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Reading Deliberately, Reading Diversely by Mark Allen Gunnells

A word from Andrew Fowlow @TheBookDad

"Mark Allen Gunnells has been one of my favorite people in the horror community to follow over the last year. He is a selfless advocate for women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ authors and works hard to amplify underrepresented voices in the genre. The horror community is a better place because of kind-hearted, twisted minds like him. He is the accomplished writer behind several shocking short stories that are available in an array of horror anthologies including the Halldark Holidays collection edited by Gabino Iglesias and published by Cemetary Gates Media. Crystal Lake Publishing also released his novel 324 Abercorn in late 2020 and lastly, his newest novel 2B brought to you by Valhalla Books and is available for purchase on February 13th, 2021."


Reading Deliberately, Reading Diversely

By Mark Allan Gunnells

During my formative years as a younger reader, I almost never saw myself reflected in the genre I most loved, horror. By that, I mean I didn’t see a lot of gay characters represented. I hungered to see myself reflected in what I read, but often came away disappointed. In fact, when I first started seriously writing fiction, I didn’t write gay characters because I thought that simply wasn’t allowed.

Clive Barker’s publicly coming out in the 90s helped change that for me, and I became more confident in my own voice and specifically utilizing gay characters and themes. Because of this, the idea of diversity in the horror genre became very important to me. Diversity in orientation, race, and gender. 

Yet recently I’ve come to realize that while I talk the talk, I don’t always walk the walk. It’s not that I was not reading women or people or color or LGBTQ+ folks … but it was rare. As rare as finding a gay character in an 80s horror novel. I found myself often going for my “comfort food” authors, the ones I had grown up with. Now these writers produce great quality work, but they are by and large also straight white men. This isn’t to bash straight white men, but there is a whole wide rich world of great genre fiction out there being written by people of color, women, and LGBTQ+. (Oddly despite my desperate search for representation as a young person, I realized I was reading very few LGBTQ+ authors.)

So I made the decision to read more deliberately this year, specifically more diversely. Not a sacrifice, I will still read what looks most interesting to me and have no doubt I’ll read some fantastic fiction. But for 2021, I will only pull from the pool of writers who are people of color, women, and LGBTQ+. 

Because I believe visibility and representation are important, because I believe reading authors from marginalized groups offers us unique and fresh perspectives that result in unexpectedly rich and surprising fiction. I am not suggesting anyone else needs to do so, but it is a decision I’ve made for myself.

I think back to that young gay person I was, disheartened by the lack of representation in my favorite genre, and I think he’d be delighted to know I have so much wonderful fiction to read that represents the gloriously diverse world in which we live.


2 B by Mark Allen Gunnells


"When your ex wants you dead, they will take you to the grave with them!” -2 B
When two passionate lovers fall out, the results can be deadly.
“Berkley Simmons died … for five minutes.

Berkley woke up to find himself in the hospital. He discovered that his ex is dead after a failed murder/ suicide attempt. With nowhere else to go, Berkley must return to the apartment where it all happened. It doesn’t take long for Berkley to begin to suspect that his ex never left the apartment, and still wants him dead.”

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