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Women in Horror: Liz Strange

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Liz Strange likes to explore the vampire myth.

February is Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization. Its purpose is to highlight women who are under-represented in the artistic field. Today’s Canadian woman in horror is Liz Strange.  What a great name for writing speculative fiction, don’t you think? Liz has published the following novels: Love Eternal, A Second Chance at Forever, and Born of Blood and Retribution (The Dark Kiss Trilogy), a paranormal/horror series. She also has the following short stories: “Night of Stolen Dreams” (Bonded By Blood II: A Romance in Red), “The Memory Thief” (Unspeakable), and forthcoming,  “Riel’s Last Stand” (Dark  Harvest). www.twitter.com/LizStrangeVamp

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 am fascinated with world mythology, folklore, urban legends, all of it, and the idea that all people contain some level of “darkness.” The medium can be sensational and even exploitative, but it can also be a beautiful, gut-wrenching metaphor about human nature, fate, and triumph. In particular I am drawn to the vampire legend, in its many guises throughout history and cultural presentations.

I also write in fantasy and mystery genres, with a dash of romance/eroticism, but I find that all my works have a darker edge to them. I enjoy the freedom to let my mind take the story where it will, and to push the envelope a bit, make people react and think.

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

2. What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

I like to explore what it is that draws people to darkness, madness and violence, what are the triggers that make people step over the line. I think there is a “breaking point” in all of us, it just takes the right circumstances or even just the right combinations of personalities to bring our hidden monsters to  light.

I’m also interested in the shared fascination with dying, death, the afterlife and the chance of immortality. Folklore and religion have delved into and speculated about this since the dawn of humanity.

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 feel it’s an important genre, and one that is often overlooked and/or de-valued over other genres, as though horror writers are somehow less talented or legitimate. I think it gives writers the opportunity to get right to the core of what makes us human, or inhuman as the case may be. There is an opportunity to delve into our baser instincts: fear, lust, rage.

Authors that have inspires me are: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Slade, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson and many others!

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Born of Blood and Retribution, by Liz Strange

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).

Like many of the creative/artistic mediums I do feel woman are under-represented. Whether the focus is on men, or simply that not as many woman write/work in darker genres I can’t say, but suspect it’s a bit of both. Maybe it’s a bit of a hold on the traditional view that women are the “fairer sex,” and therefore not of the capacity to write stories to scare, repulse, and titillate?

I also dabble in screenwriting and see an even bigger discrepancy there.

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 would like to see women own their place in society, be proud and true to themselves. Don’t accept second-class status, or abuse, speak up for yourself.

And most importantly, never be afraid to try.

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

I’d just like to say thank-you for including me in such great company, and for taking the time to highlight the many wonderful, talented Canadian ladies we have writing in the horror genre.

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Women in Horror Month: Suzanne Church

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

I bet you didn’t know it was Women in Horror Month and neither did I, that is until I stumbled upon it last week. This is sponsored by the  US based Viscera organization, which is “expanding opportunities for contemporary female genre filmmakers and artists by raising awareness about the changing roles for women in the film industry.” But it does include the other arts as well. I’ll have more on the organization at the end of the month but suffice to say it’s about equality and I’m big on that. Here is the mission and vision for Women in Horror.

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.

After I read this, I found that I had a great idea for participating. Not only would I talk about women in horror on this blog, but about Canadian women in horror. There are many of us and I don’t even know them all. For now, I will feature one to two women each day (but it may not be every day) throughout the rest of February. Should I have more people than time in the month, you will see them featured after the month ends. I have not determined who truly is a woman in horror. If the authors believe that she writes horror or dark fiction of any sort, then I’m including her here. Because, as I told them, my normal might be your dark. So, to start the Women in Horror blogs, I have Suzanne Church, winner of last year’s Aurora Award in short fiction for a horror story.

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Suzanne Church, winner of the 2012 Aurora Award for short fiction.

SUZANNE CHURCH: 2012 was a great year for me, winning the Aurora Award for short fiction for my horror story, “The Needle’s Eye” in Chilling Tales: Evil Did I Dwell; Lewd I Did Live. Then my first appearance in Clarkesworld in May followed by my appearance in Danse Macabre: Close Encounters With the Reaper with my story, “Death Over Easy.”

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 probably love to write horror because I love to read horror. Delving into the darker side of humanity is a great way to explore human nature.

2. 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?

Stephen King is a huge inspiration for me. I remember reading Carrie growing up. Horror is important because it resonates with us on a fundamental level. Many of us tend to make decisions in our daily lives based to some extent on fear.

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

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Danse Macabre, published by Edge Publications and edited by Nancy Kilpatrick.

than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance).

I try not to spend too much time counting the numbers either way. But I must say that when I meet new people and tell them that I write horror, they often give me “that funny look,” if you know what I mean.

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, 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 think many of us, at one time or another, have faced these issues head on, from feeling unsafe walking down a street at night to getting passed over on the promotion at work in favor of a man with lesser qualifications. I have been known to write stories with
protagonists who are less than savory, maybe as my way of evening the score, perhaps. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that women tend to take on greater pressures in the world, on the home front, in the workplace, and out on the streets.

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

I’m always delighted to connect with readers. Feel free to check out my website, follow me via social media, and peruse my blogs. You can find links to all of them at www.suzannechurch.com.

Stay tuned tomorrow, when I have two more authors: Nancy Kilpatrick and E.M. MacCallum.

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