top of page

Chatting with Elena Sichrovsky

Elena examines their work focusing on trauma and body horror, escaping a cult, their debut from Ghost City Press, working with an anti-literary magazine, being part of the Shanghai writing community, and dark storytelling.

Chatting with Elena Sichrovsky

Elena Sichrovsky (she/they) is a queer disabled writer who’s fascinated with telling stories through the lens of body horror. Through their work they like to explore the intersections of identity, grief, and rebellion. Her stories have been published in Apparition Lit, Baffling Magazine, Nightmare, and ergot, among others. Follow them on Instagram @elenitasichand Twitter @ESichr, or read more on their website.

Elena is the author of “Tonight We’re Wearing Waste Bags” from Radon Issue 7.

Q: Your story offers an alien’s perspective on themes of self-harm, homelessness, and discomfort with one’s body. Can you tell us about your decision and approach to writing about these themes from the alien character’s point of view?

I wrote the first draft of this story two years ago, early on my in therapy journey and during a time when I had a lot of somatic symptoms of CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder)—I’d get this overwhelming itchiness all down my arms and legs. It was like I suddenly became aware of my skin and how desperately I wanted it to peel off. It was such an intensely tactile discomfort that just thinking about self-harm would help to alleviate it. Writing this story from an alien’s perspective was really important in capturing that feeling of being trapped inside your own body. I’ve always identified with the perspective of the Others, those monsters and creatures and foreign beings that people are scared of when really the Others are the ones who are scared, all the time, of everyone, including themselves. It’s been kinda surreal to have this story published now, when my mental health is more manageable and I can see how far I’ve come.

Q: Tell us about your debut chapbook coming out this summer from Ghost City Press?

Yes! It’s called Eating Out Anne Sexton, and it’s my first ever solo body of work, prose or poetry. Every poem is inspired by one of Anne Sexton’s works and also named after one of the medications I am currently on/have tried before, like alprazolam (xanax), lithium, mirtazapine (remeron), etc. I wanted to create a collection to explore how my religious trauma, queer identity, and CPTSD interacts with my medicated experiences.

Q: What is it like being on the editorial team for JAKE, the anti-literary magazine?

It’s been super cool—I first guest-edited with them last year December, and now joined the team as a regular. Being on the other side of the submission process is so eye-opening, and also gives me a lot of practice in understanding what makes a good story. To me, a good story has to be emotionally compelling. It’s not enough to be good in terms of structure or plot development - it needs to evoke a lingering emotional response in the reader.

Q: How does your photography and writing art differ?

My photography is like a sandbox where I try to create the visuals I have in my head while writing. I started doing self-portraits during COVID lockdown, and I got hooked on the freedom it gives me to express my body and work with different creative materials. I want to get better and get more photography equipment, too—I also love photographing my friends.

Q: What is the most simultaneously horrifying and beautiful thing to you?


Q: What was it like spending eight years in Shanghai as part of their writing community?

My time with the Shanghai Writing Workshop really built my foundations as a writer. When I first joined I had no idea of my own style and voice and genre, and when I left I’d become a published writer and was progressed to being a workshop leader. Having a community that a) motivated me to write regularly b) gave me feedback from different perspectives c) allowed me to read and critique work in various genres really helped develop my craft. Lots of my stories being published today, including this one, started as a draft in Shanghai.

Q: How do you prepare yourself (and your work) for in-person performances?

Well, the first essential step is to find a friend to come along—I always need at least one hype person. I used to have such bad stage fright my hands would be literally shaking all throughout. I’ve used poetry performances to slowly push myself to overcome it—it’s shorter to read 1-2 poems than a whole story. It feels more manageable.

Q: Which graphic novels were your first foray into dark storytelling?

Hellblazer, specifically the original Vertigo series, was my gateway drug. The art and storytelling was so brutal and visceral and unlike anything I’d ever read before. Another one is Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising. One of the main characters is Zoe, a 10-year-old possessed by an ancient demon to commit atrocities. It’s such a gorgeous, bloody, and yet emotionally profound story. Comics like these showed me that there is so much heart in dark storytelling.

Q: After having being born and raised in a cult and escaping, do you find your writing incorporating cult aspects as you grapple with that aspect of your past, or do prefer to avoid that topic?

Oh it’s definitely enmeshed in almost everything I write—initially subconsciously, and as I work through my CPTSD in therapy, more consciously. There are so many ways an oppressive belief system damages you, especially being born into it and having your neural pathways developed in that kind of abusive environment. My religious trauma is definitely at the forefront of most of my recent work; I like to say that God is the monster under the bed in every story I write.

Q: What is your plan for the rest of 2024? Creating more dark and exciting prose, poetry, and photography?

I have a story coming out in the Nordic Weird Horror Anthology with Sentinel Publishing—it’s coming out as an audio book too, so I’m super excited for that! My main creative project for the year is a book draft—currently untitled, it’s a post-apocalypse supernatural body horror novella. It draws a lot from my experiences with parental trauma, mental health, manipulative belief systems, and more. (The more is cannibalism. Not pulled from personal experience, just for general enjoyment).

bottom of page