Today we get to talk with Stephanie Wytovich and learn about her writing and her upcoming poetry collection, The Apocalyptic Mannequin.
- Who or what inspired you to become an author and poet?
- Tell us about The Apocalyptic Mannequin and what inspired you to write it?
For this collection, I wanted to explore the definition of self when one is pushed to extreme trauma and revelation. I tried to define bodies when the idea of “body” has been lost among the rubble, and through a series of possibilities—whether environmental, religious, monstrous, or human—I performed lobotomies to erase the trauma, and then shocked my characters back to life as they were reborn in a world unfamiliar to them. In a lot of ways, this collection was one of the scarier ones that I’ve written because I put a lot of personal fears, anxieties, and nightmares into it, and while I’ve written about death and grief as a subject matter before, this one felt darker to me in a realer sense because the threat of destruction in a moral or physical sense is something that I feel like I confront every day when I walk outside, when I read a newspaper, when I pick up my prescription at the pharmacy…
Lately, the horror just feels more present than it has in the past.
- Is your process for writing poetry different than your process for writing short fiction or novels?
Very much so! When I write fiction these days, I tend to heavily outline the entire project—with extra attention spent on character and setting description, whereas my poetry tends to be a little more freeform with some light meditation beforehand. For instance, when I have a subject for a poem I want to write, sometimes I storyboard the idea with visuals/art that helps foster that emotion, and other times, I write done words that I associate it. I’m not necessarily outlining the poem itself, but rather my response to the emotion and imagery that I want to convey. In the end, fiction has always been harder for me, so I need a more regimented approach to it opposed to poetry, which has always felt more organic.
- I’ve seen online that you practice witchcraft, has that impacted how or what you write?
- What’s one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in creating your books and poetry collections?
- What’s your next project?
- Where can people follow you online to keep up with all your amazing accomplishments (like the fact that you have a selection of poetry out in the recently resurrected Weird Tales)?
About The Apocalyptic Mannequin
Doomsday is here and the earth is suffering with each breath she takes. Whether it’s from the nuclear meltdown, the wrath of the Four Horsemen, a war with technology, or a consequence of our relationship with the planet, humanity is left buried and hiding, our bones exposed, our hearts beating somewhere in our freshly slit throats.
This is a collection that strips away civilization and throws readers into the lives of its survivors. The poems inside are undelivered letters, tear-soaked whispers, and unanswered prayers. They are every worry you’ve had when your electricity went out, and every pit that grew in your stomach watching the news at night. They are tragedy and trauma, but they are also grief and fear, fear of who—or what—lives inside us once everything is taken away.
These pages hold the teeth of monsters against the faded photographs of family and friends, and here, Wytovich is both plague doctor and midwife, both judge and jury, forever searching through severed limbs and exposed wires as she straddles the line evaluating what’s moral versus what’s necessary to survive.
What’s clear though, is that the world is burning and we don’t remember who we are.
So tell me: who will you become when it’s over?
What They’re Saying -
“Like a doomsday clock fast-forwarding to its final self-destruction, Wytovich’s poetry will give you whiplash as you flip through page after page. The writing here is ugly yet beautiful. It reads like a disease greedily eating up vital organs. The apocalypse has arrived and it couldn’t be more intoxicating!”
—Max Booth III, author of Carnivorous Lunar Activities
“In this hauntingly sensuous new collection of poetry, you’ll long to savor every apocalyptic nightmare you have ever feared. Blooming in the beauty of destruction and the terror of delight, Stephanie M Wytovich’s poems remind us that we feel the world better, love the world better, when we recognize the ephemeral nature of everything achingly alive beyond our mannequin minds. Here, we are captive to our deepest velvet snarls, zombie songs, and radioactive wishes, at the mercy of a neon reaping. Reading this collection is like dancing through Doomsday, intoxicated by the destructive, decadent truth of desire in our very mortality. In these poems, you will find revelry in the ruins of everything you once held dear — and you will love it to the last as you watch the world unravel around you.”
—Saba Syed Razvi, author of Heliophobia and In the Crocodile Gardens
“Beautifully bleak, Stephanie M. Wytovich’s latest collection posits scenarios of the apocalypse and the horrors to come thereafter with language like fragrant hooks in your skin. Vivid, each word a weight on your tongue, these poems taste of metal and ash with a hint of spice, smoke. She reminds us the lucky ones die first, and those who remain must face the horrors of a world painted in blisters and fear. Leave it to Wytovich to show us there’s beauty in the end, just beneath all that peeling, irradiated skin.”
—Todd Keisling, author of Ugly Little Things and Devil’s Creek
“Set in a post-apocalyptic world that at times seems all too near, Wytovich’s poems conjure up frighteningly beautiful and uncomfortably prescient imagery. Populated by a cast of unsettling, compelling characters, this collection is one that stuck with me.”
—Claire C. Holland, author of I Am Not Your Final Girl
“A surreal journey through an apocalyptic wasteland, a world that is terrifyingly reminiscent of our own even as the blare of evacuation alarms drowns out the sizzle of acid rain, smiling mannequins bear witness to a hundred thousand deaths, and “the forest floor grows femurs in the light of a skeletal moon.” Stephanie M. Wytovich’s The Apocalyptic Mannequin is as unsettling as it is lovely, as grotesque as it is exquisite.”
—Christa Carmen, author of Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked
Pre-Order Available (First 30 receive FREE personalized copy) -
Stephanie Wytovich, Biography –
Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her work has been showcased in numerous venues such as Weird Tales, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Fantastic Tales of Terror, Year's Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 2, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 8, as well as many others.
Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Point Park University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare, and most recently, The Apocalyptic Mannequin. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press.