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.
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.
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.""
There are three female writers that have inspired my work: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley; Shirley Jackson; Tanith Lee. Everyone knows the first and her remarkable 1818 novel Frankenstein, but if you haven't read the other two, you're in for a real treat.
Shirley Jackson is famous for her chilling novel The Haunting of Hill House (1959), and her horrific short story "The Lottery" (1948)--a brilliant piece of writing that uses the most difficult 3rd person voice that stays outside every character, that god-like quality infusing the insanity of the situation with a very creepy feel. But my favorite Jackson story is "The Lovely House" (1950), also reprinted as "The Visit". The writing is incredible and carries this subtle tale which, read carefully and several times, keeps revealing more and more of its unnerving undercurrents. It is one of those stories that sits on the edge between realities, real and surreal, and by its general loveliness of tone and exquisite descriptions creates a real sense of unease. The first sentence is a teaser: "The house was, even before anything had happened there, as lovely a thing as she had ever seen."
Another writer whose work has affected me is Tanith Lee, who I knew personally. She was a remarkable woman who lived her fantasies in many way, a kind and generous soul, and a perfectionist when it came to writing. Tanith couldn't write on a computer and always sent me her stories typed on a typewriter! She contributed to several of the anthologies I've edited, and her final story "The Return of Berenice", written just before her death (2015), is in nEvermore! Tales of Murder, Mystery & the Macabre. I first encountered Lee's writing when I read Sabella (1980). The novel blew me away. It captures the loneliness and terror of alienation that everyone who feels different experiences. Her short story that affected me most is "Bite-Me-Not or Fleur de Feu" (1984). I've rarely read such a fine and delicate piece, writing that reminds me of fine lace and filigree work. This is a tale of two species, one dominant, the other prey--until that changes. It's a sweet, mildly erotic, and, in the end, a very beautiful and touchingly sad view of life.
As to current authors who readers might investigate, I can mention two whose work I have included in my anthologies.
Sandra Kasturi is well known as co-owner/editor of Chi Publications. But she also is a poet and has published many pieces in a variety of publications. Kasturi is a wordsmith and even in the darkest depths of a poem, her humor rises to the top, always surprising and delightful. She has published collections of her poems and an individual piece appears in my antho Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead. But, she also writes fiction, and has an amazing story in Evolve 2: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead. "The Slowing of the World" was an absolutely ringer to finish off this anthology.
Colleen Anderson is an up-and-coming writer of both poetry and short fiction. Her short work "Asylum" can be found in my anthology nEvermore! Tales of Murder, Mystery & the Macabre, and the dark and lovely "Embers Among the Fallen" is in Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead. Colleen is a risky writer and her stories take you where you were not expecting to go.
Vampires and humans are at war!
Moarte, King of the Vampirii, is a prisoner of his Sapiens enemy. The beautiful Sapiens Princess Valada, believing that Moarte killed her mother, tortures him, even to the point of breaking the bones in his wings so he cannot escape. She intends to incinerate him to ash in sunlight, but Moarte escapes.
Moarte hungers for revenge. When, through an act of betrayal, Valada is captured by the vampirii, his first instinct is to drain her blood and annihilate her. But he realizes he can get revenge in other ways, using her as a tool to gain the upper hand in this conflict. But who is manipulating whom? Both want revenge, and control of the other, and Moarte wants to drink Valada's blood. Dark desires lead down a path neither had envisioned, a threatening spiral that can destroy empires.
Hunter and hunted change places again and again in this novel of twisted, violent passions. Seeds of deception are sown amidst love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, obsession and indifference, in an erotic tale of warring races, foes since the beginning of time, and two unlikely adversaries aligning to battle a common enemy.
“Nancy Kilpatrick infuses her vampires with the hot blood of life and erotic passion. Vampires have never had it so good.” - F. Paul Wilson
Author of the Repairman Jack series.
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