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