News & Blog

The Scariest Part: Faith Pierce Talks About THE FACE YOU WEAR

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is author Faith Pierce, whose debut novel is The Face You WearHere is the publisher’s description:

An unknown threat is creeping its way into Jana’s residence.

Jana overcame a bleak, poverty-stricken childhood to achieve her version of the American dream. She has her own home, a successful career, and a new husband who offers everything she hoped for in a normal life.

Her tight grasp on stability however begins to slip with disturbing dreams about her husband Michael. A figure in the bedroom doorway watching her sleep, night-time conversations Michael claims never happened, someone lying beside her at night when Michael later says he wasn’t there.

Old anxieties and paranoia begin to surface as Jana becomes increasingly desperate to discover if the true threat is her mind, her husband…or something darker.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Faith Pierce:

“God, that scene in the office.”

So far, that’s been a recurring comment from readers of The Face You Wear. In the scene, the main character wakes up from a nap and goes to her husband’s office. She finds him at his usual place, sitting at his desk, working on the computer. She leans against him and he wraps his arm around her. Then when he looks up at her and their eyes meet, she realizes she absolutely does not believe it’s him.

It’s a climactic scene in the book, a confrontation, a reveal of the monster’s face — though the question of what or who the monster is remains unanswered. But what makes the scene frightening are the same things that make the rest of the book so unsettling.

Throughout the book, the main character Jana has interactions with her husband Michael that may or may not be real. They primarily happen at night after she’s been sleeping, so when he tells her they didn’t happen, she’s forced to conclude that she never actually woke up. That means nearly every night, she’s having vivid dreams about her husband that include everything from cuddling and idle chatter about their days to serious conversations about the future and eventually, more threatening behavior.

As the encounters get more intense, Jana isn’t convinced they’re dreams, but she cannot fully trust that they’re real either. That slip, that loosening of our grasp on reality, that stumble on what we thought was solid ground — that’s a sensation most of us can relate to on a smaller scale. We’ve all had dreams we thought were real until told otherwise, we’ve seen things that turned out not to be there, we’ve encountered spaces that seemed to shift before our eyes as we struggled to get our bearings. That’s become Jana’s life on a daily basis, and it’s a nightmare. For a lot of people, the constant sensation Jana faces of not being able to trust her own mind is the scariest part.

The scariest part for me is different. It’s the intrusion of something frightening into Jana’s safest spaces and her safest person that made the premise so disturbing to me. Her home is the symbol of everything that is stable and secure in her life, and Michael is her closest loved one. Now, neither are safe. If the encounters are real, then either Michael is lying to her, actively tormenting her — or there is someone or something that looks and feels like her husband talking to her, touching her, holding her at night. Either possibility is terrifying.

The scene in the office blends the scariest parts of the entire book, and I think that’s what makes it resonate with people. Jana thinks she’s woken up from her nap. She enters a room in her home that’s always held comfort for her. It’s small, warm, and familiar. She finds her husband there exactly as expected. He greets her with affection. For a moment, everything is solid and safe and right.

And then it’s absolutely not.

The Face You Wear: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Bookshop

Faith Pierce: Website / Facebook

Faith Pierce writes horror, dark fantasy, and other forms of speculative fiction. Her short stories have been published with The NoSleep Podcast, Cemetery Gates, Kandisha Press, and Scare Street. Her debut novel The Face You Wear is out with Crystal Lake Publishing. Faith Pierce grew up in a small town in Texas, but now lives in Missouri with her teenage son and their dogs. Outside of writing, Faith works in marketing. Her other interests include Brazilian jiu jitsu, yoga, cooking, gardening, exploring nature, and taking road trips with her son.

THE STONE SERPENT Coming November 29th!

Coming November 29th, 2022, from Crossroad Press!

“Nicholas Kaufmann offers up an unputdownable blend of gruesome body horror and fast-paced suspense.” – Ray Garton, author of Live Girls and Ravenous

Medical Examiner Dr. Laura Powell didn’t think anything could be more frightening than what she uncovered in an autopsy a year ago. Yet, in this chilling sequel to Nicholas Kaufmann’s bestselling The Hungry Earth, the cause of death is literally petrifying.

When a completely petrified corpse ends up on her autopsy table, Laura is convinced it must be a fossil, but the evidence says otherwise. Impossibly, the man on her table died in a car crash earlier that day. But what could cause a human body to transform so quickly from flesh to a hard stonelike substance?

Laura’s investigation takes her out of her hometown of Sakima, New York, and into dangerous new territory. From the streets of Valley Grove, home to a fundamentalist religious sect under the thumb of a brutal, vindictive leader, to the bowels of Thurmond Biotech, a secretive pharmaceutical company hellbent on developing the first anti-aging miracle drug, what she unearths is far more terrifying than she could have imagined.

Vicious, deadly creatures are preying on the people of Valley Grove, killing them with a highly toxic venom that ravages and transforms their bodies in horrifying ways. As the creatures claim more victims, striking from out of the darkness with lightning-fast speed, Laura must find a way to stop them before they spread to the rest of the Hudson Valley. But will her search for answers put her in even more danger by sending her into the heart of the creatures’ den?

With The Stone Serpent, multiple award-nominated author Nicholas Kaufmann delivers another gripping thriller in the Dr. Laura Powell series.

Preorder links for the e-book and paperback are below. Preorder links for the audio are coming soon!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound

Books-A-Million

Kobo

Google Play

Apple Books

Smashwords

I’m excited for this one and can’t wait for you all to read it!

 

 

My NecronomiCon Providence Schedule

This weekend marks the triumphant return of NecronomiCon Providence, a biennial convention that focuses on horror and weird fiction. I’m very happy to be attending, as it’s one of my favorite conventions. Here’s where you’ll be able to find me:

Saturday – 9:30 – 10:45am

The Jewish Tradition in Weird Fiction – Capital Ballroom, Graduate Hotel, 2nd floor
Historically, Jewish authors have had a much larger visible influence on science fiction than they have had on the weird or horror genres. Although Jewish characters and Jewish folklore elements, such as the golem and dybbuk, appear, these are often presented within a White Christian framework that may depend on stereotypes and is not framed by Jewish culture and traditions. Our panelists discuss classic and contemporary Jewish authors and how their cultural identity informs their understanding and presentation of the weird.
Panelists: Daniel Braum (M), Edward Erdelac, Richard Gerlach, Nicholas Kaufmann, Ann VanderMeer

Saturday – 3:30-4:45pm

From Ambergris to Yuggoth: The Fungus Among Us – Waterplace Ballroom, Omni Hotel, 2nd floor
Mind control. Bodily infiltration. Altered states of consciousness. Zombification. Encounters with truly alien species. Fungal horrors abound in weird fiction and film. Our panelists take us on a tour of the strange world of spores, fruiting bodies, and vast clonal colonies, the symbiotes and parasites, toxins and pathogens, that have always occupied an important place in the annals of the weird. A little Mycology and a lot of fiction are on your plate.
Panelists: Rick Claypool, Nicholas Kaufmann, Jess Lewis, Eric Schaller (M), Douglas Wynne

Saturday – 6:30-7:45pm

The Weird on a Small Color Screen – Waterplace Ballroom, Omni Hotel, 2nd floor
Fire up the color console and adjust your antenna! Our panelists from 2019’s The Weird on a Black and White Screen return to continue their discussion on the weird television shows from the 70s and 80s, taking the legacies of the classic anthology series of the black and white era and tracing the broadcast weird to when cable and cheap VHS tapes forever changed the content available in our living rooms.
Panelists: Inanna Arthen, Christa Carmen, F. Brett Cox, Nicholas Kaufmann (M), Joseph Zannella

Whew! It looks like my Saturday is going to be very busy!

You can check out the rest of NecronomiCon Providence’s schedule here.

I hope to see you there!

The Scariest Part: Naseem Jamnia Talks About THE BRUISING OF QILWA

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is author Naseem Jamnia, whose debut novella is The Bruising of QilwaHere is the publisher’s description:

In this intricate debut fantasy introducing a queernormative Persian-inspired world, a nonbinary refugee practitioner of blood magic discovers a strange disease that causes political rifts in their new homeland. Persian-American author Naseem Jamnia has crafted a gripping narrative with a moving, nuanced exploration of immigration, gender, healing, and family. Powerful and fascinating, The Bruising of Qilwa is the newest arrival in the era of fantasy classics such as the Broken Earth Trilogy, The Four Profound Weaves, and Who Fears Death.

Firuz-e Jafari is fortunate enough to have immigrated to the Free Democratic City-State of Qilwa, fleeing the slaughter of other traditional Sassanian blood magic practitioners in their homeland. Despite the status of refugees in their new home, Firuz has a good job at a free healing clinic in Qilwa, working with Kofi, a kindly new employer, and mentoring Afsoneh, a troubled orphan refugee with powerful magic.

But Firuz and Kofi have discovered a terrible new disease which leaves mysterious bruises on its victims. The illness is spreading quickly through Qilwa, and there are dangerous accusations of ineptly performed blood magic. In order to survive, Firuz must break a deadly cycle of prejudice, untangle sociopolitical constraints, and find a fresh start for their both their blood and found family.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Naseem Jamnia:

I originally wanted to use this opportunity to talk about the body horror in The Bruising of Qilwa. For this fantasy novella, I leaned on body horror — on its relationship to transness, on the food metaphors, on using my scientific background to make some gross decisions — to darken the slice-of-life aspects of the story. But the reality is, no matter how much I enjoy writing body horror, the scariest part of Qilwa is how much of our real world it reflects.

Qilwa follows a nonbinary refugee healer fleeing a genocide, who arrives to the newly independent city-state of Qilwa during a plague. Faced with both migrant and public health crises — and blaming the latter on the former — Qilwa tries to shut its gates. Then, the government cracks down on the clinics around the city providing free healthcare, restricting access for not only to the migrants but poor Qilwans as well.

Sound familiar?

I don’t mean to be on-the-nose with my secondary world. Indeed, issues of migration and healthcare were not in my thoughts when I originally sat to write The Bruising of Qilwa; learning to write a short story was. The larger world is one I’ve been playing in for a while, so it made sense as a backdrop for stretching my creative parameters. But very quickly, Qilwa took on a life of its own — one that reflects our world far more than I meant it to.

I started writing Qilwa before COVID. The story begins during a plague but quickly gives way to a new and potentially more sinister disease. While this second disease, the main focus of the novella, is perhaps not as deadly as the first, it is as alarming, if not more, to the main character.

And now, monkeypox is spreading through the US.

In her introduction to the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2018, N.K. Jemisin discusses speculative fiction’s revolutionary potential. She explains how speculative fiction can help us imagine worlds better than our own. This philosophy is central to my work, which is why I created Qilwa’s queernormative, SWANA-inspired world. Yet, in my desire to understand and deconstruct my own relationship with my Persian heritage (the subject of my author’s afterword), I did choose to reproduce the mistreatment of migrants.

I started writing Qilwa before Ukraine, but migrants have long been maligned (especially Black and brown migrants). The migrants in the book, fleeing a genocide, face many of the same conditions that they would in our world: squalid living situations, worse health outcomes, dangerous jobs, decreased access to healthcare and education. It is impossible to divorce this phenomenon in our world from its larger context of white supremacy and hegemonic whiteness, colonialism and neocolonialism. While in the world of Qilwa there isn’t whiteness or white people, there is a history of imperialism at the root of the conflict.

But even though I can trace the creation of the situation in Qilwa, it unsettles me that I internalized many of our world’s problems enough to reproduce them subconsciously. How can I work toward a better reality if I’m not able to imagine one? I can only hope that this scariest thing is not the end of the sentence, but only the beginning of a new one.

The Bruising of Qilwa: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell’s / Bookshop / IndieBound

Naseem Jamnia: Website / Twitter / Instagram

Naseem Jamnia is a Persian-Chicagoan, former scientist, and the author of The Bruising of Qilwa. Their work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Rumpus, The Writer’s Chronicle, Cosmopolitan, and other venues, and they’ve received fellowships from Lambda Literary, Otherwise, and Bitch Media. The inaugural Samuel R. Delany fellow, Naseem lives in Reno with their husband, dog, and two cats.

 

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