CRAIG LAURANCE GIDNEY is the author of the collections Sea, Swallow Me & Other Stories and Skin Deep Magic, the Young Adult novel Bereft, and The Nectar of Nightmares. His work has been nominated for the Lambda Literary and Gaylactic Spectrum Awards, and he has won both the Bronze Moonbeam and Silver Independent Publishers Book Awards. He lives in his native Washington, DC.

Sea, Swallow Me by Craig Laurance Gidney

Ancient folklore and modern myth come together in these stories. Here are found the struggles of a medieval Japanese monk, seduced by a mischievous fairy, and a young slave who finds mystery deep within the briar patch of an antebellum plantation. Gidney offers readers a gay teen obsessed with his patron saint, Lena Horne, and, in the title story, an ailing tourist seeking escape at a distant shore but never reckons on encountering an African sea god. Rich, poetic, dark and disturbing, these are tales not soon forgotten. Sea Swallow Me and Other Stories was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award!


Gidney's first collection of short stories remains a tour de force, blending urban fantasy, ghost stories, dark erotica, and fairy tale into a singular voice. His writing is exquisite; I'm particularly fond of the way music is woven through the stories in this collection. It's hard to write music well, and Gidney is pitch perfect throughout. The lush writing and beautiful craft reward leisurely reading; this is a collection I rationed to a story a day, not wanting it to end. – Melissa Scott



  • "The best of the stories in this thoughtful debut collection make full use of African and African-American characters, such as when young slave Israel Jones meets a man he's convinced is the guitar-wielding Devil in The Safety of Thorns, or when white tourist Jed encounters Olokun, the patron spirit of enslaved Africans carried across the sea, in the title story."

    – Publishers Weekly
  • "Craig Laurance Gidney has a talent for putting words together in an evocative and often disturbing way. His latest book Sea, Swallow Me and Other Stories takes the reader through a labyrinth of words in search of shadows and hauntings. ... Gidney is a master of the English language and his prose is evocative and sensual in the way that Anne Rice writes…"

    – Edge Boston



Lucifer came to him in drag. He was disguised as Lena Horne.

C.B. went to see The Wizwith his family. The movie was pretty cool, by his standards, even though he thought Diana Ross was a little too old to be playing Dorothy. But the sets were amazing—the recasting of the Emerald City as downtown Manhattan, the Wicked Witch's sweatshop, the trashcan monsters in the subway. The songs sometimes lasted a little too long, but they were off set by Michael Jackson's flashy spin-dancing. But it was the image of Lena Horne as Glinda the Good Witch that would follow him.

She appeared in the next to last scene in a silver dress. Her hair was captured in a net of stars, and she was surrounded by a constellation of babies, all wrapped in clouds, their adorable faces peering out like living chocolate kisses.

He fell in love. Ms. Horne was undeniably beautiful, with her creamy, golden skin, and mellow, birdlike features. Her movements during the song "Home" were passionate. They were at odds with shimmering, ethereal-blur in which she was filmed. Indeed, she could not be of this earth. In all of his life in Willow Creek, NC, C.B. had not seen anything like this before.

He was in love, all right. He researched her in libraries, finding old issues of Ebonyand Jet; he watched old movies that she'd appeared in, like Cabin in the Sky. He collected some of her records; his 8-track of "Stormy Weather" was so worn, he had to buy another copy.

But in the weeks afterwards, he began to sense that this love of his wasn't quite right. His brother and his father would tease him about his "girlfriend," who was 70 years old, and about how, when he came of an age to marry, she would be even older than that. Of how he could never have children. His brother was particularly mean: he imagined a wedding, held at Lena's hospital bed, with her in an iron lung, exhaling an "I Do" as ominous as Darth Vader's last breath. But C.B. wanted to explain that it wasn't like that at all. He couldn't quite put it into words.

Lena wasn't an object of desire, someone who he wanted to kiss or hold hands with. She was something more. She was a goddess of Beauty, an ideal. She was something beyond anything he'd ever known. She hovered above Willow Creek, an angel, looking down on its box houses that were the color of orange sherbet, lemonade, and his own robin's-egg-blue house. She wasn't someone to sleep with; she was someone to be like.