A Dark Valentine

heart-images-vintage-graphicsfairy1Years ago, I wrote an Alondra story about the lengths she would go to for love called “Valentine.”  The story was podcasted on Wily Writers.  You can read it or listen to it here.

An excerpt:

Alondra had never done this kind of magic before. It felt awful, dirty. Her head ached from the concentration it took. Still, she sat in the quaint café, drinking peppermint tea. Teeth gritted, she traced sigils for summoning in the moisture her glass left on the birch tabletop.

She’d never been to Oslo before, spoke almost no Norwegian, but that hadn’t posed a problem. Scandinavians all spoke lovely English. It shamed her to not have more vocabulary. She’d scarcely prepared for the trip and didn’t know how long before her quarry moved on.

And he traveled a lot. Alondra wasn’t sure if he fled something or searched for something. Not that it mattered. She didn’t want to know more about him than his regular habits in this place. She needed to know enough to find him. Meet him. Get him alone and kill him.

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Women in Horror at Borderlands

IMG_6418

This Sunday, February 5, at 3 pm in the Borderlands Cafe at 870 Valencia Street, San Francisco: come celebrate Women in Horror Month!

Join Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton (GHOSTS: A HAUNTED HISTORY), Bram Stoker Award-winner Rena Mason (THE EVOLUTIONIST and EAST END GIRLS), Shirley Jackson Award-nominee Kate Jonez (CEREMONY OF FLIES), and local author Loren Rhoads (LOST ANGELS and 199 CEMETERIES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE) as they demonstrate the breadth of what women are doing in horror.

I’m really excited about this event.  Please join us if you can.  I’m thinking about reading from the that will be in Best New Horror #27.

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In Memory of William Peter Blatty

the-exorcist-coverI wrote this in the Fall about the impact The Exorcist had on me:

Halloween Haunts: Exorcism for Fun and Profit
by Loren Rhoads

I read The Exorcist early in high school. My mom was a school librarian and didn’t place any limits on what I read, figuring that if it was too mature for me, I just wouldn’t understand it.

She limited what I could watch, though. I wasn’t allowed to see The Exorcist in the theater, but I could read the novel. Long after everyone I knew was terrified – or claimed they were terrified – by the movie, I checked the novel out of the public library.

The part that struck me more than anything else was Blatty’s introduction, in which a man is tortured in a dirty prison cell with a cattle prod and a bucket of water. I was a farm girl. My dad’s cattle prod lived on the telephone desk in the kitchen, where it was close to hand in case the cows got out. I knew a cattle prod would make a 1200-pound steer sit down. I could easily imagine what it would do to a man.

Blatty’s point was that men did such evil to each other that demonic possession was easy to believe in. It would be decades before I wondered about humans possessing demons.

*

2011-09-24-exorcist40I came home from university one weekend when my parents weren’t home, so I invited a couple of friends over. My folks live out in the country, obviously. Because there was whiskey involved, everyone was expected to spend the night.

My memories of that night come in fragments, like a broken kaleidoscope: there was pizza. Whiskey, brought by one of the guests. Under-aged boys. My best friend from high school. It goes without saying there was puking.

In the middle of the night, I crawled out to the family room with my misery. Unable to sleep at the best of times, my friend Martha had the TV on. The only thing she could find to watch in the middle of that interminable night was The Exorcist.

I wonder now if the movie had been edited for TV. I remember the boils and the pea soup and the backbend and the spinning head. The possession was not, by a long stretch, the most horrific thing that happened that night.

Father Merrin, speaking the rites, lodged in my imagination.

*

Many years later, I wrote a short story for my friend Brian about a succubus pursuing an angel. Brian extended my story, possessing my succubus with a mortal girl’s soul. Clearly, if there was a possession, there would need to be an exorcist – and suddenly we were writing a novel.

I didn’t grow up Catholic, so I don’t know the rituals of the Church. I do know all too well how it feels to be a young woman completely out of control, when something takes control of your body and poisons you. The possession was easy to write. The exorcism worried me. I wanted to get it right, to do justice to my influences.

Poking around in the Brand Bookstore in Glendale, I came across Exorcism Through the Ages, published in 1974 by the Philosophical Library of New York. It was exactly the book I needed to guide the exorcism of a mortal girl’s soul from the succubus Lorelei. Wheels within wheels: a historical overview of exorcism inspired by a fictional exorcism inspired by the real-life exorcism of Roland Doe…and all of it inspiring the events in the back room at Lost Angels.

A taste of Lost Angels:

29741039The exorcism was working. Lorelei felt a dreadful tearing in her chest, like the agony a cell feels as it divides.

Joseph watched her closely. He raised his hands to shoulder height, palms facing her, and began to pray. “Satan, Father of Lies, Author of Evil, look in pity on this your servant, now caught up in the coils of this human spirit. Unravel this angelic labyrinth, break asunder these snares and traps, put this childish ghost to flight. By this sign,”—he drew an upside cross—“let your servant be protected. Keep watch over the inmost recesses of her heart, rule over her emotions, strengthen her will. Let vanish from her flesh the temptations of this human child. As we call on your name, O Satan, allow this child to retreat in grace and in peace, so that this servant of yours may sincerely and steadfastly render you the service which is your due.”

The agony spiraled beyond anything Lorelei had previously imagined. The more she tried to shove aside Ashleigh’s ghost, the more of her own spirit she felt ripped away. Her flesh had turned to stone, galvanized by lightning. She convulsed and arced and struggled, breathing out a steady tormented moan.

***

Lost Angels is available at:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ccyw7N

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780963679420

Smashwords as a mobi, epub, or PDF: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/624284

Or directly from me at the Bookshop tab above.

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Son of Never Enough 2016

IMG_5436Interviews:

Carl Slaughter interviewed me about grimdark, violence in space opera, Mary Sues and kick-ass heroines for SFSignal February 29, 2016.

Eric from Deviant Worlds interviewed me about space operas and succubi: http://deviantworlds.blogspot.com/2016/04/interview-loren-rhoads.html April 16, 2016.

In May, Margaret L. Carter interviewed me at length about Dracula and succubi for her deliciously dark newsletter. You can subscribe to it here:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/margaretlcartersnewsfromthecrypt

Coreena McBurnie interviewed me on her blog about Lost Angels and writing:
http://coreenamcburnie.com/2016/05/02/author-interview-loren-rhoads/ May 2, 2016.

Horror Addicts interviewed me about Lost Angels on September 16, 2016:  https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/an-interview-with-loren-rhoads/

Lost-Angels-Cover-Front-SmThe Library of the Damned interviewed me about the scariest thing I’ve ever read and what terrifies me in real life: http://libraryofthedamned.com/2016/10/14/31-days-of-halloween-with-loren-rhoads/

J. Scott Coatsworth interviewed me for his blog on November 27, 2016: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com/author-spotlight-loren-rhoads/  I talked about Oscar Wilde and Philip K. Dick and the hottest lesbian scene I’ve yet to write, as well as Star Wars and Hammer Horror. You know, all my influences.

An interview with me about Automatism Press appeared on the Horror Addicts blog on December 4, 2016:  https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/kidnapped-week-automatism-press

Guest posts:

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Bride of Never Enough 2016

loren-worldcon-2016Never Enough doesn’t really fit this year’s live events, because I don’t think I could have managed anything more.  But in the spirit of tradition, I’ll call this list Bride of Never Enough.

2016 was a great year for doing live events! Because I was pursuing 100 Rejection Letters this year, I chased every opportunity that came my way.  I met a great bunch of people as a result.

2016’s Readings:

Borderlands Sponsors’ Open Mic
Friday, January 22, 2016 at 7 pm
Borderlands Cafe, San Francisco, California
I read an action scene from No More Heroes.

FogCon
Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 10:30-11:45 am
I read from No More Heroes, the third of the Templars novels.

Borderlands Sponsors’ Open Mic
Friday, May 20 at 7 pm
Borderlands Cafe, San Francisco, California
I read something sexy from Lost Angels.

WisCon – Broad Universe Reading
Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 1-2:15 pm
Participants: Martha Allard, Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, Sandra Marie Grayson, Jude McLaughlin, and Loren Rhoads.

I read from No More Heroes.

WorldCon – My first solo reading at a WorldCon!
Saturday, August 20, 2016 at 7:30 – 8 pm
Kansas City Convention Center
I read a fight scene from the Raena Zacari trilogy. There was be carnage.

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading at WorldCon
Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 10:00 – 11:30 am
Kansas City Convention Center14856070_10209649535974067_897543597942645256_o
I emceed a great lineup: J. Tullos Hennig, Laurel Anne Hill, Roberta Rogow, Kathryn Sullivan, Paula S. Jordan, Katie Li, A C Elias, Tamara Jones, and Wendy Van Camp.

I read a snippet of Lost Angels.

Literary Speakeasy – the Martini Bar of Horrors 
Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 7 pm
Martuni’s, San Francisco, California
Emceed by James Siegel, with SG Browne, Dana Fredsti, Sunil Patel, and Alia Volz.

I told a ghost story about the house I live in.

2016’s Podcasts:

I had a goal to pitch 10 podcasts this year.  I pitched four and got onto all of them, although one hasn’t aired yet.  These did:

The Women Show
July 21, 2016 from 6:30 – 7 pm EST
I chatted with Elizabeth Black about Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travels, cemetery blogging, and Death’s Garden Revisited, the project for which I’m collecting essays about people’s relationships with cemeteries. You can check out the conversation here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bennetpomerantz2/2016/07/21/the-women-show-with-your-host-elizabeth-black-her-last-show

Other Worlds of Romance
August 16, 2016
Linda Mooney invited me to read from “The Angel’s Lair” and talk about succubi. You can check out the podcast here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/other_worlds_of_romance/2016/08/16/loren-rhoads-is-my-guest-author-on-august-15th

Horror Addicts
September 17, 2016
Emz and David said really nice things about my Death’s Garden project and let me read a taste of Lost Angelshttp://www.thebelfry.rip/blog/2016/9/17/loren-rhoads-horror-addicts

IMG_5942Miscellaneous Live Events:

April 17, 2016: The Science Fiction Book Club at Borderlands Books invited me to discuss The Dangerous Type. Answering their questions was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

June 4, 2016: The local chapter of the Horror Writers Association held a booth at the Bay Area Book Festival. It was a great chance to get to know my fellow members better and sell some books.

September 11, 2016:  “Why Writers Write” I joined S.G. Browne and Dana Fredsti at Borderlands Cafe to discuss our motivations and the tricks we’ve learned to get the work done.

Every Friday in November:  Once again I hosted Nanowrimo Write-ins at the Borderlands Cafe.  It’s inspirational to join so many writers banging out their books.  I look forward to doing it again next year.

November 23, 2016:  Writing in the window at Paul’s Hat Works on Geary Boulevard fulfilled one of my bucket list items: I always wanted to write in public!

2016 Convention Panels:

2016 was my best year ever for being on panels at science fiction conventions.

I was only on one panel at FogCon:

From Caterpillar to Butterfly
Friday, March 11 at 4:30–5:45 pm
With Jamie L. Henderson, Ashley Christina, Theresa Mecklenborg, Colleen T. O’Rourke, and me.

We talked about strange biologies on earth and how those could inspired aliens. Everyone else was a scientist, so I got to hold down the literary end of the conversation. And I got to talk about how octopi inspired Vezali in the Templar books.

Genre Blending
Friday, May 27 at 9-10:15 pm
Moderator: Rebecca Holden
Panelists: Alex Jennings, Justine Larbalestier, Loren Rhoads, Kristine Smith, Brooke Wonders

Whether it’s a steampunk fairytale or an end of the world love story between science and magic or a Hong Kong-style revenge space opera, stories are spilling over the edges of genre.

Living into Dying
Sunday, May 29, 1-2:15 pm
Moderator: R. Elena Tabachnick
Participants: Kate Carey, Loren Rhoads, and Nadia Hutton
In this panel we will discuss how to live with death: the challenges of dying, the gifts we receive from it, and the stories that get us through.

I made it onto one panel at WorldCon:

img_7306Where’s Rey? Female Characters and Merchandise
Friday, August 19 at 4 – 5 pm
Kansas City Convention Center
With Leo d’Entremont, Jenifer Boles, and Loren Rhoads

Unfortunately, it is all too common for female characters to be left out of promotional material. We discuss the reasons for, the implications of, and possible solutions to this.

Convolution was crazy! I was scheduled for a record seven panels — and had a blast on all of them.

When does Fanfic become Pro Work?
Friday, September 30 at 3 – 4:30 pm
With Loren Rhoads (moderator), Shael Hawman, and Valerie Estelle Frankel

Classic Scary Stories: Shelley, Poe, and others
Friday, September 30 at 5 – 6:30 pm
With Chuck Serface (moderator), Tyler Hayes, Loren Rhoads, and Sarah Stegall

Looking back on some of the classics of literary monster-makers and scary storytellers.

sw-monster-panelThe Monsters of Star Wars
Friday, September 30 at 8 – 9:30 pm
With Stacy Meyn (moderator), Loren Rhoads, Drew Morris, JC Arkham, and Jean Batt

Some of them live in pits. Some of them have vast underwater cities. Some of them will keep you warm through a cold Hoth night.

Devilishly Daring: Demonic Monsters
Saturday, October 1 at noon – 1:30 pm
With Laurel Anne Hill (moderator), Chuck Serface, Loren Rhoads, Emerian Rich, and J. L. (Jim) Doty

We’ll discuss the devils, demons, succubi, and lords of the underworld that feature in our genre fiction.

Authors: Going to That Dark Place
Saturday, October 1 at 3 – 4:30 pm
With Fred Wiehe (moderator), Loren Rhoads, Melissa Snark, Deborah J. Ross, Margaret McGaffey Fisk, and Anne Bishop

If you want the monstrous element to be truly horrifying, you sometimes have to dig to a dark place to write it believably.

horror-addictsconvolutionMeet HorrorAddicts.net!
Sunday, October 2 at 10 – 11:30 am
With Emerian Rich (moderator), Loren Rhoads, Laurel Anne Hill, and Sumiko Saulson

Chat with the authors who comprise HorrorAddicts.net and find out their monster favorites!

The Monster is the Hero
Sunday, October 2 at 2 – 3:30 pm
With Ric Bretschneider (moderator), Jay Hartlove, Chad Peterman, and Loren Rhoads

Panel discussion of our favorite bits in which the monstrous element ends up being the hero and Man is the enemy.

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