Ginger Nuts of Horror
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.""
BY ANNA SMITH SPARK
Just before Christmas, a (male) friend wrote a piece criticising a popular ‘most anticipated sff of 2017’ list because it only contained books by white men. Said friend then listed a number of female authors who could have been included. One of them was me.
The next day, I looked at the wishlist I’d drawn up of books I wanted for Christmas. Every single one of the books on it was written by a white man.....
I learned how to write by reading. Had I kept every book I ever read, the pile would have no doubt buried me by now. Reading taught me everything - vocabulary and grammar, character and cliffhanger, intangibles such as rhythm and voice, right through to the alchemical feat of making words vanish altogether.
As a girl I was a voracious reader with a penchant for adventure, with plenty of access to books by Enid Blyton, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Jules Verne, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Multiple genders were represented, and imbalance wasn’t really an issue until my early to mid-teens when I began reading more high fantasy and science fiction. Writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, E.E. Doc Smith, Robert A. Heinlein, etc., were predominant on the book racks, until one day I discovered a copy of Tanith Lee’s The Birthgrave, with its glorious Peter A. Jones cover. It still had a high fantasy setting and contained the requisite scenes of adventure, atmospheric horror, and survival, but The Birthgrave was primarily an outsider’s voyage of self-discovery, one I could wholly identify with, and its voice was unmistakably female. On a creative level, it was tremendously inspiring.
I went on to search out other books, by Ursula K. Le Guin, Cecilia Holland, C.J. Cherryh, all wonderful storytellers, but it’s Tanith Lee’s volcano goddess that sticks with me the most. I still have that book. It’s traveled all the way across the Atlantic and is crumbly and old, but it still takes pride of place on the top shelf of one of my book cases, along with a couple of its companions.
Anton Weiss, father of all vampires, returns from a mysterious sabbatical and swears genocide on his entire family. His letter of intent is abrupt, its reasoning unclear. Consequently, his descendants choose to ignore the threat and assume their beloved creator has simply gone mad. Until the slaughter begins. Unprepared, the survivors are forced to leave their sanctuaries and forge new, hasty alliances in a desperate bid to protect themselves. But can they stop their revered ancestor? And whom can they trust? In the struggle to survive, Gilles and Mina are joined by Mark, an enigmatic and vengeful newcomer, who was tortured and left for dead by one of their society's powerful Elders. Subsequent events suggest the three have been brought together for a purpose, but one that proves elusive. But when loved ones are threatened, and companions begin to die, enemies must become friends, and for Mark in particular, that might also include the man who brutally murdered him.
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.
The Women in Horror Film Festival is excited to announce that the best-selling horror writer, Mylo Carbia, will be in attendance at the festival, which will take place from September 21-24 in Atlanta, Georgia. Mylo Carbia will be hosting a book signing at the festival for her #1 bestselling horror novel, “The Raping of Ava DeSantis,” which has been acclaimed by several prominent publications, including The Boston Globe, Examiner.com, Scream Magazine, and Reuters News.
Tagline for The Raping of Ava DeSantis: A poor college student, brutally attacked by three wealthy fraternity brothers, seeks revenge against their families decades later.
The novel focuses on Ava’s revenge, and has been lauded as a nail-biting revenge thriller.
More information about Mylo Carbia (@MyloCarbia) and The Raping of Ava DeSantis can be found at
The Women in Horror Film Festival is a one-of-a-kind film fest dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the talented women behind the scenes and starring in horror films, as well as the many creative women horror screenwriters.
The Women in Horror Film Festival is open to submissions of feature films, short films, student films, short screenplays, feature screenplays, and television pilots. Submissions can be made at https://filmfreeway.com/festival/WIHFF via FilmFreeway.
A custom Women in Horror Film Festival trophy will be given to all winners in each of our 19 categories. Feature film finalists will be sent to horror distributor Terror Films for consideration. Screenplay winners will receive a copy of StoryO software from Jungle Software, and all feature screenplay finalists will receive a copy of The Hollywood Screenwriter’s Directory from the Writer’s Store. Other awards will be announced soon!
Women in Horror Film Festival is proud to announce that it is sponsored by Terror Films, Minutemen Press, Jungle Software, The Writers Store, and Dead, Buried, and Back!
Ginger Nuts of Horror is proud to be supporting Women In Horror Month. For the whole of February (and probably a fair bit of March, thanks to the level of response)we will be featuring a backwards / looking forwards series of guest articles that look at some of the female writers who have influenced this generation of writers, and the writers who are emerging on the scene now that we should all be paying attention to. We are proud to have some of the finest horror writers contributing to the series ( if you want names then you just have to check out the site ), as a well as a series of supplementary reviews, interviews and news articles as well.
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