Calypso Kane writes the story, “The Stray” in our anthology, Mashed: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror. “The Stray” is the story of a man’s lifelong dedication to helping strays. But, what happens when one gets a little upset when he announces he is moving away.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
*Note: this is the littlest bit I could think of.
When not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Puttering around on the Internet, making peanut butter blossoms, crushing myself under a growing hoard of unread books, and convincing myself I am absolutely definitely assuredly going to get back to writing in, like, ten minutes. Maybe twenty. Thirty tops.
What attracted you to submitting your story to MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror?
It involves food, horror, and getting off. These are my top three favorite things in life. I couldn’t not give it a try.
For your story, “The Stray,” what was your inspiration?
I’ve always thought incubi were really interesting monsters. There’s a sort of foggy overlap between their aims. They’re most infamous for loving up unwitting mortals, for seeding and harvesting nightmares, and for generally being anything from a flesh and blood bogeyman to a creature which dwells in the mind, crawling out of the dreamscape to torment those with sleep paralysis. There’s potential to be either amusingly raunchy or just plain terrifying. In, “The Stray,” the titular incubus starts out as something entertaining; like a big wandering cat who knows what home to go to if he wants to get fed. But, this being a horror anthology, he doesn’t stay randy and silly for very long…
When did you first discover that you wanted to be a writer?
Probably around the time I started getting sucked into the literary adolescent cesspool that is fan fiction. I used to churn out whole novellas depicting my favorite characters either doing the do, being sad, or thwarting their enemies, and all because I wanted these things to happen to them but their TV show, movie, or book was just too damn small-minded to let their entire story devolve into tasteful erotica with some plot bits floating around the edges. At some point it occurred to me that if I just had my own characters to terrorize and/or play matchmaker with, I could do whatever I wanted with them. And no one could stop me. Especially not my characters, the poor bastards.
Did you have any writing mentors?
None that I can recall. The closest I got was reading and rereading Stephen King’s intros in his books. When I looked at them it kind of felt like having a coach on paper, waving a banner that said “You Can Do This Too!” I still have, On Writing on a shelf somewhere.
Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
Stephen King came first. Next came Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, and the like. My favorite book of all time belongs to none of them. It’s, Shadowland, by Peter Straub: a story of growing up, fairytales, magic, death, and extreme child endangerment. I got it in a thrift store for under a buck and I still regard it as the best bargain I have ever or will ever experience.
What films or books have most influenced you as an author?
John Carpenter’s, The Thing and Spielberg’s, Poltergeist for movies. No contest. Stephen King’s, IT and The Shining jump out for books. Ditto Angela Carter’s, The Bloody Chamber.
Outside of Horror, what other genres do you write in?
Horror seems to flavor just about everything I try to scribble out, but I like playing with fantasy as a rule. I love working with the Fair Folk especially, both the kooky child-friendly ones and the old school eldritch menaces. Lust and love are bound to turn up in there somewhere too.
Is there anything else that has influenced you as a writer?
Honestly, it all comes down to me being that one pedantic jerk who goes:
‘Hey, I want Z.’
‘We’re sorry, ma’am, we only carry X and Y.’
‘But I want Z.’
‘Ma’am, we don’t have Z. Would you like to try X or Y?’
‘I already have X and Y. I want Z now.’
‘Z does not exist, ma’am.’
‘But I want it. Give me it.’
‘Ma’am, I cannot give you something that doesn’t exist on this or any known physical plane.’
‘Because no one has made it, ma’am.’
‘Ugh, fine, I guess I’ll have to then.’
‘Ma’am, please leave the building before I have to alert Barnes and Noble security.’
And here I am today. Writing about demons that eat with their genitalia. I’m going to fill that Z niche, people. I’m living the dream.
What is the first book that made you cry?
There is no book like that. Not one. There never was. Ever. Ever*.
*Love You Forever is a picture book by Robert Munsch and it damn near destroyed me as a toddler. I had an existential crisis at five years old, thinking about how one day I would die and—worse—my parents would die first.
How do you describe your writing style?
Too many commas, too many similes, not enough pages.
What advice would you give to new writers just getting started?
When you tell yourself you’ll start writing, ‘right after you finish this,’ you are lying to yourself. It doesn’t matter if, ‘this,’ is eating a meal, making your bed, or spending your fourth straight hour doing absolutely nothing on the Internet. You are lying to yourself. You’re a writer—like actors and artists, you have an automatic Lie Machine in your head and no matter how much you claim to enjoy the act of writing, the Lie Machine knows otherwise and will do everything in its power to convince you to put it off and put it off, keeping you in a perpetual state of ignorance as to how horribly, horribly draining the production of a story is.
That being said, if and when you cease believing the Lie Machine and get to the part where you stare in maddening desperation at the blank document where your story should be, remember to always put down something.
One page. One paragraph. One sentence. Even just a few bullet points about what you want to happen in that bit of the narrative. Progress is progress is progress and having something to save before you inevitably flee the computer will keep you from giving up hope or falling for the Lie Machine’s worst lie—that you have nothing in you worth writing at all.
What part of writing do you find the most difficult?
The part where I press the buttons.
What story are you most proud of?
Being that I am a creature with a fathomless hunger for validation, I’m bound to be proud of anything people tell me they love.
What do you hope your readers take away from your stories?
Joy. Joy at being scared, amused, saddened, aroused, whichever, whatever. As long as I made the reader happy, it’s a win.
What is your next big writing project fans should be on the lookout for?
If you’re looking for something in the immediate future, take a gander at Wicked Ink’s Off Beat anthology, to be released soonish, with my own tale tucked somewhere inside. It involves a cordial walk home and bloodshed.
Write a 6 word story, GO!
Once upon a time, we ended.
Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
One day we shall die. There is no amount of exercise or vegan smoothies that will make this untrue. Buy the damn candy bar.
Where else on the internet can you be found?
I’ve got a wee little Twitter account gathering dust under the banner of RubicundRK. If I don’t respond to any greetings of yours within the year, know that it isn’t you. It’s me.*
*And my incredibly specific amnesiac spells which seem to prevent me from remembering I even have a Twitter account to maintain.
Where can readers find more of your stories?
My stuff appears in, Strange Little Girls, Horror: Odd & Bizarre, & Creature Stew., if you want to take a gander.
And now, here’s a special preview of Calypso’s story in MASHED!
Everett supposed it wasn’t too odd he’d fallen into this routine. He’d driven his parents crazy with his army of strays. Every skinny cat and bedraggled pup was welcome. He’d once given his mother a heart attack when he revealed a shoebox containing a garter snake. It had previously contained a frog with a bad leg. Everett had left it unattended to bring it some bugs and nature had taken its course. The snake was cooler anyway. His parents had forbidden him to have all these pets, divvying them up among animal shelters and backyard wildernesses as they saw fit.
In the present day Everett could only feed strays which made it to his fifth-floor apartment. He’d hung a bird feeder accordingly. As it happened, birds weren’t the only fauna which traveled at that altitude and were keen to take handouts from the locals.
Enter the stray named Felix.
Or so the various notes claimed. Felix didn’t possess standard human vocal cords despite the otherwise mirrored anatomy. When he became vocal—sometimes to sigh, occasionally to laugh, often to bitch in varied inflections of distaste—it was with a surreal ululation of bass that made Everett’s skull tremble like a tuning fork.
So Felix preferred to write. After burning through three packs of sticky notes in as many days, Everett had picked up a cheap whiteboard and a pack of markers. He’d left them on the TV tray near the backdoor one evening. Two hours later he’d heard the door open and then the stealthy scratching of a marker. Another minute passed before Felix came to him in the bedroom. That night had turned into an ecstatically exhausting one. In the morning the whiteboard was gone. It only returned with Felix’s visits.
So it was tonight, with the whiteboard all but crushed against Everett’s face. Written there was:
This was in reference to the cardboard boxes lining the walls. Everett’s shelves and cupboards were barren. He’d been dismantling a bookcase when Felix found him. Felix noted the screwdriver still in Everett’s hand, frowned, stole the tool, and tapped the board with it.
Everett held back a sigh.
“Because I’m leaving.” Which he’d mentioned a month ago. Each week. Every other night. He reached for the screwdriver. Felix grudgingly relinquished it. Before Everett could resume the whiteboard was in his face again.
WHERE? WHY? GONE HOW LONG?
“One county over. New job. Probably a very long time.” Everett pushed the whiteboard away. There was a hasty scrubbing as Felix erased the message. Everett managed to pry two shelves loose before the whiteboard returned.
HOW LONG IS LONG?
“If things turn out the way I want, many, many years.”
NO. NO YEARS. NO MONTHS. NO NIGHTS.
Another scrubbing, then a final declaration:
“Yes. I’ve worked very hard to get this position and the new place I’m going to has—,”
The whiteboard was pulled away, refilled, and swung back so quickly it nearly banged against his nose.
NO GOING. FELIX IS HUNGRY.
“And I’ll feed you in a minute. Just let me finish th—Felix.” The screwdriver was yanked away again. “Don’t be a prick about this.” Felix didn’t break eye contact as he tossed the screwdriver under the couch. “You’re going to be a prick about this.”
Felix gave out a trill Everett had learned to take as a combination of yes and fuck you.
“You’re making this a bigger deal than it is. If you want to keep up our routine, you can just come to the new place.” Felix appeared to mull this over before sticking out his tongue. It was half as long as his arm and curled like a party favor. “Mature.” Felix kept his tongue out as he raised his free hand. He laid his tongue between the fork of his index and pinkie. “Very mature.” Again, the whiteboard:
“I know. I’m finishing with the bookcase first. You can wait a minute.” Everett moved past Felix and got on his belly to look under the couch. He was halfway through a thought about the ratty college remnant—Better to leave the damn thing by the road—when a hand landed on the seat of his boxers. Another stroked his back. “Not right now.” Everett grabbed the screwdriver and tried to sit up. Felix pressed him back down. Fingers dipped under the hem of his undershorts. “Cute. Still not feeding you until the bookcase is done.” The groping slowed. There was a pinch. “Come on.” Felix pulled away. “Thank you.” Everett returned to the bookcase.
As he knelt he went on, “The new place is actually a house. Not much of a house, more like a mailbox with a smaller mailbox out front, but it is a house. Which means no downstairs neighbors to give noise complaints, so, you know, automatic plus. Also there’s a garage which means my poor little piece-of-shitmobile is less likely to be keyed by the local bored—,”
A familiar knob jabbed the back of his head.
The knob retreated as its owner crouched behind him. Now the knob dug into his lower back. As the folklore declared, it was cool to the touch. Unmentioned in the lore was how warm the rest of the body was. Everett heard a fleshy shifting sound—it made him think unpleasantly of a giant popping his knuckles—as Felix undid his wings from their slots in his back. They folded around Everett in a doubled embrace, Felix’s arms already being locked around his middle and plucking at the waistband of his Hanes. Everett was swaddled in a pocket of heat, skin, and hunger.
…to be continued!
Thanks for joining us for #MASHEDMONDAYS, Find the rest of Calypso’s story and more sensually sinister tales inside MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror
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