As a child, MJ Gardner liked adventure books and spooky stories but often didn't see people like themself represented in ways that appealed to them. Women served tea, or needed rescuing, or were completely absent. Wanting to see women & girls in active roles Gardner started writing female characters into her versions of these stories. Her first novella-length work, written at age 11, was a reworking of Lord of the Flies. It was just as bad as you imagine it to be.
But they got better at it. Gardner won writing awards in high school and university, but graduate studies (M.A. in English, 1990, University of Waterloo), motherhood, and making a living eclipsed writing for a long time. In 1996-97 Gardner wrote two serials for an online audience on the Vampyres listserv. Gardner later revamped these and self-published them as Evelyn's Journal (2014) and Joe Vampire (2017).
Gardner has been back in the writing game seriously since 2011, and has had stories published in Metaphorosis (semi-pro), Luna Station Quarterly, Saturday Night Reader, Mad Scientist Journal, and Plan B Magazine. The stories are spec-fic: fairy tales, horror and science fiction that often center on self as other and/or body horror.
Gardner also created and curates the multimedia project, The Suicide Museum, an exploration of inappropriate commercialization designed to discomfit visitors with its chipper tone, children's wing, and gift shop.
While pursuing her livelihood as a programmer, Gardner is currently shopping around new short fiction and working on a new novel.
Evelyn's Journal 2014
Joe Vampire 2017
"He and I" - Night Terrors, Vol. 23, Nov. 2022
"The Book of Regrets" - Metaphorosis, Jan 2019 - Metaphorosis Podcast, April 2019
"Rest Stop" - Luna Station Quarterly, Vol 27
"Transit" - Saturday Night Reader, Fall 2015
"Leaf" - Luna Station Quarterly, Vol 20 and The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: the First Five Years
"Starry-Eyed" - Mad Scientist Journal, Winter 2014. Read it here
"The Basement" - Plan B, Vol IV. Read it here
In the works:
Year of the Witch: Madeline is a witch, who, faced with cancer and a poor prognosis, decides to resurrect herself in a plant-based body.