TRAGEDY QUEENS is an anthology of stories inspired by two of my favorite muses. I have always been drawn to dark feminine archetypes.
Since I was a little girl, watching Disney’s Snow White, I wanted to be Snow White until I saw the evil Queen & when I played make-believe I was the Queen. In college I read Sylvia Plath for the first time. Ariel, her final collection, flipped my psyche inside out. I reevaluated how I used language. I read her diaries & began using my own journals not just for my thoughts & feelings but to flex my word muscles, to experiment with texture & synesthesia.
People keep asking me, why these two? To some it’s obvious how these women are thematically connected. In their writings they explore these darkside archetypes of femininity. In their songs & poems they reveal their broken parts, their ugly parts, their vulnerable, daddy obsessed parts. The flipside of that darkness is the powerful assertion in their voices. These are not the voices of subservient women. These are women who know what they want, even if what they want is poison.
In this anthology, I gathered the voices that resonated the way the voices of these muses resonated in my veins the first time I read/heard them. I asked them three questions about these muses, themselves, & their stories.
Meet the voices behind Tragedy Queens
1. WHICH IS YOUR MUSE, PLATH OR LANA OR BOTH?
2. WHO ARE YOU?
3. WHICH LANA SONG/VIDEO OR PLATH POEM/BOOK WAS YOUR INSPIRATION?
AUTHOR: J.C. DRAKE
1. Plath was my first great poetry muse. I discovered her in junior high school and immediately fell in love with her writing and the stories she told in her poems. I became even more interested in the tragedy of her life and mental illness as I struggled to overcome OCD, anxiety, and depression. Lana came later, but in many ways, hit me harder. Her songs tell the story of my own youth: hot summer nights, too much booze, parties, friends, and the struggle to grow up in a world trying to keep us kids. They both speak to me equally for different reasons.
2. I admit as as a male writer I am proud to have a piece in this anthology. I think our voice is over heard (or over shouted), but in this case I feel like I had something new to say. I’m not a writer by profession, I work for the government and try to help decision makers understand a world full of information. Writing is my hobby…it’s the thing that keeps me sane and grounded. I’m also fascinated by mysteries and spend my free time exploring them, I travel a lot, and my wife and I own a haunted house with a grave in the back yard.
3. Several stories and songs were my inspiration – and they’re salted all throughout my story! The readers will have to see if they can pick out all the references for themselves. My entire story was inspired by both true life events that happened to me and the art of these two amazing muses. I painted liberally with their words!
AUTHOR: CARA DIGIROLAMO
STORY: SPHYNX TEARS
1. Although I have more in common with Sylvia Plath, it’s Lana’s voice I hear in my dreams.
2. Cara DiGirolamo is currently in recovery from graduate school, where she studied Linguistics, wrote a dissertation incomprehensible to normal humans, and learned to skate.
3. My story was inspired by Lana Del Rey’s This is What Makes Us Girls, which I love, but I wish were gayer.
AUTHOR: LARISSA GLASSER
STORY: RITUALS OF GORGONS
1. Plath has been an inspiration for me for a longer time. I’m rather new to LDR. I’d only heard of her when some critic blasted her performance of ‘Video Games’ on Saturday Night Live. During our first big writers’ hangout we binged a bunch of LDR videos and I remember being impressed by how expressive her songs are, and the videos were like short films with lavish sets and intense storytelling. But I’ve been into Sylvia’s work for decades–she’s always been a huge inspiration for me to fight through trauma and chronic depression, to try and create art from darkness.
2. I work as an academic librarian at a large university. It’s a really wonderful day job because I have so much access to research. My workplace is actually adjacent to Prince Street in Boston, where Sylvia was born in 1932. I played in punk and metal bands for a couple of decades, but I’ve shifted my priorities to writing over the past five years. After a recent health scare, I became even more determined to get my work out there.
3. The prompts for my story “Ritual of Gorgons” are “Edge” by Sylvia Plath and “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey. They really capture the essence of what I was trying to say when I wrote about those two characters falling in love.
AUTHOR: VICTORIA DALPE
STORY: THE WIFE
1.Both women are inspirational. While different, they both invoke a sadness I find uniquely female.
2.Victoria Dalpe is an artist and writer. She lives with her husband, filmmaker Philip Gelatt Jr. and their young son in Providence, RI. From their attic window they can see H.P. Lovecraft’s ancestral home, which is now a Starbucks. Victoria Dalpe loves horror, folklore monsters, and painting skulls all day. Her first novel, Parasite Life, came out January 2018 by ChiZine Publications.
3.The Death of Mythmaking
AUTHOR: MANUEL CHAVARRIA
STORY: DAYGLO REFLECTION
1. Lana is my muse. It’s odd, sometimes, the way popular artists can draw you into their web, even if you have a contrary streak and try to resist the call. But Lana’s voice spoke/speaks to me, and I’m proud of the work that I’ve done inspired by that voice.
2. I’m Manuel Chavarria. In addition to writing, and hustling for freelance editorial work here and there, I work for TASCHEN at their offices in Hollywood, located in an outdoor space designed to look like a ship at sea and called Crossroads of the World (I have not taken the time yet to verify if that is accurate).
I’ve also been working toward starting a small press here in Los Angeles. When I can pull myself away from the publishing industry and all its attendant arms, I enjoy cooking (I’m not bad), playing the saxophone (I could be… better), and trying my hand at other assorted arts. I am a restless soul.
3. My story was inspired by “Dayglo Reflection” (I didn’t get creative with my title, clearly…), a song Lana co-wrote and performed with legendary soul/R&B singer Bobby Womack, which was featured on his final record, The Bravest Man in the Universe. If you haven’t heard it, do so; it’s a gem.
AUTHOR: LAURA LEE BAHR
STORY: CATMAN’S HEART
2. I keep telling myself I am Laura Lee Bahr: part clown, part mystic, all about it. I work with twice-exceptional kids, I write, I act, I direct, I sing songs, I try to remember that life is just a waking dream/nightmare that i get to play/fight in. I hope I am Rebel Scum.
3. I watched the video for “Shades of Cool” about 100 times and listened to it on loop as I wrote.
AUTHOR: SELENE MACLEOD
STORY: PANIC BIRD
1. Plath has been a long-time muse, since I discovered her poetry in high school. Lana is a newer discovery, and I’m only familiar with a few of her songs.
2. Selene holds a BA in Communications from Wilfrid Laurier University, and lives in Kitchener. She works nights, daydreams too much, and writes too little. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and a few ezines, mostly of the crime and horror persuasion, so writing “literary” stuff is a real treat.
3. A little of the imagery (the woman in a white dress flanked by tigers) from Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die” video inspired my story, and the lyric “you like your girls insane,” but its main inspiration was Plath’s final poem “Edge,” written just a few days before her suicide. From the first time I read it, I believed that she intended to take her children with her, and the implications are both sad and frightening.
AUTHOR: STEPHANIE WYTOVICH
STORY: BECAUSE OF THEIR DIFFERENT DEATHS
1. Plath, easily. I only recently got into Lana within the past two years or so, but Plath has been with me since I started getting into poetry in high school. Ariel changed my life.
2. I’m a bibliophile who spends her free time in bookstores, libraries, and tracking down rare copies of Alice in Wonderland. I’m addicted to coffee, but I drink tea at night, and I love to be surrounded by plants, crystals, driftwood, and candles. I love to travel, I bring up inappropriate facts in social circles, and my dog, Apollo, is attached to my hip 99.9% of the time.
3. My short story, “Because of Their Different Deaths,” is one of sisterhood and witchcraft, and it stemmed from a note in one of Plath’s journals: “You are twenty. You are not dead, although you were dead. The girl who died. And was resurrected. Children. Witches. Magic. Symbols. Remember the illogic of fantasy. …How many futures-(how many different deaths I can die?) How am I a child? An Adult? A woman? My fears, my loves, my lusts-vague, nebulous. And yet, think, think, think-and keep this of tonight, this holy, miraculous resuscitation of the creative integrating blind optimism which was dead, frozen, gone quite away.”
Archetypes are real. Muses are real. Writers are the channels of these spirits & if that sounds like witchcraft that’s because it is. These stories gave me chills. Sylvia Plath & Lana Del Rey course through the veins of these dark, sexy, mind-bending, fantastical, romantic, & haunting tales. Authors from different genres came together in their love & passion for these muses.
TRAGEDY QUEENS TOC
- THE BLACKLIST: KATHRYN LOUISE
- CRAZY MARY: PATRICIA GRISAFI
- PIPEDREAMS: DEVORA GRAY
- AND ALL THE WORLD DROPS DEAD: MAX BOOTH III
- WITHOUT HIM (AND HIM, AND HIM) THERE IS NO ME: LAURA DIAZ DE ARCE
- GOING ABOUT 99: CHRISTINE STODDARD
- THE LAZARUS WIFE: TIFFANY MORRIS
- STAG LOOP: BRENDAN VIDITO
- SP WORLD: LORRAINE SCHEIN
- A GHOST OF MY OWN MAKING: ASHLEY INGUANTA
- LOOSE ENDS: A MOVIE: TIFFANY SCANDAL
- GIRLS IN THE GARDEN OF HOLY SUFFERING: LISA MARIE BASILE
- THE GODS IN THE BLOOD: GABINO IGLESIAS
- THE LAND OF OTHER: FARAH ROSE SMITH
- SAD GIRL: MONIQUE QUINTANA
- CORINNE: JC DRAKE
- SPHINX TEARS: CARA DIGIROLAMO
- RITUALS OF GORGONS: LARISSA GLASSER
- THE WIFE: VICTORIA DALPE
- DAYGLO REFLECTION: MANUEL CHAVARRIA
- CATMAN’S HEART: LAURA LEE BAHR
- PANIC BIRD: SELENE MACLEOD
- BECAUSE OF THEIR DIFFERENT DEATHS: STEPHANIE WYTOVICH