Tag Archives: women writers

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: Stephanie Bedwell-Grime

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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

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.

www.facebook.com/WomenInHorrorMonth

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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.

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

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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Writing: Is It Just About the White Guys?

 SF Signal (www.sfsignal.com a good site for SF news) has seen an explosion of comments over the posting of one new book coming out, The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF edited by Mike Ashley. MammothDebate It seems this collection of mindblowing stories, “the 21 finest stories of awesome SF” has not one woman in it or author of color and this has caused quite a hullabaloo.

 There are still more writers in SF who are male than female but that gap has closed a great deal from the early days of SF. There are even fewer authors of color. So it could be that in a sampling of stories that came in that the best were from the white males. However there are several factors that work against this supposition for editor Ashley (who I believe made an oversight more than an intentional choice to exclude female authors).

The Mammoth series of anthologies can be on anything; road trips, horses, brides, vampires, SF. The scope of the series is large and many of them originate in the UK. The Mammoth books also usually tend to have many stories in them (part of the whole mammoth imagery). This book failed in that department by only having 21 stories. Anthologies in general sell less than any novel so an editor and publisher must look at what will sell the book. In that case you will always want a few recognizable names that most readers will know. This alone will narrow the scope of an anthology And of course the books do have themes. Other anthologies might be for a region or a country and there can even be anthologies on the best new SF by women or gay men or whatever.

There are many restrictions on an anthology that will limit whose work is published. The payment for a story may be too little for some authors to submit. Other anthologies are invitational. If you’re not asked, you can’t write for it. Some are partly invitational, and some editors might post their guidelines in exclusive areas (such as members of SFWA may submit, but only members). But going through slush piles of hundreds or thousands of submissions can take a very long time and editors often have a timeframe to work within. Therefore, when an anthology that is not open to any writer makes the claim as having the best, the most awesome or mindblowing pieces, it can be challenged as being exclusionist or elitist. When that claim is made and there are no women either, it ruffles quite a few feathers.

When I edit I look first for the best story or poem. I don’t look at the author’s name or credits, nor what their gender or color is. But when you have invited several people to send in stories and have reprints from others (some for the name) then there is still a possibility to include both genders. It could be that the editor only received stories from males but it is still so narrow a focus that questions arise as to the intent.

On top of this Mammoth book not living up to the usual range of many stories and including SF from women, it also has cover art derivative of the 60s and 70s. But I also don’t know what the editor said in his introduction. Maybe these were mindblowing stories for him when he was a teenager, or smoking pot, or in a geographic area. Maybe he really liked these stories and ignored even past works of authors such as: Le Guin, Tiptree, Tepper, Cadigan, Cherryh, (Mary Shelley if we want to go to the advent of SF & women writers), Norton, McCaffrey, Bear, Henderson, Butler, Scyoc, Hambly, etc. I haven’t read the stories so they could all truly be awesome SF, but I just think some women could be in there too.

Because there has been a history in writing to exclude females in the past it is still a touchy subject. Doing my degree at UBC I saw this attitude, especially in some parts (instructors) of the English department. The only good writer is a dead white male, followed by a live white male. This attitude is changing but it means that editors do have to be aware of the stories they’re receiving and if they want their anthology to be indicative of the overall demographic of writers. Not to mention that there are many many women readers and many of them read SF and fantasy.

I have a feeling that editor Mike Ashley is shaking his head, realizing belatedly that he inadvertently created a hornet’s nest. One writer at SF Signal said that she had been asked to submit, so women were included in the submission process. I could just as easily pout that Canadians had been excluded, but I don’t know the nationality of all the writers, and even if there are only US and UK writers, well, that happens a lot, depending on where the guidelines were listed and whether it was invitational. And at only 21 stories, Ashley probably only asked a select few and chose some reprints on his own. I’m also sure his next anthology will have many more women in it.

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