Bloody Stockings: Bite-sized Horror for Christmas by Myk Pilgrim and Pippa Bailey

January 13, 2019 - 5:44 pm No Comments

When I did my shout out for LGBTQ+ authors, I pleased to have Pippa Bailey come on board. Her latest book in collabaration with Myk Pilgrim is Bloody Stockings: Bite-sized Horror for Christmas. I was lucky to read and review this book and also have an interview with her which is great reading.

Bloody Stockings: Bite-sized Horror by Myk Pilgrim and Pippa Bailey
Published by Pugnacious Press on 13th December 2018
119 pages

Yes, I know Christmas is not for a further 345 days (at going to press), but a lot of people are already preparing, buying discounted cards and wrapping paper. So let me help you pick one of your Christmas reads. Bloody Stockings has 63 short stories. Each story will take you no longer than 10 minutes to read, ideal for reading in between wrapping your Christmas presents. The stories cover everything Christmassy and even includes an alternative to the 12 days of Christmas.

The majority of these stories had me laughing out loud and it was a good job that I was reading this whilst at home. Some of the funnier stories were the ones about the tedious stuff we do at Christmas. “Plucking Hell Jo” was about customers shopping for their turkey. “Who Needs Gifts When You’ve Got Possessions”  is not your usual family Christmas get together.  “Second Day of Christmas my True Love Gave to me-Two Flaming Turkeys.” tells the dangerous story of Charlie and Burt cooking the turkeys. You also have your Santa stories where the elves were not always nice and cute. “Rudolph the Amalgamation” The story about how one elf saves Christmas after Santa crashes the sleigh. “Reindeer on the Roof” this story enforces the reason why you leave milk and cookies out for Santa. “ When Chuckles Smiles” is the story about an elf who gets an extreme makeover.

Whilst I am writing this review I am still laughing at 2 other stories “Movies, Mischief and Miss-spellings” Mercedes watches her favourite film with her friend Laura and the ending is not what was expected and “Santa Gets a Surprise” Lauren finds an old VHS tape in their new home and decides to watch it on a public video recorder.

One of my favourite stories was “Hogmanay Sky”  This story was beautifully written, you could feel the love that Teri-Ann and Amanda had for each other. This story was haunting and even though short, you learn a lot about Teri-Ann and Amanda. I would love to read more of their story.

This is the first book I have read from this collaboration and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is the perfect stocking filler for all Horror lovers. As the blurb says it is blood-soaked.

So you want to know more about Pippa Bailey

BIO –

Pippa Bailey lives north of the wall in the Scottish Highlands. Principally a horror writer, YouTube personality and independent reviewer at Deadflicks with her partner, Myk Pilgrim. She’s known for supernatural horror with a vile sense of humour, and you can find her and Myk’s collections Poisoned Candy and Bloody Stockings through all good book retailers.

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

Hello, I’m Pippa, aged 30 and a half (despite trying to re-live 21 every year),  I’m English, Bi-sexual and live in the Scottish Highlands with my partner and writing partner (who happen to be the same person) Myk Pilgrim. By day I fight crime, or so I tell myself whilst working for the Scottish criminal court system. Due to limitations I can’t give you any more details than that.

By night I write horror, watch far too many horror movies, and enjoy cooking. Though currently I’m on a comic book kick — reading them over Myk’s shoulders as he reads in bed.

Why horror? What is appeal of the genre to you as both a fan and as a writer?

As a child I was drawn to the unusual, I think partly because of my dad reading the “Hob Stories” to me, singing songs like “My Baby Got Washed Down the Plughole” and my love of David Bowie. I quickly fell in love with Shivers and Goosebumps books before reading Clive Barker’s Cabal. Seriously, parents, Goosebumps are a gateway read to the harder stuff. Be warned, your child may become a horror addict. I think the appeal is that Horror to me seems to be the only genre where anything goes, there isn’t a formulaic design for guy meets girl, its more guy meats girl. You don’t have to have a happy ending to satisfy your readers, in fact half the time they wish most of your characters were dead, so all round slaughter and mayhem fuels the fans, and fuels my love of the genre.

As LBGTQ+ fan and writer of horror, how did you when you first became immersed in the genre and found that representation that you could identify was few and far between?

For some time, I’ve found this to be quite an issue with the genre, and many genres to be honest. I haven’t found many characters I could identify with outside of indie authors’ works. Although writers’ styles and tastes change with the times. I mean, go back a few years and a bi-racial kiss on tv caused outrage. Today unfortunately, we’re not quite completely accepting of sexualities, gender or its fluidity. One issue I do have with a lot of attempts to include LGBTQ+ characters in stories is how the focus changes from the story’s flow, to the individual’s identity and how their wobbly bits, and or love of various wobbly bits changes the entire dynamic for how they would behave. I’m pretty sure no matter how much your characters do or don’t like boobs, ass, schlong, or foof ( I just love that word) it wouldn’t affect how they would slit the throat of their latest victim, or trying to escape from their shallow grave would not be met with internal questions of “would a woman do it like this?” of a transitioning male to female character.

How did you discover authors that wrote about characters that you could relate to? Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

I adore graphic novels and comics, just this morning Myk and I laid in bed (It’s a lazy Sunday and I’m keeping this as honest as possible) and read “Oh Joy Sex Toy” together, which I highly recommend (the comic, not reading in bed with Myk.) It’s a fantastic mish mash of LGBTQ+ positivity in all its glory. These along with many others such as “About Betty’s Boob” have been a huge influence on how Myk and me create our characters. We want to encapsulate everything that makes a person real, not simply how wobbly bit love defines a personality. It’s more creating a world of love yourself and create some bloodshed. I also highly recommend anything from Frisson Comics, Katie Whittle and her partner Tom are outstanding artists and writers, they really encapsulate positive inclusion in their works, check out “The Trade” for some feminist horror served on a plate, minus anything to do with opinions on misogyny.

The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations. What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?

It is a shame that even now saying you write horror to someone illicits the response of “Oh no, I don’t like horror,” or “Why would you do that?” Both are rather concerning. These are from the same people who watch Stranger Things on Netflix, or dress their children up like Frankenstein’s monster on Halloween. Horror is deeply ingrained in our psyche, its part of human nature. We live for the thrill, that burn when your do something scary, or jump at a movie. Hell, yelling surprise at someone’s secret birthday party is supposed to give them a shock. To be human is to fear. It’s in our nature, and with the currently climate (political, which for reasons of my own sanity, I won’t go into here) horror is more at the forefront of peoples’ minds. There is even a calculatable shift in peoples’ tastes in movies depending on the political climate. Check it out, I’m not gonna google and provide links for you, but it’s an interesting pattern. One that currently is a repeat of the joy horror brought back in the 30’s with Universal Studios’ fantastic monster movies. From Frankenstein, to the Wolfman, they brought the reassurance that yes, it can get shittier, and you might even get eaten. I think it will take more work than we are willing to do to help people break past this stigma and accept the word horror as something good, something that they may enjoy, but for now we can just sneak it into their Netflix diet.

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?

There certainly seems to be a lean towards the apocalyptical content in movies, whether that be due to climate change or more towards the destruction by ourselves on a more literal front regarding weapons of mass destruction, chemical or physical. And the companies promoting books, creating films and tv shows have certainly picked up on the trend. Currently the biggest thing on Netflix in the Horror genre is Bird Box a post-apocalyptic story, which I won’t go into any detail on, as I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone reading this interview. The market for apocalyptic literature, movies and tv is hitting a much larger audience now, than it may have just 10 years ago. With non-horror fans seeking out the material, which is 1. great that people are delving into genres that they may not have before, but 2. when the masses are partaking of something that generally sits on the fringe of popular viewing, I’m torn between thinking that people are expanding their tastes, or that the world is so scary now that these stories are no longer the thrill ride of horror they once were. Have we fucked up so badly that apocalypse = comfort. It certainly seems to be moving towards more of that material in my opinion.

What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?

I think my biggest influence has been works by Clive Barker, and R.L Stein as those are the first horror authors I was exposed to, both around the same age.

I’d sit on my bedroom floor with my dad’s Walkman playing David Bowie tapes and a pile of Goosebumps and Shivers books, before my dad handed me Cabal aged 7. I was an avid reader from a very young age.

I think I’ve picked up my bluntness from Barker, I don’t hold back on describing sex, gore or death in all its messy glory. I like the seedier side of horror but lean away from stuff that could be considered torture porn. It’s just not for me. I had a short story published along side Barker last year, which was a huge achievement, I was riding the excitement train for a while after that. That story was very Barker inspired, featuring a succubus shagging guys for their seed, chasing the scent of arousal, looking for satisfaction. It’s on of my … damper stories, but I loved pushing the boat on something more BDSM based. The succubus is being chased down by a female police officer and a mysterious helper who knows more about the situation than she lets on.
Overal,l I’d have to say Cabal, and The Hellbound Heart are the major book influences, where as film I’d have to say The Thing and teen horror flicks like Urban Legends, 13 Ghosts (remake).

In recent years there has been a slow but gradual diversification within the genre, which new LBGTQ+ writers do you think we should be paying attention to?

This is where I lean more towards graphic novels and comics, there are some amazing creations coming from the indie crowds. I’ll always openly promote anything from Frisson Comics because I thoroughly believe in what they’re doing. Do check out Katie Whittle! Grab yourself a Comixology account and go trawling through the indie creators, the obscure comics and graphic novels for some beautiful stories. One graphic novel I highly recommend is Sunstone, which follows a BDSM relationship between two women, it’s a fun look at powerplay. Or check out Hack Slash. Myk has introduced me to the majority of these, which I am forever grateful for, it’s been wonderful moving from pure literature to art.

How would you describe your writing style?

Blunt, full of staccato sentences. I write punchy and fast paced. Myk helps slow me down when I get ahead of myself and lose the importance in taking the time to help an audience build the bond with a character’s realism. I don’t shy away from writing sex in all its body smushingly gloopy glory. I want grime and dirt and blood. I want my readers to smell sex and blood in the air when they read my words… before I make a terrible joke and pull them back to reality.

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

Yes, the first review I ever had of my first story (which was terribly written as I was very new to writing) I was told that I made the reader feel, fear and want more. It kept me pushing to become better, because I want to live up to the expectations of readers, friends and most of all myself. Since that review I’ve gone on to receive some wonderful reviews of shared projects with Myk.

What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

Grammar, I really struggle. I’m pretty sure this interview will be full of punctuation errors. I’m dyslexic and where I fall down is sentence structure, it’s a steep learning curve but I’m studying to write better, watching the mistake patterns my editor picks up on (thank you Lisa, you’re the best) and generally kicking my own ass when I produce word salad.

Are there any subjects that you would never write about?

No, there are subjects I’d prefer not to write about, and there are inclinations I’m likely not to portray in a story. I’d gleam no joy from writing about someone who enjoys torture porn, or paedophilia. But if the story called for me to reference those subjects I would. Then it comes down to fear, what am I scared of, I don’t tend to write about my fears. I struggle with nihilism and the concept that one day I will die, and I have no control over that. I mean, when I say fear, I mean curled up in a ball crying in a corner level of fear over that subject. I treat my fear as if it’s hidden behind a frosted shower door, it’s always there, I’ll never get over it, because I can’t change it. But if the shower door stays there, I don’t have to face it. Writing a character with the same fear as me would be a struggle.

Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?

My abilities have improved, and my style has changed. Reading some of my first earlier works they’re drowning in flowery language and too much detail that people don’t need. I’ve also worked hard to push past the boundaries you tend to set yourself when you start, things like “Can I say cunt?” and just do it.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

The best piece of advice I’ve received was to make my characters real. I’ll admit, it’s my downfall, making characters that you can’t connect with. It’s so important, it changes the entire dynamic of a story, if your reader loves a character for who they are, you’ll find that no matter what you have them do, no matter how shitty they are, people give a crap about them. It’s wonderful when you get it right.

Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you attempted to break through the barriers that are so often in place against LBGTQ+ writers?

Honestly, I’ve not had an issue in this area, but I can imagine others have. When there’s a stigma in relation to sexual preference, gender or lack of gender, it can change peoples’ opinions of a story before they’ve even touched the work. Especially when there’s an assumption that the sexuality of the author will in turn define all of their characters. I’ve actually heard people lean into these assumptions and choose not to read books because of it. It’s idiotic.

Many CIS white male authors use LGBTQ+ characters in their works, what’s the mistake that they make when trying to portray these characters?

Making the fact the character is LGBTQ+ the focal point of what makes the character important. STOP DOING IT. If Damien likes a dick in his mouth that’s wonderful, but that isn’t the reason he’s great at solving crimes. His years of study, support from his boyfriend or husband and his resolve are what makes him successful. Laura was a sex worker for the first part of her life, when she was Liam. Great, that’s interesting back story that adds to the character, but now as she’s fighting in a zombie apocalypse, she’s not missing her penis, and enjoying the feel of a gun against her thigh like a reminder of the member she relinquished, she’s fighting for her life. And last, but not least. Boobs, boobs are awesome, but no that’s not all lesbians or bisexual women think about, we don’t spend our time thinking about how every woman at the world domination office has them pressed against tight shirts as we plan our destruction and enter the codes into the computer to release the virus. But yes, we may have used our sexuality to steal the code, we may have taken advantage of a co-worker in a cupboard… but as I’m inputting that code, I’m not thinking about how damp my panties are.

Moving on to getting your work read by unwashed masses, what do you think is the biggest misconception about LGBTQ+ fiction?

I’d have to refer back to my point about the barriers that are so often in place against LBGTQ+ writers. Simply, how an authors’ LGBTQ+ status means that people draw opinions of what their character must be like before they’ve even picked up a book.

There are as number of presses dedicated to LGBTQ+ fiction, do you view these as a good thing, or do you think they help to perpetuate the ongoing exclusion from mainstream presses?

This is one of these questions I need to be really careful when answering. I guess I think it’s great that people are specifically making safe space and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ authors, but that’s because currently we need them. I don’t think it’s perpetuating the ongoing exclusion, but I look forward to the day when it’s not needed. Like when gay marriage is just referred to as marriage, rather than the former. I look forward to when these specific presses are defunct because we all do work together, and anyone’s status makes no difference in the opinions of readers and fellow writers.

And here is the million-dollar question do you agree with movements like this and things such as Women in Horror Month? If so how would you like to see sites such as Ginger Nuts of Horror tackle diversity?

Again, my opinion is much like the previous question, right now we need these spaces to make sure that women have a voice, but I look forward to the day when we don’t need them anymore. It’s like a building with a ramp and stairs to enter it. Right now, we have both because for so long those who needed the ramp were over looked and not able to enter the spaces without large amounts of help, or a fuck tonne of persistence. Ramps have now been included to keep us on the equal path, along side the stair users, but not the same as them, we can use one, they can use both. I look forward to the day everything is a ramp that is used by all, and we finally become the same. Strange metaphor I know, but it’s the best I’ve got, and I apologise if I’ve managed to offend anyone. I think doing things like this, like discussing LGBTQ+ issues and Women in Horror month is a fantastic way for Ginger Nuts of Horror to show their support and to face the problem head on, by actually asking the people who are at the core of these issues.

The most common phrase you hear when people object to active movements to encourage all forms of diversity is “I don’t care about the sexuality, gender, color etc etc of the writer I only care about good stories” what would you like to say to these people?

I’d have to say that phrase is all too common. But I’d say, “Yes, me too I don’t care, but the issue is that more people do than don’t, and we need to make sure there is access for anyone disadvantaged.” We need to step up and make sure their stories are what shines through and they have opportunities to make their mark regardless of LGBTQ+ orientation. If we don’t provide the access, exclusion will happen. Stop pushing problems to one side and make a stand for the issues people face regardless of how you feel about their stories.

To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favorite child, and who is your least favorite to write for and why?

My favourite character has not yet been released to the public, her name is Lara and she’s the main character of a series I’m currently working on. She’s the owner of a magic book that brings her creations to life… she shaggs most of them, and they’re all pretty horrifying creations but it’s fun. My least favourite to write was a character called Ignis in what Myk refers to as a trunk novel. I’ve been writing it for years but I’m yet to get it to where I want to be, so it lives in a box until I know where I am with it. Ignis is a dickhead. But he’s meant to be.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I am most proud of Poisoned Candy which is a collection Myk and I released for Halloween 2018 last year. It was hard work but so much fun to write. Plus, when you get to write with your best friend things are so much easier. We got to bounce ideas off each other which was great, and it was so helpful to have someone who would be my ideal reader to work with. This book will remain my first love for a while I think, considering it was our first release from our publishing company Pugnacious Press.

For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?

Again you’d need to check out Poisoned Candy or Bloody Stockings (both with 5 star reviews) to cover a huge range of Myk and my writing styles, from horror comedy to the bleakest darkest moments of existence, when you’re wanking in bed and something grabs your ankle.

Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?

I do, and here you go! From the first story in the series Girl with a One-Track Mind.

“I’d spend a few knee-quaking moments under the buffets of scalding water. No mess, No fuss. Other than the time I slipped and partially pulled the shower door off its hinges. Mr Girthy shot out of me like a ballistic missile and vibrated his way across the tiled bathroom floor like an epileptic caterpillar (no, I couldn’t think of a better way to describe him). It was hilarious and terrifying at the same time.”

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

We’ve recently released Poisoned Candy and Bloody Stockings. They’re two fun collections of short stories that really do give you an in-depth look into our varying styles… also they’re only £2.99… less than a beer… shameless plug I know, but yeah… I wanna stop eating pot noodle for dinner.

Coming next is an Easter collection from the two of us, and I’m working on a novella called Bodies of Water, and the Girl with a One-Track Mind series.

Myk is working on his Pumpkin Guts novels and collection, Nightmare Jar – both of which I’m incredibly excited to read when he’s done.

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?

I thoroughly enjoyed Nelson Pyles’ Demons, Dolls and Milkshakes, which was rereleased this year, it’s bloody brilliant, funny, smart, and dark. The last book that disappointed me, gosh, I think I struggled with an audio book on building a brand in 30 days, that may have even been its title. It wasn’t helpful or interesting.

What’s the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?

Yes.

If you want to know more about Pippa, than you can connect with her here

Personal author page http://www.pippabailey.co.uk

Twitter http://@Thepippabailey

Publisher Instagram http://@Thepippabailey

Amazon Link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pippa-Bailey/e/B071W8DLDH

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