The Seers’ Table August 2023
Linda D. Addison, Member of the Diverse Works Inclusion Community
You can see any of The Seers’ Table posts since inception (March 2016) by going to the HWA main page and selecting menu item “Our Blogs / Diverse Works.”
Linda D. Addison recommends:
Like a magpie, Rhonda Parrish is constantly distracted by shiny things. She’s the editor of many anthologies and author of plenty of books, stories, and poems (some of which have even been nominated for awards!). She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, and she can often be found there playing Dungeons & Dragons, bingeing crime dramas, making blankets, or cheering on the Oilers.
The anthology Saltwater Sorrows edited by Parrish, will be released August 2023 (from Tyche Books LTD.), with stories by E.E. King; Natalie Cannon; Morgan Melhuish; Paul A. Hamilton; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Sarah Van Goethem; Adria Laycraft; Dino Parenti; B. Zelkovich; Lisa Carreiro; Lea Storry; Nikoline Kaiser; Elin Olausson; Chandra Fisher; Hayley Stone; V.F. LeSann; Catherine MacLeod; and Jennifer R. Donohue.
This wonderful mix of tales delves into the despair received and given to/through saltwater.
Recommended Reading: Saltwater Sorrows, August 2023.
Excerpt from story “Human, Still” by B. Zelkovich:
I am a mermaid, I think and dive beneath another wave. I slice through the murk, swept in a kelp forest of my hair. Pressure builds in my ears, presses behind my eyes, still I plunge ever downward. I ignore the panic in my lungs and kick deeper and deeper into the dark. If I kick hard enough, think it loud enough, maybe this time it will come true. This wish, my childhood fantasy. I am a mermaid.
Ariel in reverse. The girl whose heart longed for fins more than feet. I think there’s nothing I wouldn’t give up, no song I would not sing, to make this fantasy reality.
I pull against the water and repeat it over and over in my mind—I am a mermaid.
My lungs burn, a furious heat that swallows my chest and climbs up my throat. I scream, a stream of bubbles pouring from my mouth. The last of my breath.
I am a mermaid. The dark and the deep is where I belong. And yet …
My traitorous legs kick away from the dark, tilt me up toward the pale dot of sun and the promise of air. Tears dissolve in salt water, disappointment anchors in my gut.
I am a mermaid, I think. And, I am dying. Someday soon I will be a carcass, sinking to the silt to nourish crustaceans.
Jessi Ann York’s stories have been featured at several professional rate horror markets, including PseudoPod, Vastarien, Cemetery Gates Media, Love Letters to Poe, and more. Her first two stories, “Phases of the Shadow” and “Women of the Mere,” were mentioned as standouts in the Summation section of The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 13.
She serves as an associate editor of PseudoPod, and her creative work is represented by Elizabeth Copps, the founding agent of Copps Literary Services.
Seasons of Severance (Cemetery Gates Media, 2023) is an anthology of four mini-horror collections, featuring new fiction from Jessi Ann York, Sara Tantlinger, Corey Farrenkopf, and Red Lagoe. Each author brings out their own version of dark, creepy, and weird to explore: folk horror, fears of seclusion, interpersonal demons, coming-of-age angst, and body horror.
York’s specific mini-collection in Seasons of Severance is called “Of Wolves and Women” and contains four stories: “Women of the Mere,” “Marchosias,” “Dimorphism,” and “Mother of the Wind”. Each story drew me into a discovery of personal power, friendship, and acceptance, and a poignant ending that was deeply satisfying.
Recommended Reading: Seasons of Severance.
Excerpt from story: “Dimorphism” in “Of Wolves and Women” (in Seasons of Severance):
Laura pours milk across her skin the first night the wolf spiders begin to bother her. It turns her bath water cloudy and congeals around the edges of her drain. She won’t dry herself before getting under the bedsheets, but she will check her email twice. It’s three-thirty in the morning. Her phone screen is the only light in the studio apartment. The wolf spiders’ eyes glow white in their stacked cages along the corner of the room.
For the most part, the wolf spiders don’t move, aside from the occasional shuffling of their three-clawed toes as they groom their gray legs. Sometimes they turn restlessly in circles, laying down a nest of urticating hairs in their webs. Sometimes they flick their hairs at nothing. It’s these invisible barbs that irritate Laura’s skin whenever she opens their cage doors and stirs the air to feed them crickets and mealworms.
They never try to bite her. They never try to escape. They have no need to. Laura imagines they know she’s keeping them safe while Oliver, her fiancé, is finishing up his visiting lecturer position at Newman University.
Out of the twelve wolf spiders, there is only one that takes any interest in Laura. All summer long he taps at the plexiglass, like a hand knocks on a door.
She wants him to stop. She wishes Oliver would come home.
Follow the author at: Web site; Twitter: @jessiannyork.
Kate Maruyama recommends:
Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito is a writer, judge, and mother. When she’s not spending time with her family outdoors in the Pacific Northwest, she’s crafting short stories in horror, sci-fi, fantasy, or whatever genre-bending she can get away with. Her stories have appeared in Nailed Magazine, Buckman Journal’s Issue 006, and will be in upcoming anthologies, including Unquiet Women: Essays by Asian Women in Horror. Her work was also featured in the Ooligan Press Writers of Color Showcase 2020 in Portland, Oregon.
In her free time, she serves as a first reader for magazines, volunteers with her local writing group, Willamette Writers, and has a particular interest in mentoring youth and young writers. She’s also a member of the HWA, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and Northwest Independent Writer’s Association.
Recommended Reading: From her short story “Number One” from Mother: Tales of Love and Terror.
“Good. Then this will be easy.” A knife appeared in his other hand and sliced deep and quick into her wrist.
She shrieked and tried to tear away from Baba’s grip. He clutched with more pressure, widening the gash, pouring a ribboned stream of blood over the painting. It made me dizzy and nauseous, seeing the opened flesh, blood, and bone.
“Baba, you’ll ruin the painting,” I said in a small voice, swallowing bile and tamping down Eighty-Eight’s bucking. This was far too much blood. Much more than he had ever taken from me. Much more than I had ever seen taken from anyone.
“It’s working. Mother will come back this time! Feed her more!” He yanked Eighty-Eight’s arm closer to the painting.
“Stop it!” she screamed, thrashing.
“Hold her!” he shouted. He wrestled Eighty-Eight’s bleeding arm back over the painting.
She howled, pushing my hands off to tear at her neck and chest.
A spray of blood landed hot and thick on my face. I stumbled from the table, searching for what she clawed at. Thin strands like white silk threads vined into Eighty-Eight’s bleeding wrist. They unfurled from painted flowers in the woman’s headdress to Eighty-Eight’s exposed flesh, conglomerating into a thickening, crimson-dyed cord. The redder it became the more it thrummed like a heartbeat, strengthening as blood spilled out.
“Don’t fight Mother,” Baba chided when Eighty-Eight kicked at him.
Find Ippolito online: Web site; Twitter: @frances_pai.
Rob Costello recommends:
Michelle Jabès Corpora always wanted to be a writer, probably since the age of six. She spent most of her childhood writing stories about mermaids in peril, ducks from space, and fan fiction where a girl resembling herself got to meet Agent Fox Mulder of the X-FILES. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Theatre from UMBC, she went on to earn a Master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. Yet the path to becoming a writer was a winding one, with stops along the way as a wedding singer, and jobs working with animals in a vet’s office and at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Eventually, Michelle moved to New York and worked as an assistant editor at Greenwillow Books. Before she wrote novels with her name on the cover, she was a ghostwriter for a world-famous middle-grade mystery series.
Her debut YA horror novel, Holly Horror, comes out this month from Penguin Workshop.
When Michelle’s not writing and editing books, you can find her at Crazy 88 MMA, training in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She lives in Frederick, Maryland with her husband, two daughters, two guinea pigs named Fireball and Olive, and a very old cat named Callie.
Recommended Reading: Holly Horror, pages 81-82:
The bath water was cold and had receded slightly, but Evie wasn’t quite ready to get out. Maybe if she refilled the tub and relaxed for a while, she’d be able to reclaim some of her earlier good feelings before going to bed.
She leaned forward to grasp the hot water faucet and gave it a twist. The faucet squealed in protest, but soon water started filling up the bath once more. Evie lay back and closed her eyes with a sigh. After a moment, however, she felt a chill reach her toes and pulled them back, alarmed. Was something wrong with the old plumbing?
A torrent of sludge, thick and black, was being regurgitated out of the faucet. It had gathered in a heaving mass at the end of the bath, churning like a storm cloud, its tendrils creeping farther toward her as more of it poured in.
In seconds half the bath was filled with it, and it shone like an oil slick, opaque and black. She recoiled, but not before it could reach her, creeping up and around her toes, knees, and legs— cold as ice. And then, from somewhere beneath the surface, something touched her. Icy fingers that closed around her ankle and held it in an unbreakable grip…
Find out more about Michelle at https://www.michellejcorpora.com, and follow her on Instagram @michellejcorpora.