Pulling the Trigger Warnings?

TRIGGER WARNING: Non-ideological discussion of every trigger warning I can think of.

Now that you’ve been cautioned, dark reader, I want to start off by admitting that I don’t have a problem with trigger warnings. I fully understand that some people have been traumatized by certain life experiences, and to read about them can make them feel anything from discomfort to extreme distress. And in my own writing, I’m completely willing to provide trigger warnings for any editors or publishers who ask for them.

But as a reader I don’t have much use for them, especially in horror, as dark fiction for me is about pushing through the shadow into the light. Personally, I’ve found that refusing to explore something that scares me only makes it loom larger in my life. Yet, mostly, I tend to skip them because I like to avoid anything remotely resembling a spoiler.

So, while I totally get the point of trigger warnings and honor those who advocate for them, the tricky question that no one wants to answer is: What subjects qualify?

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Why You Don’t See More Jewish Horror

THE JEWISH BOOK OF HORROR, the anthology I edited for Denver Horror Collective (DHC) in late 2021, just won a bronze medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, a Silver medal in the 666 Awards, and had previously made it onto the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards. Meanwhile, at a recent horror writers conference, I lost count of the authors who told me they loved the book, which sold well at the DHC table, as it has been literally around the world.

While readers are hungry for Jewish horror as a unique exploration of the larger genre, I think I finally understand why THE JEWISH BOOK OF HORROR was one of the only Jewish horror anthologies ever released (all by small presses). And why nearly every working author who also writes Jewish horror tells me they have difficulty getting those stories published.

Because while pitching my Jewish folk horror novel to the editor of a large, established horror fiction publisher, one of my sneaking suspicions as to what’s been turning off so many gatekeepers was finally confirmed.

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