Writing and talking about my novella The Wingspan of Severed Hands occupied most of my public author time for 2020, so it may seem like I haven’t been doing much new lately. Not true! I have so much news I don’t know where to start. But first, let’s talk about accomplishments.
Many people had an impossible year during 2020 and “accomplished” very little. Let’s all question this idea of accomplishment, during the pandemic, and at all times. You don’t need to do things to prove your worth. You’re valid if you write for yourself without ever getting published. Same for painting, dancing, anything. If you crave external validation, work hard, but understand your whole being is the creative instrument, and like a tree forced to fruit out of season, you may do violence to the system by ignoring its innate needs. Listen to your instrument, and feel free to say fuck it and take a break. Quit if you like. I know most people who quit creating or slowed down during 2020 didn’t have much choice, and if that’s you, be kind to yourself and forget about comparisons. Comparisons and measures of success are capitalist bullshit that will poison your creativity if you internalize them. Write for the joy of it, because you need to be heard, because no one else will tell your story, because it’s exhilarating to create things of ridiculous, grotesque beauty.
That’s how I do it.
I’m fortunate, too. I’ve landed a bunch of good stories in anthologies coming out soon. I’ll tell you about them below.
First, I’m thrilled to say that Not All Monsters made the Bram Stoker final ballot! Edited by Sara Tantlinger, it features stories by brilliant female authors in horror like Hailey Piper and Christa Carmen. At the time I wrote and submitted my story, “The Revenge of Madeline Usher,” I didn’t yet identify as non-binary. Today, I keep out of women-only spaces unless they specify they’re open to non-binary people. Nevertheless, it’s wonderful to be part of a Stoker nominated anthology, and Sara is delightful to work with and deserves every accolade.
Next up, here’s two anthologies with new work by me included for your enjoyment and discomfort. Sam Richard, who took the risk of publishing The Wingspan of Severed Hands, kindly invited me to write something inspired by famous Polish surrealist Zdzisław Beksiński. The result is “Swanmord” in Beautiful/Grotesque, featuring a piece by each of the Weirdpunk Books authors published in 2020. I’ve been told this one is “decadent,” “surrealism walking a razors edge between short story and long form poetry,” and “glorious.” I’ll take it.
Next, “Aristotle’s Lantern” in the anthology Stitched Lips
is an experiment in found footage writing.
The theme is silence. I used the idea of the snuff film to explore complicity in perpetuating silence and to question how we watch horror. Triggers abound.
In other news, Cemetery Gates announced the table of contents for their anthology Paranormal Contact, in which you will soon be able to read my story “Rust Belt Requiescat.” It’s the culmination of my fascination with the link between medieval France and Detroit, a romance with a little queerness, a little alchemy, and a lot of historical speculation about what really went on between Joan of Arc and Gilles de Rais before they were burned (separately) by the Inquisition.
I’ll also have new work out soon in:
ProlesSCARYat – an anti-capitalism themed anthology
Bodies Full of Burning – a menopause themed anthology
Black Telephone Magazine – published by Clash Books
and a few more projects I can’t talk about just yet. Yes, I’ve been busy. Do I still feel like a failure & have imposter syndrome? Hell yes. I had to quit writing this blog post mid-sentence and check email when I got a rejection a few minutes ago.
Don’t despair if you want to keep up with all the stories and can’t buy every book on the market — same, my friend, same. I have a long-term plan to release a collection after regaining the rights to the best stories coming out now, and to include those that stand up strong from the past few years. I want “all killer, no filler.” More importantly, I want more queerness, and if I collect my past work right now, it’s just not going to be gay enough.
Look for a collection in 2022 or early 2023, and rest assured, it will be worth the wait. And it will be very, very gay.