Tag Archives: Women in Horror Month

Into the Future: Part Four in Our 2020 Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back for the final installment of our Women in Horror Roundtable for 2020! February always goes by way too fast! At any rate, let’s check in with these awesome interviewees one more time and find out what they’ve got planned for the future!

There are so many writing conventions and readings year-round in the horror genre. What are some events that you’ve attended or would like to attend that have valued women’s voices in the genre?

V. CASTRO: I have to give props to the HWA for making a huge effort when it comes to diversity. I attended StokerCon last year and plan to go again this year because the panels were diverse and interesting.

TERI.ZIN: The Outer Dark and ReaderCon, for sure. To be fair, I haven’t been to many conventions outside of those two, but I’ve felt supported so thoroughly at both. I recently attended NecromoniCon which is aggressively white, but the Board did everything they could in their power to help me feel safe.

LISA QUIGLEY: Stoker Con is the only one I’ve attended so far, and I absolutely love it. If I can only attend one con a year, it’s going to be that one. I definitely feel that they value and uplift not only women’s voices, but also those of all underrepresented communities. The panels are (from my POV, at any rate) effortlessly diverse. It’s a great time.

MACKENZIE KIERA: Stoker Con has never failed to delight. The panels seem to be very equal when it comes to maintaining a gender balance. I’d really love to go to KillerCon one day; I hear nothing but good wonderful things. And if you’re in LA, they’ve got a killer book club called “The Thing in the Labyrinth.” That’s run by a friend of the fright: Kat McGee.

LARISSA GLASSER: I’ve been so lucky to be included in the programming for The Outer Dark, Necon, Necronomicon, StokerCon. I never expected to be, but know that horror and genre fans/artists are some of the kindest, most inclusive people in the universe. I’ve been looking for that my entire life. I also adore Boskone, although I haven’t been involved in programming yet, I love to lurk.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Primarily, I have attended StokerCon and its previous iteration, World Horror. While certain members of the HWA have been racist, sexist and homophobic, I genuinely believe that the organization is making an effort to be more inclusive and representative of the diversity among horror writers. It would be naive to say that as a genre we have overcome discrimination and prejudices, but I have faith that most of the people within the HWA have the best intentions in their hearts and are consciously working toward building a diverse community of writers.

I attended my first Camp Necon this past summer, where I released my debut novel, Invisible Chains. It was a diverse and welcoming environment that provided space for all voices to be heard. If you haven’t attended Necon, I highly recommend it and you will definitely see me there this year where I will undoubtedly drive Tananarive Due insane with an unending stream of questions and praise while I try to convince her to become my mentor.

Last year I was supposed to attend the first Multiverse Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, which actively works to showcase the diversity of writers, educators, cosplayers, filmmakers, etc. within the speculative fiction writing community. Unfortunately, I had to back out at the last minute because of financial issues, but I’m hoping to attend in 2020.

And, I’ve been invited to attend GenCon this year as a guest author. I really don’t know much about the con, but I am looking forward to going and learning more about it.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I keep so busy with three, growing kids who are now 20, 16, and 12 that I haven’t had much time to go to events in all these years. My money and my time has always been on them when I’m not working long hours in publishing. My son is a sophomore in college in DC and so traveling money goes first to taking him to and from the 8 hours or to visit him. I love to visit historical places and hike and explore on weekends with my family and so I usually prefer to do this. I try to support what I can online, and I’d love to start going to some conventions, but I think I’d probably prefer to go to writing conferences. I’d love to one day be invited to participate in a panel or to help, but that will be only if it doesn’t interfere with kids. My girls being in sports, musicals, and other things really eats up my weekends too. I am hoping to get to a Scares that Care though, being in VA, and then also to StokerCon 2021. I’d love to throw together something for us PA and OH to do!

I can’t answer the second part of the questions as I’ve not been to any but from what I’ve seen online HWA does this well with StokerCon and a lot of women go and have their voices heard on panels.

As far as other conventions I view online, so many are film horror focused, but it seems they really do appreciate and showcase their women pretty well. I don’t know anything behind the scenes so it might not be the case, but I know that through social media I learn a lot about women in film and I’m really glad for those that promote them so we can learn about them.

What’s next for you? What projects are you currently working on, and what do you have coming out in the near future?

V. CASTRO: In February Hairspray and Switchblades from Unnerving will be released.

May is Latino Book Month and I am curating a Latinx dark fiction and Horror book bundle for StoryBundle.

TERI.ZIN: I have a short story titled The Night Sun being published by Tor.com in March of 2020. I’m currently working on edits for my novella about a pregnant woman stuck on a boat on a drowned planet. She’s not happy about it, to say the least, lol. I’ve always got multiple stories and novel ideas I’m tossing around, but there is another novella and novel I hope to finish in 2020.

LISA QUIGLEY: My debut novella Hell’s Bells will be published in May 2020 by Unnerving. I am also revising a novel, and have a few short stories at various stages of drafting. I’ve also got a new novel in the dreaming stages currently. I’ve always got something brewing!

MACKENZIE KIERA: Currently I’m working on flipping a possession trope for a call to an anthology, and my debut novella “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE AND A STRONG ELECTRIC CURRENT”  is coming out in August of this year with Unnerving Press.

LARISSA GLASSER: Here’s the thing, I’ve carried so many different book ideas and plots for years, it’s a matter of picking and choosing. I’ve been on a huge Arthur Machen/folk horror kick lately so The Brightening is going to be about trans celebrities and seances. I have another WIP Glue Man which is also about celebrity culture but also ethics in journalism and serial killer worship in the media. Some of these themes covered will be futuristic in nature, but I want to try to tap into the human and emotional viscera that only someone like Jack Ketchum could
capture. It’s up to the readers to gauge how successful I am in that endeavor. I just hope it reaches people.

Also, please raise your voice – Free Chelsea Manning.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: My goals for this year include writing and submitting more short fiction. I have a story coming out later this year, “African Twilight,” in The Dystopian States of America, which is a charity anthology that will raise money for the ACLU. And, I just finished a story for another anthology that focuses on female monsters that will be out later this year. I’m working on a series that features the work of speculative writers in which I showcase a fragment of their fiction and ask them questions about their writing on my blog, Girl Meets Monster. And, the next installment of my Speculative Chic blog series, “With This Right, You’ll Be Dead: Violence Against Female Protagonists in Romantic Vampire Fiction,” will be out later this month.

Beyond that, I hope to finish the first book in a series of novellas about a succubus in an arranged marriage with a demon, and I’m also hoping to complete the first draft of the follow up to Invisible Chains.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I’m mostly spending a lot of time working in publishing whether for pay doing editing and publicity, some free editing and publicity to help (select few – not an invitation to do for everyone as unfortunately I can’t), and the reading and reviewing and interviewing. I am trying to fit in more down time this year, some of it filled with more reading and reviewing.

So that said, I wrote two poetry books in the last couple years – by hand on paper. I need to get them typed and edited. I will need to see who will publish or self-publish. But I lost some of my mojo for this, as I’m afraid at time for my own promotion. I also have several unfinished novels and short stories that need worked on. I am also disheartened. I started the year off losing my writing mojo. BUT I did go to Baltimore last weekend (Jan 11) and I visited Edgar Allan Poe’s home. It sparked a bit in me. Then my friend Duncan and I were chatting, and he jokingly said something referring to Russian nesting dolls that started my brain wheels spinning. So, time permitting, maybe my mojo has returned.

I’m still at discovering what 2020 means for me and it’s a work in progress. I hope to figure it out soon though. Until then, I’m going to wait for writing inspiration to strike me. I generally don’t often feel that til spring hits.

Thank you so much to the seven amazing women who were part of this year’s Women in Horror Roundtable. It was wonderful talking with them!

Happy reading, and once more, happy Women in Horror Month!

Raising Our Voices: Part Three in Our 2020 Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back for part three in our Women in Horror Roundtable! The month is rapidly winding down, but that doesn’t mean we’re done here yet! Today I talk with these seven fabulous interviewees about the publications out there doing great work for diversity in horror as well as what everyone has planned for Women in Horror Month this year! So let’s go, shall we?

While there’s still such a struggle to be heard as a female author, there are fortunately those out there who are doing their part to help us get our voices heard. Who are some of the editors and publications that are doing great work for diversity in horror?

V. CASTRO: Unnerving did a submission call for only women before opening it to men. Love that. I’ve seen a lot come from Nightscape Press, Demain Publishing and Grindhouse Press. I also have to give credit to the big review sites for consistently promoting women. That is how we change publishing because publishing is a business. Demand and noise made for female authors will get the attention of publishers and editors. Same goes for authors of color.

LISA QUIGLEY: Eddie Generous at Unnerving Magazine/Publishing is definitely doing a lot to promote women in horror as a policy. I know for his last calls for novellas, he wanted a minimum of a certain percentage of women—so he opened the submission window up for pitches from women before opening up the call to everyone. Ellen Datlow is, of course, continuously creating top-quality horror from some of the best writers writing today—and a huge percentage of them are women.

Nightscape Press is also awesome and incredibly adamant about representing diverse voices.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but those stand out to me off the top of my head.

MACKENZIE KIERA: Eddie Generous over at Unnerving did a great thing this year. He opened submissions to his Rewind or Die series to women first, I think that’s really great, really wonderful. Saga Press I believe is making a push to be diverse as well. Really, I’m impressed by most editors and publishers. Everywhere I turn, it seems like places are actively trying to be inclusive. One of the first horror groups to reach out to Lisa and myself were Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella from This is Horror to offer their congratulations and support. They’ve been great friends to us.

TERI.ZIN: I owe so much to Dr. Kinitra Brooks. She had such a strong faith in my story that she let me shuffle my feet for months after sending the invite. That story (Summer Skin) went on to be long-listed for Ellen Datlow’s Best of Horror 2017. Chesya Burke for being such a grounding support at NecronomiCon and more. Farah Rose Smith for having me on local panels and readings. L.H. Moore, Monique Laban, Camilla Zhang, Jessica Guess, Tracey Baptiste, Mimi Mondal, Nisi Shawl, Laura J. Mixon, Anya Martin, Sioban Krzywicki, Hillary Monahan, Diana Pho of Tor, my agent Roseanne Wells, so many women who have encouraged, pushed, supported, held me so that I acould keep going, keep submitting. As for publications, I see Fiyah doing amazing work. Robert S. Wilson of Nightscape Press is fantastic. Alana Joli Foster and Melody Meadors of Outland Entertainment are phenomenal.

LARISSA GLASSER: Along with Lightspeed’s “Destroy” series of books that took off a few years ago, I really dig what Nightscape Press, Raw Dog Screaming Press, and Haverhill House Publishing are doing for diversity in publishing. Not only are they committed to opening up the field for diverse voices, they also have excellent taste in scares. I would also say this about Clash Books – for such a small press they really have their shit together and they’re building one hell of a brand. Look out.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Maybe I’m a little biased, but I would say that Haverhill House Publishing is making a great effort to publish more horror fiction by female writers and women of color. And, Scary Dairy Press released an anthology of all female horror writers in October, The Monstrous Feminine.

Beyond that, I’m not really sure what to say. I think publishers in general are trying to be more inclusive and to publish books with a wider variety of voices, but we still have a long way to go. SciFi & Scary just released their list of 20 Diverse Authors to Read in 2020, and I am honored to have made the list with amazing writers like Tananarive Due, Linda Addison, Nalo Hopkinson, Nnedi Okorafor, and Gabino Iglesias. If you read more books by women and people of color, you’ll find out who is publishing them and hopefully, if readers demand more books from these and other writers, they will continue to add diverse voices to the horror genre.

Breathe. Breathe.ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: Nightscape Press and the Wilsons for sure do almost the best job out of everyone with a lot less notice than they should have. Apex Publications – Jason and Leslie don’t get enough love either. They work hard, long hours and have families and so there isn’t a budget for print copies, so they sometimes get the shaft as far as promotion buzz. They do a great job bringing women and other diversity to the table though.

Also, I’m biased as I work for Raw Dog Screaming Press, but I wanted to work for them because they do this! John and Jennifer publish women and diverse authors from around the world and do such a wonderful job in supporting not only their books and authors but everyone out there with their time and expertise and voices.

What are your plans for this year’s Women in Horror Month? Are there any events, in person or online, that you plan on being involved with?

V. CASTRO: I am open to everything! As of now my plan is to shout out as many females as possible. If I see anything cropping up, I will do my best to highlight it.

TERI.ZIN: This WiHM, I hope to be on a local panel created by Farah Rose Smith. Other than that, just write and shout out my fellow marginalised writers.

LISA QUIGLEY: I don’t have any plans as of yet! Most likely we will just be interacting with the horror community on our podcast twitter platform, retweeting, sharing, and amplifying all the awesome content being shared.

MACKENZIE KIERA: Not at the moment, but my eyes and ears are open!

LARISSA GLASSER: On February 8, I’m reading at a free admission panel Dark Minds, Dark Hearts: A Valentine’s Fiction Affair in Millbury, Massachusetts (just outside Worcester) with Matthew M. Bartlett, Sonya Taaffe, Doungjai Gam, Fiona Maeve Geist, and Andrea Wolanin . Apart from that, I’m going to Boskone the next weekend of February 15, and hopefully also make it down to Providence Rhode Island to see The Color Out of Space with some friends.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Aside from your blog, I’ll be writing a guest post for The Horror Tree‘s WiHM series. And, I’ll be continuing my blog series about the acceptance of violence against female protagonists in romantic vampire fiction over at Speculative Chic, with Part 3: Dating & Courtship.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I usually do something on my site such as interview women horror authors, do features, or whatever I have time for. I’ve done it the last few and one year I did in conjunction with David from The Scary Reviews (we did 30 mini-interviews with women). I’d love to have time to do more. I haven’t heard much about events yet – it’s January and you know people wait till the last minute to announce or do things (I’m guilty of this too). I’d love to go to a women’s film fest or something if there was one within a three-hour drive? I’ll read more horror books by women than I already do, and I’ll watch films by women directors on purpose more than I already do – but I already do a lot so I’m not sure if that will be a big change. I’ll have to think on it some more.

That concludes Part Three in our Women in Horror Roundtable for 2020. Come back next week for our fourth and final post!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Fear and Favorites: Part Two in Our 2020 Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back to Part Two of our Women in Horror Month Roundtable series! Last week, I talked with my amazing interviewees about their background in horror and what Women in Horror Month means to them. Today, we discuss favorite horror characters and the recent works by female creators that didn’t get as much attention as they deserved.

So let’s take it away!

Growing up, who were your favorite female characters in horror? How, if at all, did your early experiences with horror shape you as the storyteller you are today?

V. CASTRO: I am Mexican American so La Llorona was the first female in horror for me. From childhood you are told she will take you away if you misbehave.
My culture has a strong oral tradition with regards to folklore, music and the indigenous Mexican religion which is a very bloody one. We worshipped death and the sun. I like to incorporate both into my writing. I love stories within a story.

TERI.ZIN: Without a doubt, Angela Bassett’s character Mace in Strange Days is absolutely number one. Strong, vulnerable, whoops ass, asks for and deserves love and respect. Just an incredible character. Next would definitely be Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley in the entire Alien franchise. Though these two examples fall into science fiction, there is a horror element to both that is sometimes ignored due to the caliber of the films. Horror never fully gets the love it deserves.

LISA QUIGLEY: I am not the typical horror fan/writer who grew up watching EVERY SINGLE HORROR MOVIE EVER or who even really KNEW I was a horror fan. I was a teen in the 90s, and so I did watch a lot of horror movies…in addition to lots of other movies. My taste was eclectic and I loved everything from comedies to rom-coms to action/adventure to chick flicks to horror to teenage films to sci-fi to….you get the idea. My best friend and I would browse the shelves of Blockbuster or Hollywood Video for hours before we finally made our random selections. So, while I watched a wide variety of different movies, there isn’t really a single female character in horror that I can pinpoint from any film that made an impression on me. And the one I can pinpoint is probably not one anyone would expect (or even remember.)

As a pre-teen/early teen, I watched this show on the Disney channel called So Weird. It wasn’t horror, per se. I guess if I had to describe it, it was sort of like X-Files for kids. The premise: a widowed mother is a touring musician (played by Mackenzie Phillips) and she has her two kids (plus some roadies and their kids) on tour with her. They live out of the tour bus and hotels, never in one place for long. The story is from the POV of Fiona (Fi) Phillips, who is extremely smart and nerdy, and has her own website (a novelty back then!) Fi is super into paranormal phenomena, not the least because her dad has died. In every single town they visit, Fi encounters something “weird”—ghosts, time travel, UFOs, and more. It was spooky and unsettling and I loved it. But more than that, I loved Fi. She was determined, intelligent, and focused, keyed in the way many around her were not. Her family often didn’t believe her, but many times she saved their lives without them even realizing it. She was fierce and fearless and I absolutely adored her.

Even today, my horror interests veer toward the weird and unusual, rather than overt horror. I am interested in the edges of things, the slightly off-kilter, the unnerving. Like Fi, the women and girls in my stories are their own heroes. They don’t need boys to save them.

MACKENZIE KIERA: When I was younger, I was allowed to watch some very light, maybe not even true horror. I think Tremors was my first monster movie? My parents figured all they were shielding me from was some rough language and a giant worm, so that one I maybe saw at 9 or 10? Tremors taught me that women could be the smart scientists, and that a lot of horror was made to be laughed at and enjoyed. Think the next one was maybe Alien? Ripley is a solid hero. Tough, smart, ballsy women were encouraged in my house, so I really don’t accept anything less from my female characters today. My favorite one currently is Nancy from the first Nightmare on Elm Street. She’s fantastic.

LARISSA GLASSER: My first idols were mostly in Science Fiction and fantasy, actually: Barbarella, Taarna from Heavy Metal, and of course Linda Carter as Wonder Woman. Mostly because they were powerful and had independent strengths that they made seem effortless. I got into Horror after that, the first thing I remember watching was “Terror in the Aisles,” a kind of documentary overview about horror films. From there I discovered Laurie Strode (Halloween), Ellen Ripley (Alien), and Sarah Roberts (The Hunger). They resonated with me even more. But where were the trans women? Oh, there ended up being plenty– as maniacs, victims, or punchlines. That scared me most of all when I was a kid, because I loved my family and didn’t want to be seen as a monster. But when I grew older and more independent, finished school, I proved to myself and needed to be independent like those characters who shaped me. It took me a long time, and I’m still processing a lot of that conflict. I think what I want to accomplish now in my work is to focus on trans women as having agency. I wrote the protagonist in F4 as someone who saves lives against an inter-dimensional terror. Although I don’t plan on recycling that character or story, I want to continue building stronger female characters I’d have liked to have seen when I was a kid.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Those are excellent questions, and not as easy to answer as they might seem. Because I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, there weren’t a lot of strong female characters in horror fiction and films to admire. Looking back at most of the films I watched as a kid, the depictions of women were extremely sexist and violence against women was a popular form of entertainment in most genres, including romantic comedies. So these questions are really making me think, which is good.

I watched a lot of slasher movies as a kid, Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Terror Train (1980), Happy Birthday to Me (1981), Motel Hell (1980), Black Christmas (1974), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), just to name a few. Cable TV and neighborhood video stores enabled an entire generation to immerse itself in horror films like no other generation before it. At first glance, these films seem to be telling different stories, but there are some genre-specific plot and character tropes that are hard to ignore, especially in the #metoo era. While these films are extremely sexist in their depictions of women, they also gave us final girls, which I believe inadvertently created a sense of empowerment for female horror fans. I mean running through the woods while scantily clad and tripping over your high heels isn’t very empowering, but if you’re the lone survivor of a machete-wielding psycho’s killing spree, then maybe you aren’t as weak and dumb as the filmmaker tried to portray you.

Aside from final girls, like Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween and Terror Train, I will always have a special place in my heart for Carrie White. The original 1976 film is my favorite adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. If you haven’t read Carrie, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook read by Sissy Spacek.

To answer the second part of your question, these films inspired me to write strong female characters. Unless I’m writing erotica, none of my female characters run around scantily clad, and they have more control over what happens to them in the narrative even if they are at the mercy of evil forces. Watching slasher films made me conscious of how women are depicted in film, but reading novels written by women of color like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, and Jewelle Gomez gave me the confidence to write horror fiction in my own voice about women who look like me.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I can’t answer this question well as I was not allowed to experience much, if any, horror growing up unless it was in school. My mom and dad don’t believe in anything horror and I wasn’t allowed to read or watch. My parents still don’t support my dark fiction writing and they make fun of me or are scared for me if I have something with a raven on it or a skeleton/skull or the word Stephen King comes up. It’s sad really. Horror has helped me so much to heal from so many traumas.

I was able to experience in school Edgar Allan Poe and fell in love with his stories, as well as Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” which is one of my favorite stories of all time. It changed my life. It allowed me to know who I am in terms of humanity. It made me love literature and want to write. Poe, too, became an early influence. To this day, I feel they have shaped my stories as I write with humanity and a female depth as Shirley Jackson and I channel Poe techniques. I wrote my woodpecker story in Breathe. Breathe. in the vein of “The Tell Tale Heart.”

However, I’m mostly shaped by the literature I was allowed, for instance fantasy. Because I wasn’t allowed to read scary Stephen King, I was allowed to read Eye of the Dragon, which was my first by him because it’s fantasy. I fell in love. I devoured The Dark Tower then too. I read Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison, which in a way, had its own horror inflicted on women within its pages. My parents didn’t think of this as horror – but the atrocities to Native American women certainly were (to any women are). Her book and characters were major influences on me.

One thing my mom did let me have when I was young was things about witches. I’m still pondering this today (realizing for years now some nature/water witch prowess in myself) and why. But I had Tilly the Witch. I still love that children’s book. I will read anything about witches for sure and they, as well as nature, influence my writing a lot whether spoken or unspoken. I’ve written a few short stories. I enjoy reading non-fiction and fiction about witches. We are mothers of the earth, we are mothers of the sky, we are mothers of horror. Aren’t we?

Well, anyway… so yes fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, mysteries like Agatha Christie (somehow murders were ok haha) it all comforted me while awaiting the day I could read horror, but eventually they had me so scared of it, I was too afraid to read more than Stephen King unless it was a classic work. I laugh at this now. So yes, when I started my own business 11 years ago, and made time for more reading and writing and started the blog, I thought I’d write a children’s book and an historical novel. I’d always written poetry and wanted to write it more. I started writing about my trauma from abusive marriage, rape, illness, death and it all started meshing with my love of mystery, fantasy, monsters and spending a childhood alone in the woods with books, and it became horror writing.

Let’s take a moment to shine a light on a few great works that perhaps didn’t get the praise that they deserved. What are your favorite horror stories or books by female authors that were released over the past few years but that you wish would have gotten more attention?

V. CASTRO: I loved The Hunger by Alma Katsu. ANYTHING by Tananarive Due. Linda Addison is also an incredible talent. In general, I think all women in horror do not get their due. I grew up with Stephen King (read most of his books) and love his writing, but I’m tired. I’m tired of seeing anthologies with mostly men or not a single woman of color. Women of color are still very underrepresented across the board. I am curating a book bundle and it has been a struggle to find Latinas with novel length works of horror.

TERI.ZIN: Jessica Guess (Mama TulaMommy; upcoming: Cirque Berserk) is a brand new writer with whom I attended VONA in 2017. Incredibly talented. Vandana Singh’s Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories; just about everything that comes out of Fiyah Magazine is, well, Fiyah, lol. Danny Lore is a fantastic talent. I attended Viable Paradise (22) with them and they are just amazing. L. H. Moore. Chesya Burke. Matter of fact, pick up the anthology Sycorax’s Daughters. It features 28 Black women writing horror. (I’m in it, too!)

LISA QUIGLEY: I’m just going to list some of my favorites. They may have gotten more attention than I’ve realized, but I still think they’re all worth mentioning and reading.

Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter
To Be Devoured by Sara Tantlinger
Little Dead Red by Mercedes M. Yardley
Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering
I Am Not Your Final Girl by Claire C. Holland
The Writhing Skies by Betty Rocksteady
The Possession of Natalie Glassgow by Hailey Piper
Dear Laura by Gemma Amour

MACKENZIE KIERA: ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME by Julie Berry is the hill I will die on. While it’s not straight horror, it has horror elements mixed around with a strong feminist bend. I don’t know why we all weren’t talking about how amazing, how perfect that book was (is).

F4LARISSA GLASSER: I need to say right out of the gate that although I don’t consider her
a genre writer at all, I’ll sing praises for Torrey Peters at every opportunity. Reading her work convinced me to put trans narratives front and center in my own life, because I also have a lot of unresolved shit and the only way for me to deal with it, other than therapy, is to channel
these issues through story. Torrey’s writing is unrelenting. This lady actually made me want to take writing more seriously. She confronts the darkness and our own contradictions with a perfect balance of vulnerability and assertiveness that I haven’t yet found in another trans writer. I’ll find tons more voices, I’m sure. To me it’s worth it. Trans women’s experiences are denigrated so needlessly. But Torrey went the DIY route and became really successful and dare I say canonical. She’s got a new novel called Detransition, Baby coming out from Random House in August 2020.

For horror women authors who have also helped me along, I’d go with The Sisters of Slaughter (Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason)–their book Mayan Blue totally fucked me up emotionally and I keep re-reading it. Gory and grindy, full of sorrow. Also from the moment I first read Damien Angelica Walters, I was immediately hooked. She really stabs you in just the right places. I love Farah Rose Smith for her evocation of the 19th century decadent tradition, and definitely Victoria Dalpe for her versatility and for the cinematic nature of her work. These are just a few. My list would be super-long.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: I recently read The Deep (2019) by Rivers Solomon with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes after stumbling across it in the Goodreads Awards nominations page. It has a slow start, but it is an interesting fantasy novel that tells the story of “the water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society-and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future.” In a word, it’s brilliant. I’ve wanted to read a story about Black mermaids my whole life so I couldn’t wait to read this book. And, bonus, it addresses slavery and how our ancestors’ traumas are passed down generation to generation through genetics and memories. I’m hoping it gets more attention in 2020, and it would make a beautiful film.

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: Anything by Kristin Dearborn. She’s a great writer. Woman in White is wonderful. Sacrifice Island. I believe both re-released now from Crossroads Press. Crossroads is great and publishes a lot of good stuff, but we don’t hear enough about the books, this being one. Also, Stolen Away by her from Raw Dog Screaming Press is so good. I wish Kristin’s name was known more and appreciated by readers – she is well-loved among the writing circuit of course. She’s a great person.

And that’s it for Part Two in our Women in Horror Roundtable! Head on back here next for part three, as I talk more with these awesome women!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Her Own Horror: Part One in Our 2020 Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back for part one in my Women in Horror Roundtable for 2020! I introduced all of my amazing featured authors earlier this week, so that means it’s officially time to start unveiling their awesome interviews. So let’s take it away, shall we?

Welcome to my 2020 Women in Horror Roundtable! I’m so thrilled to be talking with all of you! To get started, tell us a little bit about yourself and your work in the horror genre.

Erin Sweet Al-MehairiERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I’m an author, poet, editor, publicist/PR professional, journalist. I suppose I’ve done a little bit of it all as I enjoy all aspects of publishing. I have my degrees in English, journalism, and history (yes I was crazy enough to have three majors to complete) and I’ve spent 27+ years in some sort of communication job: PR, Marketing, Advertising, Editing, writing, working in many avenues from healthcare to clothing to festivals to non-profits to publishing. I’ve owned by own PR business for 11 years now. When I decided to own my own business and freelance, to stay home with my youngest daughter for homeschool pre-school and because I was diagnosed with some auto-immune disorders, I decided to also try to read and write for pleasure again, and keep up some writing and journalism skills, by starting my blog. It quickly, due to my past work experience and expertise, turned into a business as well as an extension, so Hook of a Book was formed as well.

The blog is 9 years old now, and I’ve been reviewing horror that long, but I’ve been doing editing and PR/publicist work in the genre for about 7 maybe. I’ve worked for authors as a personal stand-alone publicist and editor, as well for many publishers. I’ve also managed coordination from covers to author liaison to finished product to market for publishers.  As well I’ve helped launch books from editing to finish for self-published authors to nice success as well. I still do I should say! As well, I still run my site with reviews and interviews for authors in the genre (and many other genres) who are not my clients (so no conflict of interest) and try to do special things during Women In Horror Month and National Poetry Month in April to showcase other authors and support the community. Though I work in other genres some, especially with editing, most of my time is spent in horror currently.

Beyond that I’m also an author and a poet. I have a collection called Breathe. Breathe. published by Unnerving that is half poetry and half short stories. I have poems and stories also in several other anthologies and magazines. I’ve co-edited a gothic anthology and I’m currently the editor of an upcoming charity anthology for this year called Survive with Me from Alien Agenda Publishing (Glenn Rolfe).

TERI.ZIN: Hi! I’m so excited to be a part of this! I write under the pen name Zin E. Rocklyn. I currently have five short stories out in the world and one essay about being an unseen, yet monstrous image in horror fiction and film as Black woman. I enjoy the brutal catharsis of horror and feel it is the most accurate genre to express obstacles in a way that is viscerally affecting to those who may not understand.

LARISSA GLASSER: Hi everyone! I’m Larissa Glasser, I’m a librarian at a large university and after about a decade playing in metal bands, I decided to get more serious about writing genre fiction. Of course, I gravitated to horror first because it was the genre I loved the most when I was a young kid renting VHS tapes in suburbia. I’ve got a few stories in anthologies but my first novella, F4, which was published by Eraserhead Press in the beginning of 2018, was the first time I let my horror freak flag fly.

V. CASTRO: My name is Violet. I am a mother of three living in London, but I was born and mostly raised in San Antonio, Texas.

Horror has been a great love in my life since childhood, however, one thing that was missing in the genre was representation. This did not hit me until later in life when I began to seriously consider writing and I looked at my own book collection. My Mexican American heritage is rich in folklore and history, and I wanted to share that with others. But horror!

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: Thanks for inviting me, Gwen. What can I tell you about myself? Well, I’m a Gen-X single parent raising a 13-year-old boy in the era of YouTube and social media. I work at a small liberal arts college and struggle to pay my bills. I have an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and an MA in English. I’m a woman of color who is ethnically mixed — German American and Jamaican American — who grew up in a homogeneously white rural smalltown in Central PA. My origin story as a horror writer began when I was very young. My mom was a single parent until I turned 5 or 6, so we lived with my grandparents. My grandmother loved folklore and scary stories and she was an avid reader of horror novels. Stephen King and Dean Koontz were among her favorites. My grandfather loved watching spooky movies and TV shows, so we watched Hitchcock and Hammer Horror movies, The Twilight Zone and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. My mom introduced me to Dark Shadows and gave me a copy of Interview with the Vampire for Christmas when I was 11. I was raised on a steady diet of horror and monsters, while growing up in the racially charged 1970s and 1980s.

All of these early experiences have shaped my writing. I write stories about women of color struggling to understand who they are and where they fit in the world while dealing with monsters — human and supernatural. I’ve always identified more with monsters, so humans are often the most dangerous characters in my stories. My fiction usually tackles some social or political issue, but I don’t always know what that issue will be until I start writing and tap into my subconscious. But honestly, 9 out of 10 times, I’m writing about racism and racial identity in America, specifically from a feminist perspective. So, I guess you could say that I write stories about monsters while exploring the intersectionalities of race, gender, sexuality, and class.

LISA QUIGLEY: My name is Lisa Quigley. In February of 2018, I started the Ladies of the Fright podcast with my creative partner in crime, Mackenzie Kiera. We’d gotten our MFAs together in the UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency program. We’ve known we wanted to collaborate pretty much since day one, but we weren’t quite sure what form that would take until we created the podcast. What we initially envisioned as an in-depth craft show in which we’d break down horror and other dark-themed books has grown to be much more than that. We’ve interviewed many of horror’s top editors, authors, and other industry professionals on the show, and we’ve even collaborated with Library Journal and the HWA to promote the Summer Scares horror reading initiative. Producing our show is a labor of love.On the writing side, last year my first two fiction publications appeared in Automata Review and Unnerving Magazine. My debut novella, Hell’s Bells, is schedule for publication by Unnerving in May 2020.

MACKENZIE KIERA: I’m Mackenzie Kiera. I’m the other half of the Ladies of the Fright podcast where we talk about dark and stormy literature, movies, and whatever else strikes our fancy. Lisa and I are active in the horror community as we are the official podcast for Summer Scares and Stoker Con.

Women in Horror Month is amazingly in its eleventh year now. When did you first hear of Women in Horror Month, and what, if anything, does it mean to you personally as a female creator?

ERIN SWEET AL-MEHAIRI: I think I heard about it… taking a guess… maybe five years ago? I think at first it mostly really highlighted women in horror film. A lot of horror promotion was focused on film. They did a great job of highlighting that portion of the genre. See, when I started reading and reviewing horror back 7 years ago it was mostly still men in the genre with a few classic authors and less than a handful of women horror authors who’d been around a long while and even did the convention circuit (how you promoted yourself you know before social media came along and even I should say…. social media became a use for authors. I don’t think that happened even until 5-7 years ago!). Now, in the past 5 years and more each progressive year, women’s names are more known and there are more women horror authors. So though there is still work to be done, there is A LOT that is better both in women being published, working in the field, and being read.

It means a lot to have the month, no matter if other women or men give it push back. I come from the awareness side of the fence, probably because I worked in PR for so long in healthcare. I did a lot by looking at the yearly calendar and seeing what monthly and weekly awareness promotions there were! For instance, we all know that heart disease kills women, we all know there is breast cancer, and do we need to fight it every day – yes! But is it a great time, when February rolls around and it’s Wear Red for Women, or October comes, and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to wear red or pink and talk about the issues. Yes. Deluge the masses with information and as for Women in Horror Month have a celebration as a way for us to share what we’ve done, what we will do, and keep staking our claim. We’re a sisterhood and I hope that NO ONE ever forgets that, not even the men. And if they want to join our circle, then they’re welcome as brothers in arms.

TERI.ZIN: I believe I first heard about WiHM about four years ago and to be honest, I was dubious about it. There are few Black women writers of horror that are ever featured in lists like this. I’ve mostly read white women and women of colour in horror; the dudes eventually annoyed me with their myopic presumptions of women’s stories and voices in particular. While the shine of reading white women and women of colour in the genre was comforting for a bit, I wanted to see more Black women of horror being brought to the forefront. Scattering articles would try, but it is still irritating. There are plenty of us and yet you don’t see us. I aim to improve that.

LARISSA GLASSER: I first heard of WiHM a few years ago, when I had made more connections with horror writers on social media and went to some more cons. I remember feeling great that women in horror are being celebrated–I mean, WTF Mary Shelley wrote the original breakthrough horror/SF book Frankenstein, and her intelligence not only crafted an incredibly bleak story but she also addressed ethical issues, along with body horror. I think the world was in a lot of upheaval at that time, and as women’s voices and public autonomy were beginning to gain more traction, Shelley struck right place, right time. It also isn’t lost on me that Mary Wollstonecraft, a pioneer in advocacy for women’s rights, was her mother.

I am also of two minds about WiHM – I don’t think women in horror should be considered for just one month, we should be read, taken seriously, and respected throughout the year. There is pushback against diversity in the genre even today – even if white cisgender guys don’t intend to be dicks about it, they still manage some bad optics because maybe that is what they’re used to, or to be seemingly “against PC culture” gives them extra street integrity or whatever. Also, I am considered by some to not be a woman because I was (C)AMAB [coercively assigned male at birth]. The trans experience is as unique as one’s own fingerprints, and it’s just something that happens. We don’t ask for it, and transition is the only cure – you’ve got to be who you need to be. But I’m not going to give a 101 on that, I’ve spoken and written about it at length. But honestly the biggest surprise I had after F4 was released is that there are already plenty of trans women writing in the horror genre – I’m not going to name names because I never out anyone without their express permission. Suffice it to say I don’t feel so alone now, and meeting allies and supporters in the field has helped my confidence immensely. Cons are the best places to meet people in the field. Hover at the bar.

V. CASTRO: I first heard about it on Twitter from the Ladies of Horror Fiction. A group I hope people will follow and support if they don’t already.

Women in Horror Month is a bra set on fire and held overhead. It is a line drawn in the sand for women to reclaim their narratives and express their truth. It is 2020 and you still have women written in ways that are not realistic or downright offensive. Our stories should be told through our perspective. I’m not saying men don’t have the right to write women, however, I am saying that we should have the same opportunities to publish and receive recognition for these stories.

MICHELLE RENEE LANE: I first heard about Women in Horror Month while working on my MFA at Seton Hill University. That program not only reignited my passion for writing, but reaffirmed my belief in the scholarship of horror fiction. Horror fiction is one of the most challenging genres to write in because you have to tap into raw emotions to convey the horror happening in your stories. And, it allows you to write about the real horrors happening in the world around you, much like science fiction holds up a mirror to the present to show us a glimpse of the future. I met a lot of women who were writing horror in the MFA program and it made me realize that the myth of horror being a male-dominated genre was bullshit. Sure, more male authors line the bookshelves in the horror section, but some of the best horror writers at this moment in time are women and people of color. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. There are a lot of terrible things happening to marginalized people in the world right now. Our day-to-day lives provide plenty of inspiration for writing horror stories.

LISA QUIGLEY: It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly, but I want to say I found out about it once I really became invested in writing in the horror genre. It’s a long story, but I didn’t always know that what I wanted to write (and what I was writing) was horror. So I was kind of a late bloomer in that sense. I think I learned of Women in Horror month about two or three years ago.

What it means to me personally as a female creator? On the one hand, I think it’s awesome. In many ways, horror is perceived as a male-dominated genre (although there are lots of reasons I could argue that’s not true in actuality…but that’s a conversation for another day.) At any rate, the dudes in the genre (awesome as so many of them are!) do tend to get a lot of the attention and spotlight. I think Women in Horror month is pretty cool because it does generate the awareness that like, hey, there are tons of incredible women out there writing horror, too. On the other hand, it does sometimes bother me that women need to be “called out” in one month. I think sometimes there can be this feeling that like…okay, we spent a whole month shouting out women, and now we can go back to our regularly scheduled programming. It would be super awesome if we got to the point where we didn’t need our own separate month. I am an optimist in that way, because I do feel like in so many ways we are headed in that direction. I am not naive, though. I know there is still a long way to go, and for many, this month serves as a way to amp up awareness and visibility. I am all for it, with the caveat that I certainly hope the day will come when we won’t have the need for it.

MACKENZIE KIERA: I suspect I heard about it in college at some point, but I didn’t take notice. (Sorry!) At that point, I thought I was going to work in emergency medicine, so while I’d always been fascinated by horror, I don’t think Women in Horror month showed up on my radar until Lisa and I started up the podcast. I feel like this month is important as it highlights the fact that it’s no longer just straight white men writing horror. Not that it ever was. Seems like people conveniently forget about Shirley Jackson and Mary Shelley when they discuss horror. Like it’s only got room for three big man names. Like it wasn’t around until Stephen King claimed a couple bookshelves in the stores for himself. As a creator, I think it’s a good thing, even though a month isn’t nearly long enough to talk about all of the amazing strides women are making in the genre.

And that’s part one of our Women in Horror Roundtable! Join us next week as we discuss favorite female characters in horror and underappreciated stories!

Happy reading!

Looking to the Horror Future: Part Three in Our 2019 Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back for the final installment of our Women in Horror Month roundtable! February went far too quickly this year!

The last couple weeks, we’ve discussed favorite female authors writing today along with challenges that women in horror face in the industry. Today, to wrap things up, let’s talk about the future of horror and what these seven amazing authors have in the works!

What are your hopes for the future of horror? In what ways could we all be striving to make the industry more equitable for everyone? 

CHRISTINA SNG: I hope to see exciting new ideas and stories bringing horror to the masses, like how Linda Addison’s poem inspired Jamal Hodge’s film MOURNING MEAL and how Josh Malerman’s BIRD BOX was simply revolutionary to me. And on that note, blind readings. That’s the most equitable way really. Let the work sell itself.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: I want to see a horror genre that is more inclusive and diverse (especially with our anthology TOCs), and I think we’re making strides to get there, but I also think we need to continue to be welcoming and supportive of book reviewers and all the work that they do for us. For instance, Ladies of Horror Fiction is doing a magnificent job of promoting and supporting women in the field, and then services like Nightworms, which is a monthly curated horror-to-read-and-review delivery service, is a unique approach to reading/reviewing, not to mention a wonderful marketing tool to/for our genre.

S.P. MiskowskiS.P. MISKOWSKI: We can all recognize that the genre has room to grow. Competitiveness in horror is self-defeating. It makes people look stupid and bitter. More diversity, a wider range of styles and approaches and experiences, can only make things more interesting.

Accept the fact that change requires action. A correction is needed before things become equal (and once that happens, we can stop trying so hard). This is where we are, on the verge of great changes, but we’re not there yet. To get there, you do have to plan some outreach. If you want talented women and people of color to contribute to your anthology, you might have to introduce yourself. You might have to be explicit in stating how open you are to diversity in fiction.

JULIA BENALLY: My hopes for the future of horror is that regardless of gender, people can publish good horror stories that send chills up the spine, that there won’t be anymore of this backbiting, statement-making, and offended-at-everything-under-the-sun bull crap that’s going on now, and that strong male and female characters can be accepted together, along with the weak ones, be whatever gender they may, and that writers can follow the one rule of writing that’s been torn down, that we can create whatever we want, and that every mold, old and new, can just be obliterated along with those who try to make molds. I think the best way is in the individual author’s hands. We don’t have to submit to this.

SABA SYED RAZVI: I’ve been really delighted by the popularity of spooky poetry and stories, lately. I hope that we continue to see more books of poetry, more collections of short fiction, more anthologies, and more novellas in the future. I’m pleased, too, that more films, television shows, and graphic novels are including the efforts of women. I love the idea that the horror industry can move toward a more equitable space. I hope that the field of horror continues to embrace the marginalized, the nonconformists, the weird, the rebellious, the unexpected. I hope it continues to embrace notions of intersectionality, transcendence, transgression, multiculturalism, gender equality in its topics, texts, and artworks in addition to its authors. The more we start to hear these varied voices tell stories, the more we are likely to hear what it is they are saying, too. I think that Speculative Literature in general, and Horror in particular, have always asked us to consider the things that challenge our senses of comfort, safety, and stability — and as long as we continue to push that envelope and do just that, instead of falling into formulaic traps that ask us to consider only purity of approach, or scarcity of expression, or conformist attitudes toward what frightens and delights us, we have a good chance of discovering newer kinds of horror — not just new monsters, but new approaches to the feeling of being alive, afraid, and energized by the fear that all of those things are as precarious as our ideas of what the world should be. As our world changes — and isn’t it always changing? — our awareness of what scares us in the world should change, too.

SARAH READ: I want to make sure Women in Horror Month is inclusive for all who identify as female in any way, to any extent, and it needs to work at being inclusive for women of color and women with disabilities, too. It needs to keep its focus intersectional, or it does more harm than good and shouldn’t exist at all. I hope that inclusiveness will enrich the genre with delicious new horrors of diverse imaginations.

Emily CataneoEMILY B. CATANEO: Gatekeepers are so important. We are all socialized to respond to specific stories about specific types of characters, and oftentimes, that socialization corresponds to our identities. If our gatekeepers were all socialized to respond to the same kind of story, well, that won’t lead to breadth and variety in our genre. We need more gatekeepers from different backgrounds and with different tastes, and we also just need more: more magazines, more anthologies, more publishers. There’s room for all of us in this field; we simply need to make that room.

What’s next for you?

CHRISTINA SNG: I hope to finish my next poetry collection by the first half of the year which is ambitious because life gets pretty busy and I only have the night to work on my poetry. If I fall asleep, that time is gone so chocolate is my best friend. I also have a children’s chapbook to complete, a haiku book to finish editing, and a novel in three parts to begin. If only time turners exist…

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: Right now, I’m finishing up an apocalyptic science fiction poetry collection titled, The Apocalyptic Mannequin, and it’s going on two years in the making right now, so it’s definitely my baby at the moment. I wanted to push myself to work on something new for my readers, and while there’s still a lot of my personal style in the book, the subject matter, approach, and themes are a tad different.

PariahsI’m also working to put out weird horror novelette this spring titled, The Dangers of Surviving a Slit Throat. This, too, is a bit different from me as it’s my first attempt at something bizzaro (ish), and it’s something that I’ve wanted to write ever since my aunt gifted me an antique radio. Matthew Revert did the cover art for it, too, so I’m beyond excited to put it in everyone’s hands soon!

S.P. MISKOWSKI: I’m writing a new novel, and I hope to have news about that in the coming year. Fingers crossed!

JULIA BENALLY: Writing is what’s next for me. “Pariahs” is out, and now I’m working on the second book, and trying to get a bunch of my other short stories published. Other than that, who knows what the future might bring.

SABA SYED RAZVI: I mentioned some of my ongoing projects earlier, so I think I’ll have psychopaths, robots and demonic faeries on the brain for a while. I’m working on some stories that have to do with magic/sorcery, necromancy, divination, genies, a series of poems about tarot cards, and a novel that isn’t itself horror but is all about people who love horror (and so it is maybe a sort of commentary on the social implications of how we transgress and transcend what we love when we love the shadows and the darkness). If all goes well for me, I hope that this will be a productive writing year, and that maybe during the next Women in Horror Month, I might be able to talk about some completed new projects! 🙂

The Bone Weaver's OrchardSARAH READ: I’ll be doing lots to promote my new novel, of course, and I’ll be at StokerCon and WisCon this year. I’ve just sold my debut collection to Trepidatio, so I’ll be working on that as well! And I’ll be wrapping up edits on my second novel shortly and sending that off into the world. I’m currently writing my third novel. I’ve had a few short story invites for 2019, so hopefully those all come to fruition. Pantheon Magazine will be taking a short hiatus while our publisher finishes up a new degree (and while I do this three books in one year madness), so I’ll have a little more writing time this year! I plan to put it to good use. I’ll also be spending time in Denver, New Orleans, and Chicago, hawking books so I can buy more books.

EMILY B. CATANEO: I’m finishing up my second short story collection in the form of my MFA thesis; it’s called Vainglory and Other Stories, and it’s a mixture of realism, fantasy, and everything in between, but every story features a so-called “bad woman” (some of them misunderstood, some of them actually deeply flawed). I’m also working on a novel, as of yet untitled, about spooky happenings by the ocean. It promises to be very gothic.

And that’s our roundtable for this year! Tremendous thanks to these seven fabulous female authors! It was an absolute pleasure talking with each of them!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Recommended Reading: Part Two in Our Women in Horror Month Roundtable

Welcome back for part two of our Women in Horror Month roundtable series! Last week, we checked in with our authors about what they’ve been working on and what Women in Horror Month means to them.

This week, we’re discussing all about recommended female horror authors along with the publishers that support them! So let’s take it away!

Let’s focus on the positive for a moment: who are some editors and publishers that have shown their dedication to supporting female horror authors?

Christina SngCHRISTINA SNG: All of the editors and publishers I’ve worked with have been supportive, as well as many who haven’t yet accepted my work but have taken the time to advise me on improving my writing, of which I am deeply grateful for, Linda Addison, Dawn Albright, Mike Allen, F.J. Bergmann, Charles Christian, CC Finlay, Vince Gotera, David C Kopaska-Merkel, Terrie Leigh Relf, Teri Santitoro, David Lee Summers, Susan Shell Winston, to name a few. Our community has been kind and supportive to both old faces and new during the early days of the Internet (showing my age here) and now, although as with every community, there will be exceptions.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: Personally, I have to give a massive shout out to Christopher Golden, Gabino Iglesias, and Shane Douglas Keene, all three of who are feminist warriors for the women in our field. There’s often not a day/week that goes by where they aren’t supporting, marketing, or promoting female writers on their social media feeds, and it’s really refreshing to see this.

S.P. MISKOWSKI: In my experience: Joe Pulver, Ellen Datlow, Ross E. Lockhart, Kate Jonez, Jess Landry, Justin Steele… I’ve met some wonderful people in horror and weird fiction.

JULIA BENALLY: I will say The Horror Zine, The Wicked Library Podcast, I’ve enjoyed stories from Black Static Magazine, Liquid Imagination, and Another Realm Magazine has good ones.

SABA SYED RAZVI: I feel like this is a challenging question for me because it can be so variable. I hope to learn more about this from the other panelists, but here is what comes to mind: I’ve seen a lot of positive attention in the HWA Newsletter, recently. Many of these are not strictly horror, but friendly to/welcoming of the genre. Hyacinth Girl Press. Sundress Publications. Coffee House Press. Menacing Hedge. Raw Dog Screaming Press. Fairytale Review. Finishing Line Press. Agape Editions. Ugly Duckling Presse. Chax Press. Fiction Collective 2. University of Hell Press. Rose Metal Press. Future poem Books. VIDA. I feel like my awareness of those who are supportive is often colored by my enthusiasm or awareness at any time. I’m often surprised when I see the catalogues of presses or the tables of contents of magazines, only to find that the male voices outnumber the female. I think this is a really great question, and that maybe it would be a great topic to explore during Women in Horror Month. I think I’m going to make it my mission to find a more thorough answer, this month…

Sarah ReadSARAH READ: Ellen Datlow, Andy Cox, Sean Wallace, Jess Landry, Dan Coxon, and Richard Thomas have been phenomenal. If you’re looking for women in horror, their publications should be first on the list. And many others are making great efforts toward being more diverse and inclusive in their work. I see more effort and accountability. There’s still a long way to go, but things are happening. Awareness is definitely happening, and I think any editor today who puts together an all-white-cis-male horror anthology knows that they’re going to be alienating a lot of their potential audience. And if they don’t care, well, that tells us everything we need to know about what not to read.

EMILY B. CATANEO: Michael Bailey, of the aforementioned Chiral Mad 2 anthology, has elevated quite a few female voices lately; Jess Landry, of Journalstone/Trepidatio Publishing, has edited a variety of female-written novels and short story collections in the past few years; and Sean Wallace and Silvia Moreno-Garcia over at The Dark have shown a dedication to diversity in their magazine, especially working to elevate the voices of women of color.

Who are a few female horror authors you wish more people were reading? Likewise, what are some recent horror books or stories by women that should have gotten more attention?

CHRISTINA SNG: I think your fiction is mesmerizing. I love Caroline Yoachim’s flash fiction. The poetry of Linda Addison, Marge Simon, Jennifer Crow, Christa Carmen, Sara Tantlinger, Erin Sweet-Al Mehairi, and Stephanie Wytovich.


STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH: Oh! I love making author/book recommendations, so some absolute must-reads are:

Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked by Christa Carmen
• “Slipping Petals from Their Skin” by Kristi DeMeester
Hair Side, Flesh Side by Helen Marshall
And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe by Gwendolyn Kiste
I Am Not Your Final Girl: Poems by Claire C. Holland
• “The Changeling” by Sarah Langan
• “Horror Story” by Carmen Maria Machado
• “Death’s Door Café” by Karron Warren
• “Necksnapper” by Emma Alice Johnson

S.P. MISKOWSKI: Anyone who likes subtle psychological and supernatural horror, especially ghost stories or strange stories, ought to read Lynda E. Rucker. She has two superb collections in print—The Moon Will Look Strange and You’ll Know When You Get There—and her stories are frequently published in annual ‘best of’ anthologies. One of her stories won a Shirley Jackson Award.

The Worst Is Yet to ComeIf you write horror or aspire to, I also recommend the fiction of Lucy Taylor, Lisa Morton, Lisa Tuttle, and Gwendolyn Kiste. I’m not including you to be nice because you invited me to your blog. I think what you’re doing, formally, stylistically, is unusual. When the right structure meets the right theme in a Kiste story, the effects are stunning, amazing.

JULIA BENALLY: I have a small list of who I’m a fan of: Scarlett R. Algee, you, Miracle Austin, and Jamie R. Wargo. But as for the new, I’ve found only one. Her name is Barbara Avon. She usually writes romance, but she also hops into horror. She had a book called “Speed Bump” that came out last year. It’s about this guy trying to get home for Christmas and he has several freaky adventures along the road. Her stuff reads like watching a movie. You can just see everything play out so well. Another book I really enjoyed was by Jamie R. Wargo, called Coyote Ridge. That one was really fun to read. These two people run over a coyote puppy and unleash these monsters from legend on themselves. I am a monster fan, so I was all about this. Both of these books are on Amazon.

SABA SYED RAZVI: So, writers whose works (which I consider horror, but which may also be categorized differently by the author) I’ve been reading recently include Elizabeth Hand, Quintan Ana Wikswo, Joyelle McSweeney, Caitlin R Kiernan, Lucie Brock-Broido, Stephanie Wytovich, YOU (Gwendolyn Kiste!), Nikki Ducornet, Shelly Jackson, Kit Whitfield, Elizabeth Kostova, Damien Angelica Walters, Marge Simon, Christina Sng, Marjorie Liu, Lee Murray. I find women’s voices are finding expression in poetry and short fiction often, lately. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read in the past few years. As always, I think the Stoker ballot is a great source for good new works, but so is the Elgin Award nomination list (it isn’t always horror, but there’s some good overlap).

SARAH READ: I want to see more people reading more horror in general–especially from women and genderqueer authors, but a few of my recent favorites are: Letitia Trent, Eden Royce, Caitlin R Kiernan, Jordan Kurella, Rena Mason, Lisa Morton, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Nnedi Speaking to Skull KingsOkorafor, Premee Mohamed, Gwendolyn Kiste, Maria Haskins, Helen Oyeyemi, Karen Runge, Emma Johnson, Nicole Givins Kurtz, Mercedes Murdock Yardley, Tananarive Due, Jessica McHugh, Helen Marshall, Gemma Files, Angela Slatter, Anya Martin, Julie C. Day, Carina Bissett, E. Catherine Tobler, JS Breukelaar, Kaaron Warren, Maria Dahvana Headley, Megan Arkenberg, Rhonda Eikamp, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and a few dozen others, but I should stop or we’ll be here all day. There are hundreds. Anyone who says it’s hard to find is reading with blinders.

EMILY B. CATANEO: These days, I’ve actually been reading more fiction that’s classified as literary, because of the aforementioned MFA program, so I feel out of the loop in regards to women who are writing fiction that’s classified as horror. However, I do want to draw horror fans’ attention to the fact that plenty of literary-classified fiction is actually tinged with the horrific. Clare Beams’ We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories, for example, is crawling with gothic creepiness. And Otessa Moshfegh’s Eileen is a thriller for the ages.

Thanks again to our amazing featured authors, and head on back here next week for the final part of this year’s Women in Horror Month interview series!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Fear and the Feminine: Part One in Our 2019 Women in Horror Roundtable

So welcome back for the official kickoff of our Women in Horror Month Roundtable! I’ve already introduced my fabulous interviewees last week, so in the spirit of the season, let’s just charge forth, shall we?

First off, welcome to this year’s Women in Horror roundtable! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest or forthcoming releases.

Stephanie M. WytovichStephanie M. Wytovich: Thank you so much for having me, Gwendolyn!

I’ve been working in the horror industry for a little over seven years now, and I write, teach, mentor, and tutor writing (fiction, poetry, and nonfiction) for a living. I’ve had five collections of poetry published through Raw Dog Screaming Press, one of which (Brothel) brought home the Bram Stoker Award in 2016. My graduate thesis, a religious horror/dark fantasy novel titled The Eighth was published in 2016 by Dark Regions Press, and it also helped earn me my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

My latest book, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare came out in 2017 and it’s a collection of poetry that is more or less a confessional dirge filled with ghosts, heartache, and naturally, a little (just kidding—a LOT) of blood.

Christina Sng: Hi Gwendolyn! Thank you for inviting me to this year’s Women in Horror roundtable. I’ve been writing horror for as long as I can remember and began submitting work in 2000. My first sale was to Dreams and Nightmares. I took a decade off writing to raise my kids (not much of a multitasker I am) and returned with my first full-length dark poetry book A Collection of Nightmares and a science fiction chapbook Astropoetry in 2017. This year, I’m back to putting poems into collections and hoping they find a home.

S.P. Miskowski: I’m a fiction writer with a lifelong respect for horror. My childhood reading was eclectic, anything from Vladimir Nabokov to Ira Levin.

Generally speaking, my work is about the nightmares just below the surface of everyday life. Many of my main characters are women, often doing and saying things women are not supposed to—in other words, being human. I think equality means being respected, and perceived as human and therefore fallible. My obsessions are existential: What does it mean to be human in a universe entirely indifferent to humanity?

My latest book is a short novel, The Worst Is Yet to Come (published by JournalStone/Trepidatio). It’s a stand-alone horror story about two very different teenage girls and how they alter one another’s lives, but it overlaps with and is related to four previous books comprising the Skillute Cycle (published by Omnium Gatherum), set in a fictional town in Washington State.

Julia BenallyJulia Benally: Hi, Gwen! Thanks for having me here. This is so much fun. So, a little about me. I’m an American Indian who used to have a fish. I love to cross-stitch, I enjoy singing, dancing in my room where nobody can see me, and I love driving through the mountains and listening to beautiful music, because it stirs my muse. So it drives me insane when someone gives me a ride and turns their music off so they can do small talk with me. As of now, I’m getting my second reprint for 2019. It’s called “Kittylyn,” and it will be featured in Another Realm Magazine. This little story kept getting rejected by editors left and right, and now suddenly it’s in demand. It’s almost like a Cinderella story, but I didn’t mean for it to be. Therefore, saying I had put my own twist on Cinderella wouldn’t be right. Also, my book Pariahs is out, and I am so excited, and thrilled, and I touch it and look at it every day, still not exactly sure if it’s a hallucination. This one’s about a twelve year old boy being terrorized by a fallen demon-killer who’s claimed him as his son. This world, and this story, is full of monsters and soulless creatures. I’ve seen it classed online as not only folk horror, but also adventure and thriller.

Sarah Read: Hi, I’m Sarah Read. I write horror and dark fantasy fiction. I have a few dozen short stories scattered about (soon to be unscattered into a collection from Trepidatio Publishing), and my first novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, was just released. I’m also the editor for Pantheon Magazine. Our latest anthology, Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, has just come out and is not to be missed!

Saba Syed Razvi: Thank you so much for Inviting me to participate in this Roundtable. I think Women in Horror Month is such an important endeavor, and I’m honored to be here — and to hear about the experiences and thoughts of the other panelists!

I’m a writer who feels an interest in the intersecting spaces among and between genres, ideas, and experiences, so I find that my own work overlaps many spaces, but tends to find itself most usually settled in darkness and in shadow. Not that I’m into being morbid for its own sake, necessarily, but I find a certain beauty in the grotesque, and in the ways in which we approach the macabre and the morbid, the ephemeral and the phantasmagoric, the occult and the elusive. I tend to trace these threads in my work, no matter the genre, whether I am working on academic scholarship, short fiction, essays, or poetry. I like the weird and the strange, the way it nudges us out of the ordinary into something more real. It is my hope that my feelings of fascination come across in the work I write, too. I feel that language is in many ways itself haunted, that it haunts me, too…and I think that comes through in my work. My most recent collection of poetry is “heliophobia”, and I’ve been really enjoying the chance to give readings from it. I’m recording some of the poems for those who may want to hear them, and posting them on SoundCloud at times; that’s been an interesting project because I don’t have any experience with recording, but I have a great enthusiasm for giving readings!

Saba Syed RazviAs far as new material goes… I have a few things in the works, at the moment, but they are in process, which is an exciting phase to be in. I’m finishing up work on a long collection, a cycle of poems that center around a man who has murdered his wife and is sculpting a replacement of her…sort of erasing her consciousness rather than uploading or preserving it; the work focuses on the notion of artificial intelligence, and how our own biases inform the way we can know things, the way we define them or delineate between them, the way we attempt to negotiate our fears through our relationship to them, and it pays a lot of attention to the idea of dissection, taxonomies, destruction, and disempowerment, of a fear and terror born of powerlessness. It focuses on a darkness that is somewhere between the exhilaration of experiment and the clandestine cover-up of a crime, building its fragmentary narrative through currents of violence and violent impulse, as investigated through the materiality of the language and the flat plane of the page. I’m also working on completing a long poem about a predatory game hunter and a ghostly faerie woman that he has captured; it takes place in a castle in Ireland, along the Blackwater (a river) and tackles ideas about freedom and domestic imprisonment, the monstrosity of obligatory motherhood as a stifling condition, and the desperation in magic borne of captivity. Lately, I’m interested in this space between magic and making, and my short fiction is wading its way through representations of madness and the occult. I’m really drawn to the paranormal in my short fiction, so I hope to share a bit of that in the forthcoming year, too.

So, I think I have a lot of things sort of…. in the works, but they may be a little while in the works before I can say they are forthcoming.

Emily B. Cataneo: Thank you so much for putting this together, Gwendolyn! I’m a writer and journalist originally from New England and currently based in Raleigh, North Carolina. My stories fall into several different literary categories—fantasy, realism, magical realism, etc.—but almost all of them are tinged with some kind of creepy, gothic, or horror element. If you’d like to check out some of my recent work, you can read a piece of mine in Nightmare called “Seven Steps to Beauty for a Girl Named Avarice,” which is about murderous witches, or a reprint that just came out in Lightspeed, called “The Emerald Coat and Other Wishes,” which is about a coat that transports its wearers to a realm from which they can never return.

How did you first learn about Women in Horror Month, and what are your thoughts on it? Do you think over its decade of existence that it’s helped to raise visibility for female horror creators?

Stephanie M. Wytovich: I got on the WiHM train back in 2014 after I graduated with my MFA, and I thought that it was such a fantastic concept to highlight women and their work in the horror industry. Mind you, I think every month should be WiHM, i.e. we shouldn’t stop celebrating women’s voices when February is over and long gone, but I do like the concentrated support it gives everyone.

And sure, it’s frustrating that we still need something like this, but for better or worse, I think anything that showcases new/seasoned voices and allows women to be seen and heard is a good thing.

A Collection of NightmaresChristina Sng: I first learned about Women in Horror Month on Facebook. I think it is awesome and there’s a sense of sisterhood around it, which I love. It has definitely raised visibility for female horror creators and it’s wonderful to see.

S.P. Miskowski: Like most people, I heard about WiHM via social media. I tend not to think of myself while writing. By that I mean I don’t think of myself as a person who fits a category. So a reminder that, in fact, my writing may be identified (by the world) by my gender—this is always startling, at first. Then I remember, “Oh right, I have this layer of identity, like a bulky suitcase, to carry around with me. People who see me will reduce me to this one thing and make assumptions about my gender, my age, my life, my beliefs.” It’s a pain in the ass.

Of course we all deal with this, all people have to deal with some degree of objectification. People of color face many more assumptions about who and what they are. The world is a place where you’re constantly told who you’re supposed to be, and anything you do to upset the status quo counts against you. The smaller the community in which you reside, the more that community tries to keep you in one category because it makes life simpler.

I don’t know how much WiHM has helped. Has it made women horror writers more visible? Maybe. Does it let people off the hook, so they only have to think about women in the genre once a year? Probably. Is it an annual reminder that a shocking number of people can still only name two or three women—all dead—who wrote horror? Definitely.

Julia Benally: So the first time I ever heard of Women in Horror was from you, Gwen. I was totally confused about it, but now I think it’s really fun. I like having a month dedicated to women horror writers. I’m pretty sure it has raised visibility, because now lots of people know about it, and it’s their chance to find new authors to read, and for authors to find new readers. That’s the most important to us authors than anything else.

Sarah Read: I don’t remember exactly how I learned about WiHM. Twitter, probably? I do think it has increased visibility, yes. Women in Horror Month lists and features were the first places my name ever appeared as a horror author, and it’s where I’ve discovered other names that have since become some of my favorite authors. From an editor’s perspective, I know those lists are a great place to look when I’m reaching out to writers for new work.

Saba Syed Razvi: I first learned about Women in Horror Month through the Horror Writers Association! I hadn’t known anyone else who was involved in it or who worked with it, but a stray mention on the website caught my attention.

HeliophobiaRight away, I loved the idea of celebrating women in horror, especially because, so often, women are victimized by horrific and violent acts or creatures in horror stories and film. Because I am interested in how gender is represented in literature and pop culture, and also how it plays a part in the ways in which we interpret it, I found myself immediately fascinated. A simple search on YouTube brought up so many videos that I really enjoyed watching and listening to — and brought my attention to so many writers whose works I had not yet read. I was pretty excited about that. Because my emphasis has traditionally been on the mainstream or experimental “literary” approach, and often moored in academic presses, I hadn’t encountered many of the names or books mentioned. Women in Horror Month also opened up my awareness of indie publishing in a big way, too. And, I imagine that when people stumble across the idea, they suddenly have at their fingertips a lot more resources than they knew about before.

I definitely think it has brought more visibility to the female creators of horror — but I also think it has built a sort of community, an awareness that women’s voices do matter in this space, the validation of the idea that horror can be much more than simple male aggression, that Medea is just as scary as Freddy Krueger and therefore just as meaningful however disparate they seem, and a sense of dynamism that invites more participation. For me, knowing that a designated month existed in which we could honor women in the field reminded me of all the nuances of it, the many ways in which horror could be enlivened, shared, and appreciated. I can say that my searches online since that first discovery have introduced me to the work of many writers whose material I would not have encountered otherwise, many frameworks for exploring and discussing them that I did not have before. As a movement, it has brought not only awareness and visibility for women writers and creators of horror, but also a reminder that these voices are not anomalous interlopers, but artists who should be celebrated. I love the positivity of the movement!

Emily B. Cataneo: I think Women in Horror Month is something that shouldn’t have to exist; in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need it. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and I do think that Women in Horror Month has helped raise visibility for female horror creators over the past decade. I also think that the publishing industry as a whole, although it has a very long way to go, has slowly started to awaken to its representation problems. It could be that Women in Horror Month is part of a larger shift in the industry. Is this a lasting change? I certainly hope so.

So that’s part one of our interview series! Head on back here next week for even more Women in Horror Month celebration!

Happy reading!

Women in Horror Month 2019 Roundtable Coming Soon!

Welcome to February, and more importantly, welcome to Women in Horror Month! I am super thrilled that I’m once again doing a roundtable interview series to celebrate the month!

So before I start unveiling the Q&A next week, allow me to introduce our incredible authors who are part of this year’s interview series!

Julia BenallyJulia Benally began on a dark and stormy night on the Fort Apache Reservation. She loves to run around in the mountains, snow is her element, and wonders at strange people who love the desert. In 2009, she graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah and began her long painful climb up the writing mountain. Her book Pariahs came out almost without her knowing because she wasn’t sure how to work the publishing button, and went through a slight panic attack. She’s been published in several magazines over the years, including The Horror Zine, Hellbound-books’ anthology Graveyard Girls, Liquid Imagination and Enthralled Magazine.

Emily CataneoEmily B. Cataneo is a writer and journalist. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Nightmare, Lightspeed, The Dark, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and her debut short fiction collection, Speaking to Skull Kings and Other Stories, was released from Journalstone in 2017. She calls New England home, and is currently based in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she’s completing her MFA at North Carolina State University. She’s a 2013 Odyssey Writing Workshop and a 2016 Clarion Writers Workshop graduate. She likes hats, crafts, and dogs.

S.P. MiskowskiS.P. Miskowski is a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. Her stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies including Haunted Nights, The Madness of Dr. Caligari, Darker Companions: Celebrating 50 Years of Ramsey Campbell, and The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Ten. Her second novel, I Wish I Was Like You, was named This Is Horror 2017 Novel of the Year, received a Charles Dexter Award from Strange Aeons, and was a finalist for a Bram Stoker Award. Her books have received three Shirley Jackson Award nominations. Her latest novel, The Worst Is Yet to Come, is available from JournalStone/Trepidatio.

Saba Syed RazviSaba Syed Razvi is the author of the Elgin Award nominated collection In the Crocodile Gardens (Agape Editions) and the new collection heliophobia (Finishing Line Press), which appeared on the preliminary ballot for the Stoker Award, as well as the chapbooks Limerence & Lux (Chax Press), Of the Divining and the Dead (Finishing Line Press), and Beside the Muezzin’s Call & Beyond the Harem’s Veil (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in several literary journals, as well as in anthologies such as Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace, Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War Faith and Sexuality, The Loudest Voice Anthology, The Liddell Book of Poetry, Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity, The Rhysling Anthology, Dreamspinning, & The Horror Writers Poetry Showcase Volume V. Her poems have been nominated for the Elgin Award, the Bettering American Poetry Awards, The Best of the Net Award, the Rhysling Award, and have received a 2015 Independent Best American Poetry Award. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Houston in Victoria, TX, where in addition to working on scholarly research on interfaces between contemporary poetry and science, on mysticism in speculative and horror literature, she is writing new poems and fiction.

Sarah ReadSarah Read is a dark fiction writer in the frozen north of Wisconsin. Her short stories can be found in Gamut, Black Static, and other places, and in various anthologies including Exigencies, Suspended in Dusk, BEHOLD! Oddities Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, and The Best Horror of the Year vol 10. Her novel The Bone Weaver’s Orchard is now out from Trepidatio Publishing, and her debut collection will follow in late 2019. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Pantheon Magazine and of their associated anthologies, including Gorgon: Stories of Emergence. She is an active member of the Horror Writers Association. When she’s not staring into the abyss, she knits. Keep up with her at www.inkwellmonster.wordpress.com.

Christina SngChristina Sng is an award-winning poet, writer, and artist. Her work has appeared in numerous venues worldwide, including Apex Magazine, Dreams and Nightmares, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, New Myths, and Polu Texni. She is the author of the Bram Stoker Award winning A COLLECTION OF NIGHTMARES (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2017) and Elgin Award winner ASTROPOETRY (Alban Lake Publishing, 2017). Her poems received nominations in the Rhysling Awards, the Dwarf Stars, as well as honorable mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and the Best Horror of the Year. Christina is also an avid gardener and an accomplished musician, and can be found most days in a dark corner deadheading her flowers while humming Vivaldi to the swaying branches. Visit her at http://www.christinasng.com and connect on social media @christinasng.

Stephanie M. WytovichStephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her work has been showcased in numerous anthologies such as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Fantastic Tales of Terror, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 2, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 8, as well as many others.

Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Point Park University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, and Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press.

Follow Wytovich at https://www.stephaniemwytovich.com/ and on twitter @SWytovich.

So those are the seven fabulous women that I’ll be featuring in the coming weeks! As always, be sure to head on back here throughout February for all the interview goodness!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month

Women of Horror, Dark Fantasy, and the Weird: A Recommended Reading List

Welcome back, and happy Monday! Today, let’s celebrate with some awesome books you should add to your summer reading list. Because why not?

Now earlier this year, I returned to Horror-Movies.ca with an article celebrating Women in Horror Month, and since that list was so fun to write (and hopefully a fun one to read!), I would like to share a few more fabulous horror, dark fantasy, and generally weird books penned by female authors. In particular, since far too often Women in Horror celebrations are confined to one month a year, it’s important to shine a light on those ladies who are working twelve months and around the clock to bring readers the latest and greatest in strange and haunting tales. As a quick note, I was fortunate enough to receive review copies of several of these books, and I can tell you that each and every one of them is most certainly worth checking out!

So let’s get started with today’s Recommended Reading List!

Never Now AlwaysNever Now Always by Desirina Boskovich
Desirina Boskovich has spent the last few years steadily making her indelible mark on speculative fiction. With stories published everywhere from Nightmare and Lightspeed to Kaleidotrope and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, her work has been easy to find and impossible to forget. Now, with her debut novella forthcoming from Broken Eye Books, she tries her hand at longer fiction, and of course, knocks it right out of the park. An incisive story about identity and the tenuous line between dreams and reality, Never Now Always is as brutal as it is beautifully written. Although I don’t want to spoil anything here, suffice it to say that this is one story that will break your heart and open your eyes with its incredible blend of science fiction, fantasy, and the weird. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy stories that are anything but simple and predictable.
Get Your Copy Here.

Feeding the DeadFeeding the Dead by M. Brett Gaffney
Released earlier this year from Porkbelly Press, M. Brett Gaffney’s horror and dark fantasy chapbook is supremely beautiful. The delicate pages and binding along with the lovely cardstock make for a truly magical reading experience. And of course, the selected poetry from Gaffney’s ever-building (and incredibly impressive) bibliography is exquisite. My personal favorites include the horror film-themed, “The Scream Queen” and the dark fairy tale, “Hunter,” but truly, each and every piece in this book is an absolute work of art unto itself. Brimming with hauntings and otherworldly creatures, these poems will stay with you long after you close those gorgeous pages.
Get Your Copy Here.

BoundlessBoundless by Miracle Austin
I’ve said it before, and I will be quite happy to say it again: Miracle Austin is always awesome, always surprising, and always worth reading. So naturally, her latest book—the fiction collection, Boundless—is a rollicking good time. A combination of short stories and poetry, these tales explore darkly fantastic worlds and characters who come to unexpected crossroads where they must make the ultimate choices that decide their fate. But through even the most dire circumstances, Austin’s writing brims with flair and whimsy, making Boundless a supremely enjoyable ride from first to last.
Get Your Copy Here.

Seeking SamielSeeking Samiel and The Bookseller’s Secret by Catherine Jordan
Catherine Jordan is an author to watch. Thanks to Horror Writers Association, I’m proud to call myself the mentor of this fantastic writer, though truthfully, working with her has undoubtedly taught me as much about the craft as I have taught her. Need proof of her immense talent? Look no further than this pair of horror books—the devilish Seeking Samiel and its equally engrossing sequel, The Bookseller’s Secret—which are both enthralling explorations on the nature of good and evil. A perfect two-for-one, I would recommend these titles to anyone who enjoys fast-paced and dark horror that takes inspiration from the varied worlds of Gillian Flynn and Ira Levin. Jordan’s work is ambitious and effective, and her name is one you’ll see for years to come in the horror fiction world.
Get Your Copies Here and Here.

Spells and PersuasionsSpells and Persuasions by S. J. Budd
Over the last few years, S.J. Budd has been making appearances in numerous publications as a short fiction writer, and she’s also a devoted reader and reviewer at her regular blog. Now, in her debut collection, Budd goes all in with these nine beautiful dark fantasy stories of magic and loss. A wide-ranging group of tales, you’ll find broken friendship, lost dreams, and a variety of strange beasts and bargains in these pages. Eminently readable, Spells & Persuasions is the perfect bedside book, one that will unnerve you just enough to ensure you keep the nightlight on.
Get Your Copy Here.

In the Crocodile GardensIn the Crocodile Gardens by Saba Syed Razvi
Saba Syed Razvi is an author I only recently discovered—once again, thanks to Horror Writers Association—and wow, am I so incredibly grateful for having found her work. This beautiful book of poetry, released from Sundress Publications, weaves an intricate tapestry of fairy tale imagery, cultural explorations, and political discourse. Her faculty with language is undeniable, and the ease with which she crafts her words is as lyrical as it is profound. These poems never take the simple way out and instead challenge readers to look beyond and ponder the all-too-difficult world in which we live. A weighty journey to be sure, but quite a beautiful and worthwhile one.
Get Your Copy Here.

Blood RelationsBlood Relations by Lori Titus
With a new and always fantastic book out nearly every few months, it’s no stretch to say that Lori Titus is one of the most talented and hardest working authors in dark fantasy and horror today. She crafts spell-binding stories steeped in history, magic, and mystery. Blood Relations is among her most recent releases, and it’s a beautiful and haunting novel that will burrow beneath your skin and stay there long after you’ve read the final pages. Also, if somehow you’ve missed Titus’s previous novels, including her fabulous Marradith Ryder series, then Blood Relations might be a perfect place to start, since it’s a standalone novel. But really, once you read this one, you know you’ll want more, so be sure to check out all her many other books, each of which is absolutely worth moving to the top of your to-read list.
Get Your Copy Here.

The Kraken SeaThe Kraken Sea by E. Catherine Tobler
Last year, I featured E. Catherine Tobler and her work on this blog, but it bears repeating: read The Kraken Sea. Read her other incredible Traveling Circus stories too. Read pretty much anything E. Catherine Tobler has written or edited. She is a fabulous storyteller, and her fiction should always have a place on your bookshelf. The Kraken Sea in particular has stuck with me since I first read it many months ago. This gloriously strange and gorgeous novella interweaves aspects of Tobler’s wider Traveling Circus universe while still delivering a standalone story, which is no easy feat. But of course, her mastery as an author makes this a highly readable story that gets its claws in you and never lets go. And that cover seriously haunts both my dreams and my nightmares, a perfect combination that fits the tone of this beautiful tale all too well.
Get Your Copy Here.

Happy reading!

Looking to the Future: Part 4 of Our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion

Welcome back to the fourth and final part of our Women in Horror 2017 Discussion! To close out our month-long series, these amazing authors and I chat about their hopes for the future of horror as well as what each of them has planned for the coming year! And once again, if you need to familiarize yourselves with my featured authors (and all their varied accomplishments), head on over here for a quick refresher!

So let’s finish this up in style! Take it away, ladies!

What is your hope for the trajectory of the horror genre over the next couple decades? What would you like to see more of in horror, and what would you like to see less of?

Kristi DeMeester: I’m hopeful quiet horror becomes more mainstream. With I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House on Netflix, I’m hoping for an uptick in less gore and more atmosphere.

Miracle AustinMiracle Austin: I hope that all women will be paid more attention to and offered diverse opportunities to have their works exposed in various outlets. So many still have no idea how many women love to write and read horror tales.

K.Z. Morano: The horror genre is constantly evolving and that’s one of the many things I love about it. This is what makes this genre immortal. Already, we’re enjoying a vast selection of subgenres from fantasy horror to noir horror to bizarro horror. Even so, I’d very much like to witness the revival of extreme horror done the right way. You know, the way Poppy Z. Brite did it. I’d like to read horror that’s ferocious and fearless and emotionally honest and raw. I hope that fewer horror authors would be forced to “tone down their voices” in order to be accepted.

Wendy Wagner: I think that after the success of The Conjuring, The Witch, Blair Witch, and Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s novel HEX we’re going to see a lot of witch stories for a few years. There’s already a lot of weird witch SF coming out, and I think that will ripple through horror a bit. I’m down with that. I think it’s time for a witch renaissance! But I’m never going to get enough haunted house stories. 🙂

Lori Titus: I would like to see more women, people of color, and non-Western settings in horror. I want to see less torture porn and more movies with substance. Stories about flawed humans can be just as scary (if not more) than the serial killer/monster like Freddy or Michael Myers. And it’s not to say that those creatures don’t have their place, too. It just seems that horror goes through these phases where it’s only one thing—all serial killers, all vampires, or all Bigfoot. Variety is always good.

Eden Royce: I’d love to see the definition of horror widen. It has a tendency to be dominated by the Eurocentric male view of what is fearsome or frightening. Chesya Burke’s article in Nightmare Magazine explains this well. Also, I want to see more horror films and webseries written and directed by women. I also hope we can throw off the stigma that comes with horror, especially for women writers. I see so many books that are categorized as “paranormal” in order to avoid using the term “horror” when the works clearly fit into the latter category.

Scarlett R. Algee: Well, I’m hoping to see more women 🙂 Less zombies. I am sick unto death of zombies and I’ve never quite worked out what their appeal is. I’m not a Walking Dead fan, and I can count the number of good zombie novels I’ve read in the past year on one finger. More psychological horror. Stories and films that don’t rely on outside monsters, but that show us we’re the monsters. Keep the gore offscreen and give us the dread, give us those subtle little touches that keep us awake at night.

Julia BenallyJulia Benally: I’d like to see horror that actually makes me shiver. Some horror should be classed in the genre of “stupid” because the story had no meat to it. I want to see better endings. How many stories choke at the end because somehow the evil ghost is a victim? WHATEVER! EYE ROLL! I’d like to see less of women’s privates. One can argue it shows vulnerability, so why are mostly women naked? That dude who wrote the story for the Silent Hill movie said women are good in horror because they’re ALREADY vulnerable. AKA she’s there to satiate horny sickos in the name of vulnerability. The only scary part about that is making rapists think about getting me. House of Wax with Vincent Price did the naked thing, but they showed the woman shoulders up. The focus was not her body, but the actual scene.

Tell us about your latest writing and/or editing projects. Also, what upcoming projects can we expect from you in the next year?

Lori Titus The Art of ShadowsKristi: Currently at work on stories due to anthologies and waiting to hear back on a handful of stories out on submission. Once those are off the list, I can circle back to working on my third novel. My debut novel, Beneath, is forthcoming from Word Horde in April.

K.Z.: I’m happy to share that one of my stories will be included in an anthology with tales written by Filipino authors. The stories are all set in the Philippines (or an alternate version of the Philippines). It’s not a horror antho but is instead made up of various stories in different genres. I’m actually looking forward to introducing more Filipino readers to my work.

Miracle: I’m in the process of working on edits for my upcoming YA/NA eclectic collection, Boundless—a work that almost was not published, which is another story of course. It will possess free-verse poems and short stories, which I hope will evoke many emotions. The expected release date is late January 2017. I’m also working on a short story for a YA Anthology to benefit Autism with 12 more amazing authors. It’s titled Ever in the After—fantasy and supernatural tales. Spring 2017 is expected release date.

Wendy: Editing-wise, I’ll be doing my usual stuff over at Nightmare this year, which is always fun. I love reading horror slush and working with horror writers—it’s an absolute joy. I have a story coming out in Pseudopod’s Artemis Rising project—it’s called “Drift Right,” and I think it’ll be podcast in early March. (It has creepy sea lions in it!) I also have a slightly spooky science fiction novel coming out this summer. It’s called An Oath of Dogs, and it features corporate cover-ups, murder, creepy alien beings, and some very scary dogs.

Sycorax's DaughtersLori: I have a lot on my plate. This month (January) I will have a new novel out called Blood Relations, about a religious cult and their enemies, who practice magic. There have been disappearances of young people in town, and the local sheriff struggles to solve the mystery before something worse happens. I will also be promoting The Art of Shadows, the second book in The Marradith Ryder Series. In this installment Marradith is tasked with finding Rafael Castillo, her missing boss. But as it turns out there are bigger enemies around than the one who abducted him. My plans are to write the third installment of Marradith’s story this year. But first, I have a new story I have already started on which I want to complete. Meanwhile I am also doing my usual ghostwriting work and some editing for author Kody Boye. Also, [I have a story in the anthology] Sycorax’s Daughters, along with a lot of other, great female black authors.

Spook Lights 2Eden: Spook Lights 2: Southern Gothic Horror was just released in January 2017. I’m working on a novelization of one of the stories from my first collection, Spook Lights. I have a story in Sycorax’s Daughters, a collection of horror fiction and poetry by black women authors coming out this month (February 2017) and one in Shadows Over Main Street 2 (publication date TBD).

Scarlett: I’ve done copy editing and proofreading for two upcoming Woodbridge Press releases (Explorations: First Contact at the end of January, and Heart Blade by Juliana Spink Mills, coming in February.) I’m terrifically pleased with both of those and I think they’ll be phenomenal. I’ve also just written another episode of The Lift, for you podcast fans, that will drop later this year, and I’m hoping this is the year I get a good novel/long novella plot dropped in my brain.

Any final thoughts on Women in Horror Month for 2017 (or any thoughts about your plans for Women in Horror Month for the years to come)?

Kristi: We’re here every other month of the year as well. 🙂

Miracle: I hope that Women in Horror Month continues to receive hot attention by the industry and readers. One day, I also hope that there will no longer be just one month dedicated to women horror authors because there will be so many women involved in so many media vehicles, which will become the norm. I’m very grateful that a few doors have opened for some women, but it sure would be nice if all the doors opened for anyone who wish to transform her dreams into reality and to become visible by all.

SanitariumK.Z.: A lot of people are still wondering if women really have a place in horror. Let’s show them that we do. WIHM is a start. Soon, hopefully, it won’t take a month-long celebration every year for people to recognize that women have and always will have a place in the genre.

Wendy: I always see people complain about the need for Women in Horror month—and about the need for Black History month, Indigenous Peoples Day, etc. Yes, it sucks that white male cultural products get the lion’s share of attention. It sucks that we need to have special occasions to call out the contributions of other kinds of creators. But I know I’ve learned a lot from these kinds of promotional activities. Working on Lightspeed and Nightmare’s Destroy series taught me more about women, LGBTQ, and people of color working in my field that I learned in a lifetime of library use. So I’m glad these things exist. They’re a great way to help people broaden their genre experience. And heck, they’re fun, too!

Lori: I just hope everyone will take the time to sample work from some of the excellent women writers who grace the genre.

Eden: I’m just so pleased at the success Women in Horror Month continues to achieve and I love chatting with the women authors and artists I meet and delving into their work. For Women in Horror Month in the years to come, I want to be able to promote more of their work as well as release more of my own.

Scarlett: I’m going to spend this year’s WiHM reading a lot and finding new favorites. In years to come, I hope to be more physically involved. We’re voices to be heard. We’re the future.

Tremendous thanks to these eight fantastic authors for being part of my Women in Horror Discussion. Please read their work, now and every other month of the year. The horror genre is so much stronger thanks to their contributions!

Happy reading!