The Praise and Purpose of “Black Candies”

bcseethroughcoverSo Say We All’s latest publication, “See Through,” the 2013 edition of horror anthology, “Black Candies,” was an experiment in more ways than one. The third in the series for editors Ryan Bradford and Jay Wertzler, “See Through” was crafted with a personal mandate in mind: to use the opportunity to correct a problem in the horror genre (and publishing in general) of ignoring women writers.

With more than half the contributors of “See Through” being women, the book doesn’t only make for good politics, it’s good for the genre as well, a shift away from the lifeless shock and torture porn that currently dominates into a field that still has the potential to creep under the skin and disturb.

Find below a forward by Bradford, as well as links to the book’s critical review.

A Forward by Series Creator Ryan Bradford

BradfordWhen you spend as much time in horror as I have, you realize that a lot of it is dumb. Mind­-blowingly dumb. Weirdos­obsessed­with­Hellraiser­dumb. Torture­porn­dumb. Six­or­eight­sequels­dumb. Gaudy, grotesque book covers. Shock value. Ugh. I wanted to change that. Some of the most visceral memories of my childhood come from watching movies through my fingers.

I think most people go through a brief fascination with horror, but it’s often short­ lived. People mature and their tastes become refined. “Horror” and “genre” are are still widely considered dirty words among literary elite, despite seeing increased use of genre elements in some of our most prestigious contemporary writers’ work—George Saunders, Anne Carson, and Sam Lipsyte to name a few. I wanted a platform to showcase intelligent horror, horror with a sense of humor—a place where you don’t know whether to laugh or hide. I wanted a place where childhood monsters mingled with real­-world, adult fears. I wanted it to be dark, but  I wanted it to look bright.

That’s why I created Black Candies.

For this issue, 17 writers offer their own interpretations of the theme, “See Through.” I was lucky enough to receive works from writers like Lindsay Hunter—whose innovative collection of fiction, Don’t Kiss Me, was, hands­down, my favorite book of 2013—and Aaron Burch, the editor of Hobart, a roguish literary journal whose fearlessness in publishing strong voices is what I’ve tried to emulate with Black Candies.

But the main source of pride is Black Candies’ ongoing commitment to diversity. With more than half of the stories written by women, Black Candies – “See Through” aims to correct the trajectory of the male­ dominated literary journals, as well as provide a home for notoriously underrepresented women horror writers. In the summer of 2013, Salon published an article called “New York Review of Books has a woman problem” where it brought to light the journal’s vast discrepancy of female to male contributors: out of 27, only one was female. This also coincided with results posted on Vida’s site about the unequal ratio of acceptances between men and women at all major publications. The results favoring men were staggering.

The results also made me look at my own reading habits, which, embarrassingly, mostly consisted of male authors. I felt that there was a large hole in my education, and that I haven’t been as active in seeking female voices in the alt ­horror / speculative / dark fiction realms as I should have. I knew it was out there. I put out a call for submissions by women writers only. Author and Salon editor Roxane Gay helped spread the word and, within a day, I had over thirty submissions from female horror writers.

Publications like Black Candies let us build a pipeline for new and established author alike. In these dark corners, we have infinite room to grow, and to innovate. We’re allowed to push boundaries and set precedents. We revel in the daring. We aim to scare. Scary can be good. Scary can cause change.

Ryan Bradford serves as SSWA’s Creative Director and Online Editor for San Diego Citybeat. His doings can be followed on his blog at



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