My second interview today is with author, Sephera Giron. Thanks Sephera for graciously agreeing to a chat!
Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
SG: I was born in New Orleans, my brother was born in Topaeka, Kansas and we grew up in London, Ontario. My father is a renowned classical composer and is a retired professor from University of Western Ontario and my mother is a pianist. They are an inspiration in many ways, from their long-standing love for each other to their immense musical talents. Mom set the bar for being a person, more than “a woman”, in a time when women were usually expected to function within a specific slot. My parents equally shared housework and child-rearing and this is likely why their marriage works to this day.
This foundation nurtured my own career drive although my own love life hasn’t been so magnificent.
However, I was always encouraged to explore my artistic side whether it was playing violin, writing, singing, dancing, and theatre or just sitting and reading for hours on end. They were big readers as well, the house always full of books, including the latest best sellers where I read the Exorcist, Clockwork Orange and more. I also lived at the library and had gone through the entire children’s section by an early age and was let into the adult library on my own to read for hours.
I liked weird spooky tales. They were sometimes hard to find and I plowed through a lot of gothic romance hoping for a real horror story.
I attended York University where I focused on writing horror which didn’t earn me any friends back in those times.
After school, I did the marriage and kids thing in the burbs while writing and selling many books and stories. Now I’m single and living in Toronto, still freelance editing and writing for a living.
I really enjoy my life right now. The kids are grown and I feel like a teenager starting a fresh new life, but a hell of a lot more wiser!
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!”?
SG: I don’t know why I like creepy things, I just do. I’ve always been drawn to the dark side of things and often enjoy villains more than heroes which is likely why most of my characters are never really good or evil or are just plain evil or desperately tempted by evil. I’m also a tarot reader and like to go ghost hunting.
My clear defining moment was when I closed the book after reading The Shining. My bedroom was in the basement. It was wood paneled and had no windows. When I was reading The Shining, I wouldn’t leave my room. I was too scared. My mom came in now and again trying to get me to go outside or come for dinner and all that and I’d say, “No, I have to finish reading this.” It took about two days of reading and I was about fifteen and in looking at the publication date just now, it was likely right around this time of year. I was terrified and spellbound. I had read Carrie and Salem’s Lot, of course, but they didn’t grip me the way that book gripped me. When I closed the book I said, “I’m going to be a horror writer when I grow up so I can scare people as badly as I was just scared.”
Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?
SG: The Shining. The hedge animals freaked me out. I was disappointed the Kubrick movie didn’t have them. To this day, hedges freak me out.
Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
SG: I wrote four books for Leisure which have now been republished by Necon eBooks: House of Pain, Mistress of the Dark, Borrowed Flesh, The Birds and the Bees
I have a new series coming out from Riverdale Avenue Books called Witch Upon a Star. The first book is called Capricorn: Cursed and is about a witch who has met a mysterious man on New Year’s Eve and hopes to see him again.
I have several horror novellas and a book at Samhain Horror Publishing.
Like most authors, the book I’m working on is my favourite.
Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling? E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
SG: I prefer writing novels.
Q. What are you working on at the minute?
SG: I’m writing one book a month for my Witch Upon a Star series. Right now, I’m working on Taurus. Her name is Dorothy and she’s a crystal ball reader. A TV series much like American Horror Story has come to town to shoot for the season and the witches are all excited about the idea of all the new blood in town. Dorothy had a crush on an actor who played a serial killer in the previous season and is hoping to catch a glimpse of him while he’s shooting. As luck, or perhaps, the love spell, would have it, she actually gets to meet him. Meanwhile, there are deaths on set and crimes to solve. What will Dorothy see in her crystal ball?
Who is your favourite woman writer?
SG: I have so many amazing women writer friends that I can’t begin to single out any of them. I will say I could name about sixty excellent lady horror writers from the top of my head. Any one who is being published right now is well worth reading.
Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
SG: I don’t think so? I’m involved in tons of projects and they all include women. I’ve not seen the diversity first hand as many others seem to experience.
Here in Toronto, a group of us have started the Great Lakes Horror Podcast and it’s about fifty-fifty women. We just finished taping our first four episodes and interviews with Nancy Kilpatrick, Monica O’Rourke, Lisa Mannetti, and Sandra Kasturi. http://lovehorror.biz/hwa/?page_id=1616
Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
SG: I’m trying so hard to read three different Kings on my nightstand. And I have a huge TBR of friends’ books that I promised to blurb and am years behind. I edit books for a living so I’m always reading just not always horror.
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?
SG: My challenges have never come from within the genre. I don’t think I had any issues getting published because I was a woman. It took a few years to hone my craft and once I did, I was published. I have over twenty-five published books and there are many that I wanted to write for various editors but still haven’t, but only because I’m only one person not because I don’t want to do them. The opportunities are there for anyone. I don’t think I’m special in that regard. At the beginning of my post, I mentioned how my parents shared duties. I think it was growing up with that, and loving Stephen King so much, that it never occurred to me I couldn’t publish because I was a girl. Maybe that attitude is what got me published? I don’t know.
However, outside of the genre, I suspect that there’s a prejudice. My name might be weird for people. And when I used to do signings at book stores with my Leisure books, I’ve actually had people come up to me and say that my work can’t be scary because I’m a girl. They also assumed I was selling romance even though I don’t think I look the part. But there’s still a wall for some reason even though it really don’t make much sense.
Q. Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you?
SG: It’s nice to have a spotlight to show that women are here and scary. People familiar with the genre know that. People outside of the genre may not have realized that there are tons of writers just in general. These days, anyone can be a published author, so it’s nice to showcase what various women are doing and how. Showcasing women in the film business is even more important. If we think horror is a Boy’s Club than the film folk have it worse.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
SG: Read a lot.
Write a lot.
Grow a thick skin.
Join organizations like the Horror Writers Association and attend conventions.
Check out my new erotic horror series Witch Upon A Star! https://riverdaleavebooks.com/books/5244/capricorn-cursed-book-one-of-the-witch-upon-a-star-series
Check out my latest horror work at Samhain Horror: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/author/1786/sphera-girn