THE BOOK: Loving Monsters
PUBLISHED IN: 2021
THE AUTHOR: Laura Eppinger
THE EDITOR: Leah Angstman (AND cover-designer!)
THE PUBLISHER: Alternating Current
SUMMARY: A clever vampire hides her secret by convincing her lovers that they have bedbugs. The Jersey Devil fans conspiracy theories in a world shut down by a pandemic. A haunted house, newly decorated in a minimalist style, wishes for more clutter to throw at its inhabitants. Laura Eppinger’s flash collection Loving Monsters gives voice to the supernatural beings who are just as confused in our modern world as the mortals who made it. It turns out that even becoming undead is no substitute for a good couples’ therapist.
Content warnings: violence, suicide, domestic violence, eating disorders, death, body shaming
THE BACK STORY: I’ve been trying to hone my flash fiction (very short stories, 1,000 words or less) for at least a decade. In 2016 a literary journal published my ironic listicle “Five Issues That Didn’t Get Resolved After We Turned Into Vampires” and also nominated it for a Pushcart Prize. I couldn’t believe my most “successful” writing to date was about trying to save a broken relationship by becoming vampires, only to realize you’re now going to be stuck in this misery for all eternity. I published another few flash pieces with magical realism elements or monsters here and there, but something about pandemic social distancing in 2020 got me into full monstrous mode. (Are you going to make me admit this? Another tenant brought my building bedbugs in April 2020 and I was still stuck at home because of COVID. One day I was feeling particularly sorry for myself as I blasted the heat to kill the bugs, was too hot to wear anything but a bathing suit, and watched movies based on Stephen King books to soothe myself. It occured to me that a vampire could disguise their identity by convincing their victims they had bed bugs instead of a monstrous lover. A story with this idea appears in this collection!)
I haven’t enjoyed this global pandemic at all, but something clicked while my life ground to a halt and I was stuck at home for a year: I could assemble the monster stories I already had and write a few more, and it could be a flash fiction collection.
WHY THIS TITLE? The title came to me on a long walk I took during the height of COVID-19 lockdown in spring of 2020. I kept jumping off the path through a park to text myself ideas: this collection needs a haunted house, and I need to explore my childhood fascination with the Jersey Devil. Also, the title!
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? It is mercifully short! This is a collection of seven stories and each story is 1,000 words or less. I’m not saying this was easy to write–because it wasn’t–but it is intended to be a breeze to read. My favorite compliment is that what I have written is funny, so I try to make you laugh! Monsters appear here but no gore, I promise. I’m a weenie and scare easily, so no nightmares ahead.
“The best thing about a Laura Eppinger story is the way it makes you laugh in the moment before you suck in your breath in painful recognition. In these monstrous stories, the couples are hilarious, are wounded, are horrifying, are us. Eppinger captures the darkness (and the moments of light!) of these relationships with a skilled, light touch. This is a magical collection.” —Cathy Ulrich, author of “Ghosts of You”
“LOVING MONSTERS isolates and unsheathes the horror-kitsch burrowing in every toxic relationship. Siphoning extracts from the source to find what kind of contagions it might instigate. Eppinger’s work fluctuates with ease, shifting from foreboding to mischievous and back again.” —Mike Corrao, author of “Gut Text” and “Smut-Maker”
“In the brilliant, twisted world of LOVING MONSTERS, the supernatural constantly bumps shoulders with the mundane. A 50-foot woman describes her unexpected growth spurt in a series of Twitter threads. A perfectionist housewife takes a night off and transforms into a raging beast. Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey, a devil cruises conspiracy theory websites. These flash fictions blend magical realism and social satire as they bring traditional monsters into the world of contemporary technology. Freed of their gothic castles, these are the monsters next door: a murderous vegan, a vampire with body issues, a ghost haunting a house furnished by IKEA. Each brief story is its own world, filled with unexpected detail and, often, touches of dark humor: ‘What did it have against humus?’ a forlorn husband wonders as a ravening beast attacks the plastic compost rotator in the backyard. As always, the monsters most to be feared are those that live in our own human hearts.”
— Kathryn Kulpa, author of “Girls on Film” and flash fiction editor of Cleaver magazine
AUTHOR PROFILE: Laura Eppinger works as a youth development professional in New Jersey. After work she likes to cross-stitch and tend a vegetable garden.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: Growing up in the Garden State, I really did have a 5th grade history textbook titled, “You, New Jersey, and The World!” I learned about this monster legend in school, and have been fascinated with folklore and cryptids ever since. My first experience of heartbreak came at the same time as my first experience reading about Anne Rice’s vampires. Monster stories are human stories, and are always true if not factually accurate.
SAMPLE: Please read this sample at the Alternating Current site (link to https://www.press.alternatingcurrentarts.com/2021/01/excerpts.html#lovingmonsterssp)
LOCAL OUTLETS: There IS a small bookstore rate, I’d love to work with more local booksellers. Info here: https://www.paypal.com/webapps/shoppingcart?mfid=1641757679649_f7713263060fe&flowlogging_id=f7713263060fe#/checkout/shoppingCart
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Indiebound, from the publisher at: tinyurl.com/eppingermonsters
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: lauraeppinger.blog and facebook.com/eppingermonsters