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Carole Johnstone

Carole Johnstone’s short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. She has been published by PS Publishing, Night Shade Books, TTA Press, Apex Book Company and Morrigan Books among many others. She regularly appears in the award-winning Black Static and Interzone magzines. Her work has been reprinted in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year series and Salt Publishing’s Best British Fantasy. Her debut short story collection, The Bright Day is Done is coming very soon from Gray Friar Press, and she has two novellas in print: Frenzy, which was published by Eternal Press/ Damnation Books and Cold Turkey, which is part of TTA Press’ novella series. She is presently at work on her second novel while seeking fame and fortune with the first. More information on the author can be found at carolejohnstone.com.

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Cold Turkey: Carefully builds to a crescendo of horrors

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Cold Turkey by Carole Johnstone

I’ve always been grateful that I never started smoking. I’m the kind of person who would be smoking a good three packs per day if I had, and I’d probably already be at death’s door, having been unable to quit. It would be easier to climb Mount Everest.

Carole Johnstone gives us a lesson in just how hard it is to give up the coffin nails in her novella, Cold Turkey. Raym has just done so for the umpteenth time, and it’s turning into the third-worst day of his life, precedence being given only to the days his parents died. Raym doesn’t understand why he continues to smoke, despite the fact that his parents died gruesome deaths because of their own smoking habits; but now he’s giving up cold turkey. No, really. None of the other teachers at his elementary school really believe he’ll do it. And he su... Read More

Magazine Monday: Black Static, September/October 2014

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Issue 42 of Black Static is packed with stories, reviews, essays and an interview.

“Be Light. Be Pure. Be Close to Heaven” by Sara Saab is a tale of a Christian sect that takes Antonietta Meo, the Little Matron, as its guide. Meo lost her leg to disease when she was five years old, and declared it “ballast shed to lighten her ascent to Heaven.” The people in this sect, therefore, submit to voluntary amputation of some sort in order to demonstrate their devotion. Tanta is a young woman whose mother gave up a leg, and whose father gave up his eyes, who is now contemplating her own sacrifice. Though she is extraordinarily devout, in the course of the story she faces substantial temptation, and makes her choice. It’s a creepy story that reminds us of all the oddities that historically occur in every religion. (It’s not part of the story, but: Meo actually existed. She was an It... Read More

The Monstrous: You can’t go wrong with Datlow

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The Monstrous edited by Ellen Datlow

Whenever I see Ellen Datlow’s name as editor on the cover of an anthology, I know I’m in good hands. Datlow has a made a thirty-plus year career of choosing good stories and developing collections that take different aims at the theme. The theme of The Monstrous is monsters, and Datlow makes sure to explore all facets of that word with this mostly-reprint anthology from Tachyon Press.

There are twenty stories in the book. One is original to the anthology. The reprints include one classic horror story and a few that read as dated to me. Datlow’s standards of excellent writing and good characterization stand throughout the book.

I’m going to discuss two pieces out of sequence, because they left me puzzling. Read More