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  • Writer's pictureMary Kay McBrayer

Everything I Did Right in 2021: A Round-Up of Publications and More

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

At the beginning of lockdown, in early 2020, I took the first half of that masterclass about the science of joy (then they wanted me to meditate, and I quit). The main thing I took away (besides that money CAN make you happy, up to about $100G/year, and then it levels off) is that a good way to recreate joy is to reflect on other times that gave you joy.

Because the dog days of December always give me the Sunday Scaries, this blog post is a round up of all the writing things I did right in 2021--and it's an excuse for me to reach out about them to you again. Plus, at the end, I listed a few things I'm looking forward to in 2022. Let's start big:



Oxford American

Photographs by Emily Wang

"Sure, with unbounded access to money and artists, an exact replica might be worthwhile, more useful even than the actual artifacts of the time because no one actually uses them. But this is my fantasy; this is my house; this is my metaphor. This is me playing the violin while Rome burns."

**Not only is this publication, like, a very big deal for me, but it also made the Top 10 Most Viewed Stories on the site in 2021. That's a big deal in general.


"Bottom line: cursed or not, when it comes to the contents of the tombs, You need that for later. The curses associated with mummies in real life are to protect the bodies so that souls can later reinhabit them."

**Chase and I got to visit Egypt in May, after we got vaccinated and before Delta. This is one of the pieces that got picked up--it's a blend of travel writing and film analysis.


Illustrations by Alice Yeun

In 1794 the people of Guadeloupe briefly tasted freedom. A woman named Solitude decided she’d rather die than go back into chains — but her heroism was nearly lost to history.

**This hidden history is such a fantastic story, and I'm so grateful to the team that didn't give up on it, despite that so much of the data was in the form of oral histories.


ROCKY IV: Listen to Your Wife (forthcoming December 31) on Neon Splatter.

EDIT: link included now!

This year I also started contributing to Messy Nessy Chic, and I absolutely adore writing about escapist hidden histories for them. Here are some of the sponsored writings I've submitted to them this year--and they do imagery SO well... you have to check out the pictures!

EDIT: THREE of these stories made it into Messy Nessy Chic's favorites of 2021!



Director Nathalie Biancheri sat down with FANGORIA to talk about authenticity among species in her sophomore film WOLF. WOLF follows the story of Jacob (George MacKay) as he navigates a clinic for people with species dysphoria and the psychologist/zookeeper who torments them with cognitive-behavioral treatment.


The lovely Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence asked me to contribute to their volume The Science of Serial Killers.

Podcasts that interviewed me:


"BOYS ENTER THE HOUSE is an incredibly researched yet page-turning narrative and an essential read: anyone fascinated with this case knows of the many murdered boys, but David B. Nelson expands their lives to a familiarity I've never before felt…Nelson's level of attention, detail, and respect toward the victims of criminals is the gold standard for every true crime writer."

"SOMEONE TO SHARE MY NIGHTMARES is the most impeccable title for this collection of Sonora Taylor's short works: each one embraces the camp of a well-loved horror trope and makes it new by exploring the romance and lust of its relationship to humanity. If you want a novel reading experience that weds the slasher to the romantic comedy, this collection is what your heart (and body) desires."



  1. The French Dispatch directed by Wes Andersen

  2. Titane directed by Julia Ducournau

  3. Wolf directed by Nathalie Biancheri


  1. The Annotated Arabian Nights: Tales from 1001 Nights translated by Yasmine Seale, edited by Paulo Lemos Horta

  2. My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme

Did I forget something? Let me know by shooting me an email: mary dot kay dot mcbrayer at gmail dot com.

And if you know of something I should write about, if you're looking for freelance, researching, or editing work, or if you want to collaborate in any other way, get in touch!

Merry New Year, friends!

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