I’m still featuring Canadian women as they pop up. Today I have Sandy Hunter.
In common with many, I’ve always written…however, I’m a late-bloomer as far as submitting for publication goes. I’ve had a short story published in On Spec and various poetry in Gaslight, Stygian Vortex, Women & Recovery and Lynx. My most definable as “horror” short story, “And the Coyotes Sang”, is in the Spinetinglers 2011 anthology currently available at Amazon.com/.uk. My first novel Elanraigh: The Vow, an epic fantasy, was released by Eternal Press in February, 2012. Currently, I’m working on a sequel to Elanraigh: The Vow and looking for a home for my latest short story “River Wraith,” a fantasy thriller with ecological overtones.
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?
Anything I write has a speculative element in it. Be it epic fantasy, magic realism or paranormal—I love to stretch boundaries that way—does that makes my darker pieces more “dark fantasy” than horror? That precise boundary is always blurred… My stories tend toward female protagonists struggling against the constraints or conditions around them, who become empowered by either the revelation of an alternate side of their psyche or an actual channeling of some potent force/ entity. The victims in these stories are usually characters that I, and I expect my readers also, will little mourn. There’s something cathartic about doing them in…who hasn’t imagined themselves strangling that obnoxious petty bureaucrat, or arrogant and insufferable boss?
2. What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?
I’ve toyed with the theme of possession more than once. The antagonist in my novel is a
mage who uses mind control for his own ends; my protagonist has some defenses against
this and is horrified that one would so abuse their power, their gift. She sees the evil that
can be done. The thought of being compelled/driven against one’s will (or possessed by
evil) horrifies me. There are types of imprisonment beyond physical confinement. Perhaps
that’s why I find circuses disturbing too…bears in tutus, etc.—the distortion of a creature’s
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?
Stories that take us to scary places, be it physically or psychically, have been with us since the times of myths and legends. Through the ages it’s human nature to desire to shuffle forward and spit into the abyss, never knowing what we’ll arouse…all the better, though, if we can live the experience vicariously from our favorite reading chair.
In my early days I enjoyed Ray Bradbury (especially Something Wicked This Way Comes), Edgar Allan Poe, and Ann Rice’s lush prose, especially her novels The Vampire Lestat and The Mummy.
3. 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?
A lot of us may remember how sf/fantasy of the 50’S, 60’s and 70’s was predominately male-centered. Even as a kid watching those terrible 50’s nuclear-mutant monster movies on TV, I’d get so annoyed at the scientist’s female assistant who when they’re fleeing the monster, would always trip and fall screaming shrilly and helplessly while he’s trying to haul her out of danger’s path. Why don’t the girls’ ever know what to do? I’d wonder. Of course today, we have a huge roster of established female writers of both sf and fantasy and we have kick-ass heroines like Ellen Ripley (Alien film series).
4. 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, father, 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?
It’s a sad commentary on society today and throughout history that women are controlled and suppressed by male members of their family unit. In medieval times we had the witch trials and the Malleus Maleficarum (the Hammer of Witches) sanctioned by church authorities. As long as men fear female “power,” as they perceive it (and on some deep level many do still equate it with evil) women will continue to suffer violence. I’m no sociologist, and I don’t know the global cure—certainly equal education for men and women, and efforts by society to move beyond despotic regimes whether in the state or the household.
Thanks again, Colleen, for the opportunity to ponder out-loud your great questions. I enjoyed reading these blogs and spending time with “Canadian Women of Horror.”