Monster Mash with Gwendolyn Kiste

Stale isn't scary. Reinvent familiar monsters and myths in horror lit with this 4-week workshop.

Your Instructor: Gwendolyn Kiste (author of The Rust Maidens)

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16

Price: $399

Class Description

Predictable poltergeists. Worn-out werewolves. Bland bloodsuckers.

Horror is a genre filled with familiar tales. From vampires and zombies to ghosts and old myths, there’s no shortage of stories that can sometimes feel a little overdone. How can we use these well-loved and well-worn tropes to create brand-new fiction for today’s readers?

Throughout this course, we’ll read a weekly selection of horror short stories that effectively reinvent familiar monsters in unexpected ways while also discussing how to apply these techniques to your own stories. Through lectures, workshopping, and instructor critiques, you’ll prepare several pieces of short fiction that you’ll be able to polish and send out for submission after the conclusion of the class. 

MONSTER MASH is taught by Gwendolyn Kiste, the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens, The Invention of Ghosts, and Boneset & Feathers. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Tor’s Nightfire, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020, Vastarien, Black Static, and Interzone, among others. She’s been chasing after monsters ever since she was a kid and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

What This Class Covers

WEEK 1- The Perils of Everlasting Life: How to Keep Your Vampires From Going Stale

From Dracula and Carmilla to True Blood and What We Do in the Shadows, vampires are everywhere in our cultural landscape. What’s the enduring appeal of the vampire, and how can we keep the vampires we write from feeling too old-fashioned and overdone? After reading a selection of stories that highlight new approaches to vampire fiction, students will write a short story of their own (up to 2,000 words) that subverts the usual rules and explores new perspective in vampire lore.


WEEK 2- Bringing Back the Undead: Zombies in the 21st Century

Zombies have a long and storied history in horror, with their appeal only growing over the last half century. But in a genre that’s been saturated with the dead lumbering back to life, is there still room for new iterations of zombies? In the second week of class, we’ll read a number of short stories that prove the zombie subgenre is alive and well. Students will then write two flash pieces (up to 1,000 words each) that focus on character and setting as ways to liven up the undead.


WEEK 3- Unhappily Ever After: Reimagining Fairy Tales and Mythology

Fairy tales and mythology are often the very first stories we discover as children. Exploring the work of Angela Carter in particular, we’ll discuss how the world of fairy tales is rife with horror possibility. Students will then choose from a list of popular fairy tales and myths and craft their own short story (up to 2,000 words) that injects horror into a familiar fantasy landscape.


WEEK 4- We’re All Haunted Here: The Eternal Appeal of Ghosts and Haunted Houses

Ghosts are among the oldest and most recognizable fixtures of horror literature. We’ll examine why hauntings have been with us for centuries, as well as how mood and setting in particular set the stage for the countless varieties of ghost stories you can tell. Using the lecture and the selected readings as a jumping off point, students will write two flash fiction pieces (up to 1,000 words each) that explore unique settings for ghost stories while also focusing on theme as a way to enhance the haunting elements.

Goals Of This Class

  • Identify and deconstruct the “rules” of familiar horror tropes
  • Learn techniques to breathe fresh life into well-worn monsters and myths
  • Finish six pieces of writing and receive in-depth critiques to prepare your stories for submission
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