I don’t know about you, but I really, really like hearing more than one opinion on certain issues, and these ladies have been incredibly insightful. I’m so blessed to have so many people willing to share their feelings and experiences with me about this sort of topic. That being said, today I have another great offering for you: Rie Sheridan Rose!
SJ: Why horror? Out of all the things to write, why does this genre appeal to you?
RSR: Why not Horror? I think many people have the perception that horror is for the boys…but I have always loved the genre—whether it was watching “Dracula Has Risen from the Grave” on TV or cutting Carrie for a duet scene in high school. Horror is a genre that lets us explore the darkest aspects of humanity. It is the forbidden, the taboo, the unsanctified. I think we all need to shine a light on this darkness from time to time. I write a little of everything, but horror is the place I go when I want to let the demons out.
SJ: Who or what were your horror genre inspirations growing up? What made you realize that you wanted to explore and participate in the genre?
RSR: Of course, Stephen King. And I fell in love with Interview with a Vampire when it first came out. (Finding out that Anne Rice was a relative by marriage didn’t hurt.) I have always been a vampire girl. I used to actively collect everything I could get my hands on. I blame Barnabas Collins. I don’t remember who else specifically…I read anything and everything…a lot of it was horror. I think I realized I wanted to write in the genre when I realized the freedom involved. You can put all the nastiest thoughts, the most vicious acts, the worst possible characters into horror and only begin to scratch the surface of possibility. Mankind needs the dark to balance the light. Exploring that dark is fun.
SJ: What are women’s roles as horror characters? Are we doomed to be portrayed as victims or numbers on the sexual richter scale? Is it possible for male readers to find female horror characters that resonate with them?
RSR: Traditionally, women have been relegated to the roles of victim and catalyst. I don’t think that is necessarily true these days. Especially as more women write horror. You are going to see more and more lead roles go to the women. For example, in my short “Bloody Rain,” from Mocha Memoirs, it is all the women who save the day. That doesn’t mean that I think women should be the heroes of every story. It wouldn’t be any more realistic than not being the hero of any story. But I do think there is a shift started that will only get more obvious as more women begin to write horror. I do think it is possible for male readers to find female characters that resonate with them, just like women can find male characters that resonate. Strong women are just as compelling as strong men, and discerning male readers will recognize that.
SJ: Why do people need to know about women horror writers, film makers, etc. What makes us equal or special in this already-saturated genre?
RSR: I don’t think we are “special,” but I do think we have the capacity to be equal. Women make up at least half the population. Why shouldn’t some of them equal their male counterparts? I think people need to know about the women in the field because they may not have had the opportunity to read their work simply because it is such a prevalent genre. It is easy for a new writer to get lost behind the prolific forerunners, but that means that new readers may be missing out on a lot of great work. This is the same for the new male writers too, but I think the women have to howl about our work a little louder because people have forgotten that a woman started the genre when Mary Shelley published Frankenstein. 😉
SJ: Who are some women horror writers/film makers/etc that people definitely should know about?
RSR: My go-to answer is Charlee Jacob. Her writing is amazing, and every bit as visceral and disturbing as the men. Anne Rice, of course—she has such versatility. Kathryn Ptacek has some chilling work. Barbara Hambly, Suzy McKee Charnas, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. But there have been women writing horror since the Victorian era, so there are a lot of possibilities out there.
SJ: Where do we go from here? Is it a matter of authors reaching out to local stores and libraries during February to encourage displays or readings by women horror writers? Is this an issue that should be taken to publishers to make sure there is equal representation of female-written horror in their catalogues? Is it a marketing issue, something that just gets lost in a jam-packed market? Is it a matter of readers just not knowing or caring, of sticking with what they know?
RSR: Where do we go from here? Onward and upward. The more vocal we are, the more people will know we exist. Should it be limited to February? No. We are writing all year round. We should make our voices heard year round. I don’t know if publishers should be approached about “equal representation.” That suggests some sort of quota system…”Oh, we don’t have enough women horror writers…better get some.” I can’t agree with that, even while shopping a novel manuscript. The work should speak for itself. It should be so haunting, so compelling, that they should publish it on its merits. I think that women in horror will continue to gain momentum as long as the women are actually out there and writing it. Though a little horn-blowing never hurts.
Thanks so much, Rie! She’s graciously included an excerpt from her story in The Grotesquerie, House Call, for your reading pleasure (though she would like to point out that the beginning doesn’t get very horrific 🙂 )
“Dr. Cavanaugh? This is Alexander Peterson calling. I applied for your summer internship last year, and you told me to reapply this year.”
The voice on the phone held no spark of recognition. “What do you want, Mr. Peterson? I have a very full schedule this afternoon.” Cavanaugh’s voice was as rich and well-modulated as Alex remembered from their previous encounter, with the trace of some foreign origin showing through in the vowels.
Alex sighed. Great. This was his one big chance, and the guy didn’t know him from Adam. “Well, as I said, sir…you told me to apply for the internship again this year, and I did so, but I haven’t heard anything—”
“The deadline was a mere two weeks ago. Learn some patience. Goodbye.”
“No! Wait—I needed to add something to my application. I finished my pre-med course work last week—”
He was talking to a dial tone.
You can also check out Rie’s work at the following places:
Twenty-two short horror stories written by women are here on display for your enjoyment or your perverse fascination. Within these pages, beauty becomes deadly, innocence kills, and karma is a harsh mistress.
The Grotesquerie is now open…