I have reason to suspect that I have recently been hacked. I’ve taken necessary steps to secure my computer and accounts. If you get any strange messages or emails, let me know please.
I have reason to suspect that I have recently been hacked. I’ve taken necessary steps to secure my computer and accounts. If you get any strange messages or emails, let me know please.
I was super chuffed to beta-read this collection. I am so happy this is going live.
Karen is the future of horror. Her work pulls at your heart strings while making the bile rise in the back of your throat. Buy this book.
If you don’t believe me, here’s Paul Tremblay and Stephen Graham Jones, two of the best horror writers we’ve got right now, telling you to do the same:
“I want to read this book all over again, just to see how Karen Runge does it – how she uses her prose like a razor, her insight like a probe. The story collection of the year.”
– Stephen Graham Jones
“The desire and despair of her characters is intelligently and compassionately rendered, and you’re made to feel every drop of spilled blood. A stunning debut collection.”
– Paul Tremblay
Just do it:
To celebrate the impending release of Suspended in Dusk 2, Books of the Dead Press have decided to give a free ebook copy of Suspended in Dusk 2 – upon release – to anyone who writes an Amazon.com review of Suspended in Dusk between October 29 2015 and the time of the SiD 2 release. All readers need to do is email Books of the Dead Press (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let us know which review is yours.
Suspended in Dusk 2 is in final stages of editing and should be released in the next couple of months.
You can find it here on Amazon:
Thanks – and feel free to share,
The eBook for Tribulations is now out with Cemetery Dance. – http://wp.me/ppag3-Ko
This should a fantastic read, 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!
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.)
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.
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!
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.
“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
RJ Cavender quits the HWA after people take objection to him not providing editing work they’d paid him to do 1.5 years earlier –
In early 2015, I signed up for the Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat and was really looking forward to attending. Jack Ketchum was going and he had written the introduction for my debut anthology, Suspended in Dusk, so I wanted to meet him, thank him, shake his hand and get him to sign a copy for me. I was dreading looking like a crazy fanboi, but was looking forward to the challenge. I was also looking forward to many of the other attendees.
As part of the registration for the retreat, you could pay varying amounts to purchase an editing package from RJ Cavender (apparently, his real name is actually: Randy Joe Huff. Thanks Robert Wilson!) who was hosting the event. Before I registered I was warned by a friend that RJ Cavender was extremely slow to provide edits and they would not recommend purchasing a novel edit package from him. That sounded like a reasonable warning, but as I’m not a novelist (yet) anyway, I figured I’d purchase a short story edit package. As someone relatively new to the horror genre scene, I was under the impression that RJ was some sorta, over-worked rock star editor and this would explain why he might be a little slow on the edits.
In the months that followed from when I registered for the 2015 retreat, one colleague, a HWA member, began to confide further in me regarding issues she was having with RJ Cavender. He was not returning her novel edits. Months went by and the poor lady repeatedly prompted RJ to provide the edits and she was repeatedly assured that the edits were coming and it would not be long now.
I was unable to attend the 2015 retreat due to family matters that arose in the lead up to October. I contacted RJ Cavender and asked him if he would transfer my registration to 2016 instead. He agreed to do this. This was still good in my mind, I’d have a chance to meet cool and talented people like current HWA President Lisa Morton, Chuck Palahniuk [Author of Fight Club, Haunted, etc], Shane McKenzie [Horror and Bizarro author whose story Fit Camp I reprinted in Suspended in Dusk] and Michael Bailey [author and editor extraordinaire]. I did not submit a story to RJ for editing, and figured that I would do this in 2016 around the time of the retreat, as I always have a story or two lying around or in various stages of the submission process. The aforementioned colleague however was still experiencing delays and what really was beginning to look like the old fashioned run-around on her edits.
About a month ago now, two things happened:
1. This colleague received a HWA mentor who began working with her to address issues with her novel, thus completely abrogating any need she had for edits from RJ.
2. We began to ask the question of other attendees: Did you pay for edits and have you received them? Colleagues and friends began to confide in us as well. They were in two categories:
• Group 1: People who had submitted work to RJ Cavender at the 2014 retreat but had not received edits. One of these people had purchased two editing packages from both the 2014 and 2015 retreats and had *NOTHING* to show. This poor writer had given RJ Cavender hundreds of dollars for edits she didn’t have. These people had been badgering RJ for roughly 1.5 years and repeatedly met with a changing of goal posts. There was never any scope to refund monies on the basis that RJ could not perform the work as expected.
• Group 2: People who had paid for edits from RJ Cavender but had not provided him with manuscripts because they had heard from others that he was not returning work/providing the service he’d been paid for and they didn’t feel comfortable giving their work to him. (Note: As it turns out, their reluctance to do so was vindicated.). In addition the feeling was unanimous that these authors did not have established careers or reputations and did not want to make waves with someone was the acquisitions editor at a respected small press (Dark Regions Press). Kerri-Leigh Grady makes some fantastic points about THAT issue here on her blog, by the way.
In total I knew 6 people (including myself) who were in one of these two categories. There are likely more.
I’m not a HWA member, but I was very concerned about the treatment of these members. The people who had provided work to RJ 1.5 years ago were getting the run around, and the people who hadn’t provide work and wouldn’t press him for a refund out of fear, stood to lose significant amounts of money, not to mention all the time and emotional stress expended on the issue.
I was slightly less concerned about myself as I am blessed to be financially stable – but, on principle, I was not happy knowing that it was extremely unlikely that RJ Cavender could make good on the edits that I’d paid him for. I know one of the affected HWA members has barely has two dimes to rub together at the moment and could really use the money. A few hundred bucks in the hip pocket wouldn’t go astray right now, I’m sure. As for the others, the sheer amount of money owed ($200/$500/$700 etc) made the paltry sum I stood to lose on edits by RJ Cavender look dwarfed by comparison. It was at this point I decided that the best course of action was to do two things.
1. Refer the other people who are HWA members to the HWA Grievance Committee, chaired by Brett J. Talley.
2. As a non-HWA member, to email Lisa Morton and recount the history and let her know a bunch of grievances from actual members would be coming through.
I didn’t think that either my actions or the lodging of grievances by those affected were particularly outrageous. On the grounds that RJ hadn’t returned the work of those who had provided him some in 1.5 years and everyone else knowing that if they had, they still wouldn’t have theirs either, there didn’t really seem to be any other choice.
I don’t have firm details about what exactly transpired next. Lisa Morton advised that she would seek a list of all those who had bought packages from RJ Cavender and advice from him as to what work was outstanding. I went to sleep that night and woke up and the HWA had severed all official ties with RJ Cavender, RJ had been removed from any role with StokerCon 2016 and RJ had quit the HWA. I’ll take his word at face value you that he quit and was not expelled from the organisation, but the whole thing really did come across as a “YOU CAN’T FIRE ME, I QUIT!” diva meltdown.
RJ then went on to make an official statement. The TL:DR of it is that he’s sick, woe is him, he’s so fucking hard done by, he was totally gonna do that work you could all totally take his word on that, and HWA are all a bunch of poopyheads. (Props to Paul Mannering for the last part).
As many of you may or may not know, I’ve been very ill over the last year-and-a-half. Because of my continued and chronic sickness I’ve gotten very behind on my editing work. And because I’ve had several author complaints to the Horror Writers Association Grievance Committee this week, I’ve now been taken off the StokerCon2016 event…one I’ve worked tirelessly on for the last couple of years. And while I do feel horrible that I’ve let many authors down, I am catching up on my work and I do believe my editing is the best it has ever been…I’m just working at a slower rate, because I’m not well and I’m not working at the break-neck pace I was able to over the last decade of my professional editing career. To those authors, I am very sorry…and I am working on catching up, I really am. I’ve never not finished a project, I’ve never bailed on my side of an editing agreement. I wouldn’t be working in this industry still if I had, trust me.
Suffice to say, I’m saddened by this decision on the part of the HWA. Not only because I won’t get to see so many of my friends next month in Vegas, but also because I’ve put my blood, sweat, tears and fears into StokerCon2016 from its early plotting phases with Rocky Wood, to the creation of Horror University (my idea), The Scholarship from Hell (mine, too), and The Lucky Thirt3en Horror Short Film Competition (ditto.) I’ve organized the pitch sessions, I’ve secured guests we’ve never had included at any HWA event or World Horror to date. I’ve created local authors events via the HWA at a book festival here in Tucson and I’ve been very involved with the organization for many, many years now. So punishment of this sort, at least to me, seems unfair and unjust treatment, especially when I’ve not even been told who the authors are who are lining up to complain about me…as the Grievance Committee is operating under some code of secrecy I cannot figure out. I mean, how do you take care of clients who are pissed…if you don’t know who they are? And how can I be expected to catch up on work when I’m being overloaded with more of it via the event and all this needless back-and-forth with the organization and this pointless committee?
So that’s why I’ve decided to leave the Horror Writers Association. They’re a good organization and they do a lot of great things in the community, but they didn’t have my back when I needed it most. Perhaps I’m not ‘sick enough’…or perhaps they just didn’t believe I could get caught up on my overdue projects by next month and were afraid there would be some backlash at the event. Which, let’s face it…they don’t really want/need or know how to handle at this point. I’m not sure.
But taking an event away from me like this is unacceptable punishment. I’m not a child who needs to be ‘taught a lesson.’ And I feel not only let down by the organization but betrayed and bewildered and goddamn upset, if you want to know the truth. Somehow I’ve become the worst thing to happen to the horror genre…when what we’re dealing with here is a person who’s had some very personal, physical, painful issues just functioning and getting out of bed each day…but an editor who is also quite determined to make right with my authors, finish up overdue projects in turn, but has had nothing but harassment and stress from the HWA over the last few weeks, additional stress and anxiety I did not need at this point. The sort of treatment that no one should tolerate or suck up, no matter who they’re working for (or in this case, volunteering for) under any circumstances. So, I’m through with the HWA. Again…I’m sorry to any authors I’ve let down, I’ll have your work finished to my standards as soon as I’m able to send them out. I’ll have plenty of time now, as I won’t be included in the event next month.
And to the HWA, I’m sorry…shit happens sometimes, people get sick, life’s a bitch. But if this is how you treat one of your biggest supporters, someone who has stood by through the good and bad, been a cheerleader for the organization, helped create content and events and scholarships…then I don’t want to be part of that sort of organization. People aren’t disposable, and I was of a lot more use within the organization that as an outsider. I still think you do good things, but I also know you can turn on a dime…and when someone is no longer of use to you, when the shit gets real…you’re going to bail, because you don’t really care at all. Because avoiding public scandal, embarrassment, or ridicule is much more important than taking care of your own. And in an organization of 1300 people, I know I made a difference. And I’ll continue to do so. Just without the HWA. Thanks for listening, guys. I’ll be seeing you around…
I’d like to address some of the points the points made in his farewell speech. I’ll comment on what I can comment on, but will not comment on the internal workings of the Grievance Committee or on HWA’s discussions with RJ because I’m not privy to either:
RJ Cavender: As many of you may or may not know, I’ve been very ill over the last year-and-a-half. Because of my continued and chronic sickness I’ve gotten very behind on my editing work
Look…. I have chronic Illness. I have chronic psoriasis and, as a result, have arthritis through much of my body . I live on various immunosuppressant medications to treat it (fantastic drugs they give to cancer patients) and an array of anti-inflammatory and painkiller medications. On top of that I have mental health issues (not exactly rare these days either) and take various medications for those issues. I understand chronic illness and I understand chronic pain. What I don’t get is anyone using it as an excuse for not providing a service to someone who PAID THEM 1.5 YEARS AGO. For many professionals, a couple of weeks is ‘very behind’. A couple of months is ‘very behind’. Almost a couple of years is beyond the pale. When someone pays you large sums of money for a service, you either perform the service in a timely fashion, you subcontract someone to perform the service to the same standard or you return their money. It’s that simple. I do not consider chronic illness an excuse. Sorry Randy – you can’t pull that card with me, asshole.
Beyond that, I don’t believe RJ when he says that chronic illness was his actual excuse. If he was so far behind in his editing from the 2014 retreat no less, Why did he take on editing customers from the 2015 retreat as well? Why did he start additional retreats (Winchester Mystery House) and take on additional editing customers from that retreat? Why was he, only a week or so ago, advertising on the StokerCon Facebook group soliciting new freelance editing clients?
2. Several Authors had complained and HWA took action
And because I’ve had several author complaints to the Horror Writers Association Grievance Committee this week, I’ve now been taken off the StokerCon2016 event…one I’ve worked tirelessly on for the last couple of years.
5 authors complained, which, I understand, was in addition to existing names that the grievance committee already had.
What I don’t get here is his shock the HWA would expect him to service his paid customers over volunteer work in their organisation, particularly when the Stanley Retreat where these customers signed up for RJ’s services has events their sponsored by HWA, most attendees were fellow HWA members, and the HWA president was to be a guest of honour this year?
What I don’t get is why, if he cant even service his paid customers, was he even doing volunteer work at all? Surely the correct thing to do would be to say “Y’know what, I would love to help the HWA with this cool idea for StokerCon…. but I’ve already taken these people’s money… so I’m gonna do my job for them first/instead”.
3. He feels bad
RJ Cavender: And while I do feel horrible that I’ve let many authors down,
Yes he has let many authors down. I’m unconvinced he actually feels horrible about it at all. If it was a few months maybe. If he wasn’t doing his level best to hoover in as many new paying customers as he could find, all the while not delivering to existing customer he’d already taken money from, maybe. So I’m calling bullshit on this as well.
4. IT WAS ALL RJ
RJ Cavender: I’ve put my blood, sweat, tears and fears into StokerCon2016 from its early plotting phases with Rocky Wood, to the creation of Horror University (my idea), The Scholarship from Hell (mine, too), and The Lucky Thirt3en Horror Short Film Competition (ditto.) I’ve organized the pitch sessions, I’ve secured guests we’ve never had included at any HWA event or World Horror to date. I’ve created local authors events via the HWA at a book festival here in Tucson and I’ve been very involved with the organization for many, many years now
Apparently it was all singlehandedly RJ Cavender. Infact, I wonder why it was called StokerCon instead of RJCon.
5. He’s not sick enough for HWA
RJ Cavender: So that’s why I’ve decided to leave the Horror Writers Association. They’re a good organization and they do a lot of great things in the community, but they didn’t have my back when I needed it most. Perhaps I’m not ‘sick enough’…or perhaps they just didn’t believe I could get caught up on my overdue projects by next month and were afraid there would be some backlash at the event. Which, let’s face it…they don’t really want/need or know how to handle at this point. I’m not sure.
No one believed RJ Cavender could get caught up on his work within a month. No one. Not the aggrieved parties, not the HWA. Several people complained to me that RJ would forget details of their editing arrangements and they’d have to send him his own emails. In fact, most people aware of the issue or who were aggrieved parties involved wondered if he even knew all the people who had purchased packages from him.
As for being sick enough…that doesn’t even hold water. Refer above to Point 1.
Nickolas Furr: If he was too sick and frankly overwhelmed to do the edits he’s already been paid for, how does he have the time to spam every single group I’m in 80-90 times a day about every single upcoming writer’s retreat… and how does he have enough time to do all this (non-editing) work? Claiming that he’s been too busy with the HWA to avoid screwing over other writers is a pathetic game, and , even though I don’t know who’s gotten screwed, it pisses me off in a big way
6. He’s not a child to be taught a lesson and is not the worst thing in the horror genre
RJ Cavender: But taking an event away from me like this is unacceptable punishment. I’m not a child who needs to be ‘taught a lesson.’ And I feel not only let down by the organization but betrayed and bewildered and goddamn upset, if you want to know the truth. Somehow I’ve become the worst thing to happen to the horror genre…
Taking an event away from you? It’s not your fucking event, you’re a volunteer in an volunteer organisation. You’re one cog in a machine. You play your part and you get to help out. You don’t and you don’t.
You don’t need to be taught a lesson? How many people do you need to defraud before you do, then? How many rounds of grievances do you have to go through at the HWA (yes, we all know this isn’t the first time), before you stop acting like a charlatan? The reality is, you’ve been conning people and now you’ve been called on it. We all know it. No on will go to your retreats any more. No one will pay for your editing services any more. Game over, man.
As for being the worst thing in the horror genre……….. Right now, that’s EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE. And while I may or may not blog further about the allegations against you and the sick things you’ve done (In truth, some people would do a better job as they’re more conversant with the events that have transpired) that doesn’t change that you literally are one of the worst (if not the actual worst) thing in the horror genre right now. Well done.
7. Life’s a bitch
RJ Cavender: And to the HWA, I’m sorry…shit happens sometimes, people get sick, life’s a bitch.
If you were an actual man, or decent human being, you’d do the work you were paid for in a timely fashion, or give them their money back. Not whine on about how life is so fucking hard and you’re sick. Everyone is sick. Everyone has lives. Everyone has commitments. You’re not a fucking special case.
No Randy Joe, you’re the bitch.
8. HWA is avoiding public scandal and not taking care of their own
RJ Cavender: Because avoiding public scandal, embarrassment, or ridicule is much more important than taking care of your own.
The HWA isn’t avoiding public scandal and isn’t not taking care of their own. By taking firm action against you, they’re protecting their wider membership that you have been defrauding for several years now. They’re taking action against you to protect themselves from you pattern of fraudulent, unethical and damaging behaviour. The HWA should be applauded, in particular President Lisa Morton who was incredibly receptive and open to hearing complaints and concerned by the serious complaints that were made about you, RJ. The HWA comes out of this very well indeed. You however? Not so much.
The HWA have released the following statement regarding RJ Cavender and his activities and the grievances regarding his dodgy editing practices. I suspect it was so long coming as, as Hal Bodner has rightly pointed out on several occasions, they probably had to receive legal counsel and then get all members of the board of trustees to agree on the text. If he doesn’t end up on Preditors and Editors and Writer’s Beware, he should, but let the following serve as warning to avoid this guy and his “services”:
I don’t know if I’ll write a part 3 to this series, one that goes into the Sexual assault allegations against RJ Cavender and the alleged cover up of another incident by RJ Cavender. Most of the information about it is spread across a lot of different threads and I’m not conversant with all the traumatic details.
I highly recommend everyone check out The Horror Show With Brian Keene as I believe Brian will be talking about this in great detail and following up on this issue in coming weeks. In the meantime I would recommend reading the thread where these serious complaints were made and I would also recommend reading Wrath James White’s statement about that issue.
In conclusion, I’m really really glad that I took a stand against Randy Joe’s unethical, predatory and fraudulent behaviour. I’m glad I reported it. I’m glad I encouraged other affected authors to report it via their channel in the HWA. And, while I knew nothing of the other issues that have been going on, I’m super glad that the action HWA took in disassociating with RJ and his subsequent leaving of the organisation appears to have given Kelly Laymon and others the breathing space they needed to bring RJ’s more serious crimes into the light of day.
I will be referring this blog post to Writers Beware and Preditors and Editors and encouraging affected authors to submit corroborating evidence. I would hope that since the HWA is a sponsor of Writers Beware, their own official statement highlighting the bad practice of RJ will hold some weight.
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!
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…
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!!
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:
Facebook: Author page https://www.facebook.com/AprilDawnHawks
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/April-Hawks/e/B00FRLSH9I/
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!
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.
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