Behind the Scenes – Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus

No century-old monsters to discuss today, I’m afraid; I’m a little behind in my Universal movie watch. Instead, we’re gonna do a guest blog! Guest blogs are the best because, frankly, I don’t have to do all that much work; also, this one is about NEW DARK FANTASY NOVELS. Victorian goth fantasy, even. Basically, it’s a win for everyone.

The current pandemic has disrupted, well, pretty much everything right now. Rather obviously, Covid-19 takes priority, as it should; unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any easier on debut authors whose books have just come out. Which is one of the reasons I invited my friend, Jonathan Fortin, to come on my blog and talk about what inspired his debut novel: Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus, which just recently came out from Crystal Lake Publishing. If you’re looking to read something new and/or support debut SF/F/H authors, then feast your eyes on this absolutely gorgeous cover art by Ben Baldwin and continue on to learn all about Lilitu.


I’ve always felt that succubi and incubi take everything that’s scary and sexy about vampires, and amplify it. They’re beautiful demons that prey on humans, but they have some pretty cool traits that vampires don’t. For one thing, they can enter and manipulate dreams. For another, they often have wings, horns, or tails. But the biggest difference is that, while vampires are often figuratively about sex, succubi and incubi are far more literal–actually drawing sustenance through sexual energy.

Maybe that’s why there haven’t been too many serious books focused on succubi. There are certainly a few, but more often than not, succubi remain side characters–usually femme fatale sex symbols that exist primarily for the male gaze. It’s also pretty rare for books to portray succubi as folklore does. For example, rarely do succubus protagonists enter dreams, or have wings or horns.

With that in mind, there were a few main goals I had in mind while working on LILITU: THE MEMOIRS OF A SUCCUBUS:

  1. To write a succubus-centric novel that wasn’t male-gazey.

  2. To have it take the folklore of succubi and incubi seriously.

3. To use that folklore to explore gender issues in an exciting horror/dark fantasy tale.

I felt that a proper succubus book needed to address gender issues because of society’s double standards about female sexuality. Indeed, sometimes when men feel threatened by a woman, they will call her a succubus, literally demonizing her–particularly if the woman in question is sexually liberated, dominant, or just won’t submit to male authority.

From this idea emerged the character of Maraina Blackwood–a mortal woman, raised to believe that she must submit to the patriarchy, who ends up becoming a heroic succubus fighting to smash it. Maraina’s arc is all about exploring the ideas that are drilled into our heads growing up, and recognizing how toxic they are. She deconstructs the femme fatale archetype by being a noble seductress. Similarly, the villain of the book, the cruel incubus Salem Sotirios, is a condemnation of toxic patriarchy, as well as of “abusive-but-sexy” Byronic love interests like Edward Cullen or Christian Grey.

Once I had this concept, I ended up setting the book in Victorian England. Part of this was because I wanted to give the book a pervasive Gothic Horror aesthetic; this way, my succubi could wear corsets, my incubi could wear top hats, and they all could frolic around in dark, crumbling castles. As an enthusiast of Victorian Gothic Fashion, that sounded just dandy to me.

More importantly, though, the Victorians had infamously rigid gender roles and severe sexual repression. It was a perfectly horrible society for Maraina to grow up in, making her all the more of a sympathetic rebel.

From there, I considered the rules of succubi and incubi, and adjusted them to fit the narrative I wanted to tell. “Succubi and Incubi” was too mouthy to repeat over and over, so I settled on naming the species as a whole “Lilitu.” Different lilitu bloodlines would have different traits–some would have horns while others wouldn’t, some would shift gender, etc.–but in all cases, they would be able to enter and manipulate dreams.

Another factor was the fact that succubi are supposed to be exceptionally beautiful. I didn’t want to support the idea that there’s one valid form of beauty, so I ensured that we meet succubi of all body types throughout the book. I also decided to deconstruct this facet of the mythology by exploring how society demands that we look and act a certain way based on our sex, and the dysmorphia we can feel as a result.

LILITU is dark fantasy, so it’s got plenty of fun, magical bits: flaming swords, sexy demons, and blood rituals, to name a few. But at its core, it’s attempting to explore very real issues, and many of its most unsettling moments are based on the factual truth of Victorian life. Unfortunately, in our modern world, many of these issues remain uncomfortably relevant. The main takeaway from LILITU is this: all demons do is draw attention to the horror that was already there.

ABOUT THE BOOK: England, 1876. Twenty-year-old Maraina Blackwood has always struggled to adhere to the restrictive standards of Victorian society, denying the courage and desire that burn within her soul. But after a terrifying supernatural encounter, Maraina’s instincts compel her to action.

Maraina soon discovers a plot to unleash a new world—one of demonic aristocrats, bloody rituals, and nightmarish monsters. Putting her upbringing aside, Maraina vows to fight the dark forces assuming control of England. But as her world transforms, Maraina finds that she too must transform…and what she becomes will bring out all that she once buried.

Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus is the first chapter in an epic dark fantasy saga, proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.


(Or if you want to support small business, check to see if your local bookstore can order the novel and ship it directly to you.)

ABOUT JONATHAN: Jonathan Fortin is the author of “Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus” (Crystal Lake Publishing), “Requiem In Frost” (, and “Nightmarescape” (Mocha Memoirs Press). An unashamed lover of spooky Gothic stories, Jonathan was named the Next Great Horror Writer in 2017 by He attended the Clarion Writing Program in 2012, one year after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program. When not writing, Jonathan enjoys voice acting, dressing like a Victorian vampire, and indulging in all things odd and macabre in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow him online at or on Twitter @Jonathan_Fortin.

A Handful of Thoughts: The Oscars

Writing about the Oscars when I didn’t watch a) most of the movies nominated, or b) the ceremony itself feels a bit like being back in high school and writing essays for books I never read. (Look, I read most of them. Heart of Darkness absolutely didn’t happen, though. Sorry, Mr. Schaut.) But I’m still doing it cause . . . I don’t know, I wanna. I’m just saying, maybe don’t expect complicated, critical analysis from me this morning.

What I can offer you, however, are my arbitrary opinions about red carpet fashion!

1. No, seriously, you know I can’t resist a red carpet because I woke up an hour and a half early for this shit, and I don’t wake up early for anything if I can possibly avoid it. Besides, Mek and I have a tradition: I watch the livestream and email her all my various opinions while badly describing the dresses because I know basically nothing about clothes; I just like them.

An obvious trend on this carpet: pink, pink everywhere. Also, tulle. I do feel like I saw more men in interesting suits, which was cool. The Fashion Hall of Shame, however, is still packed full of people: Michael B. Jordan, Sam Rockwell, Paul Rudd, Viggo Mortensen, Bradley Cooper, Diego Luna, Adam Driver, Sam Elliott, James McCoy, Danny Glover, Henry Golding, and Peter Farrelly. Your suits are all needlessly boring, and it’s annoying you’re allowed to keep doing this.

Obviously, the only fashion commentary that matters to anyone is Genevieve Valentine’s, but for my money, here are some standout looks:

Billy Porter – OBVIOUSLY. This is the look of the fucking night. What else is there even to be said?

Danai Gurira – Initially, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the black fabric around the middle, but that gold looks exquisite on Gurira, and of course, her hair and makeup are fantastic.

Michelle Yeoh – I definitely wouldn’t pick this dress for myself (you know, if I had the opportunity to go on a red carpet, which I occasionally daydream about, even though I would literally hate everything about it), but Yeoh looks great in this. It’s all, like, magical and shit. Goddamn, I like her.

Melissa McCarthy – Oooh, yes. I get very excited about plus size looks that I actually like, and those pants with that cape and that neckline? Gorgeous. I absolutely would love to wear something like this.

Stephan James – Gotta love this red suit. It’s just awesome.

Regina King – Super classy, elegant, and simple. I like it a lot.

Gemma Chan – The thing is, I don’t actually like this dress all that much–it’s like a couture pink parachute–but Jesus Christ, does Gemma Chan work it, anyway. I am in awe of this.

Spike Lee – I wish my brain would be useful and let me think of Prince before I think of Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Nevertheless, I love this purple ensemble. And gold shoes, too!

Constance Wu – She looks goddamn divine. Not everyone can pull that yellow, but she absolutely can.

Amandla Stenberg – That flapper dress? That gorgeous braided updo? LOVE.

2. Eight films were nominated this year for Best Picture. I saw (and loved) exactly one of them: Black Panther. I seriously considered watching (and still would like to see) two others: The Favourite and BlacKkKlansman. I had some interest in Bohemian Rhapsody until I read about this. I had some interest in Green Book until I read about this and this and, well, basically all of this. I could watch Roma, though have no particular interest in the film. I could yawn my way through Vice, but the thing is, life is short. And while I’m well aware that people love A Star Is Born . . . look, a tragic romance about country musicians seems like the kind of thing they’ll put on endless loop for me in Hell, so. No.

When Green Book won, I think my entire Twitter feed spontaneously combusted in rage.

3. I wish I could be happy, at least, that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won for Best Animated Feature, and I am happy, only . . . I still haven’t seen the movie. I know. I know. I honestly can’t remember the last movie I saw in theater. I have brought shame to my house and to my future potential children.

4. I see Trump is being predictably Trump-like about Spike Lee’s speech. FFS.

5. Samuel L. Jackson’s reaction to Spike Lee is one of the best things ever. See also: Spike Lee literally jumping into Samuel L. Jackson’s arms and wrapping his legs around him. I am generally not here for RPF fanfic because I think there are serious boundary problems, but I can’t help but wonder how many slash RPF fics were born from this win.

6. Olivia Coleman is precious, and her speech definitely made me tear up. I really must watch The Favourite.

Okay, that’s it for me, folks. Mama needs some shuteye.

TL;DR: The Fire – Catharsis Attempt No. 7

It started for me on Monday, around 3:30 in the morning. I’d worked Saturday night and then stayed up 30 hours straight. I finally went to bed around 10 p.m. Sunday. I didn’t smell the smoke or see the news. I was exhausted. I was out. And then 3:30, and Mekaela was waking me because we got a call. Evacuate, it said. We did.

I lost nothing. Hot water, for a few days. Power, briefly. I wasn’t even awake at that point. I returned home mere hours after I left. I lost nothing at all.

At the shelter, the sky was split in half. It would have made for a hell of an Instagram photo, but I couldn’t take one; I’d accidentally left my phone behind while grabbing my bag. I want to describe that sky now, and I can only think of this:

“Armageddon is almost upon us.
“I’ve got news for you. It’s already here.”

It’s from Clue. Why am I like this?

They evacuated the hospital I work at. The radio reported it went up in flames. They were wrong, but we didn’t know that as we sat in my sister’s car, listening in horror. I squeezed her hand and cried.

I work every Sunday night, every single one. I didn’t work that Sunday because I was supposed to go on vacation the next day.

Can you have survivor’s guilt when no one at your job actually died?

I should have been there. I would have been useless there. There’s nothing about me, nothing, that says “good in a crisis,” and I feel like maybe I already hit my “trauma at work” quota when I watched my friend and co-worker die there years ago. But those were my nurses, my crew. I should have fucking been there.

I’ve been editing, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been donating money, and I’ve been editing. It needs to get done. People are dead. People have lost everything. I still need to do it.

(There are missing pieces here, things I cannot tell you. Just assume a lot of anxiety, and a lot of anger. I get so goddamn angry sometimes.)

Wind bothers me now. I feel anxious when I see it: listen for sirens, Google wind speeds. I worry that I’ll watch The Happening and think it’s actually a scary movie.

Why am I like this why am I like this why am I like this?

We’re moving past the worst of it. We’re #SantaRosaStrong. We’re #SonomaCountyStrong. Our Love is Thicker Than the Smoke.

Maybe this is why the sarcastic, nerdy friend dies in horror movies. Sincerity is called for. Humor is a defense mechanism nobody wants in the aftermath of a crisis.

Here I am anyway.

A Challenge, Of Sorts – Cast Your Dream TV Show

Today is a good day. Not only is it my sister’s birthday (everyone say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MEKAELA), it’s also a day in which I will bestow glorious power upon you. Like, okay, theoretical glorious power, but POWER NONETHELESS.

Here’s what I’d like you to do, if you’re willing to play along: cast your dream TV show. The plot of your show itself doesn’t matter so much and can be any genre–personally, I’m leaning towards team-based space opera myself, but to each her own–but everyone has to follow certain rules. You must cast at least 5 actors, maximum 13, from the 13 television shows listed below. Your actors must have either played a main character or a very prominent recurring character in these shows–don’t cheat by picking an actress who was in three episodes of a 150-episode show, people. Furthermore, you’re only allowed to cast 1 actor per show. That’s right, Firefly fans: you don’t get to have both Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk. You must CHOOSE. (The only exception to this is if you pick an actor who starred in two different shows from the list, in which case you could pick him from Show A and pick someone else from Show B. Otherwise, that’s it. No cheating.)

Don’t recognize a lot of these shows? Don’t worry, you can still play! Just check out the links to look at the actors involved. Even if you haven’t watched the actual TV show in question (I actually haven’t watched all 13 myself), I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll recognize at least 5 people among these casts.

Your shows to choose from:

Luke Cage
The Walking Dead
The Expanse
The Flash
The Wire
The West Wing
Person of Interest
Parks & Recreations
Orange is the New Black
Grey’s Anatomy
Game Of Thrones

I hope you play. I really love hearing about people’s dream casts. Feel free to be as generic or specific as you want. You can just comment with your list of actors, or you can go for broke and give them names and job titles and dark secrets and horoscopes. I’m not gonna lie: I’m gonna give bonus points for dark secrets and horoscopes.

Also! Apparently, my blog has been eating some comments because it doesn’t actually like me? So I’ve recently made some changes to my settings that will hopefully make it easier to comment. Just in case that’s been holding you back. Talk to me. I’m so alooooooooone.

8 Things Fanfiction Has Taught Me

Here’s a thing about me: I fall into fandom blackholes with some frequency, sometimes because I’m looking for happy distractions from sad life stuff and terrifying political news, but also just because I love fanfiction: I’ve been reading and writing it since I was 16-years-old, and I can unequivocally say that it’s made me a happier person

I’d planned to write up a review of Seasons 1-2 of Voltron: Legendary Defender, as that was my fandom blackhole of choice a couple of months ago . . . but life happened, the review got delayed, and I’m now happily in the midst of a Riverdale spiral instead. More importantly, I realized that so much of the review was going to be about discussing the relationship between fandom and show that I realized what I really wanted to do was talk about my experience with fanfiction in general: what I look for, what doesn’t interest me, how it’s made me a better writer, and how it can shape my perception of the canon material itself.

I’m not sure if anyone’s interested in that kind of thing, but hey, that’s why it’s my blog, right? (Also, did I mention I’m throwing out some random fanfic recs? Because I am definitely throwing out a few random fanfic recs.)

So, here we go, people. An essay in list form, because that’s how I roll.

Continue reading



My father, George St. George, passed away on February 7th, 2017. Our relationship was sometimes complicated, but I loved him very much. It is very hard to believe that I would have become a writer without him; it is harder still to accept that he won’t be here to see me hopefully publish my first novel or meet my children if I ever decide to have them. It’s hard to imagine spending a Christmas where I don’t shake my head, laughing, at whatever thing he got me that was only tangentially related to what I actually asked for. It’s impossible to reconcile what my head knows, what my eyes saw, and what my heart feels: that he’s gone but can’t be gone, because he’s Papa and was always here.

I don’t expect to discuss this in any more public detail for some time, and am not particularly looking for any type of condolences such as “he’s gone to a better place” or “he’ll always be with you.” It just felt wrong to try and return to business as normal around here without saying a word, particularly because my father commented on my reviews so often to tell me how he proud he was, and to stop using so much profanity.

I love you, Papa. Today, at least, there will be no F-bombs.


A quick update: I probably won’t be writing much here, if at all, for a while. I need to take some time to be with family. How much time, I really can’t say at this point, but while you await my glorious return, try to take care of one another, practice self care as needed (I personally recommend squeezing your cats and watching a bunch of cartoons, but to each his own), and resist as best you can. We all need to fight for each other right now.

RIP, Carrie Fisher

I wanted to write a tribute to Carrie Fisher, who passed away this morning at the age of 60, but I honestly don’t know what to say. This hits me harder than I would have expected, probably harder than it would have a couple of years ago, when I only knew her as Princess Leia from the Star Wars movies and Sally’s Friend from When Harry Met Sally–but didn’t really know her as an author and a script doctor and a mental health advocate and an otherwise hilariously and wonderfully brazen, outspoken woman. (Which isn’t to knock Star Wars or When Harry Met Sally as unworthy reasons to love her–Leia is a goddamn feminist icon, and I think watching When Harry Met Sally is the first time I realized how funny Carrie Fisher could be.) Basically every interview I’ve read or seen of her in the past couple of years has made me love her even more, making me all the more sorry she’s gone. It’s silly to say that you were just getting to know someone you never met and, in all likelihood, were never going to meet, but still . . . today hurts.

Since eloquence isn’t my strong suit and I’ve never been particularly adept at moving, inspirational memorials, I kind of wanted to do a fun tribute, like, for instance, a Five Minute Princess Leia Cosplay, preferably from A New Hope.

There were multiple problems with this.

  • I have exactly one white dress, or off-white dress, that doesn’t look anything like Leia’s dress at all.
  • In fact, nothing in my wardrobe looks remotely like anything in Leia’s wardrobe.
  • I currently have blue-and-green hair.
  • I am the WORST at hair. You’d think someone who changes it as much as I do would be able to style it. You’d be mistaken.

Regardless, I tried it out. It didn’t go well. Like, it went pretty hysterically badly. But I just started having fun with it, playing around with my fake assault rifle, taking my glasses on and off, laughing at my bullshit hair buns, changing from my off-white dress to my actually-white bathrobe, etc. Here’s what I got.


RIP, Carrie Fisher. I’m grateful the world had you at all, but so sad you left us so soon.

TL; DR – My Horror, And Not Much Else

I’d planned to finish up and post a movie review today, but at the moment I’m too heartsick to work on it. I haven’t even decided if I’m going to post whatever I’m writing here or not: I’m not going to say anything original that people haven’t already said, or said better, or will say better in the upcoming days. I don’t have anything inspirational to add, any advice to share, any comfort to offer. I just feel sick and frightened and bitterly disappointed in my country. I knew that no matter who won, we had a lot of work to do because this election has revealed a level of misogyny, racism, ignorance, and hatred that I had never imagined was so staggeringly high. I knew better than to start celebrating before the vote was in because I had already made the mistake of thinking Donald Trump could never be the Republican Presidential Nominee, and I learned from that. But call it naivety, call it privilege, call it delusion or hope or all of the above: I thought Hillary Clinton would most likely win. I thought we would finally have the first female president. I thought my country wouldn’t run so willingly into such an unmitigated racist, sexist, xenophobic, and economic disaster.

And yet. Here we are.

I’m better off than a lot of Americans. My Mexican ancestry is important to me personally, but I’m white, was raised white, occasionally fail at yoga like any good white girl, and no one has ever discriminated against me based off the color of my pale ass skin. I’m agnostic, and that’s led to some tense conversations, certainly, but I’m also Californian, so not being a Christian isn’t a total anomaly, either. I’ve experienced some angry people who have questioned my morality, but I’ve never been persecuted because of my faith or lack thereof; no one targets me, or throws me off airplanes because I’m saying or looking at things they don’t understand. I’m not rich, but I’m lucky enough to have a great paying job with exceptional health benefits, so even though my finances are about to take a hit because of an unexpected move and a dramatic raise in rent, I will probably still be fine unless the economy gets so awful that I get laid off. (Which, to be fair, is now a consideration.) I’m a woman, so a president who brags about grabbing women by the pussy, has been accused of multiple sexual assaults, and who panders to alt-right voters by lying about full-term abortions (a thing that does not exist) does genuinely and legitimately terrify me on a personal level . . . but again, white, which absolutely does NOT mean I’m safe but does mean I’m safer than pretty much any non-white woman in this country.

The stuff that’s really Other about me, that most people don’t understand and that I very seldom talk about, is invisible. Invisible differences can be a huge weight sometimes, because even your most enlightened friends–and friends, I’m not talking about anyone specifically–who seem to hold their arms open to everyone will still often say something that hurts or belittles you and your experience . . . but at the same time, because no one can see those differences, no one is actively trying to harm you because of them, either. No one will send me to conversion therapy. My civil liberties will probably remain mostly intact. No one will fire or evict me for being different. I won’t be arrested or killed for being unusual.

I’m better off than so, so many Americans. But I find that I’m still frightened, for myself, for my friends and family who are less privileged and/or less invisible, and for my country as a whole . . . because, Jesus, what comes next?

The problem, I think, with political rhetoric and hyperbole in general is that everyone gets so used to ignoring it that no one believes it’s real when it actually comes to pass. Like, it’s always The Boy Who Cried Wolf, right? Everyone gets called or compared to a Nazi at some point, everyone from morally bankrupt politicians to people who are just particular about their grammar, so when people start accurately saying, “Hey, remember Germany?” there are so many people who don’t actually believe it. There are so many who say, “Everyone always says that, and nothing terrible actually happens. This isn’t the end of the country. Stop being so dramatic just because your side lost.”

I have voted for president four times in my life. My first ever vote, at 18, was for John Kerry. I voted twice for Barack Obama, and then once for Hillary Clinton. Clearly, I’m a Democrat through and through, and I was disappointed when Kerry lost, but I also wasn’t devastated. I was excited when Obama won the first time and certainly relieved when he won the second, but I never thought the whole country would be destabilized if he lost, either. Tonight?

I burst into tears twice tonight. Once when it seemed certain that Donald Trump was close to winning, and once when I actually saw the words: “Donald Trump won the presidency.” I never expected to cry so hard because “the other side” won. I never expected to be this upset, this scared, or this fucking angry. I’m angry at everybody who voted for Trump, especially other white women–because the majority of us did, and I’ve never been so fucking ashamed. I’m angry at anyone who refused to vote when they legally and physically could have, and anyone who threw their vote away on a third-party candidate because they chose philosophy over actual lives. I’m angry at anyone in the media who acted like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were equally flawed candidates. I’m angry at James Comey and his Hail Mary email scandal, which shouldn’t even have been a fucking story, and I’m angry at all the Republicans who went along with Trump because they were too scared to stop this when it could have been stopped.

And I want to channel this energy into something positive, something active, something that will actually help somebody in some practical way, but I don’t know how to do that. I do not know what to do.

Honestly, I don’t even know what the best outcome could be. I’ve seen some liberal friends comforting themselves by saying how Trump will just be a figurehead, how he won’t have any real power and how it will be all his VP and Cabinet and staff actually running the country . . . and yes, that is a comfort if that means no one will actually listen to Trump when he says, “Go nuke that country because I’m having a fucking tantrum.” That might mean in 2020, every country–including America–will actually literally still be here. That might mean we have a chance to get our country back.

But it also means that the country will be run with no checks and balances by a Republican Senate, a Republican House, a Republican Supreme Court–which was never fucking appropriately filled–and VP Mike Pence, a man who’s actively fought AGAINST Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, marriage equality, accepting Syrian refugees, and a path to citizenship in general, and FOR any common sense gun control, conversion therapy, mandatory funerals for fetuses, the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, and God knows what else I’m forgetting right now. Lives will be ruined. Lives will be lost. This is not rhetoric; it’s not acceptable, and it’s not okay. Maybe Trump won’t actively be running the country, but even in that scenario, the cost is too fucking high. (And do we really want to underestimate him now? Do we really want to assume he won’t do every destructive thing he can possibly do just because he can?)

I want to wrap this up with a positive message, some sort of practical advice, but I just don’t have any. I don’t know what to do. At this point, at this hour, I’m not sure there’s much I can do, so I’m here, writing this for myself, and taking a big fucking breath, before diving back into my feminist horror story re-write because even if it can’t help anyone, even if our orange-skinned President Nazi Wolf is actually here . . . at least I can feel a little better writing about some badass young women violently tearing some shit down.

I’m sorry, anyone who actually reads all this. It’s all I’ve got right now.