Thursday, December 15, 2022

Shelf Edition with J.A.W. McCarthy

Shelf Edition: J.A.W. McCarthy

Today we welcome writer J.A.W. McCarthy to Shelf Edition!

Do you have any recent favorite Horror Spotlight books?

I’m going to consider “recent” as my last year and a half of reading, so I can talk about more books!

INTO THE FOREST AND ALL THE WAY THROUGH by Cynthia Pelayo is an important poetry collection that I encourage all true crime fans to read. Cynthia explores not only these women’s last moments, but who they were as people, not just victims. She reminds us that they left a mark on this world beyond a statistic.

BOUND FEET by Kelsea Yu is tight, twisty and just a little bit vicious. The pain and desperation across generations is palpable. And that ending!

RAZORBLADE TEARS by S.A. Cosby is the book I recommend to friends and coworkers the most. It’s got everything: action, regret, mystery, vengeance, uneasy alliances. It’s so cinematic. So far everyone has loved it and gone on to seek out more of his work.

BEULAH by Christi Nogle is a unique ghost story, especially if you’re interested in exploring ghosts of multiple definitions. There are so many fascinating threads in this story and I was really impressed by how she pulled them all together.

Which Horror Spotlight books do you currently have on your TBR?

Too many to name! My bookshelves are full and every flat surface in my house is supporting a towering stack. These are just a few:





THE BOOK OF QUEER SAINTS edited by Mae Murray


Where do you find recommendations? Are there any Horror Spotlight books that have been recommended to you that you loved?

Twitter has been a great resource. I’ve learned of so many books and authors I wouldn’t have otherwise. I first heard the buzz about Joe Koch’s work there, which lead me to seek out his books. Same with Hailey Piper, particularly her novella BENNY ROSE THE CANNIBAL KING, which has become a favorite Halloween read. I also get recommendations from other authors and reviewers; just about everyone posts about new books they love and if they sound good I put them on my TBR.

Where do you prefer to shop for books?

Since I’m buying mostly indie/small press books these days, I shop online. If I can’t order directly from the publisher or author, I love and Elliott Bay Book Company (, which is a great store in Seattle. If I can’t get a book from those places, I’ll turn to Amazon.  

Are there any upcoming Horror Spotlight releases you're excited about?

This is so hard to narrow down! We live in a magnificent time for horror, especially indie horror. Here are a few I’m looking forward to:

I had the pleasure of reading EXTINCTION HYMNS by Eric Raglin and OUR OWN UNIQUE AFFLICTION by Scott J. Moses early and I’m excited to see people’s reactions when these come out.

UNQUIET SPIRITS: ESSAYS BY ASIAN WOMEN IN HORROR edited by Lee Murray & Angela Yuriko Smith - It’s about damn time for this collection of essays by Asian women in horror (myself included). These writers are incredible and I am so grateful that we were given a venue to talk about how our heritage has shaped our work.

SKIN THIEF by Suzan Palumbo - As a fan of Suzan’s short fiction, I’m really looking forward to this collection.

FROST BITE by Angela Sylvaine - Angela’s work always manages to be dark, sharp AND fun. This ‘90s creature feature is going to be a blast.

In regards to your own work, tell our readers a little bit about what’s new and/or coming up for you.

My first novella, SLEEP ALONE, will be released by Off Limits Press in Spring 2023. I’ve been describing it as a queer succubi sex, drugs and rock and roll story, but because it’s me, it’s not going to be all fun. There’s a lot of longing and regret in the story of Ronnie, a lonely succubus working merch for a perpetually touring band while a mysterious disease stalks the family she made. But there’s also a story about finding love there, even amid bloodshed and chaos. This story is close to my heart and because of that I’m on pins and needles for its release and reception.

I also have stories upcoming in several venues in 2023 (Dark Matter, Crossroad Press, Cursed Morsels Press, to name a few), as well as my first nonfiction piece.

PseudoPod did an excellent production of my story “The Only Thing Different Will Be the Body” in November, which you can find here:

And my debut collection, SOMETIMES WE’RE CRUEL AND OTHER STORIES (Cemetery Gates Media, 2021) was a Shirley Jackson Award finalist in October.  

Where can people find you on social media and/or find your work?

I’m most active on Twitter: @JAWMcCarthy

Instagram: @JAWMcCarthy

Hive: @JAWMcCarthy


The multi-talented Sonora Taylor is now redesigning my website, where you can find updates and links to my new releases:


J.A.W. McCarthy is the Shirley Jackson Award nominated author of Sometimes We’re Cruel and Other Stories (Cemetery Gates Media, 2021) and Sleep Alone (Off Limits Press, forthcoming 2023). Her short fiction has appeared in numerous publications, including Vastarien, PseudoPod, LampLight, Apparition Lit, Tales to Terrify, and The Best Horror of the Year Vol 13 (ed. Ellen Datlow). She is Thai American and lives with her husband and assistant cats in the Pacific Northwest. You can call her Jen on Twitter @JAWMcCarthy, and find out more at

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