So yeah, February really got away from me, for reasons you’ll hopefully see soon. Unfortunately, even having time away from the dayjob doesn’t always mean I can do everything, and life always finds ways to complicate issues. However, I wanted to really have a discussion about women and the horror genre, and let’s face it: we don’t need a special month to do that! So, over the next few days I want to bring you posts from different authors featured in The Grotesquerie from Mocha Memoirs Press. I was going to combine things as a roundtable, but I got such a great response, I’m going to keep the replies as individual interviews. Plus, you may get some teases from the authors’ stories! Kicking things off today is Q&A with Carrie Martin!
SJ: Why horror? Out of all the things to write, why does this genre appeal to you?
CM: I think all the horror movies I watched as a kid warped my brain (my parents rented them all, from Krueger to Rawhead Rex and every werewolf movie under the moon—I played American Werewolf in London nine times, alone in my basement, glued to the television screen, before the VHS had to be returned). Or maybe it’s just in my blood, because I can’t get enough gore and violence and old-fashioned suspense thirty years later.
SJ: Who or what were your horror genre inspirations growing up? What made you realize that you wanted to explore and participate in the genre?
CM: My horror-reading journey began in my teens with King, Koontz and Rice; reading late into the night when the house was still and the radiators creaked and unimaginable creatures lurked beyond my bedroom door. But it wasn’t until I got older and came face to face with my past that I realized the darkness and turmoil raging in my soul could be released (in a far less destructive manner) by putting fingers to keyboard and creating stories of my own.
SJ: What are women’s roles as horror characters? Are we doomed to be portrayed as victims or numbers on the sexual richter scale? Is it possible for male readers to find female horror characters that resonate with them?
CM: That’s the one thing that bothers me about this genre, actually. I cringe at the rampant sexism I was forced to endure as a kid (the 80’s have a lot to answer for) just to get a fix of frightening fun. But I think that’s changing as more females get involved in the horror-making business, and people in general become smarter and more aware. At least I hope so. I asked my husband about female horror characters resonating with men, and he said, “Hey, anything is possible—we live in a world of Bronies, right?” And, “If we are just talking ‘enjoy’ then yeah, the likelihood goes up quite a bit.” So there you have it; there’s hope for us yet.
SJ: Why do people need to know about women horror writers, film makers, etc. What makes us equal or special in this already-saturated genre?
CM:Women have to work hard to change attitudes, and breaking into a male dominated industry is no small feat. I think we have a lot to offer the horror genre. We experience the world, and ourselves, in a completely different way to men. There are fears, pains and heartaches that men will never know. All of this shapes our creations, stirs things up, and provides variety for readers and viewers.
SJ: Who are some women horror writers/film makers/etc that people definitely should know about?
CM: I’ve never really paid attention to the names of movie directors (beyond Spielberg and Tarantino, which are hard to avoid), but after a little Internet research, I discovered that a childhood favourite of mine, Near Dark, was co-written and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. And one of my all-time faves, Ravenous, was directed by Antonia Bird. That is so cool!
SJ: Where do we go from here? Is it a matter of authors reaching out to local stores and libraries during February to encourage displays or readings by women horror writers? Is this an issue that should be taken to publishers to make sure there is equal representation of female-written horror in their catalogues? Is it a marketing issue, something that just gets lost in a jam-packed market? Is it a matter of readers just not knowing or caring, of sticking with what they know?
CM: Getting libraries involved is a good idea. Requesting books, putting up posters, organizing a section dedicated to WiHM. Maybe popular sites like Amazon and Goodreads could help us out? They could advertise Women in Horror Month on their landing pages (Amazon has a link to ‘Valentine’s Day Gifts’ currently, why not a small WiHM logo, too?) and link to a page that showcases the best and/or latest of women in horror. In any case, being involved in this year’s WiHM (and answering your thought-provoking questions, Selah—thank you so much for this) has really opened my eyes to the struggles and achievements of women in horror, and I will now be actively pursuing and recommending titles by women.
Thanks so much for participating, Carrie! For all you readers, here’s a teaser of her story Wicked Trip, found in The Grotesquerie.
I stagger backwards. All eyes in the club are on me now, glowing yellow, squinting eyes; jagged teeth, faces bubbling. My heart stabs at my chest like a creature trying to break free of flesh and bone. I desperately need to get some air. I stare at the ground, avoiding the horrific scene encircling me, and rush toward the main entrance. But when I get there, the doors are gone. The entire wall is thick with vines, growing and twisting and glistening like snakes under the distant strobes.
I am trapped in this hellhole.
Twenty-two short horror stories written by women are here on display for your enjoyment or your perverse fascination. Within these pages, beauty becomes deadly, innocence kills, and karma is a harsh mistress.
The Grotesquerie is now open…