I was pleased to learn that my short story “Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave,” published in the acclaimed Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories anthology, made the 2016 Horror Writer’s Association Recommended Reading List. This list comprises all of the work that was recommended for a Bram Stoker Award® by HWA members.

This story has received quite a bit of praise from industry critics and readers alike, several calling it the strongest in a collection that includes some of my literary idols, such as Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker. Following are some of the things critics have said.

Picking Splinters

Story Illustration by Luke Spooner

“‘Picking Splinters From A Sex Slave’, pulled me/led me/dared me back to the wave of fear and awe and wonder I had upon my initial encounter with words so perfectly placed as to seem alive and moving across the page. In Kirk’s scant few pages of prose, I placed the book down at least four times: to recover, to reflect, to feel. To get it.”
-Unofficial Alan Moore

“Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave by Brian Kirk really sets the tone for this collection. It’s one of the darkest, saddest stories I have ever read, with the father’s inappropriate humor putting a perfect edge on the drama.”
-Beauty In Ruins

“Which leads into what I think is the best story in the book: Brian Kirk’s “Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave”. A story that illustrates what lengths a person might go to to accommodate a loved one, in exquisite detail. The actual tableau is revolting, but the internal logic is inescapable. The tone is perfect.”
-Retrograde A

“One of the strongest stories in the collection, “Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave” by Brian Kirk. Kirk’s portrayal of a father desperate to help his daughter is at once alarming and moving, leaving you with a lingering disquiet.”
-Eden Royce

“Brian Kirk’s “Picking Splinters from A Sex Slave” kicked me upside the head, leaving me truly considering the lengths I would travel to help my own daughter.”
-Bleeding Cool

While making the recommended reading list does not ensure an eventual nomination for the Bram Stoker Award®, it’s still an honor, and I’m grateful to know that this story has made such an impact on readers.

Pick up a copy of Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories if you’d like to check it out.