Posts Tagged ‘Shirley Jackson’

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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.

Deborah Sheldon (1)

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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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

 

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The second WiHM interview for today is with the extremely talented S.P Miskowski. She’s a short story and novel author and has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award multiple times (It’s only a matter of time, I’m telling you!).  Special thanks to her for stopping by my blog so we could get to know her a little better!
MiskowskiSP

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

SPM: I grew up in my hometown of Decatur, Georgia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mine was the first integrated generation and so my experiences were quite different from those of my older sisters and my parents. At the time my classmates and I thought we represented a better future, one in which diversity was a given and a positive aspect of life. This was before massive white flight and further polarization encouraged by white political leaders, so we were naïve. But the experience made me question authority and the wisdom of my elders who resisted integration. This has stayed with me. I question authority automatically, question its basis and its integrity, and I’m extremely aware of hypocrisy. I note the difference between what we say and what we do, and maybe this is a good attitude for a writer. I don’t know.

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!”?

SPM: My first horror story didn’t have any eureka moment. At least I didn’t express it in those terms, maybe because I was eight years old. After binge-reading Edgar Allan Poe stories I wrote a small collection of gruesome tales, some of them about an eight year old who did horrible things to her family. My parents loved it. I illustrated the collection and gave it to my mother as a gift.

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

SPM: It’s difficult to narrow down to one, of course. In recent years “Peep” by Ramsey Campbell made a real impression. I’ve been a fan of Campbell’s short stories for years; that one in particular stayed with me, probably because it so perfectly ties together reality, empathy, psychology, and the possibility of something supernatural. A story not usually associated with horror, Paul Bowles’ “In the Red Room” also continues to haunt me.

Q. What is your favourite horror film?

SPM: Today? It Follows. But on any given day I might say A Tale of Two Sisters, Audition, The Babadook, or Rosemary’s Baby. Common element here, I guess, is a focus on female characters. Women are endlessly fascinating.

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

SPM: The Skillute Cycle is a one-novel, three-novella series published by Omnium Gatherum. The first two books in the series were finalists for Shirley Jackson Awards. “Stag in Flight” is a story to be published May 1st as a chapbook by Dim Shores, with illustrations by Nick Gucker. Muscadines is close to my heart; it was an idea I toyed with for years, tried in a couple of forms, and never quite made it work. There was always an element missing. Then Dunhams Manor Press gave me the chance to write a novelette for their 2016 hardcover series, illustrated by Dave Felton. I went back to the drawing board and this time the whole story—about the adult daughters of a violent woman—just came pouring out. This happens sometimes when I think I’ve stopped thinking about a story; my imagination is still playing with the material until something new occurs, the perfect point of view or a new setting or a literary device that changes everything.

I’ve had several short stories accepted for anthologies in the past year, among them: “Death and Disbursement” in October Dreams 2; “Strange is the Night” in Cassilda’s Song; “Lost and Found” in The Hyde Hotel; and “The Resurrected” in Sisterhood, an anthology of horror stories by female authors set in religious communities. In 2015 “The Second Floor” appeared in Black Static magazine. It’s hard to choose but I’m pleased with “Strange is the Night” because, again, this was something I returned to after a long break and I found it fit the King in Yellow theme very well. The imagery was there, waiting for me, and the conflict (between an elitist critic and a young, eager ingénue) made sense in a new way.

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

SPM: The short story, definitely, is my first love and the best.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

SPM: I’m researching two stories set in the Weimar Republic, while writing a novel set at a newspaper (back when people read newspapers).

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

SPM:Dead? Flannery O’Connor, tied with Shirley Jackson. Alive? Lynda E. Rucker in strange or weird fiction, and Donna Tartt in mainstream or non-genre fiction.

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

SPM: Two of the anthologies I mentioned—Cassilda’s Song and Sisterhood—include only female writers. Both are edited by men, the first by Joseph S. Pulver Sr. and the second by Nate Pedersen, and are published by Chaosium.

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

SPM: I’m reading a book on Weimar cinema and another on Weimar culture in general. My TBR stack is appalling. There is such a boom in good fiction from small presses these days, I’ll never catch up. Word Horde, Undertow Publications, ChiZine, Omnium Gatherum, Dunhams Manor Press, Dim Shores, Black Shuck Books are among the presses publishing astonishingly good new work. In particular I always look forward to the next book by Laird Barron, his most recent being X’s for Eyes.

Q. What films are you looking forward to?

SPM: The Witch.

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?

SPM: The men and women I’ve worked with have been wonderful to me. I’ve had few serious challenges in the genre and I think this is a sign of progress since I was writing more mainstream short stories as an undergraduate. One persistent, lingering habit we all have, male and female, is to accept the authority of a male voice more quickly. We all tend to credit men with writing the way they want, by choice and with knowledge of the available styles and conventions, while we tend ever so slightly to believe young women need more guidance in order to achieve their potential. This tendency continues to diminish but it also continues to shut out unusual female voices and those who present truly original or transgressive themes and ways of looking at life.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important?

SPM: Visibility, a reminder of reality. Even today there are a few editors who, asked to name more than two women in the genre, could not. To each his own, of course, but if you don’t keep up with the changing world you may soon be very confused and lost. Keep up. Learn the names and get to know the work of talented writers of color and women who are doing amazing things. A diverse world is an interesting world, not a threatening one.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

SPM: Read widely and keep journals. Practice, and take encouragement where you can get it. If no one offers it, encourage yourself. Be bold and take risks, and write in your own voice. Your particular experiences and how you translate them into fiction will be your strength. Learn what you can from classic literature but don’t worship it. Create your own world.

S.P. Miskowski Links

Amazon author page:  http://www.amazon.com/S.P.-Miskowski/e/B002GG88ZA

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The second Woman in Horror that will grace(storm?) my blog today is Lisa L. Hannett.  Lisa is a Dr. of Old Norse Literature—that’s right, another ma’fkn Dr up in my blog—and a super talented and highly awarded author. I’m delighted to have her stop by and answer a few questions. Thanks Lisa.

Ladies and germs, meet Lisa L. Hannett.

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background

LH: Born and raised in Canada, I now live in Adelaide, South Australia — city of churches, bizarre murders and pie floaters. I’ve got a PhD in Old Norse literature, an Honours degree in medieval lit and fantasy fiction, and a Fine Arts degree in painting and photography — all of which mashes together in my mind and spills out into some pretty weird stories. I spend half my time lecturing in English and Creative Writing, the other half writing strange (and often dark) tales, another half researching and writing about Viking Age Iceland and Norway, and another half indulging my addiction to the gym. The rest of the time, I’m thinking about or taking pictures of food. And when it comes to calculating time I am clearly a word person, not a mathematician.

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!”?

LH: I stumbled into writing horror, not really knowing that’s what I was doing until it was done — mostly because I initially had a pretty narrow concept of what “horror” was or could be. So if the definition of horror includes direct references to Stephen King or Clive Barker, for instance, then I suppose I’m not much of a horror writer. But if it is broad enough to encompass weird, unsettling, uncomfortable stories that put characters into bleak or horrific situations without promising to get them back out again (which, of course, it does) then I’m your gal. I have always appreciated stories that swerve away from what’s expected, that explore the hideous side of humanity, that don’t promise to leave readers feeling happy or hopeful at the end — so I keep coming back to this genre. More than scary or gory horror, though, I love reading and writing stories that punch you right in the gut.

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

LH: In terms of classics, I can’t go past ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson because I read it when I was about twelve, and it completely rewired my brain. (That is if we’re talking short fiction — if we’re talking longer works, I’ll still stick with Jackson: both We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House are incredible). In terms of newer short stories, ‘Ponies’ by Kij Johnson and ‘Apotropaics’ by Norman Partridge are two I return to repeatedly because they are just so brilliant and chilling.

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

 

LH: I’ve had over 60 short stories published, and one novel. My first book, Bluegrass Symphony, won the 2011 Aurealis Award for ‘Best Collection’ and it was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award, so it continues to hold a pretty special place in my heart. Angela Slatter and I collaborated on two collections together: Midnight and Moonshine (2012) and The Female Factory (2014), the second of which also got a gong for ‘Best Collection’ at last year’s Aurealis Awards. Lament for the Afterlife is my first novel, which CZP published toward the end of 2015. Lament is a dark fantasy / horror / lit war story that follows the life and decline of one battle-scarred soldier as he tries to escape his past — while avoiding the omnipresent and unbeatable enemy. Think Pan’s Labyrinth meets Platoon, make those films even darker, and that’s where Lament is situated.

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

LH: As a writer, I prefer short stories to other forms because they are beautiful, concise, sharp little gems of fiction that don’t waste words. I get a buzz out of writing novel-length works for different reasons (having the space to expand on world-building, for example, and for including more elaborate details, more complicated plots, more characters, etc) but the precision of short fiction is something I’ll always favour. As a reader, I am a glutton for everything: sweeping multi-volume sagas, mosaic novels, long or tiny novels, short stories, poems, plays. Every genre, every style — I’ll gobble it all.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

LH: I’ve got two big projects on the go at the moment. I’m about halfway into my next collection of weird short stories, The Homesteaders, and aim to have that finished soon. I’m also revising my next novel — it’s the first in a two book series, called The Invisible Woman. Set in Viking Age Norway, this book tells the early story of Unn the Deep-Minded — wife of one king, mother to a second, and in time a famous Viking herself — as she struggles to find her own fame and fate in this warrior world, all while her shape-shifting time-travelling fylgja (a kind of spirit guide) keeps butting in to mess things up for her… The second book in the series will follow Unn out of Norway into medieval Ireland, Scotland, and finally Iceland. She was quite the world-traveller! But before I can get to that book, I’ve got a couple of short story commissions to finish up.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

LH: If I have to narrow it down to only one (so mean!) then it’s Margaret Atwood. Her novels, her short stories, her poems, her essays and reviews — I won’t say I love them all equally or blindly, but the ones I love (most of them, really) I LOVE.

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

LH: I loved the ‘Women Destroy’ series of anthologies / special issues and if there were reprises of any of them (SF, Fantasy, Horror) I’d be keen to get on board. I was delighted to have a piece in FableCroft’s Cranky Ladies of History anthology — helping to write books about women are as interesting to me as being on ToCs with other women, so it would be great to be involved in more of those, too.

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

LH: I’m a polygamist when it comes to reading: I can never commit to just one. So I’ve got several on the go at the moment: I’m about a third of the way through Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt; halfway through One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey; I’ve just started The Last English King by Julian Rathbone; just finished A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica; dipping in and out of Helen Marshall’s Gifts for the One Who Comes After; and I’m re-reading Sabriel by Garth Nix for the first time in years.

Next up on the TBR list: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders; Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville; The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood; H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.

Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or why is Women in Horror month important/important to you? 

LH: Visibilty — or lack thereof — is a persistent problem. It’s so disappointing seeing list after list of “best” or “notable” or “up and coming” horror writers being published with so few women included on them. I realise this complaint is like pointing to a tall flower and saying the petals are wilting; the problem isn’t in the lists themselves — which are the ends of long-stemmed productions — but instead the issue originates down at ground level. If fewer women’s stories are being published, fewer are being reviewed, then of course fewer will appear on lists like these. But my gut feeling is that, in recent years, more and more women are having stories published in horror anthologies and magazines — and yet the go-to names when referring to or thinking of ‘horror writer’ lists are predominantly men. (Hell, I’ve even demonstrated this here, by rattling off Stephen King and Clive Barker’s names as examples of “H”orror.) So in terms of shining light on accomplished and emerging female writers, Women in Horror month is one great step in the right direction.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

LH: Read. A lot. Read for fun and read critically. Then read more.

Lisa L  Hannett Links: 

Website: lisahannett.com

Facebook: Lisa L. Hannett

Twitter: @lisalhannett

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/lisalhannett

Goodreads: Lisa L. Hannett

 

 

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Hey everyone.  One of today’s WiHM7 interviews is with Dr. Angela Slatter.  Angela is a British Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winning author; a Dr of Creative Writing; an incredibly kind and generous person who has been especially welcoming of n00bs like myself, ever since I stumbled into the world of writing, editing and genre fiction. Probably one my ginuwine favourite interwebz people, although legend has it she also exists on the corporeal plane… the stupendously talented Angela Slatter:

Dr-Angela-Slatter

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

AS: I’ve always been a voracious reader and I’ve always scribbled, but I only made the decision to start writing seriously about twelve years ago. I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and think “Jeeez, I wish I’d given that a go.” So I threw in a high-paying job in Sydney, moved back to Queensland and started learning the writing craft from scratch. I did a Grad Dip in Creative Writing and was lucky it was a good practical program, then started an MA and produced a collection of rewritten fairy tales, all of which were published before I submitted my finished project for marking − my first sale was to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and the second was to Shimmer. I started a PhD, which I eventually finished, and have been consistently publishing since 2006. I’ve had six short story collections published (two with Lisa L. Hannett), there’s a seventh coming out in October 2016, and last year I signed a three-book deal with Jo Fletcher Books for an urban fantasy series − the first book, Vigil, comes out in July 2016.

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!”?  

AS: I think it probably crept up on me … I read a lot of horror as a teen, a mix of Richard Laymon, Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, and anthologies edited by Stephen Jones which brought together the likes of Kim Newman, Steve Rasnic Tem, et al. I sought out female horror writers like Tanith Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Marghanita Laski, Barbara Baynton, Mary Shelley, because I often found them more subtle and more chilling (not all the time). One of the first stories I remember writing was about a woman obsessed with books who killed someone in order to get a book that she’d been denied. Probably my first dark detour! Writing for me has been a lot of trying out different genres and styles, as well as reading a lot before I found my own voice.

When I write a fairy tale influenced piece, I’m always drawing on the old horror of the original tales. When I write a modern horror story, I’m still drawing on some inflections of horrific elements in old fairy and folk tales. I think the horror stories that I’ve written that creep me out the most are “Finnegan’s Field”, “Winter Children” and “Cuckoo” … I think they all cut very close to the bone of women’s lives.

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

AS: I’m not precisely sure what ‘jimmies’ are … if you mean scared the bejesus outta me, then there have been a few for different reasons:

I’ve said a lot of times that Marghanita Laski’s “The Tower” was the first horror story I read that I just adored coz it’s so atmospheric and filled with dread. Then there’s Barbara Baynton’s “The Chosen Vessel”, which I realise I read much earlier than the Laski, when we lived out at Longreach − I was still in primary school and the story is about the murder of an isolated woman, the wife of a drover and her child left on a property while her husband goes off shearing … I think because the story echoed the landscape I was living in it was extra disturbing. Then there’s anything by M.R. James. but particularly “Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad”. There’s Saki’s “Gabriel Ernest” and “Sredni Vashtar”. The “Wendigo’s Child” by Thomas F. Montelone gave me nightmares as a kid.

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

AS: Seven short story collections, two novellas, one novel, and over 150 short stories. All are listed here http://www.angelaslatter.com/publications/, but the ones that are of most interest:

  1. Sourdough and Other Stories (Tartarus Press, 2010) − shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award and Aurealis Award for Best Collection
  2. The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales (Ticonderoga Publications, 2010) − won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection
  3. Midnight and Moonshine (with Lisa L. Hannett; Ticonderoga Publications 2012) − shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Collection
  4. The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (Tartarus Press, 2014) − won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection, shortlised for the Aurealis Award for Best Collection.
  5. Black-Winged Angels (Ticonderoga Publications, 2014) − shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards for Best Collection.
  6. The Female Factory (with Lisa L. Hannett; Twelfth Planet Press 2014) − won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection.
  7. Of Sorrow and Such (Tor.com novella series, 2015).
  8. Ripper (novella in Stephen Jones’ Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear, Jo Fletcher Books 2015)
  9. A Feast of Sorrows: Stories isn’t out yet but will be out in October 2016 via Prime Books in the US, which will be my first collection specifically released in the US. It’s mostly a reprint collection, with two new novellas in it.
  10. Vigil: Book 1 of the Verity Fassbinder Series, out in July 2016, from Jo Fletcher Books in the UK and Hachette in Australia.

General points of interest:

  1. I’m the first Australian to win a British Fantasy Award (for “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” in Stephen Jones’ A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books).
  2. In 2014, I had three collections out and in the 2015 Aurealis Awards all three were shortlisted in Best Collection − Lisa and I won with The Female Factory.
  3. In the 2015 Aurealis Awards Shortlists, I had two entries in Best Fantasy Short Story (won with “St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls), and one in the Best Horror Short Story (which I won with “Home and Hearth”).
  4. The Female Factory got an Honourable Mention in the Norma K. Hemming Awards.

Also: I cannot pick a favourite child. Don’t Sophie’s Choice me, dude.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

AS: At the moment I am being squeezed mercilessly by March deadlines. I’m editing the last novella (Darker Angels) to go into the Prime collection A Feast of Sorrows: Stories (mostly reprints but with two new 20k novellas); I’m finishing the novel Corpselight, which is the sequel to Vigil; I’m working on a weird noir story for Joe Pulver, called “Dahlia Blues”; I’ve just agreed to write something else for someone else; I’ve got about four secret anthology projects that I’ve got to write stories for … and there’s a novella called The Briar Book of the Dead that either needs editing or turning into a novel … and when I finish Corpselight, I have to start writing Restoration, which is the final Verity book in the trilogy … then I have to start looking for a new three-book deal! AND I’m also doing a book of film criticism for Neil Snowdon and Electric Dreamhouse Press (an imprint of PS Publishing) this year focusing on the Karnstein Trilogy of films made by Hammer Horror.

Q. You do the odd spell of freelance editing and you certainly have the talented and skill to go down that path if you ever felt like it. Do you ever see yourself editing an anthology or other forms as a career or creative choice? 

AS: Every so often I think “Yeah, I could edit a really interesting fairy tale, mosaic world anthology” … then I go and have a lie down until the feeling passes, because I remember precisely what’s involved. Not just the sourcing stories (managing whinging from writers you didn’t contact or whose stories you didn’t accept), gladhanding and ego-massaging the writers whose stories you need to edit, dealing with contracts, printing, finding a publishing house you can rely on, getting typesetting done, commissioning cover art that doesn’t just look like a stock photo with bad font over the top, then ensuring everyone’s paid … then marketing the damned book, finding reviewers, eventually (if you’re lucky) then having to dole out royalties to authors … and all that time and stress is time and stress I could be usefully applying to my own work. So if I ever say “I’m editing an anthology” you’ll know I’ve been kidnapped and am trying to give a signal or I’ve gone mad.

Similarly, occasionally I think about writing a film script: “Hey, 90 pages, how hard could it be?” It’s fucking hard!!! That’s an art form all on its own and I am not a master of it. A mate of mine did something like four scripts (commissioned) in two months − hats off to him, the mad sod, but he did it, and he did it because it’s his field and he’s an expert at it. So, I’ll stick to what I know!

Q. Is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? s

  • Knowledge of grammar, spelling and sentence structure. The general skills any good editor in any genre should have as well as contacts in the industry rather than just a whim/fancy to be an editor.
  • The ability to help the writer tease out the story’s best shape, NOT t he desire to make the story into the one they would have written if they’d had a chance.
  • Open-mindedness about the various forms horror can come in, so it’s not all just “Saw”, but rather things that are more subtle, a mix of light and dark, not just body horror.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

AS:  Argh! How can you choose? Why would you ask me that? Why?

I love the particular subtlety a lot of female horror writers bring to their work, even though it’s that very subtlety that often causes them to be dismissed as horror writers. “There’s not one chainsaw, NOT ONE in this work, how can you call her a horror writer??” But the more subtle and insidious the tales are, the more I like them. So, I will make a list that cannot possibly be complete and some will say “They ain’t horror authors”, to which I reply “You ain’t reading them right.” Tanith Lee, Thana Niveau, Alison Littlewood, Nalo Hopkinson, Tananarive Due, Lisa L. Hannett, Nnedi Okorafor Kirstyn McDermott, Kaaron Warren, Kelly Link, Gemma Files, Damien Angelica Walters, Lisa Tuttle, Caitlín R. Kiernan,Shirley Jackson, Sarah Langan, Molly Tanzer, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Lynda Rucker, K. Tempest Bradford, Maura McHugh, Margo Lanagan, Anna Tambour, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro …

All are women who’ll lead you in quite gently then unsettle you and then slap you in the face with some terrible thing that isn’t simply about body horror, but the actual destruction of a soul, of happiness, of love. Examples? Nalo Hopkinson’s “Greedy Choke Puppy”, Lisa Hannett’s “Forever, Miss Tapekwa County”, Tanith Lee’s “La Dame”, Damien Angelica Walters’ “Sing Me Your Scars”. And I must add Kelly Robson’s “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” as I just read it the other day and it blew me away − extremely visceral, haunting body horror very skilfully done.

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

AS: The TBR pile is presenting a danger to all and sundry, but these are the ones I’ll pick out: Will Lawson’s When Cobb & Co Was King, the Audrey Niffenegger anthology Ghostly, Mary Norris’ Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, Delia Sherman’s The Porcelain Dove, C.S.E. Cooney’s  Bone Swans, and I’m re-reading John Connolly’s Nocturnes collection as well as Dark Hollow.

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?

AS: I’ve been relatively lucky, but the main ones are either dismissal on the grounds of having a lack of white penis (or indeed any penis at all) − “She can’t write horror for she has no wang!” − or reviews that smack of hurt male feels − “She’s written about awful men doing awful things to women! She must hate all men! Also: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!”

Both of these things are childish and tiring.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 

AS: I admit to feeling conflicted about it. It annoys me that we need it, like some kind of remedial training to remind certain readers we’re here. It feels a bit like we’re Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny: mythical creatures that people remember once a year. Remember folks: a female horror author isn’t just for Christmas, she’ll scare the crap out of you all year round.

But on the other hand I’m happy to see my fellow female horror writers highlighted and for readers to get to know work they might not naturally seek out.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

  • Keep writing.
  • Learn your craft and never ever think you know it all.
  • Develop a thick skin, but realise that story criticism is aimed at making the story better, not at making you feel bad about yourself.
  • It’s better to have someone find problems with a story before you send it out into the world.
  • Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships with other writers and publishers, not just about you getting what you can.
  • Don’t send Facebook friend requests to other writers and then ask them to like your page and buy your book: (a) it’s just rude and (b) other writers are not generally your audience.

 

Angela Slatter Links:

Website: http://www.angelaslatter.com/

Blog: http://www.angelaslatter.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelaslatterauthor
Twitter: @AngelaSlatter

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005QQ9FOA

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2847546.Angela_Slatter

 

 

 

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Welcome back folks. Today we have an interview with Rena Mason. Rena has been selling stories all around the place recently, including to cool anthologies like Blurring the Lines from Cohesion Press and the forth coming anthology from Independent Legions Publishing, The Beauty of Death.  She is an active member of the HWA is one of the folks tha make sure things like the Bram Stoker Awards go ahead. I’m pleased to have Rena stop by and answer a few quick questions.  Thanks Rena!

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

RM: My ancestry is a mix of Thai, Chinese, and English. I was born in Thailand and lived there for two years before moving to Oahu. I’ve also lived in Homestead, Florida, Rancho Cordova, California, Plattsburgh, New York, Denver Colorado, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Olympia, Washington. Reno, Nevada is where I currently reside with my family. Even though my father is retired military, only one of the moves was a direct result of that. I’m a registered nurse, and have worked in oncology, home health care, and the operating room. I enjoy traveling, scuba diving, interior design, and cooking.

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!”?  

RM: I’ve always preferred reading stories with a dark edge/horror bent. In part, I think it’s because they reminded me that Hey, my life isn’t so bad, look at the hell these characters are going through. There was no defining moment for me wanting to write a horror story, but when I made the decision to write, I knew my favorite elements would come through in my work.

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

RM: One of the first stories I remember reading was “The Old Nurse’s Story” by Elizabeth Gaskell. I was very young when I read it, and there were children in the story, one of them a ghost, so it really scared me and made a strong impression.

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

RM: I’ve written a handful of short stories, a novella, East End Girls, and a novel The Evolutionist. My personal favorite is probably East End Girls. It was the most fun researching and writing.

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

RM: I prefer writing novels. There’s a lot more room for expression.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

RM: I’m currently working on editing a novel, rewriting a novel, and writing three short stories. There’s also a screenplay on the backburner.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

Shirley Jackson. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is another one of my favorite stories.

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

RM: Projects specific to women, no. But there are a couple of anthologies I’m writing short stories for that will have female authors in them whose work I admire.

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

RM: I’m a very slow reader and am currently reading Alan M. Clark’s The Surgeon’s Mate: A Dismemoir, Shutter by Courtney Alameda, and nEvermore! Edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and Caro Soles. My crazy TBR pile is at least a 7’ x 4’ bookcase full of works that range from Nonfiction to Mysteries, Thrillers, and of course, Horror.

Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?

RM: I honestly can’t think of any specific challenges that I’ve encountered being a woman in the horror genre when it comes to publishing. I get asked to write about being a female author, and to do interviews for Women in Horror Month, which is great, but I can never think of any publishing occurrences that screamed bias against women. When submitting works that get rejected, I tend to think it was because the story just didn’t work for the editor and not because I’m a female author. However, I will say that when I first started attending conventions, I didn’t know many people in the industry and it was intimidating. In a couple instances my friendliness was mistaken for something else, but they weren’t situations I felt I couldn’t handle as a responsible adult.

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

RM: I think it showcases a lot of women in horror that many people don’t often hear about, and this includes women screenwriters, directors, poets, nonfiction authors, and artists.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

RM: Focus on writing and improving your writing. Submit your work and keep submitting it. Try not to think about any stigmas you’ve heard or even experienced in the genre. They’ll only hold you back.

 

 

Rena Mason Links

Website: http://www.renamason.ink/

Blog: http://www.renamason.ink/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rena.mason

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RenaMason88

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rena-mason-87797982

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rena.mason/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rena-Mason/e/B00C7YOVDY/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/5785510.Rena_Mason

 

 

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Hi Everyone. One of today’s WiHM interviewees is  Kirstyn McDermott. She’s an incredibly talented writer from Australia. When I decided to do WiHM interviews she was one of the first potential candidates who sprung to mind. Kirstyn’s short story Mary, Mary is going to be reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2016, edited by Paula Guran. How cool is that? Did I say she was a fantastic writer already?

Without further ado…

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

KM:  Gosh, that’s a wide open question to start with! Let’s see . . . I’m a short story writer and novelist, mostly working in the genres of horror, dark fantasy and contemporary gothic, and for some masochistic reason I’m currently pursuing a creative doctorate as well. I also record a monthly literary discussion podcast, The Writer and the Critic, with my dear friend, Ian Mond. Which I’ve just realised will be hitting its 50th episode in March! I grew up in Newcastle (NSW), moved to Melbourne in my early twenties where I lived for almost twenty years, and now I’m based in Ballarat, a regional town northwest of Melbourne – quite the change of pace. My partner is also a horror/dark fantasy writer which does make things rather interesting at times, but it’s invaluable having a beta-reader, editor and proof-reader so close at hand.

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!”? 

KM: I’ve been asked some version of this question countless times during my life and I still don’t have a definitive answer to it. Part of the attraction is aesthetic, part of it is philosophical. There’s the fascination with darkness and taboo subjects, with things that we don’t really want to look at too closely or talk about in polite company. When someone tells you not to look, really, how can you not? Even if it scares the proverbials off you. For the most part, though, I don’t write about things that scare me precisely; I write about things that intrigue, disturb, and make me think about the world in a different way. I can’t say there’s ever been a defining moment of wanting to write a horror story exactly – those are just the stories that seem to rise up and grab me. It’s how my writer brain works, I guess. For the most part, I’m just not predisposed to happy endings.

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

KM: It’s hard to pinpoint an absolute favourite but “Father Father” by Paul Haines is unbelievably vile; it’s the kind of story that makes you want to take a shower after reading it. It’s just a common, everyday horror but so intimately written in the first person that the reader is made almost complicit in the narrator’s pathology. It packs a tremendous punch for such a short piece and it’s not one I’ll ever forget.

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

KM: I’ve written quite a few short stories over the years as well as two novels, Madigan Mine (2010) and Perfections (2012) both of which have been recently re-released by Twelfth Planet Press. I also have a short story collection with them, Caution: Contains Small Parts, which includes what is probably a personal favourite – a novella called “The Home for Broken Dolls”. But I also really, really love my novel Perfections, an affection that has been a long time coming, let me say. I had such a fractious relationship to that novel during the writing of it, and for some time after. It was only during the proof-reading of the latest version for Twelfth Planet Press that I realised it actually was a damn good book. If there is anything I’d recommend for someone who hasn’t come across my work before, it would be that.

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

KM:  I adore short fiction, both as a reader and a writer, and novelette/novella lengths feel like the perfect medium for me right now. I can tell a good story, with enough space for texture and depth and “mess” as Karen Joy Fowler would put it, and without the need to extend it to novel length if the core narrative won’t readily bear it. It’s also a perfect, one-sitting reading length, which I just love. Though, having read a couple of mosaic books recently – in particular Lament for the Afterlife by Lisa L. Hannet – I’ve become fascinated by the potential of that literary form. It might even have solved the problem of how to tell this one story that I’ve been thinking about for a few years now. Maybe a post-PhD project . . .

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

KM: Right now, the PhD is occupying most of my writing time and energy for the immediate future. My research centres around contemporary re-visioned fairy tales, focusing on the relationships between female characters, and I’m writing a suite of reworked fairy-tale novelettes of my own to serve as the core of the project. It’s been fantastic to have the opportunity to immerse myself in fairy tales – a genre I’ve only come at tangentially, and with a healthy dose of side-eye, until recent years – and I’m enjoying the challenge of working with them.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

KM: I can’t possibly narrow that down to just one! My list of favourites would include Caitlin R. Kiernan, Kathe Koja, Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, Nicola Griffith, Helen Marshall and Catherynne M. Valente. And, closer to home, Kaaron Warren, Margot Lanagan, Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter. I could go on forever, honestly.

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

KM: Between the PhD research and the podcast books, I don’t get to read much else these days! My TBR pile – AKA the Shelf of Shame – has way too much on it even though I’ve slowed down my rate of acquisition dramatically in the past few years. I’ve had the last two Stephen King books waiting to be read since October, which would have been unheard of once upon a time, as well as a volume of previously unpublished stories by Shirley Jackson, and a whole bunch of an anthologies that I just haven’t had time to get to. I think once I finish my PhD I need to have a year of doing nothing but catch-up reading. Which sounds quite blissful, actually.

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?

KM: I have some bland personal anecdotes – the occasional male reader who has expressed surprise that I write horror so well; people who have argued that women literally don’t have the balls to write the really dark stuff – but nothing particular egregious. It’s more the culture in which you swim. The lists of recommended authors/books which include a handful of women if you’re lucky. The great swathes of wordage that are written about male authors as opposed to female authors. The wealth of sexist tropes that feel woven into the very fabric of the genre and are so difficult to unpick. The influential editor who, when interviewed, gives his “who to be stranded on desert island with” list that includes three male writing buddies and a female author as an afterthought because, after all, the boys are bound to get sick of shooting crap after a while and will need to think about repopulating the earth. (I’m not even joking.) It’s exhausting and dispiriting, this suspicion that you’re placed a dozen yards behind the starting line simply due to your gender. So there’s that.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important?

KM: It’s always important to highlight female writers/artists, especially those working in genres which are (still) perceived to be masculine. Just as its important to highlight writers/artists of colour, and queer writers/artists, and writers/artists from non-Western backgrounds, and others working from outside the dominant cultural perspective. Diverse perspectives, diverse approaches, diverse voices makes the genre better. On one hand, having a special month can feel tokenistic – but this just speaks to the need for it, sadly. I look forward to the day when it will genuinely seem ridiculous, because female writers/artists actually are as respected, promoted, cited, read, reviewed, awarded and lauded as much as their male counterparts.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

KM: Read. Read widely and thoughtfully. Read inside the genre you want to work in, and read outside of it as well. Think about the reasons why what you read works – or doesn’t work – and how you can adapt – or avoid – such things in your own writing. Don’t just look at it from a basic prose level either; think about structure, about how characters are built, how themes and motifs are worked into a piece of writing, how plot is revealed, how pacing is handled. Careful, critical reading is something that every writer – aspiring, emerging, or established – should incorporate as part of their practice. And hey, it’s the kind of homework that’s fun, right? Every writer worth their salt has started writing because they loved reading. Shelves of shame aside, it’s important not to lose sight of that.

Kirstyn McDermott Links

Website/Blog:   http://www.kirstynmcdermott.com

Facebook:          https://www.facebook.com/kirstyn.mcdermott

Twitter:         @fearofemeralds (https://twitter.com/fearofemeralds)

Linkedin:             https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstyn-mcdermott-62b56a32

Amazon Author Page:    http://www.amazon.com/Kirstyn-McDermott/e/B00JVMU9UY

 

Book Links:

Perfections

http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/products/novels/perfections

Madigan Mine

http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/products/ebooks/madigan-mine

Caution: Contains Small Parts

http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/products/ebooks/caution-contains-small-parts-2

Goodreads:        https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2731811.Kirstyn_McDermott

sharon

Hi everyone! One of today’s WiHM interviews will be with the super talented and super nice editor, Sharon Lawson.  Sharon is one half of the powerhouse Bram Stoker-Award-Nominated editing duo at Grey Matter Press, alongside Anthony Rivera. Grey Matter Press are quickly impressing writers and readers alike with their fantastic horror anthologies and fine quality books.

Everyone, meet Sharon Lawson!

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

SL: Before I became an acquisitions editor for Grey Matter Press, I was first an accountant and then a stay-at-home mom. I have lived in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois most of my life, and I recently had to deal with the terrors of my only child going off to college.

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

SL: I have been drawn to dark literature from a very young age. Maybe it’s that I have always been a glass-half-empty kind of person. I will always be grateful to my friend Anthony Rivera, who asked me to join him in starting a publishing company. After having a career in accounting, I jumped at the chance to be able to express my creative side. It has been a fantastic experience.

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

SL: My favorite story is “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Aside from the superb prose, the reader is pulled into this seemingly innocuous plot and then the true nature of the story hits you like a smack to the forehead. It is completely shocking.

Q. What is your personal favourite of your own work? Answering as an editor.

SL: As an editor for Grey Matter Press, I have co-edited seven anthologies with Anthony Rivera. It is hard to pick just one book, but I think our first, Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror – Volume 1, will always be a sentimental favorite, and it received a Bram Stoker Award nomination for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

Q. Would you ever write something? You’ve obviously got editing chops. You look at great fiction everyday and get to read fiction by the very best of the best. Ever wonder whether you’ve got a story of your own in there? 

I would love to have some writing talent, and I have had friends and family tell me I should write, but I honestly don’t think I have it in me. I can’t conceive of being able to fill pages and pages with something entertaining. I am much more comfortable with helping authors polish their work, although I do battle an affection for the comma. I hope to end that co-dependent relationship very soon.

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

SL: I like novels and short stories a lot, but I have become a big fan of the novella. It often feels like the ideal length for horror.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

SL: This will be a rather busy year for Grey Matter Press. We are excited to be releasing our first full-length novel this spring, Mister White by John C. Foster, and an all-new anthology coming out this summer. We have a lot more in store for later this year.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

SL: Shirley Jackson, of course, has been a favorite forever. Of more current female authors, I really like the work of Sarah Pinborough. I have enjoyed quite a few of her novels.

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

SL: In our upcoming anthology, Peel Back the Skin, we are thrilled to be featuring stories by esteemed authors Nancy A. Collins, Yvonne Navarro and Lucy Taylor. And we will soon be making an announcement of a solo project with an up-and-coming female author.

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

SL: My TBR pile is way too big to detail for you, but I am most looking forward to Stephen King’s short-fiction collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant.

Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?

SL:I haven’t faced any challenges as a woman in this industry. I had a lot more problems back when I was an accountant. I don’t feel that anyone, least of all anyone I work with, has treated me differently because I am a woman. And I can honestly say that we at Grey Matter Press are blind to gender. We want stories that entertain, and we don’t care if the author is a man or a woman, young or old, American or from a foreign land. We are in the business of selling books, and I don’t understand why any publisher would turn down a great story based on any sort of physical criteria.

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

SL: I think it works best if it inspires female authors to write the kind of horror they want to write, whether it be gothic horror or splatterpunk.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

SL: To all authors, I would say be bold. Don’t hold back. Make sure your manuscripts are edited and/or proofread by someone other than yourself before submitting to an agent or publisher. But most of all, do a lot more showing and a lot less telling.

Sharon Lawson Links:

Website:  www.GreyMatterPress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharon.lawson.9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lawsonsk

 

website-logo

She writes awesome short stories. She writes badass novels. She kills giant scorpions without even blinking. She basically just kicks ass. Everybody – meet Miss Murder herself: Mercedes Murdock Yardley.

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Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

MMY: I grew up in a small town out in the middle of the desert. I write whimsical horror, nonfiction, novels, short stories, and poetry. I always wrote as a child, and knew I wanted to be an author by the time I was in third grade. It only took me about 20 more years to finally do that.

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!”?

MMY: I’ve always written scary stories. The first story I remember reading to my classroom was one about a sea serpent attacking a submarine, with an ear-piercing shriek at the end. Horror has always made my blood run. It’s exciting! I love that feeling of being scared. It’s the feeling of being alive.

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

MMY: There are several that come to mind. Of course I’m a big Poe fan. I was probably the only kid in elementary school who had the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe. Loved Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” That horrified me to the core. But I think my favorites were the ones we’d tell each other at sleepovers and we’re out camping. Like, this one. There was a girl home alone while her parents were out of town. She heard on the news that a murderer had escaped from an asylum. She was afraid all night, but was comforted by reaching down from her bed and feeling her dog lick her hand. In the morning she walked into the bathroom to find her dog dead and words scrawled on the mirror. “People can lick hands, too.”  That story gave me fits as a child!

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

MMY: My first book was a short story collection called Beautiful Sorrows. I wrote an urban fantasy novel called Nameless: The Darkness Comes. It’s the first book in THE BONE ANGEL trilogy. I also wrote a novella titled Little Dead Red that I’m proud of. This month is the re-release of my two favorite books, Pretty Little Dead Girls and Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. I can’t wait for them to come back out! They’re my babies.

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

MMY: I love all of the forms. I love novels, I love short stories. I love nonfiction articles and I love hearing them read by the author or acted out by a narrator. But I think my favorite form is flash fiction, which are stories under a thousand words. It’s such a disciplined and, at the same time, ethereal form.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

MMY: I’m working on a few different things! One is a short story for a very cool anthology. I’m also hard at work writing the sequels to Nameless. It’s a busy year.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

MMY: I’d have to say Aimee Bender. She writes creative, surreal stories with gorgeous prose. I had the chance to meet he in person and she’s everything I hoped she would be. It was such a pleasure!

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

MMY: Joe Pulver just put out a women’s only anthology titled Cassilda’s Song that I’m involved in, and it’s really something special. It’s a pleasure to be part of it. I’ve heard rumblings of a tribute to Joyce Carol Oates perhaps being put together. If that was the case, I’d be all over that.

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

MMY: Right now I’m catching up on reading so I can vote for the Bram Stoker Awards. I’m pretty much reading everything of the ballot. There’s some great stuff on there, I can tell you.

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?

MMY: There are a few challenges. Some people truly do believe that women aren’t capable of writing horror, or that it’s somehow unseemly. I find that I have difficulty networking because I’m home taking care of the kiddos and can’t attend as many conferences. I also feel women are looked at differently than men. If a man takes charge of his career, he’s a leader. If a woman does the same thing, she’s difficult to work with.

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

MMY: It’s important that women be recognized for our contributions. By shining a spotlight on female creatives, we’re making it easier for us to be more fully accepted. That’s the ultimate goal.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

MMY: Don’t waste your time talking about your story. Write it. Finish it up, get it done. The best way to become a great writer is by writing.  It’s worth the effort.

Mercedes Murdock Yardley Links

Website: www.abrokenlaptop.com  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mercedes.murdockyardley

Twitter:@mercedesmy

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

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mercedes-M.-Yardley/e/B006B9MFA2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1454825104&sr=8-1

Book Links:  http://www.amazon.com/Nameless-Darkness-Comes-Angel-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B01920V548/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454825104&sr=8-1&keywords=mercedes+yardley

http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Sorrows-Mercedes-M-Yardley-ebook/dp/B009S9VQKM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454825104&sr=8-2&keywords=mercedes+yardley

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Dead-Red-Mercedes-Yardley-ebook/dp/B019PE2UAO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1454825104&sr=8-4&keywords=mercedes+yardley

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3084816.Mercedes_M_Yardley