Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Hey folks,

One of the awesome writerly people I’ve met in recent weeks via facebook is none other than Kristin Dearborn. I picked up her latest release Woman in White and while I won’t be reviewing the novella, I was pleased to discover an author who was experimenting with story structure, and touching on serious issues (gender politics/patriarchy/domestic violence) while delivering it within the vehicle of a pulp horror tale.  Many thanks to Kristin for stopping by my blog for a quick chat!

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Kristin Dearborn

Q: You have a new novella out with DarkFuse Press.  It’s called Woman in White.  What is your favourite aspect or part of Woman in White?

KD: Woman in White was particularly fun to write. I got to blend a creature feature kind of campy vibe with feminist issues—especially domestic violence—which are near and dear to my heart. I think the juxtaposition works particularly well blending the “monster of the week” atmosphere with really powerful, flawed, female characters. I had a blast with Mary Beth, Angela, and Lee. I wanted to make the three of them imperfect in various ways: Angela is a domestic abuse victim who’s had an abortion. Mary Beth is overweight and more interested in video games than hunting or being a mom. Lee is career-focused and is sleeping with a married man. These complexities made them fascinating to spend time with in my head.

Q. So in WIW…the mayhem that is going on… is this just a vengeance on the bad men of the town, with a few innocents caught in between, or is there a deeper statement here about patriarchy in general?  Was this a conscious theme you set out to write on or something that developed organically for you?

KD: The idea of Woman in White was inspired by the plight of the male angler fish, specifically as described by a cartoon written by The Oatmeal. The male angler fish, for those of you who won’t click the link and read the cartoon, has a really shit deal. He’s tiny and weak and spends his entire life searching for a female angler fish, who lures him to her with terrifying, wonderful pheromones. He thinks she’s the most beautiful thing in the world even though in order to breed he winds up literally melding with her and losing every part of his identity. I wanted to create a monster that operated in a similar fashion, and in doing so, I found it impossible to avoid gender focused themes. I’m tired of seeing the same old story where a bunch of dudes save the day. I wanted the men in town to be the damsels in distress. In WIW, Jason is one of my favorite characters. In any other book, I’m pretty sure he would be the hero. I think I went easy on him, though…

Q. Do you find it easy to let a story go when it’s time to write “the end”, or even when it is published? 

KD: Honestly, and I feel like I lose author street cred points here, I don’t feel like I have a problem letting this stuff go. I’m well aware it can be tweaked to death, and I don’t want to do that. I think I err on the side of under-tweaking. I like to finish a draft, then let it sit for a while before I let myself or anyone else look at it. I’ll give it a go, send it along to some of my beloved beta readers, then, like a bird, set it free out into the world.

Q. Do you read your books once they’re published? (Simon: Once something of mine is in print, I can’t actually can’t bring myself to read it. It’s bizarre.)

KD: When I see my own work in print, it’s like every little flaw crawls off the page and boops me in the nose. It’s not the same with galleys, those always look great. That said, it’s pretty rad to see a thing I made out there in the world that people can hold in their hands.

Q. Do you find after publication that the creativity tanks have been drained? What do you do to fill them or recharge the creative battery?

KD: I find publication charges my batteries more than drains them. What gets me kinda down is the time when I’ve polished a manuscript (as much as I’m going to) and I’m starting to send it out. That’s not particularly energizing for me. I have a few tricks for my creative batteries: I have found NaNoWriMo a fun opportunity to just pour out something I don’t care about that gives me a chance to practice plotting, pacing, and production. I have never looked at one after the fact, just pump out the words, learn from the experience and forget it. The other thing I like to do is switching between short stories and novels or novellas. The thing that most recharges my creative juices, however, is the act of being in an environment with a bunch of other writers. The Seton Hill University Alumni Retreat in Greensburg, PA and NECON in Bristol, RI are the two I enjoy the most.

Q. You ride a motor bike – When did you get into bikes? I heard something about a rustbucket. Tell me more!

KD: When I graduated from college, I bought myself a non-functioning $600 motorcycle on Craigslist and got my motorcycle license. I was convinced I could teach myself how to fix it and learn to ride. That bike never moved. I was terrible at motorcycles, and kind of gave up on the whole thing. I referred to myself in that dark time as “the world’s least enthusiastic motorcycle enthusiast.” Fast forward three years to my moving to Vermont, where a former boss decided he was gonna sell me his motorcycle. We agreed on the price of one hundred US dollars. Former boss got the bike out of storage, checked it over, then let me know he could not, in good conscience, take any money for the thing. Thusly, I was given Rustbucket, a 1982 Yamaha Maxim 400. (Not to be confused with the Maxim 650 I had a few years later. That thing was a battle tank and I loved it dearly.)

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Rustbucket!

After about a thousand bucks of repairs, I rode Rustbucket for a season, even though its functionality was dubious. Eventually it died and I sold it for $50. I’m now riding a 2013 Harley, and put on many thousand miles every summer (riding seasons are pretty short here in the frozen northland of Vermont). Last summer I survived an incident I’ve been fearing since I first started riding…the dreaded bee in the helmet. I’d always thought a bee in my helmet would just, like, make the bike spontaneously explode. Instead, I lifted my visor and shooed the flying hypodermic needle away and didn’t even stop. Simon shouldn’t have asked about this because I could talk about motorcycles FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

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Q: What new or forthcoming books are on your radar? Whose work are you loving right now? 

KD: I’m super super pumped for Joe Hill’s Fireman, Bracken Macleod’s Stranded (I’m a sucker for a wintery story), and Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. Right now I’m in the middle of Stephen King’s most recent short story collection Bazaar of Bad Dreams. I don’t think it’s got quite the same teeth as Skeleton Crew or Night Shift, but still pretty dang good. Other things I’m pretty into at the moment are James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series. Space opera goodness.

Q. What are your goals in the year or two ahead for your own writing?  Got any story markets you’re trying to crack, or working on a novel or collection or are you working on novel etc? 

KD: I have a couple novels up my sleeve. One with a finished first draft that needs some serious grooming and polishing, one halfway finished, and one in the larval idea stages. It’s all about getting the butt in the chair and producing some words


 

Check the synopsis below and fantastic praise of Kristin’s Woman in white \ and click the cover image to visit Amazon and pick up a copy!

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Synopsis

Rocky Rhodes, Maine.

As a fierce snowstorm descends upon the sleepy little town, a Good Samaritan stops to help a catatonic woman sitting in the middle of the icy road, and is never seen or heard from again. When the police find his car, it is splattered in more blood than the human body can hold.

While the storm rages on, the wave of disappearances continue, the victims sharing only one commonality: they are all male. Now it’s up to three young women to figure out who or what is responsible: a forensic chemist, a waitress struggling with an abusive boyfriend, and a gamer coping with the loss of her lover.

Their search will lead them on a journey filled with unspeakable horrors that are all connected to a mysterious Woman in White.

Praise

“Horror born straight from a nor’easter, Dearborn’s Woman in White is a great read for a winter night—with a monster I’ll never forget.” —Christopher Irvin, author of Federales and Burn Cards

“Kristin Dearborn’s Woman in White is a rip-roaring monster tale with sharp-eyed characterization and something to say about the power dynamics between men and woman. Thought-provoking and entertaining as hell!” —Tim Waggoner, author of Eat the Night

“Great stuff! Suspenseful, quickly paced, unpredictable and wonderfully evil tale. Kristin Dearborn’s best yet!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

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This is my third and (I think) final surprise for Women In Horror month – an interview with actress and Woman In Horror, Pollyanna McIntosh. I was first blown away by Pollyanna and her talent when she played “The Woman” in the movies of the Jack Ketchum novels Offspring, and The Woman. That’s right.. she’s quite literally THE WOMAN in horror, and she’s on my blog for WiHM, ftw!  (See what I did there, folks???  mwahaha) .  Pollyanna is also one of the stars on the new TV series of Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard and I expect we’re going to be seeing a lot more of her in future!  Thanks so much for stopping by, Pollyanna!

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Q. You’re possibly best known as “The Woman” from the movies based on Jack Ketchum’s novels: Offspring, The Woman, etc. What about that character in particular or those scripts intrigued you?

PM: The Woman is a sort of dream character, she’s intent, utterly independent, primal and her presence in each story is challenging some of our most screwed up human problems. The writing of Offspring the book first got me into her so it was such an exciting part to get offered, it showed a lot of faith from my director/producer, Andrew van den Houten and I was excited to be let to run wild with the character. Then they decided I shouldn’t die as intended in that film and so the idea of a sequel was born. When Lucky McKee came on board to co-write and direct The Woman I knew we were going to make something special. There was no question I was going to miss that!

Q. What is your favourite horror movie?

PM: Rosemary’s Baby does it for me. It’s creepy as all hell, I love the aesthetic and the sense of jeopardy is utterly sustained for me. Mia Farrow is bloody brilliant and John Cassavetes is a filmmaking crush of mine yet he’s so natural as an actor too. Add Ruth bloody marvelous Gordon in there and an array of other wonderful character actors and I’m hooked.

Q. You play Angel in the new TV series Hap and Leonard, based on the crime series by the renowned author Joe Lansdale. Can you tell us a bit about your character and how have you found playing her?

PM:  Hap and Leonard is a great new series on Sundance TV (available on Amazon Prime in the UK) based on Texan writer Joe R Lansdale’s book series of the same name. It’s set in East Texas in the 80s and is a buddy story of two unlikely best friends; Hap Collins (James Purefoy) a white, straight, divorced, ex hippie now jaded after spending time in jail for protesting the war and Leonard Pine (Michael Kenneth Williams) a black, openly gay, Vietnam veteran with anger issues. They run in to trouble thanks to Hap’s revolutionary ex wife Trudy (Christina Hendricks) and the trouble begins and ends with mine and Jimmi Simpson’s characters: Angel and Soldier. Angel is a lover but also a fighter. She’s the muscle and Soldier’s the talker. We make a fun pair of colourful killers.  I put on a lot of muscle for the role and had a ball shooting the show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She’s a crazy one to inhabit as I created a very damaged background story for her but in a good way she’s very clear about who she is and how she copes with her anger because people have become expendable to her when they get in her way yet she’s so in love with her Soldier so that kept me positive in a weird way. Trying to describe playing a role is an odd thing but it’s made joyful when you collaborate well with people and you feel you’re getting good storytelling made.

Hap and Leonard  Wednesdays on Sundance TV, Amazon Prime etc with James Purefoy, Michael K Williams, Christina Hendricks, Jimmi Simpson and me.

Q. You’re a Scottish girl living in LA. You can take the girl out of Scotland..but can you take Scotland out of the girl?

PM: Never! My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here. My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer.

Q. Have you encountered any issues while working in the film industry that have been complicated by your gender; and are initiatives like Women in Horror Month important?

PM: I think any group choosing to highlight and celebrate women as important equal members of our entertainment culture and culture in general helps inspire and keep moving us forward and that’s important. I’m about meritocracy but we don’t live in one as so many valuable leaders are overlooked because of gender, race and other fears our traditional hierarchy clings on to. For myself as far as gender politics in the industry is concerned, I’ve been made well aware of them but have also found ways to initiate more equality for myself and those around me. Much of the time I find the sexism to be institutionalized and often lazy or unconscious. In those cases I’ve found it pretty easy to steer things (story, character, attitude) onto a more equal and satisfying ground.

As for if have I lost out on things because I’m a woman? You just have to look at the numbers to know we’re undervalued in my industry but we can vote with our money, like all of us in this capitalist society. So for me it’s important to seek out female projects that I like and buy that theatre ticket or tweet about this new TV show or whatever. Groundswell is important, we can’t afford to waste time. I’d love a day when women take not one bit of patriarchal bullshit. One day would sort it. Just underpay for the “luxury tax” put on tampons and walk out the shop with them anyway. If you get grabbed by security, bleed all over them. All women paid less than their male counterparts strike. Can you imagine the chaos across sectors? All across the world, women storming schools they’re denied access to, protesting health centers, sacking the vatican, flooding court houses. Not one shitty gossip magazine or peach scented douche sold that day, shampoo priced higher than the men’s would be dashed open across supermarket aisles. Older women would read the news all day, History class in school would teach Suffrage and inspire with unsung heroines, female poets and writers would be given equal space on the curriculum, girls could wear trousers wherever the fuck they liked and breastfeeding would be happening everywhere. And not one apology for speaking up uttered. I think I may have to write that film.

Q. At the end of The Woman, your character and the little girl walk off into the woods. Horror fans can smell a sequel! Can you see yourself reprising the role if Jack and Lucky write one?

PM: Hold that thought…

 

Pollyanna’s Favourite Charity

Please support and spread the word about this wonderful charity I’m working with which provides free counselling and opens discussions about mental health in schools. Thank you.

Pollyanna McIntosh’s Links:

twitter: @PollyAMcIntosh
instagram: @PollyannaMcIntosh

 

 

 

April Hawks is a Woman in Horror who is a total inspiration for anyone who knows her. Aside from being a writer, she’s a mum and mum to one hell of a tough little thug who had cancer at age 3.  I’ve been Facebook “friends” with April for a fair while and though I don’t know her well I’ve been in absolute awe of her as a writer, woman and mum. When I decided to have Women in Horror Month interviews, I was thrilled when April said she’d love to take part.  Thanks for stopping by April!!
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Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I grew up about an hour northish of where I live now, and while there were the usual family issues any obnoxious teen thinks they have, my family is pretty cool. I actually live about ten minutes from three uncles, four aunts, a couple cousins and my grandparents and we are a tight knit clan. It is amazing to me how close my kids are to their great grandparents, and feel blessed that they have that as an experience. I am fortunate similarly, that I was able to get to know two of my great grandfathers and I still have letters from my Grampy White, who was an author as well. Though he passed in the early 2000s at 91 years old, I also have signed copies of each of his books that I treasure. I also gave my main character, from my novel The Birthday Slasher: An Arielle Charltray Novel, my grandmother’s maiden name. Unbeknownst to me, I gave my main character’s dad my great grandfather’s middle name as his first name. If that makes any sense. I had started the book a few years ago and I only found out last week that the J. in my great grandfather’s name stood for Joseph.

I have always loved to write and to read and when I started to buckle down and write and pursue publishing, it was an amazing feeling of coming home. I’ve been in and out of college since I graduated High School. Sixteen years working on my Associate’s degree, and counting. But I was going to school with a focus in English because I wanted to teach College level English classes. That has kind of fallen to the wayside, but not completely off the table.

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!”?  

I am laughing because I have changed so much in the last few years. I have known my friend and Mentor, Peter N. Dudar, for a few years, now. And when we met, I was a bit more shy, and intimidated as hell. Our kids went to the same pre-school program and though I had spoken to his wife regularly, I kind of freaked out when I found out he was an author. He had been published. Here I was, this mom with one marriage behind me, and a relationship that blessed me with two more kids. (Now, we have been married for seven years and added another kid.) Anyway, Peter told me that he wrote horror and I was thinking ‘I don’t even watch that shit, let alone write about it.’ And he told me he wrote short stories, and I was like ‘I want to write novels.’ But we continued to stay in touch, though my friendship stayed primarily with his wife. But Pete is a cool guy.

This kind of overlapped with an opportunity I was gifted with. The Wounded Warrior Project was introduced to me and they sent me to New York City to participate in a workshop with other caregivers of Wounded veterans. So, in June, 2012, I got to have this amazing two days of workshops with an amazing group of women, a small little group of six of us in addition to two mentors. I saw an off Broadway Play (or off, off Broadway, I forget) called Rapture Blister Burn, written by Gina Gionfrido who was another mentor. The play had an amazing cast including Amy Brenneman and Lee Turgison. It was AH MAY ZING. But I digress.

The workshop was in two parts. That was the first part. The second came in October, after the ground fell out from beneath my feet.

August 31, 2012

My son, who was three days shy of his third birthday, was diagnosed with Cancer. So September was insanity for me, and I really remember very little. But what I do remember is that I thought seriously about not going to the second portion. Friends and family persuaded me, reminding me that a recharge was a good idea after all we had been immersed in as a family. So I went. And I got an assignment from my mentors to write a personal essay. With the help of my mentors, I edited and re wrote and re wrote more. In the meantime, I buy copies of all the anthologies that Peter had been in and I read cover to cover and was intrigued, but not enough to try to write it myself.

So then, Peter comes back to me and tells me that he got an invite for an anthology that he thinks would be a great opportunity for me. When I read about it, I agree whole heartedly. I got in touch with the editor, Lori Michelle, and I made a friend and got my essay accepted for inclusion into the anthology benefitting the National Children’s Cancer Society.

On top of the essay, I literally thought “Fuck it. I’ll try a fiction piece, too.” And I did. And I poured so much into it that it soothed me and helped me process my son’s diagnosis and the symptoms that he was experiencing and…it just helped me sort my brain out. And it was total shit. But I had done it. And the process of writing that story, Dark Fever, was amazing. I had a complete piece. It may not have been great, but it was whole. And so I went from “I’ll never write Horror,” intending to leave both the genre and the format to Peter, to eventually taking on a challenge to write a story every week in 2014. And submitting work wasn’t intimidating anymore because after you hear the words “your son has cancer” it is difficult to be afraid of rejection for your writing.

Never say never.

Oh, I also want to say that my son is now six and a half and off treatment. And a nutjob.

What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 

I would have to say that The Stand is my favorite. It was my Stephen King Gateway. Lol. I saw the movie when it was on television and I fell in love. It was sad and funny and thought provoking. It was an epic journey, much like the fantasy books I adore. And My favorite Martian was in it, so you know, win! And I had to read the book. And the book was more amazing than the movie. So that is how I do movie/books, now. Watch the movie then read the book. And I have liked King, and devoured what I could find. Except for IT which freaked me the fuck out at age 8 (still not mad, Jen. It is a great story to tell)

But even at that point, in my early twenties, I never looked past King and when I had exhausted what was around me of his work, I went back to my epic fantasies.

What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

I have written a novel, which is in vomit draft at the moment (first draft…get it all out and clean it up later. I can’t say Anne Lamotte’s phrase ‘Shitty First Drafts’ in front of my kids. Lol.) and I referenced it above. The Birthday Slasher: An Arielle Charltray Novel. Inspired by a date with my husband when we were first dating, actually. It is in the hands of beta readers at the moment and I am working on it while I wait for notes, too. I have also written well over 52 short stories (or pieces of 2500 words that could grow into more. That was my benchmark) from 2014. And I have an epic fantasy novel started and an Urban Fantasy novel as well. So I have a lot to work with and the desire to do much, much more. A few of my pieces have been accepted and some have been published and that is amazing to me. There is nothing quite like seeing my name in print with something I wrote. It never gets old.

I love my blog, because I used it as a tool for updates through the cancer treatments we have gone through and through my shaving my head to support St. Baldricks national campaign to raise funding for Childhood Cancer research. There is so very much of me in my blog. And I write about things I am passionate about: Childhood Cancer, Veterans issues, Childhood Sexual Trauma and Domestic abuse are my primary advocacy targets on there.

I would say, though, that Slippery Love was the piece that I love the most because it was what got me started. It got me started writing again, it got published, and it wasn’t all about the horrible stuff, on the surface. I wrote about a little boy and his pets- composting worms. But there was a lot underneath. And it was cleansing and healing. It was something I needed badly and hadn’t even known.

But I will also say that my short story, Organically Grown was the first fiction piece someone ever paid me for publishing. That will always be amazing to me.

Q.  Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook

I like to listen to James Marsters read Jim Butcher books, but that is mostly because I would listen to him read the contents of dryer lint and be happy. I love Butcher, so I tend to read him in print more. I have a more recent adoration for short stories, and I love that I can make a complete package out of them in a shorter time span than my novels. But I love longer works and though I wouldn’t recommend writing a mystery as a first novel, due to the complexities of keeping track of characters and clues, that is more because of personal preference and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (Diagnosed, even)

And I have digressed, but really, I think they all have a place. Some people will go see a play before they would read. Others are more into television and movies. Others like audio because it works with their commutes. I think anything that engages someone is important and not to be overlooked. So I don’t really have a favorite form.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

Other than this interview? Hahah. (It was funnier in my head) Edits and rewrites for The Birthday Slasher, and when the kids return to school after February break, I will haul out my box of short stories and will play with them and look at getting some ready for submitting.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

The Bronte sisters, Louisa May Alcott, and Mary Shelley and the other classic women that paved the way, first and foremost. Jean Auel, who wrote the Clan of the Cave Bear series and wrote a strong female character that I wanted to emulate and was going to name my daughter after (har har. Joke’s on me. I have all boys.) But I will feel terrible if I were to list current women authors that reside in my Facebook Friends list and forgot some. Plus, there are so very many that I couldn’t possibly remember them all. Honestly, I don’t always pay attention to whether the author is male or female when I read a book. I just read and if I enjoy it, great! Then I get more of their books. If not, I don’t.

Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 

Sadly, not at the moment. I am a solitary writer, other than my writer’s group, Tuesday Mayhem Society, with Peter Dudar and Morgan Sylvia. When we are able to get together we have an amazing and productive time.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

I am totally digging post apocalypse stuff at the moment. My TBR pile is GINORMOUS and again, I am not even sure what is on it. I have bookshelves of books to read and a ton of books on my kindle that I read in the order I downloaded them. (OCD though art a brutal mistress)

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?

There have been a few assholes on Facebook that have said stupid shit, but overall, I have found the horror community to be warm and welcoming. And to be honest, if publishers have rejected me because I am a woman, they have been wise enough not to say that to me. I have gotten into debates with people during the last two women in Horror months. The first started with me trying to give a person an opportunity to clear up his stupidity. I was assuming, since he kept saying that he wasn’t a mysogenist, that the words he was using were the wrong ones. So, I tried to help him out of the clusterfuck in which he had entangled himself. His beginning statement was that the official picture of women in horror month was a pair of bright red lips and fangs. That was actually not correct. The official picture was hockey mask. But he began to talk about how it wasn’t classy to use bright red lips and fangs. And then the conversation turned to vagina dentata. And there was a terrible spiral downward from there. Though I had submitted some stuff to him, and his press, I ended the debacle by blocking him. I have no interest in being affiliated in any way with that whole mess, or a press represented by him. But I will say that it was glorious to see so many people put red lipstick on in solidarity of the inanity. Even my husband took a red lipsticked selfie. And so there was a tremendous backlash for him and a rally around the women.

Last year, again trying to be helpful, a man asked about any writers in Maine, in a private group. I told him about Tuesday Mayhem Society and a couple other writers.  and he went on a huge rant about how we were not actual writers and that all women in horror were hags. He was a real ass by the end of it. Again, I blocked. Both cases, however, I commented on in my blog. Once again, the backlash was not good to that man. And I think that is beautiful. In this case, we had profile pictures of “hags” and we were the Horror Hags! Men and women alike. And I was able to coin the phrase #restinghagface. Which I still use.

The most important thing that I walked away from both times was the support that we got. People all over Facebook rallied and took a stand that this was not acceptable. That is huge! I mean when I think of how many Facebook friends I have, to see that only two were douchetastic was very cool. And they aren’t my friends anymore, anyway. There is such a comradery in the writing community. And we handled it in a very tongue in cheek manner, which I think is great! There was an abundance of sarcasm and wink. Wink, nudge, nudgeing happening. So it was addressed, but in a funny way, I think.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you? 

Because women still have more success when taking a gender neutral or a male pen name. Because the perception is still there that women are too soft to write anything scary. And I know, because I know what my perception of a horror writer used to be. In an ideal world, (which we all know this is not) there is no preconceived notion of what a horror writer should be or is. If someone wants to dress up to sell their books (an issue brought up last year in the crazy speak) fuck it! My first thought was “let them” but it is no one else’s decision to ‘let people’ do things. If the person in the booth next to you at a writing convention, is dressed like a vampire, who the fuck cares? We are way too tied into the way things should or shouldn’t be. And so there is still a perception that women shouldn’t be writing gore or whatever. Until people stop deciding what the picture for Women in Horror Month should or shouldn’t be, until people no longer associate women that write horrific things with hags, we will continue to need WIHM. It is sad to me, though, that in the year 2016, we still underestimate people enough that we NEED _______ (fill in the blank) month for any group of people at all. But that is another rant. Take some time and check out some female horror writers and see that we can do it just as well, and in some cases better, than our male counterparts. And I only say the last part because in any genre there is a bunch of poorly written shit out there, from any gender.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write. If you write, you are a writer. Publication is secondary.

 

April Hawks Links:

Blog: Working on Creative Chaos 

Facebook: Author page https://www.facebook.com/AprilDawnHawks

Twitter: @aprilhawks

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/flockofhawks/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/April-Hawks/e/B00FRLSH9I/

 

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Welcome back to Women In Horror month(s) at my blog. One of this evening’s interviews is with publicist, editor and writer, Erin Al Mehairi.  I bumped into Erin via facebook around the time around the time I started thinking about doing this interview series. She’s fast become one of my fav online peeps. She does publicity and editing for some of the great horror authors you all know and love and I expect you’ll be seeing some of her own fiction in print soon enough! Thanks for stopping by, Erin!

Erin AlMehairi

Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Erin: I’m a reader, a writer, an editor, and an author of past published poetry and many articles, a journalist, an aspiring novelist, a publicist, a PR/Marketing professional, a photographer, a mom, a baker, and a candlestick maker. Well, not the last one….but I like the smell of them, especially coffee ones.

This will be my longest answer of the interview…here goes…

I was born in England, but I’ve lived most of my life in the United States on the East Coast. I carried dual citizenship until I was 18. I’m as proud to be British as I am being an American.

I’ve been writing my whole life, my young scribbles culminating in winning my local newspaper’s essay contest when I was in middle or high school, and I’ve had the bug ever since. I’ve been pretty much writing full-time in some way since I started at university back in 1992. It wasn’t long after I began my college career that I knew I’d never do anything else again that didn’t include writing. I came out with bachelor of art degrees in English, Journalism, and History.

Due to circumstances in my life, besides a year or so of working as a reference librarian, I went into public relations, marketing, and media relations as my career, while attempting freelance journalism on the side. There’s a lot of in- between years in which I mostly wrote articles and/or edited for the multiple magazine tabloids and newsletters, press releases, magazine articles, ad copy, and non-fiction work. After hours, when I couldn’t sleep, I wrote poetry when the mood struck me. I was also a workaholic then too and volunteered in my community, so besides the fact that I wrote thousands of words a day at work and in the community, I also began raising children, off and on as a single mom of a baby and a toddler, and was much too tired to have any energy to give to myself for creative writing.

When I DID write poetry in the midst of all that, I wrote of nature, love, and grief and fantasy or magical themes. My essays were usually of people or places or feelings or inspirational words for others.

About seven years ago, I decided to leave my full-time public relations and marketing job and branch out on my own full-time by opening my own business, Addison’s Compass Public Relations. That way, I could seek out my own work in the field, as well as be there more for my three small children. I’ve been doing it ever since, and now, the kids are a bit older so it’s easier. I started my business right after representing Ohio as Young Careerist of the Year at the Business and Professional Women national convention and receiving a Woman of Achievement Award from the county I live in. At the time I decided to do this, the economy in America was tanking, but I knew it was right for me to take the risk for my kids and I had a lot going for me. I included them in my work. I was pleased to even talk about this in the highly-regarded entrepreneur and business magazine “SUCCESS.” However, selfishly I felt, I also wanted to make time for writing my own books.

Since I had a bit more time for reading and writing of my own in the evenings as I struggled with insomnia, I also started a site soon after (Oh, for the Hook of a Book!). It allowed me to write about something fun I enjoyed (books!!) and my own creative writing processes. The book site grew exponentially and this month it celebrates its five-year anniversary! I still feature various genres, but you’re likely to find mostly historical or gothic, peppered with horror and mystery, and the occasional children’s book post.

This led to my business in books, which is called Hook of a Book Media and Publicity, and I do editing and publicity for authors and publishers. I’ve been loving assisting horror authors lately with marketing consulting, tying together contacts, securing media contacts and spots, publicity tours, and more. It’s very busy, but it’s fun.

As for the editing side, I’ve been editing since I was in high school, being an editor of our high school paper and then in college, taking classes in editing for both majors in Journalism (AP style) and English (Chicago Manual of Style), and serving as Senior News Editor of our university newspaper and as an editor for the university’s Poetry Press. I’ve edited almost everything over the years: articles, marketing pieces, magazine type tabloids and newsletters, resumes, ad copy, and books and poetry collections.

I’ve edited and content read all types of books such as new adult, sci-fi, thrillers, historical, and horror. I do a lot of horror, thrillers, and sci-fi currently. I really like working with new writers and helping them grow. If I love an author’s work, and feel good about our work together, I’ll totally be their champion.

Besides writing my own interviews and reviews for my site, I am also a journalist at the horror entertainment site, Beneath the Underground. I interview celebrities in horror and sci-fi indie films, as well as directors and authors.

I have 3 children, a boy and two girls, all under the age of 16. I own my two businesses and I write on the side. I like chocolate and coffee a lot, as well as cooking. I love nature and the outdoors, especially the lake, but also the ocean, rivers, creeks, etc. I have A LOT of interests, but I love going to treasure hunt for used books and paperbacks, hanging out in bookstores, and going to museums when not hiking or doing something outdoors.

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  

Erin: I grew up not being able to watch horror or scary sci-fi, though my Dad watched it, and when he did, I wasn’t allowed in the living room. So I missed out on the old episodes of the sci-fi show “V” in what, the 80s?, which led to why, as an adult, I was so mad when they canceled the new episodes a few years back (way too early). I loved it! Ha! I did however get to watch lots of Scooby-Doo, which I still do, and read children’s books featuring witches. I learned to be curious about all sorts of monsters on Scooby-Doo, but even more, that evil human nature could be overcome by a group of meddling kids. Today, I still watch it with my girls. It’s one of our favorite things to do on Saturday mornings together.

In high school I started loving to study writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Charles Dickens, and in getting my university English degree, studied many of these classic authors for class and on my own. In addition, I love Oscar Wilde, Joyce Carol Oates, Mary Shelley, and Washinton Irving. Later, I really liked Shirley Jackson, V.C. Andrews, and Daphne du Maurier. I was writing poetry then and I mirrored them, and Poe, in my writing (still do). They have all been a huge influence on me. As I said, I’ve written for years, but my horror and dark writing and poetry was more a secret. I only shared some of my poems that honored people I lost, were about love, or many, about nature.

Once I met many more people in the writing, and especially in horror writing genres, on social media, I came to be open more and more about my writing about five years ago. I realized that most of the people writing horror also are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I write dark fiction and poetry for myself to dissuade my fears, deal with emotions, as a funnel for pain, and to survive. It’s like breathing when you’re locked in a room filling with water and the only way out is to put pencil to paper.

The last few years, and especially in 2015 and as goals for 2016, I said I’m just going to write more dark poetry and put it out there and see what happens. The response was good. I decided it was alright for me to write horror stories, so I’m just doing it and putting those out there too. Anyone who doesn’t like me anymore for it…well, they aren’t taking the time to understand. I have to write from my heart and the best way for me to stay in the light is write about the darkness. Get it out onto the page and get over it.

It’s been a long journey for many reasons, with mostly a lot of toxic people in my life, but now my muse is finding her footing again. So yes, I’m good with writing it now and plan to do it much, much more.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 

Erin: One of my favorite horror books is “Dead of Winter” by Brian Moreland. The isolated area he wrote the novel in, set in the late 1800s in the middle of winter, with his amazing pacing and creation of a foreboding atmosphere, all worked to scare me to pieces. I told him it exhausted, but I mean that as a compliment.

The “Pit and the Pendulum” by Edgar Allan Poe….Ahhhhhhh! Scarred me for life, but I love his work. My childhood scare was “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. The headless horseman frequented my nightmares. However, now I love it and I love the television show too!

Q. What is your favourite horror film?

Erin: I really don’t know. I really liked “Sinister” and I like movies like Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” Really like “The Silence of the Lambs” and anything Hannibal. If “Phantom of the Opera” counts, I love that too. Sorry, I can’t ever pick one of anything.

Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

Erin: I haven’t written any books or stories in horror that have been published. *Pulls out her hair* I consider myself an author as I’ve had published poetry, essays, and thousands of articles published, yet not in the horror genre, and because I’ve worked on such large chucks of my own things and completed some stories I need to publish…soon. I can’t wait to do so.

Q. Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Film, Short story, Novel, Audio drama or Podcast, Audiobook

Erin: Oh, for my own writing? Poetry and short story. For reading? Poetry, short stories or anthologies, novellas, and novels.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

Erin: I finished up writing with pencil and paper (I know!) a story a week or so ago which is 6,000 words. It needs typed and edited. I suppose could most be described as a modern Twilight Zone-type story with some Hitchcock droplets. I just started another short story because I want to make a submission deadline. It features a lake theme which resembles another several stories I’m writing which are best described as gothic and take place near the water. I’m writing dark poetry for a collection I want to put together this year of my poems. My novels are sitting on the back a bit, but the main one is my novel of revenge featuring Emily Dickinson. The reason I’m not getting as much writing done is because I edit other authors so I’m busy reading their work, beta reading others, reviewing others, interviewing others, and as well running my busy publicity book business as well as my other marketing business. Oh, and my three kids. Probably something else I’m forgetting about, like taking time to sleep or eat….no I eat…who am I kidding? Eating candy for dinner counts, right?

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

Erin: I can only pick one? I can never pick ONE anything. I’d have to narrow it down and say my favorite classic female writer is Daphne du Maurier. She wrote so many amazing short stories, such as “The Birds,” which was of course, turned into a film by Hitchcock (he also did a few of her others), as well as gothic novels that have stood the test of time like “Rebecca.” If you don’t think she is horror, try to find her story “The Apple Tree” or even “The Doll,’ which showed her ahead of her time. She’s a great inspiration to me in terms of creating atmosphere and psychological thrills. But I’ll cheat and say I like Shirley Jackson too. In fact, I’ll cheat further and say that there are many modern women horror writers I need to read as well, but definitely Damien Angelica Walters comes to mind as well as Jennifer McMahon and Catherine Cavendish.

Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 

Erin: Right now, I’m running my own Women in Horror project of almost 30 women with my co-host David at The Scary Reviews. We have them all featured in mini-interviews. I have enjoyed getting to meet so many new female writers I hadn’t even heard of before. I would love to do some sort of anthology with women that takes the works of some of the classic female horror writers, and using them for inspiration, create an anthology as an ode to them. I think it would be wonderful to do a collection of poetry featuring women who have been in pain over something in their life: abuse, loss of a child or baby, loss of innocence, rape, mental illness. As for anything other than my own ideas, I’ve not heard of anything. People are trying to say equality means showing no difference in men and women. However, to me, it’s about doing these things (special women things) to embrace our uniqueness. If someone doesn’t want to buy it, they don’t have to, if they don’t want to be in it, they don’t have to, but for some female readers, it could be a huge connective piece for them.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

Erin: Currently, I’m editing a short story collection for a horror author so that takes up some reading time. I just finished up a historical fiction novel (a genre I often review and love and am also writing a book in) about the Borgias, called “The Vatican Princess.” I recently read David Bernstein’s “A Mixed Bag of Blood,” which comes out March 1 from Sinister Grin Press and I loved it. Before that, I read Jennifer McMahon’s “The Night Sister” and really liked it as well (some Hitchcock references!), “Slade House,” by David Mitchell, and “The Poison Artist,” by Jonathan Moore. I’m probably forgetting some.

My TBR pile across the genres I read is HUGE. However, I am looking forward to reading “Mister White” by John C. Foster, which is going to be out from Grey Matter Press in April. I have an advanced review copy I’m highly anticipating sinking into.

Q. What films are you looking forward to?  

Erin: I was looking forward to “The Witch” and I just saw that this weekend. I know many people didn’t like it or get it. I admit during the movie sometimes I was like “what?” and at the end I was also like “woah.” However, after I let some time sink in with it, I actually felt it was well done. The acting was very good. The effects were rich. They kept the scenes so tight that you almost felt as if you were in the movie itself without knowing it. I love going to plays set on intimate stages so it really felt a lot like that to me, which was stellar. I didn’t realize I left feeling an ominous, foreboding feeling, but I later realized it had attached to me. In fact when I turned off the light to go to bed that night, and my mind wandered to it, I actually felt a few chills. Maybe I didn’t have the initial scare I wanted, or as was advertised, but really it had a residual effect. Which I suppose was the point of the whole film, evil creeps in and takes you when you least expect it or when you feel you are fighting hard against it. The isolation, the paranoia, and what that does to human nature enough to let evil in, really has stayed with me.

Beyond that, I’m looking forward to watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” for a second time! The new “X-Men” is something I’ve been anticipating since the last one ended. I haven’t seen “The Revenant” yet, but I am a huge Leo fan.

It’s not really a film, but I’m enjoying the television adaptation of Stephen King’s book called “11.22.63” and I was super excited for “The Vikings” to return to TV here in America last week.

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?

Erin: I’ve always felt that it was harder for women to prove themselves in the workplace, and really, in all areas of life. I’ve seen a lot in my 20-year career. Sometimes men also feel that they do treat women equal, in appreciation maybe, or sometimes not, but honestly, we still aren’t often allowed in the “good ole boy” groups. Some, even in horror, don’t see they do it. Even on social networking, however, guys will more likely comment on other guys stuff or talk horror books with other guys. I suppose also other women play into this because they don’t like their husbands/boyfriends being friends with women, but really, that’s just nonsense. So yes, I feel there are subconscious things that happen that even if they don’t know it happens, it does. I suppose this then tapers offer into things like who they read or support without even knowing it. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good or appreciative to women, but….there is still a divide.

As for more specific with horror, I think more women need to be nominated and awarded (some are but the percentage is one-sided for things like the Stoker). However, some of the women nominated are so so good.

Personally, I am friends with many men. I work with a lot of them, I have mostly men clients because that is who approaches me, and feel they appreciate and trust my experience and respect me.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 

Erin: I used to think it was important for men to appreciate and see what women in horror bring to the table. Maybe the genre is 80% men, but it might be trending less. However, I see many men supporting women with promotion, which is good. I hope many male authors also take the time to READ women authors as well. Where I see the most breakdown lately, and I’m sorry to say, is that I don’t think WOMEN in horror KNOW other WOMEN in horror or promote them. Now, I think the month is important to serve as a ‘meet and greet’ for everyone to know what amazing women are up to, for both men and women to realize! I know I feel less alone! Hopefully, getting to know women writers, or more writers as a whole, will lead to more promotion and conversation throughout the year.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Erin: Just because you wrote a book, or even 15 books, (and if you don’t have a degree or background in career writing) does not make you a writer if you’ve never vetted them with an editor, beta readers outside of family, or general readers. Start with one and go through the process with an editor who is experienced and a professional. Their changes will help you LEARN and SHOW you where your writing break downs are, and trust me, you won’t see them for yourself. Everyone has patterns they can’t see.

Read segments of your work out loud. Often. Do you write like you talk? Does every character sound like you? Then stop that immediately and evaluate your dialogue and the voice of your novel. Are you showing us through descriptive work or just telling us like you are giving a book report?

Don’t give up, but understand that writing first of all takes some talent. Unfortunately, it’s true. Anyone can write something, but only a select few of them are talented writers. Some people will have a quick success and there won’t be any formula that made it happen. Some will get it through hard work. Whatever you do, remember that whining gets you nowhere.

Be willing to take criticism. Understand that it’s a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and that you must not do it alone. Also, realize that it is a long, hard road sometimes and you’ll never get the answer to most of your “why” questions! Let it go. Do your best. Hire a team to support you. Find writer friends to support you. TAKE YOUR EGO OUT OF IT.

Start making fans before you even release your book. Don’t play catch up. Create anticipation. Again, if you don’t know how to do so, ask an author you see do it well or hire someone with the know how to consult with you or promote you.

Be inspired and find a way to stay inspired.

Look me up. I love to make new friends.

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi Links:

Website

Facebook (Profile)

Facebook (Hook of a Book)

Twitter

Linkedin

Pinterest

Goodreads

Look me up on Instagram too!

 

 

 

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Hey folks, this is one of my surprises for Women In Horror Month – an interview with Lauren Beukes!  (I’m still reeling from the first surprise, Ellen Datlow! Wow.)  I first came across Lauren’s writing years ago in a South African horror magazine and anthology, Something Wicked. Something Wicked showcased some pretty cool authors  (see also: Sarah Lotz, Cat Hellisen, Karen Runge, etc) and one of those was  Lauren! She’s since gone on to serious fame and favour, after releasing a number of fantastic novels.  I’m super thrilled to have Lauren visit my blog for a chat. Thanks so much, Lauren!
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Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m an ex-journalist who got into writing cartoons for kids TV and then strange and twisty cross-genre novels, including Zoo City, The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters, which have been translated into 26 languages and won awards various, including the Arthur C Clarke Award and the August Derleth Best Horror Novel Award. I live in Cape Town South Africa and growing up under apartheid has influenced the way I think about the world and the themes that show up in my work and how I define what evil really is.  That Nietzche quote about looking into the abyss? The worst thing we’ll find looking back is us and all we are capable of.

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!”?  

I love monsters and the terrifying things that lurk in the dark, under the bed, in the cupboard, creeping between the walls and in the shadows, especially as I absolutely don’t believe in the supernatural.

I’ve never specifically set out to write a horror story, but because I have this mash-up of influences, there’s always a darkness that emerges in my books. I was surprised to hear Broken Monsters described as a horror, but I’ll take it.

Oh, wait, with the exception of Survivors’ Club, the original horror comic I’m co-writing with Dale Halvorsen with art by Ryan Kelly. That’s straight up a riff on our love of the genre, with the premise: what if the 80s horror movies were real and where are those kids today? It’s been really fun to take old tropes and twist them in truly horrible ways. We’re always pushing the story and the characters to try to show you something you haven’t seen before, that pays homage to the classics.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, two stories unfolding in parallel with crazy footnotes, like a “found footage” of fiction about a young man discovering a manuscript and what’s written in it, chronicling a house with unsettling dimensions. It’s creepy and claustrophobic and strange and riveting, as much as what’s between the lines and the white spaces of the page as the story itself.

Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

Moxyland, about a dystopian corporate-apartheid state where cell phones are used to control you, not like the real world right now at all… Oh god, it’s so depressingly like the real world right now.

Zoo City, which won the Arthur C Clarke Award, a phantasmagorical noir, about a young woman with a sloth on her back and the magical ability to find lost things who is asked to track down a missing pop star in the inner city slums of Johannesburg.

The Shining Girls, which won the University of Johannesburg Prize, the Strand Critics Choice Award, the RT Thriller of the Year and was a notable book on Amazon, Goodreads and NPR, about a time-travelling serial killer in Chicago and the survivor who turns the hunt around.

Broken Monsters about strange murders happening in Detroit, art parties, ruin porn, haunted places and haunted people, which won the August Derleth Prize for Best Horror.

 Survivors’ Club is an original Vertigo comic by me and Dale Halvorsen with art by Ryan Kelly about six people who survived terrifying events straight from a horror movie as children, who find themselves drawn together as adults. But are they survivors or the chosen ones?

I have a short story collection, Slipping & Other Stories, coming out in the middle of the year.

I’ve also directed a documentary, Glitterboys and Ganglands, about Cape Town’s biggest female impersonation beauty pageant which won best LGBT Film at The Atlanta Black Film Festival.

Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook

I love the creative collaboration of writing comics and TV scripts, but if story is a drug, the novel offers the purest hit of fiction, straight to the vein. It’s the deepest and most intimate form for me.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

A new novel which will be out in 2017

Q. Is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good author specifically? 

I have an illustration above my desk, which shows a girl who has ripped her heart from her chest and is eating it. That’s how you should write, fierce and bloody, with all your heart.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

Just one? Gah. Jennifer Egan.

Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 

Sarah Lotz and I have been threatening to write a kids book for aaaages.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

The Apartment by SL Grey (aka Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg) Zodiac by Sam Wilson, South by Frank Owen (aka Diane Awerbuck and Alex Latimer) – all South African genre writers, are on my TBR pile. I’ve just finished Joe Hill’s incandescently good The Fireman and Alexandra Olivia’s The Last One, most of which are still to be released, later this year, because I get to read a lot of stuff before it gets published.

Q. Are there any challenges 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?

All the usual – about how men are less likely to pick up a book by a woman writer, how female authors are less likely to be reviewed by significant percentages in the major papers. I once straight up had an acquaintance say to me, “Congratulations on all your success, but I’m never going to read your books because I don’t read books by or about women.” It’s tragic and absurd.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 

To make up for the way female writers often get sidelined as I mentioned above.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Finish the damn book. Nothing else matters.

Lauren Beuke’s Links

Website: http://laurenbeukes.com/

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Deborah Sheldon is a … I don’t even know where to begin.. if it can be written, she’s probably written it! In recent times however, Deborah has published crime novels, a short story collection called Mayhem, and has a bio horror novel forthcoming form the very cool Cohesion Press.

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m from Melbourne, Australia, and have about 30 years of professional writing credits across a range of media. I got my Bachelor of Arts (Multidisciplinary) way back when the Toorak campus of Deakin University was still Victoria College. I’m married to a wonderful man, Allen, who supports my writing both emotionally and financially, and we have a teenage son, Harry. Atlas, our pampered and bossy little budgie, keeps all of us in line.

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?

After many years of focusing on medical writing, journalism, and TV scriptwriting, I started writing fiction in late 2007. At first, I wrote literary fiction; specifically, short stories with a sad or melancholic aspect. Then I moved into crime writing. My crime noir, in particular, tended to include scenes of horror. In mid-2014, after signing contracts for two crime novels, I found myself at a loose end. Where to now? I felt uneasy, restless; itchy to try something new. I decided to write a horror story, and loved the experience.

What draws me to horror is the same thing that draws me to crime noir: life is a grisly exercise. There’s something cathartic about putting anxieties down on paper.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?

It’s a cliche to say it, since so many others have said it before me, but Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ scared the absolute bejesus out of me when I was a kid. I make a point of re-reading it every five or so years, just to remind myself how it’s possible to transform the most ordinary things – a fire hose, a locked door, a row of hedge animals – into objects of terror, given the right words and attention to detail.

Q. What is your favourite horror film?

Oh, too many to name just one! ‘Psycho’ still gives me the creeps, particularly the look on Anthony Perkins’s face in the last scene. John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ is a glorious and gory take on paranoia that just gets better every time I watch it. ‘Aliens’, a perfect balance of suspense and shocks, will always be in my Top Five. While ‘Cape Fear’ (1962) isn’t a horror film by strict definition, the escalating sense of helpless dread always leaves me in tears. Then there are particular scenes in horror films that stay with me even when the rest of the film fades from memory… the eerie journey through the cane fields in ‘I Walked with a Zombie’ (1943), and the first time the monster appears in the original ‘The Thing From Another World’ (1951).

Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

In 30 years, I’ve written a lot, too much to list here. More recently, I’ve had horror stories published in Midnight Echo, Pulp Modern, Lighthouses: an anthology of dark tales, and Aurealis, and upcoming in Tincture Journal, SQ Mag, and Allegory. One of my stories got an Honourable Mention in the AHWA 2015 Flash Fiction Awards, which was great. My most recent projects are the crime noir novella, ‘Dark Waters’ (Cohesion Press 2014), and the collection, ‘Mayhem: selected stories’ (Satalyte Publishing 2015). There is a full list of credits on my website.

I don’t have a favourite work overall. I tend to fall in love with each project asI’m writing it. Therefore, I’m constantly in love.

Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling? E.g Film, Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook

DS: I love writing in all its forms. I’ve sold drabbles, flash, short stories, novelettes, novellas, and novels, as well as stage plays, radio plays, TV scripts, and a telemovie shortlisted for production by Australia’s Channel 10. As a reader, I devour all types of storytelling media, including film – I’m a sucker for mid-20th century Hollywood. In both reading and writing, I crave variety.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

DS: My bio-horror novel, ‘Devil Dragon’.

It’s about a scientist, Dr Erin Harris, who is obsessed with finding a living Varanus priscus, a giant Australian lizard that apparently went extinct some 12,000 years ago. There are occasional sightings, like Big Foot or Nessie. Erin cobbles together an expedition party and travels into the unexplored heart of a national park. A nerdy scientist, an elderly farmer and two gun-toting deer hunters stranded in the bush versus an apex predator the size of a campervan – what could go wrong? I intensively researched herpetology, firearms, and hunting. What a steep learning curve! I’m very grateful to the professionals who helped vet an earlier draft for technical accuracy. ‘Devil Dragon’ is due for release in October 2016 through Cohesion Press. It is to be the first in a new series, called ‘Natural Selection’, of stand-alone bio-horror novels.

In between rewrites of ‘Devil Dragon’, I’m currently working on a horror short story that involves spiders… a few billion of them. And soon, I’ll be working on the final edits of my contemporary crime novel, ‘Garland Cove Heist’, due for release in November 2016 by Satalyte Publishing.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

Ds: Don’t make me choose! Top three, in no particular order: Annie Proulx, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson.

Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?

I would love to collaborate on a project, maybe a short story anthology.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

DS: I always have a stack of books on my bedside table. At the moment, I’m reading Aurealis #87 (which has my short story, ‘Across the white desert’, beautifully illustrated by Andrew Saltmarsh by the way); ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood; and ‘Killing Pablo’ by Mark Bowden.

My TBR pile includes ‘A Hell of a Woman’ by Jim Thompson, ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ by Daphne du Maurier, ‘Doctor Sleep’ by Stephen King, ‘The Quiet American’ by Graham Greene, ‘The Scapegoat’ by Daphne du Maurier, ‘Mockingbird’ by Walter Tevis, ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent, ‘One Count to Cadence’ by James Crumley, and oh God please help me I can’t stop buying books…

Q. What films are you looking forward to?

DS: Zoolander 2! I loved the first film and can’t wait for more silliness.

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 you have faced that are complicated by your gender?

DS: It’s a presumption that men write action/crime/horror, and women write romance/chick lit/erotica. The members of one of my writing groups – all women – are convinced that female writers are considered substandard by the industry.

Grudgingly, I agree. Why else would we need our separate spotlights, such as the Stella Awards and the Women in Horror Month, unless we are marginalised?

Q. Why is ‘Women in Horror’ Month important?

DS: The reading public needs to know that plenty of women are writing some seriously kick-arse horror fiction. Readers will catch on fast. In a few years, a ‘Women in Horror’ month will no longer be necessary, I hope.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

• Read a lot, across a range of genres.

• Write a lot. Ignore the marketplace, and write what stirs you.

• Join a writers’ group, preferably with people who are around the same level of experience. Feedback and constructive criticism are invaluable.

• Revise and edit, over and over, until your piece is the best you can make it.

• Don’t worry too much about rejection. When you’re a writer, rejection comes with the job. Have a glass of wine, steel yourself, and submit to a new market.

Deborah Sheldon links:

Website: http://deborahsheldon.wordpress.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3312459.Deborah_Sheldon

Facebook page (run by Cohesion Press): https://www.facebook.com/Deborah-Sheldon-936388749723500/

Latest Individual Works

  • Dark Waters (paperback)

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Waters-Deborah-Sheldon/dp/0992558158

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Dark-Waters-Deborah-Sheldon/9780992558154

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-waters-deborah- sheldon/1120936372?ean=9780992558154

Fishpond: http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Dark-Waters-Deborah-Sheldon/9780992558154

  • Dark Waters (ebook)

http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00QZ6UKD0

  • Mayhem: selected stories (paperback)

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mayhem-Selected-Stories-Deborah- Sheldon/dp/0992558077

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mayhem-deborah-sheldon/1121223029?ean=9780992558079

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Mayhem-Selected-Stories-Deborah-Sheldon/9780992558079

Satalyte Publishing: http://satalyte.com.au/product/mayhem-selected-stories-deborah-sheldon/

Fishpond: http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Mayhem-Selected-Stories-Deborah-Sheldon/9780992558079

Mayhem: selected stories (ebook)

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com.au/Mayhem-selected-stories-Deborah-Sheldon-ebook/dp/B00TP1FCZI

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mayhem-deborah-sheldon/1121223029?ean=2940046583090

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/520178

ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/mayhem-selected-stories/id968888076?mt=11

Satalyte Publishing: http://satalyte.com.au/product/mayhem-selected-stories-deborah-sheldon/

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Hi folks. Gillian Polack is a multiple PhD holding teacher, writer and editor from Canberra, Australia. She has a number of novels in print, and numerous short stories. She is the co-author, along with Katrin Kania, of the epic tome of history,  The Middle Ages Unlocked: A guide to life in medieval England 1050 – 1300.

Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

GP: I live in Canberra, but am from Melbourne (via various other places, including a rather wonderful all-too-brief time living in Paris) and I am rather exotic. This exoticism appears in my fiction, often in invented incidents based on real life. I generally don’t tell people which bits of my fiction are based on my past history and which are invented, however.

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!”?

GP: I love reading some types of horror. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of my favourite stories, for instance, and Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.” Quiet stuff that makes you rethink your reality and walk in quiet fear. I don’t often intentionally write a horror story, however. When reviewers started to call Ms Cellophane a horror novel I was very surprised. For me the horror is an inevitable part of everyday life, and I write about people they usually have everyday lives. If you want to know why horror is part of my everyday… it’s a long story.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?

GP: I don’t have a single favourite, but all those that I love have similar characteristics. They’re all very down to earth and grounded and ordinary and they’re all disquieting. The everyday is terrifying. I want to say that I love this because it reflects my own life experience (which it does), but I’ve loved this kind of story ever since I was a child. I like mimetic tales and I like reality turned inside-out with a word. I love the cleverness of it and the brilliant writing that one needs to do this successfully.

Q. What is your favourite horror film?

GP: The Sixth Sense.

Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

GP: My novels include:
The Wizardry of Jewish Women (out next month)
The Time of the Ghosts
The Art of Effective Dreaming
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Ms Cellophane

Of the things I’ve edited, my favourite is Baggage, which is quite dark.

And just a couple of my short stories (my favourites of the darker ones – I’ve had 17 published):
“Someone’s Daughter” Next CSfG Publishing 2013 (Finnish translation, Alienisti, 2015)
“Passports” In Bad Dreams 2, Eneit Press 2009
“Happy Faces for Happy Families” Encounters, CSFG Publishing 2004

I’ve also got a truckload of non-fiction, mostly articles (but three books), some of which discusses dark fiction.

Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling? E.g Film, Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook

GP: I prefer novels. I like getting under someone’s skin and novels are wonderful for this.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

GP: I’m working on a novel set in the 17th century, when magic, science and religion were all equally balanced and a small group of friends decide they want to travel. it’s not horror. But it may become so. I have to wait and see.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

GP: I don’t have a single favourite writer. I have hundreds. This makes it hard to name just one, for I’ll turn myself inside out trying to decide between Tepper and Warren and Sperring and all the others. There are so many good books in the world!

Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?

GP: I love working on group projects and contributing a story, or editing. In my dreams, I get to do a follow-up to Baggage, for instance, or write an entry for projects like Letters to Tiptree. I want to create a shared dark universe some day and have different writers explore it, the way they did with New Ceres once-upon-a-time.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

GP: My TBR pile is (unsurprisingly) huge. It’s a bookshelf and it’s a file on the computer. I have about 50 works from the 17th century and I have the last volumes of a whole bunch of trilogies I never managed to finish eg be Aliette de Bodard and by Lavie Tidhar. This is the year when I find out how things end.

Q. What films are you looking forward to?

GP: My guilty pleasure is superhero films, so I look forward to all of them, no matter how good or bad they are. I particularly look forward to films with female superhero leads, but I find I have to look forward for a very, very long time.

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?

GP: There is the horror-in-everyday life being there, of course. That ought to go without saying. If I can’t walk at night alone, safely, then writing about it in fiction isn’t writing horror, it’s writing my reality.

One of the problems I face is that when male writers focus on characterisation they’re praised for it. When female writers do the same, they’re told it’s women’s writing. Obviously I write women’s writing… but if I had taken a male pseudonym it would be reviewed and people would talk about it. This really bugs me. it also means that many of my potential readers have no idea that I exist and that they’d enjoy my work.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important?

GP: Anything that gets us to focus on things we normally assume and ignore is important.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

GP: Write. Never stop writing. Learn. Never stop learning. Think. Never stop thinking.

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Samantha Kolesnik is a writer, editor and film producer living near Philadelphia. She’s a screenwriter and is one of the producers of the forthcoming Rainy Season short film.  Beyond that she’s a fiction writer and also Editor-in-Chief of Five on the Fifth literary magazine.  She’s one busy lady, all right! Special thanks to Samantha for taking some time out of her hectic schedule to stop by my blog for a chat!
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Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background
I am an American writer and film producer specializing in horror, dark fiction, and roles of substance for women in film.

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?
Well, I’m terrified of everything and I worry more than anyone I know. The world is often a very scary place, and I have a lot of fears. When you have a lot of fear, horror is part of that. I don’t think I had a defining moment to write. I always did it, and always will.
Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
I have to go with a classic. “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe has to be one of my favorite horror stories of all time. I read it on my own when I was in middle school. I remember having to look up a lot of the words, but once it all clicked, I think I read it a few times in a row that night. I liked it because it demonstrates how wrong human perception can be, and there’s kind of a strange karma that unfolds in the tale. It’s so dark and so creepy, but there’s something more to it. I mean, Fortunato – does any reader really want him to live? At the same time, does any reader not feel great empathy when the chains can be heard from the shadows after he’s realized his fate? I feel my stomach drop just thinking about it. I want to save him, but I don’t even like the guy! Edgar Allan Poe is masterful.
 
Q. What is your favourite horror film?
My favorite movie is the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. My parents were very liberal in what they allowed me to watch as a child, but there were two films, in particular, that my mother said I couldn’t watch: the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wes Craven’s original Last House on the Left. I begged and pleaded to be able to watch the original TCM on my thirteenth birthday. All I wanted was some pasta and to be able to watch that movie. I only had maybe one friend at that age, so it was just my mom, my brother, and myself. She caved in and let me watch it. I’m pretty sure we rented it from Blockbuster. I loved it, but I puked up the pasta later that evening.
I love how gritty it is. I love the character Franklin. My mom always goes, “How can you like Franklin? He’s so annoying!” And maybe he is a little. But he’s unique in horror, and the challenge he presents to his sister is unique and heart-wrenching as she tries to wheel him to safety through the woods at night. I love the lighting limitations in the night scenes. I love the grainy picture. Leatherface is iconic, terrifying, and mysterious. Most of all, I love that Sally gets away. I was rooting for her. I still root for her. When she simultaneously laughs and screams in the back of that pick-up truck as it rails off down the country road, it’s a triumph. That movie is a pure shot of adrenaline, but it doesn’t lose a sense of human struggle. There is just so much that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre did and does for horror.
Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
I write screenplays and prose. I’ll highlight a few pieces. I recently wrote a short screenplay, “Scratching the Surface”, which might be a personal favorite right now. It’s unsettling. Two women, Fay and Nancy, meet in an excoriation disorder support group and things go down a windy, twisted path from there. I like it because Fay is a predator, in her own right, but she judges Nancy how everyone judges Nancy, and well, everyone’s wrong. Way wrong.
I also recently wrote a short screenplay, “The Retreat”, which was a top 10 Finalist in the International Horror and Sci Fi Short Screenplay Competition. And another short screenplay of mine, “Pets”, is an official selection of Milledgeville Film Festival.
My short screenplay, “The Price of Bones”, was a Finalist at the 15th Annual Shriekfest Horror and Sci Fi Film Festival in Los Angeles, which is a really fun event. Shortly after, I produced the film with Hollow Tree Films, LLC and it is currently in post production.
Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Film, Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
No.
Q. What are you working on at the minute?
I’m helping to produce a short horror film, Rainy Season, which is adapted from the Stephen King short story of the same name. The writer and executive producer, Vanessa Ionta Wright, is an amazing talent and fortunately, someone with whom I really “click” professionally (and otherwise).
I’m also developing a feature film project from a screenplay I wrote, Turning the Girl. It’s a psychological thriller with an all female cast.
In prose world, I’m writing a short story about a woman who’s lost a tooth too many, and now the walls are starting to whisper. Take that for what you will.
Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?
Right now, I have two. Mahdis Marzooghian and Mary-Anne Nelligan. When they send me a short story they’ve written, or a novel they’re working on, my heart jumps a little. I think it comes from the connection we have, as well as the common goals we share. When you dream with someone, you share a universe, and to be a struggling writer can be a very lonely universe if you’re doing it alone. It’s invaluable to have friends who write.
 
Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 
I currently manage a literary magazine, Five on the Fifth, with two other women – Mahdis Marzooghian and Mary-Anne Nelligan. We publish five short stories on the fifth of every month. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow the magazine with them. They are amazing writers, friends, and editors.
I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but I am also really enjoying working on Rainy Season with Vanessa Ionta Wright.
Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
Oh wow. I’m reading way too many books, and at the same time, not nearly enough. I just started reading “Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America” by Jill Leovy. My TBR list is huge, but I definitely want to soon read “East Hollywood” by Ted Dewberry. He’s a writer I met maybe 6 months ago (ish) and he’s recently published a novel. I love it when people put their heart into writing and get to share that with the world. I want to be a part of that, so I plan on buying a copy soon and digging in.
Q. What films are you looking forward to?  (Simon: Did you know there is a short film coming out this year, directed by Jovanka Vuckovic, based on Jack Ketchum’s Bram Stoker Award winning story, The Box? I’m excited about that!)
You know, I am pretty excited to see The Witch this weekend. And no, I didn’t know about that film, but that sounds awesome and now I am looking forward to that, as well.

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?
People may underestimate you and mistreat you. It can start at gender, but it can be based on more than that – usually shallow perceptions – first glances and other trivialities. But it all just fuels the fire. And who doesn’t love a good underdog story?
 
Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 
Heheh. Well, first let me say, I wouldn’t change any horror films out there. I’m a die hard fan – I love it all, even the “bad” stuff. There’s nothing I want to “rectify” or “fix” in the existing horror canon.
As for me, though, and what I create, and what I put out into the universe — that’s where I bring women characters to life who have depth.
Women in Horror Month brings attention to the genre and it gives women filmmakers, writers, and artists a chance to get recognition and support. It’s great. But any event, movement, celebration, group, or month, can only be as good and useful as the people who support it. As creators of all kinds, we need to be respectful and supportive of each other.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers? And is there anything that you would recommend for people who’d like to write for film or are interested in getting into the film industry?
Aspire,  but be sure to also ‘do’. I recommend dreaming and working a lot, but don’t do either one more than the other. There’s a balance to desire and sweat.
Samantha Kolesnik Links:
Five on the Fifth website: www.fiveonthefifth.com
Five on the Fifth FB: www.facebook.com/fiveonthefifth
Turning the Girl: www.turningthegirl.com

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Annie Neugebauer is an author that I stumbled across recently and I’m stoked to have made her acquaintance. Her writing is top notch and I’m still reeling from the gut wrenching piece of hers that I read.  You can find her work at places like Black Static Magazine, Buzzy Mag, Blurring the Line anthology from Cohesion Press, and more.  Find her work > Read it > $Profit$!   Special thanks to Annie for stopping by my blog for a chat.

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

AN: Well, I’m a writer, poet, and blogger. Horror is sort of my home base, but I also love literary fiction, speculative fiction, poetry, and picture books. (Believe it or not, I even have horror poems and one “horror” picture book.)

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?

AN: I’ve loved horror for as long as I can remember. I knew way back when I dreamed of becoming a writer that horror would be a part of that, so there was never a defining moment for me. It was a natural inclination that grew into passion over time. I love the unabashedness of horror; I like not looking away from things that make people uncomfortable. I like facing fears. It’s super fun to be scared in a safe setting. But mostly, I think horror is a wonderful vehicle to explore the concepts that matter to me as a creative, so I just run with it.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 

AN: Are you allowed to make me choose?! Oof. Okay, well, my boring answer is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” I know, I know. But it’s truly a masterpiece of fiction. The captivating introduction, the unreliable narrator, the beautiful prose, the horrific nature of it, the explosive ending. It doesn’t get much better than that!

My slightly less predictable answer is Shirley Jackson’s “The Tooth.” Much less commercial and far more subtle and complex, but still horrific. It’s a story I love to reread and examine. It’s beautiful and masterfully done.

Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

AN: I’ve written 5 ½ novels, several dozen short stories, and hundreds of poems. Of what’s been published so far, I think I’m most proud of “Hide.” It’s a flash piece (only about 800 words) that was first published in Black Static #43 by TTA Press. Ellen Datlow included it in her recommended list for Best Horror of the Year Volume 7, and it was just picked up at Pseudopod, where it will be recorded as an audio podcast you’ll be able to listen to for free. I’ve had a story (“Jack and the Bad Man”) read at Pseudopod before and it was a blast, so I can hardly wait to hear what they do with “Hide.”

Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling? E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook

AN: Hm. Well, obviously I’m partial to poetry and prose. I love podcasts and audio and all that good stuff, but my first love is the written word. Length and form doesn’t matter to me so much as reading. I have a passionate love affair with physical books, too. I’m not knocking technology at all, but give me paper over screens any day!

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

AN: I have several irons in the fire. I’ve been drafting lots of new poems and stories, flirting with an unfinished novel, and working on some major novel revisions, too. Plus I’m always blogging at my own website as well as for Writer Unboxed. I like to keep busy

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

AN: Shirley Jackson. I just love her. I think she’s one of the most underrated authors of all time, and she’s an absolute master of literary horror. But there are so many! I also adore Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Rice, Susan Hill, Emily & Charlotte Brontë, V.C. Andrews, Daphne Daphne du Maurier…

Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 

AN: Always! I’m reading anything I can find by Gillian Flynn lately, and the women in contemporary horror are always on my work-with wish-list. I admire all of the women I’ve met in the Horror Writers Association, for example. It’s such a hard field.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

AN: I already mentioned Gillian Flynn. I loved Gone Girl and Dark Places was stellar. Right now I’m listening to the audio book of Beloved, which is performed by Toni Morrison (the author). The book is exquisite, and so is her reading voice! It’s a dark, difficult novel, but such a pleasure. Poetry-wise, Sharon Olds has swept me away, and I’m eager to get into some more Anne Rice soon as well.

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?

AN: This gets sticky. I’ve been quite fortunate in experiencing very little direct harassment or discrimination. I think the harder stuff is the quieter, more insidious prejudice that can’t always be pinned down. Societal expectations, the push-back against “such a nice girl” writing “such horrific things,” and that type of thing. Luckily I have many supportive people in my life and was raised by parents who really, truly made me believe that I can do anything I want to do, so I pretty much just plow right through any sexism I come across. It’s served me well to focus on the positive so far.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you? 

AN: I actually wrote a whole blog post about this last year, aptly titled “Why Women in Horror Month Is Important.”

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

AN: Another loaded question. I’ve blogged advice from things I’ve learned more times than I can count, but mostly I’d distill it to this: read a lot, write a lot, study your craft, be kind, be generous, find your voice and defend it, find your message and express it, and don’t give up no matter the obstacles.

Annie Neugebauer Links: 

Website/Blog: www.AnnieNeugebauer.com

List of Works: AnnieNeugebauer.com/read

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/Annie-Neugebauer

Twitter: @AnnieNeugebauer

Facebook: facebook.com/AnnieNeugebauer

Tumblr Inspiration Blog: AnnieNeugebauer.tumblr.com (NSFW)

Goodreads: goodreads.com/AnnieNeugebauer

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/AnnieNeugebauer

website-logoHi Folks!  One of today’s WiHM interviews is with the super nice Gwendolyn Kiste. Gwendolyn is primarily a short fiction writer and you’ll find her her work in places like Nightmare Magazine and Lamplight.  I’m super thrilled to have bumped into Gwendolyn recently on  Facebook and honoured to have her stop by my blog for a chat!

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

GK: My background is a bit of a mosaic. Over the last fifteen years, I produced and directed horror films, operated a Goth/punk clothing line, launched a Halloween website, worked in the nonprofit sector, and instructed acting classes for teenagers until my eyes bled. I also have a graduate degree in social psychology and taught university-level courses for a few semesters.

All the while, my love of horror was always there, in the movies I made, the clothes I wore, even the horror-centric research papers I wrote in graduate school. My parents were married on Halloween (back in the early 1980s before it was as trendy as it is now), so I always say the macabre runs in my blood.

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  

GK: Everyone in my life is a horror fan, so in my little slice of the world, there’s nothing strange or subversive about it. To me, horror feels like coming home. I’ve been writing weird and creepy stories since I was about five or six, and I really need to excavate my parents’ basement someday to see if I can locate those early and now-yellowed manuscripts. I can’t remember the first horror story, though I’m sure I bundled it up with a terribly hand-drawn cover and sold it to my parents for a dollar. I was always a consummate capitalist when it came to my writing.

In terms of what draws me to horror, there’s something truly transcendent about terror. When you’re watching a horror film or TV show or reading a horror story, you experience something ghastly and unnerving and distressing, but here’s the thing: you always survive. In that way, every horror experience is like a resurrection. You go in as one person, and if the story or show does its job, you come out the other side, a survivor who will never quite be the same.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 

GK: There are so many good ones that it’s hard to choose. In terms of more literary horror, I love Ray Bradbury’s stories in The October Country, in particular “The Lake.” It’s a coming-of-age tale wrapped in a ghost story wrapped in the best and most horrifying nostalgia I’ve ever read.

Another of the earliest horror stories to get lodged under my skin was “The Professor’s Teddy Bear” by Theodore Sturgeon. I was around ten years old when I read it, probably a few years too young for a blood-drinking, time-bending alien-teddy-bear, but either way, it turned my mind inside out. Since then, I’ve (thankfully) never been the same.

Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

GK: All my published work has been short fiction so far, mostly horror with some fantasy and a little bit of science fiction in there as well. My personal favorites at this point are both horror: “Ten Things to Know About the Ten Questions,” published in September at Nightmare Magazine, and “The Clawfoot Requiem,” which appeared last year in LampLight. Both stories deal with devastating personal losses and issues of conformity, and the female protagonists are thorny, difficult characters who were incredibly fun to write.

Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook

GK: Short stories have always been—and probably always will be—my favorite. However, I love all forms of storytelling. In particular, I’ve become a huge fan of horror podcasts. I’ve always loved radio, and growing up, I would lament how the days of great broadcasts, like the stories Orson Welles did in the 1930s, were long gone. But now with podcasts, I feel as though we’re really reclaiming that storytelling medium.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

GK: Finishing up edits on a few short stories, and also possibly working on a novel. I say “possibly” because it’s still relatively new, so for now, I speak in only hushed tones about it, out of fear of scaring it off. Young projects can be so delicate.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

GK: Shirley Jackson. My beat-up copy of We Have Always Lived in the Castle travels with me almost everywhere I go. I periodically try to analyze the prose and dissect exactly what it is I love about it, but every time, I get so swept up in the story that I forget I’m supposed to be “working.” That’s incredible to me: despite having read the story dozens of time, I can still lose myself in it. Even with the recent resurgence of her work, Shirley Jackson will always be under-appreciated, given what a true genius she was.

Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?

GK: I have a couple women-centric anthologies on my to-read list, including She Walks in Shadows. I’m also on the lookout for any publications coming out for Women in Horror Month, including the February issue of The Sirens Call, which is always a lot of fun.

On the personal side of things, I’ve been talking with two of my writer friends, Brooke Warra and Scarlett R. Algee, about launching a shared world project that would focus on a girls school that tries, and often fails, to reform adolescent witches. However, that’s down the road, and probably won’t launch until 2018 at the earliest.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

GK: Typhon: A Monster Anthology from Pantheon Magazine is at the top of the list right now. After that, I’ll be reading Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove. There’s so much great fiction out there, and never nearly enough time for it all.

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 you have faced that are complicated by your gender?

GK: In some ways, as a writer, I live in a cocoon, which keeps me a bit inoculated. That said, I am always careful about the people I add to social media, and that’s something women are often more cognizant about than men. As in, “is this person okay? will he (or sometimes she) harass me or start leaving inflammatory comments on my page?” I don’t know that men think about those questions as often as women do, though screening potential associates is certainly a concern for everyone.

In publishing in general, there are still editors who expect all female characters to be traditionally “sympathetic,” and fit that nurturing stereotype about what a woman “should” be. It’s strange to me that male characters can be complex and complicated, but female characters are still at times expected to behave like “good girls.”

Fortunately, that expectation is changing, and overall, I’ve found the horror industry to be incredibly welcoming.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 

GK: Every February, Women in Horror Month brings new female writers and artists into my orbit. Throughout the rest of the year, I try to learn as much as I can about women in the industry, but with daily spotlights and blogs through the Women in Horror Month website and interviews like the ones on this site, I always discover a few more authors, artists, and podcasters. Just yesterday, I discovered The Girls in the Back Row podcast, which spotlights different obscure and offbeat horror films each week. How could I not know that such a podcast existed? But I didn’t, and thanks to Women in Horror Month, now I do know. So that process of discovery in the month of February is such a thrilling one for me.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

GK: Keep going. Keep writing, keep submitting, keeping honing your craft, and keep networking. There will be tons of rejection. It will hurt. Some rejections will hurt worse than others, especially if you really want to crack a certain market. Just keep going. It’s worth it in the end.

Gwendolyn Kiste Links: 

Website: gwendolynkiste.com

Blog: gwendolynkiste.com/Blog

Facebook: facebook.com/gwendolynkiste

Twitter: twitter.com/GwendolynKiste

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Gwendolyn-Kiste/e/B00QXGAIUC/

Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)

http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/ten-things-to-know-about-the-ten-questions/

http://www.amazon.com/Chilling-Horror-Stories-Gothic-Fantasy/dp/1783613742/

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Autumn-Anthology-Halloween-Tales-ebook/dp/B0158UFJRA/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8388449.Gwendolyn_Kiste