Horror anthology Queer Little Nightmares celebrates the ghosts in our closets

Gather around everyone for a pumpkin-flavoured fall treat with horror anthology Queer Little Nightmares, an engaging and spooky read.

The anthology was edited by David Ly, a poet and employee in UBC’s copyright office, as well as his collaborator Daniel Zomparelli. According to Ly, the book intends to provide space for the marginalized to reclaim monstrosity on their own terms.

Although they came in with a vision in mind, Ly and Zomparelli, left the door open for the writers to decide the direction of the anthology themselves. Ly stated he wanted to collect stories that prove “monsters resonate with Queer identities.”

Ly and Zomparelli conceived of this project after discussing horror movies as a genre and their obsession with the macabre seen so often in Queer art.

Soon, they had their hands on upwards of 500 submissions from writers worldwide and quickly envisioned the book as it stands today — a representation of the historically vilified, with new spins on old myths.

Ly drew mostly from classic horror movies for inspiration, but many collaborators work from a diverse but familiar sea of horror touchstones — from the dripping blood of Edgar Allen Poe’s Telltale Heart to the over-the-top gore of R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps.

”A lot of the short stories and poems have this kind of macabre sense to them,” said Ly. “I think that it added a different dynamic to reading the collection as a whole… you've got these really classic cinematic monsters, and then you also get this kind of classic literature monster.”

Beyond typical horror motifs, this anthology features unique stories of monstrosity, and new spins on classic ones.

Queer Little Nightmares isn’t just about introducing explicitly 2SLGBTQIA+ characters into canned horror tropes — it’s about viewing horror tropes as inherently Queer, and twisting them into narratives of empowerment.

“Writers see themselves in these stories that have these monsters at the centre of them, but they're ostracized from society,” said Ly. Writing Queer horror can provide catharsis, as authors “can work through their identity by kind of writing these odes to these monsters.”

That emotional centre is evident in the anthology’s stories, intertwined with their flashy genre fiction packaging.