Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be bringing to you all a book spotlight for Hardened Hearts edited by Eddie Generous and the newest anthology from Unnerving Magazine.
Hardened Hearts is the newest release by Unnerving Magazine. Eddie Generous, the publication’s editor and also a story contributor, has compiled a collection of 17 tales of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths.
Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.
Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless.
Three of the anthology’s authors discuss their stories and the inspiration that spawned their particular takes on love and the havoc it creates.
Theresa Braun on “Heirloom”:
I’ve always had a fascination with the idea of going through various incarnations on earth that repeat until we learn our lessons, each time with a similar cast of characters. To me, that phenomenon explains why certain people are so familiar. We’ve seen them in more than one lifetime. It also makes sense that our souls can be stubborn in getting it right, especially when we are stuck in power plays and listen to our egos. That’s what I had in mind when crafting this story.
We focus on a female therapist who is so busy wrestling with the problems of her clients that she is taken off guard when an antique mirror, which is a family heirloom, is delivered to her office. Suddenly, she is thrust back in time—through that very mirror—to a dark place no one would want to relive. It’s a dimension that has stripped her of the very empowerment she constantly seeks to regain. Anxious to put an end to the present day drama with two of her patients, she must look within herself to face her core issues. The question is this: will she get it right? Or is there something this therapist can’t psychoanalyze, no matter how good her intentions are?
Calvin Demmer on “What is Love?”:
With “What Is Love?” I wanted to play around with the dangers of obsessive love and the need or desire for companionship. I’d enjoyed exploring some African mythology in a previous short story, and I wanted to stay in that world for this one. My main challenge was finding a beast or being from legend that would fit the dark vibe I intended for the story. Fortunately, I found the perfect mythological creature. I then added some tribal warfare, a witch, and even some blood drinking for good measure.
Working with the editor, Eddie Generous, I improved the focus of the story from my initial idea, so it hit harder. I also liked the beat and pacing that developed during the editing process, which complements the strange tale.
By the end of the story, the reader will have an answer to the question: “What Is Love?”
Leo X. Robertson on “Brothers”:
All my (best) stories begin as open-ended explorations. The seed for “Brothers” was an early trunk story of mine from which I kept only the two main characters. I thought my rewrite was a comedy at first (!) but as I kept writing, the humour either fell away or withered to black.
I think “Brothers” is about what it felt like to be a teenager in Glasgow, Scotland. I had a lot of great times, but I don’t have anything to say about those! The story is immensely hopeful to me all the same. Reasons to live keep getting stripped from the characters when they least expect it, but they do keep going for some reason. I don’t even know why—but when I wrote this story, I felt it: that no matter what, carrying on was the only option. It’s awful that we sometimes forget about the invincible summer inside ourselves—but it’s no less invincible.
As an adult, I love Glasgow. I’m going home for Christmas and can’t wait—though I’ll keep an eye out for trickster witches and vodka-swilling warlocks.
Gwendolyn Kiste is the author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, her debut fiction collection from JournalStone, as well as the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, LampLight, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye, among others. You can find her online at gwendolynkiste.com.
Somer Canon is a minivan revving suburban mother who avoids her neighbors for fear of being found out as a weirdo. When she’s not peering out of her windows, she’s consuming books, movies, and video games that sate her need for blood, gore, and things that disturb her mother.
Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His work has appeared in Broadswords and Blasters, Empyreome Magazine, Mad Scientist Journal, Ravenwood Quarterly, Switchblade, and others. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at www.calvindemmer.com.
Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. Traveling, ghost hunting, and all things dark are her passions. Her stories appear in The Horror Zine, Schlock! Webzine, and Sirens Call, among others; upcoming stories will be published in Bards and Sages and Strange Behaviors. Twitter: @tbraun_author; website: www.theresabraun.com.
John Boden lives in the wilds of central Pa, with his wife and sons. A baker by day, he writes unique fiction in whatever time is left. His work has received kind words of praise from some.
Tom Deady’s novel, Haven, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and he released his second novel, Eternal Darkness and a novella, Weekend Getaway, in 2017. Tom also has a Young Adult series he is seeking agent representation for. He resides in Massachusetts where he is working on his next novel.
J.L. Knight lives in Kentucky and works at an antiquarian bookstore that is probably haunted.
Madhvi Ramani grew up in London. She writes short fiction, articles, essays, children’s books, and drama. Her work has been published by the BBC, Asia Literary Review, Stand Magazine and others. She currently lives a thoroughly bohemian lifestyle in Berlin. Find out more @ www.madhviramani.com or follow her on Twitter @madhviramani.
Scott Paul Hallam is a short story author living in Pittsburgh, PA. His work has been published in Cease, Cows and Night to Dawn magazine. He earned his Master’s in English Literature from Duquesne University and first fell in love with the written word when his dad would read him stories by Edgar Allan Poe as a kid. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottHallam1313.
Robert Dean is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven was called “rich in vivid imagery, quirky characterizations, and no holds barred violence and mayhem. I never knew what the word romp really meant until now, but in case you’re wondering, this is it” by Shotgun Logic.
His essays have been featured in Jackson Free Press, Victoria Advocate, and The Austin American Statesman. He’s also been on NPR.
Robert is finishing a New Orleans-based crime thriller called A Hard Roll. He lives in Austin and likes ice cream and koalas.
Stalk him on Twitter: @Robert_Dean.
Leo X. Robertson
Leo X. Robertson is a Scottish process engineer and writer, currently living in Oslo, Norway. He has work most recently published by Helios Quarterly, Unnerving Magazine, Expanded Horizons and Open Pen, among others. His novella, The Grimhaven Disaster, was released by Unnerving earlier this year. Find him on Twitter @Leoxwrite or check out his website: leoxrobertson.wordpress.com.
Jennifer Williams is an author, editor, cat lady and coffee enthusiast. Her fiction has previously appeared in Women of the Bite: Lesbian Vampire Erotica edited by Cecilia Tan, Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes, a collection of zombie poetry edited by A.P. Fuchs, and most recently in A Tribute Anthology to Deadworld and Comic Publisher Gary Reed edited by Lori Perkins. You can find her on Twitter at @JenWilliams13.
Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Erin Al-Mehairi is the author of Breathe. Breathe., a collection of dark fiction featuring short stories and poetry, also published by Unnerving. She is a marketing and public relations professional, journalist, and editor of over 20 years and lives in rural Ohio. You can hear her #marketingmorsels segment on The Mando Method podcast on Project Entertainment Network, and besides on all the other social media outlets, you can find her on her blog at www.hookofabook.wordpress.com.
Sarah L. Johnson
Sarah L. Johnson lives in Calgary where she’s mastered the art of the writerly side hustle, working in a bookstore, teaching creative writing, and freelance editing. Her short story collection Suicide Stitch (EMP Publishing) was published in 2015 and her debut novel Infractus will be released in April 2018 by Coffin Hop Press.
Meg Elison is a science fiction author and feminist essayist. Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award. She has been published in McSweeney’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Catapult, and many other places. Elison is a high school dropout and a graduate of UC Berkeley.
James Newman is the author of the novels Midnight Rain, The Wicked, Animosity, and Ugly as Sin, the collection People are Strange, and the critically-acclaimed novella Odd Man Out. Up next are the novels Dog Day o’ Summer and Scapegoat (co-written with Mark Allan Gunnells and Adam Howe, respectively).
Eddie Generous is the creator, editor, designer, and publisher of Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine. In early 2018, Hellbound Books is publishing a collection of his novelettes titled Dead is Dead, but Not Always, and also in 2018 he is teaming up with Mark Allan Gunnells and Renee Miller to release Splish, Slash, Takin’ a Bloodbath, a collection of short stories.
17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more. Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless. FOREWORD – James Newman IT BREAKS MY HEART TO WATCH YOU ROT – Somer Canon WHAT IS LOVE? – Calvin Demmer HEIRLOOM – Theresa Braun THE RECLUSE – John Boden 40 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR MONSTER LOVER – Gwendolyn Kiste DOG TIRED – Eddie Generous THE PINK BALLOON – Tom Deady IT’S MY PARTY AND I’LL CRY IF I WANT TO – J.L. Knight BURNING SAMANTHA – Scott Hallam CONSUMED – Madhvi Ramani CLASS OF 2000 – Robert Dean LEARNING TO LOVE – Jennifer Williams BROTHERS – Leo X. Robertson PORCELAIN SKIN – Laura Blackwell THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD – Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi MEETING THE PARENTS – Sarah L. Johnson MATCHMAKER – Meg Elison
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