I am happy to announce that my horror story, “East of the Midnight Sun, West of the Full Moon” will be published in this year’s Wolf Warriors charity anthology. This year’s theme was light and shadow, so I had great fun playing with that imagery (and working in all manner of Easter eggs from vampire and werewolf lore and from Scandinavian fairy tale, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”). Last year’s entry to the Wolf Warriors anthology was kid-friendly and upbeat, so I went darker and more overtly political this year. This is also the first year where I won’t have a single reference to “Little Red Riding Hood”. I suppose Red is finally passing the torch to a new fairy tale.
Writing has been on the back burner since The Great Health Implosion in January, so it felt great to get back into it. And this is probably my first work of proper horror. It’s like Pacific Northwest Gothic. Is that a thing? It should be a thing. Twin Peaks would probably count, so I’m going to say it’s a thing.
I won’t give too much away, but this was my attempt at a reconstruction of the vampire vs. werewolf set-up that so saturated the market in my formative years. Canonized and standardized by 20th century film and literature, both of these horror staples have been well and truly stripped of their cultural context, to the point where many people don’t realize they have one. I wanted to try to reframe them in their original folklore origins. To scrape off the layers of Stephenie Meyer and Anne Rice and Bram Stoker (with all due respect to the latter two) and get back to their pre-Victorian roots.
The main idea for the story came from an aside in the introduction to The Werewolf in Lore and Legend, where the author describes how the terms for Werewolf and Vampire in many Eastern European languages are often interchangeable and in one Eastern European language are flipped entirely. I happened upon this while researching a paper on Irish werewolf lore in my freshman year of college, but the idea stuck in the back of my head, waiting for an outlet to be explored. This turned into a nightmare research-wise, when I was trying to find the correct terms the different characters would use for said monsters, especially with multiethnic characters, nomadic/diasporic peoples, and my inability to read Romanian and other foreign language wikis to contend with. Linguistic drift and cultural diffusion were the bane of my existence for a few nights of harried research.
As a mythology & religion major, I strive to get these things right and I am always extra anxious about authenticity when dealing with historically marginalized cultures that I am not a part of. It was enough of a tightrope to walk already, having a Roma character in a story about werewolves and vampires. The Gypsy with supernatural powers trope is an old and ever-present one (looking at you, Marvel) and I wanted to unpack that and reconstruct the trope without reinforcing its problematic elements. Hopefully you can read it later this year and decide how well I achieved this for yourself.
In the meantime, you can find links to the first three Wolf Warriors anthologies in my How to Find Me section. Previous entries of mine include a poem about religious persecution featuring Little Red Riding Hood as the Spanish Inquisition, a short about a disillusioned hipster dealing with an unplanned lycanthropic pregnancy, a three-part poem about millennials through the lens of fairy tales, and a holiday story about a modern pagan family celebrating Yule.