Yep, I’ve got another cool lady who wants to talk horror today! Please welcome Caryn Studham Sartorus!
SJ: Why horror? Out of all the things to write, why does this genre appeal to you?
CSS: I’m not faithful to just one genre. There are too many fun stories to write so I don’t limit myself. Horror is an opportunity to write about events that all of us think about, dream about or worry about. It’s ot always socially acceptable to talk about, so it’s freeing to write about these horrible, dreadful happenings. Being able to frighten a reader is evoking an emotion and that’s what readers and authors both want to achieve.
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?
CSS: When it comes to horror, it’s got to be Stephen King, but I always had an active imagination, and that comes with dark, creepy thoughts as well as happy ones. Opportunities to feel fear are all around us if we just close our eyes.
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?
CSS: When I read this question, I immediately think of popular horror films, like the Scream series or I Know What You Did Last Summer, which have strong female leads. But horror is complicated. There are many stories where there are no heroes – everyone’s a victim, male and female. I hope that we are moving beyond women as victims and sex objects. I can’t speak to the minds of male readers, but I can say that when I became a mother, my tolerance for horror and violence changed. My instinct now, and I think it’s typical, is to shy away from violence, especially stories that involve children. Does the genre lose some female readers for awhile, skewing to the male demographic? Just a theory.
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?
CSS: We are spinners of stories first and foremost, male or female. That’s what is important.
SJ: Who are some women horror writers/film makers/etc that people definitely should know about?
CSS: I can vote for the classics, Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson, but my reading inspirations now tend toward the nicer, happier paranormal genre. (Terrible answer- sorry!)
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?
CSS: I don’t have a good answer for this one either. I think it’s all about the readers and getting them interested. Women readers are devouring paranormal romances, vampires and zombie stories, so it is a far stretch to lure them to a darker side of that genre?
Thanks for the insight, Caryn! Be sure to check out her story in The Grotesquerie, Extinguished! You can catch up with Caryn on her facebook!
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…