Contributor Spotlight: S.M. Beiko

Sandy is a good girl, but she lives a lonely, damaged life in the company of a cruel father, her pain seen only by the haints — spirits of good girls past whose lives were cut short by cruelty. As the years pass and the mistreatment does not abate, Sandy realizes what she has to do to avoid sharing the haints’ fate.

Tell us a little about what inspired “The Good Girls“.

Most of my stories start out with an image in my head, like a movie still. I just couldn’t get the visual of a little girl hanging out with a corpse out of my head, and that the living girl, while appropriately scared initially, became set on helping out the dead girl; appearances aren’t always as they seem! Also, just love a good suburban haunting with a grave-digging avenger.

What do you hope readers get from reading “The Good Girls”?

I wanted to convey a story whose main action is listening. That listening is not a helpless act, and taking in someone else’s truth can completely influence your own. And that the dead always have something to say.

How has your time in the Prairies influenced your writing? 

The prairies are often overlooked because, well, geographically speaking there usually isn’t much going on here. Which us prairie-dwellers know is patently untrue (see Parallel Prairies, and the entirety of Alternate Plains!), and it’s also a sentiment we are sick of hearing. I find that giant urban metropolises (metropoli?) can really detract from the menace of an abandoned farm field, or miles of bush that lead nowhere. All this open space gives our brains a ton of runway, especially when you approach storytelling from a ‘what weird angle can I put on this mundane thing’ spin. The possibilities, the mythos, are endless. It’s always the most unassuming settings that have the sharpest teeth.

What do you feel anthologies and short stories accomplish that novellas and novels don’t?

They’re lean, cutting, a moment in time. You are immediately in the story, and half the set-up is up to the reader. I often find short stories, deftly executed, are the ones that stick with you longest, because the reader pours a lot of themselves to fill in the gaps the author has left for you.

What other work would you like the readers to know about?

Adult/horror is a fun genre to me because I mostly write for a younger audience (teens) with a focus on fantasy. But aside from writing, I’m also a visual artist, and I create a webcomic called Krampus Is My Boyfriend! which is a slice of life fantasy comedy about Krampus going to school with his unwitting teenaged summoner, and fighting monsters and mages on the side. Writing short stories and novels is definitely…I don’t want to say easier, but spending a year drawing 100 pages, then having someone read it in half an hour, is gutting (but totally rewarding!) You can find KiMBF! on the Webtoon App here.

What are you working on now? What can readers look forward to next?

I’m constantly working on KiMBF!, but I’ve also got a new young adult fantasy series coming to shelves soon! The first book, The Stars of Mount Quixx, is slated for release through ECW Press in April 2023, with its four sequels coming in subsequent years. The series is called The Brindlewatch Quintet, and is Ransom Riggs meets A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’ve had Quixx in my writer-trunk for 10 years, so I’m extra excited for people to finally read it!

Samantha Mary (S.M.) Beiko is a Winnipeg-based artist, author, and editor.

Her young adult novels are The Lake and the Library (ECW Press, 2013), Scion of the Fox (ECW Press, 2017) (which won the 2018 Copper Cylinder Award), Children of the Bloodlands (2018) and The Brilliant Dark (2019). She is the co-editor of Gothic Tales of Haunted Love (Bedside Press, 2018), and the solo editor of its follow-up, Gothic Tales of Haunted Futures (Renegade Arts Entertainment, 2020.) Her short fiction has been anthologized in Gush: Menstrual Manifestos of Our Times (Frontenac House, 2018), Parallel Prairies: Stories (Enfield & Wizenty, 2018) and Alternate Plains (Enfield & Wizenty, 2021). Beiko is also the artist and writer for the creator-owned webcomic, Krampus is My Boyfriend!, which won the 2020 Aurora Award for Best Graphic Novel, and was nominated for the 2020 Joe Shuster Award for Best Webcomic. Her next novel, The Stars of Mount Quixx, is slated for release in April 2023, beginning a new 5-book series called The Brindlewatch Quintet.

Website: www.smbeiko.com

Her work can be purchased via her website here, or wherever books are sold.

Alternate Plains: Stories of Prairie Speculative Fiction is available wherever books are sold like Amazon, Chapters Indigo, through our publisher Great Plains Publications, and local booksellers like ours, McNally Robinson Booksellers.

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