In horror, as in every other genre, there are different styles of writing. Some authors lean towards the atmospheric, some love to get out the paintbrush and paint the walls red with blood (and various body parts) while others love to create monsters for a good, old-fashioned chomp-n-stomp story.
But it also had me wondering…Did women feel more constrained to write certain types of horror over others? Did they feel that because they are women that they had to stick to writing “nice” horror? Or, conversely, did they feel that they had to go balls-to-the-wall in order to be taken seriously as ‘real’ horror authors. So I asked some authors on the Twitterverse what they thought. The answers were surprising and heartening.
We got comparisons to childbirth:
V. Castro says:
I’ve given birth three times and every tale slips out of me like a newborn. They are what they are.
Leanna Falconer says she writes mainly weird fiction but:
I’m not afraid to include whatever it takes to make the story work. I don’t usually take my gender or the genders of my protagonists into consideration. The story determines itself.
Which is a very good take on it. When I’m reading a first person short story I tend to assume I’m seeing a female perspective unless the story dictates otherwise. But I can see a lot of people viewing them differently.
Sarah Read had a slightly more…colorful response to the question of whether or not a female author would feel constrained or not (we loved it!):
Neither! I write whatever the hell I feel like whenever the hell I feel like it. Sometimes that’s quiet dread and sometimes it’s slithering entrails.
Here at the Ladies of Horror Fiction we always appreciate the feeling of quiet dread and the slippery, slithering entrails.
Rylann Watts tapped into what we generally think when reviewing. We may not be authors ourselves but we know what we like to read:
I personally feel women are scarier than men as far as dangerous creatures. But I don’t think about my gender when I’m writing. I write what I want to read in horror.
I have to say the answers thrilled me to no end. I think it’s amazing that women are coming into their own and writing what they want to write instead of feeling like they have to tone down their inclinations for the more extreme sides of horror.
Gemma Amor says she doesn’t consider her gender when writing horror but:
I just write what is close to my heart, and what excites me. I sometimes am more conscious of certain themes because of my gender, and feel a responsibility to write strong characters.
Which I think is a very important direction to take. So often a lot of writers use trauma and/or childhood abuse and rape as weak character crutches for women in their books. It’s lazy. And we need more writers who can write strong characters with interesting backstories.
Beverly Lee says:
My stories always evolve as they want to be. Sometimes it means that unsettling feeling strokes the nape of your neck gently and sometimes it means it screams in your face!
I have noticed that a lot of the answers are similar but that doesn’t make them any less valid. I love hearing that they write what they want to. They go where the story leads them. In the end that is the most important thing. Authors who aren’t afraid to tell their stories.
Rhonda J. Garcia has some words of wisdom, as well.
I have to tell the story that wants to be told, in all its horrific splendor. Sometimes, that’s an understated tale. More often, it’s exactly the story I haven’t read a bazillion times. Every time, it’s deeply felt and unsettling.
That’s what readers look for. The story that hasn’t been told for the thousandth time. Or the story that has been told before but with a fresh spin on it.
Women do struggle for recognition, fight to ‘prove’ that they are ‘real’ horror writers. I found their answers very refreshing. Women aren’t just hiding in the shadows and writing about them anymore. They’ve emerged into the twilight to create their own monstrosities, lovers, shadows and fiends.
I want to say a huge thank you to the authors that responded and let me quote them. Below you’ll find a list of them, their most current book, their Twitter handle and a link to their profile page (if it’s up yet). If they are not on site yet the name will link to their Goodreads profile.
V. Castro and Gemma Amor also review at www.scifiandscary.com as well.