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Taking Submissions: This Patchwork Flesh – Quiltbag Horror

August 31, 2014

Deadline: .05/word (CDN)
Payment: August 31st, 2014

In addition to Start a Revolution, I’m also editing for Exile Editions an anthology called This Patchwork Flesh: QUILTBAG Horror. The reading period for This Patchwork Flesh will run from June 1st, 2014 to August 31st, 2014. All responses will be given by September 30th, 2014, and the book is slated for release in Fall 2015. Stories selected for inclusion will be paid at .05/word (CDN). [Edit: Please note the changes to the maximum allowable word count:] Submissions for this one can be anything up to 8,000 words. Original, unpublished fiction only. No reprints.

As with Start a Revolution, because of the strictures the publisher is working under via provincial funding specific to these books, 90% of the anthology must be Canadian authored content. I do want to see submissions from international authors, I’m just warning everyone again, up front, about the guidelines I’m working under.

Further guidelines (and a summary) below. But first:

The Central Idea:

There would be no This Patchwork Flesh without Michael Rowe’s seminal anthologies, Queer Fear and Queer Fear II. Exquisite in both their execution and in their focus on putting openly gay protagonists front and centre, the Queer Fear anthologies shifted the nature of the conversation horror fiction was having in short form.

And that’s because horror fiction is, for everything else it accomplishes (and it casts a very wide net through various subgenres), primarily a way of looking at the darker aspects of ourselves. Of examining the horrors we both embody and encounter. A way of exploring both catharsis and vastation by looking inward, and then extrapolating outward. It is, then, a way of turning a mirror on ourselves, as a way of looking at the rest of the world.

But, as many readers will already be aware, the mirror of (Western) horror fiction tends to reflect a very narrow range of representations.

This Patchwork Flesh is meant to be, like the Queer Fear books, a wider lens on underrepresented stories, and on underrepresented voices. A chance for readers who identity as one of the many facets of QUILTBAG, or pansexual, fluid, and so on, to see narratives where they are not sidelined, where they are not depicted as secondary characters, always foils, aids, or victims of, or to, “normative” figures.

The inroads have already been made: LGBT horror fiction is by no means unplumbed territory. It is, in fact, a limitless, and growing, aspect of the field, the depths of which have been, or are being, mined by masters in the genre: writers like Clive Barker, Caitlin Kiernan, Poppy Z. Brite, Gemma Files, and John Ajvide Lindqvist, just to name a very few.

But it’s time to cast that net wider still. Time to explore narratives about the monstrous and the horrific, the internal and the external, through a variety of QUILTBAG voices. To bring that next needed expansion to the field.

To again widen the conversation.

To get a better look at the monsters in our midst, and in the darkness without. And see in them the terrifyingly familiar.

So. QUILTBAG, You Say?

For those not already familiar with the term QUILTBAG, it’s an expansion and reorganization of LGBTQIA. Here, go read Julia Rios’s fantastic article “Reaching into the QUILTBAG: The Evolving World of Queer Speculative Fiction.” The reason QUILTBAG’s in the subtitle? All submissions for This Patchwork Flesh must have a QUILTBAG protagonist.

Well, actually, I’m not limiting submissions to measures of self-definition covered by the jumble of letters that make up QUILTBAG: I also want to see fluid (gender and sexual orientation) and pansexual protagonists.

In addition to the above requirement, I’d also be interested in seeing characters in well-depicted polyamorous relationships. And I’d be very interested in seeing stories which handle disability well.

Want to write combinations of any of the above? Go for it. But whatever you do, depict real, three-dimensional people. All stories start with character. So write about people and let the plot serve your characters. Wherever that takes you.

So What Else Do I Want to See In Your Submissions?

This Patchwork Flesh is a book about nightmares. About terrors and darkness, internal and external. Horror is a field with no limitations, and I’m looking to assemble an anthology that will encompass stories both minimalist and cosmic in scope. Quietly unsettling, balls to the wall, transgressive, or the Weird, it’s all welcome. Terrify and transcend in equal measure.

I want to see intricate, multi-layered work that is not content to explore simple, simplistic, or trite ground. I want to see three-dimensional characters (not just the protagonist – convince me your setting is alive with real, fully fleshed out people beyond the central character). Send stories about PoCs, senior citizens, and the otherwise underrepresented. Send stories about characters from all walks of life. Give me stories about rural communities, urban communities, extraplanar communities, and whatever else you want to explore.

I’m interested in a broad range of characters, narratives, settings, and approaches to storytelling. Experimental and non-standard narrative approaches are welcome. And content is wide open as long as it meets the basis for the anthology in some way.

Also, your story does have to have some speculative element to it, but that can be anywhere from interstitial, to magic realist, fabulist, slipstream, all the way up to genre work.

Submission Details:


  • Length: <8k
  • Payment: .05/word (and contributor’s copy)
  • Rights: First English-Language Rights & Non-exclusive Anthology Rights (Print and eBook)
  • Genre: All speculative. Must be horror.
  • Original fiction only. No reprints.
  • Submit To: adarkandterriblebeauty [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Subject Line: This Patchwork Flesh: [Story Title], [Last Name]
  • Format: Standard Manuscript Format
  • File Format: .doc, .docx, or .rtf only
  • Cover Letter: Yes. See below.
  • Reading Period: June 30, 2014 – Aug. 31, 2014
  • All Responses By: Sep. 30, 2014
  • Scheduled Release: Fall 2015

Please, no simultaneous submissions. [Edit: I’ve removed the note about the Vanderbilt/Exile Short Fiction Competition as this year’s contest has now closed.]

You may send multiple submissions over the course of the reading period, but submit only one story at a time. I’ll be rejecting stories over the course of the reading period, so if you receive a rejection before the deadline you may submit another piece.

Also, despite the fact that I’m comfortable with alternate and integrated narrative formats for short fiction, I’m not taking poetry or plays. Short fiction only, please.

Re Cover Letters: Include your name, story title, word count, contact info, a brief bio, and state your nationality (so I can keep track of the 90% Canadian authored content requirement).

Also Re Cover Letters (Optional): One of the things the Ontario Arts Council asks on their grant forms is a set of volunteered information, specifically about self-definition and identity. It helps them figure out what communities and groups they’re already reaching and aiding, and who they need to do more outreach to better aid. And if people are willing, I would like to do something similar here. Specifically, I’d like to compile and share a map of the submissions, if you will. (Both a map for all submissions, and a comparative map for selected stories.) So, please feel free to also note in your cover letter if you consider, or define, yourself as any of the following: an Aboriginal writer, culturally diverse writer, Francophone writer, and/or new generation writer. (Definitions for same below.) Anyone submitting is also welcome to note their gender (be it binary, multiple, undefined, or a lack thereof) and you can also include if you self-define along the lines of QUILTBAG, fluid, pansexual, or otherwise.

And let me reiterate: all of that volunteered information is entirely optional. And if given, it is going to be shared in a strictly anonymous fashion, and only for the purposes of the submissions mapping.

Lastly, if I’ve already read a story of yours elsewhere (say, at Apex), please don’t send it for this call unless I specifically ask to see it. And if you have questions relating to the anthology, please ask them in the Comments.


  • Canadian: Canadian permanent residents, Canadian citizens, Canadians living abroad.
  • Aboriginal: In Canada, this refers to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit citizens. I’m also using it here to refer to Indigenous Australians, Maori, and other groups that identify as indigenous to a region.
  • Francophone: Defined as “a person who learned French at home and still understands it.”
  • Culturally Diverse: PoC (People of Colour).
  • New Generation: Defined in Canadian terms as between the ages of 18 and 30.

Via: Michael Matheson.


August 31, 2014