New Weird Coastal horror

Think ocean-loving cults, crumbling seaside mansions, empty resort towns, strange fisherwomen, beachside arcades, eerie lighthouses, literal tourist traps...

-Marissa van Uden, Editor of THE OFF-SEASON


From Marissa:

The Off-Season is an anthology of disquieting and disturbing New Weird horror set in landscapes and communities on the edge of the sea. These coastal stories defamiliarize the ordinary, evoke dread even in the daylight, and haunt like half-remembered nightmares.

Think ocean-loving cults, crumbling seaside mansions, empty resort towns, strange fisherwomen, beachside arcades, eerie lighthouses, literal tourist traps, jellyfish swarms, red tides, oil spills, intertidal zones, salt marshes, gaudy luxury hotels reclaimed by sea, the cosmic indifference of capitalism, creeping urchins, thousand-yard stares, wrecked cruise ships, weird biotech, evening dock workers, and slippery marine metamorphosis.

I’m especially looking for uncanny ecology, uneasy atmosphere, and strange characters who are either transcending their environment or subsiding into it. I’d love to see unusual coastal settings from around the world, or traditionally romanticized settings transformed into places of unfamiliarity and subtle wrongness. Most of all, I’m looking for fiction that makes the reader feel uncomfortable dread mixed with intense curiosity.

Not sure if your story is New Weird?

New Weird is a subgenre of horror-fantasy that slides along the margins of other speculative fiction genres, subverts old tropes and conventions, and/or plays with form, style, and ideas. Its roots are in the subtle ambiguity and mystery of Weird horror and the subversive playfulness of New Wave science-fiction, but it is constantly innovating itself. For me, the best of New Weird blends the mundane with the sublime, the grimy with the divine, and the grotesque with the beautiful. It seduces and horrifies at the same time, filling the reader with a quiet kind of dread-fascination. While the genre dwells more in the realm of strange tales than overt splatter horror, by nature it is always breaking boundaries and doing new things. You too should make it your own.

If you’re still not sure if your story is New Weird, please just submit it anyway and let us decide!

If you’re a visual-based writer, visit this Off-Season image board for a vibe check and inspiration.

The submission window will begin with a one-week exclusive submission period for previously unpublished writers, ESL writers, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ writers, authors with disability, and other marginalized voices. (from 10 a.m. CST on Monday, July 31, 2023, until Sunday, August 6, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. CST) Marginalized writers can submit at any time during the five-week submission period, but writers who are not marginalized will not be considered if submitting work during this dedicated week.

General info

From Marissa:


  • New Weird takes on folk horror, eco-horror, clifi, body horror, seaside Gothic, cosmic horror, and literary horror
  • cults, mysticism, psychedelia, outsiders, obsessions, collapsed boundaries, weird sealife
  • coastal settings from around the world, whether isolated communities or cityscapes, with a perspective that’s unique to you
  • fictional towns and cities in the style of Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergris, China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, Leena Khron’s Tainaron
  • stories inclusive of marginalized people and communities
  • odd characters and surreal settings reminiscent of works by Kathe Koja, Karin Tidbeck, Michael Wehunt, Robert Aickman, JG Ballard, Philip K Dick, Thomas Ligotti, Algernon Blackwood, David Lynch, and Leonora Carrington 

Hard Sells:

  • supernatural creatures with pre-established lore in Western pop culture; e.g., mermaids, vampires, werewolves, zombies. If you do write about a well-known creature, make it a radically fresh weird-horror take.
  • modern-day stories that seem to be set in a pre-climate-change, pre-ecological collapse world; i.e. unintentional fantasy

Hard No's:

  • stories set out at sea (the main setting must be coastal, and ships should be either exploring a coastline, moored, wrecked, or connected to the shore in some way)
  • stories set on lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water–this call is for seaside only
  • heroic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, medieval fantasy, steampunk
  • Lovecraftian stories that fail to subvert outdated tropes or to do anything new and surprising with the Mythos
  • misogynistic, racist, or otherwise bigoted stories (write about these horrors, don’t live in them)

Recommended Works:

“Low Tide Jenny”
by Bitter Karella (Seize the Press)

The Belonging Kind
by William Gibson and John Shirley

A Shot of Salt Water
by Lisa L Hannet (The Dark Magazine)

“Houses Under The Sea”
by Caitlin R Kiernan (Nightmare Magazine)

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

“The Ocean and All Its Devices” by William Browning Spencer

Any story by Robert Aickman

The Southern Reach and Ambergris series by Jeff VanderMeer

The Lighthouse (2019), Saint Maud (2019), Midnight Mass (2021)

The Mollusk album by Ween

The Silent Hill video games

From Dark Matter INK:

Submission Period: July 31, 2023-August 6, 2023 for marginalized voices; August 7, 2023-August 28, 2023 for all submitters

Word Limit: 2000-4000 words, no exceptions

Pay Rate: $0.08/word, paid prior to publication

Rights: We purchase first English-language rights for print, ebook, web, and audio, to be distributed in all countries throughout the world. We request a 6-month exclusivity period, starting from the date of publication.

Genre(s): New Weird Horror, Coastal Horror

Language: English and English translations

Reprints: No

Poetry: No

Multiple Submissions: Kind of. Our submission system will only allow for one submission from you at a time. If your story is rejected, please feel free to submit again.

Simultaneous Submissions: Yes. But please notify us or withdraw your story from consideration at Dark Matter if it is accepted elsewhere before we render our own decision. NOTE: Other publishers have their own guidelines for simultaneous submissions, so please read those as well if you intend to submit to both us and them at the same time.

File Types We Accept: .doc and .docx

Manuscript Formatting: We prefer that submissions be in proper manuscript format, but as long as the document is typed in a clean, legible font, and properly titled and numbered, it should be fine.

Time to Decision: We are currently asking for a response time between 45-60 days from date of submission until we render a final decision on your story. Many stories will receive responses much sooner than this estimate.

We do not accept email queries. No exceptions.

The Editor

Marissa van Uden

Get Anthology Updates

Submissions info, call dates, new publishing opportunities. Directly to your inbox.