Name: Bitter Karella
Twitter: [author account] https://twitter.com/bitterkarella
Twitter: [Midnight Pals] @midnight_pals
Itch.io: [books, comics, games] https://bitterkarella.itch.io/ and see also https://itch.io/s/70593/send-bitterkarella-to-chicon-8
Pronouns: He/him, she/her
Bitter Karella is a game designer, comic writer, video making and social media satirist with an insightful perspective on horror, science fiction and fantasy (but in particular horror). Her break out hit has been the satirical Twitter account The Midnight Society (aka Midnight Pals), which imagines some of the great names of horror (from Edgar Allen Poe to Dean Koontz) as teenage campers who tell horror stories around a campfire.
A 2020 example:
Over time, the core cast of Stephen King, Poe, Koontz, Clive Barker and Lovecraft have been joined by diverse visitors including Tolkein and more contemporary writers like Ursula Vernon. The pals even had a visitor from a character that followers of this blog will appreciate:
The account pokes fun at writers and writing but in general, it’s not mean spirited or cruel. OK, the depiction of J.K.Rowling as an obsessed Voldermort-like being devolving into a snake monster couldn’t be called ‘kind’ but in the circumstances, I’d say it is more than fair.
What’s in the packet
In Karella’s own words:
“In 2021, I ran a successful crowdfunding campaign that allowed me to publishHugo Packet 2022 Bitter Karella, © Guttersnipe Publishing
my second Midnight Pals book — with collected Midnight Pals tweets as well as
short spoof stories written in the style of various horror and fantasy authors.
I’ve included a brief introduction to the concept, a selection of some of my fa-
vorite tweets from 2021 as well as the full text ofthat book, entitled ’Submitted
for the Approval of the Midnight Pals ll,’ on the following pages. There is an
index of authors mentioned at the back of the book, so if you have any interest
in reading jokes about any specific creator, I recommend that you turn to the
index first for easier navigation! I hope you enjoy and thank you for your con-
Here’s one exchange that I enjoyed:
Jeff Vandermeer: Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this the Tale of… Weird FictionHugo Packet 2022 Bitter Karella, © Guttersnipe Publishing
King: weird fiction? like Howard writes
Vandermeer: not like Howard writes
Vandermeer: this is a totally new genre, unlike anything written before
Vandermeer: I call it the NEW weird
Vandermeer: it’s like the old weird but written by me
Vandermeer: or occasionally by China Mieville
King: can you do that?
King: i feel like there should probably be something to differentiate it
Vandermeer: it’s less racist than old weird
King: oh! well then
Vandermeer: also I want you all to start calling me Jeff VanderWIERD
Why you should vote for Bitter Karella
Humour and turning authors into quasi-fictional characters are ancient activities of fandom and writing by fans. Bitter Karella’s chosen channels are more modern but in the large circle of the thing called fan writing skits, jokes and poking fun at the elevated seriousness of literature is a vital part.
However, humour and poking fun is also a form of critical engagement with media that often goes unrecognised. Karella’s versions of authors and their styles and engagement with multiple genres is a broad brush caricature but also an effective way of talking about everything from the modern obsession with tropes, to the impact of modern politics, racism, transphobia and social media on literature.