Monday, October 12, 2020

Playlist- Unsafe Words by Loren Rhoads #scifi #horror #darkfantasy #shortstories

After my story collection, Unsafe Words was safely off to the printer, I toyed with the idea of creating a playlist of songs to keep a reader company. I was amazed at how easily the list came together. Many of the stories reference songs in their contents or titles. Other stories suggested songs that would appear in the stories' settings. Still others encouraged me to imagine what music would appear on the main characters' mixtapes or playlists.

Here's the Spotify link 

Shriekback - This Big Hush

To accompany Lisa Morton's introduction to Unsafe Words, I chose this song by Shriekback for one particular line: "Deep as the river of desire, the ashes and the fire, turning this night inside." It's a pretty good description of what I was trying to do with this collection.

Halsey - Castle

Sometimes the songs in this playlist are referenced in the stories themselves. In this case, I think "Castle" is something Violet listens to when she considers coming back to fight the monster in my story "Here There Be Monsters."

Nirvana - Where Did You Sleep Last Night

"In the Pines" was directly inspired by Nirvana's MTV Unplugged version of this old Ledbelly song. That moment when Kurt Cobain's voice cracks still chills my blood. In fact, I almost named this whole collection after a lyric in this song.

Alice Cooper - Welcome to My Nightmare

The critic in "The Acid That Dissolves Images" disparages Rachel and her band as the "bastard love-children of Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, and the whole 20th-century shock-rock scene." Also, the sentiment of this song sums up Rachel's relationship with the creature who possesses her, who's named Medusa.

Heilung - Norupo

In the story "Valentine," I'm pretty sure this song is playing when Alondra DeCourval sits in the cafe in Oslo, laying her spell to trap Simon Lebranche.

Gary Numan - Are Fiends Electric?

Gary Numan's Replicas album is a huge influence on me. I even named one of my space opera novels after a lyric from that album. Recorded live at Hollywood Forever cemetery, this version of "Are Friends Electric?" is the perfect song to be playing in the backroom at Amanita as Ariel's friends celebrate her birthday in "The Arms Dealer's Daughter."

Cesária Evora - Sodade

The narrator of "The Energizer Bunny at Home" puts on Cesária Evora's Miss Perfumado album in the middle of this story. Evora's voice is so wise and heartbreaking that completely sums up this story.

Led Zeppelin - Dazed & Confused

The title of this story came straight from the lyrics of this classic song. In "Never Bargained for You," the succubus Lorelei discovers a rock band on the eve of their first US tour. "The soul of a woman was created below"? You bet!

Babymetal - Megitsune

The song (and video!) are about Kitsune, Japanese fox spirits. This is likely to be on Jack's playlist before he discovers the water nymph in "Grandfather Carp's Dream."

Linkin Park - Somewhere I Belong

This song must be in heavy rotation in Sean's iPod. It really is what he's looking for in the story "Affamé" when he meets the vampire Guillaume.

David Bowie - My Death

This version of the Jacques Brel song comes from the soundtrack to the Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars concert film. Bowie's instructions to the crowd make me think of the way the alien rock star Ysanne interacts with her audience in "Mothflame."

Garbage - Temptation Waits

I listened to a lot of Garbage when I wrote "Sound of Impact," which is a story about the consequences of giving in to temptation.

Bauhaus - The Passion of Lovers

Bauhaus is undoubtedly playing in the Goth bar where "Justice" begins. I'm pretty sure that "The passion of lovers is for death" is Kemmy's favorite lyric from Bauhaus's second album.

Lucia Micarelli, featuring Lisbeth Scott - Samarkand

This was the hardest song to choose in the whole playlist. I wanted something to symbolize Morlen, the fiddler in service to the Wild Hunt in "The Magic of Fire and Dawn." Thank you to Thom Carnell for suggesting this!

Buzzcocks - What Do I Get?

"I just want a lover like any other" is Sherry's motto in "Still Life with Shattered Glass." She never recognizes that she is the only constant element in all her troubled relationships. She must have heard Buzzcocks on the punk shows her boyfriend listens to on WCBN, the student-run radio station at the University of Michigan.

David Bowie - Candidate

The title of "With You By My Side It Should be Fine" comes from this song on Bowie's Diamond Dogs album: my favorite song on my favorite of his albums. I would give anything to have seen him perform his 1984 musical on stage. I listened to this song on repeat as I wrote the story, trying to capture its atmosphere of paranoia and decay.

New Order - Elegia

Originally, my playlist was only going to be 15 songs to represent the 15 stories in Unsafe Words. As I finished listening through the playlist the first time, Spotify recommended this song. It seems like the ideal soundtrack to accompany my story notes at the back of the collection.

Thanks so much for listening along with me!

Unsafe Words

Loren Rhoads

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction,

Dark Fantasy Short Stories

Publisher: Automatism Press

Date of Publication: September 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1735187600


Number of pages: 174

Word Count: 55K

Cover Artist: Lynne Hansen

Tagline: Once you’ve done the most unforgivable thing, what will you do next?

Book Description:

In the first full-length collection of her edgy, award-winning short stories, Loren Rhoads punctures the boundaries between horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction in a maelstrom of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.

Ghosts, succubi, naiads, vampires, the Wild Hunt, and the worst predator in the woods stalk these pages, alongside human monsters who follow their cravings past sanity or sense.

Amazon      BN

 Excerpt from "Here There Be Monsters" from Unsafe Words by Loren Rhoads

Something brushed her leg. Violet kept treading water, legs pedaling below her, but wondered: did the pool have leeches in it? Snapping turtles? Her thoughts darted into paranoia: were there sharks? Piranhas? Anything that might bite?

Not that it mattered. She would stay in this water and be gummed to death by goldfish rather than get out and take her chances with the mountain lion watching her from the side of the pool.

Whatever it was below her tangled in her toes. It felt for all the world like hair. Violet shuddered, losing her rhythm momentarily, but then forced her legs to scissor once more.

She peered down into the murky water. Something below her glowed an icy white color, like moonlight. Like the moon had fallen into the old swimming pool. The temperature of the water around her plummeted. A cramp knotted her left calf. Violet whimpered.

Her head dipped toward the surface of the water. Violet fought to calm herself, to hold herself up by the determined stroking of her arms. She tried to stretch the charley horse from her muscle.

Something very much like a hand touched her thigh.

She shrieked. The sound echoed from the hills surrounding the pool and repeated from the mountain peak on the other side of the valley.

The mountain lion narrowed her eyes and stared at Violet.

Then a girl’s voice said in her ear: “Don’t be afraid.”

Ice flooded her veins and Violet lost the ability to control her limbs. Her head slipped under the surface of the water and she took a breath…and something caught her in its arms and lifted her, coughing, back to the surface. And held her there, safely, until she could breathe again.

Violet’s heart fluttered in her chest, struggling to regain its rhythm. She could see arms around her ribs, holding her up in the water. They were a pale grayish white. Not a natural color. She wondered if it was possible to die of fear.

“Don’t be afraid of me,” the ghost said gently. “I won’t hurt you.”

“I’m afraid to look at you,” Violet whispered. She didn’t trust her own voice, didn’t want to hear the sound of her own terror.

“I’m not horrible,” the ghost promised.

“Did you drown here?”

“A long time ago.”

Violet swallowed hard. Her throat was sore from the water she’d inhaled. She coughed once more, but it didn’t really help. Tentatively, she started to dog paddle.

The ghost released her. Violet turned slowly, to find a girl her own age bobbing alongside her. Her long, long hair was blond, where Violet’s was dark. It was slicked to her skull and green with streaks of pondweed. Her eyes were pale blue, maybe, or green, where Violet’s were brown. The drowned girl wasn’t horrible, even if her skin had gone the color of something kept from sunlight for a long, long time.

“Are you alone here?” Violet asked. The quaver in her voice unnerved her even more, if that were possible. She swallowed again and tried to concentrate on her kicking.

“My boyfriend is here, too,” the ghost said. “He doesn’t like to talk to people.”

“Did you die together?”

“We thought it would be romantic,” the ghost said. “We didn’t realize we’d be trapped here. That’s why I don’t want you to die. You will be trapped here, too.”

“Why are you trapped?”

“A creature roams these woods. A monster. It is hungry for company. It collects us.”

“How many of you are there?” Violet asked, even though she didn’t want to know the answer.

“Lots,” the ghost said sadly. “Lots.”

“I don’t want to be trapped here,” Violet said, “but I don’t know how to get past the mountain lion.”

“There is no mountain lion,” the ghost said. “That’s the monster. It takes many forms.”


About the Author:

Loren Rhoads is the author of the In the Wake of the Templars space opera trilogy, co-author of a succubus/angel duology called As Above, So Below, and editor of Tales for the Camp Fire: An Anthology Benefiting Wildfire Relief. She's also the author of a nonfiction travel guide called 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. Unsafe Words is the first full-length collection of her short stories.

Newsletter sign-up:




Facebook author page:






a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

Loren Rhoads said...

Thanks so much for encouraging me to put together this playlist!