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.
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?
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.