Jennifer Brozek | Tell Me - Sarah Day

Tell Me - Sarah Day

I’m pleased to present Sarah Day to you. She was once one of my mentees. Now she is someone I look forward to reading. She is a fabulous author and I can’t wait to read her newest novella, Greyhowler. Today, she tells us why she wanted to write a monster book and what makes her monster special.


Greyhowler is a monster book. Okay, it’s a bunch of other things too, but it started as a monster book.

Ever since I was tiny, I’ve loved a scary monster. Or rather, I’ve loved being scared by a monster. I saw both JAWS and ALIENS when I was much too young to see movies with that many teeth in them, and sharks and xenomorphs chased me through my dreams for years afterward. To this day, I watch every creature movie I can, probably because I’m looking for something to replace the monsters that hunt me in my dreams.

(We all have dreams where something is hunting us, right? It’s not just me?) (Editor: No, it’s not just you.)

Now that I’m an adult, I can look at my fixation with monsters with a more clinical eye. Monsters give me a container to pour my constant low-grade anxiety into, something I can point at (or boop on the nose) and say “This is it, this right here, this is the thing I’m afraid of.” A monster condenses ambient fear about concepts (death! helplessness! mutilation! oblivion!) into something observable, but still inescapable.

Y’see, I want a monster that looms. I do not want a monster that’s basically “what if a human, but more powerful and more evil.” Not for me, the werewolf and the vampire. I want a monster that’s an extension of nature, with all of nature’s beautiful ambivalence to human life. A slow monster, a creeping monster, a monster that can slide up behind me and wait for me to notice it, patient as the grave.

The fun part of being a discovery writer (or a “pantser,” if you prefer an inelegant term, or a “gardener,” if you prefer a more elegant term) is that I maintain the ability to scare myself. Greyhowler started as a 10,000 word short story unwisely titled “The Wild World Has Room for All Manner of Things,” which I later revised into a trim novella. As I wrote my way through those first 10,000 words, the greyhowler prowled around the outer edge of my brain. It’s a constant question on the protagonist’s mind: does the greyhowler exist, or is it just a folktale? Up until I finished the first draft, I didn’t know the answer to that question myself.

When I started writing Greyhowler, it wasn’t about religious trauma. It wasn’t about friendship, or a mystery, or betrayal, or murder, or magic. All of those things are in the book now, but when it started it was because I had this persistent mental image: A woman arriving at the border of a small town, far away from home, out in the remote and golden prairie. A woman, and something just off the side of the road, crouched in the tall grass, waiting.

The greyhowler found me first, you see. I didn’t have to invent it. It was waiting for me.

Sarah Day lives in the SF Bay Area with her cat and too many LED lights. She is an author of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and many other flavors of speculative fiction. Her work is heavily influenced by festival culture, body modification, mental illness, family trauma, non-traditional relationships, and scary ghosts. She’s been published in PseudoPod, Cosmic Horror Monthly, The Future Fire, Underland Arcana, and many other great places. She’s terrified all the time and considers that an asset.

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