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Women in Horror Month: E.M. MacCallum

Women in Horror? It’s not always what you think it is and we don’t always do it for what seems obvious. Today’s Canadian woman in horror is E.M. MacCallum. Women in Horror is sponsored by the Viscera Organization. www.facebook.com/WomenInHorrorMonth

E.M. MacCALLUM

My most recent publications are the short stories “Sti’yaha” in the Bigfoot Terrors Volume 1 and “Tainted” in the Return of the Dead Men (and Women) Walking anthologies. Also, I’m the author of novella, “Zombie-Killer Bill,” which is about to be re-released in March of 2013. I have been published eight times through various indie press anthologies since 2009, all of which were in the horror genre.

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?

There’s a thrill to horror. For centuries scary stories have been told and we love them.

In this day and age I think it’s a way to test whether I can still shock people (and myself) in our somewhat desensitized world. Also, I find there are no limits to the imagination and you’ll find horror in practically every genre, even if just for a second.

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

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

inspired you?

Like all genres, it has something different to offer. It allows me to explore what most people won’t or can’t. I was lucky to grow up in the 80’s where horror hit a type of boom. R.L. Stine was the first to make me love dark fiction. Horror brings something unexpected to the table. It’s a thrill ride and if done well, it can leave a reader/viewer breathless.

A recent study through the University of Westminister showed that horror movies burned more calories than any other genre. Who wouldn’t want that?

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

Under represented, no. The speculative arena is pretty vast. Though I’ll admit you’ll find more men in certain areas like horror, but in my mind it doesn’t reveal a bias. I’m starting to see more and more women getting into horror but I know far more who will devour a romance long before they touch a thriller or dark fiction. There’s just not as many women who love the genre. I think that’s what makes us so unique.

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 or what we can do to stem the tide?

When it comes to fiction and horror itself, I think it can offer a bit of imaginary justice or cast a light on some of the horrific things that we tend to ignore.  No one wants to think about rape and the trauma that comes with it. But, in fiction, it can be brought to light and shown to readers that this type of horror is real and shouldn’t happen. It can also act as a release for some of that anger with a bit of vigilante justice in fiction. It’s not perfect, but all fiction touches on reality.

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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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