February is Women in Horror Month. In fact, this is the 8th year the event has been recognizing women in the horror genre. So we thought this is the perfect opportunity for the Getting to Know You Project to introduce some of the ladies of RMFW who write horror. We also have one gentleman sharing how he was influenced by a woman horror writer. We hope you will take the time to follow links to their websites, social sites, and author pages to get to know them better. Also check out a few of the authors' drawings and giveaways.
Audrey Brice (Stephanie Reisner)
Audrey Brice writes paranormal thrillers, mysteries, and horror stories where spirits, demons, and occult practitioners are both heroes and villains. She lives along the front range of the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three spoiled rescue cats. She has recently contributed short horror fiction in the anthologies Man Behind the Mask, Crossroads in the Dark, and Into the Abyss.
What influenced you to write horror? The supernatural, and why it terrifies people, has always been a fascination of mine. Add to that my own supernatural experiences and that became the reason I fell in love with horror as a genre. My own supernatural experiences led to me exploring the occult as a young pre-teen, and that turned into a lifelong obsession of mine. So there were many contributing factors, but having experienced ghostly phenomena first hand was probably one of the strongest influences.
When you tell people you write horror, how do they react? They’re usually not surprised. Apparently I look as though I might write horror. Or they know enough about my non-horror novels and non-fiction books that they expected as much. I get more surprise and dismay when I tell people I listen to opera than I do when I tell them I write horror.
What written works have greatly influence your own writing? Anything by Dana Reed. She was the first occult horror author I ever read (back in the 80’s) and I’ve always loved her work. Her novels are some of the few I’ll re-read over and over again. I had the benefit of meeting her back in 2004 and she helped to launch my first professional sale (not horror). But she was very supportive. I’ve found the horror writer community to be supportive overall, regardless of gender.
DRAWING: Subscribe to my Audrey Brice newsletter at http://www.sjreisner.com/newsletter in the next two weeks, and be entered in a drawing to win a free ebook (your choice from my OTS or Thirteen Covens series’).
Horror Subgenre(s): Occult/Paranormal
Betsy Dornbusch is the author of over a dozen short stories, three novellas, and four novels. She lives in Colorado with her family. Enemy, the third of the Books of the Seven Eyes Trilogy, release February 21. She is also working on the standalone post-apocalyptic thriller, The Silver Scar, that will release next year.
Were there any gender obstacles you had to overcome after releasing your first novel? I tend to write pretty violent fiction, and I think because I have this cutesy, girly name, readers don't assume that--despite the rather large, intimidating, angry looking man on my covers. I feel I'm constantly having to prove myself to readers that I write violence and dark themes, and that I pride myself on doing it as well as any writer. I do have male editors, which helps my confidence.
Other than that, really, marketing our writing is hard for everyone. I'm fortunate to have a wonderful publishing company behind me who puts a lot of time and effort into marketing my work. That is worth more than anything I could tweet or my own website.
What advice would you give to aspiring women horror writers? I think women writers have choices to make: if they want to change de-gender their penname, how outspoken they want to be publicly, what themes feel right for their fiction and careers. Of course every writer has these decisions to make, but for women these decisions, and being in the public eye, can hold different consequences than they do for men.
Keeping yourself safe to create and live is not "selling out." Whether that's maintaining silence on certain issues or in certain forums, or just withdrawing from the public eye to give yourself headspace to create, it's okay and often necessary. I say this as an outspoken, passionate commentator on feminism and inclusivity. You have the opportunity to speak to issues through your creative work and platform, but not the obligation.
So the best advice I can give any woman writer is to be true to herself and her own stories, and to trust her instincts.
Horror Subgenre(s): Dark Epic Fantasy, Vampires
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Betsy-Dornbusch/e/B0071AJE0E
W. J. Howard
W. J. Howard writes dark stories mixed with comedy for all ages. Her main focus is creating fast-paced, action-packed stories that read like video games. Wendy appreciates unconventional methods of publishing and released an entire novel by tweeting it on Twitter. Warrant for Damnation, the second in The Courier series, is currently releasing weekly on Wattpad. She's also releasing a short prequel to the series on Valentine's Day.
What influenced you to write horror? I was introduced to horror at the age of four, when I watched the movie, The Crawling Hand. I've been addicted to the genre ever since. While I like being scared, I also get a kick out of scaring people. As a child, I was a bully and once landed a large rock on a neighbor boy's head just for the fun of it. As bad as it sounds, I find other people's pain funny. Then again, the endless number of YouTube accident videos wouldn't be so popular if I were alone. Anyway, my love of slapstick and sick sense of humor have led me to primarily write a mix of horror and comedy. It was that or risk ending up in jail. The thing is we all have it in us or the Stanford Prison Experiment wouldn't have turned out so disturbing.
How have male horror writers encouraged you in your career? I have a great love for my many male horror writer friends. They have been nothing but encouraging. After all, a good horror story is a good horror story, and gender has nothing to do with it. According to the documentary Why Horror?, 60% of horror fans are now women. Men need the ladys' input in this changing horror demographic.
What written works have greatly influence your own writing? Not so much fiction, surprisingly. I'm mostly influenced by world religions and philosophy, although I'm not a fan of organized religion. I'm fascinated by good vs evil and man's inhumanity to man. Other influences include Dante's Inferno and Camus' The Plague. As of late, I'm obsessed with Hannah Arendt who wrote The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem and am feeling very influenced by history repeating itself.
DRAWING: I have a number of events for Valentine's Day and WiHM, and have set up a few drawings. Drop by my Facebook page and Like it to enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. You can also drop by my website and comment on any of my blog posts during the month of February to enter to win.
Horror Subgenre(s): Paranormal, Good vs. Evil, Comedy
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/W.-J.-Howard/e/B008UZMZ50
Claire L. Fishback
Claire L. Fishback lives in Morrison, Colorado with her loving husband, Tim, and their pit bull mix, Belle. Writing has been her passion since age six. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys mountain biking, hiking, running, baking, and adding to her bone collection, though she would rather be stretched out on the couch with a good book (or poking dead things with sticks). Claire's short story, Remembra, is in the RMFW 2016 anthology, Found. The Blood of Seven is currently out with a few agents and a small press for consideration. She's also working on a story about a photographer who is afraid of the dark and discovers she can manipulate the shadows.
Why do you write horror? When I was six or so, I started writing stories about animals, my pets, fun little things like that. Then I discovered Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, compiled and retold by Alvin Schwarts. Those are the scary story books in which the illustrations are actually scarier than the stories. I devoured the stories in that book, and the three that followed. In the sixth grade, I didn’t like my teacher very much, so in my “reflections” notebook I started writing scary stories to scare her. Unfortunately, she thought they were great.
I write horror because I love to be scared. There’s something about that adrenaline rush, that prickly electric chill that shoots through your body when you get a startle, or when that shadow over there in the corner of the living room doesn’t look like it usually does… and then it moves.
When you tell people you write horror, how do they react? When I tell people I write horror, they usually respond with some form of, “You? You sweet cute little thing with the innocent smile?” Little do they know how dark and twisty I am on the inside.
How have male horror writers encouraged you in your career? I love Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. When I was a pre-teen I read probably all of R.L. Stein’s and Christopher Pike’s novels. Sometimes, as a kid, while reading Stein and Pike, I would nod and say to myself, I could write something like this. And in my high-and-mightier times, I would tell myself I could write something even better. I think they inspired me to try to write something better, or at least on par with their works.
A huge lover of horror and dark fantasy stories, C. R. Richards enjoys telling tales of intrigue and adventure. The youngest of five army brats, Richards was born on a military base in Utah. She spent much of her childhood in the back of her family’s sky blue station wagon on trips to see her grandmother, who would show her how to spot faeries in the backyard. Having begun writing as a part-time columnist for a small entertainment newspaper, Richards has worn several hats: food critic, entertainment reviewer and cranky editor. Her latest release is a dark epic fantasy entitled, The Lords of Valdeon. She's currently working on Book Two of the series, due for release in the Summer of 2017.
When you tell people you write horror, how do they react? I always get the “But you look like such a nice lady! When you said you were a writer, I thought you meant children’s books.” It cracks me up every time.
How have male horror writers encouraged you in your career? I’m a member of HWA. This group is extremely generous with their support (male and female alike). Two male horror writers stand out – William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run) and Jack Ketchum (The Woman). Each of them have taken the time to answer newbie questions, chat with conference attendees and share their stories of coming up in the Horror ranks.
Horror Subgenre(s): Dark Fantasy
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/C.R.-Richards/e/B00BA159W2
Yvonne Montgomery grew up in Boulder, Colorado, in the shadows cast by the Rocky Mountains. She now lives in Denver's Capitol Hill in an old house filled with family, dogs, cats, and shadows. Yvonne found her voice writing two amateur detective novels in the eighties, and began to drift to the darker side as more ghostly elements came into her life. The result was the Wisdom Court trilogy (and maybe more): Edge of the Shadow, A Signal Shown, and All in Bad Time.
Why do you write horror? I'm obsessed with hauntings. As we age, so many memories become ghosts of our pasts. They become more real than the things that actually happened.
What influenced you to write horror? A morbid world view and the desire to untangle stories forming the past. Oh, yeah, and Stephen King.
In a male dominated genre, do you feel it’s difficult to market and sell your work? The one true thing I've learned in my writing career is that, no matter what you write and market and sell, it will always be difficult.
What written works have greatly influence your own writing? Barbara Michaels books, such as Ammie, Come Home and The Crying Child. It and The Stand, by Stephen King.
Horror Subgenre(s): Hauntings
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KIXKIU
Freelance writer, novelist, award-winning screenwriter, editor, poker player, poet, biker, roustabout, Travis Heermann is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and the author of The Ronin Trilogy, The Wild Boys, Rogues of the Black Fury, and co-author of Death Wind, plus short fiction pieces in anthologies and magazines such as Apex Magazine, Alembical, the Fiction River anthology series, Historical Lovecraft, and Cemetery Dance’s Shivers VII. He enjoys cycling, martial arts, torturing young minds with otherworldly ideas, and zombies. He has three long-cherished dreams: a produced screenplay, a NYT best-seller, and a seat in the World Series of Poker.
We Dwell in the Gothic Castle – The Brilliance of Shirley Jackson
I was attending an author event at the Tattered Cover bookstore a couple of months ago. Not even really browsing, I had in hand the book I had come for, but nevertheless my gaze wandered across one of the bookseller recommendation shelves. For no discernible reason, one cover caught my eye. It was a pen and ink drawing of an elder sister embracing the younger, and the book was We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
I had not read Shirley Jackson since encountering her story "The Lottery" many years ago in high school English class. This much anthologized story is probably the work through which most people encounter her. And of course The Haunting of Hill House is an icon of the genre. But I had never heard of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, her last work, published three years before her death.
I took it home and devoured this short, not-so-sweet, miraculous wonder of a novel. It is the story of two disturbed, house-bound sisters, their strange relationship, the gothic mansion in which they live, and terrible family secrets. This book is, without question, a masterpiece of voice, mood, characterization, and a kind of simmering slow boil. It's one I'm still thinking about as a perfect example of craft. Told in first person from the perspective of the younger sister, her magical thinking brings it to the verge of, but not crossing into, a supernatural story. The monsters in his book, as in "The Lottery," are all human. In a genre filled with buckets of gore and lurid plots, this understated little book will get under your skin like spilled viscera will not.
If you're a horror writer, study Shirley Jackson. After reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle, I'll be thinking "how did she do that?" and trying to deconstruct it for a long time. There's a reason one of horror's highest awards has her name on it.
Horror Subgenre(s): Horror western, ghost stories, erotic horror
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Travis-Heermann/e/B002E453X4
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