It’s back! The blog advent calendar. I enjoyed last year’s blog theme last year—re-reading twenty-four books of my youth—so much, so this year I’m applying the same approach to short stories, trawling through a myriad bunch of collections and anthologies I’ve read in the last few years.
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers – Alyssa Wong
Tell me about your first time: In 2015 I made my first professional story sale to Nightmare’s Queers Destroy Horror issue. When I received the acceptance email, it took me a while to believe that I’d actually been sent it, y’know, for real. And then I had to wait the seemingly interminable months until the thing actually came out. When my copies arrived, I read it cover to cover, still saucer-eyed that my name, and my story, was also in there. As such, most of my thoughts on reading the stories in Queers Destroy Horror at the time are coloured with a sort of disbelieving, slightly-starstruck incomprehension… and then time moves on, new stories get read, new stories get written, and QDH becomes a part of the year that’s gone. And so it seemed high time to revisit the stories with fresh eyes, especially as, in the year since, ‘Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers’ has been nominated for, well, everything.
Sum it up: Dating is hard when you can hear every black thought of every prospective suitor. Unless, of course, you’re the kind of creature that feeds on such things…
Give me a quote: “I launch myself at him, fingers digging into his body, and bits down hard on his mouth. He tries to shout, but I swallow the sound and shove my tongue inside. There, just behind his teeth, is what I’m looking for: ugly thoughts, viscous and boiled tendon. I suck them howling and fighting into my throat as Harvey’s body shudders, little mewling noises escaping from his nose. I feel decadent and filthy, swollen with the cruellest dreams I’ve ever tasted. I can barely feel Harvey’s feeble struggles; in this state, with the darkest parts of himself drained from his mouth into mine, he’s no match for me. They’re never as strong as they think they are.”
Second Reading: There is a reason this story was on the ballot of every spec-fic award going this year: it really is exquisite. There is so much in there–the vicious, over-sexualised misogyny that runs through the interior of her victims minds; the grubby pull of addiction; the circularity of one’s personal and familial history that traps you into self-destructive cycles. And all of that is bubbling below the surface of a story that also does a kickass job of reinvigorating the vampire tropes it twists into a new, fresh iteration. It’s well-deserved of all the attention it’s garnered.