Too Spoopy

Too Spoopy


Random-Ass Interview: Gwendolyn Kiste


Gummy bears or Swedish fish?

Gummy bears, for sure. When I was around four years old, I couldn’t quite fathom how Swedish fish candies and those paper fortune telling fish could both exist simultaneously as separate entities, so to this day, I always expect a Swedish fish to start curling up in my palm like an evil red sentient thing. *shivers*

Fortunately, my Gummy bears have formed a substantial army that is prepared at any time to go to battle against the Swedish fish, on land or by sea, so the world is safe… for now.

Do you like living in Pennsylvania?

Can anyone truly like living in a state founded by uptight Quakers? To this day, the government holds our booze hostage. It’s sad too, because we live in Pennsylvania and if anyone needs booze, it’s definitely Pennsylvanians.

Booze melancholy aside, I do like Pittsburgh, even if the weird crisscrossed roads were designed by an angry sober Quaker who wanted to punish drivers everywhere because he couldn’t buy beer on Sundays. And I also like my house and little stretch of land, which I always bill in my bio as “an abandoned horse farm,” both because that’s true and because that description makes it sound weirder and creepier than it probably is.

Has anyone ever told you “go fly a kite, Kiste!”

No, but seriously, I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to say that, so thank you.

What excites you about horror fiction?

I love the possibility. With speculative fiction in general, you can explore anything—on this world or in the universe at large. Plus, my personal life is big on the existential dread, so horror is a good outlet for that.

What annoys you about horror fiction?

Stories that rely on overused tropes. I’m all for incorporating the old standbys, but try something new with them. I imagine if you could dig deep into the primordial collective unconsciousness of storytelling and conjure up a physical representation of a vampire or werewolf, the first thing it would tell you is, “Help me. I’m bored.” Killing hapless villagers is great, but it only gets you so far.

Fortunately, what I’ve seen lately in horror fiction is a complete overhaul of these tropes as well as the development of entirely new creatures, so this criticism is probably more directed at horror cinema, in particular studio projects. Silly Hollywood.

Do you have a preferred time of day, or day of the week you like to write?

As long as it’s not super early in the morning, I’m good to go. And by super early, I mean before noon.

How often do you personally shop a story before you give up?

It depends on the story. If I really believe in it and I’ve gotten positive feedback from my beta readers, I’m like Don Quixote, sending out that story and fighting windmills all over the publishing industry. The piece could get a dozen rejections, but I’ll keep going.

There have been other stories, though, that I’ve quit after one or two submissions, if the editor provides feedback that confirms what I thought might not be working is indeed not working. Malfunctioning stories can happen; I do my best to learn from the experience and move on.

Are you offended in the new Muppets show Kermit and Miss piggy get divorced, and Kermit starts dating a younger pig?

Personally, I have little opinion on the new Muppets, but my husband has a background as a puppet designer, and he’s so generally offended by the new show that I feel like I should say “yes, I am offended,” just to show solidarity.

If you woke up, and you had extra eyes on the back of your head, what do you think you’d do that day?

Visit a doctor.

Boxers or briefs?


Boxes of briefs?

Set them on fire.

Boxers in briefs?

Briefs atop boxers atop briefs atop boxers. Like dirty nesting dolls.

You ever had stitches?

Yes, in my foot and in my gums. Basically, there have been times when stitches have been the only thing holding my body together.

What story you’ve written scares you the most?

Probably “Audrey at Night.” The concept—about a woman trying to appease the vengeful spirit of the friend she betrayed—always gave me the creeps. Then last year, Dan Foytik adapted it for The Wicked Library. Thanks to his awesome narration and all the fantastic music and sound effects, I think he totally dialed that creep factor up to eleven.

For me, there’s nothing better than collaborating with talented people and watching something you already love become even better. The original illustration by Jeanette Andromeda completely put it over the top for me. A great experience all the way around, and certainly one of my scarier stories.

Who would win in a fight, Joe Pulver, or his mustache?

I ALWAYS put my money on mustaches. It has to do with my religious beliefs.

If you could be a Muppet, which one would you want to be?

I’m going to go expanded Jim Henson universe on this, and say any of the castle goblins in Labyrinth. Oh, if only we could all magic-dance with David Bowie!

Favorite food?

Gas station pizza. The greasier, the better.

Favorite dude?

It’s a total copout, but I have to go with my husband. He coddles me when I need it but also knows when to call me out on my bullshit. It’s a perfect balance, especially for a moody artist like me who needs coddling and tough love in approximately equal measure.

What you got coming’ out?

Stories! All my work will be short fiction for the foreseeable future, though hopefully there will be a novel joining the mix at some point soon. I’m always updating my blog and published fiction page, so check me out at as well as on Twitter (@gwendolynkiste).

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