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Nadia Bulkin is a writer and political science student. Her short fiction has appeared in ChiZine, Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, the anthology Bewere The Night, and elsewhere; more information is available at nadiabulkin.wordpress.com. She spent her impressionable teen years in the suburban wilds of Nebraska. Her world view (and “Absolute Zero”) was greatly influ- enced by her environmental science minor and the 1982 movie about life out of balance, Koyaanisqatsi. Her original story “Absolute Zero” appears in Creatures.

What was the first monster that scared/moved you?

A talking, walking chair on Sesame Street.  It had a face in the cushions.  It horrified me so much that I actually don’t remember it at all — as in, I blocked it out of my mind – but my mother says I was deeply disturbed by it.  I do remember a similar talking, walking gloved hand – apparently I had a very rigid sense of “proper” and “improper” shapes.  Body horror’s been my weakness ever since.

Does a great monster have to evoke pity as well as fear?

Not pity, but for me, the best evoke empathy.

If you could be a monster, which one would you choose and why?

I’d probably be a will-o’-the-wisp.  A lost wanderer spirit stuck between two worlds who’s not all that malicious, but might still lead you down a dangerous path.  Also, seen all over the world!

King Kong, or Godzilla?

Godzilla.  Okay, I actually don’t know much about either, but having lived in Indonesia as a kid, I grew up with Godzilla.

What are the challenges of writing about a monster, as opposed to showing it on film?

Keeping the monster and all of its menace in the reader’s “frame.”  In great monster movies you can feel the monster’s presence even when it’s not on screen, and I think it’s much harder to create a sense of foreboding and suspense when you don’t have visuals and sound.

Who are the new monsters of the 21st century? Recommend a monster story/book/movie from the past ten years.

I think Larry Fessenden is doing really interesting work with wendigos, harsh conditions, and human violence (the movies The Last Winter and Wendigo, and the Fear Itself episode “Skin and Bones”).  I think we’ll have monsters of globalization: contagion, overpopulation, environmental hazards, communication breakdown (see Pontypool).  But that’s the poli sci student in me talking.

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Wildcard: day 7

First up, some Creatures promo!

–Over at the Prime Books website, they’re celebrating the 31 days of Halloween in support of their two new anthologies (Halloween, and yeah, Creatures). Learn more  here.

Today, Prime posted the introductions your humble co-editors cobbled together to each of the four sections. READ ‘EM!

Elsewhere…

–New book from Frank Lesser (a writer on the Colbert Report), is SAD MONSTERS.

Other monstery books of note just out (or about to be out)

Dear Creature by Jonathan Case

Abarat: Absolute Midnight by Clive Barker

Busy Monsters by William Giraldi

Your Friday monster rec is musical: The prog-metal act Mastodon. Earlier albums featured lyrical obsessions with Moby Dick and Rasputin. While their newest isn’t a concept album, it does feature some creature-y fun.  Enjoy the riffing!

F. Brett Cox’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications, including Century, North Carolina Literary Review, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Postscripts, and Phantom. With Andy Duncan, he co-edited Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic (Tor, 2004). A native of North Carolina, Brett is Associate Professor of English at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, and lives in Roxbury, Vermont, with his wife, playwright Jeanne Beckwith. His story “The Serpent and the Hatchet Gang” appears in Creatures.

What was the first monster that scared/moved you?

Like many of my generation, my earliest memory of averting my eyes from the screen is the melting of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.  As for creatures, some of the more threatening images of aliens in the original incarnations of Star Trek and The Outer Limits made an impression—or maybe not, since I can’t single any of them out.  The classic monster figures—Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, etc.—were always fun but never particularly scary, at least in the movies.  I do recall some definite shivers when I first read Dracula at age eleven or so.  And although I first read it a bit later, let me declare mad love for Theodore Sturgeon’s  “It,” still one of the best monster stories ever.

Does a great monster have to evoke pity as well as fear?

Not necessarily.  Do we feel sorry for the alien in Alien?  The sea creature in The Host?  On the other hand, when I’ve taught Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, my students almost always respond best to the sections of the novel narrated by the monster.

King Kong, or Godzilla?

For the original movies, King Kong.  As an enduring character, Godzilla.

What are the challenges of writing about a monster, as opposed to showing it on film?

The challenges are in some ways much the same.  How much do you show/describe, and how much do you leave to the viewer’s/reader’s imagination?  Is the monster an individual who has motivations and suffers consequences, or is it a pure force?

Who are the new monsters of the 21st century? Recommend a monster story/book/movie from the past ten years.

The 2006 Korean film The Host (referenced above), directed and co-written by Joon-Ho Bong, is astonishingly good.  As for fiction, I dare not start for fear of what I might leave out.

Sarah Langan is the author of the novels The Keeper and The Missing, and Audrey’s Door. She is currently finishing her fourth book, Empty Houses. Her work has garnered three Bram Stoker Awards, an ALA Award, a New York Times Book Review editor’s pick, a PW favorite book of the year selection, and been optioned by The Weinstein Company for film. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter, and rabbit. Her story “The Changeling” appears in Creatures.

What was the first monster that scared/moved you?

All varieties of spider, which by brother told me could eat me in my sleep. Also, I saw the preview for this movie where spiders get dropped into sleeping ladies’ mouths when I was three or four, and still remember it vividly.
Does a great monster have to evoke pity as well as fear?
Naw, I think a great story should have lots of dimensions, but a monster can be what’s most appropriate. Sometimes pure evil is scarier than a monster with a sob story. Or Hitchcock’s “Birds,” where bad stuff happens for no reason. Hollywood trends want us to explain the evil, but in truth, it can’t be explained, can it?
If you could be a monster, which one would you choose and why?
I’d be Monsanto’s CEO, because then I could be both rich and without conscience, which would make life very easy.
King Kong, or Godzilla?
Funny you should ask. Growing up, I was always King King; my brother always Godzilla. So I’d have to say King Kong.
What are the challenges of writing about a monster, as opposed to showing it on film?
As a writer of fiction I have absolute control. Filmmakers don’t have that luxury, so it’s apples and oranges.

Wildcard: day 6

Monster librarian gives a scary book list for kids. Boo!

–More for the kids. It’s Scary Monsters for Kids.

–Tribute site to local Boston UHF channel 56’s CREATURE DOUBLE FEATURE.

Saul Bass style THE THING poster.

Jeff VanderMeer is a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, with novels published in over twenty languages. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s SF Magazine, Black Clock, Conjunctions, Clarkesworld, and many anthologies. He reviews books for the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and many others. His story “The Third Bear” appears in Creatures. MORD IS MORD.

What was the first monster that scared/moved you?

MORD SCARED BY MAN-FACED DOG IN 70s REMAKE OF INVASION OF THE BODYSNATCHERS

Does a great monster have to evoke pity as well as fear?

MORD RIP FACE OFF OF ANY PITIABLE MONSTER AND USE IT AS A SHAMWOW

If you could be a monster, which one would you choose and why?

MORD ONLY BE MORD. MORD IS MORD.

King Kong, or Godzilla?

MORD LIKE GODZILLA. GODZILLA UNCOMPLICATED. KING KONG A LITTLE PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE.

What are the challenges of writing about a monster, as opposed to showing it on film?

HOW THE FUCK MORD KNOW? MORD FILMED NOT FILMMAKER.

Who are the new monsters of the 21st century? Recommend a monster story/book/movie from the past ten years.

MORD MOST TAKEN ABACK BY HUMAN BEINGS. MORD MOSTLY LIKE MOVIES LIKE BEACHES. MORD “LIVES” MONSTERS EVERYDAY.