Tag Archives: dark fantasy

Women in Horror: Deborah Davitt

WiHM11-GrrrlWhiteWhen did you discover poetry and who influenced you?

Back in high school, I had a great teacher in my senior year who firmly taught us all that there was a clear and distinct difference between good writing and bad, and that poetry could easily be discerned as “good” or “bad” by applying tools to it–tools like looking for double-meanings and ambivalence and metaphor and so on. I took that first set of tools with me through college and grad school, where I focused on medieval and Renaissance literature, from Beowulf and Chaucer through Spenser and Shakespeare.

. . . and then I started writing poetry, and selling poetry, and I’m no longer convinced that there’s “good” poetry and “bad;” I think there’s “what’s to someone’s taste, and being lucky enough to find an audience for your voice” and that the world is a wonderfully more weird and complicated place than is dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.

Why do you write poetry?

Why do I write poetry? That’s a good question. And the answer is manifold. Sometimes, I have an image or a word I can’t shake, and it doesn’t quite have a full story or a novel behind it, so I write the poem to get it out. Sometimes I write a poem because I’m angry or upset, and want to get *that* out. Sometimes I write poems as technical exercises, to prove, “yes, I can actually do a paradelle and have it make sense.”

Sometimes a poem written to a self-imposed prompt won’t leave me, and I wind up writing a longer story out of it. Or, as with last November, I wind up with a collection of poems that tell a narrative, and I find myself as compelled to finish that story as I ever have been with a piece of prose.

But in the end, I also write everything I write, poetry or prose, to communicate a thought or idea. I very rarely go for abstruse in my writing. I was a technical writer for just about twenty years, so my goal in everything I write is clarity and precision.

Hitogata

The world needs scapegoats and sin-eaters;
through which we might cast
our culpability into a doll,
a piece of bread, a slice of godly flesh,

washing them away in running water,
through which no evil spirit can pass,
or watch our sins slide,
sleekly buttered like a crumpet
past someone’s kindly lips,

erased and absolved,
taken on someone else’s shoulders—
oh, if only if guilt could be absolved
instead of perpetuated endlessly
in an endless cacophony online.

I swallowed my opinions,
buried them deep in my own gullet
where no one could hear my
confession and condemn me—
made my own flesh
my hitogata,

until I opened my eyes one night
to find myself surrounded
by a swarm of paper dolls
all wearing my face,
shuffling shiff-shiff, each to each,
as each flattened body slithered
under the door
to seek new homes.

I should have drowned them first.

## First published, Gyroscope Review, Issue 18-3, Summer 2018. Click here to hear Deborah’s reading of it on Gyroscope’s site!

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry? Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why? {note: Deborah sort of answered these together so I have put the questions together as well}

While I was assembling The Gates of Never out of previously-published works, alongside pieces I hadn’t yet had published, I tried to organize them by theme; I think the two weaknesses of many chapbooks and collections are different faces of the same coin–either authors go very one-note, without any contrast of theme or tone, or they’re very scattershot, with wildly different pieces next to each other without any build or theme.

So I approached my first collection as, essentially, sheaves or folios of my work, organized by theme, stapled together. And thus I started with my more mythological and folkloric work, the historical faces of evil, or at least of indifference, the monsters out of the past. Then I moved through the fairy tale retellings, and then into the futuristic and scientific stuff–much of which connects back to the mythic as well.

Some reviewers have asked me, “Why all the monsters?” and the answer is, we learn who we are as humans, by looking at our darkest impulses. All of our monsters are always ourselves, at least in part. Some reviewers have talked to me about the passion in  the poems–it’s there, sure. The desire to drown in another, and find yourself become someone new, when you’re a we, and no longer an I. . . and then the tension between the we and the I. . . all part of Eriksen’s crises, really, and I play in the Generativity column of his crises a great deal. And there’s also the thought that the past and the future are really all a part of the same thing.

Or you can read the poems and decide what they mean to you. I can’t control that. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes reading and writing so much fun!

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

I can’t speak for others, but what attracts me to dark speculative poetry is really how it can illuminate our current mental and social condition, through metaphor, through fractured mythology. All poetry does that, to a certain extent, but dark poetry takes a look at the monsters of our id and ego, drags them out into the light, and lets us see them–and ourselves–for who we really are. And might encourage us to aspire to be more.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I have two collections of poems and a chapbook all out making the publisher’s rounds, and looking at my Submission Grinder entries, I have a total of 115 things sitting in various slushpiles at the moment. That’s about average for me, and it includes short stories, flash, poems, collections, and more. There are a couple of larger projects I owe myself work on, but I’ve gotten derailed from for some time–so I’ll be looking to redress that in about April.

Testament

The burin’s edge slants across my flesh,
slicing through the skin
like copper plates, intaglio;
chiseling runes in the ink of my blood,
staining his fingers black.

The lines entangle, enjamb,
weaving ascenders and descenders
in tender embraces,
each word opening me further,
binding me, defining me.

He writes me upside down
and backwards, so that
I hardly know myself yet,
but my hundred newly-open mouths
whisper secret meanings,
and offer atramentum kisses;

he soothes my wounds with
copper vitriol, making the words
holy and incorruptible,
incapable of fading into sepia;

yet as he kisses me, our tongues meeting,
the words spark white-fire
under my skin, the runes writhing
into new configurations,
just as true as the ones he placed there;

I wrap myself around him,
the words press against him,
brand him, surge into his soul;
I pour into him as he pours into me;
I whisper his name against his ear
and bind him as he bound me,
press him as a leaf among my leaves.

## First published in  Panoply, #7, Summer 2017; also appears in The Gates of Never

Is there anything else you’d like to say about writing horror or poetry?

I never thought I’d write poetry; it took my friend Michelle Muenzler mentioning that there was such a thing as speculative poetry, and that you could get paid for writing it, at my first convention back in 2015, to open me to the possibility. I never thought of myself as a “horror” writer; while I cheerfully employ dark elements to threaten and terrify my protagonists in novels and short stories, I’d never have thought of myself as at all akin to the horror writers I’ve read and enjoyed–I’d have considered myself closer to “dark fantasy” authors like Tim Powers, whose work I greatly enjoy. But here we are, which is to say that you’re never your own best judge of anything, so . . . go out and do stuff, and let other people worry about categorization!

Deborah L. Davitt was raised in Nevada, but currently lives in Houston, Texas with her ddavitt p17 - Copyhusband and son.  Her poetry has received Rhysling, Dwarf Star, and Pushcart nominations and has been published at over fifty venues; her short fiction has appeared in Galaxy’s EdgeCompelling Science Fiction, and Pseudopod. For more about her work, please see www.edda-earth.com/bibliography. You can obtain her poetry collection, The Gates of Never, at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/the-gates-of-never-by-deborah-l-davitt/ and may contact her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deborah.davitt.3 or on Twitter, @davittDL.

 

 

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Women in Horror: Jeannine Hall Gailey

WiHM11-GrrrlWhite

It’s Women in Horror Month, where we show the world that women have talent to dig into the deep pits of memory and experience and pull out the viscera. Last year I featured women who wrote dark fiction. This year, I have chosen to feature women who write dark poetry.

If you’re interested in exploring other ways that Women in Horror Month is celebrated, you can check out the site that lists many women in the arts and the projects going on. Just click the link above and check it out. You might find you already like more horror than you thought.

To start, for Feb. 1, I have Jeannine Hall Gailey, tears of the Disney layer on fairy tales. You’ll find information about her writing here, plus several poems to read.

From Field Guide to the End of the World

Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales

The body is a place of violence. Wolf teeth, amputated hands.
Cover yourself with a cloak of leaves, a coat of a thousand furs,
a paper dress. The dark forest has a code. The witch
sometimes dispenses advice, sometimes eats you for dinner,
sometimes turns your brother to stone.

You will become a canary in a castle, but you’ll learn plenty
of songs. Little girl, watch out for old women and young men.
If you don’t stay in your tower you’re bound for trouble.
This too is code. Your body is the tower you long to escape,

and all the rotted fruit your babies. The bones in the forest
your memories. The little birds bring you berries.
The pebbles on the trail glow ghostly white.

##

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I started writing when I was about ten years old. I liked e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay. In college I discovered Sylvia Plath, Rita Dove, Dorianne Laux, Louise Gluck, and Denise Duhamel. I found my true home when I found out speculative poetry was a thing –thanks to editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, who included my work in their early anthology, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (and I will always be grateful!)

Why do you write poetry?

I’ve always liked shorter forms–I’ve tried plays and fiction, I worked as a tech writer, copy editor and journalist, but I’ve always come back to poetry as my one true form.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

The challenge is finding an audience. I’ve never had trouble writing–I tend to write more under stress, not less–but finding an audience for that work, that’s a little harder.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

Gailey villainess

Yes, my interests have always included mythology and women’s transformations – fairy tales, pop culture, video games – all have been inspiration. My first book is all about the journey from princess/victim to villainess (hence the title, Becoming the Villainess.) My latest book was all about the apocalypse, about a fiction female survivor of an apocalypse who is constantly posting postcards to people that don’t exist anymore. That’s what Field Guide to the End of the World was about.

From Becoming the Villainess:

Wonder Woman Dreams of the Amazon

I miss the tropes of Paradise – green vines
roped around wrists, jasmine coronets,
a thousand rainbow birds and their incessant chatter,
the improbably misty clothing of my tribe.

I dream of the land where they celebrated
my birth, named me after their patron Goddess;
they said I would be a warrior for their kind,
blessed me with gifts before my eyes lost the cloudiness of birth.

I still dream of my mother,
Hippolyta, shining golden legs,
the strength of her arms –
before her betrayal and death.

In my dreams she wraps me tightly
again in the American flag, warning me,
cling to your bracelets, your magic lasso,
don’t be a fool for men.

She’s always lecturing me, telling me
not to leave her. Sometimes she changes into a doe,
and I see my father shooting her, her blood.
Sometimes in these dreams, it is me who shoots her.

My daily transformation from prim kitten-bowed suit
to bustier with red-white-and-blue stars
splayed across my bosom is less complicated.
The invisible jet makes for clean escapes,

The animals are my spies and allies; sometimes,
inexplicably, snow-feathered doves appear in my hands.
I capture Nazis and Martians with boomerang grace.

When I turn and turn, the music plays louder,
the glow around me burns white-hot,
I become everything I was born to be,
the dreams of the mother, the threat of the father.

##

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

I think that definitely the mood of our current age is one of apocalypse–there’s a reason there are so many disaster movies and superhero movies. We look to the mythological and the epic to try to make our own stories make more sense.

Gailey Field Guide final cover

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I have two book manuscripts in circulation to publishers and I have a speculative poem coming up in the latest issue of Ploughshares called “Irradiate” and an upcoming poem in Poetry called “Calamity.”

Is there anything else you would like to say about horror and speculative poetry and fiction?

I am really glad the horror and speculative communities exist and I’ve made friends within the SFPA (The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association) and the HWA (Horror Writers Association) that are really important to me. Often, we can be treated as “outsiders” in the literary world, but we aren’t really outsiders–I guarantee there are more poetry fans of speculative and horror work than people think.

Gailey

Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. She’s also the author of PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing. Her work appeared or will appear in journals such as American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter and Instagram: @webbish6.

They Are Not Regenerating

We are not zombies, thrown into a pool
of dubious origin and coming back beautiful
but decaying
unsure of how to live – pretending to swim,
eat yogurt like regular girls.

We are not clones, despite being drawn to specifications
(36-26-36) and bearing bouffants and bikinis
we might hack each other to pieces
but we are not confused about our identities

(living or not living) we continue
in this shape we were given
our cells cannot regenerate and the scientist
names us “Dead”
we are not regenerating we cannot reproduce ourselves we cannot be anything
but the fulfillment of your fantasy, flesh-eating or not.

##

Books by Jeannine

  • Becoming the Villainess, Steel Toe Books, 2006.
  • She Returns to the Floating World, Kitsune Books, 2011. Reissued in 2015 by Two Sylvias Press.
  • Unexplained Fevers, New Binary, 2013.
  • The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, Mayapple Press, 2015.
  • Field Guide to the End of the World, Moon City Press, 2016. (Won the Moon City Press Book Prize and the 2016 Elgin Award.)

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Playground of Lost Toys Interviews: Kuriata & Demeulemeester

toys, childhood, nostalgia, fantasy, SF, fiction, short stories

Playground of Lost Toys is available through Amazon published by Exile Writers

After today’s authors Chris Kuriata and Linda Demeulemeester, there is one more interview left. These two authors present a darker view of games. Chris Kuriata’s story “Fun Things for Ages 8 to 10” touches on all those comics and magazines we read as kids, and the adds for X-Ray glasses and invisible ink. But it’s from a magazine that gives you instructions in the cheery “Hey, Kids!” way. It’s not all cheery though and kind of comically creepy.

  1. What was your main reason for submitting a story to Playground of Lost Toys?

comics, magazines, games for kids, nostalgia, dark fantasy

Chris Kuriata captures the childhood wonder and acceptance of everything we read.

The money and the glory played a big role, but mostly, submitting to Exile Editions appealed to me because of the unique stories they’ve published, both in their anthologies and the excellent ELQ magazine. PLAYGROUND OF LOST TOYS looked like a good place to be.

  1. Does your story relate at all to anything from your own childhood?

My story “Fun Things For Ages 8 to 10” is about audio cassettes. My sister and I spent many childhood afternoons playing with our mother’s tape recorder. This was before the proliferation of videocameras or VCRS, so the ability to record ourselves and listen back really blew our minds. We created all kinds of radio plays, which usually degenerated into arguments and insult slinging. None of these tapes survived, which is perhaps something I should be grateful for.

  1. What theme or idea were you exploring in your story?

No clue. The idea came to me in bed, was hastily roughed out in my notebook and worked over for the next couple of evenings.

  1. Is there anything else to do with your story or the theme of the anthology you want to mention?

I love short story collections, but often burn out after reading a dozen or so stories by the same author. You keep noticing repeated images or the same line of description used in two separate tales. So I love the variety of writers offered by an anthology. It’s fun when the mood switches between stories, like eating chocolate and pretzels. Anthologies are most rewarding when the different voices compliment one another like in a good mix-tape.

  1. What other projects do you have in the works, pieces people can buy, or places to find you in the coming year?

A story about the use of clowns on early 19th century whaling ships will appear in Unlikely Story’s upcoming Clowns anthology, and Pseudopod will be doing an audio version of my story about the breakdown of a family during the apocalypse called “Sack Race to the River.”

Linda Demeulemeester wins the prize for the longest title in the anthology. “And They All Lived Together in a Crooked Little House” changed from poignant to creepy when we asked Linda to clarify one line in the story. It kind of smacked us with the darker meaning of rhymes and the power of enchantment.

  1. What was your main reason for submitting a story to Playground of Lost Toys?

The title of the anthology alone had me – who wouldn’t want to think up a story to do with playgrounds of lost toys. I still feel chills.

  1. Does your story relate at all to anything from your own childhood?

    nursery rhymes, enchantment, word power, fantasy, speculative fiction

    Linda reads from her Grim Hill series. Her adult stories can be darker.

The embossed and engraved book of nursery rhymes is straight out of my childhood. I can vividly picture its old fashioned, color-plated lithographs. The beautiful illustrations took me to another world. I was only five or so… but still recognized this wasn’t a book from my time and place. Not to mention, I was only allowed to flip through the pages with supervision. I knew in my five-year-old heart that I would never ever tear a page or smudge it with grimy finger prints, so I automatically assumed there must be something oh so special that I couldn’t be left alone with it.

  1. What theme or idea were you exploring in your story?

I don’t set out with themes, more with explorations. Then themes follow. Here I was exploring at what point is working toward you heart’s desire actually working you instead.

4. What other projects do you have in the works, pieces people can buy, or places to find you in the coming year?

As for other projects, these are exciting times. My children’s middle grade Grim Hill series is being released by Heritage House under its Wandering Fox imprint – http://www.heritagehouse.ca/  The first book was on the B.C. indie booksellers top picks as well as a shout-out on 49th Shelf, the Canadian book association blog. Books 2,3 and 4 will be released in the spring.

As for appearances,  I’ll be on a panel on writing and illustrating for children at the Vancouver Public Library February 29th . I’ll also be at the Creative Ink Festival May 6-8. For my younger audiences, I will  be kicking off Richmond Library’s young writers club September 20th for their  literacy month.

 

 

www.grimhill.com

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Writing Update and Free Book Giveaway

More news on the writing front, which has kept me seriously busy.

erotica, books, writing, historical, Greek

Dance of the Minotaur, by T.C. Calligari

So, in reverse order: I write different types of fiction and have some late summer sizzlers now available. Until Thursday you can get a free download of two books on Amazon.com. That’s right! Absolutely free. They are Crossing the Line: Four Sultry Tales of Submission and Dance of the Minotaur. The second is historically set. Yes, these are erotic tales, so be forewarned. Go ahead and download them (click on any underlined title), spread the word, and if you are so inclined, please leave a review. The kindle app can be downloaded to your computer and you can read them that way if you have to reader device.

fantasy, myth, poetry, writing

Pantheon Magazine’s Nyx issue

New out in the last few months: “the moon: Fever Dream” has just come out in PantheonMagazine’s Nyx issue. Also available on Amazon. “Scar Tissue,” written with Rhea Rose, is coming out in Second Contacts from Bundoran Press and should be on the shelves soon. Another free to read poem is “Persephone Dreams: Awakening” in Eternal Haunted Summer’s Summer Solstice issue.

There are alas, some long delayed works that I’m still waiting to see from Nameless, Burning Maiden, Our World of Horror and OnSpec. I’m hoping those will all come out this year. Other recent works include “Asylum” in nEvermore: Tales of Mystery, Murder and the Macabre, based on stories from Edgar Allan Poe. It’s available on Amazon as an ebook and pre-order for paper, due Oct. 1. The Best of Horror Library Volumes 1-5 includes “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha,” which received an honorable mention in the Year’s Best Horror is doing very well and currently #1 on Amazon in hot new releases.

Yet to come and recent sales include selling “Hold Back the Night” to Blood in the Rain. This is a vampire anthology and my story is a reprint first published in Open Space. It was shortlisted for several awards and received honorable mentions in the Year’s Best anthologies of SF and of Fantasy. I’m pleased it’s going to appear again. I’ve also sold “Buffalo Gals” to Clockwork Canada. Edited by Dominik Parisien, this collection of Canadian tales will look at alternate histories where steampunk redefines the face of Canada. I believe both of these tales will come out last year.

The Playground of Lost Toys has been completed by Ursula Pflug and I. It’s an anthology due out from Exile Editions this November and contains 22 tales about toys and games. They range from humorous to darkly disturbing and from fantasy to SF to horror. I think it’s a good collection that explores toys, games, childhood, nostalgia, loss, love and many other things very well. On top of that I completed my synopses for books 2 & 3 and have sent the whole kaboodle to an agent. I’m trying not to bite my nails. And last, but not least, I’ve written 33 new poems for a poetry book competition. They just need a few more tweaks and I’ll be submitting it.

This is why I haven’t been posting very often. I’ve just been far too busy of late. In October I’m going to the Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat in Colorado. This is the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s The Shining. I plan to start a new novel that will take place in the world of my Evolve story “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” but a few centuries before. I’m hoping I can post a bit more often, so stay tuned for more writing news and just other pieces about stuff. 🙂

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Women in Horror: Sandy Hunter

I’m still featuring Canadian women as they pop up. Today I have Sandy Hunter.

women writer, horror, dark fantasy, magic realism

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.

SANDY HUNTER

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
natural behavior.

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?

fantasy, dark fantasy, women in horror, Canadian authors

Sandy’s first novel Elanraigh is now available.

 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).

Spinetinglers anthology

Spinetinglers anthology

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.”

 www.sandrahunter.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/S-A-Hunter/

http://www.amazon.com/Elanraigh-The-Vow-ebbook/dp/B0075XGQSU/

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Women in Horror: Sandra Wickham

Women in Horror Month is over but I’m still featuring Canadian writers. Today’s author is Sandra Wickham whose short stories have appeared in Evolve: Vampires of the New Undead, Evolve: Vampires of the Future Undead, Chronicles of the OrderCrossed Genres magazine and in the upcoming Urban Green Man anthology.  She blogs about writing with the Inkpunks, is the Fitness Nerd columnist for the Functional Nerds and reads slush for Lightspeed Magazine. Her friends call her a needle crafting aficionado, health guru and ninja-in-training.

vampires, dark fiction, dark fantasy, horror, Canadian authors, female writers

Sandra Wickham likes her dark fiction with bite.

SANDRA WICKHAM

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 didn’t set out to write horror but for some reason the best things I write come out as dark and often horrible. Even with all of our knowledge and technology there are still many things we fear, including the darkness that resides within all of us and I can’t help wanting to explore those shadowy places. I also write fantasy and often go to the other end of the spectrum with light, humourous stories.

2.     What dark themes do you explore?

Fear of the unknown, including things we can’t explain, as well as the loss of loved ones. I tend to write the underdog, perhaps stemming from being a petite woman in a world that still favors aggression and strength.

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 is an important genre for us as writers and readers to deal with the things that frighten us. We know a lot about our world these days, but there are still things that are unknown or unexplainable that we are afraid of and they’re worth exploring. (not to mention loads of fun)

Early on I was heavily inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short stories and of course, Stephen King. More recently, I’m inspired by the darker urban fantasy writers who manage to combine frightening gore with humor. There’s nothing like being scared out of our wits while laughing hysterically.

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)human rights, womens rights, writing, horror,

Women are underrepresented across the genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror. The old school boys club still rules the roost.  I have to believe that with so many talented female writers currently producing amazing work, this will begin to shift.

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?

rape, womens rights, abuse, sexual abuse, horrorI think the internet has been a useful tool in bringing these issues to light, in bringing awareness to the plight of women all over the world. We’re no longer in an era of hiding these awful things in the dark or turning a blind eye to it. It’s going to take more women and men standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves to make a significant change.

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

Thank you for highlighting Women in Horror and giving us a chance to spread the fear, I mean, love.  🙂

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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?

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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. 

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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?

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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

women's rights, equality, sexism, women in horror, fiction writing, horror

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

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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: A.F. Stewart

horror, gothic, dark fantasy, dark fiction

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?

women's rights, equality, sexism, women in horror, fiction writing, horror

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.

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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