I applied for a really cool-sounding job and they needed an extensive letter of interest. I didn’t get the job, which is just as well – I would have had to essentially quit school to make it work. But writing this letter really helped me define what I do in a way I hadn’t before. By the way: the Pamphlets for the Apocalypse story I mention was accepted, but the subject is now a bit different. The new title is “Dining with the Undead: Etiquette for Today’s Host.”
Dear Mysterious Curator,
My name is Caroline Diezyn, and I was born (and died and reanimated) to be your Senior Narrative Designer. As a queer witch currently completing a PhD in English literature with a specialization in speculative fiction, I believe I am your ideal candidate. My research interests include spooky Americana, all things Atomic Age, and zombies. My personal interests include mythology, cryptology, cryptozoology, urban legends, and skulls. My tarot cards showed me a couple weeks ago that an opportunity like writing for the Mysterious Package Company was on the horizon; I believe this was foretold by Gyromancy.
I completed my BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Western Ontario in 2011. My specializations included madness, witchcraft, and the supernatural, as well as race and gender, in English fiction from The Canterbury Tales to the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Another Roadside Attraction. I returned to UWO the following year to complete an MA in American Studies with a focus on the eccentricities of time and perception in American literature of the Vietnam War era. For two years after graduation, I lived among the ravens in the Yukon teaching French, and traveled around Europe learning about such Old World stories as the Prague Golem. I compiled my research, drawings, poems, and photos into the first edition of my mystical-themed zine, Lunar Baedeker, which I produced monthly for a year. I now produce it quarterly, with a Patreon.com backing.
I returned once again to UWO to begin my PhD in September 2014. I took classes on everything from Zora Neale Hurston’s zombies, to Victorian broadsheets’ crime announcements, to the toad-covered ghastly corpses of medieval English alliterative poetry. I have an article forthcoming on the latter, wherein I explain my research findings to show that these ghoulish depictions in poetry from the middle ages are connected with German transi-tombs, which are in turn based on the classical figure of Lucretia, a woman so consumed by lust for earthly things that she turns into a worm-infested living corpse. I am working on my dissertation now, and it includes the figure of the vampire, the zombie, and alien in American literature of the twentieth century. I am interested in what these uncannily human/unhuman figures that have so captivated modern audiences have to say about the ecological and sociological fate of the human race. As a result of this budding expertise on modern iterations of centuries’-old specters of horror, I am a return guest on the Netflakes Podcast where I am called upon to talk about the supernatural forces at work in movies like Big Trouble in Little China and Interview with the Vampire. I appreciated the Princess Bride reference on your website’s application form (and by the way, my blood type is the rarest of all: AB-).
I have two years’ experience teaching students at the university level as a teaching assistant. The first was for 19th Century British Literature, including Confessions of an English Opium Eater, the poetry of William Blake, and more sordid tales. The second and most recent was for Children’s Literature, including the nonsense poems of Edward Leary, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Coraline. I added Edward Gorey’s Amphigorey to make sure my students had a well-rounded experience.
Besides my scholastic writing, I have four-and-a-half years experience writing and editing for a group of blogs called the Offbeat Empire, which produce lifestyle pieces for weirdoes who don’t feel represented by mainstream lifestyle media. My articles include “Be your own cheerleader against the zombies of self-doubt,” and “Wands optional: intentional thinking and magic.” I resigned from this position to focus on studying for comprehensive exams over the summer, and in a post bidding me farewell, my boss and publisher Ariel Meadow Stallings said:
Through it all, she was the grammar queen of the Offbeat Empire, the owner and enforcer of our internal style guide, our in-house white hat jerk, and resident consultant on all things dark and kinky. Really… she's the black glittery heart of the Offbeat Empire.
Working in a fast-paced milieu like internet publishing for websites that receive over a million hits each month helped me develop a team-focused willingness to give and take criticism, which then translated to helping me ameliorate my scholastic self-editing, too. I know first-hand how important it is to work together as a team to reach the mutual goal of the best possible outcome without letting ego get in the way. The role of “white hat jerk” is one I comfortably occupied in order to ensure that our publications were women-, people of colour-, and queer-friendly and diverse. I have many paranormal powers, and pointing out potentially problematic prose prior to it becoming a palaver is one of the most potent.
My personal interests have leaned toward the dark and mysterious since I was a child, and my professional choices have always been informed by these hobbies. I have a fondness for collecting strange books, like the 1932-oddity The Memoirs of Satan, witchcraft manuals, and a guide to exorcism, to name a few. I am an avid gamer, both video and tabletop (and I’m sure that was obvious from the Silent Hill quote in the first paragraph). I have experience as a research assistant with a Dr. Rob MacDougall working on an Alternate Reality game to solve the mystery of what happened to Tecumseh’s skeleton in the War of 1812. I also enjoy writing fiction and poetry. I have a story forthcoming in the zine Pamphlets for the Apocalypse entitled “Home Unmaking: How to Decorate When You’re a Zombie.” It’s a playful take on research I’ve done for my degree that shows that for zombies, the home and nostalgia plays a very important role in becoming un-human. I have lots of experience editing and compiling peer-reviewed academic journals for my university, and I am currently compiling a volume of unsettling, mystical, or eerie essays and poetry by myself and my grad student peers to be published under the title Ouroboros.
I would be very willing to relocate to Toronto as I have family there who would be happy to have me haunt their home with my black cat, Zendaya Wednesday. My commitments in London would only necessitate that I be here once a week to teach French. Please find attached my CV, and for a version with hyperlinks, please see my website: carolinediezyn.com.
Whether it be esoteric ramblings from a pseudo-philosopher invoking Calliope but only pissing her off; a choose-your-own adventure type of story that seems to be leading you back to that damned box in the foyer but you can’t find the key – where’s the key?!; or any manner of mysterious, eldritch, genre-mimicking or genre-bending writing; I am confident that I have the past lives’ experience to flip the big red switch and bring whichever narrative into existence.
Thanking you for this beautifully absurd opportunity, I remain