September 20, 2021
by library
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Award-Winning Horror Authors Visit for National Dessert Day

Flyer for National Dessert Day EventThe JKM Library is excited to be working with CAB and the University Archives on an event this coming October 14th for National Dessert Day. The event will include fall and Halloween themed dessert snacks, the screening of short film “Chatham University Ghost Stories,” directed by student Tess Weaver, the telling of a recent ghostly encounter on campus, and readings from award-winning local horror authors. The University Archives will also have items from Chatham’s past that connect back to popular ghost stories on campus.

The event is from 7:00pm-9:00pm on Thursday, October 14th in the Carriage House. Registration is not required.

Below is the lineup for the evening. Keep scrolling to read bios and find links to our guest authors.

  • 7:00pm- Welcome, mingle, view the archive materials
  • 7:20pm- Nelson Pyles
  • 7:40pm- Sara Tantlinger
  • 8:00pm- Video of ghost stories
  • 8:15pm- An Occurrence at Thomson House (told by Jocelyn Codner)
  • 8:20pm- Douglas Gwilym
  • 8:40pm- Michael A. Arnzen

Sara Tantlinger is the author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes, and the Stoker-nominated works To Be Devoured, Cradleland of Parasites, and Not All Monsters. Along with being a mentor for the HWA Mentorship Program, she is also a co-organizer for the HWA Pittsburgh Chapter. She embraces all things macabre and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Twitter @SaraTantlinger, at saratantlinger.com and on Instagram @inkychaotics.

Nelson Pyles is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Spiders in the Daffodils and Demons, Dolls, & Milkshakes, a collection of short works entitled Everything Here is a Nightmare, as well as multiple short stories in various anthologies. His work has appeared alongside Harlan Ellison, F Paul Wilson, Tim Waggoner, Michael Arnzen, Jonathan Maberry, and Jack Ketchum. His next collection of short stories All These Steps Lead Down will be available in 2022

Nelson is the creator  of The Wicked Library, a horror fiction podcast, where he also served as host for seasons 1-5, and collaborated as Executive Producer for seasons 6-10. He has also been a contributing writer to the popular audio-drama podcast, The Lift. Nelson is also an audiobook narrator and stunt vocalist for the progressive rock band, Novus.

Douglas Gwilym is a writer and editor who has also been known to compose a weird-fiction rock opera or two. If you aren’t lucky enough to have caught him performing his stories and music at venues around Pittsburgh, you can find him at douglasgwilym.bandcamp.com or follow him on twitter at @douglasgwilym. Check out his Amazon page. Befriend him on facebook.

Michael Arnzen is the four-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Grave Markings and Play Dead. Arnzen teaches fulltime in the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, in Greensburg, PA.  Known particularly for his experiments in minimalist horror, in such books as 100 Jolts and The Gorelets Omnibus, he invites readers to subscribe to his newsletter at gorelets.com, where they can get free short-shorts delivered to their inbox when they least expect them.

 

December 14, 2020
by library
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Book Review: Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Image from Goodreads

The book Carmilla is an 1872 English novella by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Carmilla can be downloaded as a PDF from the library’s website or it can also be requested in tangible form through E-ZBorrow (when E-ZBorrow is accessible). The novella features the first appearances of a female vampire in English gothic literature. Carmilla served as an inspiration for Brim Stoker’s Dracula, which was published about twenty-five years later in May of 1897.

The novella begins with a prologue from a doctor’s assistant explaining that the tale that follows is a recounting of events that befell one of the doctor’s patients. It is told from a young woman named Laura’s point of view. She begins by telling the reader of her first encounter with Carmilla when she was just six years old, saying that it is her oldest memory. She is left scared and scarred from this encounter.

The story picks up years later as Laura explains the castle she and her father have come to live in. Together with Laura’s governess and “finishing governess” – as Laura calls her – Laura and her father live in Syria but are originally from England. One day Laura and her father receive a letter from one General Spielsdorf. He has unfortunately cancelled his visit to them because his niece and ward had died, claiming that she was killed by a monster. On a walk shortly after, a carriage crashes in front of Laura and her father. The riders of the carriage consist of an elderly woman and a younger woman the elder claims as her daughter.  The young woman is hurt in the crash but seeing as her mother is on an important journey, she leaves her daughter in the care of Laura’s father. The girl is introduced as Carmilla, and Laura is excited to have a friend to spend the foreseeable days with.

I thought the novella was well written, though the dialect – being that of the 1800’s can be a bit confusing for the modern reader. While I was reading there were passages that I read twice to make sure I understood them, but I don’t think this detracted from the story that was being told. Carmilla, the character, was not forth coming with details about herself. This gripped me as a reader and made me want to read onwards.

Vampires are often characterized in stories with alluring and mysterious airs. Carmilla is no exception. There are often times in the story where either Carmilla speaks to Laura, vice versa, or even when Laura describes Carmilla to the reader that shows an attraction between the girls – romantically and even physically. It is not explicit in the novel that Carmilla and Laura are together in any sense, but it creates a dynamic between the two characters that made me want to read more. It made me what to learn more about the mysterious Carmilla just as Laura wished to.

The story is not one of grand fights or intense dramas like novels or novellas of today, but I felt that Carmilla was a great book. It is a quick read and holds themes and motifs that are ahead of its time.

Nerice Breen Lusen is an English Major here at Chatham University with a minor in Creative Writing. They have been working at the Jenny King Mellon Library as a student worker since their freshmen year, starting in 2018. Following their time at Chatham they plan to gain their master’s degree in Library and Information Science and become a librarian themself.
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