Today on the site we’re doing a dive into Night of the Living Queers, an all-queer Horror anthology edited by Alex Brown and Shelly Page and releasing August 29th from Wednesday Books! Not only is this collection super queer, but the lineup is entirely comprised of authors of color, providing fresh perspectives for an anthology that is not to be missed! Here’s the official description:
Night of the Living Queers is a YA horror anthology that explores a night when anything is possible, exclusively featuring queer authors of color putting fresh spins on classic horror tropes and tales.
No matter its name or occasion, Halloween is more than a Hallmark holiday, it’s a symbol of transformation. NIGHT OF THE LIVING QUEERS is a YA horror anthology that explores how Halloween can be more than just candies and frights, but a night where anything is possible. Each short story is told through the lens of a different BIPOC teen and the Halloween night that changes their lives forever. Creative, creepy, and queer, this collection brings fresh terror, heart, and humor to young adult literature.
Contributors include editors Alex Brown and Shelly Page, Kalynn Bayron, Ryan Douglass, Sara Farizan, Maya Gittelman, Kosoko Jackson, Em Liu, Vanessa Montalban, Ayida Shonibar, Tara Sim, Trang Thanh Tran, and Rebecca Kim Wells.
And here’s a little more on some of the stories, from the authors themselves!
Sara Farizan, A Brief Intermission
A Brief Intermission is about two cinephile employees at a drive-in movie theater who have to work overtime on Halloween and play a movie for some ghostly guests. I’ve long been interested in the history of drive-ins in the U.S. as well as Chevy Bel-Air cars and thought this would be a good vehicle for those interests. Get it? Vehicle? Anyway, if you like cinema, jokes, ghouls, and fear conformity, you might get a kick out of this story.
Rebecca Wells, Guested
I’m a big scaredy-cat, so I began my short story by brainstorming all the horror tropes that frighten me. The answer of course is all of them, but one I found myself circling back to was the idea that someone in my life (possibly myself!) could be possessed. Mindswaps, multiverses where people come back “wrong,” possession by demons or parasites or even other people – it’s all scary. Add on to that the idea that I might know what’s wrong but not be able to convince anyone of the truth? Downright horrifying. But the scariest part (to my main character, anyway) is that most of the characters in my story want to be possessed. Just not in the wrong way…
Kosoko Jackson, Rocky Road with Caramel Drizzle
My story, Rocky Road with Caramel Drizzle, was inspired by the idea of killing your gays. So many stories only focus on queer pain and how queers need to ‘rise above’ their attackers, to become a better person and grow from it. While that may be a valid route for some, people, all people, deserve to use their rage and process their pain how they see fit. And sometimes, that’s through punishment. I wanted to write something with magic, darkness, validity and romance, to show queer kids sad events don’t mean sad lives, and that whatever path you take, when hurt, is okay and valid. I also love crossroad demons and wanted to write a queer twist on that.
Ayida Shonibar, Save Me from Myself
Save Me from Myself is about a teen’s dread made manifest—the character’s, and my own. It’s a tragedy. And a love story. Horror as a genre resonates for me in how it justifies a current of fear permeating the narrative. Existing alongside frequent intrusive worries, especially ones rooted in environments that raised you, means some are bound to come true. An inner fear materialising into reality can feel like “proof” that you should continue carrying all the fears with you and can send you into bone-chilling panic over missed opportunities to prevent it. It feels like your worst thoughts, intangible yet large and powerful, control your world more than you do—a sort of cosmic horror. This is why stories like Kafka’s “Die Verwandlung / The Metamorphosis” really spoke to me growing up. You might think you’re impossible to love—that if, miraculously, somebody does make the mistake of loving you, it can’t be real, or it’ll be lost, or you’re not worth the sacrifice it takes. That loving you is the missed opportunity. I tried to encompass this cold terror in the ending—the abject, abrupt devastation I struggled to make sense of as a teenager in the face of misfortune. But deeply uncomfortable fears and worthiness of love can coexist. They’re not mutually exclusive. When things go horribly wrong, you can, and should, still be loved. I hope the ending leaves the reader with a belief in love that remains unshakeably true and deserved, even despite the ugliest of outcomes that can’t always be controlled.
Shelly Page, Anna
My story, Anna, is about a teen who must save the kids she’s babysitting from a ghost. I knew I wanted to write something along the lines of Halloween and Ouijia, but with a twist. My story explores themes of abandonment, loneliness, and, of course, fear. I wanted to show readers that the past doesn’t have to dictate your future, and that giving into fear ensures you stay trapped. I hope my story connects with teen readers who feel afraid to take a chance or make a change. If you can find the courage to overcome your fear, even if it takes a helping hand, it can mean true happiness.
Maya Gittelman, Leyla Mendoza and the Last House on the Lane
The texture of my story is written with deep love for the Philippines, and the communities of Philippine diaspora Leyla and I belong to. Fraught love tangled in tension and grief, but love at the core of it, love as the force of it, love learning how best to grow. Love inextricable, woven tight into the dissonance.
The plot of Leyla Mendoza emerged out of two concepts. First, the Western fear of aging and the elderly—I wanted to respond to the fairytale and horror trope of “there’s someone old and alone, and that means we as a community deserve to judge them.” And secondly, I wanted to use that response as a vessel to explore other experiences of non-belonging. The core of this story came together as: what does it mean to imagine a possible trans future for yourself when you have no real-life examples of it? What might it mean to imagine a transmasc future when you don’t have a role model for the kind of man you want to be, a future in which your femininity belongs to you without needing to align with anyone else’s? I wanted to breathe magic into the fact that for many trans people, even though we might have to build that future for ourselves, it’s possible and it’s necessary and it’s more beautiful that you can imagine. And—you are not alone.
Alex Brown, The Three Phases of Ghost-Hunting
The Three Phases of Ghost Hunting is about two best friends (who want to be more than just friends) who are spending their Halloween night in a mall food court as they search for the truth behind an infamous local legend: Terrifying Bob, the (alleged) pizza-stealing ghost of a pirate who died a few centuries ago. What starts out as a light-hearted investigation turns into an adventure that brings them face-to-face with an entity that’s way more powerful than a ghost.
This story is my ode to every paranormal believer and skeptic pairing out there! I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite trope-y pairs in a fun (and vaguely existentially terrifying way). Daisy and Iris are both queer Asian Americans, like me, and I was delighted and honored to bring them to life (and get them together at the end)!