Kristina Elyse Butke: Witness to “The Great Work”

We’ve been moving into our new house for the past four days, but I wanted to take a moment to share this. Kristina was my grad school critique partner and is a wonderful writer in her own right. She helped make Those of My Kind what it is. Kristina Elyse Butke: Witness to “The Great Work”.

Release Day for Those of My Kind!

MyKindWS It’s here! Those of My Kind is now available from Omnium Gatherum as an eBook and trade paperback!


Trade Paperback:

Time Enough

I am counting the days until June 30. That’s the day I graduate from grad school with a shiny MFA and begin the rest of my life. It’s been a mostly enjoyable couple of years, and I’ve learned a lot, but this term is especially labor-intensive despite having finished my thesis (still needs edits). I’m ready to move on, both from the book and from school. I suppose I wouldn’t feel this way quite so much if the process hadn’t led to the unavoidable neglecting of so many other projects. Since completing my thesis, however, I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to finish up a novella I began over 2 years ago, and to indulge in pleasure reading again.

But there is one thing I really, really miss and haven’t been able to fit back into my schedule yet. Art. You probably know by now that I have a BA in studio art. I draw, paint, photograph, collage… While I never pursued art as a career, it has always maintained an important role in my life. (And, since getting into the craftier side of things, I’ve become a junkie for Tim Holtz’s Idea-ology stuff.) I’m taking a leave of absence from work April 8 to May 6 in order to concentrate on my final project for school, but that will be the entire focus of my life during that time–as well as allow me to regain some of the sanity I’ve lost after spending 11 or more hours a day juggling school, writing, and my day job. In the interim between the end of class on May 6 and my final residency starting June 25 (with a 3-day jaunt to World Horror Con in between), however, getting back to art will be a major priority. I’ve got two collages-to-be sitting on my worktable already! And I want to get back into making music, which I started over 10 years ago. Maybe give my stuff a proper release on Bandcamp and probably for free.

I do have some good news–I’ve sold another short story. So, as of right now, I’ll have four stories out this year, three of them in anthologies. It’s pretty exciting, and since that leaves me with very few unsold stories left, I’m excited to get back to short fiction. I think short stories will always be my first love.

What about you? What are your passions, and how do you fit them into your life?


One of the things I plan to do this year is update the blog more frequently. So here we go!

I’ve just begun my final semester of grad school. It’s a really strange feeling, after two years, to be so close to the end. However, I’m looking forward to a return of normalcy (such as it is) to my life, and to working on new projects. That said, getting my MFA has always been a big goal, and I’m proud of myself for finally achieving it. I’ve also met a ton of amazing people in the process, which is a reward in itself. And I get to hang out with some of those people at my first World Horror Con in June!

Writing projects… New article for HorrorNews should be up soon, with another on the way in the next couple of weeks. I’ve got at least two short stories coming out in the near future. One is the story I blogged about here. I did indeed take my own advice and go there. And sold it. The other is an Alice In Wonderland-inspired, slightly steampunk horror story set in a Victorian asylum. I realize the more genres you blend, the more difficult it becomes to market, but I’ve been really enjoying the exploration of cross-genres in my own work lately. Will it make my novels a hard sell, or will it help me cement my own brand? We shall see.

And on the novel front, my thesis is 8,000 words from completion (not including the edits I need to do). I can usually get in 1,000 words a day, so that’s only 8 more days of writing. Very exciting. Of course, I’ve still got to revise my synopsis and query letter, make a list of agents, and write a pitch. And as much as I want to start a new novel, I’m going to focus on getting the novelettes and novella finished first. One of the things that sucks about me is how many projects I start and then have to put on the back burner because I overextend myself. Once I graduate in June, that should become easier to manage.

In the near future, I may add some other fun stuff to this blog, like my artwork/photography and my musical exploits. Check back soon!

The Next Big Thing…

Last week I was tagged by my good friend John Dixon, author of the forthcoming book Dissident from Simon & Schuster. Here’s what I had to say.

What is the working title of your book?
Those of My Kind

Where did the idea come from for the book?
About 18 years ago I had written yet another crappy novel (I was 19, sue me), and one of the secondary characters was a Roma woman named Tristan. Tristan was originally a man in the very first draft, but I had grown tired of writing male characters. Even though I eventually abandoned the book–which will be resurrected as the sequel to Those of My Kind–Tristan stuck with me. I needed to explore her story; she hunts demons, after all. What’s not to love? So fast forward to January 2011. I’ve just begun Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction program, and I’m floundering for a thesis idea. I’m one of those people who gets overwhelmed with too many ideas rather than not enough. Then it hits me. What better time to write Tristan’s story than now? So we go back into her past, discover she’s moody and stand-offish for a whole lot of reasons, and she has a companion whose natural affinity for witchcraft leads to Very Bad Things.

What genre does your book fall under?
Dark fantasy. It draws on the fairy tales “Donkeyskin” and “Red Riding Hood,” as well as the Chinese myths of the jiang-shi and the huli-jing. But there is, of course, a strong traditional horror element as well as a literary one, because I love beautiful language.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
To be honest, I don’t really want it to be filmed. I think some of the subject matter that’s essential to the plot wouldn’t make it past the censors due to the characters’ ages, and to make them older would pretty much ruin the story. The things that happen to them when they’re young girls form the core of who they are as characters.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Battling both each other and the deadliest foe of their young lives, two demon hunters learn the meaning of power–and of sacrifice.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
That’s not an either-or proposition, since indie publishers often take non-agented fiction. And let me stress, since many people conflate the two, that indie/small press publishing and self-publishing are NOT the same thing. I will refrain from the self-publishing rant for now. But I do intend to get an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
14 months. Then I promptly gutted half of it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I wouldn’t. Such comparisons are almost invariably false. I strive to tell my own story, and that’s all. I’ll let other people decide if it reminds them of something, but I don’t consciously try to make it similar to anything else.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Oh man. Aside from what I talked about above… fairy tales, African witchcraft, existentialist philosophy, Gnosticism, comparative mythology, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Robin McKinley’s Deerskin… I knew I wanted strong female characters with serious problems to overcome. I wanted to explore issues of sexual identity, religion, moral nihilism, all that fun stuff. Which path you choose if you’re young and have superhuman powers, and what happens if life has crapped on you one too many times.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I really wanted to break out of horror’s very conservative tendency to have a straight hero/heroine and the standard love interest. Three major characters are gay, while the villain is essentially asexual and derives pleasure mainly from feeding on the life essence of others. Also, female genital mutilation is something not usually discussed in genre fiction (or much at all), but it has a profound effect on one of the main characters.

Insert Witty Title Here.

So, because I suck at keeping this blog current, I should mention that I recently appeared over at Mary DeSantis’ blog, Out of the Lockbox.

My thesis is due, in a way that resembles a completed novel enough for me to pass, in April, which despite my attempts to avoid it now demands my attention. I have a ton of work to do on it. Like add 19,000 words. That, of course, is competing with the demands of my teaching class. I do not love my teaching class. This is in no way a reflection on my teacher, who is wonderful, but on my piss-poor time management skills and 900 other commitments. I have an essay due a week from tomorrow and no idea where I’m going with that. BLAAAHHHH.

To maintain some semblance of sanity, I’ve been working on non-MFA projects as time permits. One is a short story for an asylum-themed anthology, and it’s a story I’ve been wanting to write for many years. The others are a ghost story novella heavily influenced by the Fatal Frame series, and a post-apocalyptic science fantasy novel inspired by Greek mythology and “Beauty and the Beast.” Still awaiting responses on four short stories, too.

And on that note, off to write a new chapter of my thesis.

Long Time, No Update

Hey kids, so it’s been a few months since the last post. I’ve been insanely busy and rather lazy about updating, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of exciting things going on. First off, May marked the release of Electronic Saviors 2 and my CD debut. If you want to hear my track but didn’t get the premium edition, you’re out of luck. However, at some point in the future I am going to resurrect my musical project and give my material a proper release. I’m hoping to relaunch my podcast as well.

In June I began my 4th term as a grad student, and I’ve got 11 months to go. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is both gratifying and frightening, as this term and the next promise a great deal of hard work. As you may or may not know, I decided in March to embark on a major rewrite of my thesis project, which involved introducing a new antihero to the cast of characters. Now I’m weaving together the fairytale “Donkeyskin” with Chinese myth and mysticism, African and Roma folklore, Gnosticism, witchcraft, Jungian psychology, Nietzschean philosophy, the Kensington Strangler, and female genital mutilation. I finally like where this is going and I’m having fun working on it.

In addition, I’ve got one short story making the rounds and should have two more submitted by next weekend. I have more ideas than I have time to write, but I’m trying to get as many stories written as possible (especially since I just lost what was a major source of income for the past couple of months). Somehow I have found time to read for pleasure again as well–at least until my teaching class starts. Since my last post I’ve finished House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, The Passage by Justin Cronin, and Eyes Everywhere by Matthew Warner. That book deserves its own post; maybe another time.

I think that covers everything for now. More updates soon…

No Wonder My Nose Keeps Bleeding…

A long weekend is nearly upon me (hooray for a day job that follows the federal holiday schedule), to be filled with thesis revisions and progress on the five short stories currently brewing. (One is for a dieselpunk anthology put out by the fine folks at Twit Publishing, but that’s not due until the end of April. Whew.) I’ve got “The Bombay Trash Service” out to reprint anthology Best New Zombie Tales, so fingers are crossed. I plan to squeeze some art in over the weekend, too. Hopefully that section of the blog will be updated soon. Lots of collage work going on, but I really want to get back to my pinup girls.

Some of you already know that last month I started working for Musa Publishing as one of the three editors for their YA imprint, Euterpe. I’m currently editing two manuscripts, and I have no doubt that Musa will do great things, given the quality of the work they’re putting out. They also run a spec-fic webzine, Penumbra, so what are you waiting for? Go submit something.

And finally…my alter ego, DJ Lollidrop, wrote a track that was selected to appear on the digital portion of the upcoming Electronic Saviors Vol. 2 compilation. It’s an amazing comp for a great cause–the fight against cancer. My dear friend Jim Semonik, whom I have known for over 11 years, with whom I have promoted shows and DJ’d, and who is truly the brother I never had, lost a substantial portion of his digestive tract to colon cancer at the age of 32. He’s been cancer-free for three years now, and from his experience the Electronic Saviors concept was born. Entitled “The Waiting Game,” my track is a fairly minimalist reflection of the simple terror in waiting for test results. DJ Lollidrop is trying to find time to put up a new podcast, too.

In reference to the title of this post, I had nosebleeds for five days straight, was given a two-day respite, and woke up this morning to a schnoz full of blood. Allergies? Sinuses? High blood pressure strikes back? We’ll see what happens this weekend, and then off to the doctor. 

So, what’s new with you?