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PseudoPod 574: While the Black Stars Burn

Show Notes

I wrote “While the Black Stars Burn” while I was attending a winter MFA residency at Goddard College in Vermont. I knew I wanted to write a story evocative of both the Robert Chambers story “In the Court of the Dragon” and Lovecraft’s story “The Music of Erich Zann” but which was not a copycat pastiche of either one. The heat wasn’t working well in my dorm room, and my being profoundly cold and under-slept definitely influenced my writing!

While the Black Stars Burn

by Lucy A. Snyder

Caroline tucked an unruly strand of coarse brown hair up under her pink knit cap, shrugged the strap of her black violin case back into place over her shoulder, and hurried up the music building stairs. Her skin felt both uncomfortably greasy and itched dryly under her heavy winter clothes; it had been seven days since the water heater broke in her tiny efficiency and the landlord wasn’t answering his phone. Quick, chilly rag-baths were all she could stand, and she felt so self-conscious about the state of her hair that she kept it hidden under a hat whenever possible. She hoped that her violin professor Dr. Harroe wouldn’t make her take her cap off.

Her foot slipped on a spot of dried salt on the stairs and she grabbed the chilly brass banister with her left hand to keep from pitching forward. The sharp, cold jolt made the puckered scar in her palm sharply ache, and the old memory returned fast and unbidden:

“Why aren’t you practicing as I told you to?”

PseudoPod 573: Bitter Perfume

Show Notes

Some listeners will recognize characters and story elements from H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cool Air.” That’s because this story was written for She Walks in Shadows, an anthology of stories containing female characters from Lovecraft’s stories. All contributors to the anthology were women. She Walks in Shadows won the 2016 World Fantasy Award in the anthology category, and “Bitter Perfume” received an Honorable Mention from Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 8 editor Ellen Datlow.

PseudoPod 572: Deconstructing Hillsdale

Deconstructing Hillsdale

By D. Morgan Ballmer

What do you recall about the horrific events that unfolded in Hillsdale Heights on December 2nd, 2014? I remember thinking that the town seemed populated by ghosts, mostly. All over Jefferson County living room windows framed our friends and neighbors as they bathed in the cold glow of their televisions, transfixed by the ongoing standoff. The reports didn’t make any sense. Even when it ended, nothing made any sense.

The media attempted to paint a portrait of the gunman, Randy Hollstrom. They sprinkled buzzwords throughout their coverage as if ‘veteran’, ‘loner’, or ‘PTSD’ somehow explained what we were seeing. Our eyes screamed that the words we were hearing did not match up with the footage. Perhaps after so many hours our hunger for peace of mind outweighed our appetite for the truth.

There was no real way for the news to tell the story anyway. Think of those 3-D sculptures which appear as an elephant when seen head on, but take four steps to the right and suddenly it looks like a giraffe. Same with the Hillsdale event – you look directly at the facts and you will never see the evidence that matters. You have to approach it sideways. (Continue Reading…)