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Mae Murray Interview


From Mae Murray, the editor of The Book of Queer Saints, comes The Book of Queer Saints Volume II. With this new installment, Murray brings together more stories from emerging and established queer writers. The book will be released through Murray’s new press, Medusa Publishing Haus and feature a foreword by Hailey Piper.


Read the full interview below.


The Book of Queer Saints is a powerhouse anthology. Did you ever expect to put out a second volume?


When I put out the first book, I didn't even think it would sell, if I'm being honest. I believed in the mission and the high quality of the work, but it's no secret in indie publishing that anthologies, while abundant, don't sell particularly well. So when I began getting messages from readers asking if there would be a second volume, it was only then that I realized the first one had been a success. It was an incredible gift to have interest in more queer stories, enough interest that it funded another volume.


Originally, you released volume one independently. Now, you are publishing both through your new press, Medusa Haus. What has that process been like?


It's been an awesome thing, starting my own press, though I will say I feel a lot more pressure to publish other people's work. I get approached often with manuscripts, ideas for anthologies, chapbooks, etc. But it's a micro press, and I can't take everyone on. And I don't want it to overshadow my own writing or my mental and physical health, and it already has at times. So it's been a delicate balancing act, and an adjustment I'm still working on! But having a place that is the official home of Queer Saints has been awesome.


You received over 200 submissions for this call. That’s a lot of stories. Were there any submissions where you started reading it and thought “yes, this!” immediately?


Most of the stories you see in the book are those stories. But I can name a few that stood out to me right away: Taliesin Neith's "The Face of the Waters" was so original in its setting. It's a ghost story, but it's unlike any I've read before. "Caregiver" by Amanda M. Blake is the last story in the collection for a reason. I've tried to end each volume with a story that draws forth powerful emotion. I considered "Heliogabalus Fabulous" by Belle Tolls in Volume I ending on a note of genderqueer euphoria. "Caregiver" is a much, much darker ending, where vengeance is had and nothing feels good.


Volume II has 19 stories. Was that always the number you wanted to keep it around or was it impacted by the number of submissions you received?


The first book, I was pretty set on having 13 stories because of the significance of the number. But because Volume II had a more successful fundraising campaign, I was able to take on more stories, with a budgeted goal of reaching 60,000 words (which would also make the book eligible for Stoker Award nominations). So I accepted as many as would fit in that space. There were a few stories that didn't make it in purely because there wasn't room or budget, but would have otherwise been accepted.


You have such a talent not only for choosing writers but for ordering stories to create an incredibly compelling anthology. What was the process like putting together the table of contents order for Volume II? Was it difficult to determine what would go where?


It was much more difficult to order these stories than it was in the first volume! I don't know if it's because there were just more or what, but I consider the order like curating the perfect mix tape. So I often find myself reading the end of one story and the beginning of the next over and over, side by side, shuffling them around to see how they flow, both in prose style and theme. But I knew I wanted to end with "Caregiver."


Sam Richard of Weirdpunk Books wrote the foreword for Volume I and has a story in Volume II. Bram Stoker Award winner Hailey Piper has a story in Volume I and wrote the foreword for Volume II. Was it fun getting to see them switch it up like that, with each contributing a different kind of work to second volume?


Oh, it was awesome. I think both Sam and Hailey are integral to Queer Saints. Sam mentored me through the process of making the first book, so it was important to me that he write the foreword to Volume I. He's also a wonderful writer who is particularly talented at writing grief horror, which is a type of horror I connect with on a personal level. So it was a no-brainer to invite him to be part of Volume II. With Hailey, I can't really imagine these projects without her. She is a force who inspires me to be a better person and a better writer, and I attribute a large part of the first book's success to her involvement. Both of these people are my heroes.

There is such a wonderful blend of new and established voices in this book. How does it feel to be involved in a queer writer’s first short fiction publication credit?


To me, this is the most important part of the project. I don't think it's enough to just publish queer writers, or marginalized writers. Sometimes I say it probably looks like there's only one or two queer horror writers in the genre, and I don't mean that to be bitter or rude. What I mean is that this industry is profit-fueled and prone to tokenism, so it tends to latch on to one popular marginalized writer and milk and promote them for all they're worth. It's not the writer's fault. But true equality in publishing means the door is open wide, and we aren't relying on just name and reputation to sell a book. I think we should be pushing debut works just as hard. So to be part of publishing someone's first story is a true honor, and all I can hope is that it helps build their confidence and makes it easier for future opportunities to come their way.


Both volumes are getting fresh cover art from Medusa House. There is the a wonderful symmetry that goes on between the two covers, with the second evolving and taking things in an even more extreme direction. Was this something you discussed with the artist? What was that collaboration like?


The art on the covers actually came across my timeline during an artist portfolio share on Twitter (X). I loved it so much, thought it would be perfect of Queer Saints after my first cover artist had to step away from the project. So I contacted the artist Ludo and bought permission to use the art on the covers and on promotional material. Then I worked with Jordan Shiveley on the design itself. I asked for the first volume to reflect Hell, and the second to have a dark Garden of Eden theme, and he delivered!


Do you have any other work coming out this year you’d like to tell people about?


I have two short stories coming out. One that hasn't been announced yet, and one called "Buckskin for Linen" that will appear in the Scissor Sisters anthology from Brigid's Gate, edited by Rae Knowles and April Yates. In November, I'll be announcing Medusa's 18-month publishing schedule through early 2025, so stay tuned!


What’s your favorite recent read? Any genre or category. It doesn’t have to be horror.


I really enjoyed Boy Parts by Eliza Clark.


Thank you so much for talking to Frightful!


The Book of Queer Saints Volume II hits shelves on October 31, 2023.



Mae Murray is a writer and editor hailing from Arkansas, now living in eerie New England. She owns and operates Medusa Publishing Haus, a micro press dedicated to uplifting unique voices in the horror genre.


She contributes essays and criticism to horror-centric websites, including Fangoria and Dread Central.


She is the recipient of the 2022 Brave New Weird award for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction. The Book of Queer Saints Volume I was her editing debut and a 2023 British Fantasy Award nominee in the Best Anthology category. Volume II will be released on October 31, 2023.


Her debut novel I'm Sorry If I Scared You is due June 4, 2024.

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