Interviews by SE

"Art & Beauty in Weird Fantasy"

It is not intuitive to seek beauty in art deemed grotesque, but most authors who produce horror/fantasy actually are usually (a) serious about their craft, and (b) driven my strange muses.  I have been fascinated by how the historical weird fiction masters (RE Howard, Poe, Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft,...) held series beliefs that their "horror" was actually beautiful. Going beyond writing essays & posts, this collection engages contemporary authors & artists on the theme of "Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction."



1) Janet E Morris Interview (2014, Link): Janet E. Morris has pushed people's expectations of sexuality and the role of women in fantasy fiction since 1976; check out my interview with her as we explore the role of Art & Beauty in Fantasy Fiction. This features the book: High Couch of Silistra



2) E B Hudspeth Interview (2014, Link): E.B. Hudspeth’s novel/art-book combination The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black chronicles an artist/scientist as he “revives or brings to light again (aka resurrect)” a dormant beauty inside humanity. With a horrific tale complementing beautiful anatomical drawings of hybrid creatures, he invites us to reconsider the boundaries (if any) between man & animal…between art & science. 



3) C Dean Andersson Interview (2014, link): C. Dean Andersson (a.k.a. Asa Drake) has written Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror since the 1980's and just released Hel X 3 (an eBook omnibus of his Bloodsong saga). The interview discusses how his fine arts education/creative-process informed his fiction, and features a previously unpublished painting. Find out how C. Dean Andersson makes the corpse-side of Hel appealing, putting a pretty face on his fears.


4) Tom Barczak Interview (2014, link): Barczak is an artist & architect who has a beautiful ability to capture angelic warfare with drawing pencil and keyboard. He says: "I can’t not write about loss and love, death and rebirth. It’s very much a part of who I am... Everyone has their own Heroes Journey. Tell it. And if you’re still on it, finish it. Then tell it."


5) Forrest Aguirre Interview (Oct 1st 2014) Forrest's short fiction has appeared in over fifty venues, including Asimov's, Gargoyle, Apex, and Polyphony. He is a World Fantasy Award winner for his editorial work, with Jeff VanderMeer, on the Leviathan 3 anthology. His novel, Heraclix & Pomp has just been published by the Underland Press imprint of Resurrection House press; with a corpse and fairy as protagonists, there is a lot of beautiful horror here!  Learn about his fascination with weird art and creativity, including the mysterious death's-head fez: Totenkopf, and why he thought he'd never live past 36!



6) Death Panel Convenes on why it is OK to go to Hell at anytime (2015): Some authors from the Doctors in Hell anthology convened for a death panel to decide your fate. Your affliction needing help?  Well, you heard about the recent release of this book but realized it is #18 in the Heroes in Hell series... is it okay to jump in now?   You are a bit timid to jump into death, so why not have the tour guides explain your worries away? 

Stephen Leigh Interview (2016): Stephen Leigh hails from Cincinnati and has professionally published over 26 novels and ~50 short stories (including those in George RR Martin's WILD CARDS). He has several identities, having also written under the pseudonyms “S. L. Farrell” and “Matt Farrell” in both the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres. He is a musician and vocalist too, active in several local bands. Stephen teaches creative writing at Northern Kentucky University and has mentored many via his teaching. And behold, he recently wrote about artistic muses and alchemy in his splendid fantasy/historical-fiction novel Immortal Muse. Let's learn about his muses and see his fine art!



8) Katrina Sisowath Interview (2016), Katrina Sisowath is a contributing author at Her The Doom of Undal is a beautiful blend historical fiction and alchemical fantasy with fictionalized the plight of the royal Anunnaki (serpent cults with roots in ancient Mesopotamian deities of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian cultures). The Dragon Court series continues with the recently released Fall of Undal. Let's learn about the author’s muses. Thanks to Katrina Sisowath for sharing her weird attraction to serpents, mythology, and sacred pregnancies!



9) Simon Williams Aona series 2016  Simon Williams is the author of the Aona dark fantasy series comprising five installments that just concluded. His work is attracting growing acclaim for its fusion of different genres and atmospheric, character-driven narrative. He has also written "Summer's Dark Waters", a sci-fi / fantasy /supernatural novel aimed at young adults.




10) Jerome Stueart 2017Jerome Stueart is a writer and illustrator whose work has appeared in Lightspeed's Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Fantasy,, Geist, Joyland, Icarus, Tessaracts anthologies, and other journals and magazines. He is a Clarion 2007 grad, a Lambda Literary fellow, a Milton Fellow and a Fulbright fellow--meaning he's a queer science fiction/fantasy writer of faith who has dual citizenship in Canada. Come learn about his Angels and Better Beasts!



11) John R. Fultz 2017: John is an established fantasy and weird fiction author. Influenced by Weird Fiction kings such as Clark Ashton Smith and Darrell Schweitzer, John Fultz has published the epic fantasy "Books of the Shaper" trilogy and has become a regular contributor to Weirdbook.. Learn about his past graphic necromancy (SKULLS) and his future releases (Veneration... and Son of Tall Eagle)! (ported into Black Gate Dec 2023)

12) Janeen Webb, 2018
:   Janeen Webb is a multiple award-winning author, editor, and critic who has written or edited ten books and over a hundred essays and stories. She can spin a fantastic tale for the young-adult (YA) crowd and for adult acolytes of the weird-fiction (read the included excerpt from "A Pearl Beyond Price" which involves beach sex with Cthulhu-esque tentacles!).  She is clearly haunted by Eros, and compelled by a weird-but-beautiful muse. Learn her take on gardening, and you may never look at red roses the same way ever again! Her new book "The Dragon's Child" is being released right now.



13) Aliya Whiteley, 2018:  Aliya Whiteley has written over thirty novellas and short stories in a range of genres. Her excellent novella The Beauty offers a compact dose of weird fiction in which humanity is evolving into mushrooms. It is entirely unique, but could be described as a mashup of Kafka’s body horror (The Metamorphosis), Golding's social dynamics (Lord of the Flies), and James' infertile dystopia (The Children of Men). “The Beauty” is an action-packed tale saturated with philosophy on "what is beautiful?" and "what is humanity?", a true must-read for those who enjoy intellectual meat (shrooms?) with their adventure fiction. Let’s learn more about Aliya Whiteley and her muses. Does she eat mushrooms? 



14) Richard Lee Byers  (2018): known for his Forgotten Realm contributions. He holds a Master's degree in Psychology and worked in an emergency psychiatric facility for over a decade, then left the mental health field to write. He is the author of more than fifteen books, including the lead book Dissolution (first book in the War of the Spider Queen series). Here we’ll focus on his approach to making horror pleasing, reveal his muses for creating beautiful dark fiction. And, eh gad, let us subject him to a Rorshach test! 

15) Darrell Schweitzer (2018): Darrell Schweitzer (a.k.a. “Brother Darrell” in the Esoteric Order of Dagon) is an American writer, editor, and essayist in the field of speculative fiction. Much of his focus has been on dark fantasy and horror, although he does also work in science fiction and fantasy. Schweitzer is also a prolific writer of literary criticism and editor of collections of essays on various writers within his preferred genres. Together with his editorial colleagues Schweitzer won the 1992 World Fantasy Award special award in the professional category for Weird Tales. His poem Remembering the Future won the 2006 Asimov's Science Fiction's Readers' Award for best poem. His novels include The White Isle, The Shattered Goddess, The Mask of the Sorcerer, and The Dragon House. He has also been known to lead the choir at Cthulhu Prayer Breakfasts, where his The Innsmouth Tabernacle Choir is used. Check out his cartoon drawing of Wilbur Whateley, learn about his Conan the Deliverer novel (not the "midwife" type he clarifies), and what inspires his weird fiction! Note, this was simultaneously broadcast via Black 

Sebastian A. Jones (2018:) Author, actor, and teacher, Sebastian A. Jones grew up in England and moved to America at the age of eighteen where he founded MVP Records releasing albums that included James Brown, John Coltrane, and Billie Holiday. In 2008 he founded Stranger Comics and Stranger Kids. Sebastian has written children's books including Pinata and co-created the I Am Book Series with Garcelle Beauvais including titles I Am Mixed and I Am Living in 2 Homes. Under Stranger's dark fantasy line Asunda, he has received critical praise for his written work on The Untamed: A Sinner's Prayer,  Dusu: Path of the Ancient, and Niobe: She is Life, which was coauthored by Amandla Stenberg. 
Note, will be simultaneously broadcast Oct 21st on Black .


17) Charles A. Gramlich (2019):  In Gramlich's Weird Fiction Review #7 essay called “The Beautiful and the Repellent: The Erotic Allure of Death and the Other in the Writers of Weird Tales”, he notes how Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe (and many more speculative fiction writers) juxtaposed content that were both repulsive & beautiful. In his words: “Repulsive elements and events are intertwined with the grotesque and beautiful ones—often through the use of poetical prose—thus transmuting the ugly into something that, if not exactly lovely, still compels attention.” He posits two types of repellent beauty in weird fiction (and associated adventure, like Sword & Sorcery/Planet). the Erotic Allure of Death (EAD) and the Erotic Desire for the Other (EDO). This is simultaneously broadcast via Black (link). 




18) Anna Smith Spark (2019). DESIRE and DISGUST: She is the Queen of Grimdark. The David Gemmell Awards shortlisted her The Court of Broken Knives. The sequel The Tower of Living and Dying continued the Empires of Dust trilogy (Harper Voyager US/ Orbit US/Can). The finale, The House of Sacrifice, will be published August 2019. Anna lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a PhD in English Literature. This will be simultaneously broadcast via Black (link).

Carol Berg (2019): Accessible Dark FantasyCarol's fifteen epic fantasy novels have earned national and international acclaim. She has been twice voted the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Writer of the Year. Carol's newest work, written as her alter ego Cate Glass, is a fantasy adventure series called Chimera about a rag-tag quartet of sorcerers who take on missions of deception and intrigue in a world where magic earns the death penalty. The first book, An Illusion of Thieves, was released in May 2019 by Tor Books (A Conjuring of Assassins is due out Feb 2020). Carol routinely attends conventions and was recently a special guest at the 2019 GenCon Writer’s Symposium. Carol Berg makes dark fantasy fun and accessible, a perfect candidate for our interviews on “Art & Beauty in Weird Fantasy” (see previous interviews listed below). Most authors who produce horror/fantasy are (a) serious about their craft, and (b) driven by strange muses. Let’s tap the mind(s) of Carol Berg and Cate Glass.  Simulcast on

 Byron Leavitt (2021): God, Darkness, & Wonder Byron is the author of the bizarre children’s novel The Fish in Jonah’s Puddle (To Say Nothing of the Demon) and the non-fiction book Of Hope and Cancer: One Man’s Story of God, Darkness, and Wonder, as well as the story content for the board game Deep Madness and its accompanying book Shattered Seas. Byron is currently working on the storybooks for the forthcoming Deep Madness prequel Dawn of Madness, a story-driven horror experience in a board game. Learn about his bout with cancer, how it affected his writing, and see his own "fine art" drawings! Simulcast on


21) The Aesthetics of Sword & Sorcery: Philip Emery Interview (2021). Are you haunted, perhaps obsessed, with Sword & Sorcery? Let us consider the case of Philip Emery (whose condition resembles the afflictions/abilities of Lovecraft’s Charles Dexter Ward and Richard Upton Pickman). Emery’s passion for expanding S&S is a wonderful journey, and his work is worth studying as well as reading for pleasure. Simulcast on




22 Sublime, Cruel Beauty: Jason Ray Carney 2021: Carney is a champion of the fantastic, from writing, professing (teaching), editing & publishing... so tapping his mind reveals all sorts of perspectives. It's terrifyingly fun! Learn tidbits on making horrific fiction more accessible, and find out the true identity of Ayolo! The academic-in-you may will enjoy sublime leads from classic authors Edmund Burke and Walter Benjamin.  Simulcast on



23 Beautiful Plagues: An Interview with John C. Hocking 2022. We explore his exciting, and sometimes "plagued" journey with Conan pastiche as well as his fears of the infinite, cold universe. Simulcast on Black Gate (with a companion interview on the Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog:  Archiving the King’s Blade Champion: An Interview with John C. Hocking )

24 BEAUTIFUL AND REPULSIVE BUTTERFLIES: AN INTERVIEW WITH M. STERN 2022 (Simulcast on Black Gate). This covers emerging author M. Stern who writes weird/horror fiction and sci-fi. He has had stories appear in Weird Book #44, Startling Stories#34, and Doug Draa’s clown anthology Funny As a Heart Attack. There’s some strange and complicated beauty to be found in all of those. He also has published in several other markets including Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror and flash fiction that deals with aesthetics and transgression in Cosmic Horror Monthly #19.

25) MAKING WEIRD FICTION FUN: GRILLING DORGO THE DOWSER! 2022 (Simulcast on Black Gate) : I’m excited to corner Joe Bonadonna this round. When his Dorgo character grilled/interviewed me in 2017, the questioning began with: Who the Hell are You?  JB: Who in the Nine Circles of Hell do you think I am? Quasimodo? Doctor Frankenstein? You mean you don’t know who I am? Have you never heard of me? Why, I’m famous the world over!                 

26) C.S. Friedman - Beauty and Nightmares on Alien Worlds (2023) [Simulcast on Black Gate]. Inspired by the release of Nightborn: Coldfire Rising (July 2023, see Black Gate’s review for more information), we are delighted to interview C.S. Freidman!  Since the late 1990’s she has established herself as a master of dark fantasy and science fiction, being a John W. Campbell award finalist and author of the highly acclaimed Coldfire trilogy and This Alien Shore (New York Times Notable Book of the Year 1998). Let’s learn about C. S. Friedman’s muses & fears, her experience with art, and tease a future TV series!

27) "The Magical Power of Art" Foreword and 2024 Interview with John R. Fultz for his re-release of The Revelations of Zang (Rogues in the House Podcast).


28) Robert Allen Upton (2024), an Edgar Rice Burroughs aficionado and author. reveals the horror and beauty in their work! 


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