An interview at POSTSCRIPTS TO DARKNESS, a reprinted story & poem, a new poem sale

/ Sunday, June 10th, 2018 / 2 Comments »

The past few weeks I’ve been occupied with getting Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace ready for the book’s premiere at Readercon in July. (I couldn’t be prouder that Nicole’s novel received a starred review for Kirkus Reviews — the first time a Mythic Delirium Book has appeared in Kirkus, too!)

While I’ve been doing that, a few things have happened on the writing front that I wanted so share.

Sean Moreland’s Postscripts to Darkness has reprinted a horror story of mine, “Tardigrade,” that was first published in 2014 in the limited edition hardcover anthology A Darke Phantastique, edited by Jason V. Brock. It’s one of my most gruesome and most experimental horror stories, and I’m grateful PstD chose to share it more widely.

Here’s the opening hook:

Gunshots in the dark. One, two, three, four, five.

In the abyss, a flatscreen monitor lights, as if awakened by the noise.

From the computer, loud chimes play “Turkey in the Straw” as a creature dances on the monitor, a bear-like thing with chitin for skin and a circular sucking mouth in place of a face. Needles protrude and retract from the orifice in time with the music.

Shuffling in the dark. Bare feet descending stairs. One, two, three, four, more.

A ghost appears, a woman in a pale night robe, trembling all over, pistol clenched in one hand, a snub-nosed, square device. Her wide eyes are moons, her breath coming in half-sobs.

Black stains spatter the belly of her robe. She stares at the monitor. One of the stains is moving, separating from the rest, inching up a fold of cloth over her ribs. She doesn’t notice, but we do.

Click here to read the rest! There’s a new, fun, gross illustration by Ry Graham to go with it.

The reprint of “Tardigrade” is the first prong of a triple attack at PstD. Sean also published a new interview with me that’s even longer than the one that appeared in Locus in December. Sean asked me a number of questions that I’ve not had to field before, and I’m grateful for both his curiosity and generosity.

The interview covers the full range of my fiction, poetry, and editing, and goes deep into where my major stylistic quirks come from. I also expound a bit more on the recent closing of Mythic Delirium magazine. Here’s part of my response to a complex, multi-paragraph question about why all my writing contains elements of body horror regardless of genre:

My father taught biology at the University of Guam and later at Clinch Valley College in Wise, and I remember, on visiting his offices and classrooms, being fascinated by the large plastic anatomy models — you could open them and remove the internal organs, the pieces of the brain, the eyes, you could open the heart up and look inside it. Also all the strange creatures from many phyla floating in formaldehyde, and the even weirder invertebrates described in textbooks. I never did get to see the biology department’s cadaver, but I knew it was there inside its coffin-shaped tank. Somehow, though, none of these things ever scared me the way Poe or Lovecraft did.

And yet, I would have these astonishing nightmares, incredibly vivid, where streets would be lined with veins and intestines and people would suffer gory fates worthy of the grossest splatter films — which I had never watched! As a kid, when something too scary came on the television, I’d flee the room. Those dreams, I’m certain, guide my aesthetic as an adult.

You can read the rest of the new interview here.

Finally, PstD reprinted my poem “Dearly Beloved,” which first appeared in print in Postscripts to Darkness 5 in 2014, acquired by poetry editor Dominik Parisien, and was later nominated for a Rhysling Award. It’s set in the same far-future sf milieu as my short stories “Twa Sisters” and “Still Life Wife Skull,” both of which are reprinted in The Spider Tapestries.

andante maestoso
Long before the partiers arrive, the Arborists
form the ballroom, standing in a dolmen circle,
stretching their many arms until vine-fingers
meet and entwine, bloodflow causing all
their leaves to fan out in rosy canopy,
transparent teeth unsheathed in long smiles
that serve for windows.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Last but hardly least, a new poem I’ve written in collaboration with S. Brackett Robertson, “shore skin,” has sold to John Benson at Not One of Us. This is the first poem I’ve written in at least two years, maybe longer, so it’s thrilling to have it find a home so quickly. More are coming, all in collaboration with Sally Brackett, so far.

That catches me up. Anita and I (obviously) are planning to be at Readercon next month, hope to see folks there!



  1. AJ says:

    I’m proud to be one of “few people.” 😉 Every time you mention the completed first draft of the Concerto sequel it makes me more impatient!

    • Mike Allen says:

      Thank you, A.J.! And bless you.

      Well, if I can be so bold: the blunt truth is, I have no publisher for the second book, so for it to come out, I have to find a way to DIY it, and find a way to do THAT so it doesn’t just immediately vanish into the ether upon release, like so many books do. But The Ghoulmaker’s Aria is not ready to be published without a redraft, maybe more than one, and that will be time consuming, and other projects are for the moment more urgent. So all I can say is please, please bear with me. Olyssa and Erzelle’s adventures will continue, but it won’t be for a bit yet, unless I manage to clone myself, heh.

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