Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Women in Horror 2015

Since February is the month dedicated to celebrate women in the horror genre and today is IWSG day, I've decided to merge both good causes. As always, remember to check the rest of the participating blogs for more inspiration and positive vibe. Just click on the dedicated page in this blog and follow the links.

When I first heard of the Women in Horror Month a couple of years ago, I wondered why would we even need such a thing. I mean, it isn't like anybody is stopping women from publishing what they want, right? Well, yes. I don't know a publisher who will not publish your story--if it's good--just because you have breasts. BUT, and this is a big but, I was surprised to discover a few people openly state they wouldn't buy horror books written by female authors. Why? "Because what do women know about horror?! They should stick to writing romance!"

That's how I jumped into the boat, determined to stop this stupidity from spreading. Then I realized the problem might be more complex than dealing with a few neanderthals... If you ask any random person to name five horror writers by memory, they'll most certainly mention King, Hill, Straub, Koontz, after those it gets really hairy. Few extra names will stick, maybe a few classics like Poe, Stoker, or Shelly.

Only one woman in that list, and she hasn't written anything in centuries.

People I confronted with this question responded by telling me it's not their fault they can't name but one; there simply aren't any female horror writer superstars. To which I ask, "Have you heard of Anne Rice, Daphne Du Maurier, or Shirley Jackson?"

But maybe they are right and we aren't giving enough recognition to the female voices in the genre. A month dedicated to celebrate them seems like a good place to change that. And so, I compiled a very short list with a few examples of outstanding female horror writers, both published by small houses as well as by any of the Big Five. 

Do yourself a favor and pick one of their books.

Kathe Koja: Recipient of the Bram Stoker and Locus Awards as well as the Deathrealm Award for Strange Angels. Koja has published 14 novels, a collection of short stories, and numerous uncollected stories.

Charlee Jacob: Nominated for the International Horror Guild Award and Bram Stoker Award, she has won the latter in two different occasions. Jacob has published 8 novels, 11 collections (short stories and poetry), and participated in several collaborations.

Caitlin R. Kiernan: Considered by scholars as one of the front faces of Weird Fiction, Kiernan's work has won 4 International Horror Guild Awards, 2 James Tiptree, Jr. Awards, 2 Bram Stoker Awards, 2 World Fantasy Awards, and a Locus. She doesn't consider herself a horror writer, though... "[...] I've said I don't write genre 'horror'. A million, billion times have I said that. It's not that there are not strong elements of horror in a lot of my writing. It's that horror never predominates those works. [...] I don't think of horror as a genre. I think of it--to paraphrase Doug Winter--as an emotion, and no one emotion will ever characterize my fiction."

Lucy A. Snyder: Recipient of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry and Short Fiction, Snyder has published more than 60 short stories in a variety of magazines, anthologies, and collections. On top of 4 novels, she recently released her first non-fiction book. Students of Seton Hill University's MFA program are also lucky to count her as their mentor.

Gillian Flynn: With only three novels published, Flynn might look like a weak link, but her 16 awards for screenplay adaptation prove the idea wrong. She considers herself a feminist and will fight for the right of every woman to be inherently bad. To hell with the cliche of an innately good, nurturing female.

Joyce Carol Oats: To attempt a short synopsis of Oats's awards and publications is to attempt the impossible. She has won every award in existence but the Nobel, for which she has been constantly mentioned. Examples? O. Henry (2), National Book, M. L. Rosenthal, World Fantasy, and Bram Stoker (2) Awards among many others. She has been awarded several Honorary Doctorates, and nominated for three Pulitzer prizes. Her work often deals with rural poverty, sexual abuse, class tension, female childhood and adolescence, and, since 1980, the supernatural.

27 comments:

Michael Pierce said...

I must admit, I'm only familiar with Gillian Flynn because of Gone Girl. I would have mainly named Anne Rice. Thanks for the education in female horror authors!

cleemckenzie said...

Joyce Carol Oates, Shirley Jackson and Anne Rice are queens of horror stories. I think they're all better at creating spine-chilling tales than King.

Yvette Carol said...

Women can write horror as well as anyone else, I wonder why they always have to single us out? Nevertheless if they need to do so then sure why not honour women with a whole month. Just popped in on the IWSG rounds. Interesting post!

Rachna Chhabria said...

I am only familiar with Gillian Flynn that too because I had heard so much about Gone Girl. Thanks for this post, will check out the other authors.

Yolanda Renee said...

OMG, I had no idea, and all this time I've been calling myself a horror writer. How stupid of me.

Somehow I lost you from my blog list - that will be remedied!

Hi again!

dolorah said...

Gillian Flynn has been recommended to me. I think I'll pick up a (e)book. I have read almost everything Anne Rice has written.

I also think the lack of female horror writers is more because they are classified as paranormal, urban fantasy, or mystery writers. Not fair to them. Would you consider Sandra Brown and Tami Hoag horror writers?

Annalisa Crawford said...

I don't read much in the horror genre at all, so I wouldn't be able to name many male writers, let alone female. I do like Daphne du Maurier's short stories though.

Mary Aalgaard said...

I am so proud of you! Of course, women are stifled in this area. And, maybe some even publish using their initials so people won't pass judgement. We can all do our part to bring out the female authors, and creatives, that we know. I'm not a horror fan, but I might check out the one who claims not to be a horror writer. I will tweet this post. Thank you. And, thanks for visiting my blog.
Play off the Page

Georgina Morales said...

Hi Michael! I'm glad I could point you out to a few extraordinary writers! Mission accomplished, I guess. ;-)

Cleemckenzie, I totally think that Joyce Carol Oats can write circles around SK. And this coming from a life-long fan of The King!

Yvette, thanks for commenting!

Ration Chhabria, I'm sure you'll find plenty of interesting stories from these ladies. More than a few of them write beyond the genre, so there's a little for every taste there!

Hi Yolanda!! So glad to hear from you. This is only the 6th year of the WiHM. From being a small thing it has been gaining momentum, so welcome to the club!!

Dollar, you ask a GREAT question. Horror has always been snuffed by Main Street Literature as a lower form of cheap entertainment. Even though Stephen King is known as The Man in Horror, you can check the description of his books: None are listed as horror. The genre doesn't officially exist. If one of the Big Five is to publish you, you'll book will be tagged as Thriller, Mystery, even Sci-Fi/Fantasy is better recognized. Though I wasn't familiar with Sandra Brown's work, after a quick search I find that her "Mean Streak" fits the Horror genre as much as any Koontz novel. Thanks for bringing her to my attention!

Annalisa, even if you don't follow horror, Jackson and Oats write in a variety of genres, most of them literary. You might enjoy them!

Mary, thanks so much!! I hope you'll find something written by these women that will fit your tastes. Thanks for tweeting!

Georgina Morales said...

I meant Dolorah, not Dollar! Stupid auto-correct!

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Georgina,
I believe we're limited only by the restrictions we put on our minds. I don't read horror, but wouldn't understand why women shouldn't write it since, they write in most genres.
Go you!

VR Barkowski said...

Gillian Flynn has been a favorite since her first book. Anne Rice is another. Anyone who says women can't write horror apparently never heard of Mary Shelley or Elizabeth Gaskell, two 19th century women who owned the genre. Looking forward to checking out these new-to-me authors!

VR Barkowski

Diane Burton said...

Mary Shelley is the most famous female writer of horror I can think of. Frankenstein. Love Daphne duMaurier but I think of her as Gothic Mystery not horror.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I didn't know Joyce Carol Oates does it all. She was recommended to me a while back, not for horror, but for her writing about counseling with children, actually. Impressive. This entire list is impressive, and I'm more enlightened having visited. Thank you, Georgina.

Elizabeth Hein said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I am familiar with Gillian Flynn and DuMaurier, but not some of the others. i will look for them.

Lidy Wilks said...

I admit I'm only familiar with Shelley and Rice because I've read Frankenstein and Queen of the Damned. But thanks to this post I've found more authors whose books I'd like to add to my TBR list.

lorilmaclaughlin.com said...

How ridiculous to say that women can't write horror just because they're women. Your list proves how wrong that is.

E. Arroyo said...

I love the Winchesters. lol. I'm thinking Kendare Blake YA Horror. Great post!

Angeline Trevena said...

I'm a horror writer myself, and you'll find that it's a lot more than just a few men who refuse to read books read by women. It's tough for women in any genre outside of romance and 'chick-lit'. It saddens me every time I see a woman publishing under her initials, having to hide her gender to get an equal footing. I love WiHM, and I back it all the way. I love your recommendations, I may just have to do a similar post myself.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I don't read horror, but I don't see why women can't write it. We live in this world, too, so we are very familiar with horror.

Lexa Cain said...

I didn't know these except for Flynn and Oats, and I've never read anything by them. Many more men publish horror than women, and I think that's because more men read horror than women, too. Honestly, if I publish again, I'll do it with initials so readers don't know I'm female.

Michelle Wallace said...

I don't read much horror, but I've heard of Joyce Carol Oates and Anne Rice.
Thanks for the educational post!

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I've noticed this sad trend as well, and have been eager to find new female writers of horror to support.

I'll definitely check out the ones you mentioned.

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome! I love me a little bit of horror. If you ask me, no book is complete without at least a little scare.

Charly Marlowe said...

Great list - and I've been looking for some good female horror writers, because I usually hate the way male authors depict their female characters.

Sandra Cox said...

Good post. I hadn't given it a lot of thought until you brought it up.

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