In the first full-length collection of her edgy, award-winning short stories, Loren Rhoads punctures the boundaries between horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction in a maelstrom of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.
Ghosts, succubi, naiads, vampires, the Wild Hunt, and the worst predator in the woods stalk these pages, alongside human monsters who follow their cravings past sanity or sense.
With an introduction by six-time Bram Stoker Award-winner Lisa Morton and a cover commissioned from Lynne Hansen, these 15 never-before-collected stories come from the magazines Cemetery Dance, Space & Time, City Slab, and Instant City, the Wily Writers podcast, and from the books Sins of the Sirens, Demon Lovers, The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, and Tales for the Camp Fire. The story “With You By My Side It Should Be Fine” is original to this collection.
Unsafe Words: Stories by Loren Rhoads
Introduction by Lisa Morton
Cover artwork by Lynne Hansen Art
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-7351876-0-0
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-7351876-1-7
Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/3h8WAqd
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781735187600
I read a snippet of “Here There Be Monsters” for KALW’s New Arrivals feature: https://www.kalw.org/term/new-arrivals
I read “With You By My Side” for Wily Writers:
“Rhoads offers a heady blend of otherworldly sex and sin in this collection of 15 speculative shorts. Rhoads’s prose is effervescent, rendering her imagined worlds with nuance and the occasional dose of black humor. This carefully crafted collection makes an excellent showcase of Rhoads’s skill across a multitude of subgenres.” — Publishers Weekly
“Rhoads is amazing at building a complete world for her stories to reside in, especially considering how brief these stories are. Among my favorites are “Here There Be Monsters,” a haunting story that pits a girl versus an evil entity that roams more than just a house. I also enjoyed “Valentine,” which had a bit of a Highlander feel about it, and “Never Bargained for You,” about a succubus set in the L.A. rock scene of the early 70s.” — Zengrrl
“With Unsafe Words, Loren Rhoads presents probably the most diverse set of stories that I’ve yet reviewed. Unsafe Words is not a collection of strictly horror, but explores fantasy and science fiction as well. Throughout, however, runs a thread of unease. Rhoads explores the darker sides of all her subjects. Regardless of whether the tales are set in a world of advanced technology, magic, aliens, or bad drug trips, Unsafe Words doesn’t flinch away from her examination of the human condition.” — Daphne Strashert, Horror Addicts.net
“Unsafe Words is a dark short story collection that reaches far, cuts deep, and is not easy to forget.” — Gloria McNeely
“With Unsafe Words, Loren Rhoads has created a lyrical kaleidoscope of a collection, whose shifting genres reveal ever-evolving visions of shining beauty and immense darkness. I loved it.” — Brian Hodge, author of The Immaculate Void and Skidding Into Oblivion
“Loren Rhoads’s work is at once arresting, haunting, unsettling, and gorgeous. Her stories are all the darker for being deeply human and more profoundly human in their darkness.” — Thomas S. Roche, author of Dark Matter
“Rhoads has a gift. She takes you deep and, when you come out on the other side, you’re just glad you’re still alive.” — J. Scott Coatsworth, Captain Awesome of Queer Sci Fi
“If you’re already familiar with Loren’s work, you know that you’re in for an evocative, rich mélange. If you’re just now discovering her…prepare yourself and dig in. Leave your preconceptions and expectations right here and step boldly into Loren’s incredible, beautiful world. Just don’t be surprised if your own world looks a little different when you get back.” — Lisa Morton, in her introduction
Many of the stories in Unsafe Words were either inspired by songs or took their titles from lyrics. I put together a playlist with a song connected to each story on Spotify. You can listen to it here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3uF4HQ58UdaxsOOtrpBMOL?si=23af3de4b2574694
My essay explaining the songs on the Unsafe Words playlist appeared on Fang-tastic Books on October 12, 2020: https://fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com/2020/10/playlist-unsafe-words-by-loren-rhoads.html
Loren’s favorite posts about Unsafe Words:
The story behind “With You By My Side, It Should Be Fine”.
My essay about 15 books that inspired the stories in Unsafe Words appeared on Horror Made: https://horrormade.com/2020/10/10/15-books-behind-unsafe-words/
Fanbase Press interviewed me about Ray Bradbury and Lynne Hansen: http://fanbasepress.com/index.php/press/interviews/books/item/11360-fanbase-press-interviews-loren-rhoads-on-the-release-of-the-short-story-collection-unsafe-words
Reader’s Entertainment interviewed me about my lack of boundaries between horror, science fiction, and fantasy: https://readersentertainment.com/2020/10/13/are-there-boundaries-between-horror-dark-fantasy-and-science-fiction-an-interview-with-loren-rhoads/
I wrote about how visiting a cadaver lab inspired my story “Valentine” for Jennifer Brozek’s Tell Me feature: http://www.jenniferbrozek.com/blog/post/2020/10/28/Tell-Me-Loren-Rhoads1
J. Scott Coatsworth interviewed me for his blog about the creepy exhibits at the Griffith Observatory and how they led to “Sound of Impact”:
Supernatural Central interviewed me about how the Haunted Mansion Retreat inspired “Here There Be Monsters”:
The Paranormalists interview me about Bradbury and Poe’s influences on my writing:
JB’s Bookworms interview about Unsafe Words and unforgivable things: http://jbbookworms.blogspot.com/2020/10/unsafe-words-by-loren-rhoads-horror.html
Cats Luv Coffee interview about writing for succubi: https://www.catsluvcoffee.com/2020/10/author-spotlight-loren-rhoads.html