Return to Skillute

As I revise my new novel–The Worst Is Yet to Come–set in the fictional town of Skillute, Washington, it seems like a good time to promote the Skillute Cycle. These four books–a novel and three novellas–form a kaleidoscopic pattern of overlapping characters, histories, themes, and images. At its core the story is about shattered childhood dreams, recurring cycles of abuse, and a dark, magical undercurrent born of unhappy women trying to break free of the roles they’ve inherited. Two of the books were nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. I think they are best read in the following order: Knock Knock, Delphine Dodd, Astoria, In the Light. Here’s what other people have to say about the series:

“Everyone needs to read this story.” – Gemma Files, author of Experimental Film, reviewing the series on The Outer Dark

Knock Knock is a powerful debut, opening strong and ending with a punch…one of the better weird horror novels of the past few years.” – Justin Steele, Arkham Digest

Delphine Dodd not only expands and illuminates the tragedy in the brilliant novel, Knock Knock, but also further proves Miskowski possesses that talent most enviable in a writer: she makes you believe.” —Simon Strantzas, author of Burnt Black Suns

“Beautifully written and relentlessly suspenseful.” – Lucy Taylor, author of The Silence Between the Screams

“…more than a great read; [Knock Knock] is a fascinating meditation on the nature of horror. There are supernatural elements to the book, yes, but the setting (an impoverished, ruined logging town) and the main characters (three school girls with hopes and dreams made improbable if not impossible by their realities) are a beautifully rendered commentary on the cyclical nature of real-world human tragedy.” – Molly Tanzer, author of Vermilion

Knock Knock is awesome. It combines the two things I love best: creepiness and clean, beautiful writing.” – Michael Wehunt, author of Greener Pastures

“Eventually the story achieves a momentum all its own, rushing headlong to a shattering finale, and the prose, which Miskowski uses with such care and accuracy throughout, in the final pages attains a fever dream intensity, so that we can’t trace any clear divide between reality and the skewed perspectives of the characters, the two blurring into each other, everything viewed through a blood red filter and in the light cast by flickering flames.” – Peter Tennant, Black Static

“There are scenes that may horrify the reader, but that is because it looks clear-sightedly, without rancour, at cruelty, selfishness and deceit. And there is as much beauty here as there is horror, thanks to the author’s finely-crafted prose.” —David Longhorn, editor of Supernatural Tales

“Miskowski further enriches the all-too-real horror movie world of Knock Knock with Astoria, a novella that is part Hitchcock, part David Lynch, and all Miskowski’s distinctive, thoughtfully crafted, slow-burn literary terror.” —Molly Tanzer, author of A Pretty Mouth

“S.P. Miskowski has been chronicling the mundane horrors of women’s lives – marriage, motherhood, family, and domesticity – through the lens of the supernatural since the publication of her Shirley Jackson Award nominated novel Knock Knock. Continuing with her related Skillute Cycle of novellas, Miskowski is unafraid to plumb the darkest impulses of the female psyche, and her gift for vivid characterization and naturalistic detail suffuses her fiction with a sense of frightening and devastating reality. In Astoria, a white-knuckle terror trip across the landscape of the Pacific Northwest, the darkness closing in on one woman’s desperate bid to escape the monster she birthed and the life she loathes becomes as palpable as the pages we’re turning; we can bolt the door and turn on the light, but in the end, Miskowski warns us, no matter what we do, our demons are coming for us.” —Lynda E. Rucker, Black Static columnist and author of The Moon Will Look Strange

Astoria by S.P. Miskowski is a perfect and unique blend of The Omen and Elizabeth Berg’s The Pull of the Moon. Miskowski’s writing is dark, delicious, and wonderfully layered. As always, her effortless elegance shines through the chilling prose, highlighting the ugly feelings that we wish weren’t inside all of us. She manages to turn the reader inside out alongside her characters, revealing that we’re all monsters and merely human at gut level.” —Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Beautiful Sorrows

“…a flair for imbuing mundane things with a strange sense of menace…a beansprout grown in a cup and a moth fluttering around a child’s bedroom take on subtle qualities of malevolence…” – Rob Russin, Geeks Out

“The tension and fear is built up with small details, each innocent in itself but together evoking a sense of forces beyond the character’s control…” – James Everington, This Is Horror

“A wonderful and fitting end to the Skillute Cycle, though it’s a shame to say goodbye. Full of beauty and life and dark magic, the Skillute books are a joy to read.” – Alison Littlewood, author of The Unquiet House

All four books in the Skillute Cycle are published by Omnium Gatherum. The new novel is forthcoming from JournalStone/Trepidatio.

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Cover art by Russell Dickerson

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This Is Horror 2017 Novel of the Year

My novel, I Wish I Was Like You, just won Novel of the Year at This Is Horror. I’m amazed, delighted, and very grateful to the readers who voted for the book. Thank you to This Is Horror, to my publisher, JournalStone, to editor Dan Mason–and to Jess Landry and Christopher Payne for believing in and promoting the novel.

Congratulations to runner-up Andy Davidson, author of In the Valley of the Sun (Skyhorse Publishing). Congrats to Philip Fracassi who won Short Story Collection of the Year for Behold the Void (JournalStone). Big love to editors Justin Steele and Sam Cowan. Their non-themed Dim Shores anthology, Looming Low (which includes my story, “Alligator Point”) was named Anthology of the Year. And congrats to all of the winners and nominees, for some ass-kicking horror in 2017!

Here’s my response at This Is Horror:

“I’m honored, and surprised. Thanks to everyone who voted. Thanks to my publisher, JournalStone. This Is Horror sets a high standard for inquiry and discussion without a hint of elitism or pretentiousness. The site’s reviews, articles, and interviews are offered in the best spirit of horror, which is (after all) a leveler, an admission of vulnerability. Horror embodies the knowledge that we may be smart and pretty and popular and well-off but at four a.m., alone with our worst fears and suspicions, we are all scared animals waiting for daybreak. I’ll try to live up to the honor of the award by staying true to that spirit. Thank you!”

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Best Horror of the Year Vol. Ten

Ellen Datlow is one of the most respected and admired editors in horror, science fiction and fantasy. I’ve been reading her themed anthologies for years, for pleasure and for education. Her taste is impeccable. Every year when she begins reading for the annual ‘best of’ anthology, every writer I know hopes to have a story selected. In fact, simply having a story on her Honorable Mention long list is an honor my colleagues and I happily post on social media.

This year three of my stories made the extended Honorable Mention list:

“Muscadines” a Shirley Jackson Award-nominated novella published by Dunhams Manor Press

“Somnambule” in the anthology The Madness of Dr. Caligari, edited by Joe Pulver, Fedogan & Bremer

“Water Main” in the anthology Autumn Cthulhu, edited by Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine Press

This is lovely news. Better yet, Ellen Datlow has selected “Alligator Point,” my story in the Dim Shores anthology Looming Low, edited by Justin Steele and Sam Cowan, to appear in The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten.

I couldn’t be happier. Thanks to Ellen and Night Shade Books, and thanks to Jordan Krall, Joe Pulver, Mike Davis, Justin Steele and Sam Cowan for accepting and publishing my stories. I’m very fortunate to be able to work with such talented individuals who are helping to shape the current horror and weird fiction landscape. Cheers and best wishes to these wonderful editors!

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Art by Chenthooran Nambiarooran

Table of Contents

Introduction

Better You Believe Carole Johnstone
Liquid Air Inna Effress
Holiday Romance Mark Morris
Furtherest Kaaron Warren
Where’s the Harm? Rebecca Lloyd
Whatever Comes After Calcutta David Erik Nelson
A Human Stain Kelly Robson
The Stories We Tell about Ghosts A. C. Wise
Endosketal Sarah Read
West of Matamoros, North of Hell Brian Hodge
Alligator Point S. P. Miskowski
Dark Warm Heart Rich Larson
There and Back Again Carmen Machado
Shepherd’s Business Stephen Gallagher
You Can Stay All Day Mira Grant
Harvest Song, Gathering Song A. C. Wise
The Granfalloon Orrin Grey
Fail-Safe Philip Fracassi
The Starry Crown Marc E. Fitch
Eqalussuaq Tim Major
Lost in the Dark John Langan

 

 

 

2017 Bram Stoker Awards® Nomination

The new year has been surprising in many ways, not least because my novel, I Wish I Was Like You, is a Bram Stoker Awards® nominee for Superior Achievement in a Novel and is a finalist for a This Is Horror Award. The former is determined by active and lifetime members of the Horror Writers Association. The latter is open to the public and you can send your vote to This Is Horror via email following the instructions at the site.

Awards don’t prove excellence. They provide a spotlight for a certain kind of writing, in this case the horror genre. All of the nominees are noteworthy and interesting. So, take time to read the lists and look up the books you find intriguing.

I’m honored and humbled to have a book listed among fine novels by Josh Malerman, Andy Davidson, Victor LaValle, Ania Ahlborn, Steve Rasnic Tem, Christopher Golden, Stephen King, and Owen King. And if you think it feels perfectly natural to type that sentence, you’re cuckoo or you don’t know me. Congratulations to all of these writers–and to all of the nominees in all categories! Thanks to the Horror Writers Association and This Is Horror!

This Is Horror Awards 2017

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This Is Horror Awards 2017 is open for public voting for ONE MORE DAY. More information is here.

Voting closes at 12:01am GMT on Monday 26 February 2018.

Novel of the Year

  1. Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
  2. I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski
  3. In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson
  4. The Changeling by Victor LaValle
  5. The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

Novella of the Year

  1. Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan
  2. In the River by Jeremy Robert Johnson
  3. Mapping The Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
  4. Quiet Places by Jasper Bark
  5. The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

Short Story Collection of the Year

  1. Behold the Void by Philip Fracassi
  2. Everything That’s Underneath by Kristi DeMeester
  3. Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado
  4. She Said Destroy by Nadia Bulkin
  5. 13 Views of the Suicide Woods by Bracken MacLeod

Anthology of the Year

  1. Last Podcast on the Left
  2. Lore Podcast
  3. Lovecraft eZine Podcast
  4. Post Mortem with Mick Garris
  5. The Horror Show with Brian Keene

2017 Summation

Many writers like to end the year with a summation of work published during the past 12 months. We do this to remind editors and readers that our writing is eligible for upcoming awards and annual “best of” anthologies, and also as a cheer-up reminder to ourselves that the year was not entirely without accomplishment. For what it’s worth here’s my list. Thanks to the editors and publishers with whom I’ve been fortunate enough to work this year!

 

BOOKS

I Wish I Was Like You (novel)

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JournalStone

 

Strange is the Night (story collection)

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Trepidatio Publishing

 

STORIES

“Vigilance. Sacrifice.”

Strange Aeons edited by Kelly Young and Justin Steele

 

“Alligator Point”

Looming Low edited by Justin Steele and Sam Cowan – Dim Shores

 

“Pins”

Tales from a Talking Board edited by Ross E. Lockhart – Word Horde

 

“We’re Never Inviting Amber Again”

Haunted Nights edited by Lisa Morton and Ellen Datlow – Anchor

 

“Asking Price”

Darker Companions: Celebrating 50 Years of Ramsey Campbell edited by Scott David Aniolowski and Joseph S. Pulver Sr. – PS Publishing

 

“Patio Wing Monsters”

Eyedolon Magazine edited by Scott Gable

Broken Eye Books

 

“140 x 76 (A Tour of Griffith Park)”

A Walk on the Weird Side – NecronomiCon 2017 Anthology