Today I am thrilled to be joined by two amazing women! Alyson Faye and Stephanie Ellis, who I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing both before, have a new anthology coming out through Black Angel Press. A follow-up to an amazing anthology, ladies, what can you share about ‘Daughters of Darkness 2’?
AF: We asked our ‘dream team’ of women horror writers, and to our delight, the whole four said ‘yes’. We chose these four for this anthology, as we felt their quiet, psychological horror styles would gel (which they do to make a cohesive tone for the anthology) and because we admire their work, which we’ve read and reviewed over the last couple of years. We have three novellas in the book, and Bev Lee contributed four short stories. There was no theme, but we suggested a 20K word limit, for each writer.
SE: ‘Daughters of Darkness II’ marks a step towards our intended aim for Black Angel Press – to promote the work of other writers. Here, Aly and I step back into the shadows a little, operating as editors and curators, and allowing the spotlight to focus on four fantastic women. DoD II contains stories from four authors we have noticed, read and loved. I think it says something for the quality of their work that in the time we have been working on this publication in the background, most have seen their careers take a leap on their own due to other publications in the interim.
I love that you have a sequel to the first anthology, what drew you to put this one together?
AF: We want to work with and promote varied and diverse women horror writers at all stages of their writing journeys. In the first Daughters’ we decided to contribute our own fiction but for the next one we knew already we would edit/publish not contribute. We like the idea of building a ‘stable’ of ‘Daughters’ also, a group of female writers whose work we admire and perhaps invite to do podcasts with us.
SE: As Aly states, we simply want to promote writers we enjoy and open the doors a little more for them in a genre which, whilst improving greatly in terms of inclusivity of women, has a little way to go still. We also saw the need for a platform to quiet horror, or horror which envelops the situations and emotions we experience as women. Sometimes I think horror has been seen as books written by men for men and that women feel they must emulate this style to achieve a readership. We’re here to say they don’t have to and that actually, by writing with their own voice, they broaden the readership to appeal to readers who might not have considered horror before. Perhaps some of my comments here might be seen as unfair, but it can be a matter of perceptions and this is my own perception of what I’ve observed.
With two out, is it safe to say that this may end up becoming a trilogy or even something more?
AF: Yes, that’s the plan. We do hope to do a third ‘Daughters’ in 2022, schedules permitting. We’re talking about it anyways.
SE: A third is on the cards. Possibly more if it all goes well – we’re forever messaging each other with suggestions! Doesn’t that point to a wealth of female talent out there?
In this anthology, you’ll have stories by Catherine McCarthy, Lynn Love, T C Parker and Beverley Lee. Without spoiling the stories directly, can you tease a bit about what we can expect from them?
AF: Great writing, of course! Quiet, macabre, scary, well told tales with vivid characters and sharp dialogue. Strong plots. From T C Parker a little more dabs of gruesome than the others – I read her with one eye closed. McCarthy taps into folklore and magic, Love has a trio of interconnected stories making up a novella, with the same character in all of them but at different points in their life. The last story is set during WW1. Lee offers a retelling of Dorian Gray, amongst her four stories.
SE: I’m not adding to Aly’s answer otherwise I’ll give too much away!
Is there anything you can share about the authors you selected and why you picked these works in particular?
AF: We were pretty open about the content, we knew the writers’ voices and we knew they would deliver top quality work. Which they did. So having chosen these four ladies, we let them do their thing and submit it in total confidence. Bev Lee included one reprint in her stories, the rest of the work is all original and previously unpublished.
SE: Simple. We’d read their work and thought they were fantastic. In addition, Aly introduced me to Lynn Love who provided a brilliant story for the ‘Inferno’ anthology (which Aly and I co-edited) (Aly: but was not published by Black Angel, but by Steph and David Shakes’ press, The Infernal Clock) and I just couldn’t see how Lynn wasn’t more widely known. Read her story in this collection and many others will most certainly be asking themselves the same question.
What was working with Max Stark for the cover art like, did you have an idea of what you wanted going into it?
AF: Covers are Steph’s area, so over to her.
SE: Max is a genius with images. We’ve been online friends for some time and he’d recently moved into creating book covers. I had been considering creating ours myself, something I enjoy doing, but Max offered and I’m thankful he did as my workload was high at the time. I thought something that ‘linked’ with the first cover (created by Francois Vaillancourt) would be appropriate and had a certain idea in my head. I gave Max my ideas and he created the wonderful cover you now see. The only reason we couldn’t place the author names in the same fashion, by the way, was simply the length of one surname (I blame Cath!) unbalanced the overall image. We only had to bat the picture back and forth a couple of times to get the result we wanted. Samples of Max’s work can be seen here at his gallery. He is open to commissions and you can contact him via twitter https://twitter.com/Max_Stark8.
If you could each select one dream author to include in a future Daughters of Darkness (living or dead) who would it be and why?
AF: Shirley Jackson, for pretty obvious reasons.
SE: Tananarive Due. I read her Ghost Summer collection of stories which is brilliant. I’m currently trying to get a copy of her ‘The Good House’ which is currently unavailable on Waterstones or a ridiculous price on Amazon. Suggestions anyone? I’d be eternally grateful!
I understand that you’re launching the book at this year’s UK Ghost Story Festival in Derby in November. Will you both be in attendance? What can you share about the launch?
AF: Yes the news is out and up on Twitter! So it’s happening – we will both be at the UK Ghost Story Festival in Derby at the Quad, on the weekend of 26-28th November. We will have a Black Angel event where we will be talking about our hopes and future plans for our Press, and answering questions. And yes launching ‘Daughters’. We will also be speaking at author panels – I will be on ‘Writing Great Short Ghost Stories’. We will have a bookstall too, where our own books and those published by Black Angel will be available to buy. We also have a special announcement to make at the festival which is under wraps at the moment.
I am very excited to be back at Derby and looking forward to meeting Rhiannon/Sarah Ward, and Anita Frank whose latest Gothic ghost story novels I’ve just read. There will be too many to name other writerly folk around – all weekend.
SE: I’ve not much to add to the above as Aly has said it all. I believe (!) I’m on a folk horror panel which fits with a major part of my writing, folk horror being a favourite genre and one in which I’ve produced not a few stories – including ‘The Five Turns of the Wheel’ and the related collection, ‘As the Wheel Turns’.
Do you have anything you can tease us about what else Black Angel Press has in the works?
AF: After Derby the special announcement news will be out there – so check back after 28th November!
SE: I do have an idea, a way of bringing past and present together but I’m saying nothing!