I’m stoked to have an awesome lady here on my blog today, and like so many others, she’s brings with her some really, really great insight, as well as encouragement.
On Being a Woman Horror Writer
Editor: Paying the Ferryman (upcoming), Carpe Noctem: Truly, Madly, Deeply (upcoming)
“Hey, I know you can do this. You have it in you. Do a little research and see what you come up with. You know what it takes to make a good story, use that. The story is there…” And so I wrote my first horror story. Talk about anxiety. Is it scary enough? Am I too in the character’s head? Should I amp up the scary part? I totally went over the word count—is that okay? Is it scary? Oh I wrote the story, then the baby came back from the editor and I cried as I changed it, agonized over every word and phrase and comma. Then there it was, finished, shiny and new waiting for a reader. The anxiety over whether someone will like it, or get it, or even worse—hate it—anxiety ridden, I waited for feedback. “Well, I don’t like horror, but I liked your story.” Thanks mom, now please other people, anyone read it and say you liked it. I waited patiently with gallons of ice cream for that elusive review, and then it happened. Someone I was not related to liked my story. Okay now I believe I can do this. I can write horror.
I am sure all writers in all genres have the same experiences with writing, editing, gaining acceptance, and dying for a favorable review, not to mention book sales. However, I think as a horror writer, there is a unique aspect with acceptance of what we do and going so far as to justify what we do. As a horror writer, people ask me why I write horror all the time and as a woman horror writer they ask me what would make me choose horror and not a “romance or something”. These people look at me like there is something wrong with me; something deep and dark lurks in my psyche that draws me to horror. Well okay probably something dark does dwell in my psyche waiting to manifest itself in some heinous way…. Or I think writing horror is amazing. Where else can someone irritate you and then you can exact your revenge by having a monster eat them for a snack? Of course all the characters who die in terrible ways after unbearable torment are only loosely inspired by real life—that’s my story. Horror is fun to write. No real rules, other than to have a great story and character. No limits, I can be as creative as I want to be. No formulas, my characters don’t have to get it on by page 200, and there doesn’t have to be a happy ending. I am completely free to do what I want and go where I want in exploring the gamut of human emotions. Powerful emotions—good and bad—are the key to any story and in horror that darker side is easy to explore.
I’m new to the horror writing scene, but all I have experienced is acceptance. People, as in other writers, editors, publishers, have been very supportive and I don’t feel that urge to “prove” myself as a horror writer. I do what everyone else is doing and that is crafting the best story I can—letting the characters tell their story—and then offering it up. In talking to other writers and editors there is a ton of support for the craft. We all face that “one spot” we can’t work out, or wait for reviews to come in, or edit and edit again. We all struggle to find ways to get our stories out there and then get them noticed. Being a woman horror writer is not unique, but it is special. It is having that sense of community with others, that uplifting support, which really makes a difference between feeling like a success and feeling like an epic failure.
It’s Women in Horror Month and a good opportunity to feature women in horror. We are not all crazy or “off” or secretly deranged. We like to tell a great story with deep characters and rich plots. We are as well adjusted as any writer can be. Horror is a fun genre to explore and write. I’m at a place I didn’t think I would be at without the push from my good friend to give writing horror a try. I’m so glad he supported me and gave me the push I needed to get started. Now I have so many stories in my head to get out and so little time to write. My advice for any woman out there who wants to write horror is just to do it. Don’t hold back and give it all you have. Just write.
Margaret L. Colton
Margaret L. Colton is an avid history buff, especially in the areas of Medieval Europe, Ancient Greece and American History, she loves all things history. She has been imparting her historical knowledge on her students for the past 12 years, teaching not only historical subjects but psychology as well. She teaches in the same district she graduated from. Even though she has two Master’s degrees in education, the writing community called to her.
Before beginning to write again after many years, she began editing and recently started ML Colton Editorial Services. Currently, she has a short story in State of Horror: New Jersey, North Carolina, Louisiana and others set to be published early next year. Besides dabbling with some short stories, she is the Editor-in-Chief at Charon Coin Press and has anthologies coming out early year entitled Paying the Ferryman, and Carpe Noctem: Truly, Madly, Deeply.
She has two beautiful daughters and a granddaughter who share her love of books and fun and some amazing friends around her. Even though she lives in Missouri and is a rabid Cardinals fan, she loves to travel to some of her favorite places like New Orleans, Florida and Hawaii.