A little over a year ago, I sat down to write a story for an anthology call seeking stories about Baba Yaga. And down the rabbit hole I went. As I followed the trail of this enigmatic witch in Slavic folklore, I was reminded that there are many versions of the cunning character. In some cases, her name is not a name at all but a babble word or a phrase that roughly translates to “iron-nosed midwife” or “forest mother.” In the end, that is the trail I followed. This also led me to the decision to incorporate the folklore of the rusalki, the restless and often malevolent spirits of undead drowned girls. And then, for the final twist, I took these characters and placed them in the Netherlands during WWII–a perfect setting to sift through themes of displacement and identity and resistance.
The end result is my story “Water Like Broken Glass,” which is intensely personal despite the distance in time and place. It’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve written to date, so I’m especially pleased that it found a home in Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga, edited by Lindy Ryan and published by Black Spot Books.
“Water Like Broken Glass” joins other examinations of Baba Yaga in pieces written by some of the leading women authors working in horror today including Gwendolyn Kiste, Mercedes M. Yardley, Monique Snyman, Donna Lynch, Lisa Quigley, and R. J. Joseph. Featuring 23 stories and an instroctory poem by Stephanie M. Wytovich, there’s truly something for every reader in this spectacular showcase.
Deep in the dark forest, in a cottage that spins on birds’ legs behind a fence topped with human skulls, lives the Baba Yaga. A guardian of the water of life, she lives with her sisters and takes to the skies in a giant mortar and pestle, creating tempests as she goes. Those who come across the Baba Yaga may find help, or hindrance, or horror. She is wild, she is woman, she is witch— and these are her tales.
Edited by Lindy Ryan, this collection brings together some of today’ s leading voices of women-in-horror as they pay tribute to the Baba Yaga, and go Into the Forest.
As part of the events surrounding the launch and the subsequent book tour, I’ve had the privilege of writing two different columns.
“Take A Peek At ‘Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga’” includes an excerpt from “Water Like Broken Glass” and a bit of the inspiration that led to the decision to set this story in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation of WWII. This feature also includes a short introduction by Lindy Ryan.
On December 11, a second essay is scheduled to appear at Little Miss Book Lover. This piece includes the ways in which I used sensory descriptions to enhance theme and mood. If you are a writer looking for practical tips when it comes to writing from the senses, I hope you’ll stop by when the essay goes live.
It has been fun to see this story garner several mentions, especially since it is not about the Baba Yaga but, instead, the idea that all women have the potential to become a baba yaga, one of the forest mothers. However, even then, the baba yagas exist on the margins of my story. In fact, “Water Like Broken Glass” actually centers on a rusalka and explores ideas of love and loss, revenge and retribution.
“Water Like Broken Glass” by Carina Bissett…delivers a wonderfully queer update to the tale against the backdrop of WWII. Fans of folklore retellings will find plenty to enjoy. – Publishers Weekly
“Water like Broken Glass” by Carina Bissett is another standout. Bissett is a folklorist and it shows, as she skillfully mixes history with myth. The writing is fantastic, harrowing and haunting. – Zach Rosenberg, Horror DNA
As part of Ryan’s truly amazing work in spreading the news of this anthology far and wide, Into the Forest has also received numerous reviews at Goodreads.
5 star reviews for “Water Like Broken Glass”
Big shocker, the guy who has read military history since middle school liked the story set in the Second World War. Still, it was a beautiful story centered around a river spirit and a resistance fighter and the changes that time and the war place on their relationship. It was only tangentially connected to Baba Yaga but I thought the themes of dual compassion and barbarism fit very well with the rest of the collection. – Melkor von Moltke, Goodreads
This is a very unique story of how Baba Yaga exists and how one can become Baba Yaga, but it’s also about love and the extent of what one will do for love. It’s a story about forgiveness. It was well written and captivating. Hands down one of my favorite reads of this collection. ” – Autumn (Chapter Malliumpkin), Goodreads
The story isn’t narrated by Baba Yaga, but by a rusalka. And I can’t say more without spoiling it big time. The ending, though! Honestly this story merits a full novel. – Marquise, Goodreads
I hope you’ll consider adding this truly fabulous anthology to your collection. It can be purchased at AmazonUS, AmazonUK, Barnes & Noble, and at Bookshop.org. Thank you for the support. Happy reading!