Hello friends! Instead of your usual programming, I've got a mini-interview with Julia Rios and Nadia Bulkin, co-editors of the forthcoming horror anthology Why Didn't You Just Leave? It's currently is in its last week of crowdfunding on Kickstarter (and I am emotionally invested in it succeeding because I love the premise) so I asked co-editors Julia and Nadia to stop by for a chat.
Before that, a few bits of personal news:
New short story alert! "Ain't Houses, Ain't Names" went live last week on the Sunday Morning Transport. I would love for you to read it.
My horror writing class will be starting again in August. Sign up now, or send it to people you think might be interested!
A reminder: Patreon makes up a not-insignificant amount of my regular monthly income, and if you like what I do or what I write, I would love if you supported me there.
A dark shadow floats down the hallway. The television keeps turning on and off by itself. A creepy child’s voice calls your name from the basement…
Hang on: why don’t you just leave?
These terrifying tales dig into the true horror of the haunted house: why the victims are forced—or actively choose—to stay.
Who is this anthology for? What kind of readers do you hope find it?
This anthology is for anyone who loves ghosts, ghost stories, haunted places, or is interested in all the different reasons why someone might stay in a haunted situation. It’s also for anyone who’s interested in flipping genre conventions on their head! This is definitely a horror anthology with difficult, disturbing themes and – far more often than not – stories that don’t end happily.
Can you give us any sneak peeks at some of the stories or authors?
Yes we can! We’ve solicited stories by several great horror authors, and these are some of those. We’re also really excited to see what new stories will come in during our open call, which starts on August 1st, right after the Kickstarter ends.
Suzan Palumbo wrote us a poignant and disturbing story about an immigrant who takes a job as a companion in the home of an old woman, only to find that the companionship requirements are more sinister than she realized.
Joe Koch’s story is about a university student who returns to his toxic home environment against everyone’s better judgment, with mind-bending consequences.
Alberto Chimal wrote us a story about a mother who refuses to leave her family home after her teenage daughter is murdered.
These next two we haven’t yet shared any public details about, so you’re getting the first glimpse:
Tonia Ransom is writing us a really cool epistolary story set in a prison.
Raquel Castro’s story, “Kin” is about a woman returning to her grandmother’s house, learning about her family history, and processing intergenerational grief and trauma.
What are your favorite rewards for Kickstarter supporters?
We’re so very excited about the Kickstarter (which ends on July 31) that we’re offering any backer who makes a pledge at any level a free ebook that contains three scary stories by both of us (Julia Rios, Nadia Bulkin) and our publisher (Eric Raglin).
One reward we think is really cool is the Manifest Your Own Digital Haunting reward level. That’s an incredible opportunity for a small group Zoom with paranormal expert and medium Katharyn Birgfeld where people will be able to ask questions about ghost hunting, hauntings, contacting the other side, etc. Katharyn may also share some evidence that she’s collected, such as EVPs! You can get this as its own reward, but it’s also available as an add-on (a slightly less expensive option if you don’t want all the stuff that comes with the main reward).
We have some really cool art – we have two story illustrations available as postcards by Yves Tourigny and Luke Spooner, as well as fun ghost stickers designed by Julia. The first illustrated story is "To the Moon and Back" by Christa Carmen which is about a woman learning about just how much her mother has protected her over the years. That illustration by Luke Spooner is of the two women peering down into a creepy haunted basement. The second illustrated story "AITA for setting my dad's trailer on fire?" by Max Booth III, which is about a woman who goes back home to help out after her mother's death to discover that a hoarding situation is the least of her problems. That illustration by Yves Tourigny is of a scary AF haunted chair that is a central focus in the story, and it's based on a real chair! You can get each postcard and sticker individually in the add-ons for the campaign, or get an art bundle with all of them together. We've also got a stretch goal for two more illustrations (one by each artist), so if we're lucky, we'll all get to be extra creeped out!
And if you’re really into horror and want a bunch of sharp, socially-conscious anthologies, definitely check out the Cursed Morsels ebook bundle, which includes every book that Cursed Morsels has put out so far (including this one)!
Have you ever lived in a place that felt haunted? When and how did you eventually leave there?
Julia: Yes, I have lived in a place that felt haunted. It was an ex’s parents’ house, and specifically the area where I had to sleep was really eerie. Lights would turn on and off by themselves and there was one phone that would ring very softly each morning, even though none of the other phones in the house that were connected to the same landline would ring. If you picked up, there would just be dead air. No dial tone, but no voice. And then once you hung up it would be back to normal. Everyone in the house acknowledged this stuff was definitely happening and definitely weird, but also there was nothing really ominous or violent, so we all just sort of lived with it. We all needed a place to live, and this was the one the parents had bought and had a mortgage on, you know?
Nadia: Back in Jakarta where I grew up, I lived in a really weird old house with a large ancient cloth doll lodged high up in a tree in the backyard, as well as a walled-in area of the garden that I could not access. That was pretty creepy, but in Indonesia (where spirits are everywhere), it was actually kind of tame.
Thank you to Julia and Nadia for chatting with me! Here's the link to the Kickstarter again, because I really want this book to exist.