Horrifying Peterborough: Peterborough horror authors scaring up some Halloween excitement

We frequently forget about the resources in our own community, so it is worth those occasional reminders that we have a strong artistic core producing fantastic work.

Since Halloween is approaching, I thought it might be worthwhile to highlight some Peterborough producers of horror.  For those of you who have lived in Peterborough for a while, you know this city has an undercurrent of the delightfully strange that is just waiting to inspire horror fiction. Here are some people who have been inspired.

This past summer, ChiZine publications, a producer of horror, fantasy, science fiction, and weird fiction novels, has moved to Peterborough. Run by author Brett Savory (who has written over 50 short stories and three novels including Running Beneath the Skin), poet Sandra Kasturi (published in OnSpec, Prairie Fire, TransVersions and several Tesseracts anthologies as well as publishing collections of poetry such as The Animal Bridegroom and Come Late to the Love of Birds) and currently managed by Kasturi and Samantha Beiko, ChiZine publications has won the British Fantasy Award, been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, and its authors have won awards as diverse as the Sunburst Award, the Aurora Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award. In addition to their adult series, ChiZine has launched a young adult imprint called ChiTeen, and a graphic novel imprint called ChiGraphic. ChiZine Publications is often called an “indie press”, and we all know the power of indie presses to push boundaries and imagine new possibilities. ChiZine has been steadily producing awesome, thought-provoking fiction since 2008.

Some of my recommended Halloween choices from ChiZine include:

Helen Marshall’s Gifts for the One Who Comes After and Hair Side, Flesh Side. Two amazing collections of dark, weird fiction that play with the perceptions and invite new ways of looking at the normal and abnormal.

Nancy Baker’s The Night Inside and A Terrible Beauty. Two wonderfully terrifying and blood-chilling vampire stories that explore everything from ideas of the artistic to ideas of the medical sciences, all with terrifying and sexy results.

Michael Rowe’s Wild Fell. A terrifying ghost narrative that explores ideas of the haunting of a person, the terrors of a haunted house, and the ominous hauntings that are our own memories.

Michael Rowe’s Enter Night. A classic vampire story set in the ‘80s. Especially appealing for all of you who have been watching Stranger Things and like the retro experience, or anyone who loves a non-sparkly vampire.

Claude Lalumiere’s Objects of Worship. A short story collection so deliciously weird and horrifying that it leaves the reader wanting to know more about the worlds it has plunged us into even as we drown in them.

Gemma Files’ The Hexslinger Omnibus. A “weird Western” about queer-identified cowboys who sling curses instead of guns. It is a beautiful blend of sexy, magical, and horrifying. It leaves the reader with a sense of the erotic with a twist of the terrifying.

James Marshall’s Zombie Versus Fairy Featuring Albinos. Yes, it is as delightfully weird as its title suggests. It illustrates that our world is already in a zombie apocalypse perpetuated by capitalist modes of production, and that is all I will tell you about it—so read it for yourself.

And if you are interested in dark, graphic fairy tales, check out Vincent Marcone’s The Lady Paranorma.

ChiZine has also recently re-published two of my favourite collections of Canadian horror: Northern Frights Vol 1  and Vol 2, edited by Don Hutchinson. This October, they are releasing Don Bassingthwaite’s collection Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight, which is definitely an anticipated exciting read worth checking out! I’ve read a few of the short stories for this collection that combine werewolves, drag, and magic into an exciting mix of wonder and delight.

Lit Reactor tells readers that with ChiZine Publications, “chances are you’re going to run screaming from the eclectic catalog of dark novels and collections they produce” (https://litreactor.com/columns/indie-press-spotlight-chizine-publications), so don’t just take my word that you are in for a delightful scare with these books. And Publishers Weekly tells us that “ChiZine Press continues to hit the mark. I don’t know what’s in the water up in Canada, but it’s turning out some great writers, and CZP is finding and publishing them with amazing alacrity.” (http://chizinepub.com/about/whats-been-said.php) And if you have tasted Peterborough’s water, you know that it is strange, strange, strange. So drink up, and write weird.

In addition to ChiZine Publications, Peterborough is the home to horror author Ian Rogers. His novel Every House is Haunted won a ReLit Award and his story “The House on Ashley Avenue” was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and is currently being developed by NBC into a procedural drama series. The series, titled The Eight, will be written by Jason Pagan and Andrew Deutschman (best known for Bates Motel and The Grudge) and will be about a company that specializes in insuring haunted houses (http://kawarthanow.com/2016/10/07/the-eight-ian-rogers/).

I strongly recommend Rogers’ short story collection Every House is Haunted, which, among other horror stories, includes a tale set in Peterborough that even features the smell of cookies from Peterborough’s Quaker Oats plant.

In addition to his collection of short fiction, Rogers has published short fiction in The Best Horror of the Year and Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. He is also the author of SuperNOIRtural Tales, a series of tales about a world where gateways to a dark dimension have opened up, disgorging monsters and horrific figures into the mundane world…. and perhaps more terrifyingly… letting human beings pass into this world of nightmares.

I would be remiss in not including former Trent University student, Craig Davidson, who still has connections to the Peterborough area. Davidson’s horror works include Sara Court as well as The Troop and The Deep (written under his psuedonym Nick Cutter). Davidson’s work takes us into the nightmares that exist in our own world from the strange and disturbing potentials of the deep ocean to the panic of epidemics, to the horrors of the suburban neighbourhood.

Check out some Halloween reads and remember, as you celebrate Halloween, these authors are spinning tales of nightmarish terror from your own community. Be careful as you look into those dark corners of Peterborough, since something might be looking back.

You can find out more about:

ChiZine Publications at http://chizinepub.com/

Ian Rogers at http://www.ian-rogers.com/bio.php

Craig Davidson/ Nick Cutter at http://craigdavidson.net/index2.htm