Monstrous Women NEWS!

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso

Last Fall, I offered the first modules of Monstrous Women. I’d always envisioned it as a generative workshop with two distinct sets of classes, but the funny thing is that monstrous women and women monsters refuse to be sorted and placed in tidy categories. I noticed some overlap, and so I decided to just run with it.

At the end of August, I will be running the second collection of Monstrous Women with all new material. This semester the selections will focus on The Shifting Shapes of Animal Brides, The Seductive Allure of the Femme Fatale, Weeping Women and Tearful Prophecies, The Female Descent into Hysteria and Madness, and Mayhem in Numbers and the Sacred Three. At the moment, there are only TWO seats left in the Thursday evening course. (Note: This is Friday morning AEDT for the Australian writers.) Come join us. It’s going to be a monstrously wonderful time.

On a side note, if you’re interested in the course, but don’t know what to expect, check out the pieces below, which were published by alums of the first session of Monstrous Women. Enjoy!

The Velvet Castles of the Night” by Claire Eliza Bartlett (Daily Science Fiction)

They wait for you, in the velvet castles of the night.

It’s not like they have anything better to do. Everyone knows the story stops for the hero, and who would the hero be but you? That is why every mirror in every inn in this town is enchanted, showing chiseled jaws, sculpted arms. Nine out of ten heroes have a verified need for encouragement along the way.

Author’s Notes: “The Velvet Castles of the Night” was inspired by the Monstrous Women class on vampires, and my own dislike of vampires, particularly female ones, and the way they are depicted in media.

Author Bio: Claire Eliza Bartlett is a US citizen who grew up in Colorado. She studied history and archaeology and spent time in Switzerland and Wales before settling in Denmark for good. When not at her computer telling mostly false stories, she works as a tour guide in Copenhagen, telling stories that are (mostly) true.

“Hidden in the Shadow of a God” by Cassandra Schoeber (Beneath Yggdrasil’s Shadow)

Odin wasn’t returning. I’d been a fool. Thinking I was special to be granted beauty, to share his bed. Believing that because Odin chose me, that meant that I was still one of the gods. But every time he left, his magic seeped out of my veins. And I waited and waited, dependent on his good will and his return.

Like god, like man.

The bastard had used me. He’d enticed me, fucked me, and left me behind.

Without Odin, I had no more magic. And without his magic, I was only one thing.

The Hidden One.

37375855_823846428004387_3958543791899541504_oAuthor’s Notes: Intrigued by the tales of the Norse gods, I was listening to Neil Gaiman read aloud from his book on Norse Mythology. In his forward, he mentions that only a few Norse goddesses are remembered in story today. Many goddesses have names, but their lives and their deeds have long been forgotten. Curious, I researched the “forgotten ones”, intent on giving one of those goddesses a voice. I decided upon Hulda, who is only mentioned briefly as a witch and Odin’s mistress. I figured it must take a great woman to attract both the Allfather’s attention and ultimately his rejection, and so the seed for this story was planted.

In addition, during Monstrous Women, I discovered that the word “hulder” – the term for a female seductress with a cow’s tail – may have originated from Hulda’s name. I merged the two concepts, blending together the voice of a tale-less goddess with the plight of a woman cursed with the tail of a cow. And so, after hundreds of years forgotten, Hulda’s story is finally being told.

Author Bio: Cassandra Schoeber is a dark fantasy and horror writer. Unfortunately, there are times when her stories escape the page, wreak havoc, and eat innocent bystanders. She has published one novella, Ravenous with Fantasia Divinity Magazine, as well as several short stories, including: “Let It Snow” (Silver Apples Magazine); “When the Last Petal Falls” (Fantasia Divinity Magazine); “Hidden in the Shadow of a God” (Fantasia Divinity Magazine); and “He Knows” (Short and Twisted Christmas Tales).

A Q&A with YA Author Claire Eliza Bartlett

claireQ. Tell us a little bit about your background, and your evolution as a writer. If you’ve taken more than one workshop at the Storied Imaginarium, what is it that keeps bringing you back?

A. I’ve always known I wanted to publish stories and novels, but I began to seriously pursue it in 2012, experimenting with style and genre to see what most appealed to me. My first short story was published in 2015, and two years later I got a publishing deal for my first novel. My recent evolution has been very much oriented towards feminism and bringing in some of the issues of our time to be reflected in fantastic settings.

I love taking classes from the Storied Imaginarium because of the unique set-up of the class. I almost always get inspiration from the subjects we study, and end up with stories I would never have written otherwise – but stories that are very much my own. I also get pushed to finish my stories! That is very important to me, as I struggle to finish short stories. These two things always make good reasons to take another class.

Q. Have you published any stories that have come out of the generative workshops at the Storied Imaginarium? If so, what inspired your pieces, and where can we read them?

A. I have one story that has been published, and one story yet to be published, both by Daily Science Fiction. The first, ‘The Velvet Castles of the Night’, is available here: It was inspired by the Monstrous Women class on vampires, and my own dislike of vampires, particularly female ones, and the way they are depicted in media.

The second story, ‘We Do Not Know What Happened to the Children,’ is forthcoming from DSF. It was inspired by Intersections of Science Fiction and Myth, the Hansel and Gretel unit.

Q. What advice do you have for writers working with fairy tales and myth as well as combining them with current science and social issues?

A. Read a lot! That way you’ll know where the rest of the market is, and what others have already covered – not to mention there will be plenty of ideas to steal. Go down rabbit holes of scientific and social interest, until something clicks. And if the fairy tale isn’t cooperating with you, change it.

Q. How did you come to writing and who are some of your influences?

A. Jane Yolen would be my primary influence – I read her book Dream Weaver (more accurately, my mother read her book Dream Weaver to me) and thought, “I’m going to do that.”

As a teen, reading Neil Gaiman really opened up my perception of what fantasy could be and do, beyond a secondary world, high fantasy noblebright extravaganza. Susanna Clarke combined my love of history and fantasy and showed me that it was possible to incorporate both in the same tale.

And more recently, great YA authors like Leigh Bardugo, Roshani Chokshi, Hanna Alkaf and more have taught me a lot about writing characters that you fall in love with from the first page, that you can’t tear yourself away from.

Q. Can you give us an insight into your writing process? Any habits when you sit down to write?

A. I am hyper productive in the morning, and only the morning – if I get started early and I’m focused, I can write 5,000 words before I stop for lunch. I won’t say they’re good words – for me, writing is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting – but I get them down, and for me the quantity is key. I like to give myself deadlines, and I don’t like to move from my desk until I’m done. Rewards don’t really work for me, so I tend to use the tough love strategy on myself. Once I stop for lunch, I switch to other writing-adjacent things, such as revising or answering emails.

Q. What is next in store for your readers?

A. At the moment I’m working on a proposal that I’m quite excited about, but I’m not sure I can say more! My novel, recently renamed to WE RULE THE NIGHT, will be released on April 2nd 2019, and has all the feminism and history-inspired fantasy that I worked with in the Storied Imaginarium! And of course, I’m still pushing those short stories.

Author Bio: Claire Eliza Bartlett is a US citizen who grew up in Colorado. She studied history and archaeology and spent time in Switzerland and Wales before settling in Denmark for good. When not at her computer telling mostly false stories, she works as a tour guide in Copenhagen, telling stories that are (mostly) true.

Author Website: