Scary Stories For A Good Cause: Sumiko Saulson on "Unheard Music in the Dank Underground

By L.S. Johnson (

Sumiko Saulson is a cartoonist, science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer, editor of Black Magic Women and 100 Black Women in Horror Fiction, author of Solitude, Warmth, The Moon Cried Blood, Happiness and Other Diseases, Somnalia, Insatiable, Ashes and Coffee, and Things That Go Bump in My Head. She wrote and illustrated the comics Mauskaveli and Dooky, and the graphic novels Dreamworlds and Agrippa.


Your story “Unheard Music in the Dank Underground,” is mostly set in an underground laboratory in San Francisco. Was this purely your invention, or was it based on a real location? 

A little of both. The exterior is Fort Point, a fort at Golden Gate Park under the Golden Gate Bridge near Crissy Field. The twisted maze of tunnels and rooms below under the bridge itself are completely fictionalized. They are based on World War I and II bomb shelters and bunkers, and the story on the whole is an homage to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”


What is your relationship to California? 

I was born in Los Angeles. I lived there until I was 12, then I lived in Hawaii for 7 years before moving to San Francisco. I have lived in the Bay Area most of my adult life. I currently reside in Oakland, down the hill from Mills College in the Fairfax District.


As writers, we constantly use our imaginations, sometimes in terrifying ways. But can you imagine a hopeful future for California? What might that future look like?

I think of California in Gene Roddenberry’s universe, where the Bay Area was home to Starfleet and a beacon of hope to everyone who loves multiculturalism, diversity, peace and the environment. I can’t really do better than that. They even solved homelessness and economic disparity. Queerer than Roddenberry and less heternormative, though. 


Where can readers find more of your work?, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes... Or local book stores in the Bay Area, Reno, and Sacramento.


"[A] brilliant collection of truly creepy tales by horror's hottest voices! Dark, funny, heartbreaking, and bizarre. Highly recommended!"
-Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of V-Wars and Glimpse

Scary Stories for a Good Cause. From Bram Stoker Award-nominated editor of the cult magazine Morbid Curiosity comes Tales for the Camp Fire, a new charity anthology of short stories to help support wildfire relief efforts. Through these pages roam werewolves, serial killers, a handful of ghosts, plenty of zombies, Cthulhu cultists, mad scientists, and a pair of conjoined twins.