MELISSA SZYDLEK is a writer of horror fiction and horror science fiction. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Twisted 50 Volume 2: A Second Serving of 50 Contemporary Shockers and The Singularity: 50 Sci-Fi stories about the transcendence of technology and the obsolescence of humanity.
The Fiends in the Furrows III: Final Harvest
What do you like most about Folk Horror?
I’m drawn to folk horror because of its elements of rural settings and how the legends and superstitions of the people the story is about are often the basis of the fear and unknown in the story. I grew up listening to my grandmother tell her tales of Appalachian witches, ghosts, the unknown, and especially of the creatures said to haunt the caves the coal miners excavated in the Kentucky mountains.
What inspired you to write your FIENDS III story?
I grew up in a large urban city but spent my childhood summers in the hollers of Kentucky, deep in the Appalachian Mountains on a farm with my grandparents. It was a stark juxtaposition between my busy City life and the poor, rural lives my grandparents led. Life on the farm with them, however, was so much more fulfilling. Seeing how they lived off the land, produced their own milk, made their own butter and cheese, grew their own food – it made me appreciate their lives and where I came from. Grandma had a way of spinning rich folk stories while we rocked on the porch swing, but it was my Grandpa who showed me the hiding places of the “creatures” Grandma talked about. It was my Grandpa who took me on hikes into those hills and showed me the old coal mines where Grandma’s creatures lived, walked me through the hollers where the ghostly white dogs roamed, and “warned” me about the houses where the Holler witches lived. My grandparents grew the writer in me, and it was Grandpa who warned me about the things “Back Yonder.”
What upcoming projects are you working on?
I have several horror and folk horror stories floating around – submitted to various magazines and publications – it has been a pretty recent event that I have been confident enough to start sharing my work and submitting. Fingers crossed!