This year, for the 7th annual Women In Horror Month, I’ve committed too doing a bunch of interviews with cool ladies from the horror community who either write or edit horror fiction. For more news, interviews, and WiHM related shenanigans, check out http://www.womeninhorrormonth.com
First up is my long time friend, South African author and editor, Nerine Dorman. I highly encourage you to check out her work, both her writing and her edited works.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
In short, I’m a South African creative who dabbles in writing, design, music and art. Somewhere along the line I happen to make money from all these skills and a combination thereof. Oh, and I edit too. Actually, that’s probably the mad skill I’m best known for. I live in the far south peninsula of the Western Cape, which means if you look at a map of Africa, it’s that little dangly bit at the bottom that looks like a little willy. I’m right there at the point. [laughs]
Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?
Basically my writing just happens. I *am* influenced by horror (especially my short fiction), but tend to mix and match as I see fit. I could say I write fantasy with horror elements for some stories, but then might end up writing SF the next or straight-up horror the next. It really depends on what mood I’m in and whether I’m writing for a specific editor or publication in mind. To be honest, I find this need to pigeonhole authors to be limiting. So far as genres go, I love dark fiction, especially when dished up with some sly, snarky humour too.
Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?
I was about 12 when I didn’t finish Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. That story scared the living bejebus out of me – specifically the part where the protagonist wakes up in the middle of the night to see the recently deceased jogger standing by his bed. When he wakes properly the following morning, he thinks it’s all been a bad dream – until he sees that his feet are dirty – and that’s when he realises that his nocturnal wanderings were all too real. So, that time when dreams and reality blend, and you can’t tell what’s real, or when you know something bad is going to happen, and you’re yelling at the protagonist “No! Don’t you dare bury the child there! You know it’s not going to end well!” Yup, that story scared me plenty.
Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
I’ve written a bunch of stuff, but if I’m put on a spot I’ll tell folks to go pick up a copy of Dawn’s Bright Talons, which is a fantasy novel involving vampires in a kinda pseudo-Victorian setting in the same (ahem) vein as Anne Rice. Otherwise, if short fiction is more their thing, my anthology, Lost Children, might tickle them – there’s a nice little cross section of my work there. I’m also particularly proud of having sold stories into Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu Mythos anthologies. Para Kindred is available, but the Para Animalia collection is due out soon. Then, I was also honoured to be part of the ToC for Clive Barker’s Midian Unmade anthology brought out by Tor recently.
Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling? E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
I love writing serial fiction, and have two stories running over at Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net (writing as OnyxDrake9 and OnyxDrake respectively). Yes, I love fanfiction. It’s lots of fun and it’s a good way to flex creative muscles without the pressure to succeed (and I totally encourage folks to practice their mad writing skills there). Novels require a great investment, and I try to have at least one novel-length work on the boil, but it’s short fiction that I’m focusing on because there’s a faster turnaround. It’s a whole different beast where you have to focus on telling a story in a limited amount of words.
Q. What are you working on at the minute?
Currently, I’ve got a Wraeththu Mythos novel in the pipeline for Storm Constantine. This has been a bucket list item for years, which I’m taking advantage of now that I’ve got a novel on sub. Then there’s always a short story on the boil. I take my time with these, and plan them quite thoroughly so I can make sure my layering is effective and I’ve threaded in all the subtexts I want.
Q. You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference?
If I’m approached by a client, I’ll edit whatever’s thrown at me, though I prefer fantasy. I do the nearly annual South African HorrorFest Bloody Parchment anthologies, which are turning into a bit of an institution. But my preferences are for stories that are textured, lush and detailed, filled with nuance. I’m kinda old school that way. And it doesn’t matter the genre, so long as the author has grabbed me with his or her prose.
Q. What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically?
A good editor has an eye for story – and personal heroines for me include Jaym Gates, Ellen Datlow and Storm Constantine. You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, so a good editor will know *when* to pick up a decent story. Then of course comes the pruning and polishing. There are some basic gremlins that an editor should catch, without interfering with an author’s voice. It’s a delicate game, knowing when to insist and when to hold back.
Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?
Storm Constantine. No contest.
Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
At some point I’d like to edit a themed collection of novellas or novelettes bundling my favourite authors. We’ve talked about this but until I finish with a few other projects, this is but a pipe dream.
Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
Too many! I’ve a history book by Sampie Terreblanche that’s quite … hefty. But then I’m busy with my reread of Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy, which is making things all kinds of better. I’ve a pile of review books too… Which I’m horribly behind on.
Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
I sometimes just get the feeling that women authors in genre fiction are often ignored by media. I’ll argue that there are as many women writing and getting published as men. So seeing equal attention paid to us along with the usual culprits would be nice.
Q. Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you?
We have a month (yay!) But seriously, exposure is good. Even if it means getting a special month set aside.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write what you like. Read widely, and often outside of your genre. Critique other writers and have them offer critique to you. Never stop learning. Never stop revising. Submit often. Write every day if you can. Rinse and repeat. Oh, and grow rhino skin. Very, very thick rhino skin.
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