Monthly Archives: February 2013

Women in Horror: Colleen Anderson

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Yes, today, the last day of February and Women in Horror Month, I’m interviewing myself. After all, it’s only fair to subject myself to questions I gave the other writers. But stay tuned through March as there will probably be more women in horror and even a guy or two as well. I hope to expand on the interviews with some people.

I’m a twice Aurora Award finalist in poetry, and have received several Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (or Science Fiction) honorable mentions, as well as being shortlisted for the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, the Rannu competition, the Friends of Merril contest and the Speculative Literature Foundation. The anthology Deep Cuts with my story  “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” is hitting the shelves (and the virtual world) as we speak. Check out Evil Jester Press. Bibliotheca Fantastica is about to be released with “The Book With No End” from Dagan Books. Then, by April “Tower of Strength” in Irony of Survival through Zharmae Publishing, and “P is for Phartouche: The Blade” in Demonologia Biblica should also be released through Western Legends Publishing, with a poem out in Bull Spec later this year and a story in Chilling Tales 2 by fall.

COLLEEN ANDERSON

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

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Colleen works for Chizine Publications, full of dark and disturbed things.

I actually span the landscape from fantasy, SF, mainstream, poetry, erotica to horror or dark fantasy. I never did set out to write dark fiction but found even when I thought a story was just fantasy I was getting comments from magazines that they didn’t take horror. A few years ago I sold a dark tale to Evolve and one to Horror Library IV and I realized I was selling more of the dark fiction than other works. In fact, I guess I’m not as funny as I think I am because no one buys my humorous stories. I seem to be more a natural at digging into the viscera of a tale. I’ve only ever written one tale, a flash fiction piece where I set out to write something truly gruesome and horrible. In doesn’t dig much into a person’s psyche but is just a tale of terrible deeds. That’s probably why I could sustain it past 500 words.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

I was asked this once by a fellow writer and I had no clue but in the process of compiling my reprint stories for Embers Amongst the Fallen it became clear that I do a fair number of morality tales. These aren’t overt but the protagonist may be faced with making a hard decision: honor their dying partner’s wish or take revenge, follow the rules of society or satisfy their own desires, become a monster or give compassion, etc. We make decisions every day and many aren’t life or death or defining moral character but I find it fascinating and squirmy to put characters into these dilemmas. Through them, I define myself better and hopefully get people to think.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

The fact that we separate tales into genre is a falsified categorization by marketing departments the world over. The dark side is inherently part of our lives. We cannot appreciate the light without the darkness to counterbalance it. This is in every tale from gods and heroes of the ancients to Luke Skywalker confronting his fallen father. If you have conflict, in some ways you always have darkness. Horror for the splatter and gore of it only isn’t that deep but some people enjoy it because of that thrill of terror that lets us know we’re alive and that our lives are better than what we’re watching.

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A collection of previously published speculative fiction, available through Smashwords and Amazon.

With the more fantastical tales, it lets me take something to an extreme, to show a story and make one think and ponder the what-ifs. Sometimes there’s too much political finger pointing and the world of the fantastic lets us explore these things or say, you know it could go this way if we’re not careful. Sometimes we write cautionary tales.

As a child I loved reading the Norse myths, then those of Ireland and Greece, and fairy tales of course. Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Edgar Allan Poe were probably the first to pull me onto the road of the fantastic. My older brother left a lot of his books behind, and then there were shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, not to mention scary movies with Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

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Demonologia Biblica comes out this spring with “P is for Phartouche: The Blade”

I can see how this could be a problem in the movie industry more, and there is still a predominance in mainstream literature to believe that only if you’re a dead white male was your writing worth studying. That’s shifting both in terms of the living and the non males. I don’t think it’s much of an issue anymore as some of the best writers out there are women. Though I recall a collection being put out last year called something like the Decade’s or the Centuries Best SF. There wasn’t one woman listed and the editors were lambasted so it’s not completely equal yet. But I don’t think I’ve ever run into my stories being taken or rejected because I was a woman.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are or what we can do to stem the tide?

I actually worry because some people feel that this is a backlash because women are getting stronger. Contrarily, I think it’s because religion is become less centralized and more dichotomized into fundamentalism. The fact that some men feel they need to fear and/or control women does not mean women are getting a better shake at things. A picture posted going around shows Mogadishu with women in front of a college in the 1960s and one in recent years. Only in the recent one is every single person veiled and covered head to toe. That’s not progress. That’s not giving equality to women but putting them back in the basket where women caused the downfall of mankind, or are vixens or seductresses. We have a very long ways to go yet.

What we can do is to not step back, not be complacent. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This goes for women as well. If we pretend or think it won’t happen to us, all you have to do is look to the US and how right-wing fundamentalism is trying to take away women’s rights. It’s partly why dark fiction lends us a canvas where we can paint something as simplistic as a revenge fantasy but we can also show the strength of women and that all people of any gender can be good or evil. We have to continue to speak against this or one day even women will believe they shouldn’t have the right to vote because they should be in the kitchen serving the power of their man. And it makes me sad that some women have no opinion about this. Really?

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

I have several pieces eligible to be nominated in this year’s Aurora Awards in which Canadians can nominate and vote.

I have three stories:

The collections is also eligible as well.

There are three poems:

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THE MISSION

Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.

THE VISION

A world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression.

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Women in Horror: Eileen Kernaghan

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

While the month of February is nearly done and therefore Women in Horror Month, women writing horror shall never end. We are enduring, and so is Eileen Kernaghan a long-time and award winning author of speculative fiction and poetry. She has published dark fantasy and horror-themed  poetry in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including On Spec, Dreams & Nightmares, Weird Tales, Black Lotus, Tesseracts 6 and TransVersions. Some of her darker short stories have appeared in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, On Spec, TransVersions, Ark of Ice: Canadian Futurefiction and Northern Stars.  “Carpe Diem,” which looked at the possible future of Canadian medical care, has been reprinted several times, and won an Aurora Award. It was also made into a short subject film by an Alberta filmmaker.

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Eileen Kernaghan is an award winning writer of dark fiction.

Tales from the Holograph Woods, a thirty year retrospective of  her speculative poetry, was published by Wattle & Daub Books in 2009.  “Many of the poems are dark, though more skin-crawly than blood-splattered. Recently I’ve gathered together my published SF/F stories in a collection, Dragon-Rain and Other Stories, and I’m about to send it out into the world as an e-book. As I read back over the manuscript, I’m surprised to see  how dark some of those stories are. Even the lead story, meant to be humorous, deals with some pretty unpleasant stuff.”

EILEEN KERNAGHAN

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

dark fiction, speculative poetry, horror, women in horror

Tales from the Holograph Woods, published by Wattle and Daub Books.

I’ve published historical fantasies, ( both YA and adult),  sword & sorcery, non-fiction, a re-envisioned fairytale, even a mystery story, so yes, I’ve experimented with various genres. For some reason (no doubt deeply psychological) I take a special satisfaction in writing a story that will creep people out.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

The darkness in my stories is generally the kind of thing that haunts everyone subconscious — childhood terrors,  adult anxieties, the horrors that the future could bring.  As in my poetry,  I leave the visible blood and guts to other writers. 

dark fiction, horror, Canadian writers, Eileen Kernaghan

Dragon Rain and Other Stories is a collection of Eileen’s stories.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you? 

It’s important, and enduring. While dark fantasy and horror will always be popular as  entertainment,  the best of the genre has survived for centuries as part of our literary heritage. I grew up on Tales from the Crypt, Weird Tales, H.P. Lovecraft and, on the more literary side of things, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley.  But it was Shirley Jackson who showed me that the worst horrors lurk just out of sight.

What does dark fantasy allow me to explore? The best answer I know comes from Alberto Manguel, in his forward to Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature: “…it deals with the invisible, the unspoken; it will not shrink from the uncanny, the absurd, the impossible; in short, it has the courage of total freedom.”

4.  Do  you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

When I first read this question, I thought that yes, by now, women must be equally represented in SF/F/H. But I was making comparisons to my early days as a writer, when there were only a handful of women in the field; and to a period somewhere in the eighties when male sword and sorcery  authors were heard to whinge that the editors, the writers and the heroes were all female. However, reading the responses from younger  writers  more aware of the current situation, I’m just going to admit that I have no idea.

Transversion, writing horror, dark fantasy, Eileen Kernaghan

Transversions was a Canadian publication and featured various speculative fiction stories.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are or what we can do to stem the tide?

On a personal level, we can teach our sons and grandsons to respect women, and just as importantly, teach our daughters and granddaughters to respect themselves. (When I watch “Girls,” clever and entertaining as the show is, I wonder how far we’ve come in that regard.)  But in terms of the worldwide rape, murder and abuse of women,  I can only watch with despair.  We can’t speak for the women who suffer those horrors–-we have no concept of what it must be to live their lives.We can only hope that they keep finding the courage to speak and to act for themselves.

Website:  www.eileenkernaghan.ca

Blog:  http://eileen-kernaghan.blogspot.com

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Women in Horror: J.Y.T. Kennedy

horror, dark fiction, Canadian writers, dark fantasy

Danse Macabre, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick, also has one of Kennedy’s stories.

Today’s highlighted Canadian author for Women in Horror Month is J.Y.T. Kennedy who writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, of varying levels of darkness. Her novel, Dominion, might be described as tragic fantasy. Her most recently published story is “Fingernails,” about the Norse goddess Hel,  in the Danse Macabre anthology, a collection of stories featuring death as a character.

J.Y.T. KENNEDY

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I tend not to think of myself as a horror writer, but I am drawn toward the darker, weirder side of the imagination, and this comes out in my writing. I also perform as a storyteller, and find that scary stories are some of the most fun and challenging to tell. I haven’t mastered transferring that skill to print all that well yet: my written stories tend to be more weird than scary. I can frighten people much better in person.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

female writers, Canadian horror, dark fiction, Danse Macabre

J.Y.T. Kennedy

Mortality, despair, choices that go wrong.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I like the old fashioned notion of the connection between terror and the sublime: the idea that we can be uplifted by confronting the darker side of things. There is a feeling in some of the more science-fictional horror, such as that of H.P. Lovecraft, of being face to face with the universe, and with the terrible realities of our place in it. I also have a fondness for monsters, which started early in life. As a child, I was fascinated by the tale of Medusa, and saw nothing contradictory in sympathizing with both her and the hero of the tale. I still don’t tend to think in terms of good guys and bad guys: I enjoy writing characters that have a dark streak, but have little interest in outright villains.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

I see less inequality in the writing scene than in, say, the film industry, but I can’t say I keep track of statistics.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

I write quite a bit of fantasy, and find that it is challenging to write female characters in societies which I feel are believable for the early periods I am aiming at. Having been raised among people who, for the most part, believe in the equality of the sexes, I find it strange to think for what a small period of history this has been the case, and how many women there still are in the world for whom it is not the case. At the same time I think we sometimes underestimate just how strong and resourceful women of traditional cultures can be. It can be empowering to show women succeeding in traditional male roles, but too much of that can actually lead to us not valuing things women do within a more typically female role. I think perhaps the best thing we can do as writers is to try to show women in all their marvelous, and sometimes terrible, variety.

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Women in Horror: Stephanie Bedwell-Grime

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

February is winding down but it’s still Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization. I have been highlight Canadian dark fiction authors and today’s To date I’ve had more than twenty novels and novellas and over fifty shorter works published. I’ve been nominated for the Aurora Award five times and have also been an EPIC eBook Award finalist.

My horror fiction has appeared in the anthologies Northern Frights, Northern Horror, 365 Scary Stories: A Horror Story A Day, TransVersions, Read by Dawn, Sick Things and Blood & Water.

My newest horror story Going Up is due out from Samhain Publishing in April.

STEPHANIE BEDWELL-GRIME

Stephanie Bedwell-Grime

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I’ve been fascinated by the supernatural since I moved to a house beside a graveyard when I was twelve. Looking out the window at the cemetery every night got me thinking about the paranormal and I spent most of a decade searching for a ghost. I never did see one there, but I still remember the unsettling feeling of wondering if there wasn’t something out there in the darkness.

I write in other genres from speculative fiction to paranormal romance. When beginning a new work I look for the best way to tell the story. Often that turns out to be horror. I find that elements of horror leak into my writing in other genres as well.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

Themes of greed, betrayal and the hidden malice in everyday things all seem to work their way into my horror fiction.

Stephanie’s book Going Up will be published by Samhain Publishing this year.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I find that horror provides an immediate visceral feel. It allows me to explore the forbidden and the terrifying.

As for inspirations, I’d have to say Tanith Lee and C.L. Moore for their wonderful dark fantasy.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

I can only say that personally, no one has ever told me I couldn’t write horror because I’m a woman. (I wouldn’t have listened even if they had.)

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

I’m always happy to connect with readers through my website at www.feralmartian.com

women in horror, viscera organization

THE MISSION

Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.

THE VISION

A world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression.

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Women in Horror: Barbie Wilde

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera organization and today’s Canadian woman of  horror is Barbie Wilde who has also been a female cenobite. And if you know Clive Barker’s work, you know what that means. Some of her recent fiction credits include “Sister Cilice,” Hellbound Hearts anthology (edited by Paul Kane & Marie O’Regan, Pocket Books), “U for Uranophobia,” Phobophobia (ed. Dean M. Drinkel, Dark Continents Publishing), “American Mutant: Hands of Dominion,” Mutation Nation (ed. Kelly Dunn, Rainstorm Press), “Polyp,” The Mammoth Book of Body Horror (ed. Paul Kane & Marie O’Regan, Constable Robinson). New works to come out this year are: “A is for Alpdrücke,” Demonologia Biblica (ed. Dean M. Drinkel, Western Legends Publishing), “Beauty and the Skell,” The Screaming Book of Crime (ed. Johnny Mains, Screaming Dreams), “The Cilicium Pandoric” for The Followers of the Pandorics.

Canadian authors, dark crime, horror, women writers

The Venus Complex is Barbie’s debut dark crime novel.

Her debut dark crime novel, The Venus Complex, published by Comet Press, November 2012 received some great reviews: Ginger Nuts of Horror – Books of the Year 2012: “This brilliant look into the mind of a serial killer is full of poetic anger and beautiful vitriolic ranting that it makes you wonder from which pit of hell the lovely Barbie came from.  In a genre saturated with bland serial killers, and even blander plots, this book shines out like a beacon.” HorrorTalk – Top Books of 2012: “A novel by a female Cenobite that gives the world a smart, artistic, cynical, cultured serial killer who could give Hannibal Lecter a run for his money. On top of that, this is a poignant, funny, sexually-charged, hardcore critique of popular culture and a deconstruction of relationships, academia, and art.”

BARBIE WILDE

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I suppose that the dark side has always interested me, even as a child. Instead of the “girlie” books my mother encouraged me to read, I devoured the SciFi and Fantasy tales that my brother and father were reading. My father introduced me to Sherlock Holmes at an early age and I was fascinated by the character of Moriarty – the bloated spider crouching at the center of Victorian London’s crime world. Early viewings of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Film Noir also influenced me.

Even my early female TV role models were a bit dangerous: Morticia, Mrs. Peel from The Avengers and detective Honey West. I loved the freedom that these characters enjoyed. Maybe that’s why I chose the unconventional life of an actress before I became a writer–eventually moving to London, England and ending up in such movies as Hellraiser II and Death Wish III.

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Barbie Wilde

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

As a writer, I’ve always been intrigued by transgressive themes, including the sexual mindscape of art history professor Michael Friday, who decides to become a serial killer in The Venus Complex. I loved getting into my lead character’s mind, as uncomfortable as it was, and delving into psychological horror, art and eroticism. And writing in the first person from a male perspective was very “interesting,” to say the least!

In my short story, “Uranophobia,” I used the themes of child abuse and the phobias of a shut-in to tell the story. In another short story, “Sister Cilice,” I explored the sexual frustration and isolation of a nun. However, in “Polyp” I just wrote about a giant colonic polyp terrorizing a hospital. Now that was fun to write!

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I think that it’s a very important genre that’s extremely popular with the general public. Horror is part and parcel of the human experience. And although I write horror, I don’t consider myself a horror writer. I’m a writer, pure and simple. (After all, one person’s horror is another person’s crime novel, or literary fiction novel, etc.)

As mentioned above, I’ve always been fascinated by the shadows in life rather than the sunlight. Certainly as an actress, it’s always much more fun to play the baddies than the goody-two-shoes. (And didn’t we all love Arnie a little bit more when he was the Bad Terminator? And what about that special affection that Darth Vader holds for millions of people?) So writing about so-called “evil” characters is far more interesting to me. (By the way, I hate using the word “evil.” Humans are humans. There are no supernatural forces making us bad, in my opinion – just the extraordinary scope, length and breadth of humanity.)

Inspiration: What truly inspires me is human behavior — good, bad, indifferent — we are such interesting creatures!

Clive Barker, horror, dark fiction, fantasy,

Barbie as a female Cenobite.

Inspiring artists: I love Clive Barker’s work – his writing is so muscular, sexy, funny and imaginative. I admire true crime writer Colin Wilson. I think that Red Dragon and American Psycho are two of the best books about serial killers I’ve read. (However, the original Psycho is still my favorite serial killer movie.)  I love Rod Serling for his genius. I love stories and books by Paul Kane, Shirley Jackson, Margaret Atwood and Sarah Pinborough. I admire the Soska Sisters for their audacious films. And last but not least, I love Quentin Tarantino for being a “silver-penned devil,” as actor Christoph Waltz recently called him at the BAFTA Awards 2012.

4.  Do you feel women are under represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

It appears that there are plenty of women writing in the genre, which seems to be a pretty healthy sign to me.

Something like 3.5 million books were released last year – not including Kindle versions – which is a pretty devastating statistic whether you’re a male or a female writer! However, it is a man’s world and some of us will always be fighting to get our voices heard.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are and what we can do to stem the tide?

The Venus Complex, dark crime, women in horror, Canadian authors

The Venus Complex by Barbie Wilde

As mentioned above, it’s a man’s world – even now, after all the battles to get our right to vote, own property, etc. And although your examples of Third World cruelty towards women are valid, there are a lot of things to continue to fight for in the Western World: one only has to cast one’s mind back to the recent American election–when some right-wing politicians were saying some outrageous things about rape–to be reminded of the primitive mindset of a lot of people throughout the world.

It’s a difficult job to try and change the way men’s (and some women’s) minds work, but only legislation and more importantly education can turn the tide. Of course, religion (one of the biggest culprits in the propagation of women as second class citizens) is another obstacle. I remember seeing the head of the American Catholic Lay Association on CNN some years ago. He said that the reason women couldn’t become priests was that it was Eve’s fault that we all got thrown out the Garden of Eden. Gobsmacking.

However, trying to wean people off the “addictions” of religion, superstition and tradition will not be easy. I can only hope that at some point, people will just want to live in peace with each other, no matter what sex, or religion, or political party, or sexual orientation they belong to. (Unfortunately, the ideology of Star Trek: The Next Generation is still centuries in the future!)

For more info, reviews and interviews, please go to: www.barbiewilde.com

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Women in Horror: Nina Munteanu

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Today’s Canadian woman in horror is Nina Munteanu, who likes to splice a bit of darkness into the cells of her science fiction. Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera Organization.

My writing comprises a wide range of genre and type. For instance, I write humorous children’s books, hard SF, time travel fantasy, space adventure and erotica, in addition to dark SF. Examples of my works of dark SF include:

  • “Virtually Yours” (published in Hadrosaur Tales, 2002; Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine, 2004; Nowa Fantastyka (Poland), 2006; Bli-Panika (Israel), 2006—short story nominated for Speculative Literature Foundation Fountain Award
  • “A Butterfly in Peking” (published in Chiaroscuro, 2003; Nowa Fantastyka, 2005; Dramaturges of Yann (Greece), 2004
  • “The Cypol” (eXtasy Books, 2006)—novella nominated for ECATA Reviewers Choice Award
  • “Five Minutes” (published in Justus Roux’s Erotic Tales, 2004)
  • “Neither Here Nor There” (published in Another Realm, 2005)
  • “Framed and Julia’s Gift will be published in Natural Selection, my collection of short stories by Starfire World Syndicate in spring of 2013.
  • The Splintered Universe Trilogy (novel published by Starfire World Syndicate, 2011, 2012, 2013).
women in horror, dark SF, science fiction, women's equality

Ecologist and writer Nina Munteanu

NINA MUNTEANU

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

While my work spans a vast literary landscape from comedy & adventure to thrilling suspense, most of my adult fiction contains elements of brooding darkness. I feel that the darkness adds a compelling element of tension, reality and thrilling victory in the story arc. Without such chiaroscuro to add depth to a story, art is “flat”; it lacks contour, meaning and direction.

2What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

I write primarily science fiction; themes like achieving forgiveness, love & compassion, overcoming fear, taking control of one’s fate & fulfilling one’s destiny, etc. are often played out through the encounter of—and often clash with—“the other.” The “other” may be aliens, some new technology, a fantastical unknown entity, or a place with strange powers. In the end, the POV characters must overcome their own darkness, reflected in “the other” to ultimately prevail.

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The Splintered Universe by Nina Munteanu

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

Definitely. Oscar Wilde once said: “Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.” Susan Sontag said, “Real art makes us nervous.” Art can be beautiful; great art will have a layer to it that disturbs, knocks you off balance and takes you out of equilibrium; this is usually through darkness. This can be achieved through beauty too; in fact it may be most impactful through beauty. For me, that is what good art does: it examines our world and presents us with new perspectives to ponder, and evolve from. Without darkness to contrast it, light cannot be recognized for its virtues, nor can it even be properly seen; darkness is the platform from which light emerges in all its glory. I’m not just talking about good and evil. Metaphorically, darkness represents anything within us that is repressed, that we’re ashamed of or uncomfortable with. It is the unknown (the stuff of science fiction… 🙂 ). My main sources of inspiration came from the classics (Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky) and the metaphoric writings of Ray Bradbury.

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The Splintered Universe combines elements of SF with darkness.

4.  Do you feel women are under represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

If you asked me this question five years ago, I might have contended that we were under-represented, particularly in some aspects of SF. I think that is changing and quite rapidly now. This is most prevalent in Canada. So many excellent women authors are emerging who are contributing fine writing in speculative fiction. I think in the hard SF area, we are still terribly outnumbered. But that is also changing. And that’s a very good thing. Women writers, particularly in the speculative genre, offer a very different perspective on story and idea and vision of our world and our future. It is an important perspective that we really need right now.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

summoner, women in horror, dark fiction, Nina Munteanu

The Last Summoner is a new novel by Nina, published by Starfire World Syndicate. Watch the trailer here:      http://youtu.be/jvbe91qbWG0

All this hubbub and mayhem is actually a good sign; it means that women are finally waking up—all over the world—and reporting these atrocities (all this violence and abuse has been going on for a very long time—in silence). Women are saying to the world, “that’s enough; no more. We aren’t dumb, frail, hysterical, lesser beings.” Women are pushing out from the domination of an androcentric society and patriarchal rule. We are reaching out to our sisters around the world; we are teaching the world with our compassionate intelligence, our Gaia-wisdom, and our universal altruism. The Dalai Lama said, “the western woman will save the world”; I strongly believe that one of the ways we will achieve this is through “story” and “storytelling.” It is up to women to tell a new story. One that openly examines the horrors enacted in the world—often by righteous patriarchs—and points to a new zeitgeist of equality, respect, compassion and cooperation. A story of victory. Victory for all of humanity and the planet.

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

Being a Romanian and an ecologist, I celebrate my position as writer on the fringe of SF and horror: dark SF. There is a term for this in ecology, for riding the edge between two worlds or genres in this case. It’s called an ecotone, that zone or region where through the interaction of two ecosystems (or the collision of two worlds) generates vibrant life. Ecotones are recognized as the richest and most diverse places for life (e.g., estuaries between rivers and the ocean; marshes and forest edges are other examples). Benefiting from what the two single ecosystems offer, ecotones team with a thriving community that takes from the rich interaction of both ecosystems. This is what dark SF does in my opinion. It infuses elements of darkness into an otherwise idea-rich, often mechanized and somewhat unemotional platform of science fiction. Just as in the chiaroscuro of light on an object, darkness in fiction adds surprising and compelling depth and perspective to an otherwise dispassionate technological and scientific “what if” scenario in SF.  Thanks so much for this opportunity, Colleen.

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Women in Horror: A.F. Stewart

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A.F. Stewart

Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera Organization and you can find them on Facebook and their website. Their Mission and Vision are at the end. Today’s Canadian woman of horror is A.F. Stewart, an indie author with several published story collections and novellas, such as Killers and Demons, Ruined City, Chronicles of the Undead, Once Upon a Dark and Eerie… and Gothic Cavalcade. She loves her villains and sometimes keep a tally of the body counts in her books on herTwitter account. Reviews, interviews and news can be found at the blog: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.ca/

A. F. STEWART

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

I rather fell into writing horror fiction gradually. I started out to write standard fantasy fiction, and only occasionally drifted over into the dark side. However, I soon noticed my characters had a tendency to die, often in gruesome ways and after I wrote my first serial killer story there was no going back; horror has even spilled over into my poetry.

I enjoy the horror/dark fantasy genre because of the psychological aspects you can play with and I don’t dabble too much with the gore factor, although there have been one or two occasions where I used graphic violence for effect.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

Gothic Cavalcade by A.F. Stewart

Gothic Cavalcade by A.F. Stewart

My favorite theme is consequences, of the nasty variety.  In my book, Ruined City, the entire storyline spins off one terrible act of revenge and Chronicles of the Undead explores the lengths people will go to achieve something they desire and the effect that has on others. My paranormal book, Gothic Cavalcade, deals with abuse as part of the plot, and the stories in Killers and Demons are about murderers and their victims.  I like to examine the aftermath and fallout that comes from bad choices or extreme circumstances.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I do believe horror/dark fiction is an important genre because it can allow a deeper exploration of the controversial topics of human behavior. There are certain expectations when someone reads a horror story, which in an odd way allows more leeway to delve into the wicked side of human (or in some cases inhuman) nature.

As for inspirations, I don’t read horror novels as a rule (I’m too much of a chicken), so about the only muse in horror I have is Edgar Allen Poe. Most of my writing influences come from dark fantasy/sci-fi writers like Ray Bradbury or Neil Gaiman.

Killers and Demons

Killers and Demons

4.  Do you feel women are under represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

I would say that there are probably more men than women writing speculative fiction, but you could most likely say that about quite a few genres. I’ve met several talented female horror writers (as well as fantasy and sci-fi) in the indie world and they can hold their own with any writer, male or female. And while the emphasis does still seem to be on the paranormal genres for women, there are female speculative writers willing and able to branch out.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

A.F. Stewart likes to explore the dark side and keeps body counts.

A.F. Stewart likes to explore the dark side and keeps body counts.

Women have progressed in many ways, but there is quite a bit in societal attitudes that have to change before abuse and exploitation of women will cease to exist. While some of what needs to change is beyond our control, I believe that women can focus on self-respect and self-esteem, and less on characterizing themselves through their role in life. They should define themselves by who they are first and what they are (be that mother, wife, daughter, professional, etc.) second. It is too easy to label yourself and then try to identify and live up to some perfect ideal of that label. You have to be true to yourself and believe in yourself before you can be anything else.

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

I love writing horror and dark fantasy and nothing pleases me more than to delightfully disturb my readers.

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THE MISSION

Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.

THE VISION

A world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression.

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Women in Horror: Arinn Dembo

It’s Women in Horror Month and I’m continuing to highlight Canadian women who write dark fiction of one sort or another. Today’s author is Arinn Dembo who has contributed background fiction and narrative design for 12 computer games for the PC, including a horror RPG, Fort Zombie. Her fiction has been published in F & SF, H.P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and various anthologies. The short story “Monsoon” won the Best Fantastic Erotica contest sponsored by Circlet Press in 2006.

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Arinn’s military science fiction novel, The Deacon’s Tale, and a collection, Monsoon and Other Stories are currently in print with Kthonia Press. She has an upcoming RPG called Sword of the Stars: The Pit, and she is working as editor on three illustrated editions of classic horror tales, two by H.P. Lovecraft and one by Clark Ashton Smith. You can check out her day job here: http://www.kerberos-productions.com/

ARINN DEMBO

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

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Sword of the Stars RPG forthcoming from Arinn Dembo

I am officially described as a “multi-genre” author, but almost everything I write has a touch of horror. I cannot say why, except that people tend to write what they know. I am not an unhappy person, but I have seen a lot of pain, blood and bones in my lifetime.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

horror, vampires, dark fiction

Arinn Dembo explores cannabalism.

Cannibalism is a pretty common theme in my work. I also write a lot of stories about how love not only goes wrong, but horribly wrong. And in most of my stories, anything with power that approaches the Divine is usually pretty sadistic, its desire for worship wholly selfish and narcissistic. I’m with Pablo Neruda on this one: “All gods are our enemies.”

3. Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

Fear is one of the primal human passions. Pain is one of the central human experiences. The Universe is not necessarily a friendly place. These are the fundamental truths that horror puts on the table; it’s definitely an important genre.

As to who inspired me—the usual male authors (King, Lovecraft, Bloch, Matheson, Poe), but I was also inspired by the fact that the genre originated with a woman (Mary Wollstonecraft-Shelley), that its most popular 19th century practitioners were women (the Gothic writers were often female), and that some of the strongest and most original horror authors of the 20th century were female. Shirley Jackson, Alice Sheldon, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Anne Rice taught me that you could aspire to the highest literary art and still write horror.

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Deacon’s Tale by Arinn Dembo, through Kthnoia Press.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance).

Women do write and read a great deal of horror, but they are deliberately marginalized when it comes to professional recognition and awards that the genre can offer. When Rice and Laurell Hamilton hammered out a new sub-genre of horror in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it was deliberately re-branded “fantasy” and then “paranormal romance” so that their enormously popular books wouldn’t drown out the “real horror” that male authors write, and male readers prefer.

I’ve read these books, and they are full of blood, depravity, witchcraft, torture and murder. The fact that the protagonists have lusty sex lives or romantic relationships would not be a problem if the protagonists and the authors involved were male. And it’s certainly not that the genre as a whole cannot cope with innovation or change—so long as men are driving it. Look what happened when David Schow, R.C. Matheson and a movement of primarily male authors came up with another new sub-genre of horror during the same period.

“Splatterpunk” is classified as “real horror” today and has been incorporated seamlessly into therest of the genre, because…penis. End of story.

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Fort Zombie, the role-playing game

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

The violence is happening because we ARE stemming the tide. The world is changing, and The Man is fighting a desperate, last ditch battle to defend His traditional privileges. The beatings, the acid attacks, the rapes and murders, are all a frantic attempt to scare us back into our cages.

This time, don’t go back. Be willing to die rather than live as a slave. No human being has ever been free or ever will be free without that courage.

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Moonsoon and Other Stories, by Arinn Dembo

Patriarchy always has been and always will be a protection racket. It is based on the same fundamental principle that drives the economy of terror between the Mafia and the shopkeepers in a ghetto. The Man tells you a horror story about what will happen if you don’t pay up. “It would be a shame if you were to get raped or killed, if I was ever to stop…protecting you.”

Don’t fall for it. Live free or die.

6. Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

Keep writing, keep reading, and for God’s sake, support each other! Buy books by women, read books by women, demand that female authors be recognized and given their fair share of awards. Men didn’t get to be in charge by stabbing each other in the back or clawing each other’s eyes out, fighting on the floor for a pitiful handful of scraps.

Demand your seat at the table. Horror belongs to women as much as anyone.

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Women in Horror: Sandra Kasturi

dark fiction, horror, women writers, Canadian authors, horror

Has Elvis entered the building or just possessed Sandra Kasturi? Photo by Weston Ochse

Today’s Canadian woman in horror is Sandra Kasturi. Besides being an award-winning poet, and a fiction writer, Sandra and her husband Brett Savory are co-owners and publishers of Chizine Publications. Not only do they publish dark fiction but they hold a reading series and sponsor the Rannu Fund competition. Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera Organization.

SANDRA KASTURI

Author of two poetry collections: The Animal Bridegroom (with an intro by Neil Gaiman), and Come Late to the Love of Birds (http://tightropebooks.com/come-late-to-the-love-of-birds-sandra-kasturi/).
I’ve been published in a number of venues, including: Contemporary Verse 2, Taddle Creek, On Spec, TransVersions, Chilling Tales, The Rhinoceros and His Thoughts (titled after my poem), A Verdant Green, Northern Frights 4, Star*Line, Abyss & Apex, Strange Horizons, Body Parts & Coal Dust, Evolve, Evolve 2, Shadows & Tall Trees, and several of the Tesseracts anthologies.
I’ve received the Whittaker Prize, the Lydia Langstaff Memorial Award, the Aurora Award (Best Fan Organizational), the Bram Stoker Award (for editing), and Arc Poetry Magazine’s Poem of the Year (first prize), and have been shortlisted for: the Rhysling Award, Arc’s International Poem of the Year, THIS Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt, and the Troubadour International Poetry Prize.

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

Because I read fairy tales and mythology in their original versions at way too early an age. I didn’t get the cleaned-up Disney versions til much later. Plus, my parents didn’t always think about whether or not some movies were appropriate for children…I saw a lot of Hitchcock and other sinister films before I was ten, for which I’m grateful! I do write in other landscapes, but I think my work always has a darker edge. Books about cheery shopaholics really don’t interest me the least bit.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Love, marriage, unhappy endings, the dark side of fairy tales, the absurdities of mythology, the humour in anthropomorphizing animals.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I think it’s the first genre that existed. When we first started telling stories (as a species), we talked about gods and monsters–those are horror stories. Horror allows us to explore the breaking of boundaries. It’s also domestic: it hits us where we live.

4. Do you feel women are under represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

Of course they are. The genres (SF, fantasy, horror) still trend toward white men, at least in the English-speaking/reading world. Is it just that more white men are drawn to these arenas? Who knows. But there are certainly terrific women out there that are helping redress the balance. One hopes that attention is being paid to them.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

How about we teach boys not to rape anybody? Teach them at a young age. Boys are still raised with a sense of entitlement–that they will grow up to own everything, that they are special. I’m not sure hammering it into any kid’s head that he (or she) is the most special little snowflake that ever lived is a great idea. Growing up thinking that the world is there for the taking is kind of a rape mentality. So, how to raise boys (and girls, for that matter) so they grow up confident by don’t turn into rapey douchebags? Wish I had a real, workable answer to that. Maybe we should start with a question: Why do so many men still hate and fear women so much?

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

Buy my wee bookie-wook! It’s poetry that doesn’t suck.

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Women in Horror: Catherine MacLeod

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera Organization. This group tries to highlight women in film and other arts related to horror to give equal representation. Their vision and mission statements are at the end of this article. Now, here is another Canadian woman who writes about the dark side of life: Catherine MacLeod.

CATHERINE MACLEOD

My story “The Salamander’s Waltz” will be out in Chilling Tales 2 from Edge Publishing this fall. I’ve had a productive winter, working on several new stories, and finding lots of odd hours to write. I find that, generally, a nor’easter will give you all the time you need.

1. Why do you write dark fiction/ horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape? 

I write horror because it’s what I like to read. I’m not good at watching it, though. Season of  The Walking Dead? Thank God for the pause button.

2. What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

Children in peril. I can’t think of anything more horrifying. Loneliness. Betrayal.

3. Do you feel horror/ dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

Horror is the genre I understand best. (I tell people I’m a professional coward.) I’ll probably never solve a murder or catch a spy, and happily-ever-after isn’t even in my lexicon, but I’ve got fear down pat.

horror, dark fiction, women in fiction,

Chilling Tales 2 is out this fall, with a story by Catherine.

My biggest inspirations were Ray Bradbury and Rod Serling, who taught me that darkness can be beautiful, and Stephen King, who taught me that it lives next door. King’s novel, Salem’s Lot, was a revelation. Up until then I’d been reading M.R. James, Saki, William Hope Hodgson. All great writers, but they wrote about people I couldn’t quite imagine, doing things I didn’t quite understand, in places I’d never seen. There was always some distance between me and the story. There was none between me and Salem’s Lot. I live in that little town; I know those people. Salem’s Lot got right in my face. In a manner of speaking, it brought horror home to me.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (Or examples of how there is a balance.)

Honestly, I don’t think about it much.

5. Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are and what we can do to stem the tide? 

Last year a man told me, “Stories like yours just bring more evil into the world.” He explained that by encouraging people to believe in evil I was making it stronger. Then he started talking about the Stephen King story he was reading. Apparently he didn’t see anything wrong with a man having that kind of power.

(For the record, I think the evil is already here, and that it gets stronger when we look away. I don’t think my stories make much difference either way.)

6. Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

Usually I just work in a quiet corner, hoping to write something good enough to get read. It gets lonely sometimes. I appreciate the light that Women in Horror Month shines into my corner.

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THE MISSION

Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.

THE VISION

A world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression.

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www.facebook.com/WomenInHorrorMonth

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