Fiction Fragments: Andrew Robertson

Last week, I spoke with the Darque Bard, James Matthew Byers about his passion for epic poetry.

This week, Girl Meets Monster welcomes horror writer Andrew Robertson.


Andrew Robertson is an award-winning queer horror writer and former journalist. In October 2021, his short story “Sick is the New Black” will appear in the gay-themed multi-genre anthology Pink Triangle Rhapsody: Volume 1 from Lycan Valley Press. He is currently working on a novelization of the same story, exploring themes of queerness, addiction, fame, anti-vaxxers and the toxic nature of post-pandemic life in a culture locked in the thrall of social media. He will also be introducing the Mythimals this month by launching his first monstrous children’s book, And Then The Fart Happened, on the Great Lakes Horror Company Kids imprint with illustrations by LizzDom and colour and layout by Dinis Freitas.

Also scheduled for 2021, his short story Sundowning in Klarissa Dreams Redux is headed to space! The charity anthology will be flying to the moon in July via the United Launch of a Vulcan Centaur rocket as part of Peregrine Mission One – Manifest 9: #WritersOnTheMoon. This book will be part of the largest single collection of contemporary artwork ever put on the Moon, and it will fly there on the first commercial lunar flight in history.

Andrew’s fiction has appeared in literary magazines and quarterlies such as Stitched Smile Publications Magazine, Deadman’s Tome, Undertow, and katalogue. He has also appeared in anthologies including Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland, A Tribute Anthology to Deadworld, Group Hex Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. He is the editor of Dark Rainbow: Queer Erotic Horror, which explores the darker urges we all face.

A lifelong fan of horror, he is the founder of The Great Lakes Horror Company podcast and indie press and a member of the Horror Writer’s Association.

Three Questions

GMM: Welcome to Girl Meets Monster, Andrew. Back in August 2020, I interviewed horror writer Hailey Piper. Her Twitter profile encourages people to “Make horror gay AF.” What does that statement mean to you as writer? How has your identity shaped your writing over time? Has it evolved, and how? How do you define queer horror, and what sets it apart from other flavors of the genre?

AR: First, I wanted to say thanks for having me on GMM! I’ve been reading all the interviews and excerpts and they’ve been great.

For me, being queer has always meant feeling like an outsider, and when you feel that way, you have a choice of embracing your queerness or hiding it away. When people are othered, it comes from a place of fear in the dominant society, and with fear comes ignorance, and both lead to violence, in words and actions. For most of us, I think that feeling of otherness comes from societies fear of what queerness is, this great unknown, often characterized by over the top characterizations of masculinity and femininity along with a lot of really damaging stereotypes that come from those. Growing up in the 80s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and seeing how vilified queer people were as scapegoats for a disease that knew no sexualities, it was really difficult to come to terms with being queer when that seemed to be a death sentence one way or another. You internalize a duality that informs how you act in a given situation, and what you can or should do or say. It’s awful…horrific in fact.

The media did a great job of turning gay men in particular into total pariahs and then the gay community further segmented their own population by favouring the healthy muscular look as opposed to those who could look ‘sick’. You had to fit into the cookie cutter mold or you were stigmatized and rejected. You tend to internalize that feeling of ugliness, along with a lot of the hate that spreads in society, especially when you can be easily clocked as queer. I may have been closeted, but I still dyed my hair blue, wore pigtails and dog collars, and loved Tina Turner and Siouxsie Sioux more than you would expect from a straight man.

The way queerness comes into my writing is through a lot of the themes I write about, like the desire to be seen, to be accepted, or in my recent work in progress, to do things that you would never normally do just to break through to the mainstream and get those ‘likes’ at any cost. There are also themes of hidden identities, duality, self-destruction, transformation, anger, resentment, and revenge which can be pretty common in queer horror. It’s not always at the forefront, but it’s always there however it becomes refined over time.

GMM: When did you begin writing horror, and who were some of your favorite writers who influenced you? Has that list changed over time? Have your tastes in horror changed? What are your favorite subgenres in fiction and film?

AR: I always enjoyed writing, and would scribble up short stories in high school that were pretty well informed by my goth interests, but in university I headed in the direction of journalism, telling other peoples stories instead of my own. That always preyed on my thoughts. It wasn’t until I met Sephera Giron a few years back that I got serious about it again, joined the HWA Ontario Chapter and got published. She’s a great cheerleader. Like the Demon Aunt I’ve always wanted.

For writers, one of my favourites has always been Anne Rice. She created a very queer universe for her characters in the Vampire Chronicles and beyond. Louis and Lestat are very clearly in a bromance turned romance, going as far as to create a small vampire family as poor Louis struggles with what and who he is. You can really relate to that as a gay man raised in the 80s. The Witching Hour made me want to create a universe, so that’s probably my turning point.

I think you can find horror in anything really, like the writing of Harry Crews. That’s a real trip, and I guess the genre is grit lit.

I also absolutely love the confrontational writing of Lydia Lunch, in particular, her classic Paradoxia: A Predator’s Diary. That would likely fall under non-fiction, it’s so very autobiographical, but entirely literary. She really controls her own narrative and I’ve been lucky enough to meet her a few times.

Clive Barker’s body of work is also incredible, The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks was an eye-opener, and I’ve loved recent work by Indigenous writers like Cherie Dimaline, and Waubgeshig Rice. As a genre hopping reader, right now I’m also enjoying the Diary of Anais Nin and a few works by Tama Janowitz.

For film, my go to is always, always horror, with a particular love for the Hellraiser franchise, classic monsters, 80s slashers, and found footage films.

GMM: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that “Hamburger Lady” falls under the category of body horror. Tell me about the story and what about body horror appeals to you as a writer? As a reader?

AR: Haha, yes that story is definitely body horror. So much of my work is!

I think that it comes from my fascination with perceived or actual self-destruction, or the wilful destruction of another, and what we are willing to do to survive or succeed. Body horror has always been particularly triggering for me, however I’ve found that rather than pushing me away, it held me rapt. There are so many ways the body can betray us, and so many ways it can disgust us.

That fascination led me to writing in that genre. For example, The Fly was such a landmark film for me in many ways, as was Hellraiser. I love Pinhead! I watched them through my fingers the first time, but couldn’t stop, you know that feeling? We all do! That’s why we slow down near a car crash, to see what could have happened to us. Both films can be read as very queer, and both deal with pushing the limits of the human body and mortality.

There are also so many ways we can transform our bodies. I used to go on body modification sites to see what people were up to, with a sense of morbid fascination and respect for what an individual would do to live their truth. When I discovered what subtraction is I was gobsmacked! I also was obsessed with the artist Orlan and her work in plastic surgery using her own body as the canvas.

The title of my excerpt, Hamburger Lady, is a reference to the song by Throbbing Gristle. I recommend everyone listen to it. The lyrics are actually from a real letter penned by a doctor describing a woman who was a burn victim in a hospital ward, and it’s one of those things you never forget. You wonder at what point keeping someone alive is a punishment meant to exercise the might of science over mercy. My story deals with a future where a disease ravages the skin of those who contract it, leading to the market for skin dealers and donors. I’ll leave it at that for now, but if anyone wants to add the full text to their anthology, I’m game.

Excerpt from “Hamburger Lady”

“My client doesn’t want the whole cheek. She won’t need that much for what’s…well, I’ll say for what’s wrong with her. I mean, we’re friends here at this point, you know the drill. She just wants this part,” Dr. Sawney the Plastician says to Kate, indicating the area by running his damp index finger along what the industry calls the apple of the cheek.

The apple: where women like Kate are meant to put a simple highlight or blush before they go out with men who want to look at them adoringly and see absolutely no flaws at all. Even a light rash or pimple is a bonerkiller. Flaws mean the men aren’t flush enough to pay for the best, and their financial peacocking is what gets them hard. The men want to be envied by all the other bucks and stags at the chosen restaurant, bar or fast food joint, and then with all the chivalry absent from this new world, pay for everything before the two of them have what any of these men are sure is incredible sex fueled by their show of chauvinist financial superiority. It will be better for him. Every time. All these men benefitted for the fallout of the most recent of many pandemics. Women were shoved right back down to where they had been over a century earlier- the second choice for any good job, any decent benefits, any rights at all really. And if you weren’t perfect, you were invisible.

The type of man Kate meets hopes and probably believes he isn’t directly paying for this great sex with all his other nice efforts. He wants to be enough of an attraction all by his handsome self even if he leaves a few hundred on the nightstand afterward. And aside from this beau’s assumptions and assertions, no one wants to bring a bruised produce to his lips if there are better options.

She resists the urge to wipe the moisture off when the Plastician is done. And regardless of the circumstances, imaginary or otherwise, in this case, the apple is still quite attached to the tree.

She can’t believe she’s back at the Sawney clinic in Room Three. The minute she passed through the front door, she felt trapped by her own circumstance. The receptionist with the awful makeup sat there looking surprised as always that anyone would come into this terrible place to give away parts of themselves. The door between reception and the treatment rooms stood in its menacing steel frame, locked until the receptionist hit her button and the mechanism snapped the door open so she could begin what always felt like the longest walk ever to Room Three. They might as well name this Kate’s Room.

As his finger returns to again run across her apparently perfect apple, Kate can smell the onions he had with lunch on his fingers and breath even through his surgical mask. She doesn’t move. She knows her rank. A high-end skin-dealer as skilled as he is means that he can be a bit gross and never hear a complaint from a client or well-compensated vendor. Donors he calls them, like it’s a charity for the poor rich folks.

She can see the sauce from his lunch at the top of his mask, which he wears constantly to remind everyone that he is the surgeon and that it’s his name on the door. Unfortunately, the majority of his skill is used on the end consumer, not so much on ‘donors’ such as herself who make do with whatever they have left after they are harvested and paid. Either way, right now, she can’t even afford an onion or an apple, and can’t be picky about who is cutting off what. But she doesn’t want to give away anything above her neck if she doesn’t have to. Her own clients choose her because, unlike many of the other girls, she is mostly intact. She is, however, terrified of how broke she’s become, and what could happen if she stops paying for her mothers’ treatments at the community hospital.

When she left their apartment for this appointment, her mother looked up through eyelids covered in weeping sores and told Kate that her smile was enough to get her through any day, no matter how bad they became. She said Kate was born with a perfect smile, one that made the sun shine, and that it was her greatest achievement as a mother. Kate’s heart broke but it got her moving. One day they could leave this country and find somewhere to live out their days where things weren’t so bad. But right now, this man in a dirty mask reeking of onions wanted to cut off a piece of her face.

“How’s that going to look, man?” She asks incredulous, thinking of the quivering torso in a wheelchair she had noticed when she had entered the clinic. The torso had been rolling into the neighbouring chamber, Room Two, assisted by one of the Plastician’s assistants. It had been almost entirely covered in a tacky sheet. There was no way that…torso was a complete person, she thought. It had no legs for one thing. And where the sheet didn’t cover the face, it looked like a meatloaf had exploded, with one bulging left eye like a hyper grape darting around a fleshy socket. Its gaze had landed on Kate long enough to freak her out.

She didn’t know if it was a ‘donor’ or someone being treated, but things were so bad it could have very well been someone making the ultimate sacrifice to feed a family or stay out of the mines. The sheet looked sticky, and the torso seemed to be struggling to get one arm with stumpy fingers up to its’ awful face past what could have been the remains of a breast while the assistant kept slapping the hand away. It held something wet and bloody. What was it trying to look at? Was it chewing a hangnail?

Do you have a fiction fragment? How about your friends? Would you like to recommend someone to me aside from yourself? Drop me a line at chellane@gmail.com. See you next week!

Guidelines: Submit 500-1000 words of fiction, up to 5 poems, a short bio, and a recent author photo to the e-mail above.

Fuckable Fictional Characters: Gomez Addams

When I was a little girl, I figured out pretty quickly that my family, while they looked like normal people, weren’t like everyone else. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house growing up. My mom was a single parent, and when I was born we lived with her folks. Mom worked full-time, so I spent most of my days with my grandmother. She was a traditional housewife right out of the 1950’s. She cooked, cleaned, baked, sewed, knitted, attended local township meetings, and in the afternoons before she had to start dinner, we watched soap operas. When her soaps were over and it was time to make dinner, the TV stayed on and I got an education in the popular culture of the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s. Some of my favorite shows included Batman (with Adam West), Dark Shadows, Doctor Who, Star Blazers, The Electric Company, The Munsters, and The Addams Family.

The Munsters were funny, and I absolutely loved Lily. But she was no Morticia Addams. The Addams Family was funny, but much darker than The Munsters. I knew that Lily and Herman were happily married, because without the monster make-up they were just like every other family on an American sitcom. And that meant they were happy. Right? Happy or not, Morticia and her husband, Gomez were happy in a way I’d never seen a couple before. They were married, but they acted like people who were having an affair with each other. They were always touching, kissing, dancing, and making references to what they’d like to do to each other when they were alone. Even as a kid, I knew their relationship was WAY more exciting than Lily and Herman’s. I didn’t always grasp the double entendre, but I knew that Morticia and Gomez were totally hot for each other. They had the kind of relationship that made other couples jealous, and I wanted what they had.

February 17: Gomez Addams

John-Aston

Gomez Addams is the patriarch of the Addams Family. He is married to Morticia Addams, the Rosetta Stone of female Goth fashion, and to the best of my knowledge, the first woman in an American sitcom to make references to BDSM. She’s a trailblazer of sex-positive feminism, and the love of Gomez’s life. So first and foremost, he has excellent taste in women.

Gomez-Morticia-1

Role models for healthy sexual relationships.

When Charles Addams created the Addams Family, none of the characters had names, but you got the sense that they were a family. So, when the black comedy cartoon from The New Yorker was adapted for television in 1964, John Astin worked closely with Charles Addams to develop the character for the series. Since Addams hadn’t given the pudgy little man in the pin-striped suit a name, he gave the show creators the choice between Repelli or Gomez. Astin chose Gomez, making him Castilian, and infused Addams’ creation with his own vibrant personality.

Gomez-Opening-Credits-Addams-family

Once again, creepy is the new sexy.

What do we know about Gomez? Well, he’s extremely wealthy. He acquired most of his money through inheritance and investments. His investments are what most sensible people would consider risky or just plain weird. For instance, he owns swamp, which he purchased for its “scenic value”, and his businesses that can be found around the globe include a crocodile farm, a tombstone factory, a salt mine, and a uranium mine. Although he is trained as an attorney, he rarely works, and takes pride in being voted “least likely to succeed” by his graduating class from law school. Despite his risky investments and lack of interest in a vocation, he was ranked #12 on the 2007 Forbes “Fictional 15” list of the richest fictional characters. According to Forbes, he was worth $2 billion.

gomez-addams-on-no-one-caring-about-you-96463

He isn’t what you would call traditionally handsome. He’s kind of a weirdo. Okay, more than kind of. But his unusual appearance coupled with his unique sartorial flair make him worth a second glance. And, while John Astin was my first Gomez, Raúl Juliá was quite fetching in the role, too.

Handsome-Gomez

His accent makes Gomez even sexier.

But it’s his list of arcane and sideshow-like hobbies that add up to make him an intriguing man of impressive and strange accomplishments. He’s athletic and acrobatic, performing seemingly impossible flips, dives, and leaps. Like a cat, he almost always lands on his feet. He an excellent dancer and never passes up a chance to spin Morticia around the floor.

A collector of rare antique objects, he has a small arsenal in the house that includes knives, swords, canons, muskets, armor, and other historical weapons. The only other collection in the house that rivals his armory is Morticia’s collection of medieval torture devices.

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In addition to his antique collecting, he’s a juggler, a knife thrower, and a toy train enthusiast.

Raul-Julia-as-Gomez-raul-julia-30590710-1240-847

But all of these hobbies are simply ways to pass the time when he isn’t showering Morticia with affection. She is his greatest passion.

Gomez and Morticia have a healthy romantic relationship that never seems to grow stale even though they’ve been married a long time. Yes, they both have their own weird hobbies that keep them occupied, but the hobbies they share in common are the ones that keep their sex life fresh.

When I was a kid I knew I was attracted to Gomez, but I wasn’t entirely sure why. Now that I’m an adult I totally get it.

Thing

Seriously? No one tried to censor this dick joke back in the ’60’s?

Aside from Gomez’s thing, he also has an open mind about pleasing his wife and often allows her to take charge of the sex play.

Torture

Their bedroom is totally a dungeon. How is no one putting a stop to this?

Who can blame him? Morticia is a woman who knows what she wants. And he is more than happy to please her.

Morticia

And, Gomez is always willing to help out with the kids.

Gomez-Wednesday

Fuck tea parties! Let’s play bury the dead.

There is no doubt that he loves his wife. In fact if they weren’t a couple, he would most likely be her stalker. But how could she ever resist such devotion and adoration.

Gomez Addams is a man of wealth, culture, style, and an expert on how to get away with murder. He has a dark sense of humor and a taste for the perverse. But above all, he is a man of passion and romance. Especially if there’s a safe word.

Woo-Her-Crop

When this man was made, they broke the mold.