I am a southern gothic fiction writer who grew up in the coal mining community of Woodbine in southeastern Kentucky.

My poetry, short stories, and other writing to date have appeared in the e-zines associated with the now-defunct 3Sides Literary Agency, the limited Stories from the Red Light District anthology, in various projects associated with Apex Publications, and in the Help anthology.

I wrote my first ‘book’ at six and my first poetry at nine. The book has survived and is now buried in a memory box; the poetry, thankfully, long ago parted this earth. All through childhood, the creative arts including drawing, painting, sketching, and of course writing interested me more than anything else; I was all the time at work making something. As a Girl Scout and 4-H participant, I wrote event and camping write-ups for the local newspaper. Later, I was a high school newspaper editor and yearbook designer, then a university yearbook photographer and designer; I had several poems published in the university literary magazine, The Aurora. In my last year of high school and first year of college (many suns ago), I was active in the Corbin Community Theatre as an actor, singer, and stage manager.

My stories, at least what I’ve written since 1996, take place in my own version of the gothic hinterlands of Harlan County, located in Kentucky. The great beauty of Harlan County contrasts sharply with abject, inherent strife. Its mountains are scarred by mining, and its people are quite often insular and distrustful. This landscape provides the backdrop for my writing and is often a character in its own right.

I started writing what would become the first in my Harlan Vampire Series (although I’ve learned recently the series has gained some strange infamy on college and university campuses as the “Hillbilly Vampires” which makes me smile) in October 1996. It only seemed natural to call that first story Midnight – so much imagery ended up woven all through the story because of that one simple word. Promise of Midnight, Midnight, Midnight’s Heir, Heir’s Starlight, and Starlight’s Shadow are all books in my “Harlan Vampires Series” – or HVS as it’s called. The characters in my stories are not your usual bloodthirsty Bram Stoker-type vampires. They are people with hopes and dreams, desires, drives, and life-crises – some major, some minor, but all of which help push the characters into growth and understanding.

I’m on leave from my ‘job’ as a slush editor for Apex Magazine, and am busy being an independent writer, book reviewer, and editor. I am the editor of the Harlan County Horrors anthology, published by Apex Book Company in October 2009. My first novel, Midnight, will be published by Apex Publications in Winter 2013.

I have lived away from the mountains and lived deep in the mountains. My current home is in Central Kentucky with my lifepartner and our cat. I am the mother of two young men and am an avid supporter of kidney disease awareness and living organ donation awareness. The mountains, their culture, their superstitions, their particular magics, will always be in my heart and my blood.

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Harlan County Horrors

Why The Midnight Garden?

Once upon a time, when I lived in Loyall during the Dark Ages, Preston and I were co-SysOps for dial-up BBS called “Harlan Nights”. I based the BBS rules on those of the World Message Exchange. The board hosted several conferences and doors. My favorite door game was Legend of the Red Dragon*. I spent a lot of time playing that game, and in the Electronic Costume Party, Religion, Poetry & Prose, Jokes (Clean!), Pagan, Tagline Swap**, and Debate conferences (some BBS systems called conferences “echoes”).

In 1996 I discovered Concrete Blonde, and Preston told me that their song Darkening of the Light reminded him of me. Around the same time, I wrote a poem called The Midnight Garden. The name stuck, and we renamed our BBS. This segment in particular of the lyrics is what grabbed me:

And the shadows

Like a sadness

Falling all across the garden


In the garden

Are you there? Are you there?

In 1998, I started fiddling around on the Internet and moved TMG from dial-up to EzBoard. It lived there for some time, until my Pagan group, The Gwyddonic Order, got its own website in either 2000 or 2002. After that, I moved the board over to phpBB software. Somewhere in the last four to six years I found myself running two boards – TMG and a private board which were so identical that I often got confused as to where I was posting. On top of that, my life got insanely busy, and I finally had to let TMG go.

I bought my first domain for myself in 2004 and called it Harlan Vampires News – I did all of my blogging about writing and publishing and anything thereto related there. I maintained my personal blog on a subdomain belonging to one of my friends; that blog was called BlueMoon Journal and came into existence in 2002. In 2006, I think, I discovered having my own name as the domain as opposed to something ‘fancy’ would help readers and friends find me more easily. (I’ve seen this go both ways; for example, writer Scott Nicholson’s website is called The Haunted Computer). So I bought this domain, Since then, I’ve reconfigured my entire online life so that I can be found everywhere online under the Mari Adkins moniker, as it should be (in general either Mari Adkins or mariadkins).

When it came time to give the website a name other than “Mari Adkins”, of course I turned right to TMG. And the website has been called Mari’s Midnight Garden since. I can’t imagine ever calling it anything else. For the longest time, I kept the writing blog as MMG and had a subdomain on my site for BMJ. It became tedius, very time-consuming. In the end, I downloaded the BMJ database and uploaded it into the MMG database and deleted the subdomain.

And that, my friends, is why.

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my reasons, my choices
Those of us who are both very wounded and very competent sometimes have the gift of appearing well when we are not. – Cary Tennis
house in loyall