Women in horror? I can’t imagine reading a horror novel penned by a woman. How would I ever be able to relate? I need that male perspective. Guys know how to get vicious, how to take the wheel and press the throttle until the testosterone-fueled hell ride drives us toward and over the precipice of literary mayhem paved by the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz. Surely there’s no way a female author can handle such a bloody, calculating, journey through Hades and back…right?
I’m afraid to say that I was one of the passengers in this vehicle of ignoramuses. Let me check that…I had works by one woman, Ann Rice. The first four books of the Vampire Chronicles were among my introduction to the world of horror, but somewhere along the line I forgot women could write horror that could cast that magical spell. In 2004, I started reading more King, Richard Laymon, Bentley Little, Brian Keene. Ann Rice got lost in the background somewhere. I didn’t touch a book from a female author until February of 2013. And I was a moron.
I joined the Horror Writers Association early in 2012. One of the things I love about the organization is the forum, specifically, the bountiful amount of members in there who are eager to help out, offer advice and be real with you. I realized how many women were in there and people like Sherry Decker (among others) were regularly responding to my infant author questions.
Throughout 2012, I focused on my own works. I regularly jumped into the forums and interacted with the HWA community as often as I could. In February of 2013, after being part of the community for a year, I started hearing about February being Women in Horror Month. And it dawned on me that I hadn’t read a terror tale by a female author in A LONG time. Meeting numerous women authors in the forum and on Facebook, I knew I needed to set aside this strange notion I’d acquired over the last eight years or so and give these ladies of blood and fright the attention they deserved.
I started with Shirley Jackson’s, The Haunting of Hill House and followed that up with Sarah Langan’s, The Keeper. Needless to say, I was quickly enlightened of the grave error of my reading ways. I was a fool for even thinking women couldn’t reach my fear factor. For believing I wouldn’t be able to relate to the voice, that I wouldn’t be able to be completely hooked in and taken anywhere close to the heights of fear and intensity that guys like John Everson and Ronald Malfi constantly delivered me to. I was wrong.
I followed my first official celebration and participation in Women in Horror Month by seeking out new female authors to read and discovered amazingly talented writers like Damien Walters, Mercedes M. Yardley, Rena Mason, and even someone who graduated from my tiny high school here in Maine–Ms. Kristin Dearborn. I can’t believe how stupid I was being. And furthermore, I can’t even recall where this bizarre stigma I’d attached to these wicked ladies came from.
Although I know I have come to the light and stepped into the unisex bathroom of horror authors, I know there are still confused and irrationally minded dudes out there making the same critical error with their horror novel selections. Hell, I’m sure it goes on within every genre. I am here today, February 17, 2014, to tell you guys…ladies are just as vicious, just as dark, twisted, and wordily crafty as any of your favorite male horror writers out there. Set aside your misguided ideas of women writers being too soft, too sensitive, too light to spray the walls of your small minds with the real guts, gore, and brains of our beloved evil realms. I implore you to set down today or tonight and seek out one book in your favorite genre written by a person without a penis. Trust me– you will thank me later (after you get done cursing yourself for being a dolt and apologizing to the other half of our amazing writing community).
To all of you kick ass and gifted female writers…I say, CHEERS!
Here are a few Good Reads links for you to check out to some of my favorite vagina carrying authors:
and a link to an interview I conducted for HorrorNovelReviews.com with Mercedes M. Yardley: