Author Spotlight: Mike Allen

Continuing with our Author Spotlight series, the next A Darke Phantastique contributor is Mike Allen.

“Tardigrade” begins with the following scene:

A Darke Phantastique“Gunshots in the dark. One, two, three, four, five.

In the abyss, a flatscreen monitor lights, as if awakened by the noise.

From the computer, loud chimes play ‘Turkey in the Straw’ as a creature dances on the monitor, a bear-like thing with chitin for skin and a circular sucking mouth in place of a face. Needles protrude and retract from the orifice in time with the music.

Shuffling in the dark. Bare feet descending stairs. One, two, three, four, more.”

He says of the story:

“Tardigrade” started as a lark. I was trying to spook a friend who has phobias of slugs and of bad things done to teeth. In fact, its working title was “We Make Holes In Teeth,” from the old Crest toothpaste commercials.

When I wrote the first draft I experimented: I tried to cobble an entire story together using only descriptions of creepy Internet videos. The results were fun but incoherent. I
set the piece aside for several months while I wrote a draft of a novel. When I at last reread it, my instincts told me that to make it a story, the reader needed to be able to see who was watching the videos, and why. Once I hit upon that notion, the fun really began. My thanks to editor Jason Brock, who lit a fire under me that sent me dashing to the story’s horrific finish, and encouraged me to make it as bizarre as I could muster.

By the way, as of this writing, the friend I intended to scare with the story has yet to read it.


Mike AllenOn weekdays, Mike Allen writes the arts column for the daily newspaper in Roanoke, VA. Most of the rest of his time he devotes to the writing, editing, and publishing of fiction and poetry. He edits and publishes the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies and the digital magazine Mythic Delirium. His first novel, The Black Fire Concerto, appeared in 2013. He’s just released a new book of poetry, Hungry Constellations, and his first collection of short fiction, Unseaming, will premiere in October. You can follow Mike’s exploits as a writer at, as an editor at, and all at once on Twitter @mythicdelirium.







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