A former Scream Queen, Toni Alison now spends her days conducting unofficial medical experiments somewhere off the coast of Louisiana. She’s told fortunes in the French Quarter and tamed lions with Barnum and Bailey. She was raised by wild coyotes for the first half of her life and has since recorded her experiences in stories that are scattered all across the country.
Toni Alison breathes creative fire, channels anguish into art, and has been known to kill cockroaches with just one stare. Her words never tiptoe from the truth and should be stomached not for the gentle, but for the honest. Her form is of precision and passion. She has survived zombies, shower slashers, and has danced with Bela Lugosi’s ghost. Where she lives is a world full of mystery and wonder, a place where people still glow black and white from beauty in old photographs, and chances are, you’ve already seen her. Smoldering in the spaces between where you wouldn’t think to look.
Rumor has it, he’s not so dark and even less of a bishop, but that’s just what some people call him. Fascinated by the dual nature of all, he toys with the idea of dusky lights and shiny shadow — charming friends who are in truth dreadful enemies, wicked intentions disguised as pure. Tainted with skepticism, he mocks life as a defense mechanism. Through a series of bizarre yet happy circumstances, he came to join the Southern Writers Workshop. Raised South of the southern border, he technically can’t write in English, but sometimes does it anyway.
Frankie has been suffering from a terminal case of nostalgia, along with crippling wanderlust, from very young age. Raised by black sheep nomads, she spent her youth caravaning across the States, subsisting only on Tang and gas station paperbacks.
Now fully adult, Frankie has attempted to live as the other half and has parked her car in a forgotten South Louisiana swamp for the last ten years. Her poetry is her holistic attempt at a cure for what ails her, but unfortunately the methods have not been rigorously tested in double-blind studies, so she is skeptical of the results.
Born under the full moon in midsummer, Delilah Grey spends her time writing and wallowing in ennui. A world traveler who has since hung up her slippers, she spends her time locked in her tower, contemplating the enormity and brevity of human existence and longing for a bygone romantic age that never existed.
Her favorite pastimes are weaving flowers into crowns, words into prose, and staring forlornly across a melancholy sea. She submits to the Southern Writers Workshop through trained nightingale.
Trendy has loved writing stories since she was a child. She wrote her first story in the fifth grade when she had her first taste of creative criticism. Her heart was broken by her teacher, who had corrected her work. The story had lost Trendy’s intention, and she was crushed. And there was her teacher, unaware of her impact. Trendy accepted the grade, lost interest in writing, and moved on. Throughout the years, however, she realized that self-expression is vital in how a writer wants their final story portrayed, and that her teacher was simply editing her work. When Trendy found the ad for the Southern Writers Workshop, she had to join this team of creative writers. It has been a journey of self-realization.
They say to write what you know, so Erin is currently taking the literal route and focusing on memoir. She’s been told she’s too young to have any stories to tell, but she’s also been told she’s too old for purple hair and a nose ring, so she hasn’t been listening to what they say. An ex-pat from California, with hella dude roots, she found herself in the winter wonderland of Alaska before settling down on da bayou of Southern Louisiana. Her phone auto-corrects talk to y’all, so it seems this is her home for now.
Who Am I? I’m the kind of girl who is quiet in large groups or around people I don’t know. It takes time to catch a glimpse of the real me. I smile and laugh a lot, especially at inappropriate times. I’m a hopeless romantic. I trip over air. I’m extremely observant, seeing in a situation what others do not, but then I turn around and walk into a wall. I am the hardest person to offend, but it’s easy to make me feel horrible. I hate telling people about my problems because I don’t want them to worry about me. I’ll gladly listen for hours, though, while someone else unburdens him/herself. I love to think rather than talk except with people I really like, then I don’t shut up. I’m awkward, clumsy, and shy. The more you get to know me, the stranger I get. This is who I am and I think I’m finally ok with that.
From childhood’s hour I have not been // As other were — I have not seen
As other saw — I could not bring // My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken // My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone — // And all I’ve lov’d — I’ve lov’d alone
Edgar Allen Poe
Hazel May is excited to be writing with the Southern Writers’ Workshop. She has written various works of nonfiction over the years, but this is her first real dive into writing fiction. Although it’s a stretch from what she’s accustomed to, she is enjoying the process and seeing where her characters take her along the way.
Hazel May grew up along the waters of Bayou Lafourche and Bayou Terrebonne but spent over ten years living in the mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast — technically, still south of the Mason-Dixon line, however. So she’s not sure if that qualifies her as having been a part-time Yankee or not. Nevertheless, the Bayou has called her back, and she hopes its rich history of folklore and storytelling will inspire her own writing and creativity.
Hadley Monroe grew up as a street urchin in the Marigny (that’s in New Orleans for you uninitiated folks) where the smooth, swollen beats of jazz music floating outside the clubs were her lullabies, and the gorgeous drag queens shaking it every night to make a living were her nannies. She spends her days selling overpriced paintings of technicolor houses in Jackson Square and her nights telling tourists “I bet I know where you got dem shoes” on Bourbon Street.
I have gone out, a possessed witch, // haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch // over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite. // I have been her kind.
Anne Sexton, “Her Kind”
Jon Paul Olivier
Having been the recipient (or perhaps victim) of too many rejection letters to count, as well as several publishing contracts, Jon Paul Olivier now self publishes his books to have total control over the creative process. He writes about life and the people who live it. Sometimes it’s ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, other times it’s extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances. He writes by the seat of his pants so he isn’t sure how a story will end until he finishes writing it. He just writes down what the voices in his head tell him. He heard about the Southern Writers’ Workshop in the summer of 2018 and can’t seem to stay away from the regular meetings.
BL was born on the bayou and grew up hearing stories about spirit sightings, psychic dreams, and local legends. Her writing often includes tales of the supernatural where the dead are not necessarily gone, and magic is a fact of life.
Anna Margaret Shepherd
I’m Dr. Fletcher. Anna is unable to write even a small biography at this time. Her state at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health has only allowed her to deliver fiction. During calm days, she will hide beneath her blanket fort humming to break the silence. In a handful of clever instances, she has stolen paint from the children’s area and daubed her room and her body in slick rainbows. All the while, twirling around the room humming Marvin Gaye or rapping Drake verses. On days of pure clarity, Anna will sit at her desk, hide under her long hair and furiously write, only getting up to ask for a sharper pencil. I believe we get a glimpse of her true self on these days.
We are submitting her stories to this journal in an attempt to understand her peculiar case. In fact, she admitted herself into the facility. My team and I believe she may have stumbled upon something psychologically advanced. Some of my colleagues believe she is fooling me. She built an environment in which she can use as a creative playground. Thank you for your participation in this study.
Being the curious microscopic organism that I am, I have always found the creatures that call themselves “human” to be quite fascinating. They do this thing known as “cooking” and are obsessed with not being au naturel. Compelled to explore these mysterious creatures further, I buried my stylet into a meal of grilled plankton over sautéed pollen spore, fashioned a length of kelp into my namesake garment, and set out.
Now I spend my days listening to humans recount memories, traversing diary pages, and watching people do “people” things. I record the most intriguing tales and share them here.