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.
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!
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.