Things Are Getting WYRD – Writing Tip

Things are getting Wyrd in Salem.

No, that’s not a typo;I mean WYRD: Horror and Dark Fiction Readings, a fairly regular event at Koto, in Salem, Massachusetts. If you’re looking for someplace to showcase your dark fiction, you might want to check this out, but be warned: it’s a little unusual.

Koto is a Japanese bar and grill located at 70 Washington Street, and it’s a fairly happening place. They have live music events, weekly karaoke, and now multi-author readings for the entertainment of their many patrons. The readings are a series called Wyrd, spearheaded by Salem resident and dark fiction author, Curtis Lawson. Every couple of months (but always on a Thursday), Curtis and his band of writers and readers take over the stage at the back of the establishment and throw down some words for the folks eating and drinking in the rest of the bar and restaurant.

Attention,  newer public performers out there: this is not your usual reading.

For one thing, there’s a stage; for another, a mic; and still another, bright lights, and they’re all aimed at you. You are the show, for the duration of your reading, and to a whole restaurant, during dinner. There might be better than a hundred diners when you take the stage, and the waitstaff keeps moving, and the bar is still running. I have to admit, it can be a little daunting, especially if you walk in not really knowing what to expect.

But try not to worry. You’re not alone. Curtis runs Wyrd with six or seven readers at a time, and though yes, some people are there to eat dinner, quite a few of those diners are in attendance that night to support and hear the readers, local authors—some in dark fiction, but not necessarily all—looking for new writers to check out, and maybe hoping to buy the occasional signed copy or two.

If you’re interested in Wyrd—either as a reader, or simply a supportive audience member (and keep in mind the food’s great, too)—click on over to their Facebook page for information about upcoming events, or to contact Curtis if you’d like to get on the list of potential readers.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to sign up for Curtis’s next Wyrd.

Rob Smales

Rob Smales is the author of Dead of Winter, which won the Superior Achievement in Dark Fiction Award from Firbolg Publishing’s Gothic Library in 2014. His short stories have been published in two dozen anthologies and magazines. His story “Photo Finish” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won the Preditors & Editors’ Readers Choice Award for Best Horror Short Story of 2012.
His latest work is a collection of short stories entitled Echoes of Darkness, published by Books & Boos Press (2016).
Most recently, his story “A Night at the Show” received an honorable mention on Ellen Datlow’s list of the Best Horror of 2014, and was also nominated as best short story by the eFestival of Words.
More about his work can be found at, or you can look him up on Facebook at



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