Chilling Chat Episode 162 Marge Simon

chillingchat

Marge Simon lives in Ocala, FL. She edits a column for the HWA Newsletter, “Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side,” and serves on Board of Trustees.  She is the second womanmarge 2016 bw to be acknowledged by the SF &F Association with a Grand Master Award. She has won the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, Elgin, Dwarf Stars and Strange Horizons Readers’ Award. Marge’s poems and stories have appeared in Silver Blade, Bete Noire, Urban Fantasist, Daily Science Fiction, You, Human; Chiral Mad 2 and 3; and Scary Out There, to name a few. She attends the ICFA annually as a guest poet/writer and is on the board of the Speculative Literary Foundation.

Marge is a talented woman with a great sense of humor. We spoke of collaborations, war, and evil women. 

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Marge. It’s an honor to speak with you.

MS: Thanks for doing this, Naching!

NTK: You’re welcome. Let’s begin with WAR: Dark Poems, your new collaboration with Alessandro Manzetti. Tell us a little about the book.

MS: The collaborative experience has been incredible in many ways. Alessandro invited me a couple of years ago now, at the Stokercon in Vegas. He and his lovely wife, Sanda, took me to lunch (and Paolo de Oriezo was also there.) Sanda gave me a t-shirt that said “I heart Roma” (that’s where they were living before they moved to Trieste)—what lovely folks! And, as I sipped my Chardonnay, he asked me if I’d like to collaborate on a collection. I said, “Oh, yes! And, what is the topic?” “War,” he replied. I was instantly amazed and excited and of course I said, “YES!” War is one of my topics for poems of all sorts. It’s true.

It was a totally new experience to collaborate with a man who has such a fine grasp of history—he had me researching all of our collaborative work just so I could get a grasp of what his poem stanzas were about. I learned so much (and here at my age, you would think I’d know it all—NOT!)

NTK: What’s it like to collaborate on a poetry book? Did you write poems together? Or, did you each contribute your own work?

MS: Poems together? I guess you think Marge writes one line or stanza and then Alessandro writes another until it’s done? No, not like that. Alessandro would start the collaborations—which was fine with me! He’d send me maybe five-seven stanzas and that was the base for me to go with. So, I’d write more when I had the right response in mind (“response” meaning continuation.) Sometimes, we’d move stanzas around so they worked better.

Alessandro kind of mapped out the book’s progress as we went along. Individual poems and collaborative poems—he is a maestro at such details.

NTK: That’s awesome! You drew inspiration from each other. And, the poems mesh together so well. Did you have any individual contributions you’d like to expound on?

WAR: Dark Poems by [Manzetti, Alessandro, Simon, Marge]MS: I do. The Mandingo Wars [for one.] I was going for finding wars around the world in history and was thinking, Roots and Kunte Kinte (being Mandingo) and all about the Mandingo Wars against the French, led by Samory Toure. [I ]also (being of Scottish descent) had to include the Battle of Culloden which is so well reenacted in Outlander. Found a song about it, quoted that at the start of the poem. AND, another particularly sad war which ended with the Trail of Tears and the horrors of the once proud Cheyenne Nation being moved thousands of miles on foot from their reservation and homeland. I felt very strongly about these events. Then, too, I had to address the unconscionable deeds of Dr. Mengele in “Chocolates for Twins.” No magazine would take it for publication. But, these horrors DID happen.

NTK: These horrors should be remembered and these subjects should be published! Do you think society is too sensitive when it comes to historical horror?

MS: Good question. Some PC factions don’t even want to admit or know about history’s worst realities because they involve “trigger words” or “child abuse” or POC abuse. Hey, it happened and we should face that, swallow it, and think (in my opinion.)

Niemoller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation: First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because, I was not a Socialist. Then, they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because, I was not a Trade Unionist. Then, they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because, I was not a Jew. Then, they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

There is a quote inscribed on the front of the Colorado University library “The Roots of the Future lie deep in the past.” That is my “go-to” for so many points.

NTK: WAR does make people think and it does and it does approach some difficult subjects. Vietnam is a forgotten war these days and the poem, “Little Miss Saigon,” really captures the flavor of that time. How did that particular poem come about?”

MS: Alessandro began “Little Miss Saigon,” and of course I had to go find out more about what was going on there. Then, I found out about the razor blades that the young street girls somehow ingeniously inserted in their vaginas as a way of revenge. For, indeed, you can imagine the life they had to look forward to as fodder for the occupying Yank soldiers.

And, that’s the part I contributed. I still wonder how I did it. But it was “there” waiting to be written.

NTK: It is a powerful poem. What inspires you, Marge?  And, what poets have influenced you?

MS: Oh, let’s see. WHAT inspires me? Do I have to pick? I have many contacts, many friends, read a lot of books, am on Goodreads, am with Ladies of Horror where Nina D’Arcangela gives us visual prompts and we can write poems or flash fictions—then they appear for others to see after the deadline.

Poets? A long list of past and present poets. I always say that once I read Stephen Crane’s poem in 12th grade on the chalkboard of my advanced English class, I knew the world made sense. It was like finding out I wasn’t alone.

NTK: Are you primarily a visual person? Is it easier to find inspiration in a painting or a song?

MS: Inspirations are when and where they occur. I don’t go looking for them. They happen, is all!

NTK: Do you think poets have a different perception of things as compared to the rest of the world?

MS: I think each poet, if true to themselves, has their own views and voice. But, the best express it in a way that has substance and resonates to others (not to all, you can’t reach everyone.) My husband, Bruce Boston, usually uses that as a standard—has substance, resonates. I love that. It fits well.

NTK: It does. Going back to collaborations, you’ve also written a book called, Satan’s Sweethearts with Mary Turzillo. How did you like working with Mary?

MS: Mary Turzillo and I have collaborated joyfully on numerous collections (some about cats and dragons, Dragon’s Dictionary, and Dragon Soup. We also wrote Sweet Poison together, which garnered an Elgin Award from the SF & F Poetry Association.) BUT, Satan’s Sweethearts is not fun or funny in any respect. Mary is a horrible person to collaborate with. We are not on speaking terms except all the time. I can’t wait to see her again, for a fact.

Satan's SweetheartsNTK: (Laughs.) Did you write Satan’s Sweetheart’s in a similar manner to WAR? Or was it a different process?

MS: Different entirely. We picked various very nasty, most wicked women in history and wrote independently about what we chose. But, some we did collaborate on. One being Ma Barker (who was really an angel compared to others.)

NTK: What poem are you most proud of in Satan’s Sweethearts?

MS: I’m most proud of two. “Aileen” (about Florida’s own serial killer who became the first woman to be put to death in the electric chair) and “Delphine La Lourie’s Upstairs Room” and you can’t imagine what she did to her slaves. Look her up if you want to know.

NTK: Of all the people you’ve collaborated with, is Bruce Boston your favorite?

MS: Actually, Bruce is daunting, very daunting. Our collaborations are exciting and rewarding for sure, and I must do my penultimate best—or try, anyway! It’s a challenge but that’s what life is. The best of it is to challenge yourself to exceed expectations.

Also, I don’t like to and won’t name favorites to collaborate with. I welcome challenges.

NTK: Do you have any advice to share with up and coming poets?

MS: Read. Read authors old and not that old. Read poets whose work speaks to you and think about the how and why. Don’t imitate. Incorporate. And, please—personal angst poems are fine for what they are for. They get you through the lusts and loves of yore but, you’re not the only one! Read Sara Backer, read Bruce Boston, read (I could go on and on.) But, wait! Join the SFPA (Science Fiction Poetry Association), and then READ!! You will find horror as well as dark and light fantasy, and speculative from some of the best in the field. It’s a community of poets and readers of poetry who are all grown up now. So join and learn!

And the SFPA, like the HWA, is an international association!

NTK: As you know, Season 13 of HorrorAddicts is CURSED! Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

MS: I’m sorry, but I’m not into curses very much at all, really.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

MS: The future? You hold my future in your hands, Naching. Be kind. I don’t know what’s coming tomorrow. Some irons in the fires, if that’s what you mean. And, I hope to meet lots of you readers next year at Stokercon in Grand Rapids!

NTK: I see a long and glorious future ahead, Marge. Thank you again for taking the time to chat. It’s much appreciated.

MS: Loved your questions and thanks for the interview.

Addicts, you can find Marge on Goodreads and Amazon.

Satan’s Sweethearts took second place in the Full-Length Book Category of the Elgin Awards on September 21, 2018.

Parts of this interview were published in the July 2018 edition of the Horror Writers Association Newsletter and are reprinted with Editor Kathy Ptacek’s permission.

Advertisements

David’s Haunted Library: The Beauty Of Death

David's Haunted Library

30732852There are a lot of horror anthologies out there and it’s not always easy to find one that you think you would like. That being said sometimes you find a horror anthology that when you see it you know you can’t go wrong. The Beauty Of Death: The Gargantuan Book of Horror Tales is that book. Edited by Alessandro Manzetti, this book includes stories by such great horror authors as Tim Waggoner, John Skipp, Poppy Z Brite, Peter Straub and many more. This is one mammoth collection that all horror fans should have.

One of my favorite stories in this collection is Carly Is Dead by Shane McKenzie. This story is told from the viewpoint of a rotting corpse in a field who is being eaten by the forest animals but is still aware of what’s going on. Who would have thought you could have sympathy for a corpse. Another good hard-core gore story is White Trash Gothic by Edward Lee. This one has to do with an author who gets amnesia due to a traumatic event and he travels to where he wrote his last book to find out what happened. I loved how Mr. Lee makes you feel compassion for the author and then throws him into a bizarre situation that will make you fear going to a small town.

Another one of my favorites was Calcutta, Lord Of Nerves by Poppy Z. Brite. This one is about a boy born in Calcutta, he is moved to America but returns after his father dies and the zombie apocalypse starts. In Calcutta things are so bad it’s hard to tell the poor people from the zombies and weird things happen as we find out that the zombies may be worshiping an old God. My favorite scene in the book is when the lead character excepts that zombies are just part of the world now and he doesn’t think they’re that bad.

It’s really hard to pick favorites in this book and if I wrote about each story here this review would be a book in itself. Other stories that stood out for me were The Office by Kevin Lucia which is a psychological horror story about a  man who relives his life through his favorite place, his office. Another one is No Place Like Home by JG Faherty which follows a man who bought a haunted house that changes his life for the better. Things get bloody though when someone tries to get him to give it up. In The Garden is one by Lisa Morton that really got to me. In this one a woman lives in a house and is taking care of her crippled brother when something in her garden causes him to get better, I loved how Lisa made you feel compassion for the lead character and then hits you with a shock ending.

The Beauty Of Death deserves a spot on every horror fans book shelf. When I first saw it I knew I had to have it and I wasn’t disappointed. This book reminded me of The Year’s Best Horror anthologies that come out each year, but The Beauty Of Death has more to offer. Every story here has the anatomy of a good horror story and focuses on characters dealing with their worst fears and considering its length it will keep you scared and reading for a long time.

 

 

David’s Haunted Library: The Cliffhouse Haunting

25279836

The Cliffhouse Lodge has a history dating back to 1887. Not only has it been a place to stay for people enjoying the beauty of Blue Lady Lake, but it was also a place with a dark history. In the twenties a serial killer called the Bodice Ripper terrorized the town and a ghost called The Blue Lady was seen when a death was about to occur.

Flash forward to the present and a new serial killer is terrorizing the town and the Blue Lady is making her presence known again. At the Cliffhouse Lodge, wet foot prints are being spotted in rooms, disembodied voices are being heard and when people look in the mirror they see the face of the Blue Lady.

What can I say about The Cliffhouse Haunting by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross other than it left me with a huge smile on my face. I’ve been a fan of Tamara Thorne going back to the mid nineties. I like her writing because her books have great characters and she creates a detailed mythology. Also her stories have just the right amount of horror, smut, and humor that I look for in a book.

The Cliffhouse Haunting is no exception, it was obvious that Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne had a lot of fun writing this and it was hard to put down. I would love to know the writing process behind this book because all the characters are so detailed and a lot of them reminded me of people I knew. I’m not sure who wrote what in this book but by the end of it I was wanting to read any solo work that Alistair Cross has out along with re-reading Tamara’s books.

The best part of The Cliffhouse Haunting is without a doubt the characters. The serial killer referred to as Hammerhead who hates everyone including the ghost who helps him is a perfect villain. We also have characters who are self-centered and egotistical but at the same time are fascinating because we’ve all met people like this. Authoress Constance Welling thinks she is God’s gift to the world but no one else seems to like her. I kept hoping that nothing bad would happen to her in the book because the scenes that she is in were so entertaining. There is one scene when she is doing a fortune-telling act that’s one of the funniest and most outrageous scenes I’ve ever read in a book. Another great character is Dr. Siechert who will want to make you stay away from doctors for the rest of your life and is part of a very funny scene which takes place in a supermarket.

In addition to memorable characters in this book I also loved the detailed history of the Cliffhouse lodge and how the mystery of the Blue Lady unfolds. I loves how The Cliffhouse Haunting goes back and forth from being funny to scary and it was hard to predict where the story would go next. There are some gruesome death scenes in this book and one in particular had me laughing and cringing at the same time. All I’m going to say about it is beware of the chocolate wanderer. You want to know what it is? You need to read the book; you won’t be disappointed.

25968318Another book I read recently was a novella by Paul Di Filippo and Claudio Chillemi called The Horror at Ganico Rosso. Set in the early 1900’s, this story tells the tale of retired detective named Joe who gets called back to work to solve a series of murders that’s related to a case that he worked on years ago. The murders are linked to the mummies of the Capuchin Catacombs and they may hint at a threat that is coming to earth from another dimension.

The Horror At Gancio Rosso is a short but entertaining read that is inspired by the works of H..P. Lovecraft. This story includes monsters, mummies,parallel dimensions and occult happenings.It also has a good mystery with intriguing characters in an eerie setting. The book had a pulp fiction type feel to it, the story is simple, entertaining and throws a lot of strange creatures and villains at you in a short period of time which is all a true horror fan can ask for. All in all this book is a lot of fun and reminded me of the type of stories that I’ve enjoyed in Weird Tales magazine and it’s a must read if You are a fan of Lovecraft.

25405077If you’re into works of strange fiction set in a futuristic world filled with violence and terror then you should check out Alessandro Manzetti’s Massacre Of The Mermaids. This book contains six stories in a futuristic Rome ruled by a She-Pope. Some of the items you will see in this book include women who get fishtails sewed on them and then are brutally tortured as part of a new religion, human landfills, a slaughterhouse prison and much more. This book is not for the faint of heart but it’s interesting to see how some of the subjects talked about in this book mirror some of the things we have in the present day.

This is a hard book to talk about, the stories were confusing to me but the imagery in each story was so good I wanted to keep reading. The way things are described here are dark and disturbing and the stories are so off the wall that I had to keep reading to find out where each one would go next. Alessandro Manzetti describes things like no other author has and Massacre Of The Mermaids shows how much of a work of art bizarre fiction can be. This book may be ultra-violent but the settings described give a great idea of how creative a horror story can be and it would be interesting to see a novel set in the world that Manzetti has created here.

 

Press Release: The Massacre of the Mermaids

MASSACRE_MERMAIDS_COVER_LR-357x500

Now available:

THE MASSACRE OF THE MERMAIDS
Horror short stories collection
Author: Alessandro Manzetti
Publisher: Kipple Officina Libraria (April, 2015)
Book cover by Ben Baldwin
Editing by Jodi Renee Lester
eBook edition – Pages: 51 – Language: English
Stories: The Massacre of the Mermaids, The Rosary, The Slicer, Der Bruter, The God’s Meridians, Mictlan, Blood in Jerusalem
Available on Amazon and major online booksellers
Amazon Link: http://goo.gl/KywV4o

From the Bram Stoker Awards® nominee Alessandro Manzetti comes a new horror, weird, gory, and dystopian short story collection. “The Massacre of the Mermaids” includes seven visionary and disturbing stories set in the future and the past: the apocalyptic and bloody Rome dominated by the first She-Pope who organizes shocking exhibitions in the new Coliseum; the bloody and cannibalistic Jerusalem during the First Crusade with gangs of rapists, criminals, and anthropophagy addicts; the future ultra-violent district Paris Sud 5 with a human landfill; the Nakara, a slaughterhouse-prison dug into the bowels of the moon, the first organized human breeding in history, managed by the diabolic Slicer; and the subterranean rooms of Mictlan, the Aztec hell that destroys Spanish victims, sacrificing them through unthinkable and brutal rites. “The Massacre of the Mermaids” will leave you breathless. The limit has never been so violated.

http://www.amazon.com/Massacre-Mermaids-k_noir-Book-ebook/dp/B00WANT2OK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430007699&sr=8-1&keywords=massacre+of+the+mermaids

Book Review: Three from Alessandro Manzetti

23263531Every once in a while a collection of short stories comes along that’s not your average read. The Shaman: And other shadows by Alessandro Manzetti mixes horror, supernatural terror and distopic science fiction. This book may be short  it but still manages to pack in 6 stories and a poem. The first entry is called The Mount Meru. The story takes place in Tanzania and centers on a mother and son who are going to a sacred mountain and run into a group of raiders with plans on torturing them. There are more frightening things in the forest than raiders though, as a group of monsters come along to change everything. I didn’t fully understand this story but it was different than anything I’ve ever read and I liked the way Alessandro described everything.

Another story in this book is Regnum Congo which is based on The Picture In The House by HP Lovecraft.  Other tales in this collection look at a futuristic Paris where a Shaman finds missing people with an ancient ritual, a wolf in search of souls, a family who hides monsters in their basement and a neighborhood changed by the apocalypse. I thought some of the stories here were hard to follow but the dark imagery made this book a good read. There are some great ideas here and I found myself wanting more.

I also got another book recently that was co-written by Alessandro Manzetti and Corrine De 23493168Winter called Venus Intervention. This is a collection of poetry which is described in the introduction by Benjamin Kane Ethridge as a nightmare journey. The poems here will definitely give you nightmares as they describe horrors that you usually don’t see in poetry. Its divided into two sections which I liked because both authors have distinct voices and it really showed how different both poets are with Corrine’s more emotional section going first and Alessandro’s darker section following it up.

To demonstrate the difference one of my favorite poems here by Corrine De Winter was What Love Story Doesn’t End In Hell Or In A Whorehouse? I took this poem as being about love going bad, in a few short lines it managed to be funny and tragic and showed that Corrine doesn’t need a lot of words to get her point across and it gave us a dark love story that will stick with you. Going in a different direction, my favorite poem in Venus Intervention by Alessandro is Waiting, which is about a grim reaper looking down on Earth and describing what she sees. This one combines elements of horror and science fiction and paints a darkly disturbing picture. Once again this one was a completely different style of poetry and shows that you can say a lot in just a short amount of space.

23601440I don’t consider myself a fan of poetry. In fact I usually have trouble understanding it, but there were some great poems here that really moved me, such as Habit by Corrine De Winter which states that poetry is everywhere and in every person. Venus Intervention is a work of art and shows how powerful words can be.

The last book I want to mention in this post is Dark Gates-Roads To Hell And Limbo . This is another short story collection that includes two stories each by Paolo Di Orazio and Alessandro Manzetti. The stories here have to do with an apocalyptic future, the gates to hell and what its like to be in limbo. All the literature I’ve read by Alessandro Manzetti lean towards the genre of weird fiction and Dark Gates is no exception.

Alessandro’s two stories are called Lu’Lu and Limbus. Both stories focus on the futurisic slums of Paris. One deals with a prostitute and has a disturbing ending while the other deals with female gladiators in an arena. Alessandro paints a grim version of the future and does a great job of bringing it to life by describing violent scenes and having realistic characters that have seen the worst of society and lived to tell about it.

The other two stories are called Hell and Brain Dama, they are by Paolio Di Orazio and show a sharp contrast to the works of Alessandro. Hell deals with an old man who decides to check out a coffin in his attic. The coffin has been there since he was young and what lies inside just might be the old man’s worst nightmare. I liked how this dealt with the fear of getting older. The next story was Brain Dama, it takes place in present day Rome and gets into some creepy experiments being performed on brains. This was another story with a rather disturbing ending that left me smiling. This was a good anthology with some excellent twists that made me want to find more books by both authors.