Chilling Chat: Four Quick Questions with Zoe and Miyuki

chillingchat

Zoe Darazsdi is a writer, dog mom, podcast host, and funny bitch. She hails from the horrendous swamplands of Northeast PA, where she learned to defy cultural norms and Zoe and Miyuki 2squash deer ticks. Currently, she applies the first of those skills for Weird Kids Wanted, the podcast she co-founded with her friend and roommate, Miyuki Okamura.

Miyuki Okamura is a speculative fiction writer and pop music scholar. She is the owner of a cat who has more white privilege than she does. She is excited to co-host this podcast and maybe start a cult.

Weird Kids Wanted, is a literary and social criticism podcast for alternative individuals who are tired of their cultural experiences being curated by normies for normies. Their podcast and blog disrupt the status quo of commercialized shit lit and provide a community for weird kids to flourish. Part bitchy book gossip, part poignant social criticism, part anti-capitalist bookseller reviews, they are reviving reading for everyone who the mainstream publishing industry- and the world- has left out.

1.) What is your favorite horror novel or story?

Miyuki’s favorite is Among the Missing by Dan Chaon, which is technically a short story collection and not a novel. Zoe’s is Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Both books are eerie and evocative of that most primal feeling of being unsettled.

2.) What do you look for when reviewing a book?

Zoe: When I review a book, I look for something that is both extremely well-written and in conversation with the world around it. I love writers who are brave with language and subject matter, who are not afraid to be odd, irreverent, and deeply original.

Miyuki: Similarly, I look for something that I feel needs to be contributed to literature, whether I agree with it or not. If I don’t agree, however, it’s more like a warning than a review.

3.) What do you wish you could see in a book that you never see?

Werid+Kids+WantedZoe: I wish I could see more books that respectfully represent our community–the alt kids, goths, and general weirdos of the world. It is difficult to find three-dimensional characters like that, who are not just archetypes or side-kicks.

Miyuki: I can see this changing as conversations around LGBT+ communities progress, but gosh I’d love to see more asexuals in literature. Generally, I think it’s time we see more LBGT+ identities represented in literature. How are people supposed to know who they are if they don’t see examples of themselves?

4.) Do you prefer character-driven novels? Or plot-driven novels?

Zoe: I prefer character-driven novels. When I am connected to what a character wants and feels, reading about them just walking down the street can be riveting.

Miyuki: I also prefer character-driven novels. People will always be more interesting than situations, in my opinion.

Once Upon A Scream Author Spotlight: Alison McBain

Horroraddicts.net Publishing has recently published our 4th anthology called Once Upon A ScreamRemember the Fairy tales that you grew up reading? Well, they are back again with a horror twist. Once Upon A Scream includes 18 tales that are fantastic and frightful. One of the authors in this anthology is Alison McBain and recently talked to us about her writing:

What is your story in Once Upon A Scream called and what is it about?

OnceUponAScreamFront“The Godmother’s Bargain” was inspired by the fairy tale of Cinderella. In the story, Cinderella is no innocent but seeks out the devil to make her dreams come true.

What inspired the idea?

I’ve always enjoyed reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and part of what I’ve enjoyed was the darkness of the tales. Most people are aware of the sanitized, Disney version of fairy tales, but I actually like the bloodier background, where toes and heels get chopped off the evil stepdaughters and pigeons peck out their eyes after Cinderella marries the prince. Since the original is so horrific, I wondered how I could make it even more shocking – and the answer turned into this story.

When did you start writing?

The first story I wrote was when I was in my single digits. It was a horror story explaining about why there were monsters in the closet. My answer: an interdimensional portal, of course. And the fight to “take back the closet” involved lots of blood and guts. Ah, good times.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

I’m not sure I have favorite topics to write about – I prefer themes about transitions and change, about inverting the expected and taking a story in a new direction. Other than that, all subjects and genres are fair game.

What are some of your influences?27400522

I’d like to say pretty much everything influences me, but that doesn’t narrow it down too much, does it? So I’ll have to say one of the greatest influences on my writing was the very talented author, Tanith Lee. She was a pioneer in the genre, and the first woman to win the British Fantasy (August Derleth) Award for best novel. Her writing has always inspired me.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

It’s so much fun! This is where you can let your inner serial killer roam free, haha. The sky’s the limit in science fiction, but there really are no limits in horror.

What are some of the works you have available?

I have over forty short stories and poems published, most free to read online. A full list of my published and forthcoming works is on my website.

What are you currently working on?

Other than writing several short stories, I’ve been working on a speculative fiction novel set in a far-future colony light years from Earth. The original settlers go to war with the newer arrivals, a war interrupted only when a third wave of settlers arrive. Influenced by the modern hotbed topics of race, immigration and class concerns, the book is an epic, generation-spanning tale about family and survival.

Where can we find you online?

I blog and post writing updates and book reviews on my website. I am also the reviews editor at the magazine, Bewildering Stories official.

A Jeff Carlson Double Header

A vampire dog, a human spaceship hybrid and a half fish, half human. These are some of the things that you will read about in Jeff Carlson’s short story collection called Long Eyes. This anthology according to the author is the book no one wanted him to publish except his fans. Long Eyes includes all of Jeff Carlson’s short stories from when he first started writing to the present day.

Included in this collection are three stories that fans of the horror addicts podcast will be very familiar with. One is the story Monsters which was heard in episode 20 and won Jeff Carlson the best in blood listener’s choice award for season 1. Also included is Caninus which was heard in episode  27. Another story in this collection is Pattern Masters which was one of my favorite stories and was featured in horror addicts episode 51.

I have to admit even though I enjoyed all of Jeff Carlson’s stories on Horror Addicts I was a little apprehensive of reading Long Eyes. I do like science fiction but I find a lot of it goes over my head and I thought that might be the case with the stories in this anthology. Not only was every story excellent but none of them left me feeling confused as to what was going on. Long Eyes is very well written and shows how a great science fiction anthology should be.

One theme I found that seems to run through all of the stories here is loneliness. There is usually one character in each story that doesn’t fit in with what is considered normal. A good example of that is in the title story Long Eyes. Which tells the tale of a woman named Clara who is physically connected to a space ship. Clara has been traveling through space for 600 years before landing on a planet and being attacked by humanoid creatures.  Clara sees the potential in these humanoids and has to decide whether to help the creatures become more then they are or put in a distress call in to help her leave the planet.

This story was the first selection and really set the mood for the whole book, I loved the idea in this story about a lonely being  comes across a race of people that are worse off then she is, and deciding if she should help those around her or do what is best for herself. Another story that has a similar theme is Planet of the Sealies. This one follows a woman named Joanna searching a planet in the distant future in search of dna to find out how past civilizations lived. This story was another one of my favorites and once again has a character that doesn’t fit in with anyone else.  I also loved finding out what a sealie is.

Long Eyes has something that will appeal to horror and science fiction fans alike. There is also a little mystery, fantasy and comedy thrown in as well. In addition to the stories I also liked the commentary that Jeff Carlson gives at the end of each story, it was kind of like getting a director’s commentary for each story. My only problem with the anthology was that I thought almost every story in this anthology would make a great novel and I wanted more. I guess that is the point of a good anthology though, to make your fans want more.

If your looking for more from Jeff Carlson then another title to check out is The Frozen Sky. This novella  is about the first manned mission to Europa. A group of archaeologists are exploring Jupiter’s moon and the governments of the world are waiting to see what materials from Europa can be used back on Earth.  The crew finds more then they bargained for when they find some hieroglyphs and other signs of life.  Europa is indeed inhabited and the natives don’t like visitors.

The story is mostly told from one of the crew member’s point of view; a 36 year old woman named Alexis who the rest of the characters see as being childish. Alexis has to run for her life through frozen ravines and canyons of rock while being chased by creatures that resemble  starfish. To make matters worse her spacesuit has a mind of its own and has its own plan for handling the situation.

There is a lot going on in a short period of time in The Frozen Sky. A lot of the story is told through flashback as the crew fights for their lives, the back story unfolds and you learn why the mission is taking place, what is at stake and what the crew hopes to get out of the trip. I liked how Jeff Carlson started the story in the middle of the action and then back tracked to tell how we got to where we are. I think if the story was told from the beginning it wouldn’t have worked as well.

You could tell Jeff Carlson did his homework and did a lot of research on what Europa was like. I loved how this alien world was described. I also enjoyed watching Alexis wrestle with the question of how she will escape the creatures or is it possible to communicate with them without causing them harm. Another good thing was how the aliens were presented in the story, at first you see them as monsters but you start to learn about the conditions that they live in and how that shaped what they are. Europa is a harsh environment to live in and there is another surprise in the story that makes the moon’s inhabitants lives even harder.

This novella will probably best be enjoyed by hard core science fiction readers. It has a  good mix of science and politics set in the 22nd century and quite a bit of action as well.  The Frozen Sky was a really fun read that can be enjoyed on many levels and it really gets you thinking on what may be living on Europa.