Brockton Writers Series 11.01.23: Suzan Palumbo

Suzan Palumbo is a queer Trinidadian dark fantasy/horror writer, Nebula Award finalist and co-founder of the Ignyte Awards. Her debut short story collection Skin Thief: Stories will be published by Neon Hemlock in October 2023. Her novella, Countess, will be published by ECW Press in Spring 2024.

A Gothic Writer’s Tribute to Fog

I’ve loved the Gothic in all it’s literary and artistic forms my entire life. Give me damp castles, crumbling abbeys, ruined estates, dead space ships, becalmed boats, dilapidated strip malls, and abandoned apartment complexes housing dark secrets, in any region or even in outer space. I will be rapt. 

Unlike the tragic heroines fleeing dark mansions on the classic gothic Romance pulp covers we are familiar with, I run towards the Gothic. I seek out its aesthetics daily and use them as inspiration for my writing and art. A difficulty I’ve encountered in accessing the palpable, brooding mood I adore is that I live in a cookie cutter suburb. The Gothic, if it exists here, is fittingly hidden by sunshine, or perhaps more sinisterly, behind the closed doors of my neighbours’ homes. That is, unless a thick fog creeps into the community. Then, the Gothic arrives at my doorstep and seeps into my creative brain.

The fog was generous with me this past November. It enveloped our streets for several days, muffling sound and filtering light. Each morning while it remained, I ran out into its shroud to welcome it with my smartphone camera. Each day, the street where I live became otherworldly in a different way. Here are some of the transformations I captured:

(Suzan Palumbo, 2022)

The first day, the trees at the intersection were black silhouettes, backlit by a sickly sun. I half expected to encounter a horseman riding through the mist towards me, headless and determined. The light was so beautifully eerie, like the world was part of an old black and white movie. It was cool, noir-tinged, and glorious.  

(Suzan Palumbo, 2022)

The next day, the gazebo near the play structure had transformed into a spectral meeting place. The light was warmer. I sensed that if I walked the path of fallen leaves between the trees to the benches, I would encounter the ghost of a child waiting to whisper a secret to me. If you stare hard enough, you can almost picture someone sitting on the bench, waving at you, hoping you’ll come sit with them. 

(Suzan Palumbo, 2022)

On the third day, I ventured to the nearby catchment pond. There was no wind and the heavy fog had turned the water into a silver mirror which blurred the boundaries between the water and sky. I found myself staring at the monochromatic reflection of a dead tree near the edge of the pond. Angled the way it was, it was as if the tree was watching its doppelgänger reach its branches deep underwater, where they didn’t belong. 

(Suzan Palumbo, 2022)

The fog did not return on the fourth day. The weather pattern changed and there was sunshine and blue skies for a week. It reappeared however, at the end November, with ice and snow. I went out to the catchment pond again. The mood there had shifted. Ice added sparkle where before the grays and whites produced by the filtered light were flatter. This was glorious Gothic glamour. I imagined a fog queen wrapped in a charcoal cloak, walking along the icy edge of the pond, her face forever hidden by mist. 

The fog hasn’t returned since November. I look out for it every morning. It’s beautiful and fleeting. I never take its presence for granted. Its transformative qualities are an endless source of inspiration for me as writer. 

If you’re ever craving something Gothic, I encourage you, if it’s safe, to go out into the fog when it descends. Perhaps you will see the fog queen or envision a child whispering, or maybe you’ll be haunted by a vision that is uniquely your own.

If you’re interested in seeing how my love of gothic has worked its way into my published short stories, my short fiction collection Skin Thief, published by Neon Hemlock, will be out in fall 2023. I’ll have updates on my website, Suzan Palumbo: Horror, Dark Fantasy, Weird Writer (


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