The Seers’ Table March 2022
Kate Maruyama, Member of the Diverse Works Inclusion Community
Rob Costello introduces:
Aden Polydoros is a queer, Jewish writer of speculative fiction for young readers. He grew up in Illinois and Arizona, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Northern Arizona University. He is the author of several books for young readers, including the forthcoming Bone Weaver (Fall 2022) and The Ring of Solomon (Winter 2023). He has also contributed to the upcoming YA anthology The Gathering Dark, An Anthology of Folk Horror, edited by Tori Bovalino (Fall 2022).
Aden’s current YA release, The City Beautiful, which is on the preliminary Bram Stoker Award® Ballot, is a gothic horror novel with a touch of gay romance set during the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Partially inspired by an article about the notorious serial killer, H.H. Holmes (active during the fair), the book is rife with rich historical detail, specifically about the culture and experience of Jewish immigrants to America during the period. The City Beautiful has received numerous accolades, including the 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award from the Jewish Book Council. It has been named a 2021 National Jewish Book Award Finalist and listed among the Best Fiction for Young Adults of 2022 by the Young Adult Library Services Assn. (YALSA).
When Aden isn’t writing, he enjoys going to antique fairs and flea markets.
Recommended Reading: The City Beautiful (Inkyard Press, 2021):
As I wrestled for control of the rope, a second pair of hands dug into my shoulders, trying to drag me back. The pulley swayed violently overhead. Raw, distorted sounds echoed in my ears—indistinct shouts, the groan of the ungreased pulley, a heavy thud as the board crashed against the porcelain tiles lining the bath, and the stomach-churning splash of a body tumbling into the water.
I glanced down at the tub—oh, God, where did he go? Where did he go?—and then Sender gave a hard yank on the rope that tore it from my hands. Palms stinging, I reeled back, the alarmed voices merging into a dull liquid roar. My foot landed in a puddle, and without knowing how I fell, I found myself underwater.
Bubbles streamed from my lips as I sank deeper into the water. I reached out to touch the mikveh’s walls, but there were only even greater depths and the bitter taste of salt flooding my mouth.
I thrashed around, heavily disoriented. In a split second, my surroundings had changed. The clean, orderly room of the tahara house was gone, replaced by an endless abyss. Water all around me, water high above me. The dark, churning depths seemed to stretch on for an eternity, while the mikveh should have been no more than waist deep.
I looked into the chasm below. Something. Some thing was down there in the shadows, the same thing that had taken my father, and it would destroy me. I knew it would.
Find out more about Aden at: https://adenpolydoros.com; Twitter: @AdenPolydoros
Tish Jackson introduces:
Meet Marc Anthony Brownlee, a horror writer hailing from Ohio’s Midwest. He obtained a degree in Creative Writing at Miami University (Ohio), but has been writing since he was a preteen. Inspired at a horrifically young age by Wes Craven and the first NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, Brownlee has been creating his own stories of mayhem ever since. Starting out with his first novel, Mayhem, through the now defunct Punkin Books, Marc has been self-publishing his work since then. This provides the creative control most artists crave while allowing the work to be available to everyone.
His favorite work is “Clandestine,” a story about the effects of bullying. Those feelings of anger and embarrassment take on a life of their own and end up proving deadly. As this behavior has become a hotly debated topic, Brownlee’s story has elements everyone can relate to.
Marc’s upcoming novel is called Fear of Silence, a tome written in homage to King’s IT. Currently in editing, Brownlee is very proud of publishing his tenth novel and guarantees we will enjoy his next escapade into the land of horror!
Recommended Reading: Resurrected published November 9, 2019:
Vanessa is now in the Netherworld … Vanessa sits up all at once. She lies on the floor of what looks like her bedroom. Now, in this other world beyond her own, she is back to looking like herself. She stands to her feet and looks around with some taste of energy. Nothing makes any sense like suddenly she has been spun around and found herself in an obscure wonderland; what is most odd is that everything is backwards, Vanessa could be looking at her room through a mirror. Her bed is on the opposite side, along with her window and the spot where she usually keeps her drawings are tons of canvas’ piled on the floor in what looks like red paint, but sooner rather than later she realizes it’s blood. Vanessa always considered her room to be a haven and this is anything but. She cannot find the affection of the province anymore and it’s vastly upsetting to be unable to find anything familiar to latch onto. All the colors are desaturated and there is a gray haze simmering in this space like a blanket of cigarette smoke she cannot escape from and it smells like a landfill that’s been baking in the hot summer sun; any nasty thing anyone could think of. She wants to cover her mouth and nose, but it’s everywhere with no exit.
You can find Marc Anthony Brownlee on: Twitter: @Ant_LostNHorror and Instagram: @anthony_the_dreamer.
Kate Maruyama Introduces:
Dominique Dickey is a writer, editor, and cultural consultant working in RPGs and fiction. In addition to creating TRIAL, a narrative courtroom tabletop role-playing game about race in the criminal justice system, and co-creating Tomorrow on Revelation III, a tabletop role-playing game about surviving and building community on a hyper-capitalist space station, Dominique has written for Thirsty Sword Lesbians, Sea of Legends, and Monte Cook Games. Their fiction has also appeared in Anathema Magazine.
Recommended Reading: Their latest story, “Slow Communication” is featured in this month’s Fantasy Magazine.
Excerpt, “Slow Communication:”
Darla’s grandmother Judd got to ask two questions. Most women of the Revere family only got to ask the leviathan one question and didn’t live to hear the answer. Judd was an exception, a mean and mannish woman made of cast iron and hellfire. She asked her first question in her youth, then lived her whole life with the assumption that she would never touch the leviathan again. She married and bore a daughter, because she was bound by tradition to do so. When her baby was weaned, Judd cut her hair short, wore baggy coveralls and grease-stained undershirts, took a job in a factory and didn’t bother to correct colleagues who assumed she was a man.
Judd’s daughter—Darla’s mother—asked her question next. Judd got old and left her job at the factory. Darla was born. The leviathan came for Judd again.
And after all that, after the blessing of being contacted for another question, after the euphoria and pain in her whole body at the moment of contact—
It killed her.
Who was to say that the next exchange with the leviathan would be Darla’s? Her mother had a question of her own ready, for the real and rare possibility that she’d get to ask it.
Or maybe Darla would be passed over altogether. Maybe she’d finish growing up, have children—a daughter, of course, because she was obligated to have a daughter—and the leviathan would speak to her daughter instead, ignoring her completely.
She could only hope.
You can find Dominique on Twitter at @DomSDickey or at dominiquedickey.com.
Isaiyan Morrison was born and raised in Minneapolis, but her heart is in the impressive magical worlds she dreams up. She hopes to share her love for world-building with her readers and help guide them through the extraordinary settings she creates. She is the author of the Dreamhain Chronicles and Behesians.
Her other passions include reading, and researching historical events. She also enjoys gardening, gaming, spending quality time with her three cherished cats and beloved pitbull, and practicing her Christian faith.
Recommended Reading: Her latest book, Old Farmers Road.
Mysterious deaths have plagued the desolate, swamp filled area of Old Farmer’s Road for decades.
After moving to Minneapolis, Cecilia is befriended by Isaac and Elsie, siblings who have kept a dark secret hidden about their past for countless years. As her body is taken over by a demonic force, she finds herself an Impa, a rare and supernatural creature who lives off the flesh and essence of her victims to stay alive.
With the bloated bodies of missing teens beginning to resurface, the voice of the ratchet old farmer’s voice inside her head begs for “Just One More.”
Consumed in the macabre environment, the urge to feed takes control over not only her body but her soul. Soon Cecilia comes to a realization that giving the voice exactly what It wants will never be enough.
Excerpt from Old Farmer’s Road:
“Here we are.”
Robert Ellsy turned off his car, removed the keys, and placed them in his breast pocket. He gazed into Allison’s settled eyes and immediately turned away, careful to hide the concern that had lingered inside him for days. He lied to her, just like before. It’d become second nature. He knew she couldn’t come with him because she wasn’t leaving Old Farmer’s Road alive.
Fog, thick and dense, blanketed the sky and billowed across the ground, blocking the view of the Mississippi River. The city of Minneapolis stood in the distance, casting an amber shadow over the lazy clouds. The air carried the cold breeze from the river’s bank as it glazed across Allison’s skin making the tiny hairs on her forearm stand erect.
You can also find her at http://www.isaiyanmorrison.com.
Tawana Watson introduces:
Khalisa Rae is an award-winning multi-hyphenate poet, educator, and journalist based in Durham, NC. She is best known for her community activism and nonprofit management as the co-founder of Poet.she (Greensboro), the Invisibility Project, and Athenian Press-QPOC writer’s collective, resource center, and bookstore in Wilmington, NC. With a heart for uplifting and empowering girls of color, Khalisa has served as an outreach and program director for various nonprofits, as well as a teaching artist, and English Instructor on the college and middle-grade level. Her first chapbook, Real Girls Have Real Problems, was published in 2012 by Jacar Press and later adapted into a sold-out play called, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Being a Woman,” which was accompanied by a podcast. Her early work with stage performance and slam poetry landed her on stage at the National Poetry Slam, Women of the World Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam, and Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam, among others. During her time as Outreach Director of the YWCA, Khalisa completed her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte where she studied under renowned authors, Claudia Rankine and Ada Limon. There she wrote “Outside the Canon,” a thesis dissertation on the history of spoken word and its isolation from the literary canon as a result of systematic racism.
Currently, Khalisa is a four-time Best of the Net nominee, multi-Pushcart Prize nominee, and the author of the debut collection, Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat, from Red Hen Press (2021). Khalisa’s performance poetry has led her to speak in front of thousands over the course of her career. She is a seasoned conference panelist and speaker, and the founder and creator of #PublishingPaidMe BIPOC Writers/Editors Panel at the AWP conference, as well as annual speaker at the SEWSA Women’s Conference. Notably, she is the former Gen Z Culture Editor of Blavity News and former Managing Equity and Inclusion Editor of Carve Magazine. As a champion for Black queer narratives, her articles appear in Fodor’s, Autostraddle, Vogue, Catapult, LitHub, Bitch Media, Black Femme Collective, Body.com, NBC-BLK, and others. Her work appears in Electric Lit, Southern Humanities Review, Pinch, Tishman Review, Frontier Poetry, Rust & Moth, PANK, HOBART, among countless others. Currently, she serves as Assistant Editor of Glass Poetry, co-founder of Think in Ink and the WOC Speak reading series. You can find her teaching Fall/Winter 2021 at Catapult Classes and participating in the Winter Watering Hole Writing Residency. Her YA novel in verse, Unlearning Eden, is forthcoming in 2022.
Khalisa may not seem by the above credits to be a speculative poet, however reading her current book of poems, Ghost In A Black Girl’s Throat, many of the poems have an element of speculative/horror within them. Here is an excerpt from the eponymous poem from the collection, “Ghost In A Black Girl’s Throat:”
Too much magic in one room turns sorcery, witchcraft; and we be
reassembling the chandelier of our reflection …….
Always a rusted bit in the mouth of the horse, too stubborn to ever be spooked by their ghosts.
I personally believe that Khalisa Rae should be looked at or even considered to be among the other speculative/horror writers.
You can find Khalisa on Twitter @khalisaandco or on Instagram @khalisaandco or on her Web site: https://khalisarae.com.