glasgow, Benny Rose, The Cannibal King, and others. Her short fiction appears in publications such as Daily Science Fiction, The Arcanist, Flash Fiction Online, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, Tales to Terrify, Blood Bath Literary Zine, and many more. She lives with her wife in Maryland, where she haunts their apartment making spooky noises.
Her new queer cosmic horror novella, The Worm and His Kings, out now from Off Limits Press, is set in 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.
Coming from The Seventh Terrace publisher in spring 2021, Hailey Piper‘s first short story collection, Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy, features a new novelette, “Recitation of the First Feeding,” and seventeen more stories of queer horror, isolation, and the monstrous feminine.
Recommended Reading: The Worm and His Kings released November 2020:
Monique exhaled hard. At first, she held still like that, forgetting how to inhale. Then whispers filled the tunnel. She couldn’t make out their words, but their presence told her it was okay to breathe, so she took a deep breath. Eventually, she would stop thinking about breathing and it would become natural again.
She clambered to her feet, stepped toward the rails, and faced Freedom Tunnel’s pitch-black throat. There was nothing to see. The quiet tunnel acted as if there had been no creature, that the darkness itself had snatched that poor woman. She might be dead already. Monique hoped not, both for the woman’s sake, and because there was a good chance that one of these nights, that darkness had snatched Donna.
No one stood outside her tent now that Gray Hill was gone. There never would be anyone so long as Monique stayed here. These past three months had brought nothing but empty hands and an empty stomach.
Find her at https://haileypiper.com/; Twitter via @HaileyPiperSays and Instagram via @haileypiperfights.
Janet Joyce Holden Recommends:
T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon, an author from North Carolina. In another life, she writes children’s books and weird comics. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy and the Eisner, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, Nebula, Alfie, WSFA, Coyotl and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.
This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups. Her work includes multiple fairy-tale retellings and odd little stories about elves and goblins.
When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies.
About The Hollow Places:
Pray they are hungry.
Kara finds the words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring this peculiar area—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts … and the more one fears them, the stronger they become.
With her distinctive “delightfully fresh and subversive” (SF Bluestocking) prose and the strange, sinister wonder found in Guillermo del Toro’s PAN’S LABYRINTH, The Hollow Places is another compelling and white-knuckled horror novel that you won’t be able to put down.
Ace Antonio Hall Recommends:
Joseph Norris III was raised in the neighborhood of Cherry Hill, MD, where his parents often took both him and his sister to the drive-in, to view terrifying horrific movies. Most deemed these films too intense and frightful for a 10- and 8-year-old. Joseph, however, was mesmerized by the horror and watching his family jump at scary scenes.
In 1990, a near-fatal car accident left Joseph in the hospital for a full year. While lying in the hospital bed, Joseph would tell his family, friends, nurses, and doctors, bizarre stories he imagined. After his release from the hospital, he was able to take a Creative Writing course at Morgan State University to take his mind off his time in the hospital. Joseph caught the attention of his professor, Dr. Eugenia Collier, with his first assignment. Naturally, it was a story replete with the macabre and terror Joseph loves.
Unfortunately, darkness reared its ugly head again. Joseph was diagnosed with kidney failure. During his two-year stint on dialysis, he began developing and writing a story thought about years ago during his previous hospital stay. That story was “The Shepherd Into Hell.” Always be afraid of that creak you hear in the dark.
Suggested reading: “The Shepherd into Hell.”
Author Web site: https://writetoscare.wordpress.com/
Follow him on Twitter: @writetoscare
Tish Jackson Recommends:
It is dark. It is scary. It is the most horrific recesses of the human condition laid bare. It is the work of Nicole Cushing, and it is frightening. Her writing will scare you to the core, because it will make you wonder how deep your own psychoses lie. Or not so deep.
Nicole got a late start in her writing career, beginning in her thirties but she started with a bang. Churning out short stories like “A Catechism for Aspiring Amnesiacs” and “All I Need to Know I Learned in Piggy Class” (included in the John Skipp anthology Werewolves and Shape Shifters: Encounters with the Beasts), she quickly made her mark. Included with writing giants Neil Gaiman and Chuck Palahniuk, Nicole’s work stood admirably among such large talent. Her writing was validated in 2014 when she received her first nomination for the Shirley Jackson Award for her novella Children of No One and again in 2016 for The Mirrors, her first short story collection.
The Bram Stoker Award®-winning novel Mr. Suicide—which also received a Shirley Jackson nomination that same year—is a masterpiece of murderous depression. The author took several elements of societal trauma—depression, suicide, and mental illness—and used them to create a feeling of synchronicity with the reader. Who among us hasn’t experienced depression? A feeling of loneliness inside their own head while trying to navigate the outside world? An aberrant urge to physically hurt someone who hurt you? Nicole’s debut novel brings up those relatable feelings that quickly lure you into the story, where the reader identifies with the protagonist; a twisted place that forces you to experience the trauma firsthand. What makes this journey into the mind different is that those isolating feelings coalesce into what feels like a real person to the main character; suicidal thoughts become Mr. Suicide. The question is, what will Mr. Suicide do with his newfound agency?
The intriguing thing about her work is its cathartic emotional attraction. All the worst feelings a person can experience are laid out on the page like a cadaver. The author gives the reader a chance to recognize these feelings in themselves, creating a bond that is amplified by the first-person narrative. She brings the shadow of depression and mental illness into the light of day, and warps it into something so outrageous that makes our own difficulties seem much more manageable.
Nicole’s most recent novel, A Sick Gray Laugh, speaks to the same issues. Here the protagonist is a horror writer who has long struggled with her anxiety and depression afflictions, and finally seeks help after an especially bad episode. However, the cure provided from the antidepressants resolves one issue while creating another—a thick gray blob that now covers the world she lives in. A common refrain from many patients using mental health pharmaceuticals is that the cure is worse than the disease, robbing them of sensation and autonomy. This novel, as all of Nicole’s work, takes an ordinary premise and turns it into the literal antagonist of the story. The Grayness becomes its own entity and the protagonist begins to write its story as her first nonfiction book.
Here is an excerpt from A Sick Gray Laugh, published in 2019 by Word Horde:
Let’s be frank. What kind of person peeks out her window and reports that the first thing she sees (the first thing!) is “an overwhelming Grayness that’s slathered over everything like a thick coat of snot”? Especially right after publicly disavowing the tactic of “dipping a ladle into your own mental effluvium and distilling it into [a book]”?
What if the problem isn’t with the world outside my window? What if the problem is with my own sick brain, which insists on superimposing nasty bodily fluids over harmless—some might even say “wholesome”—scenery? What if the Grayness is a snotty discharge from my own psyche? What if my continued championing of madness and squalor isn’t an indication of rational, market-driven devotion to my author brand? What if, instead, I’m so mentally ill that madness and squalor are the only things I’m able to see (and therefore, the only things I’m able to depict)?
Nicole can be found on her blog Litggressive: nicolecushing.wordpress.com.
Tawana Watson Recommends:
Jamie Zaccaria currently writes fiction and nonfiction. In October 2020, Jamie was the third-place winner of Tiny Seed Literary Journal’s Through the Eyes of Nature Contest for her short story “Orca.” She grew up in New Jersey and attended school in Delaware and New York. She currently resides in New Jersey with her girlfriend and pets.
From her short story, “Orca”:
What those protesters don’t understand is that I genuinely love Makana. I care for her in the best way possible. She gets regular meals and doctor visits, protection from outside threats, and love and affection from myself.
Stepping around half a dozen orange construction cones set up by the electricians, I make my way towards the staff entrance door. Inside is the office where I can record all of my work with Makana and use the tunnels to transfer her meals from the underground kitchen.
Puzzled, I turn to confront this strange sound only to see a live wire flying towards my face. Before I have time to react or even scream, I feel my body hum with voltage, and then everything goes dark.
You can learn more about her at her blog: https://jamiezaccaria.com/2020/06/13/non-fiction/.
Web site: https://jamiezaccaria.com/