Every February spooky women crawl out of their haunted tombs and forests and we offer them cursed garlands and strange roots that grow under the full moon. We should do this all year long, but it’s still nice to add a little formality and ritual to it. Every year there’s the sense of progress in diversity within genre fiction, and every year there’s the sense of frustration that comes with inertia. Most of the time I think horror fiction is headed in the right direction, and most of the time I think the horizon is farther off than it looks, like a distant mountain caught in a heat haze.
How do we make horror (or any) fiction more diverse and broadly represented? A lot has been said of editors needing to cast their nets wider, make it known they’re interested in underrepresented voices…and that’s certainly true. But in my mind, an at least equal responsibility lies with the reader. There are different types of readers, and one of the most common is the reader who wants to read what they’re familiar with. A white American male is more comfortable (consciously or not so consciously) with stories told by white men set in America. It’s understandable, and it’s understandable that a story set in Kenya and told in the voice of a woman with vastly different experiences can be hard to connect with. But that connection should be sought out, these perspectives should be sought out, and our own personal enrichment should be sought out. Nostalgia and comfort zones will only get us so far. And when faced with the option of another comfortable story that’s mediocre because you’ve read all the brilliant ones vs. a world full of incredible prose that hits you like poetry with its earthiness and fire…I’m not sure why anyone would choose the former.
And zeroing back in on the one issue of women’s voices vs. men’s voices–the same applies. A lot of men are going to shy away from stories written by women. There’s a lot of baggage there that would fill up 100 times the space of this little post, but my point is that we need to change the way we read. Or if not change, then tweak. Seek out a horror book by a woman this month. Better yet, seek one out in March or April, too, when the onus of Women in Horror Month has been lifted.
Horror fiction has so much to tell us, and it reflects the darker things in the world like nothing else can. The least we can do is meet it halfway.
So here I intend to collect interesting links to interviews and profiles relating to scary women writers. If you have any to add, chime in below in the comments and I’ll put it on the list!
I know there’s no way to avoid forgetting some names, but I thought I’d share some just to show the tip of the iceberg. Google them. Find their websites. Read a story or two to find out how they haunt. The next time anyone suggests there aren’t enough women writing horror, ask them to take a step back and consider where that sentiment comes from.
I’d say the majority of the names that follow spend the bulk of their story lives in spooky places, but many might be called fantasy authors, or science fiction, or thriller, or weird, or literary–but there is darkness in all of these, and women are directly helping the wonderful intermingling of horror with all forms of storytelling. It’s a golden age, and women deserve more of the credit.
Gemma Files | Kristi DeMeester | Nadia Bulkin | S.P. Miskowski | Lisa Tuttle | Chesya Burke | Elizabeth Hand | Livia Llewellyn | Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Anya Martin | Angela Slatter | BP Gregory | Laura Mauro | Brooke Warra | Gwendolyn Kiste | Sarah Read | Nicole Givens Kurtz | Melanie Tem | Damien Angelica Walters | Christina Sng | Kaaron Warren | Monica J. O’Rourke | Ania Ahlborn | Samanta Schweblin | Kate Jones | Lisa Morton | Lucy A. Snyder | Priya Sharma | Stephanie M. Wytovich | Lynda E. Rucker | Michelle Garza | Tananarive Due | Doungjai Gam Bepko | Mercedes Murdock Yardley | Carrie Laben | Catherine Grant | Hye-young Pyun | Kathe Koja | Caitlín R. Kiernan | Can Wiggins | Nancy Collins | Molly Tanzer | Nina Allan | Carmen Maria Machado | Mariana Enriquez | Sarah Hall | Victoria Dalpe | Kelly Robson | Kelly Link | Rebecca Lloyd | Mary SanGiovanni | Sandra Kasturi | Rebecca J. Allred | Lisa L. Hannett | KH Koehler | M. Rickert | Christine Morgan | Rose Blackthorn | Leza Cantoral | Kea Wilson | Fiona Maeve Geist | Daphne Gem | Chavisa Woods | Cassandra Khaw | Nicole Cushing | Elise Tobler | Selena Chambers | Emily Cataneo | P.D. Cacek | Alma Katsu | Emma J. Gibbon || and | and | and | and
Those are just the ones I’ve brainstormed slowly over the past few days, and with only a couple of exceptions, I’ve read at least a story or two and can vouch for them. Again, feel free to recommend some names in the comments. My to-be-read pile only has me covered for the next 50 years, i.e., I’m always looking for new books to read.
Thinking Horror is doing brief interviews centered around horror with several women this month. They’re off to a great start:
Just try searching “Women in Horror Month” or #WiHM on social media. You’ll see how it’s spreading, and you’ll see how important it is. The spooky women will eviscerate us. Ask for it so you’ll enjoy it more. Celebrate well.