Hi Rachel, Thanks for being with us at Horror Tree in celebration of Women in Horror Month. As editor of Crone Girls Press, we are thrilled, and maybe a little chilled, to talk to you about the darker side of speculative fiction. – JD Blackrose
Can you tell us how your first horror anthology came about?
It’s because my sister is the slowest writer ever…
I had been editing some horror short stories for my sister, Thea, and had been encouraging her to submit some for publication. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I’ve always loved horror, especially in short story form, both reading and writing it. It seemed almost a natural progression to go from wanting to read a story in an anthology, to taking the reins and making an anthology happen. I reached out to my writing community, found a number of writers to send me their work, and started putting it together. And once I started working on what became Stories We Tell After Midnight 1, it was too late. The horror antho bug had bit, the rash had spread, and Crone Girls Press was on its way.
What is it about anthologies that you like so much?
I’ve compared anthologies to mixtapes before, so I think I’ll stick with that analogy. I love short stories, first. The form is so versatile and impactful, with room to play for the writer, and I feel like that really shows in the best short stories. In an anthology, you get to spend time with a range of different settings and characters and emotions, like the very best kind of mixtape, and that is the sort of journey that I love reading.
Tell us a little about Midnight Bites.
Midnight Bites started because I was having trouble saying no to a bunch of the novellas that people had submitted for our 2020 publications. After considering a couple of different ways I could publish the novellas and novelettes as standalone projects, I decided that the best way would be to offer readers a selection of three authors and three stories–long enough to really sink their teeth into, but not requiring so much time as a novel would to get through it. We are about to publish our third of the series; each has a general theme to it, although in some it’s a little flimsier than others. For example, we started off with military/paramilitary horror, and that first volume includes a World War I story a mercenaries-in-Antarctica story, and a paranormal-hunting, shadowy-government-agency-in-San Antonio story. We’ve got another four volumes scheduled for 2021, and more planned for after that.
Where do you think women authors stand in horror today? Have they made strides into the mainstream?
From speaking with women who were writing and publishing in the genre even five, ten, fifteen years ago, and hearing some of the struggles they dealt with, I would say yes, women have definitely made strides within the genre, and mainstream. I don’t think that this standing is completely even; I don’t think I would compare my experience to that of women of color or trans women working or trying to work in the genre. But there are now multiple examples that we can point to of women killing it (metaphorically speaking) like Nia DaCosta directing Candyman, as well as venerable names within the genre who have always been there, such as Ellen Datlow’s incredible editorial work, and women writers who are telling me there is less of a: “Oh, you write vampires? Romance is right over there…” (Not that I don’t read my fair share of PNR!)
Do we still have a ways to go? Yes. Am I optimistic we’ll get there? Yes. And I intend to do what I can to make it happen.
What’s ahead for Crone Girls Press?
This February, we’ll release our third Midnight Bites, “Hard for Hope to Flourish,” a three-novella collection of literary horror. Also on the slate, we’ve got another four mini’s, as well as a full-length anthology, the third and final volume of Stories We Tell After Midnight, which we’ll start reading for this spring. We also have a pretty fun Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/cronegirls) to share new work from our authors, Halloween memes (who doesn’t need more of these?), and articles of interest to those writing in the darker side of genre fiction. And from there… who knows? Horror is a genre of possibilities.