The Seers’ Table March 2023
Kate Maruyama, Member of the Diverse Works Inclusion Community
Linda Addison introduces:
Aiden Thomas is a trans, Latinx, New York Times-bestselling author with an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies, and organizes their bookshelves by color.
The Sunbearer Trials (Book One of The Sunbearer Duology) was released September 6, 2022 from Feiwel & Friends, where teen semidioses compete in a series of challenges with the highest of stakes.
Their 2019 novel, Cemetery Boys (Swoon Reads/Macmillan), about a trans boy determined to prove he’s a brujo to his Latinx family and summons a ghost who refuses to leave, was an HWA Bram Stoker Award® finalist in the Young Adult category.
Recommended Reading: Cemetery Boys.
Yadriel wasn’t technically trespassing because he’d lived in the cemetery his whole life. But breaking into the church was definitely crossing the moral-ambiguity line.
Still, if he was going to finally prove he was brujo, he had to perform the rite in front of Lady Death.
And she was waiting for him inside the church.
The black Hydro Flask full of chicken blood thumped against Yadriel’s hip as he snuck past his family’s small house at the front of the cemetery. The rest of the supplies for the ceremony were tucked away inside his backpack. He and his cousin Maritza ducked under the front windows, careful not to bump their heads on the cells. Silhouettes of the brujx celebrating inside danced across the curtains. Their laughter and the sound of music filtered through the graveyard. Yadriel paused, crouching in the shadows to check the coast was clear before he jumped from the porch and took off. Maritza followed close behind, her footsteps, echoing in tandem with Yadriel’s as they ran down stone paths and through puddles.
Yadriel’s heart fluttered in his chest, fingers brushing along the wet brick of a columbaria wall as he watched for any signs of the brujos on graveyard duty tonight. Patrolling the cemetery to make sure none of the spirits of the dead were causing trouble was part of the men’s responsibilities. Spirits turning malign were few and far between, so the brujos’ rounds mostly consisted of making sure outsiders hadn’t snuck beyond the walls, keeping the graves clear of weeds, and general maintenance.
Follow the author at https://www.aiden-thomas.com/; Twitter: @aidenschmaiden
Rob Costello introduces:
Vincent Tirado is a nonbinary afrolatine Bronx native with a background in biology and research. In Vincent’s debut YA horror novel, Burn Down, Rise Up (Sourcebooks Fire, 2022), a terrifying urban legend turns real as missing persons reports in the Bronx skyrocket and 16-year-old queer afrolatine heroine, Rachel, goes on the hunt to find out why. In January of 2023, the book became the first YA horror novel ever to receive the Pura Belpré Award from the American Library Assn., a prestigious honor presented annually to a Latinx writer whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latinx cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. Vincent’s next YA horror novel, We Don’t Swim Here (Sourcebooks Fire), comes out in May of 2023. Vincent’s short stories have also appeared in Desert Rose Lit Mag, InQluded, and FIYAH.
Vincent earned their Bachelor’s in Biology and Master’s in Bioethics. They are in love with quirky and fun storytelling and cite THE GOOD PLACE as a source of inspiration, while also enthralled with darker elements found in STRANGER THINGS. Their insatiable desire for knowledge often keeps them busy with new hobbies and writing inspiration. As such, they have about six or seven hobbies put on hold and twelve book ideas just waiting to be written. To catch up on their latest obsession, you can follow them on Twitter and find updates on their Web site.
Recommended Reading: Burn Down, Rise Up, pages 193-194:
Wake up, wake up, wake up! I came back to the same cabin door and jiggled the doorknob. It was locked.
“Come on, someone open up, please!”
And then there it was—the unrelenting fear and panic. My heart threatened to jump out of chest altogether at the sight of his shadow happening upon me. His hands clamped down on my shoulders, calm but firm as if he only wanted to talk.
Then, his hands sent a flood of needles deep into my skin with just one touch, tearing a scream out of me. The pain spread down my arms, and when I looked, black mold was taking over my body. I struggled to push him off and kicked as hard as I could.
This is only a dream! It’s a nightmare! Just wake up!
I thrashed against him, bringing my nails up to his face and tearing into his skin.
“Get off! Get—” My lungs halted as the needles reached into my chest cavity. The mold began to build up, choking me from the inside out, and no matter how much I hacked, it refused to be dislodged.
I fell to my knees, certain this would be it. If I wasn’t going to wake up from the dream, I probably wouldn’t wake up at all. Tears brimmed at my eyes as I lost all feeling in my limbs and fell back onto the door.
And it swung open. The Slumlord released me long enough that I took a breath, and when I did, I shot straight up on the futon, gasping for air.
I coughed loudly into the corner of the blanket until I spat something out. I pulled it into the glow of the moonlight and felt my insides grow cold.
The Echo was inside me now.
Find out more about Vincent at https://www.v-e-tirado.com/ and Twitter: @v_e_tirado.
Lauren Salerno introduces:
Bora Chung has written three novels and three collections of short stories. She has an MA in Russian studies from Yale University and a PhD. in Slavic literature from Indiana University. She has taught Russian language and literature and science fiction at Yonsei University and translates modern literary works from Russian and Polish into Korean.
Recommending Reading: Cursed Bunny:
She can’t tell whether the thin voice is suppressing a sob or a laugh.
She feels a sharp pain as the brief but intense trust she felt for the thin voice is torn in two. Fear digs into her heart. Carefully, she steps aside a little to the right. The thin voice from her left keeps mumbling as if she isn’t there.
“Life, really, is so unfair. Everyone is born the same way, but some steal husbands, others are sucked dry and spat out like used chewing gum …”
She doesn’t answer.
The thin voice keeps talking. “Isn’t it funny? Two people are in the same car accident, but one lives to tell the tale, the other dies on the spot—“
“You. Who are you?” She cannot suppress the shaking in her voice anymore.
The thin voice casually goes on. “Don’t you think it’s so unfair? Alone when alive, and still alone when dead.”
“Where is this place?” she shrieks. “What’s happened to me?!”
The thin voice on her left gives a thin cackle. “People, you know, they’re so funny. Don’t you think? Just because they’re afraid, they go about trusting in any old voice they hear around them, even when they can’t see for the life of them.”
“What are you?” She is shouting now. “Wh-where is this? Where are you taking me?”
The thin voice continues to cackle. “Following a strange voice around in a strange place, just because it pretends to be kind …”
She cannot stand it anymore. She begins to run.
Hear more about the stories found in Cursed Bunny in this Weekend Edition interview which aired on NPR on Sunday, December 11, 2022.
K.L. Cerra uses her writing to explore the complexities—and the darker sides—of relationships. When not writing or seeing clients as a trained marriage and family therapist, Cerra is likely walking her Boston terrier or exploring the local botanical gardens. She lives with her husband in a small beach town outside of Los Angeles.
Recommended Reading: Such Pretty Flowers. Excerpt:
When I was twelve, we had a mouse problem at home. Mom set out sticky traps in the cupboards and beneath the refrigerator where vents blew warm air onto the tiles. One day, while grabbing the milk carton, I saw it: a bulging, furred body smeared into the adhesive. I turned to run, but Dane was there. He surprised me by blocking the doorway.
“No,” he said, his voice stony. “Look at it. You owe it that much before it dies.” And he pushed me toward the pad. This time my eyes met the frantic dark marbles on that triangular face. I saw a naked, straining paw—toes spread—before Mom swept in and disposed of it all.
Fourteen years later and I hadn’t gotten any better at fighting my impulse to run. That was another way I flagellated myself in the middle of the night: by imagining all the things I should have done with Dane instead of abandoning him. There were so many options. Movie marathons at Rachel’s—enough spins through this fantasy and I could smell the popcorn butter on my fingers. Diner pancakes—I could feel the red vinyl of the booth sticking to the backs of my legs.
So many unspoken words that, who knows, might have unlocked a different reality.
There was a rumble somewhere deep in the townhouse. Unmistakable, now, the sound of Maura’s key turning in the lock.
“Honey, I’m home!”
I twisted to look at the bathroom once more. In the mirror, I caught a second glimpse of my foreign, swollen lips—Maura’s lips—and swiped the back of my hand across my mouth in a rush.
As I turned back, I could have sworn I saw a flash of red in the tub, clawed down the porcelain lip.
Find K.L. Cerra online:
Web site – K. L. Cerra
Twitter – @kl_cerra