The Images Wish To Speak: An Interview With Artist Carrie Ann Baade

Have you ever realized that you “knew” someone before you, well, actually knew them? Such was the case for me with artist Carrie Ann Baade, whose work “Artemis” (above) I was wonderfully privileged to include in the “Higher Beings” chapter of The Art of the Occult...and I own a stunning, real-life print of the same work perching, propped up against a bookcase, while we find the perfect space for it on our walls.

Though I was vaguely familiar with the artist’s work from seeing it over the years, perhaps posted on Tumblr or Pinterest–perhaps I’d even posted it on Tumblr or Pinterest!–and I became intimately familiar with it while doing research for the book…I only realized much, much later and after becoming friendly with Carrie Ann Baade herself…that I’d actually shared her work in the form of a portrait of Pam Grossman on my own blog here at Unquiet Things! Somehow I hadn’t connected the art with the artist, which makes me feel profoundly silly, and yet it was a sort of wonderfully electrifying jolt from the universe when I finally put two and two together. Listen, no one ever accused me of being the smartest in the room, okay?

Carrie Ann Baade is a contemporary painter whose work quotes from, interacts with, and deeply relates to art history. Linking the power of historical masterworks with her own experience as a contemporary artist, she is a reverent scavenger salvaging lost aesthetics in an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable and piece together the sublime.

See below for our interview wherein we chat about the origins of her Dr. Frankensteinian technique, the mythic energies that she is compelled to “hyper-incarnate”, and how we can heal and grow and create profoundly intimate relationships with ourselves through art.

…and can I just say how deeply thankful that I am to the artists over the years who have taken the time to answer my questions and share their insights with me? In reading this interview over again, I was moved to tears and I am so grateful for all of the creators who have spared a moment or two to discuss their works and practices with me.

…aaaaand speaking of artists sharing their works with me, the artwork featured immediately below, “Dominions”, is a brand new piece from Carrie Ann Baade, an astonishing vision that Unquiet Things readers can get a first, ecstatic glimpse at.

Unquiet Things: I love the densely layered aspect of your work, how it contains this surreal stratum of personal biography and allegory and history. Moreover, you’ve stated in the past that you think of yourself as a kind of “Dr. Frankenstein attempting to piece together the sublime.” What a fabulous notion of these interconnected  many-layered puzzles pieces of myth and meaning!  I’d be very interested to hear about not just the process itself, but where along the way of your artistic journey did this technique coalesce into an artform that felt somehow, uniquely “you.” 

Carrie Ann Baade: In graduate school, I had one of those breakdowns that were indistinguishable from the breakthrough. I got out my scissors, cut up my artbooks and made collages of the paintings.  However, figuring out what to do from there was a process.  It required lots of trial and error to make this work. Anytime we do something new, it takes time to process what we are doing. Maybe I am still in the process of comprehending what cutting up and making new things means or does. It’s synergistic, it’s mad scientist, it’s conjuring; it’s also a bit like a tarot reading. But also, art is about seeking and making inquiries. If I truly solved or understood anything completely about what I was doing, I would likely quit doing it. The chase is towards mystery and this process allows it.

By allowing chance into my process, it allows the pieces to talk back to me and say things through a message detectable amid the potent symbols. I stoke my container of cut ups images like a fire. What it yields is often untranscendent and then after more play, it will yield a composition for a painting when I need ten. It’s a mystical process for me. With the world of symbols comes meaning and storytelling. The images wish to speak. As much as I want to speak through them, very often they are speaking through me.

I am intuitive and I find the safest place to exercise my gifts is through art. Art can take it. Why? Because although intuition can be irrational in day-to-day life, it is highly functional in art. I do find this process works best when I have a question…like “what happened to female genius” and the answer the images returns shocked me to my core. It’s a radical submission into a process of dialog with the world of symbols that results in my painting.

“Seraphim”

I believe I read that you were raised in Colorado, you studied in Chicago (and Italy) and now you live in Florida. Many varied locales and landscapes! I am wondering what role, if any, does environment play in your artistic endeavors? I ask this as a Floridian myself–in our sultry, sweltering semi-tropical climate, for 9 months out of the year I don’t even want to move, let alone create anything!

Strangely, I have found where I am informs what I am making. I have painted in Florence, Valencia, Poland, and London… as well as, Florida.  I think different places have different energies. Different houses do. The location seeps in. And then the paintings themselves are pretty demanding… I once had painting insist on being put outside in the moonlight for it to absorb. I had another painting that wanted to be left alone to cook in the 100-degree  sun. I listen to the work and it tells me all kinds of things.

“Hellmouth”

As a professor, you have read a fair amount and taught art history, so no doubt you have considerable knowledge of mythology, religious symbolism, stories of creation–I’m curious about some of your favorite stories to tell. Or if not “favorite”, perhaps most compelling, or urgent.  The myths and narratives that for whatever reason, you return to again, and again?

I am an advocate for serpents; they are present in all creation myths in the form of snakes or dragons. I am curious about these perhaps being conscious wavelengths? Serpents move through symbolic representations of the goddess, genius, Medusa. Perhaps they represent the presence of the archetypes themselves. What is a snake but a wavelength with eyes?  All of these have been and continue to be significant for me over the past 25 plus years.

When I align myself with a myth like Medusa, there is usually an act of embodiment, I become an alter ego.  This energy through embodiment or hyper-incarnating, as I like to call it, results in a painted image. It allows me a small glimpse into being more or different than I am. The Medusa myth has also allowed me to work through rape, victim shaming, anger, and processing feelings of being abject or monstrous.  It’s a way to learn and potentially process experience. Once I work with a myth or narrative for a while, I will shed it and move on, to work to develop another aspect of myself in a new form.  Perhaps this is no more than an actor taking on a new role but that too is a way to unlock and explore our human potential and get some breathing room in our identity. I was reading a book on transpersonal psychology last year and the author described research as “soul work”. I like that. I hope that is what I am doing.

“Angel at the End of Time”

Again, referencing that Dr. Frankenstein quote about “piecing together the sublime”, how do you experience the connection between spirituality and creativity?

When I am a making, it starts by doing time. This is sometimes going through the motions. Yet, when the flow state hits, this is what I call going from “fraud to gawd.” Every night I die and every night I am reborn through the creative act and working in the studio. When I start, I am lower than dirt and this never seems to get any easier. After a period of struggle, I am let inside the greater mystery of connection as I make. A feeling that one could assign to ego, or as I believe, that there is a oneness that permits exquisite technical and conceptual acts. For me, I humbly assign the better work to a greater genius or insert your definition of god. I am a decent painter but when I am truly connected it’s more like something moves through me. Whatever it is, it is a natural high that is very addictive. I struggle to get back there and then the process is worthwhile… but man, I would not wish the low on anyone. Who wants to be separate from that sense of creative flow?

“Caritas”

As an artist with many years of personal practice and experience, as a teacher who guides and encourages your students, what is a piece of advice you might give to someone, a friend perhaps, who has experienced a life-long artistic itch, a powerful inclination…maybe they feel deeply, they have big ideas…but they don’t know how “to art.” They don’t even know where to start! And I don’t even mean making a living with their art. Just starting something for the fun of it!  I just mean…what do you do if you feel like you’ve got art in your blood but you’re afraid to bleed?

By all means! You don’t want to die with the music still in you! Let it out! I think we all need to art in all its multifarious forms. This is how we heal, how we express ourselves, how we learn about ourselves, and how we grow. Set aside designated space in which to make! Give yourself the gift of time! Be detached from the results. No one prepares us for how much self-confidence to do what we love. Give yourself permission!

One should always be learning something new. This is the process of being a life-long learner. Embrace the cultivation of new interests and experiences! A healthy mind is curious and interested.

I am writing a book now and I never wanted to be an author, but somehow I got book pregnant. I have a book bun in the oven. A book requires a dedicated focus but it’s made of micro acts… not on focusing on the whole big final project but on bite sized recollections: by making myself write three pages a day. This and giving myself permission not to be worried about the outcome are letting this happen. Publishing is not the goal at this time …this act is just for me. I need to write about my life and my work in a dedicated and cohesive way. I don’t want to ask permission or care who is alive that it might impact, I just need to let it flow. It’s the most dangerous and wonderful thing I have done in our newfound captivity. I nearly made myself vomit from confessions and realization; I had no idea how visceral this experience would be.

No therapist I could pay could do what I am doing for myself. It’s a gift of time. It’s a reflection on my life that will hopefully yield the fruit of self-understanding.  I find this a scary, yet magical experience. I am most turned on to create by author Helene Cixous, who says:

Woman must write herself: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies – for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Woman must put herself into the text – as into the world and into history – by her own movement.

In short, we all need to create deeper more intimate relationships with ourselves to be alive and art is a way to do that. I encourage you to move into that feeling of comfortability… learning happens when we get outside of our comfort zone.

“Of Ergo and Ashes”

 Do you have a particular process you use when entering into your work? What gets you in the mood to create? Any rituals or practices?

It’s not easy to go into the studio every day. But because a studio practice must happen every day to be a professional artist, it’s kinder to flow and not to force this act. It’s best to try to seduce myself.

For this reason,  I am a total romantic in the studio. I need to be focused by candles… I ritualistically put on perfume to transport me. I generally only paint at night. Knowing the world being asleep makes me feel like I am alone and undistracted from my work. I desire to in my own world with my paintings. It’s a lovemaking.

“Bride”

In our chats, you mentioned a ladies’ tea that you used to participate in. Why do you think that sense of community for artists/creators is so important? Given the isolated nature of 2020, what, if anything, are you doing to conjure community for yourself right now?

The tea I refer is the Salon de Femme or as I refer to it “the Ladies Surreal Tea Party.” This a group of artists that I founded with Tina Imel in 2007. The founding members include: Lori Field, Pam Grossman, and Madeline Von Foerster. We met annually in New York City until 2014 and then I had a couple with dear friends in Paris. The event was simple, bring a female artist friend to tea and we all hung out and talked shop. Once we invited boys which was fine, but really it was about girl power support and love in the artworld. This resulted in events at Cynthia Von Buhler’s, a private tour of a gallery, an exhibit in Brooklyn, a couple of national curation projects, lots of networking, and lifelong friendships. The motivation was that while we had met online,  we wanted to meet in person. Some of our guests included Julie Heffernan and Allison Sommers. I think I was always inviting lesser known artists that I thought could use help. What this did do, is it gave me a mission to meet living artists in person. Studio visit reveal so much and they help inform me as a teacher.

After a long dormancy, I will be hosting a tea again before the holidays.  Our inaugural zoom tea will allow us to be all over the world, with some of us living in Europe and the U.S. We need our sisters now more than ever. We need connection, understanding, and support. Art is not just paint and ideas, it is community and belonging. We are constructing culture.

Find Carrie Ann Baade: Website // Instagram // Facebook // Twitter

Take A World And Put Monsters In It: An Interview With Horror Writer G.A. Alexander

That I have any friends at all is something that constantly surprises me, and sometimes when I think I’ve missed an opportunity at friendship, that deeply saddens me.

I met G.A. Alexander briefly on a side-trip to Seattle, a branching-off from a trip to Portland, that I took a few years ago, in order to spend some time with friends. G.A. Alexander was the partner of one of these friends (a human whom you are all very familiar with, poet and writer Sonya Vatomsky, whom I have interviewed previously!) and I maybe said two words to him at the time. I met him again on a trip back to Seattle and was deeply privileged see him and Sonya get married…and again maybe only spoke a handful of words to him. I am very shy and I did my best!

As I know we share similar enthusiams–a love for the horror genre, and what I broadly think of as “goth musics”– I have kinda low-key, stalkery been following his projects with great interest over the last four years or so. As a musician and writer, G.A. Alexander has played in the bands Golden Gardens, The Vera Violets and Push Button Press, and is the writer of Kickstarter comics success Keepsakes, along with short stories published by Eerie River Publishing and Nocturnal Sirens Publishing. His new project, OBSO/LETE, is over on Kickstarter right now, and I am very much looking forward to these dystopian tales of terror.

In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to ask him a few questions about this forthcoming effort, and his inspirations/enduring influences, as well as wrangling some recommendations from him to share with all of you!

See below for our chat on all things horror from the grimy and lo-fi, the the elevated and possibly “too beautiful” and be sure to check out OBSO/LETE on Kickstarter!

Unquiet Things: I’ve written previously about how much I thoroughly enjoyed your first comic, Keepsakes. It had that sort of retro-anthology vibe, with stylized imagery recounting horrific yarns, that took me back to the feeling of reading copies of Eerie and Creepy magazine when I was way too young to understand them. And maybe, too, my more recent memory of watching Tales From The Crypt and wishing I had seen it when I was younger! Your new project, OBSO/LETE, which I understand to be cyberpunk body horror set in a collapsing future, sees a very different direction and vision! Can you tell us what OBSO/LETE is about? What should readers know prior to diving in?

G.A. Alexander: Thanks for noticing that about Keepsakes! A lot of people brought up  the Tales from the Crypt similarities, but I was also a fan of things like Creepy, Eerie, House of Mystery and other horror books that were either active or were enjoying a period of extensive reprinting when I was a kid.

OBSO/LETE is definitely a different beast altogether from Keepsakes. The book is set in an alternate future where technology (especially anything using networking) was severely restricted for the average person by the American government from the 1990s-onward. In the meantime, however, development for things such as medical research and the military have experienced no hindrance at all. Due to the stunted development of technology and the way society developed, the power grids in the large MegaCities that have sprung up have become overburdened to the point of near-collapse, and so different districts have started experiencing rolling blackouts which have come to be known by the population as “Cold Spots”. 

The first issue of the book tells the story of Sandra and Juliette, two bartenders working in District 4, an extremely blue-collar part of a large, un-named MegaCity. As their neighborhood is hit by Cold Spot after Cold Spot, they begin to notice that things may not quite be what they seem: the constant power fluctuations in the city seem to have ignited something buried deep below the city. Things that appear to be neither completely human, nor machine are now lurking in the shadows of the city, waiting for their opportunity to strike.

Could you share where the idea for OBSO/LETE came from, and what inspired you to tell this type of story? And what ‘type’ of story would you say this is?

OBSO/LETE’s main influences came from a few different sources: I noticed a lot of modern cyberpunk media had adopted a sort of “neon palm tree” sort of aesthetic, which eventually became a bit too ubiquitous to be fun for me, and so I really wanted to make something that could be considered “Cyberpunk” under its original idea of “high tech, low life”, but could be dirtier, nastier and grimier. Aside from that, a lot of the inspiration came from the movies Tetsuo The Iron Man and Hardware, the comic books Akira and BLAME! and the box art and aesthetic of 90’s FMV computer games like Under a Killing Moon and Phantasmagoria 2 along with 90’s cable television shows like The Hunger, Max Headroom and Highlander.

The story’s genesis came from mis-remembering a scene from Hellraiser III. After re-watching it and quickly realizing my memory had distorted it into something else entirely, that then turned into the inciting incident in OBSO/LETE (and which you can read on the Kickstarter campaign). From there, pieces started falling into place. The rolling blackout concept was something I had been thinking about for a few years after reading about how certain countries had actually implemented it. 

The premise of technology being hampered for regular people but completely unhindered by any restriction for the military came from living through Y2K while also working in an office park directly next door to a military contractor. 

I’ve got a fair amount of techo-skepticism in me and some very distinct worries about the growing alienation we’re experiencing due to social media and other technological things that past few decades have inserted into our lives, but I’m also very well-aware of how these things have absolutely improved certain peoples’ lives and how much of a net-benefit they can be. I wanted to tell a story that explored what the world would (possibly?) be like without some of these things. I didn’t want to come into that story with a pre-conceived black-or-white “Technology Bad/Technology Good” perspective at all, but I really wanted to think about and depict how I believe human interaction and the world may develop without mass-media communication as we currently know it.

Also, I wanted to take that world and put monsters in it.

You’ve got some stories on the popular horror r/nosleep subreddit and you’re a musician/songwriter(?) as well. As a writer of all sorts of interesting things, I’m curious as to who you consider your biggest writing influences? 

I’ve come to writing very late in life, having done most of my creative work as a musician and songwriter. I’m very influenced by who I grew up reading, including people like Billy Martin (who wrote under the name Poppy Z. Brite), Clive Barker, Stephen King, Brad Meltzer, William Gibson, Caitlin Kiernan, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and many others.

The writers who really “clicked” for me as an adult, and who kinda pushed me into a mode where I not only felt “I can do this” but also “I need to do this because they’re so good and I have to catch up!” are Thomas Ligotti, Nicole Cushing, Kathe Koja and Matthew M. Bartlett. I would recommend anyone with a taste for left-of-center horror with a VERY distinct sense of setting (which is a thing I find really appeals to me) check out any and all of those authors.

And in terms of horror cinema, if you had to narrow a list down to two or three films that shaped your view/appreciation of the genre, or that you recall as particularly profound, what would they be? (and why, if you’re feeling expansive!) Is there anything going on with horror right now that you find inspiring?

A lot of the horror movies over the last two or three years that have been connecting with me have been somewhat low-budget affairs. On the micro-budget end, Nigel Bach’s Bad Ben series has been an absolute delight to watch, as you get to see a filmmaker find his voice and his “style” as he goes. I really enjoyed Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, as well, which utilized a ton of practical makeup effects, which I REALLY enjoy.

Historically speaking, my favorite horror movies would have to be Hellraiser, Halloween and The Thing. These are obviously fairly pedestrian takes, but I struggle to think of stronger and scarier works. I’m a big fan of Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On The Grudge, as well, and I think it’s an unfairly overlooked classic.

I feel a lot of modern horror can be sabotaged by how modern technology had granted us access to beautiful cinematography. The modern “elevated horror” subgenre has put out SO many great movies, but most of them have failed to connect with me and on reflection, I think it’s because so many of them are TOO beautiful to look at. Having been raised in the VHS era, I think there’s something with film grain and tracking static that my brain associates with “scary”.

You and your wife and cat just made an international move during a pandemic! Well done! I know that was challenging to say the least, and that whole process almost seems like a horror story in and of itself. I’m always interested in how one’s geography shapes one’s fears and inspirations in that vein. Can you speak to how aspects of place and environment, and perhaps even culture, find their way into your writing?  

That’s an interesting question, and one that I think I’m just starting to grapple with. Having grown up and spent most of my life in the USA, how does or should my writing change now that I’m, for all intents and purposes, a British Writer? 

A lot of my previous stories are set in and around North East Pennsylvania, which I only spent a couple of years living, in my 20s, but left a very specific impression on me. How long can I go on writing about America, while not living there, and have my stories feel grounded in reality? How long should I immerse myself in the UK’s culture and places and idiosyncrasies before I can safely write a British Horror story? It’s odd because on one hand, I have these very specific experiences and memories and on the other hand, I worry about how long those will feel “Valid”.

For example, in Keepsakes, there’s a short story “An Open Letter to Blue American Petroleum”. That’s directly inspired by actual experiences I had moving cross-country in the United States, filling up at little gas stations in little towns off the highway. I don’t think the same sort of experiences happen here.

While that’s the case, every place has its own strange culture and unique features. The city I live in now has an extensive canal system and you have the ability to travel from neighborhood to neighborhood through tunnels underneath bridges and by the side of long stretches of water. I can see this, and many other features of where I now live sneaking into my work soon.

Keepsakes felt very North Eastern USA to me. Keepsakes 2 (which will be a standalone story, tangentially connected to the original collection) will be Pacific Northwestern. OBSO/LETE’s setting feels Chicago to me, while its characters feel very St. Petersburg, Florida. I always seem to want to write about places after I leave them more than when I’m there.

I’m extremely fascinated by the personal routines of creators. Do you have a particular process you use when entering into your work? What gets you in the mood to write? Any rituals or practices? 

I wish I had a better or more structured routine. A lot of my process feels like “stealing time” from other things. I recently bought a couple of notebooks and a fountain pen to try and make my writing process feel a little less tethered to a keyboard, but I’ve found that the notebook is its own tether.

Some of my favorite work has been typed into my phone at 11:30pm at night while laying in bed, dealing with insomnia. 

I only just realized that you stream on Twitch! Horror games, is that right? I am not very good at these things, but I recently just tried my hand at World of Horror, an H.P. Lovecraft/Junji Ito-inspired RPG horror game set in a quiet Japanese town filled with eldritch beings, wild-eyed cultists, and impossibly twisted human forms. I died a lot! Have you played anything lately that you really enjoyed and that you might recommend?

I tried out World of Horror on-stream a few months back! 

I died a lot too. I think my issue is that I have exactly zero history with RPGs. My game of choice was always point-and-click adventure games.

The Twitch stream, Welcome to Frankenstein House, came as a result of wanting to fill time when the pandemic hit. Initially the idea was to do comic book reviews but that quickly evolved into abandoning the review format about 10 minutes into each stream and them proceeding to goof around about whatever we wanted (usually complaints about the Stuart Townsend depiction of Lestat in the Queen of the Damned movie, or how Alfred from Batman is in fact an interdimensional sex god) for 2-3 hours every week. 

After that, we started adding in horror gaming streams, which then took over the whole thing. We’ve been on pause for a couple of months due to the movie and the time difference but we’re planning on restarting soon and we’re probably going to be switching to more of a variety show format.

The games I’ve really enjoyed playing lately are:

Detention: Scary point-and-click adventure game set in a haunted school during the White Terror in Taiwan

Love, Sam: I dubbed this a “Reading Simulator” on the stream as a joke, but it was REALLY scary. You play an unidentified character, reading a school friend’s diary in their tiny apartment. As you read, things in the apartment being to move and change. Doors appear, taking you to different places. You realize that the diary may have opened the door for something to haunt you.

Stories Untold: Sort of a puzzle/adventure game. It’s 4 different games that each tell a story in different ways. The first game, The House Abandon, is a retro text adventure and each of the others keep the sme spirit if not the same mechanics. It has a great early 80’s style aesthetic to it.

The Glass Staircase: Made by Puppet Combo, one of the more interesting “auteur” game creators out there right now. This is effectively a take on the Resident Evil or Clocktower style survival horror gameplay, but in an Italo-horror environment. It’s really cool, but really difficult.

Speaking of recommendations! I am normally constantly on the hunt for, and learning about new music–although in 2020 my interest in this has regrettably waned quite a bit. I have to imagine that as a musian you’re constantly finding and listening to new things! I’d love to know your favorites from 2020.

The most recent I Like Trains album Kompromat was fantastic, a really great return for a band I was half-sure was done. It’s odd post-punk, extremely politically outspoken, dark and upsetting.

Ghostpoet’s I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is an amazing album as well. It’s an extremely sad, dark and introspective album.

A lot of my 2020 has been spent discovering things I missed from previous years too.

Vore Aurora’s Eidolon from 2018 is a beautiful, atmospheric dark synthpop album.

Carpenter Brut’s Leather Teeth is a great retro-synth dance album.

Creux Lies’s The Hearth is absolute The Cure-worship, but the songwriting and performances are so on-point.

This question is a bit silly, but I hope you’ll indulge me! Your wife Sonya sometimes shares your thoughts on the perfumes that they’re sampling, and I know I’m not the only one who loves to read about them! Unquiet Things readers are fragrance fiends as well, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’d love to know what perfume of theirs you’ve smelled recently…that you might base a horror story around! Tell us everything about this aromatic atrocity, please!

Oh god. So, the problem with writing a horror story about Perfume is you don’t want it to be derivative of the Patrick Suskind book!

So for anyone unfamiliar with Sonya’s “My Husband Smells” posts, Sonya collects all these samples from various boutique perfume companies and has me smell them and say what I feel they smell link.

The gimmick is that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I have no frame of reference for what traditional perfumes or colognes are “supposed” to smell like. This is only compounded due to the fact that I have bad sinuses which affect my sense of smell.

Ultimately, you’ll end up with a $400 bottle of expensive perfume and a review from me that just says “Smells like Dracula makeup?” because some chemical in it smelled sort of like Halloween makeup I put on as a kid and it triggered a sense memory.

The Story:

My perfume horror story would be based around us receiving a number of samples from some company that Sonya couldn’t remember ordering from, and that doesn’t have a website. 

Rather than triggering sense memories, the perfumes would cause us to relive entire moments in our lives. As we went down the series of samples, the memories would get more and more recent, and we would find ourselves unable to stop sniffing each of the samples.

The story would end with us testing the last of the samples, in a jet black, unlabeled nebulizer. As we each breathed it in, we would feel the air disappear from our lungs, the lights disappear and the walls close around us – we wouldn’t be in a memory from the past, we would be trapped  in a memory of something that hasn’t happened yet. 

We would be “remembering” being dead and being interred in a grave, unable to breathe or speak or escape.

The End.

Back to OBSO/LETE as we wrap up! Is there anything else you want to share about this project or what we can expect? I’m really looking forward to it!

We have about 7 days left on the campaign and we’ve just debuted our second of two t-shirt designs.

It’s really been a labor of love, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to make some new friends in the industry, Justin M. Ryan (penciller and inker) is also an accomplished writer on his own and has a fantastic graphic novel he put out a while back called Tresspasser. Todd Rayner (colorist) has an awesome comic book he does called Icepick.

In addition to OBSO/LETE, I also have a scifi-horror story called “Flickering” which just came out in an anthology from Eerie River Press called “It Calls From The Sky”.

You can pick up my first comic, Keepsakes, on Comixology, Seernova and TromaNOW!

You can also read a short comic I put up for free on my website: “Welcome Home.

Find G.A. Alexander: Website // Instagram // Twitter

Links of the Dead {November 2020}

Vanitas II | Stojan Minev
Oil on canvas – 2015

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From heart-rending to gut-splitting (sometimes you gotta laugh, you know?) from informative to insightful to sometimes just downright weird and creepy, here’s a snippet of recent items that have been reported on or journaled about with regard to death, dying, and matters of mortality.

This time last year: {November 2018}| {November 2017} | {November 2016} | {November 2015}

💀 The Losses We Share

💀 Green-Wood Cemetery’s New Artist-in-Residence

💀 COVID-19 has made this the saddest Day of the Dead in Los Angeles

💀 The Death Positive Movement Encourages Us to Face Death Directly

💀 Modernist home situated within Highgate Cemetery in London is up for sale

💀 ‘We can’t grieve’: online forum where Covid bereaved feel they can share

💀 Book reveiw: Funeral Diva,’ a Mix of Memoir and Poetry, Stirs the Body and Mind

💀 A church in Rome has over 3,000 skeletons on display. They give a chilling—but hopeful—reminder about death

The Art of the Occult Check-In

On Instagram today, I’m sharing some of photos of and peeks into The Art of the Occult that people have been so kind to share. This capture by my beloved friend Maika, featuring her darling danger noodle, is one of my favorites! Have you shared a photo of your copy? Please tag me so that I can see it!

I’m beyond humbled by the response my little book of magical art has garnered and can’t thank you all enough for your interest in it, your purchases of it, and for taking a moment to tell someone about it or to write a thoughtful review of it. (That said, if you enjoyed it, and have not already done so, would you consider penning a quick review for Amazon or Goodreads? Thank you!)

Speaking of Goodreads, there are ~three days~ left for the opportunity to win a copy of The Art of the Occult! Separately, if you missed the chance to grab an autographed copy from me, I do have a few more on hand, and I will ship both domestically and internationally, so please message me and we will work it out!

I will end this missive with a snippet from a lovely review that I just read. It’s simple, really, but it wonderfully encapsulates one of the ways in which readers can use this book: “…take each image and sit with it for a while, and see how it speaks to you.”

I hope that there’s at least an image or two in The Art of the Occult that, on some level, speaks to you. I would love to hear all about it!

New YouTube Video: Mlle Ghoul In “What I do in a day”

First order of business…yes, I totally did a chop! Bye-bye for now, hairs. This is the shortest my hair has been since about 1996 or so when I tried bleaching it at home and it all turned crunchy and fell off and I basically looked like Susan Powter for a year or so. Stop the insanity, Sarah! Never try that again!

But I do have a plan here. After my Halloween stunt with the Stevie Nicks wig, I came to the conclusion that while I don’t exactly want to go blonde again, I would like to start working my way back to my natural hair color. Whatever that is. I don’t even know anymore, it’s been so long since I have seen it! And since red is notoriously difficult to get rid of, I know I have got a long road ahead of me in terms of growing the color out. I figured a great shortcut would be to just shear most of it away!

I was pretty wrapped up in my long hair for a long time, but as of this year I began letting go of that attachment. I was recently sharing with a friend that I didn’t like the way it felt when someone complimented my hair. I know it was well-intended, but it always had the effect of making me question my other qualities. I’m kind, I am funny, I can string words together in interesting ways! I’d rather someone commented on something I practice, or a thing I do, instead of my appearance. But please don’t feel badly if you ever said I had lovely hair– I mean, objectively, it was pretty nice! But I’ve got other things to offer.

So now I have got a bit of a shag and it might be just a little shorter than I realized, but that’s fine, because that’s just more color gone! I plan on going back to long, eventually, but for now, this is new and interesting, and I really dig it. Also, when I wear earrings now–you can finally see them! Before the chop, they were sequestered behind massive curtains of hair. In the photo above is a pair that I haven’t worn since I purchased them in 2010! A handful of people have asked about them and I don’t know if the seller still makes this exact style, but their Etsy shop still exists, so you could always ask!

All of this happened AFTER the video I am about to share, though, so except for the intro/outro, my new hair does not make an appearance!

For this upload, I shared a small glimpse into my life in the form of a series of vignettes chronicling my weekend. I personally love peeking in on these kinds of “what I do in a day videos” because I am very nosy about the people I admire!

I challenged myself to try my hand at it after recently being inspired by my friend and fellow weirdo, the extraordinarily talented Courtney Lane. Courtney is a historian and hair work artist and on her Hair and Now YouTube channel on Youtube, Courtney uploaded “A Day in the life of a Victorian Hairworker,” which I found wonderfully fascinating. I interviewed Courtney back in 2018, if you are interested in learning more about her and what she does!

My day might not seem particularly exciting, but for me, it was practically perfect. I don’t really want to spend an entire day reading, for example, or binge-watching movies. Although I do like doing both of those things! Instead, I like to do a little bit of all of the things I love, spread over the course of a day. We can’t do all of the things we want right now, with quarantine and social distancing, so that’s why I like to plan days like this for myself, to give myself a little something to look forward to, and so I don’t feel like I am missing out. A few treats for myself, a bit of self-care, some housework and tidying, some time outdoors, making progress on projects–these are just a few of the things which I include in what I would consider “a good day.” And of course, that might look totally different for you!

Either here or in the video, please share in the comments what your idea of a perfect day looks like, and how you have adapted that for life in 2020!

Eyeball Fodder: The Art of the Occult Edition

“History of Magic, Part II… Initiation” by Alison Blickle

This installment of fantastical fodder for your eyeballs appeared initially over at Haute Macabre on a Monday morning, brimming with mystical, magical imagery to inspire your week. I thought I might share here, on my own blog, as well! These visuals, by contemporary artists who reveal occult elements and philosophies through their creative gaze, all feature in The Art of the Occult, which was conjured forth into this world a month ago.

As an extra bit of magic, there is currently a GoodReads giveaway for three individuals to win a signed copy of the book!

“Under the rose” by Susan Jamison

See my interview with Susan Jamison here.

“Artemis” by Carrie Ann Baade

“Witches Sabbath” by Rik Garrett

See our interview with Rik Garrett here.

“Essentia Exaltata” by Madeline von Foerster

“Untitled in the Rage (Nibiru Cataclysm)” by Juliana Huxtable

“The Four Elements” by machumaYu

“Tea Leaf Reading” by Gina Litherland

“Eternal Cosmos” by Daniel Martin Diaz

“Astrology, the Myth of Creation” by Timur D’Vatz

“Abyzou” from The Demons of King Solomon by John Coulthart

See my interview with John Coulthart here.

“The Alchemyst” by Sveta Dorosheva

See my interview with Sveta Dorosheva here.

Extra Extras: Q&A Transcript & Giveaway

Last month I shared a video over on YouTube in which I answered some of your burning questions. They were really great questions! It was a treat to craft responses for them– so thanks, everyone, for taking the time to send me your thoughtful queries and curious musings

For my friends who don’t want to watch a video (I understand, I would often rather read things, too!) I’ve copied below the entirety of the conversation in writing. Enjoy! Or judge! Both are fine.

When the Q&A was first uploaded, I did a giveaway alongside it. Well, as it turns out, since then I have put together two more boxes of “my old crap” to send away to a lucky someone. So if you missed the first giveaway over on YouTube, you have a second chance over here on the blog! Just leave me a comment –maybe tell me about one of your current favorite things!–and a week from today will choose two winners to each receive a box.

What got you interested in darker types of stuff at an early age, if anything, and why do you think it appealed to you like it did?

It’s funny. I definitely was not into much in the way of dark and scary things when I was young, as a matter of fact, a certain Scooby-Doo episode gave me nightmares for months! My teenage cousin’s Kiss posters with their feral, spacey makeup frightened me so badly that she had to keep her door shut when I was visiting their home. But somewhere along the way, I’m guessing I was maybe 8 years old or so and I wish I could pinpoint what it was that turned me, so to speak,  that fright began to gave way to fascination, and whereas I would once hide my face behind a pillow when something scary was happening, I now began to feel the itchy urge to peek.

The vampires and ghosts that I hid from had become curious to me–though no less monstrous–and I wanted to know more about why they did the things they did, and perhaps on a subconscious level, why these things appealed to me. I think these peeks, these nibbles, whetted my appetite, and I developed a true taste for terror, a hunger for horror that at turn haunts and heartens me to this day.

The Nightmare, 1781. Henry Fuseli.

I was asked two somewhat similar questions, so I thought I might try to tackle them both at the same time! Do you have a personal ghost story or paranormal experience you can share? And I’d like to know if you’ve ever seen or experienced some weird shit. Ghosts, aliens, etc.

Not exactly ghostly, but it did massively freak me out at the time, and it still does. As a matter of fact, this could right go up there with the Scooby Doo and the Kiss posters as to what set me down the path of darkness! Picture it: Milford Ohio, 1980ish. It was the night before Easter, and I was maybe four or five years old. My mother had just tucked us into bed and I was lying there, wide awake, thinking of my ruffley pink easter dress and my little straw hat and running around my grandparent’s back yard, seeking out plastic pastel easter eggs with coins and candy tucked inside. My point being–I was definitely not asleep!

I heard a tap on the window and I looked up to see a hideous vision staring in at me. It was the Easter bunny, but grimy and menacing, with a huge mouthful of razor-sharp fangs, and most terrifying of all was how his ears just didn’t…flop right. Like they were broken. Like how a zombie might shamble along on a broken ankle, that kind of broken. I screamed loud enough to wake the dead and when my mother ran into the room, there was of course nothing at the window to give evidence of my terror. She calmed me as best she could, shut off the lights, and I somehow fell asleep. What fueled my terror anew the next day as I was riding in the backseat of the car to my grandparents house is when I realized ….my bedroom was on the second floor. Not only was that thing outside my window, but …how did it get there??

Another terrifying sleep-related incident happened to my middle sister, not me. We were a few years older and still sharing a bedroom (she somehow slept through the Easter Bunny incident) and this was a bedroom in a different house. First I will note that I, until that point, had always been a very light sleeper, the slightest stirring would wake me up. One night over summer break, we passed what I thought was an ordinary evening of slumber. However, the next morning she confided to me the terrifying way that she spent that same night. Sometime after midnight, she awoke suddenly to see a figure lurking in the threshold of our bedroom door, darker than the shadows surrounding it, its sinister red eyes glaring directly at her. She tried to call out to me but I slept right through her cries, deeply sleeping and oblivious both the waking world and my sister’s terror. She said she felt paralyzed, as if there were a great weight on her chest. She lay there, frozen with fright and completely immobile for hours. She must have finally fallen asleep because next she knew, she was waking, the sun was shining, and she could move again.

Later we learned that she experienced what was, most likely, a form of sleep paralysis and to this day she suffers from these midnight horrors. As for me, since that night something changed in my sleep patterns and I continue to sleep like the dead.

I have written previously about sleep paralysis, and you can find it here.

It might be a bit sensitive, so no hard feelings if it’s not something you choose to answer. Are there any topics, depictions, concepts, or anything similar that are triggers or hard lines for you in media? That would make a book or movie a pass for you? For example, I won’t watch a movie where an animal is abused or killed.

I hear you on the animal abuse–that’s vile and gut-wrenching, and if I know ahead of time there are instances of that in a story, I will give it a pass. But what I really struggle with are books/movies, etc., where addiction is a central part of the story.

Growing up, my mother struggled with both alcoholism and mental illness and it’s still really hard for me to talk about. A parent is supposed to look out for you, to guide you, to take care of you; home is meant to be a place of safety and stability. My sisters and I, our home life was fraught with uncertainty on the best of days, and a drunk, screaming lunatic on the rest of them. I often felt like the roles were reversed and I was the adult (a complicated relationship with my mom that continued well on into my own, actual adulthood.)

I’ve read that adult children of alcoholics can be pretty judgemental of themselves as well as others, and so it might sound a little harsh and judgemental to say this, but books featuring individuals in the throes of addiction are a hard pass for me. It also may sound as if I have no compassion in my heart, but I’ve got to have enough compassion for me to acknowledge that reading about these characters is no good for my own mental and emotional well-being.

Note: though I have used some iconic imagery from The Shining to illustrate my answer here, a more recent example of a television series with a plot that I found pretty triggering was Lucas’s struggle with heroin addiction in the 2018 Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House.

She Hulk at work from Howard the Duck Issue #1 (2015)

Because I’m curious (and struggling with my career): what do you do for a living?

Not that I am assuming that the asker of this question thinks so, but I am always so flattered when people make the assumption that I write for a living. I do not! My forthcoming book, The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic, is the first time I have ever been paid to write anything, and I have been writing my entire life! And the funny thing is, a mere month before this opportunity came up, I had just written a blog post about how I was never going to write for pay. Oh, universe. It’s hilarious how you make me eat my words like that. But honestly, I am not going to be making a living off of this book (I used the small advance to pay for my Invisalign, heh) so I am not quitting my day job anytime soon.

I know this is probably not the most positive sounding answer, but it is me being completely frank on the subject: I don’t know that I’d really be happy in any career. Simply put…I don’t like to work! I mean, who does, right? But …some people seem to really love their chosen career and thrive on the joy it gives them. That’s not me. And I think I figured this out about myself early on in life, so I pretty much made the decision that I’d do what I could to make the money I needed in order to do the things I really like to do. For me: this means materials for knitting, nice food to cook with and to feed the people I love, and all the books and art that I have room in my house for. The job is really just a means these ends, I guess.

As for my day job, well, it’s really not that exciting. As writer of weird fictions HP Lovecraft is cited with having said, “What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world’s beauty, is everything!” I think all of the other things I do are ever so much more interesting than my job! But that’s not a real answer to this question.

I have worked for the same firm for almost 15 years now; my official title is VP Operations, but we’re a fairly small business, so while that encompasses a great deal of things, it’s a title that sounds more important than it might actually be. I work very closely with the company’s president on a lot of projects, I handle HR and payroll related things, I do the social media for the firm, and I have support responsibilities related to the other folks in the company. I didn’t begin my role working from home, but I have been working remotely since I moved back to FL in 2011. I will mention that I work for a recruiting firm, so from a recruiter’s perspective, I might suggest you look into some career aptitude testing (you could try something like The Johnson O’Connor Foundation https://www.jocrf.org/ ) and would definitely encourage you to polish up your resume, update your linkedin profile, and check out some unique ideas for re-energizing your job search strategies.  It’s a weird time right now, but companies are definitely still hiring!

Show us your favorite Florida goth summer look!

Well, as it happens, at 44 years of age I have JUST NOW gotten comfortable enough in my own skin to stop suffering needlessly through our brutal summers and just wear a dang pair of shorts. It might not be glamorous, but my favorite summer outfits consist of the same pair of denim shorts all week long (I only have the one pair) along with a tee shirt (of which I have many.) Tee shirts are definitely a weakness of mine. Here are a few of my favorites, and if you are curious about where they came from, just leave a comment and I will figure it out for you.

If I am feeling fancy, I will probably go for a sundress and a cardigan, because though I may have made some progress in terms of body image, I still don’t like to leave my upper arms bare.

For some fantasy goth summertime ensembles, have a peek at this semi-recent blog post: How To Wear Summertime Goth Looks When You’re Not Actually Goth And Summer Is Almost Over, But Whatever.

I wanna know what kind of food you like! Taurus time! And what you do when you are stressed.

Wow ok, so I could talk about food forever. I was just telling my sister that although I have loved to read for my entire life, and am so obsessed with my knitting that I will probably sneak my projects into both weddings and funerals…it is food and cooking that really has my whole heart’s love. The kitchen is such a deeply soothing, wondrously special space for me and the one place where I am never scared or nervous or anxious, where I am always completely at home. My best days are those that I have spent hovering over simmering soups, and yeasty bubbling bread dough, chopping, mixing stirring, sprinkling, concocting something delicious and heart-warming, and filled with love. This is the best magic I know, the cozy, calm, kitchen witchery kind.

My favorite meals as I child are probably the ones I still crave today, and there are two in particular. My late grandmother’s chicken and dumplings, and cheese coneys, which I think is a midwest thing and basically a hotdog in a bun topped with chili and an insane amount of shredded cheese. I can’t eat them every day because I think that would probably kill me, but as for favorite foods in general, I prefer savory over sweet for sure. I will take a pass on pancakes and waffles and french toast, but you can lure me with bagels and lox.

 (Being judgemental again, I think that sweet bagels are an abomination–get out of here with that cinnamon raisin bagel crap!) I love vegetables but I don’t really care much for fruit, although I do think honeycrisp apples are a beautiful snack, along with a spoonful of peanut butter! As far as snacks in general, I prefer salty over sweet and I feel like maybe I am the only person in the world who would pick puffy Cheetos over crunchy, but more for me, I guess.

I like all kinds of cuisines, but I think if I could have a day of favorite foods, I would have a Japanese-inspired breakfast, with broiled salmon and rolled omelet and rice and miso soup and all kinds of pickles. For lunch, an everything bagel with cream cheese and lox and thick slices of ripe, juicy tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onion. And for dinner I might have popcorn and a gin gimlet! Maybe two gimlets, extra limey.

When I am stressed? Well, as you can tell from the above, I cook and I eat 😛 But when I am super-stressed, like too anxious and paralyzed to move? I find that sitting down, taking a deep breath, and making a mindful list can lead to getting unstuck. Not a pie-in-the-sky to-do list for the day, but rather a list of the bare minimum stuff. Breathe. Drink a glass of water, stand up and stretch your arms as far as they can go, try and touch the clouds through the ceiling. And then… maybe answer one email for work.

I find that sloooo-oowly crossing each of these things off of my list is the equivalent of putting one foot in front of the other until I find myself on the other side of whatever had gotten me so worked up.

What has changed for you in Plague Times? What has surprisingly remained the same?

I spend a lot of time alone and I think I am pretty good company. But a lesson I have learned before and it took this past year to remind me is that sometimes I can be alone and in my head too much. Though I have lived most of my life in Florida and that is where I currently reside, there were a number of years that I lived in NJ. I was in a relationship where I was not that person’s major priority, but really, that was the least of the problems in that relationship. I didn’t see a lot of him, and other than my coworkers at the two jobs I worked in order to make ends meet, I didn’t see a lot of anyone at all. I didn’t make any local friends while I was living there, and so I spent a very isolated, melancholy seven years in that place. I remember, growing up, that my fondest wish was for “everyone to just leave me alone!” And I definitely got that while I was in NJ, and it turns out, as it does in most cases, that one should be careful of what one wishes for. I was miserable.

I moved back to FL where my family still lived and I met someone else who spends time with me and who makes me a crucial priority in his life and things are very different now. This is a roundabout way of answering the question, but I guess what I am saying is that in the past few years I’ve taken being back amongst friends and family for granted, thinking “oh, well, I don’t want to visit so-n-so this weekend, I’d rather stay home.” WELL. I have had six months of weekends at home, and I just want to see people again! Even if it’s a dinner I’d rather cancel at the last minute, I’d still be happy to go!

As for things surprisingly remaining the same, that’s an interesting question. I mean a lot has stayed the same. I already worked from home, I was already a homebody-bordering-on-recluse who never left the house, and obviously that has not changed, but also that is not a surprise.
However…I guess I could say this. I am a person who loves to have a slew of personal projects lined up for myself and I would have thought in this time of uncertainty and upheaval, I might not have the focus or the motivation to embark upon or complete any of these things–but I have found the opposite of that to be true. I think this is a sensitive and potentially triggering topic right now, that of productivity during a pandemic, and many people are having a completely a different experience.

I realize I am experiencing this from a place of privilege: I am healthy, I am employed, I am not experiencing instability or insecurity with regard to my lodgings or where my next meal is coming from. Of course I am going to have the mental bandwidth to devote to plans and projects. My day-to-day worry and dread, which is already pretty bad, is now ratcheted up and operating at what feel like unsustainable levels, and I think that is a large part of why I’ve been throwing myself into my to-do lists with gusto. I don’t want to let myself get eaten alive by my anxieties, so I don’t allow myself the time or the space to think about it. I know this isn’t healthy, and I’m sure it will catch up with me at some point. That was a bummer of an answer, and I am sorry.

I love hearing about favorite heirlooms – I feel like you would have some cool ones.

None of my grandparents are still living, and my mother passed a few years ago as well. So you’d think I’d have a variety of heirloom-type things to cherish…and yet. Somehow I do not.

I have two very special things, one from my mother, and the other from my maternal grandmother. My mother collected tarot decks and when I was young I used to pore over one in particular, The Tarot of the Cat People, a wildly gorgeous deck combining science fiction and fantasy, featuring mysterious figures dressed in rich, flowing costumes and elegant jewelry…which naturally appealed to me, little magpie that I was! The deck is created by Karen Kuykendall, a cat lady whose art is said to be influenced not only by felines, but also by architecture, anthropology, art history, costume in history, her travels in Europe, Mexico and the southwest United States. My mother did not have much to her name when she died in 2013, but she still had this deck, which now is wrapped in silk, and sits amongst my own collection. Fittingly, my mother was very much a cat lady herself, who at any point in time had no less than twenty cats under her roof… and many years later, this deck still smells strongly of cat pee. 

From my grandmother I have a cookbook, an item which smells much nicer! This is among my most treasured possessions…it is book of her favorite recipes and many of them handwritten, along with newspaper and magazine clippings. It’s stained and well-worn from frequent use and just as humble a thing as those tarot cards are glamorous, and I love them both equally.

Maria Germanova by Handsome Devils Puppets

I’d love to hear which modern physical media artists resonate with you and any particular pieces you own that you absolutely adore. 

With regard to physical art, my first thought is that of 3D art–sculptures or carvings or architecture or art installations, things like that. But then again, isn’t a painting or an illustration on a canvas a physical piece of art, as well?

So maybe this is a cheat of an answer, or maybe not, but I’m going to share a handful of beloved artists who fall anywhere along this spectrum. I could wax poetic about all of these brilliant, talented humans, and in fact, in some cases, I already have– in the form of interviews or articles that I have written with or about them. If that’s the case, I will include the link below! Though I am not an artist, I am a massive art enthusiast and supporter of my favorite artists so this is definitely something I will revisit in a future video with a more comprehensive tour of my collection.

Handsome Devil Puppets // Goblin Fruit Studio // Becky Munich // Ivonne Garcia // Moonflesh Tin Can Forest // Sara Deck Bill Crisafi // Amy Earles // Caitlin McCarthy

What is on your perfume wish list? And an add on, because you are a very olfactory oriented person what are some of your favourite non-fragrance aromas?

My perfume wish list isn’t what it used to be, but that’s because for the good of my wallet and sanity, I stopped reading perfume blogs several years ago. I’m no longer up on what’s new and rare and coveted and I’m better for the lack of temptation! With less fixation on the new offerings, that frees me up to enjoy the fragrances that I already own.

I will say that there is one from Bruno Acampora called Young Hearts that caught my eye sometimes over the past few months; described as “dewy, fresh, green and peculiar”, well, I like anything described as peculiar. And now that I am thinking about it, there was a scent from a few years ago that I was keen to try,  inspired by the Library of Babel.

Aside from those two, I have a perfumer friend who has been diligently and thoughtfully working at creating her own formulations for a few years now and I cannot wait until she releases these fragrances into the world; I have sniffed a few prototypes and I feel that I am (and probably a great many of you as well) are the target demographic for these dark, mysterious, and incredibly well-researched scents. But it’s not my project, so that’s all I can say about that for now!

My very, very favorite non-fragrance related aroma is fresh marjoram. Marjoram in an herb in the oregano family, but it doesn’t smell at all like that nose-tickling pencil shaving spaghetti sauce herb to me; it has its own very distinct scent– faintly sweet and green and floral, and  a bit woody and musty, too.

When I was growing up, my mother had some Christmas ornaments from Avon, l recall them as little fabric shapes with snowmen painted on them, and they exuded this sweet, dusty potpourri of a scent that I for years associated with the holidays and bringing decorations down from the attic, and in my mid-30s, when I smelled fresh marjoram for the first time, it was a scented epiphany. It’s such a beautifully gentle aroma, and I’ve got several pots of it growing on my front porch because I just can’t get enough of it.

Is there a holy Grail item that you covet for your collections but which you have yet to acquire?

Yes, and I will probably die mad about it. This is a poster from 2011 or so, a collaboration by artists Vania Zouravliov and Aaron Horkey, commissioned by Mondo, for Dracula. I missed it at the time and of course it probably sold out almost immediately. You can find it on eBay for nearly $1500… but that was originally a $60 poster, so that eBay seller can go straight to hell as far as I am concerned.

I hope this question is not cheeky, but I remember you mentioning wanting to curb your magpie tendencies. As someone who is constantly torn between acquisitiveness of all the pretties and anti-capitalist/degrowth ideals, I’d love to hear how you are thinking about it these days!

Not cheeky at all, I think it is actually a great question which deserves an equally amazing answer. Unfortunately, I haven’t got a good answer for you. While I will never be a minimalist, I do very much want to, while not pare down, exactly, I guess…I want to stop …wanting more? I want to use and enjoy the nice things I already have, but there is always the compulsion to find something nicer, something better, something perfect. Something that will make me perfect! I’m sure it’s all tied up in a bunch of deeply-rooted, internal stuff that has nothing to do with “stuff” at all. Rather feelings of childhood neglect, insecurity, and deprivation. Trying to fill a void that goes all the way down to my core, where there’s a little girl shouting up as if from the bottom of a well, “Pick me! Choose me! Love me!” Maybe I’m shopping for that poor kid, who knows? 

At any rate, At the beginning of 2020, just as the beginning of every year, I made a vow that I wouldn’t buy any: books, art, perfumes, or jewelry (those are the four trouble areas, I guess.) Did I stick to that promise? Of course not. I will say that in terms of art, well, we’ve mostly run out of space, so that’s been curtailed by circumstance. With regard to perfume, I really haven’t been tempted because nothing has really excited me. Jewelry, well, there have been fewer jewelry purchases than in recent years, but there have been a few, like a pair of fantastic eyeball earrings from Alexis Berger, and this strange of beads from Eternal Craft Designs, in the photo above. Oh, and of course, I grabbed a necklace from Flannery Grace. And bloodmilk. Oh dear.

Books, ah. They’re a problem. Bigger problem than ever. Not sure what I am going to do about it, but you know, I think 2020 is the wrong time to be worrying about this problem. Like I said, this is an excellent question, and it’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about, but I’ve done a crap job with it this year. I’d love to hear all of your thoughts on this issue in the comments!

I’m curious if you some rotate your collection of art and interesting items in your home, or do you just keep adding, or do you pass things along to others?

I love the idea of a rotating gallery of arts and art objects but honestly, I am too lazy to do that. Plus while I know what I like, and I think I have a keen sense of style, particularly as it relates to my taste and aesthetic…I have absolutely no idea when it comes to design. Simply put: WHERE DOES ALL THIS STUFF GO? Honestly, I just keep cramming things on the shelves and pray they don’t buckle under the weight of my nonsense.

Or else I might pass it along! I was trying to recoup some of the money that I spent on various things by selling things in Depop, and while that was not a bad experience, per se, it was an annoying one. There were one too many instances of people asking dumb questions and I was like NOPE! LIFE’S TOO SHORT FOR THIS BALONEY! To spite the one person who asked me for several photos of a $25 pair of slides taken from a variety angles, I marked everything as sold, bagged it all up, and promptly gave it to a family friend, who is probably at this point the recipient of most of the stuff I know longer want or need or have room for. I consider myself a very patient person, but at a certain point these requests over sites like Depop or poshmark or whatever seem entitled and downright rude, and you know what? Fuck that. I’d rather flush my $300 perfume down the toilet than sell it to someone like that, and yes I am a drama queen and I am okay with that.

[EDITED TO ADD] Okay, I am a lying liar and I just listed some more stuff on Depop this past weekend. Le whoopsie.

Thanks for reading, friends! Please leave a comment below for a chance to win some of my books, art, perfume samples, etc., that I no longer have room for or never found room for in the first place. I am happy to send it your way!

31 Days of Horror

For myself and many like-minded friends, we carry the spirit of the Halloween season in our hearts on a year-long basis. But the actual holiday month itself? That’s a particularly special time in which I like to utterly immerse myself in spooky books and movies, and I have made an annual tradition of documenting this phenomenon over on the Haute Macabre blog. As of just last night, I have wrapped up another year!

If you are interested in having a gander at what I got myself into last month, I have included a small summary of each week below, with a link to take you to the details. Anything you might like to see me tackle* next year? Let me know in the comment!

*I try to go with new-to-me books and movies, so please don’t experience hurt feelings if I can’t take your particular suggestion!

Week One

Kuronneko, The Witch in the Window, In Fabric, Clown in a Cornfield (book), Braid, The Final Girls, The Faculty of Horror Podcast.

Week Two

Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl, Blacula, The Color Out of Space, The Strings, Black Lake, The Return (book), Lovecraft Country (poster), Eve’s Bayou.

Week Three

Hubie Halloween, Relic, the Widow’s Web shawl, The Turn of the Screw (novella), What Happened to Japanese Horror, EXTE Hair Extensions, Whistle and I’ll Come To You, r/nosleepstories

Week Four

The Third Day, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Dragula: Resurrection, The Curse of La Llorona, Perfumes and Fripperies by The Wake (album), The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories, Night Tide, Beyond the Mirror’s Image by Dream Division (album), Hellraiser: The Dark Watch (comic), Stage Fright, World of Horror (game), The Craft: Legacy, a shadow ritual, soul cakes, a glamour spell, a finished knitting project

Links of the Dead {October 2020}

Johann Jacob Haid 

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From heart-rending to gut-splitting (sometimes you gotta laugh, you know?) from informative to insightful to sometimes just downright weird and creepy, here’s a snippet of recent items that have been reported on or journaled about with regard to death, dying, and matters of mortality.

This time last year: {October 2018} | {October 2017}| {Ocotober 2016}

💀 Rapid Cycling Through the Stages of Grief on Amazon

💀 Being told to get over it is not one of the stages of grief.

💀 ‘The Third Day’ Makes Grief Feel Like the End of the World

💀 Funeral homes offer Kansas City elderly free limo rides to the polls

💀 ‘I worked in horror films. Now I’m an undertaker’: arts workers who had to find new jobs

💀 Don’t Grieve Alone. Reach Out: Find emotional support with long-established networks already built for distance.

💀 The Dead Parents Club – 5 tips for dealing with awkward social situations when you’ve lost a parent

A Little Talk About Anthropodermic Bibliopegy With Librarian Adventurer, Megan Rosenbloom

Today at Haute Macabre, I am thrilled to chat with Megan Rosenbloom about her debut book Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin.

I believe that Dark Archives is the most intensely fascinating book of 2020 and if you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, you ought to make it a priority! And yes, I realize I literally just published a wildly interesting book of my own, but if you’ve already got that one, you should acquire Dark Archives next!

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