Ginger Nuts of Horror's Motherhood of the Monstrous continues its celebtarion of female horror writers of the past present and future. Today we are honoured to host an article from Thana Niveau, where she looks at the author who inspired her in the early years of her writing career, and the author who she thinks we should all be taking notice of right now! .
Thana Niveau lives in a crumbling gothic tower in Wicker Man country. She shares her life with fellow horror scribe John Llewellyn Probert, in a Victorian library filled with arcane books and curiosities.
All her life Thana has been drawn to the darker aspects of life. She was a fearful child, plagued by nightmares and anxiety. Horror saved her. Scary films gave her an outlet for all that darkness and fear became her friend. Jason and Freddy were her childhood companions. On the literary side, Poe was her first great horror love, followed swiftly by Stephen King and Ramsey Campbell. Their stories frightened her while at the same time inspiring her. She still had nightmares, but now they were more like visits from a slightly sadistic muse. Writing all the scary stuff down turned it from a curse into a blessing.
The Train Derails In Boston by Jessica McHugh is a ghost story, more accurately about a house so stuffed to the gills with bad karma and horny ghosts, well, maybe not the whole house but definitely the basement and the mahjong box. It's about a family so far gone down dysfunction road there may be no way to turn around and get back on the highway. It's about revenge and sex and alcoholism and sex and self-loathing and sex and doubt and disorders and sex. And most of all, it is brilliant. Yeah, that's my super short review for it. I dare not risk spoiling anything but detailing more. But I have more for you....keep reading:
I was fortunate enough to get the lovely Ms McHugh to volley some questions with me. Below you'll see how that turned out.
I can't deny that Anne Rice and her “Tales of the Mayfair Witches” had a large influence on my decision to take fiction seriously, but as I've fiddled with composing horror all my life, I'd like to go back even further.
I had chronic bronchitis in my youth and spent a lot of time home sick, coughing my brains out and splattering them across the novels of Mary Higgins Clark. While usually categorized as an author of mysteries, Mary Higgins Clark was my first exposure to a female writer who dared to write something as horrific as the novel “Love Music, Loves to Dance.” The villain in this story made such an impression on me that I wrote about it in my childhood diary. In the entry dated November 1994, I said the following:
“It was creepy. See, this guy kills dancing girls who make personal ads, then he freezes them and/or buries them in his yard. Sometimes he will just leave them on the street with one dancing slipper on their right foot. Then he will send the left dancing slipper and original shoe to the girl's parents. It was pretty cool.”
Even though my Mom got me into MHC, I doubt she and my dad were happy their eleven-year-old daughter thought a story about a killer who freezes and dances with dead girls was “pretty cool.” Still, I'd love to travel back in time and deliver them a six-pack of gratitude. Thanks to Mary Higgins Clark, it's always a sick day in my heart.
Stephanie M. Wytovich is my toast and jam. I haven't gotten a chance to read her first novel, The Eighth, but I'm a huge fan of her poetry collections, Mourning Jewelry, Asylum, and especially Brothel. She is immensely skilled at grotesquerie and fostering the kind of unflinching horror and sexuality that makes me want to take on the world. Her understanding of the value of language, how she makes every horrific and beautiful word count awes me time and time again. On top of that, she's an amazing human being that I'm proud to call a friend and inky sister.
Perry Samson loves drugs. He'll take what he can get, but raw atlys is his passion. Shot hard and fast into his testicles, atlys helps him forget that he lives in an abandoned Baltimore school, that his roommate exchanges lumps of flesh for drugs at the Kum Den Smokehouse, and that every day is a moldering motley of whores, cuntcutters, and disease. Unfortunately, atlys never helps Perry forget that, even though his older brother died from an atlys overdose, he will never stop being the tortured middle child. Set in 2099, The Green Kangaroos explores the disgusting world of Perry's addiction to atlys and the Samson family's addiction to his sobriety. "I write junkie fiction. I read and watch junkie fiction. Call it a lifestyle choice. I honestly didn't think I'd discover anything new under the sun when it came to the genre. I was wrong. Green Kangaroos is the freshest, most wholly original work I've come across concerning the subject of addiction. Think Requiem for a Dream meets Cabin in the Woods, only funnier, fresher, and more harrowing. Potsticking makes krokodil seem like a good time. Jessica McHugh has crafted one mindf*ck of a novel." -Joe Clifford author of Junkie Love and Lamentation
As part of our support of Women In Horror Month, Motherhood of the Monstrous brings together some of the finest genres finest writers to discuss the authors who inspired them to take up the pen, and which of the new and emerging horror authors we should all be taking notice. In the spotlight today we are proud to welcome Michelle Garza. Michelle Garza writes alongside her twin sister Melissa Lason. They have been dubbed the Sisters of Slaughter. They write all levels of horror and some dark fantasy. They have been published by Sinister Grin Press, JEA and Fireside Press.
As part of our support of Women In Horror Month, Motherhood of the Monstrous brings together some of the finest genres finest writers to discuss the authors who inspired them to take up the pen, and which of the new and emerging horror authors we should all be taking notice. In the spotlight today we are proud to welcome Catriona Ward, who was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA from the University of East Anglia. Her debut novel, Rawblood (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) won best horror novel at the 2016 British Fantasy Awards, was shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was selected as a Winter 2016 Fresh Talent title by WHSmith. Rawblood will be published in the US and Canada as The Girl from Rawblood (Sourcebooks, 2017). Catriona’s second novel will be published by W&N in 2018. She works for a human rights foundation and lives in London.
Representation matters. I cut my teeth on the horror of the 1970s and 1980s, and none of the big names were women. When women did write horror, they were largely overlooked: even Douglas Winter could only find a single woman to interview for his 1980s book Faces of Fear, and that was V.C. Andrews. Anthologies from those days tell a similar story, many of them featuring no women at all or at best a handful in their table of contents.
I’m fascinated with the relationship between home and the unhomely space it can represent. In horror the home can become a site of demonic possession, murder, domestic violence hauntings and twisted relationships; all the more horrifying for the inversion of our traditional understanding of the home as a space of light, warmth and domesticity. The genre of domestic noir, a term popularised in 2013, plays with these dualities, exploring the aspects of the Heimlich (homely, secret, concealed) and the Unheimlich (the unhomely, the uncanny). The home becomes a place where buried secrets come to light with the most awful of consequences; it’s a space haunted by spectres of domestic violence, incest, murder and the paranormal. We see this dark domesticity writ large in novels from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca to Michael McDowell’s The Elementals, from Anne Rivers Siddons’ The House Next Door to Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts. I’d like to trace this tradition by highlighting aspects of two novels, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects.
Mary SanGiovanni takes the spotlight today with her picks for the female writer that inspired her to writer, and the female writer that we should all be taking notice of now.
My favorite book is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and while there are countless reasons why this book should be on everyone’s to-read list, today, I want to talk to you about what Mary Shelley did for me, personally, by writing this beautifully monstrous story. But first, are you familiar with the tale of why Shelley wrote the book in the first place? No? Oh, do let me tell you!
Setting: Lake Geneva, Switzerland....
I have mixed feelings about Women in Horror Month. While I'm pleased there's a dedicated month to bring attention to women who write horror, I fear we cease to exist in people's minds the other eleven months of the year. Ask someone in August to list their favorite horror authors, and it's quite possible the only woman included on that list will be Shirley Jackson. She was brilliant, don't get me wrong, but she's not the only one.
It's hard to admit, but even I'm guilty of this.
It's not that women haven't been writing amazing horror for ages; it's that we're all conditioned to unconsciously give work written by men more weight. I've mentioned many times in many interviews that reading Stephen King's The Shining when I was eleven played a huge role in my development as an author, and it did. But this is only part of the story. I've done a grave disservice by not turning the calendar back a little more, because Lois Duncan truly paved the way.
I devoured books as a young girl, rereading my favorites multiple times, something I still do as an adult. The titles of most of those books have been lost over time, but some, like Lois Duncan's Down a Dark Hall, Killing Mr. Griffin, Summer of Fear, and Ransom have stuck with me over the years. I remember checking them out of the library again and again. I remember the cold snake of fear moving up my spine each time I read them.
Without her, I never would've told grim little stories to myself, never would've started writing them down, never would've read King or Herbert or Poe. Or Carter, Jackson, Shelley, du Maurier, Oates, or Rice, for that matter. Please, Lois Duncan, forgive me for not giving you the credit you've deserved for years. You played a huge role in my becoming a writer, and I won't ever neglect to mention you again.
So, let's leave young Damien behind and talk about a writer she's reading now, someone you definitely should be reading as well. I could list a dozen easily, and then I could take a moment to think and list a dozen more. Rinse. Repeat.
Since I'm only supposed to talk about one, though, I'm going to highlight someone you should be paying close attention to: Kristi DeMeester. In the interest of full disclosure, I frequently beta read for her. What that has offered me is an insight into where she is as a writer and where she's going.
Since Kristi started publishing a few years ago, her short fiction has been published by Shimmer, The Dark, and Black Static, among others, and has been included in The Year's Best Weird Fiction. This year, her first novel Beneath will be released from Word Horde, and her debut short fiction collection, Everything That's Underneath, from Apex Publications.
Her voice is poetic and confident. Her stories cut deep into your heart and linger in the shadows. She writes of beauty and ugliness, of love and loss, of family and solitude, and everything in between, and I suspect she's going to be around for a long time.
Honestly, I've never been very good at following directions, so I'm going to add a few more authors, and I highly recommend you also give them a read: Livia Llewellyn, Priya Sharma, Helen Marshall, Gemma Files, Sarah Langan, S.P. Miskowski, and Cate Gardner.
In this haunting and hypnotizing novel, a young woman loses everything, half of her body, her fiance, and possibly her unborn child to a terrible apartment fire. While recovering from the trauma, she discovers a photo album inhabited by a predatory ghost who promises to make her whole again, all while slowly consuming her from the inside out.
Damien Angelica Walters' work has appeared or is forthcoming in "Year's Best Weird Fiction Volume One," "Nightmare," "Strange Horizons," " Lightspeed," "Shimmer," "Apex," and "Glitter & Mayhem." She was an associate editor of the Hugo Award-winning "Electric Velocipede.""
WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH LINKS
THE WOMEN IN HORROR MIXTAPE
INTERVIEW WITH KAYLEIGH MARIE EDWARDS
THE HISTORY OF WOMEN IN HORROR 1: A MAN EXPLAINS
28 Days Of Black Women In Horror
Interview with Lee Murray
Women in Horror Month
The Monstrous Regiment of Women in Horror