Hi everyone! One of today’s WiHM interviews will be with the super talented and super nice editor, Sharon Lawson. Sharon is one half of the powerhouse Bram Stoker-Award-Nominated editing duo at Grey Matter Press, alongside Anthony Rivera. Grey Matter Press are quickly impressing writers and readers alike with their fantastic horror anthologies and fine quality books.
Everyone, meet Sharon Lawson!
Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
SL: Before I became an acquisitions editor for Grey Matter Press, I was first an accountant and then a stay-at-home mom. I have lived in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois most of my life, and I recently had to deal with the terrors of my only child going off to college.
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!”?
SL: I have been drawn to dark literature from a very young age. Maybe it’s that I have always been a glass-half-empty kind of person. I will always be grateful to my friend Anthony Rivera, who asked me to join him in starting a publishing company. After having a career in accounting, I jumped at the chance to be able to express my creative side. It has been a fantastic experience.
Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?
SL: My favorite story is “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Aside from the superb prose, the reader is pulled into this seemingly innocuous plot and then the true nature of the story hits you like a smack to the forehead. It is completely shocking.
Q. What is your personal favourite of your own work? Answering as an editor.
SL: As an editor for Grey Matter Press, I have co-edited seven anthologies with Anthony Rivera. It is hard to pick just one book, but I think our first, Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror – Volume 1, will always be a sentimental favorite, and it received a Bram Stoker Award nomination for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.
Q. Would you ever write something? You’ve obviously got editing chops. You look at great fiction everyday and get to read fiction by the very best of the best. Ever wonder whether you’ve got a story of your own in there?
I would love to have some writing talent, and I have had friends and family tell me I should write, but I honestly don’t think I have it in me. I can’t conceive of being able to fill pages and pages with something entertaining. I am much more comfortable with helping authors polish their work, although I do battle an affection for the comma. I hope to end that co-dependent relationship very soon.
Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling? E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
SL: I like novels and short stories a lot, but I have become a big fan of the novella. It often feels like the ideal length for horror.
Q. What are you working on at the minute?
SL: This will be a rather busy year for Grey Matter Press. We are excited to be releasing our first full-length novel this spring, Mister White by John C. Foster, and an all-new anthology coming out this summer. We have a lot more in store for later this year.
Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?
SL: Shirley Jackson, of course, has been a favorite forever. Of more current female authors, I really like the work of Sarah Pinborough. I have enjoyed quite a few of her novels.
Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
SL: In our upcoming anthology, Peel Back the Skin, we are thrilled to be featuring stories by esteemed authors Nancy A. Collins, Yvonne Navarro and Lucy Taylor. And we will soon be making an announcement of a solo project with an up-and-coming female author.
Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
SL: My TBR pile is way too big to detail for you, but I am most looking forward to Stephen King’s short-fiction collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant.
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?
SL:I haven’t faced any challenges as a woman in this industry. I had a lot more problems back when I was an accountant. I don’t feel that anyone, least of all anyone I work with, has treated me differently because I am a woman. And I can honestly say that we at Grey Matter Press are blind to gender. We want stories that entertain, and we don’t care if the author is a man or a woman, young or old, American or from a foreign land. We are in the business of selling books, and I don’t understand why any publisher would turn down a great story based on any sort of physical criteria.
Q. Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you?
SL: I think it works best if it inspires female authors to write the kind of horror they want to write, whether it be gothic horror or splatterpunk.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
SL: To all authors, I would say be bold. Don’t hold back. Make sure your manuscripts are edited and/or proofread by someone other than yourself before submitting to an agent or publisher. But most of all, do a lot more showing and a lot less telling.
Sharon Lawson Links: