Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization
Today’s Canadian woman in horror is Nina Munteanu, who likes to splice a bit of darkness into the cells of her science fiction. Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera Organization.
My writing comprises a wide range of genre and type. For instance, I write humorous children’s books, hard SF, time travel fantasy, space adventure and erotica, in addition to dark SF. Examples of my works of dark SF include:
- “Virtually Yours” (published in Hadrosaur Tales, 2002; Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine, 2004; Nowa Fantastyka (Poland), 2006; Bli-Panika (Israel), 2006—short story nominated for Speculative Literature Foundation Fountain Award
- “A Butterfly in Peking” (published in Chiaroscuro, 2003; Nowa Fantastyka, 2005; Dramaturges of Yann (Greece), 2004
- “The Cypol” (eXtasy Books, 2006)—novella nominated for ECATA Reviewers Choice Award
- “Five Minutes” (published in Justus Roux’s Erotic Tales, 2004)
- “Neither Here Nor There” (published in Another Realm, 2005)
- “Framed and Julia’s Gift“ will be published in Natural Selection, my collection of short stories by Starfire World Syndicate in spring of 2013.
- The Splintered Universe Trilogy (novel published by Starfire World Syndicate, 2011, 2012, 2013).
Ecologist and writer Nina Munteanu
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?
While my work spans a vast literary landscape from comedy & adventure to thrilling suspense, most of my adult fiction contains elements of brooding darkness. I feel that the darkness adds a compelling element of tension, reality and thrilling victory in the story arc. Without such chiaroscuro to add depth to a story, art is “flat”; it lacks contour, meaning and direction.
2. What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?
I write primarily science fiction; themes like achieving forgiveness, love & compassion, overcoming fear, taking control of one’s fate & fulfilling one’s destiny, etc. are often played out through the encounter of—and often clash with—“the other.” The “other” may be aliens, some new technology, a fantastical unknown entity, or a place with strange powers. In the end, the POV characters must overcome their own darkness, reflected in “the other” to ultimately prevail.
The Splintered Universe by Nina Munteanu
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?
Definitely. Oscar Wilde once said: “Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.” Susan Sontag said, “Real art makes us nervous.” Art can be beautiful; great art will have a layer to it that disturbs, knocks you off balance and takes you out of equilibrium; this is usually through darkness. This can be achieved through beauty too; in fact it may be most impactful through beauty. For me, that is what good art does: it examines our world and presents us with new perspectives to ponder, and evolve from. Without darkness to contrast it, light cannot be recognized for its virtues, nor can it even be properly seen; darkness is the platform from which light emerges in all its glory. I’m not just talking about good and evil. Metaphorically, darkness represents anything within us that is repressed, that we’re ashamed of or uncomfortable with. It is the unknown (the stuff of science fiction… 🙂 ). My main sources of inspiration came from the classics (Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky) and the metaphoric writings of Ray Bradbury.
The Splintered Universe combines elements of SF with darkness.
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)
If you asked me this question five years ago, I might have contended that we were under-represented, particularly in some aspects of SF. I think that is changing and quite rapidly now. This is most prevalent in Canada. So many excellent women authors are emerging who are contributing fine writing in speculative fiction. I think in the hard SF area, we are still terribly outnumbered. But that is also changing. And that’s a very good thing. Women writers, particularly in the speculative genre, offer a very different perspective on story and idea and vision of our world and our future. It is an important perspective that we really need right now.
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?
All this hubbub and mayhem is actually a good sign; it means that women are finally waking up—all over the world—and reporting these atrocities (all this violence and abuse has been going on for a very long time—in silence). Women are saying to the world, “that’s enough; no more. We aren’t dumb, frail, hysterical, lesser beings.” Women are pushing out from the domination of an androcentric society and patriarchal rule. We are reaching out to our sisters around the world; we are teaching the world with our compassionate intelligence, our Gaia-wisdom, and our universal altruism. The Dalai Lama said, “the western woman will save the world”; I strongly believe that one of the ways we will achieve this is through “story” and “storytelling.” It is up to women to tell a new story. One that openly examines the horrors enacted in the world—often by righteous patriarchs—and points to a new zeitgeist of equality, respect, compassion and cooperation. A story of victory. Victory for all of humanity and the planet.
6. Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.
Being a Romanian and an ecologist, I celebrate my position as writer on the fringe of SF and horror: dark SF. There is a term for this in ecology, for riding the edge between two worlds or genres in this case. It’s called an ecotone, that zone or region where through the interaction of two ecosystems (or the collision of two worlds) generates vibrant life. Ecotones are recognized as the richest and most diverse places for life (e.g., estuaries between rivers and the ocean; marshes and forest edges are other examples). Benefiting from what the two single ecosystems offer, ecotones team with a thriving community that takes from the rich interaction of both ecosystems. This is what dark SF does in my opinion. It infuses elements of darkness into an otherwise idea-rich, often mechanized and somewhat unemotional platform of science fiction. Just as in the chiaroscuro of light on an object, darkness in fiction adds surprising and compelling depth and perspective to an otherwise dispassionate technological and scientific “what if” scenario in SF. Thanks so much for this opportunity, Colleen.