Once again, we asked readers to nominate up to four writers whose hard work and talent calls for special recognition this year. The response was much like last year’s: enthusiastic, thoughtful, and overwhelming. We selected authors from the weird fiction community to vote on the final list. After much debate, the winners are in, and we’re honored to give you another edition of our favorite annual feature. In the list below, you’ll find ten weird writers who are destined to save us all in 2019!
As always, this list is intended to celebrate these dedicated writers, but mere celebration isn’t enough. If it takes one thing to keep small presses and independent authors alive, it’s readers. To show your support, all we ask is that you read. Follow the links, pick up a book, and dive into the strange and unsettling worlds of the writers listed below. Each new reader is more important than this list could ever be. Each reader, after all, is encouragement for these writers to keep writing. That’s what we want more than anything—we want these wonderful writers to keep writing.
A heartfelt thanks goes out to those who supported a writer with a nomination, vote, or word of kindness. Above all, we thank the writers listed below for their tireless work.
The order of appearance of the list below is entirely random and bestows no special status.
What better way to begin than with writer, musician, and photographer Farah Rose Smith. Smith caught our attention with the January release of her gorgeously haunting novel ANONYMA, and she has since raised the stakes with her new collection of decadent horror from Egaeus Press, Of One Pure Will. We feel it’s safe to predict great things from Smith, so here’s to a rising dark star of the weird writing world!
Farah Rose Smith is a writer, musician, and photographer whose work often focuses on the Gothic, Decadent, and Surreal. She authored THE ALMANAC OF DUST, EVISCERATOR, ANONYMA, and numerous short stories in horror and speculative anthologies. She is also the founder and editor of MANTID, an anthology series promoting women and diverse writers in weird fiction. Her experimental film work has festival received accolades, including Best Short Screenplay (Rapture, 2016) at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival and Best Experimental Film (The Atrocity Shoppe, 2015) at the Shawna Shea Film Festival. She lives in Queens, NY with her partner.
Some time ago, we noticed that Sarah Walker’s “The Snake Beneath My Skin,” a short fiction work featured in the 2017 Test Patterns anthology, managed to stand out even among the more seasoned names that tend to find their way into Planet X Publications’ releases. Now, her debut short story collection is on its way from Oxygen Man Books, along with a slew of appearances in upcoming anthologies from Planet X. There’s no doubt that we’ll have our eye out for Sarah’s future work. You should too.
Sarah Walker is a writer and artist residing in the Pacific Northwest with her partner and many rescue animals. She has been published in The Audient Void, Lovecraft Ezine Press, Test Patterns Publications, Antimony and Old Lace Publications, and more. Her first short story collection from Oxygen Man Books will be coming out soon. She has new stories coming out in The Phatasmagorical Promenade, Test Patterns: Weird Western, and Sea Stories from Planet X Publications. Follow her art and writing on Facebook.
Ashley Dioses’ work seems to show up everywhere, and for good reason. Both her verse and prose is imaginative, haunting, and darkly evocative. There aren’t many poets one could consider “established” in weird fiction, but Dioses is certainly one of them. With the release of The Withering from Gehenna and Hinnom in September, there’s no time better than now to celebrate Dioses’ vigilant dedication to weird fiction.
Ashley Dioses is a writer of dark poetry and fiction from southern California. Her debut collection of dark traditional poetry, Diary of a Sorceress, was released in 2017 from Hippocampus Press. Her second poetry collection of early works, The Withering, is forthcoming from Gehenna and Hinnom Books this autumn. Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review, Skelos, Weirdbook, Black Wings VI: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, and others. She is an active member in the HWA and a member of the SFPA. She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com.
Readers clamored to the polls this year and demanded we recognize Charles Austin Muir, and our voting team was happy to oblige. CLASH Books’ January release of This Is a Horror Book inspired accolades from many respected writers in the field, and we’re excited for you to see what the hype is all about. We’re confident that Muir one writer we can count on to save us all from the accumulative weight of this year’s boredom!
Charles Austin Muir is the author of This Is a Horror Book and Bodybuilding Spider Rangers and Other Stories. His short fiction has appeared in many publications, including Peel Back the Skin, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Vol. 1, and This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck With. He was an obituary writer and freelance journalist before entering the health and fitness industry. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his amazing wife and a pack of wild dogs.
Leo X. Robertson is another writer who was graced with an onslaught of nominations this year. Robertson, host of the Losing the Plot podcast, has certainly left an impression on his readers. Word on the street is that his novellas are truly something to behold, and fans of bizarro and weird fiction alike are bound to benefit from giving Robertson’s work a well-deserved read.
Leo X. Robertson a Scottish process engineer and writer, currently living in Stavanger, Norway. He has work published by FlameTree Press, Pulp Literature, Helios Quarterly, and others. He blogs at Aphotic Realm, which also hosts his podcast, Losing the Plot, where he talks to writers and artists of all varieties about anything and everything.
Brooke Warra’s sharp and evocative work first came to our attention via weird fiction’s favorite literary journal, Vastarien. We can say with confidence that any time spent pouring over the links to her work (some of it free) on her website is well-spent. What better way to celebrate a deserving weird writer than reading her work? We’re sure to be keeping an eye out for further updates from Warra. Whatever comes next from her corner of the literary world is bound to be exciting.
Brooke Warra grew up in a little house in the deep, dark wood of a small fishing hamlet in the Pacific Northwest. Her fiction has appeared in various magazines, podcasts, and anthologies including Looming Low from Dim Shores, and Vasterian: A Literary Journal. Her story “I Feel Better Now” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives with her family and pet rats in Washington State.
You’ve been wondering, of course, when we’d mention Gwendolyn Kiste. Having won a Stoker Award this year for her enthralling novel The Rust Maidens, it would be difficult to talk about weird writers in 2019 without Kiste. Don’t just passively listen to the acclaim, however; we encourage you to read her books. Not many weird writers, after all, are more certain to save us all than Kiste.
Gwendolyn Kiste is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens, from Trepidatio Publishing; And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, from JournalStone; and 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. Originally from Ohio, she now resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. Find her online at gwendolynkiste.com.
The Invention of Ghosts, part of Nightscape Press’s Charitable Chapbook series, is out on November 26th in limited edition paperback and ebook. Click here to pre-order.
Kristine Ong Muslim was destined to appear here at some point. Not only have we thoroughly enjoyed everything we’ve read by her, but we’ve had the honor of publishing one of her stories in our debut anthology, Mannequin: Tales of Wood Made Flesh. Judging by the tidal wave of nominations she received this year, we’re not alone in calling Muslim one of the most strikingly unique and strange writers working in weird fiction today.
Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of nine books, including the fiction collections Age of Blight (Unnamed Press, 2016), Butterfly Dream (Snuggly Books, 2016), and The Drone Outside (Eibonvale Press, 2017), and editor of two anthologies—the British Fantasy Award-winning People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction (with Nalo Hopkinson) and Sigwa: Climate Fiction Anthology from the Philippines (with Paolo Enrico Melendez). Widely anthologized, her short stories have appeared in Tin House, World Literature Today, and Mannequin: Tales of Wood Made Flesh (Silent Motorist Media, 2019). She grew up and continues to live in a rural town in southern Philippines.
If you’re familiar with weird fiction, it’s likely that you’ve read S.E. Casey at some point. Casey’s work has made it into a hefty pile of weird fiction anthologies, including, much to our honor, Mannequin. Casey’s prevalence isn’t without justification—his work is high-quality, unsettling, and bound to leave you with a lasting impression. We strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with his work, if you somehow haven’t already.
S.E. Casey grew up on the coast of Massachusetts near a lighthouse. As a child, he dreamed of smashing the lighthouse and building something grotesque with the rubble. This is the writing method for his weird horror stories published in Hinnom Magazine, Weirdbook, and Vastarien among others. He also has special interest in reading and writing flash fiction. Many of his flash stories have appeared across the web, a listing of which can be found at secaseyauthor.wordpress.com.
Rebecca Gransden’s novel anemogram. is an exceedingly intriguing piece of work, and we were more than delighted that she attracted a hefty dose of nominations this year. Make sure that you don’t miss her soon-to-be-released collection, Cardboard Wall Empire: Volume One, since it will be an excellent opportunity to dip into Gransden’s strange and lavishly imaginative fiction. We know you won’t be disappointed.
Rebecca Gransden lives on an island somewhere off the coast of the United Kingdom. She loves to be beside the seaside. A fervent advocate of the DIY ethic, she tries to read and support as many indie and self-published authors as she can. A lot of her writing is influenced by the meeting place of the wild with the urban. Someone once referred to her style as ‘fringe fiction’, and she’s alright with that.
She has been published or is forthcoming at Nightmare Press, Planet Scumm, X-R-A-Y, Burning House Press, Soft Cartel, and FIVE:2:ONE, among others. Two of her works feature in The Anti-Austerity Anthology, from which all proceeds go to food bank charities. Several stories will be included in the soon-to-be-released collection, Cardboard Wall Empire: Volume One. Her books are anemogram., Rusticles, and Sea of Glass.