Lena Valencia

Lena Valencia’s fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter, Epiphany, Joyland, the anthology Tiny Nightmares, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2019 Elizabeth George Foundation grant and holds an MFA in fiction from The New School. Originally from Los Angeles, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is the managing editor and director of educational programming at One Story and the co-host of the reading series Ditmas Lit.


  • Delicious. . . . In the umbra of these darkly tinged stories, readers will experience late-night fears and the sweet relief of daylight.

    —The Los Angeles Times, A Best Book of Summer

  • Where there is glamour, there is terror in this self-assured debut collection.. . . In 10 eerie stories, Valencia leans into the horror and grit under a shiny world.

    —Kirkus Reviews

  • Accomplished . . . . Valencia exhibits a mastery of plot and keen perception of her characters’s vulnerabilities. These alluring stories deserve a wide readership.

    —Publishers Weekly

  • Razor sharp and disconcerting, Mystery Lights is a collection of speculative short stories with a bite. From the supernatural to the otherworldly and beyond, these ten stories range from the terrifying to the ugly, suspenseful to quietly disquieting. Valencia will make you stare at the sky in wonder and awe.

    —Barnes & Noble

  • Cinematic. . . . Using the raw, strange setting of the desert, and its uneasy proximity to the glossy grit of Hollywood, Valencia probes the dark obsessions her characters have with control and sublime spectacle.

    —Shelf Awareness

  • These are stories full of menace and delight, drawing from that deep well of human complexity, perversity, sincerity, and hope. Mystery Lights is gorgeous.

    —Kelly Link, author of The Book of Love

  • Lena Valencia writes some of the best stories I’ve read in years, as sharp and finely honed as knives. Here are women who turn out to be powerful enough to meet the threats of their worlds in kind: their lives may cut them, yes, but they can cut back, and astonishing truths are laid bare in the process. Both bold and sly, in turns righteously angry and sinister, Mystery Lights offers a brilliant new vision of what it means to be a woman in this world.

    —Clare Beams, author of The Garden

  • I’ve loved Lena Valencia’s brilliant, beguiling stories for years and read her debut collection in a single breathless evening. These are stories with teeth, both chilling and bold, about the strength and vulnerability of women and girls. Full of surprising turns, Mystery Lights reminded me of the incredible power of short fiction to speak the truth.

    —Julie Buntin, author of Marlena

  • B movie aesthetics meet the cinematic splendor of the desert in these ten clever, neatly crafted, wryly stylized short stories. Against the backdrop of their desolate and often haunted landscapes, Lena Valencia’s characters vividly come to life.

    —Rachel Lyon, author of Fruit of the Dead