So all in all, this has been an interesting WiHM 2015. I have to admit, going in I had mixed feelings – I usually do. While I love having a chance to explore the genre I dearly love and am fascinated by, and I truly do feel that we need to explore gender roles within it, I also usually begin to wonder if anything’s being accomplished. At some point every year, it begins to feel like yet another promotional campaign. Although I’ll gladly participate and take what I can get, I often wonder if we’re really being as effective as we could be. If I’m being as effective as I could be, or if I end up doing it because it’s what’s expected.
And then things happen that make me realize, yeah, I am really glad to be taking part in events like this. I won’t link to anything or mention names – this has been talked to death in writer circles lately – but at least once a year during WiHM something ends up happening. This year an author happened to make some disparaging remarks about lady horror authors (and surprise, surprise, they happened right as his new book was being released). To be fair, he made some pretty assuming remarks about horror writers in general: we don’t earn our place as real writers, we’re arrogant and outspoken, and on and on. And, at least it seems to me, that it was interesting that in the same post this guy was complaining about the need to network and promote his work.
I get it. Believe me, It’s a full-time job on top of the full-tie job I already have, plus writing. It’s why this gig isn’t easy: you do most everything yourself. I get the frustration at the saturated market, I get the unfairness of some titles having five million reviews (or what feels like it), and yours not having as many as you’d like.
But here’s the thing…
Most of the horror writers I’ve met of both genders are warm, chill people who usually aren’t into one-upping each other. You’re always going to have some bad examples, but in general, the business is hard enough without someone making it even harder.
And here’s the other thing. In the middle of his rant against horror writers and self-pubbers and everything else, he specifically mentions lady horror writers, and how they do things like dress up and take pictures with people – and then proceeds to say that most of us look like hags, anyway.
1. Have you ever been to a horror con? Dressing up and taking pictures is kinda par for the course. I’ve known plenty of male authors, male actors, and male vendors who engage in the same behavior. It’s all in fun and a lot of great photo ops are to be had.
2. I know plenty of people of both genders who dress up. Or if they don’t, I know plenty of male horror writers who wear horror shirts, or who have a specific look. We all have our gimmicks, don’t kid yourself.
3. Why does it always come down to looks? Of all things to rant about….I mean really? Seriously? Things like this feel like high school again – if nothing else, slam a gal’s looks and she’ll run away crying.
4. If I had known that I had to match the awesome, overpowering sex appeal of Stephen King and others, than I really would have been working overtime long before now. I mean seriously, I had no idea I was supposed to be honing my horror chic! Why didn’t someone tell me!? Is there some course I can take for this, some online group I can be part of to catch up? Is there some meeting I didn’t know about?
Lady horror authors are many things – but we are authors. If you don’t like our work, fine, that’s your choice. But to grab something so left field…that’s grasping. That is frustrating. And that’s why we still need Women in Horror Month. We are good at what we do, people, and readers deserve to know that there are amazing and chilling titles out there (by both genders and by traditional and indie-published, alike).
Look, all the posts and promoting of my horror titles I do this month don’t earn me a trillion dollars – they don’t usually affect my sales at all. I talk about horror because I love it, and because I’m truly interested in examining a genre and finding a place for myself within it, just like I know so many other female writers are interested in the same thing. It’s hard enough being an author in this day an age – the guy was write about that. The thing is, there’s a huge community of people who will help you learn or be there to commiserate with you, and he just managed to piss them all off. At the end of the day, it IS hard being an author. I go back and forth whether I think gender makes it harder, but at the end of the day all I can do is to work my butt off and keep trying to move forward a step at a time. All we want out of Women in Horror Month is to be give a little exposure to those of us who may not have someone immediately pick up one of our titles because we don’t look like sexy Stephen or come-hither Clive or other recognizable male authors. We just want a fair shot in a genre that seems to suddenly want to push us out or at least ignore us, even though we have a lot to say.
And what’s amazing is in the wake of this, we’ve gained a bigger voice. We’ve hatched plans for charity-based anthologies, we’ve gotten mad about things all over again…and when we get mad, we go back to the woods and start planning and plotting and working.
We’re hags, after all. And some of us are inspired by the grand-high mother crone of them all, Baba Yaga. Lady didn’t take any crap, and she’s definitely a role model of mine. So yeah, there’s definitely a reason for this month, it seems. Many reasons. If it at least empowers us to talk to each other, to form a stronger community of
hags female horror writers or horror writers in general, if it gets us talking online and in person about what we can do with incidents like this and where we can go from here, than that is a huge step forward, and something I’ll definitely take from this year’s WiHM experience.