How I Spent February 2023


This wasn’t a bad month for me. I got to announce three new short stories, one of which — Transgef in P is for Poltergeist — is already out. I also got started on this year’s Splatterpunk Award finalists, so you can expect reviews to start soon… once I’ve finished last year’s contenders, anyway.

I’m still at work on my next Women Write About Comics series. Got a draft of the first article in the bag, and the next is nearly done. Looking forward to announcing it…

Article topics for March and beyond:


Out Now: P is for Poltergeist, Featuring My Story TRANSGEF


P is for Poltergeist, the latest instalment in Red Cape’s A-Z of Horror series, is out today! I’ve got a story in the anthology by the name of Transgef. Here’s a quick synopsis:

If adolescent girls attract poltergeist activity, then what kind of poltergeist might visit a transgender adolescent? A single mother finds out as the legend of Gef the Talking Mongoose is updated for the era of rapid-onset gender dysphoria.

Pick up the book and you’ll also get twelve stone-chuckin’, door-knockin’, false-vocal-cord rattlin’ stories by Stephen Loiaconi, Pauline E. Dungate, Michael Gore, Bob Johnson, Jay Kleem, Sarah Jan Huntington, Malina Douglas, Connor Mellegers, Nicole Iversen, Paul Lonardo, Christopher Pate and Daniel R Robichaud.

Baker’s Dozen, ed. Candace Nola (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)


Its title a cute double-meaning, this anthology gathers together thirteen horror stories that are all, in one way or another, themed around baking. One – “Next Best Baker” by Jeff Strand – was also a finalist for Best Short Story. But what of the other twelve…?

Some of the stories treat the baked goods themselves as the sources of horror, with various questionable morsels issuing from ovens. In “My Lil’ Cupcake” by Lee Franklin, a gross and slobbish fisherman eats a cupcake made by his wife before a round of angling. This morsel has unforeseen effects: he has to deal with painful bodily functions at one end and bizarre hallucinatory visions at the other, in what turns out to be the start of a shaggy dog story involving a love triangle. In “Just a Local Thing” by Kenzie Jennings, a preteen girl visiting Florida with her parents is delighted to find a novelty bakery selling a cake shaped like an alligator eating a naked man – and markedly less delighted when she later sees the real thing. Daniel Volpe’s “Of Dough and Cinnamon” starts as a Last House on the Left-esque story about a Jewish baker, his daughter and a gang of rapists, and for much of its run it is a solid execution of an overfamiliar premise. Then comes a fantastical twist ending that makes novel use of both the story’s cultural backdrop and the motif of baking…

Continue readingBaker’s Dozen, ed. Candace Nola (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”

Werewolf Wednesday: Jean Bodin on Lycanthropy, Part 4 (1580)

In recent weeks I’ve devoted not one, not two but three posts to the chapter on lycanthropy in Jean Bodin’s 1580 book De la Démonomanie des sorciers, partly through the abridged 2001 English edition by Randy A. Scott and Jonathan L. Pearl. Now, here’s one last post to round off my summary of the chapter…

I’ll start with another section that Scott and Pearl left out of their translation. This dips into classical mythology, with Bodin pointing to Ovid’s story of Lycaon becoming a wolf, and Homer’s account of how Circe turned Odysseus’ men into swine. The latter tale, argues Bodin, is not mere fable, as it was repeated by St. Augustine — who also recounted a story of Arcadian sorceresses turning passers-by into beasts to carry cheese.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Jean Bodin on Lycanthropy, Part 4 (1580)”

Between a Spider’s Eyes, ed. River Dixon (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)


While some of the anthologies on the Splatterpunk Awards ballot are bulked out with large numbers of stories, Between a Spider’s Eyes offers a selection of tales that are comparatively few in number (there being eight in all, hence the title) but quite substantial in length.

The opening piece is “Carla’s Conundrum” by Aron Beauregard, about a woman who copes with personal loss by using a pair of puppets as alter egos; the story becomes an oddball character study as we see her behaviour through the eyes of various different members of her social circle, before arriving in a visceral climax. Elizabeth Bedlam’s “Poached Eggs” is similar in that it likewise brings to life a rather thin narrative through well-drawn characters. This time the protagonists are a meth-addled couple, Ron and Crystal, the latter of whom develops a strange rash after scraping her back on the wall of a public lavatory. Not a large amount happens here – until the twist ending, the plot consists largely of the rash growing worse while the characters try without success to diagnose it. Yet the story works thanks to a portrayal of the couple’s low-life existence that is as textured and as toe-curling as the growth on Crystal’s back.

Continue readingBetween a Spider’s Eyes, ed. River Dixon (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”

Bludgeon Tools, ed. K. Trap Jones (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)


Bludgeon Tools is an anthology with a straightforward premise: all of the stories involve violence inflicted by household tools. So, how did the assembled authors interpret their brief…?

In “To the Devil his Due” Sam Richard offers a tightly-packed slasher narrative in which the killer is a grown man who wears a child’s devil costume and, of course, uses tools as murder weapons. Brian Keene comes through with “Delivery”, a brief story about a delivery man handing a package to a resident who turns out to be a murderer – with further twists in store as someone else turns up on the scene. Taking no prisoners is “Jesus of Jim Beam” by Anton Cancre; the narrator here is a shock-rock singer who, tired of his lot in life, starts murdering his audience. The protagonist’s desolate worldview comes through as strongly as the brutal violence.

Continue readingBludgeon Tools, ed. K. Trap Jones (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”

Werewolf Wednesday: Jean Bodin on Lycanthropy, Part 3 (1580)

I’ve written a bit about Jean Bodin’s 1580 overview of werewolf lore here and here. In doing so, I’ve drawn heavily upon Randy A. Scott and Jonathan L. Pearl’s annotated 2001 English translation of Bodin’s book, On the Demon-Mania of Witches — which is an abridged edition. In this post, I’ll be looking at one of the sections that was cut out.

Bodin begins the section in question by talking about lycanthropes of Livonia, a subject also discussed by Olaus Magnus. He cites a personal acquaintance of his, a learned man from Burgandy named Languet who served the Duke of Saxony (could this be the sixteenth-century diplomat Hubert Languet?), as having travelled to Livonia and heard of a widespread belief in lycanthropy. He also mentions an unnamed German correspondent who identified Livonia with a land described by Herodotus as being populated by men who turn into wolves (I believe this refers to Herodotus’ account of the Neurian people).

Bodin also cites claims by Herodotus and Olaus Magnus regarding sorcerers who can control storms. Returning to the topic of lycanthropy, the author introduces us to Boyan, legendary son of Simeon I of Bulgaria, who — according to tenth-century historian Liutprand — could turn into a wolf.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Jean Bodin on Lycanthropy, Part 3 (1580)”

Three New Stories for 2023

I’m pleased to announce that, over the next few months, you’ll be seeing me in three all-new fiction anthologies.

First off we have P is for Poltergeist from Red Cape Publishing, which includes my story Transgef. I was inspired by the saga of Gef the Talking Mongoose, but time’s moved on and Gef has turned up in a very different social climate: if adolescent girls attract poltergeists. Then what sort of poltergeist might a transgender adolescent attract…?

P is for Poltergeist is out 24 February and also features stories by Stephen Loiaconi, Pauline E. Dungate, Michael Gore, Bob Johnson, Jay Kleem, Sarah Jane Huntington, Malina Douglas, Connor Mellegers, Nicole Iversen, Paul Lonardo, Christopher Pate and Daniel R. Robichaud.

Next is Tales from the Clergy from October Nights Press This features my story Her True Calling, about one woman’s battle against a fanatical religious sect. All of the stories in the anthology are inspired by songs from the band Ghost — mine vibes with “Call Me Little Sunshine” — but I’m hoping that even those unfamiliar with the group will find something to enjoy.

Tales from the Clergy is scheduled for a summer release and will also include stories by Brian Smith, Pedro Iniguez, M. Wesley Corie II, Michael Balletti, Michael Paige, Vivian R Kasley, Everett C. Baudean, David West, Colt Skinner, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Jo Kaplan, Robert Bagnall and Mackenzie Hurlbert.

Finally, we have my latest contribution to the Doctor Who universe. Operation Fall-Out is an anthology of linked stories focusing on the exploits of the Brigadier and his UNIT colleagues; my story, The Four Callers, introduces an all-new character in Lance Corporal Mary Savage. Her job at UNIT is to answer telephone calls from the public — a role that turns out to have more intrigue to it than might be expected.

Operation Fall-Out is available for pre-order and its line-up includes Gary J Mack, James Hornby, Jamie Hailstone, Tessa North, Matthew Griffiths, Matthew Kresal and Tim Gambrell.  See the official press release for more information on the stories and comments from all of the writers.

Battered, Broken Bodies, ed. Matt Shaw (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)


This is an anthology technically featured twice on the Splatterpunk Awards ballot, as one of its entries – “Sun Poison” by Stephen Kozeniewski – is up for Best Short Story. There is much more to be sampled, however: the book contains wide variety of stories based on the broad theme of bodily violation.

As extreme horror often blends gore with sex, it should not come as a surprise that a number of the stories deal with intercourse and reproduction gone wrong. John Athan’s “The Gift” is about a man who, for his own reasons, actually wants to acquire HIV. He ends up paying a large sum for access to an exclusive brothel where the workers host an exotic variety of STDs, the symptoms of which are described in loving detail (typical line: “It took him a moment to realize that her scabs had fallen off”). Matt Shaw’s “The Chicken and the Egg” is a two-part story in which a porn actress finds herself struggling to perform because of stomach cramps. These turn out to be the result of a party trick in which she swallowed a whole boiled egg: somehow, one such egg has caused her to become pregnant. The second part deals with her attempts to get healthcare. Weirder still is Duncan Ralston’s “Bait”, in which a woman gets a call from a friend who needs help. The relationship between the two characters is well-drawn enough for the story to sell a bizarre premise: as it happens, the friend’s predicament arises from an unfortunate situation involving a human corpse and a sexually-transmitted symbiont.

Continue readingBattered, Broken Bodies, ed. Matt Shaw (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)”

Werewolf Wednesday: Jean Bodin on Lycanthropy, Part 2 (1580)

Last week I began looking at Jean Bodin’s 1580 volume De la Démonomanie des sorciers (via Randy A. Scott and Jonathan L. Pearl’s annotated 2001 English edition, On the Demon-Mania of Witches). It’s a hefty piece of scholarship and I didn’t have space to cover Bodin’s whole chapter on lycanthropy. So, allow me to pick up where I left off…

Bodin mentions an incident described in Job Fincelius’s Wunderzetchen reporting “that there was also at Padua a lycanthrope who was caught and his wolf paws were cut off and at the same instant he found himself with his arms and feet cut off”; according to Bodin, this claim corroborates evidence against “the witches of Vernon who usually gathered and assembled in an old ruined chateau, in the guise of a great number of cats” (this apparently comes from Petrus Mamor’s Flagellum Maleficarum). The author also mentions “Henry of Cologne”; Scott and Pearl interpret this as a reference to Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. Always eager to outdo himself, Boding then provides an eyewitness account of a lycanthropic transformation:

And Ulrich Molitor in a little book which he dedicated to Emperor Sigismund, records the debate which was held before the emperor. He says that it was concluded for strong reasons, and with the experience of countless examples, that such a transformation was real, and he claims himself that he saw a lycanthrope at Constance, who was charged, convicted, sentenced and then put to death following his confession.

His next assertion is intriguing, but alas, has no cited source:

There are available several books published in Germany, which attest that one of the greatest kings of Christendom, who died not long ago, often was changed into a wolf, and he was reputed to be one of the greatest sorcerers in the world.

Backing up his claim that “Greece and Asia are even more infected with this plague than are the peoples of the West”, Bodin introduces us to the lycanthropes of Turkey, again drawing upon Job Fincelius:

And in fact in 1542 in the empire of Sultan Suliman, there was such a great number of werewolves in the city of Constantinople, that the emperor accompanied by his guard went out in arms and rounded up one hundred and fifty of them, who vanished from the city of Constantinople in view of all the people.

The next topic is how lycanthrope terminology varies between countries:

The Germans call them “Wer Woolf,” and the French “loups- garous,” the Picards “loups varous” which is derived from “lupos varios,” for the French put “g” for “v.” The Greeks call them “Lycanthropes,” and “Mormolycies.” The Latins label them “varios” and “versipelles,” as Pliny noted while describing this change from wolves into men. Frangois Phoebus, Count of Foix [sic — actually Gaston III Phoebus, according to Scott and Pearl], in his book On Hunting, explains that this word “garoux” means “gardez- vous,” “beware,” which Judge Fauchet pointed out to me. This is quite probable: for the other natural wolves hunt animals, but these ones more often men. This is why one can say, “Beware!”

Bodin makes brief references to Pietro Pomponazzi and Paracelsus as redoubtable scholars who have expressed belief in the existence of werewolves. He then moves on to Casper Peucer:

Caspar Peucer, a learned man and son-in-law of Philip Melanchthon, writes that he had always thought that it was a fable, but after its having been attested by various merchants and trust¬ worthy people who frequently conduct trade in Livonia, where many have even been charged and convicted, and after their confession put to death, says that he is obliged to believe it, and he describes the way they do things in Livonia.

Every year at the end of the month of December, there is a scoundrel who goes and summons all the witches to be present at a certain place, and if they fail to do so, the Devil compels them with blows from an iron rod, so hard that the bruises remain. Their captain goes on ahead and thousands follow him traversing a river, and when they have crossed it they change their shape into wolves, and fall upon men and flocks, and inflict enormous damage. Then twelve days later they return to the same river, and are changed back into men.

Following this is a chunk of text that was left out of Scott and Pearl’s abridged translation. I’ll be covering it next week…