Reader’s Note

Stories have always been a huge part of my life. Before I could read for myself, my mom would read me old Nancy Drew novels in the shade of the Mulberry trees in our yard. Once I started reading, I consumed books with an almost rabid intensity. I’d spend whole afternoons curled up with a novel on the soft yellow loveseat in our sunroom. Many nights ended with me protesting, “Just one more chapter!”

But I didn’t just like to read stories; I liked to create them, too. I’d make construction paper books narrating the thoughts and actions of our family pets, complete with hand-drawn illustrations. I’d construct elaborate dramas with my Barbie dolls, full of as much mystery and heartbreak as a seven-year-old could imagine. Over the years, my abilities as a storyteller grew. My drawing abilities… not so much.

Horror and thrillers have always been my favorite genre, both to read and write. But growing up as a millennial woman, I noticed that the things that really scared me weren’t really written about by my favorite authors. I mean, sure, I love a good vampire story as much as the next girl, but those weren’t the stories that kept me up at night or made me afraid of the dark. What really scared me were the things I saw in more mundane places, like the news or social media. Crimes against women, people of color, and members of the LGTBQ+ community are often reported so casually it’s as if we’ve forgotten that this violence is not normal. The victims of these crimes are often portrayed as “asking for it.” Instead of receiving help and sympathy, they are criticized by the media. What scares me, a single millennial woman, is not only the frequency of these attacks but the callousness with which they are received.

The real world is filled with monsters, and they look nothing like the creatures dreamed up by Bram Stoker and Stephen King. All too often, they resemble the villains in Scooby Doo cartoons, ordinary people dawning ghoulish masks who manipulate our society’s faults to commit horrific crimes against one another. These are the monsters that make us afraid to walk alone at night. And these are the monsters I’ve decided to write about. 

I’ve taken my love and knowledge of horror and added the often-ignored feminist perspective in the hopes of unmasking some of society’s greatest monsters. Some readers may find these stories graphic or uncomfortable, but that’s the point. Why should we be comfortable with the casual violence we see every day? As author and politician Roy T. Bennett once said, “Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” While I hold no illusions that my stories will change the world, I hope they change a few minds and open some eyes to the everyday dangers in our society. And that change can only happen if we make ourselves a little uncomfortable. 

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