Posts Tagged ‘The Jewish Book of Horror’

What would happen if I featured my faith more in my stories? Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on Jews in the media I consume.

As you probably know, in addition to being an eldritch abomination from another universe in human form, I’m Jewish (we need faith too, you know). I’m not super-religious, but I follow many rituals and feel close to my heritage and my definition of God. But except for a couple of stories, my religion doesn’t really show in my writing. Or at least, characters who share my faith don’t show up in my stories a lot.

There could be a lot of reasons for that. Part of it could be that horror, the genre I’m drawn to and find most exciting, doesn’t necessarily need religion. Horror may draw on religious beliefs a lot, but that doesn’t mean the stories are religious. Religious elements are just tools for telling a good horror story. Also, Judaism itself isn’t really a scary religion. We don’t have a Devil or Hell, and demons and evil spirits are still subservient to God’s Will and Plan. Beyond golems and dybbuks, the biggest sources of horror for us is our history of being oppressed. And finally, I may have never felt a real need to emphasize the beliefs of my characters. It just doesn’t matter that much. Unless I need to state it, their religion is, “Whatever.”

But lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about that. It started with an essay on Variety about Jews in Hollywood and how we’re represented that brought up some good points. I’ll let you read the article yourself, but it made me aware that I don’t see many members of my faith in the media I consume. And that includes in horror. Yeah, there are some: Stan Uris in IT; Yakov Ronen in The Vigil (one of the best horror films I’ve seen yet this year); Tzadok in The Possession (played by musician Matisyahu, believe it or not); and then some.

But still, it’s a small number. And in an age with resurgent anti-Semitism, I feel like that’s something that needs to change.

Besides, I want to challenge myself. What kind of stories can I tell with a Jewish character as a lead? And not just any kind of Jew, but an amalgamation of the Jews I’ve known throughout my life, from secular to religious and old to young, from all walks of life and all types of spirituality? What if I decided, for a few stories, not to make their religions “whatever?”

Well, I actually already know the answer to that. As you probably are aware, my short story “The Divorce from God” is to appear in The Jewish Book of Horror this holiday season, and a short story in this collection I’m working on has two Jewish men as the leads. And I like to think both stories are good (I only have confirmation of one).

But what if I expand that? What if I tell more tales–not all of them, but some of them–with my fellow members of the Tribe? What if their faith is both an aspect of themselves, though not the only one, and a source of strength? What if the lead is that amalgamation I mentioned?

Well, perhaps I’ll find out sooner rather than later. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m thinking of working on another novel after I’ve finished editing this collection and a couple more stories. And while I don’t think it’s necessary for the lead, I can also see them being Jewish. It could actually fit them very well.

We’ll see what the future holds.

I look forward to the stories I write in this vein.

You know, it’s funny. At one point when I was young, a grown up tried telling me I should write less horror and more of what I know. Which at the time was mainly going to a Jewish day school, having rabbis for parents and being annoyed by my sisters. I absolutely refused, telling this well-meaning grown up “that would be boring.” I think they were worried I was going to turn out to be some psychopath who murdered people in basements and then wrote about it (we horror lovers and creators are so misunderstood!). Still, I wasn’t going to write something I wasn’t attracted to or found boring. Stories are an escape from reality, not a regurgitation!

Now I want to incorporate what I know into a horror story. I guess it’s true what they say, when people “write what they know,” they’re writing it in a completely different way than expected. I wonder that well-meaning adult would make of this now? Hopefully they’d be intrigued enough to read it (and realize I grew up much more well-adjusted than they anticipated).

Anyway, it’s late and this post has gotten insanely long. I’m going to sign off and say Shabbat Shalom, an early Happy New Year (Rosh Hashanah starts Monday evening, it’s our New Year), pleasant nightmares, and a good night. See you next time, my Followers of Fear!

Last night, I decided to do something I hadn’t done in a while and record myself reading aloud from one of my stories. Why? Because I have two stories coming out one after the other, so I thought it would be a good way to drum up interest in them. However, because longer (and effect-laden) videos take longer to upload to YouTube, this is the first chance I’ve had to post about it.

So, without further ado, here’s me reading from “Cressida,” which is in Into the Deep, and “Blood and Paper Skin,” which will be The Dark Sire starting with Issue 8 on July 31st.

How about that, huh? I still can’t figure out how to have multiple texts throughout the video, but I managed to add music and other effects throughout. Did what showed up at the end surprise anyone?

And if you weren’t able to watch the full video, here’s a quick rundown of all the pieces of news I mentioned after the reading from “Blood and Paper Skin:”

  • Into the Deep is available now for download. Last I checked, the ebook is still the only version available. If the paperback version isn’t available by Tuesday, I’ll email the publisher and see what’s up. In the meantime, you can check out the ebook of Into the Deep now with this link. If you decide to read it, please let the publisher and me know what you thought (especially of my story “Cressida”).
  • “Blood and Paper Skin” will be released in The Dark Sire, Issues 8-10. I’m very excited about this. The first issue, Issue 8, will be released on Saturday, July 31st. I really hope you’ll check out the magazine when the story comes out and will let people know what you think. I’ll post a link when the time comes.
  • As previously stated, an essay I wrote will be in House of Stitched Magazine next month. This is an essay on a trope I’ve noticed in horror, the broken child, and I’m very excited for the issue to feature my essay. Especially considering the great authors whose stories are in the issue as well. I’ll be sure to post a link when the time comes, so keep an eyes out!
  • My short story “The Divorce from God” will be in The Jewish Book of Horror this holiday season. I’m very excited to be contributing to Jewish literature this way! And obviously, I hope you’ll pick the book up once it’s available later this year. After all, Jewish-influenced horror is pretty rare. Especially when so many writers have been influenced by Christianity, let alone horror writers. I’d love to see what you think.
  • The Pure World Comes is getting published!!! I know you’re very much aware of this, but it bears repeating. My novel The Pure World Comes will be released through the Readict novel app hopefully in the near future. I don’t have an exact date, but I’ve been communicating with Readict’s staff this whole week, so we’re chugging along. Hopefully things continue to go well and I can update you in the near future.
  • I’ll be at Bibliophile Books in Dover, OH, on July 31st for an author event! Turns out, the editor of The Dark Sire is from Ohio, as are several of the authors in Issue 8. And in order to draw up some more interest, they’re hosting an author event at the bookstore. Authors who can make it will read short excerpts from their work, answer questions, and sign copies of Issue 8, as well as their own books. I’m looking forward to heading out there and maybe meeting some new readers. Not to mention meeting some of my fellow writers! Be there from 11 AM – 1 PM if you can!
  • I’m still going to Indie Author Book Expo Aurora this September. Remember, this will be held in Aurora, Illinois on September 11 at the Prisco Community Center from 10 AM – 3 PM. There will be all sorts of awesome authors to check out, as well as great books. I hope you’ll be able to come if you can. You can find out more here.

In addition, I inserted another reminder that I’ll be celebrating my ten-year blogging anniversary next month and will be hosting an Ask Me Anything, or AMA, in honor of the occasion. If you would like to participate, you can submit questions to my email address, ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com, until 11:59 PM on July 28th. One lucky participant will even win a prize! I look forward to reading and answering your questions.

Anyway, that’s the content of the video. I hope you enjoyed it if you watched it, and I hope the updates were helpful.

I’ll be back later tonight with a review, so I hope you check that out when it’s released. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Pour the drinks! Start the party music! Feed the dragon bats a little extra blood and meat with their dinner tonight! I’ve had two acceptances! That’s right, you read that correctly. Two. And I am so excited that the editors loved them enough to include them in upcoming publications, let alone that you will get to read them.

So, the first acceptance actually came last week, but I only just got permission to start screaming from the high heavens. A short story I wrote is being accepted by “The Jewish Book of Horror,” an anthology from the Denver Horror Collective coming out this holiday season in time for Hanukkah. That’s right, a book emphasizing horror from a Jewish slant. When I first heard of that, I knew I had to write something for it, which I did: a short story called “The Divorce from God.”

I’m adding to Jewish literature! It’s not typical Jewish literature, but I’m not complaining!

“The Divorce from God” is a story that was inspired by the New York divorce coercion gang. For those of you who haven’t heard, the New York divorce coercion gang was a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews who forced men into divorces. Yeah, even the Jews have our fair share of fanatics, and they do bad things sometimes. In this case, they meddled in divorces. In traditional Judaism, divorce has to be granted by the husband, and occasionally that’s held over the wife’s head to hurt her. Normally, non-violent means are sought to encourage the husband to grant a divorce, but in this case, the gang members went to violent means. It’s pretty sick and twisted stuff and I encourage you to read up on it if you’re curious.

Anyway, I took the case and put my own fictional spin on the story. After letting some beta readers give me some feedback, I made some edits and submitted it. And I’m happy to say it’ll end up in the anthology! Woo-hoo! I get to be part of a big contribution to Jewish literature while still being scary! I’m sure my parents and teachers and rabbis are proud of me.

Also, apologies that I didn’t write a blog post for this story like I usually do. The subject matter and the targeted anthology was so specific, I didn’t want to post about it only for it to maybe get rejected. But I’m telling you now, so it’s all good, right?

And today, I got some more good news! I wrote an essay recently on a character trope I call “the broken child.” What is that? Well, you’ll have to wait till August to find out. It’s going to be published in the August edition of House of Stitched magazine (don’t you just love that name?). They were looking for articles on the craft and process of horror writing, and I’d been turning over some article/essay ideas in my head, including an examination of the broken child. I wrote it and sent it in, keeping my fingers crossed. And today they sent me a contract. I signed and now I’m on cloud nine!

I mean, wouldn’t you be? Last year, I was only able to release one story. But two months ago, I was able to get an article published on Ginger Nuts of Horror and release a new scary story. And in just one week, I was able to get a short story and an article accepted as well! It’s very encouraging and makes me hopeful for what’s to come.

I’ve been writing up a storm lately. Glad to see it’s been worth it.

A big thanks to the Denver Horror Collective, who will be putting out “The Jewish Book of Horror,” for accepting “The Divorce from God.” And an equally big thank you to the team of Stitched Smile Publications, the publisher of House of Stitched magazine, for accepting “The Horror of the Broken Child.” I’m so excited to be working with both of you and I hope your readers enjoy my contributions as much as I hope you did.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the August issue of House of Stitched magazine and “The Jewish Book of Horror” once they’re released. I’m off to enjoy a walk in the nice weather. I’ll probably also have a beer or two tonight in celebration as well. And I’ll be working on my next short story as well. Gotta keep up the writing and submitting so I can get a few more stories out there.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, stay safe, pleasant nightmares, and don’t approach my dragon bats! They may be cute, but they’re alpha predators for a reason.