Smokey the Cat
Gwendolyn Kiste

Sixty seconds with Gwendolyn Kiste...

Gwendolyn Kiste is the three-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens, Reluctant Immortals, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, Pretty Marys All in a Row, The Invention of Ghosts, and Boneset & Feathers. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in outlets including Lit Hub, Nightmare, Tor Nightfire, Titan Books, Vastarien, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, and The Dark among others. She's a Lambda Literary Award winner, and her fiction has also received the This Is Horror award for Novel of the Year as well as nominations for the Premios Kelvin and Ignotus awards.
Originally from Ohio, she now resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, their calico cat, and not nearly enough ghosts. You can also find her online at Facebook and Instagram.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Kiste: I’m a horror author from Pennsylvania who writes about body horror, ghosts, unusual retellings, and monsters, often with queer and feminist themes.

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Kiste: Joni Mitchell’s Hejira. So many brilliant songs. So many awe-inspiring lyrics. Definitely a major favorite.

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Kiste: Honestly, I always wanted to be a writer. It’s the first profession that ever excited me so much that I told people about it, way back when I was only five or six years old. That, and an ice cream truck driver.

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March 28, 2024

Dear readers,

If you're reading this in certain parts of the Western Hemisphere, there's a solar eclipse coming up. Seeing the sun disappear and suddenly come back will be exciting. So will reading some mystery and crime fiction published lately--and no special glasses required.

I loved Stephen Graham Douglas's THE ANGEL OF INDIAN LAKE, his epic mystery/horror trilogy about Jade Daniels, Indigenous slasher-film fan and vigilant, empathetic seeker of justice. You'll want to read all three of her adventures if you haven't already.

Kate Hilton and Elizabeth Renzetti's BURY THE LEAD also follows a quest for justice, that of Cat Conway, who is haunted by harrassment in small-town Ontario. Yvonne Klein finds the projected Cat Conway series promising.

Brendan Flaherty's debut novel THE DREDGE is "tightly written suspenseful character-driven novel that feels like Southern noir despite taking place mainly in Connecticut." Sharon Mensing appreciates its gritty shifting between two realistically depicted time frames.

In Dervla McTiernan's WHAT HAPPENED TO NINA? college student Nina goes missing, and her longterm boyfriend's parents investigate her vanishing and then their own lives. Barbara Fister appreciates McTiernan's command of "the unfolding emotional lives of parents faced with a sudden rupture in their family life."

Eric Redman's DEATH IN HILO is the second outing for Indigenous Hawai'ian rookie detective Kawika Wong. Lourdes Venard approves of this police procedural's careful depiction of interpersonal relationships.

Horror fans have more than Douglas to look forward to this month. In Ben H. Winters's BIG TIME, billionaires buy time--which is subtracted from less fortunate people's lives. Barbara Fister finds this speculative thriller "wildly inventive."

AJ Landau's LEAVE NO TRACE, meanwhile, sees terrorists attack history: specifically, the National Parks. It's an engaging tour of some incredible landscapes and, in Sharon Mensing's estimation, "unique direction for a national park series."

History is also front and center in Katherine Reay's THE BERLIN LETTERS. I found it to start strong but fail to keep up the pace--much like the Soviet revolution whose end it charts.

In Kristen Bird's WATCH IT BURN, a pair of best friends investigate white-collar crime and then murder. At stake, Cathy Downs notes, "is a philosophical question: can you or I ... judge the worth of another human being?"

Another good question serves as the title of Edwin Hill's WHO TO BELIEVE, which Lourdes Venard finds an "ingeniously plotted" locked room mystery.

The "plot lines are magical," Ruth Castleberry reports, in Gigi Pandian's A MIDNIGHT PUZZLE, a supernatural cozy that features Secret Staircase Construction and one Nicodemus the Necromancer.

The Vinyl Detective is back, and still nameless, in Andrew Cartmel's THE VINYL DETECTIVE: NOISE FLOOR. I liked it. The Vinyl Detective, however, didn't like a pretentious food cart operation called Füd Wagn.

CJ Box's much-awaited Joe Pickett novel THREE-INCH TEETH lives up to its hype. Sharon Mensing finds Box's landscape-writing about Wyoming "transportative."

We've read lots of question titles this month. Nicci French's HAS ANYONE SEEN CHARLOTTE SALTER? is a good one, "a tragedy" that entangles three families in the 1990s. Mary Jane Oltarzewski finds that this novel "reflects the lingering impact of unspoken secrets and the way that unresolved assumptions turn into gossip and media fodder."

I think there's at least one book from this lot for every reader. Do find it and enjoy it. We'll be back post-eclipse with more so come back and see what we read.

Gwendolyn Kiste is our guest in the Sixty Seconds spot. She has provided us with some quirky insights into her work and life.

The Editors:

Yvonne Klein

Rebecca Nesvet

P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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Since RTE first appeared, some twelve years ago, the business of books has changed out of all recognition. Then, books were reviewed in the print media for the most part, though Amazon was encouraging readers to post their reviews of the books they read. Now, newspapers across North America have reduced or eliminated the space they allot to books and, with certain notable exceptions, only best-selling authors are likely to get noticed. As a result, electronic reviewing has become increasingly important and, due to the somewhat slippery question of online authorship, occasionally problematic.

For this reason and in view of a recent article in the NY Times detailing a reviews-for-hire enterprise, it's probably wise for RTE to reiterate its position on reviewing. While our reviewers receive galleys, ARCs, or finished copies of books for review, they are otherwise unpaid. Furthermore, they are asked to disclose any special interest they might have in a book or an author they are reviewing. No one, including the editors, receives any compensation for the work they do. All our reviewers are encouraged to express their honest opinions, whether positive or negative, about the books they are reviewing. None of our reviewers uses a pseudonym and all are who they say they are. Nor do we employ rating systems (stars, grades, "highly recommended," or the like) in the belief that our reviews deserve to be read in their entirety. Since RTE does not review self-published or digital-only releases, we are perhaps less vulnerable to offers to pay for reviews, but it seems a good idea to make our policy clear. Finally, in the years that I've been editing RTE, I have never once been approached by a press or a publicist to violate this principle in any way.

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