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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.