HWA Celebrates Women in Horror – Part 3

February is Women in Horror Month and every day the Horror Writers Association blog is running a Q&A with an award-winning woman member. Here are the highlights of the third week.

Rain Graves –February 15

Talk about winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

RG: I’ve never been a member of the HWA, so it’s always funny when people try to argue that they play favorites when giving the awards. They argue that people who campaign for the award – sending mass emails to friends and members offering free copies so that people will read it and recommend it for the Stoker – is a soul killing disease that paints the writer into that picture of favorite or pimp, depending on their involvement with the HWA. That hasn’t been my experience in terms of my work. I have never once campaigned. I have never once asked anyone to read it. I just do the work, and put it out there. My publishers offer free downloads or hard copies to reviewers. I think Roy may have offered a free download to HWA members when TFE made the final ballot. So I am always surprised to see my name on the preliminary ballot, and final ballot. Definitely surprised to ever win.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro – February 16

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Photo by Charles Lucke.

What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?

CQY: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket — write in more than one genre. That way, if one market collapses, you have a fall-back position.

Lisa Morton – February 17

Lisa Morton

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

LM: I’ve won six times now, in five different categories (twice in Non-fiction, once each in First Novel, Graphic Novel, Long Fiction, and Short Fiction). However, I’m actually proudest of one loss – for my novel Malediction. That novel held significant personal meaning for me, it was a jury selection, and it lost out to Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep – overall it felt like the biggest win!

I have to confess that I’m disappointed I couldn’t put my last non-fiction book Ghosts: A Haunted History in the running for the award, but when I took over as HWA’s President in 2014 I removed all my solo works from consideration as long as I’m in office.

Allyson Bird – February 18

Allyson Bird with daughter Sarah.

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

AB: Yes. I’ve had much support from some great male writers but there are always a few who will try to bring you down if you do something they don’t agree with. That time I outed the fascist/racist David A. Riley caused me some problems. A few writers tried to cause trouble for me but it backfired on them. Speaking up is important as America faces the terrible years ahead with Trump dedicated to dividing the country. If you see hatred and racism, inequality regarding LGBTQ and women’s rights, discrimination against any minority ….SPEAK OUT…if you don’t who will? My advice to women is do what your conscience tells you to do. Write what you want to write not what you think others might want to read. If you ask yourself how will this affect your career….that is the wrong question to ask. Whether it is fiction or fact write it and those who are meant to be with you will support you.

Yvonne Navarro – February 19

Yvonne Navarro

What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?

YN: I said it up there. Write like a writer. Don’t write like a woman, don’t write like a man. Write like a writer, like you. Write the absolute best that you can. And what I tell every writer trying to break into any genre: Read your stuff aloud, like you were an actor on the stage. If you’re self-conscious, then do it when no one else is home or lock the door. That’s the way you’ll get around your brain telling your eyes everything is good. That’s how you’ll find the weird wording, bad punctuation, too-long sentences, misspellings. Reading aloud is golden.

Lucy Taylor – February 20

Lucy Taylor

About winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

LT: Good question. I wasn’t totally surprised, because I remember having a conversation with Harlan Ellison in which he ‘strongly’ advised me not to miss the World Horror Convention that year, so I admit I had my hopes up. Also very exciting was the fact that Joyce Carol Oates won a Stoker that year in the Best Novel category for ZOMBIE, so it was wonderful meeting her as well as Harlan Ellison.

Nancy Holder – February 21

 

Nancy Holder. Photo by John Urbancik.

What new works from you can we look forward to in the future?

NH: I’m finishing the novelization of the new Wonder Woman film—very excited about that!—and co-writing a new Buffy Encyclopedia to celebrate the 20th anniversary. My co-contributor is my original Buffy editor, Lisa Clancy, so that’s a dream come true. I’m working on a Gothic project I am super excited about but I can’t talk about it much right now. I’m also working on some short stories.

Lucy A. Snyder – February 22

Lucy A. Snyder

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

SL: I do, but these problems are not by any stretch limited to the horror field. While there are sub-genres of horror that employ tropes that are outright misogynistic (using rape as titillation, for instance) as a working professional writer, what I mostly see is an extension of the garden-variety bias you find everywhere. Namely, the perception that women’s work is going to be less vital, less edgy, less interesting than men’s work. And #notallmen, of course; some of my most loyal fans are male readers. But the general trend for a long time has been that female fiction writers are less likely to be published outside of romance, and when they are published, their books are less likely to be reviewed or noticed. Strange Horizons and Vida have gathered statistics on all this.

But a bigger problem for all women artists is being able to preserve their time and energy to get their creative work done. In most communities and families, women are still expected to be the ones who largely take care of the kids, do the cooking, do the cleaning, care for aging parents and sick relatives. Women are still expected to put their husbands’ career aspirations and children’s needs first. The result is that women are often left with less time and energy and support for their writing.

Even just getting ready in the morning — women are expected to sink more time and energy into our appearances, and we are criticized more harshly for looking unkempt or sloppy. I try to be as low-maintenance as I can, but I’m sure I spend a solid half-hour more per day on grooming and dressing than my husband does. That works out to over 180 hours per year! Most women spend a whole lot more time there than I do; I don’t even wear makeup every day. It’s very hard for us to set that time sink aside because we’ll be penalized socially and professionally for it.

More men are pitching in on childcare and household chores than they did in past decades, but the cultural conditioning men and women both receive make it harder for women to preserve the time and energy they need to develop careers as writers and artists. It’s getting better, but there’s still a long way to go.

Donna K. Fitch – February 23

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

DKF: HWA is making great strides in changing the opportunities of women in horror, and I hope a question like this will be outmoded soon. I feel that women writing in horror were seen in the past as “writing outside their genre.” HWA’s scholarships and the amazing Seers’ Table column are encouraging a new generation of women as they see the possibilities.

P.D. Cacek – February 24

P.D. Cacek

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

PDC: I won a Bram Stoker in 1996 for my short story, Metalica: a “touching” story about a woman and her speculum. Yes, you read correctly: speculum. Now, in case you’re not sure what a speculum is, let me explain that it is a medical tool designed to investigate body orifices, most commonly gynecological orifices. I have often described it as a cross between salad tongs and the Jaws of Life. Talk about horror, right?

So, if you ask about inspiration, I guess you can say that I had personal knowledge of the subject matter—but certainly not as well as my character had. And that’s where the horror came in. I took a common, if not pleasant experience may be, and twisted it out of all proportions.

Pun intended, if you read the story.

For me, that’s the secret of horror: take reality and give it a twist.

That’s what I did with Metalica and it apparently worked better than I expected. I was asked by Jeff Gelb (one of the editors for FEAR THE FEVER—The Hot Blood Series, where the story was published) if I could use my gender specific real name.

It seemed that the one of the editors for Pocket Books (a woman editor, I might add) was worried that the story might offend women readers if they thought a man wrote it. I’ve always thought that it was the story that mattered, not really the writer, so I agreed and you’ll notice that that byline reads Patricia D. Cacek.

My dear friend and mentor, Edward Bryant (who just passed) told me I should never have given in, but it seemed like a small concession to me at the time and still does. As I said before, it’s the story that matters.

Elizabeth Monteleone – February 25

Elizabeth Monteleone

Talk about winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

EM: I feel like I cheated a little. I had as a co-editor the BRILLIANT Thomas F. Monteleone. Thank goodness he saw talent in me. Having been a life-long reader, and lover of books (I wish I could remember who said this but it applies to me “I’m a literary whore, I’ll read anyone.”) I started reading the slush pile and the stories I sent on to Tom seem to have impressed him because he told me I had an unerring instinct for what comprised a good story. High praise indeed!

Winning gave me a confidence I didn’t know I lacked when it came to validating my ability to recognize good writing.

Why?

By Carl Slaughter: Why we won’t be seeing these sequels.

  • Why DC Won’t Make a Robin Movie

  • Why Fans Will Never Get to See Another Terminator Movie

  • Why Marvel Won’t Give Hulk Another Movie

  • Why Marvel Won’t Give Hawkeye His Own Movie

  • Why Marvel Won’t Give Black Widow Her Own Movie

  • Why Marvel Won’t Give The Submariner His Own Movie

  • Why Hollywood Won’t Give Cable His Own Movie

  • Why DC Will Never Give Lobo His Own Movie

  • Why We Never Got to See a I Am Legend Sequel

  • Why We Never Got to See an Inception Sequel

  • Why The Amazing Spiderman 3 Never Happened

  • Why Marvel Won’t Give Ghost Rider Another Sequel

  • Why We Never Got to See a Constantine Sequel

  • Why Disney Gave Up on Tron

A Marvel Melange

By Carl Slaughter: Marvel actors have fun, sometimes in costume, sometimes in plainclothes, sometimes as their characters, sometimes as themselves, with Stan Lee joining the fun.

The Last Donut

Captain America and Ironman square off.  Too tense for Scarlet Witch.

 

Stan Lee chooses between Captain America and Iron Man

In this Jimmy Kimmel-Benedict Cumberbatch comedy skit, Doctor Strange is hired to perform at a birthday party.

Avengers Family Feud

Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, and Jeremy Renner play Avengers Family Feud with Jimmy Kimmel.

 

Ryan Reynolds / Hugh Jackman comedy interview

Thor takes break, but wants back in the game.

In this superhero comedy skit starring Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo, Thor travels to Australia for some me time, hammer in hand.  He visits a local elementary school and his roommate’s office.  He offers to help Tony Stark resolve the conflict with Steve Rogers.  Stark does not reply.  Then Thor discovers that Stark has invited Bruce Banner, who has no interest in the brewing civil war, to join his team.  Thor feigns to not be offended.   I give up, who’s the guy sitting down in the purple suit?

 

Hugh Jackman applied for the wrong job.

Armed with 3 years of experience at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and a recommendation from Steven Spielberg, Hugh Jackman applies for a job at Harlem Village Academies.

 

Black Widow spoof

Saturday Night Live Black Widow spoof, starring Scarlett Johansson herself, who throws herself into the part.  Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Nick Fury join the fun.

 

[Note: A few of these have been posted here before.]

Valentine Horror at the KGB Bar

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Wednesday, February 15, the monthly Fantastic Fiction Readings Series presented horror authors Michael Cisco and Nicholas Kaufmann at its longtime venue, the Red Room of the second-floor KGB Bar in Manhattan’s East Village. (In honor of Valentine’s Day, said Kaufmann, he and Cisco would be “reading our most romantic stories.” Don’t believe it.)

Series co-host Matthew Kressel greeted the crowd, reminded all that readings are always free and there’s no cover charge, and exhorted us to thank the Bar by buying drinks. To cover the Series’ costs (including treating the readers to dinner afterward), he announced that there would likely be a Kickstarter campaign in the spring, so that the Series, which began in the late 1990s, could continue “maybe into the 2090s, when we’re all cyborgs” … or radioactive. He next reported on upcoming readings:

March 15 — Nova Ren Suma and Kiini Ibura Salaam;
April 19 — Seth Dickinson and Laura Anne Gilman
May 17 — Sam J. Miller and E.C. Myers
June 21 –– Catherynne M. Valente and Sunny Moraine

(Further details are available at http://www.kgbfantasticfiction.org/.) All dates are the third Wednesday of the month. He concluded by introducing the first reader of the evening.

Nicholas Kaufmann’s work has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, a Thriller Award, and a Shirley Jackson Award. His novels include Dying is My Business and the sequel, Die and Stay Dead, and his latest, from which he read, In the Shadow of the Axe. The story is set in 1826, in a German mountain village, where a necromancer has been abducting villagers. In the scene offered, a raiding party, armed with muskets, blades, Bibles and crosses, has invaded his castle to put an end to his reign of terror. There they face shadows, the spirits of the dead, and learn the horror that has befallen the necromancer’s victims, their neighbors and loved ones.

(With profuse apologies to Kaufmann, perversely, given the chilling tone of his excerpt, lines from an old filksong ran through my mind:

In a castle, on a mountain,
In a village oh so fine,
Lived a doctor off his rocker,
And his name was Frankenstein.

… And he murdered eight or nine,
So the villagers got angry,
Dreadful sore at Frankenstein.”)

After an intermission, co-host Ellen Datlow opened the second half of the evening by introducing the next reader.

Michael Cisco is the author of several novels, including The Divinity Student, The Narrator, The Great Lover, Animal Money, The Wretch of the Sun, and a short story collection, Secret Hours., as well as shorter fiction that has appeared in The Weird, Lovecraft Unbound and Black Wings (among other places). Wearing a loud 1940s Swing Era necktie, he apologized for the slight frog in his throat which, he thought (or hoped) gave him “a sort of Barry White baritone.” After a shout-out to Hippocampus Press’s Derrick Hussey, Cisco described The Wretch of the Sun as a “Shirley-Jacksonesque haunted house novel” with secret police. In the “smart-ass” Preface, from which he read, he considers and examines the (sub)genre of haunted house stories. They are, he said, linked to ghost stories, but are distinct. Ghosts, he observed, may be laid to rest and the disturbances then cease, but a house, once haunted, is always haunted.

The novel itself, he said, weaves through several narratives. He read from scenes in which a policeman “with a rotating name” – it cycles through the letters of the alphabet, making him a sort of Everyman – has been grabbed by the secret police, who interrogate, humiliate and torture him, demanding to know why he is a liar and a traitor. (Secret police, like ghosts, see us, but are themselves unseen.) In another narrative thread, from which he also read, a college student with migraines gets visions which he thinks are fantasies, but which are real. In a final selection, the migraine is given voice! Barry White voice or not, the audience was captivated.

At the back of the room, copies of Kaufmann’s Dying is My Business and Die and Stay Dead, and Cisco’s The Wretch of the Sun were for sale by the Word Bookstores of Greenpoint, Brooklyn (and Jersey City). (In the Shadow of the Axe, said Kaufmann, currently is only available as an e-book from Amazon and Barnes & Noble; the print edition has been delayed.)

Prior to the reading, as usual, Datlow whirled through the audience, taking pictures. Her photos of the event may be seen on her Flickr page, linked to the Series’ website.

HWA Celebrates Women in Horror – Part 2

February is Women in Horror Month and every day the Horror Writers Association blog is running a Q&A with an award-winning woman member. Here are the highlights of the second week.

Sèphera Girón – February 8

Sèphera-Girón

Tell us a little about your experience with the Horror Writers Association and how it has influenced your own writing.

SG: I joined the Horror Writers Association when it was Horror Writers of America back around 1992 or so. I was one of the ones, back when we used to hang out on an online platform called “Genie” through the SFF-NET community, that rallied for a name change and we got it. After all, HWA consists of people outside of the United States. After I was a member for a few years, I took over the Canadian Chapter from Edo Van Belkom. I also created the Canadian Content Corner column in the newsletter, which was a tongue-in-cheek nod to Canadian politics at the time. Julianne Snow is handling the column for me this year while I focus on other areas of our chapter.

I began to host monthly meetings and booked booths at Toronto events such as The Word on the Street. As the HWA has evolved, my ability to book more events for our chapter has grown and we do all kinds of events in the Ontario area including Fan Expo and Toronto Comicon.

Rena Mason – February 9

Rena Mason

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

RM: I wrote The Evolutionist in Olympia, Washington after moving from Las Vegas where I’d lived for nearly a decade. Writing the story was a catharsis of the time I’d spent in Sin City. I kept thinking about how surreal my life there was, and that there had to be some other reason I’d strayed so far from being the person I knew to be me. In my story, I created external forces beyond my main character’s control for the reasons behind the changes, adding horrific elements and then compounding them, causing her to flee. The most humorous part to me about writing the work was that many of the real experiences written in the book had to be toned down to make them more believable for readers. But that’s Las Vegas life, sometimes what happens there is too outlandish to be true, yet is.

Corrine De Winter – February 10

Corrine De Winter

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

CD: It’s hard to answer that definitively. We know that women, even nowadays, are often fluffed off in social situations, but I think in the Horror field there is a huge difference. Women are accepted and treated with respect and I think there are just as many women authors that are outstanding as there are men.

Lisa Mannetti – February 11

Lisa Mannetti

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

LM: The Gentling Box is set in 19th century Hungary and Romania and is the story of Imre, a half-Rom and Hungarian horse trader who is beset by his mother-in-law, a villainous sorceress named Anyeta who relentlessly pursues him and his family (including her own daughter) by working the powers in a vile charm known as “the hand of the dead.” The crux of the novel is Imre’s own horror at employing a technique to tame wild horses known as “gentling,” which involves a crude form of lobotomy; he has never used it because having seen it as a child, he cannot bear observing the staggering horses in so much distress and pain. Thanks to Anyeta’s machinations, he’s forced to decide whether he’ll have to “gentle” his friends, other members of his troupe and his own wife in order to save their young daughter.

I was influenced by many of Coleridge’s so-called demonic poems, Rom lore, occult practices, and a host of 19th century writers, and am very glad to say the novel was well received by the critics.

The most interesting (for me) anecdote about the book is from the very first time I read aloud from it (which was the flashback to Imre’s first experience as a nine-year old boy observing his own father “gentling” horses), people wanted to know if gentling was a real technique used among Rom horse traders and how I learned of it. This question came up over and over. I think it’s safe to finally reveal at this point, it was completely a product of my own imagination and it was one of the most exciting concepts I ever came up with as far as spurring me to tell this story.

Marge Simon – February 12

Marge Simon

What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?

MS: Read good stuff. Read a lot of old, a lot of new. Keep the ideas flowing. Join the HWA and volunteer. The Horror University offers courses to help you in whatever is your specific area of interest. As for “breaking into horror”, I’m not sure what difference it makes. You are “breaking in to getting your work published and read”. It would be the same for any field of literature (or entertainment).

Maria Alexander – February 13

Maria Alexander

Talk about winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

MA: I was very surprised. I’ll be honest: people at the World Horror Convention told me to my face I wouldn’t win. It was devastating and demoralizing. I knew I had tough competition. I had no illusions about that, but the insensitivity of some folk was jaw dropping. I’d promised my friend David Gerrold that I’d write an acceptance speech. He’d made me promise at dinner one night about a month previous. I’d planned to pen something in my hotel room the afternoon before the event. Instead, I just went to my room and curled up. I was recovering from major foot surgery. So, I wasn’t feeling well to start with, and then that happened.

When it came time for the awards dinner, I decided to drink and have fun. I wasn’t going to win, right? Unfortunately, I drank a wee bit too much. When my name was called, I was in total shock and unprepared to say anything. I wound up talking too long. But you know what? Everyone survived the experience, and apparently I made a favorable impression on certain editors I spoke with later. But I’d have rather not been devastated and just penned a little speech, you know?

Angel Leigh McCoy – February 14

Angel Leigh McCoy

Tell us a little about your experience with the Horror Writers Association and how it has influenced your own writing.

ALM: I could never express all the ways the HWA has influenced me as a writer. I’m sure there are even ways I’m unaware of. Here’s just a few that come to mind, in no particular order:

I have found mentors who have taught me both directly and by example how to be a better professional writer—not just how to write better, but also how to behave as a professional, how to market my work, and how to find markets.

I’ve found a group of comrades who understand what it’s like to be a writer and specifically a Horror writer, and that sense of community is invaluable. The feeling of belonging and the encouragement have bolstered me throughout my career.

I have met collaborators through the HWA, with whom I’ve worked on some of the most rewarding projects of my career.

I’ve discovered publishing outlets I wouldn’t have otherwise and have published stories as a result.

Speculative Fiction Has Screen Endurance

By Carl Slaughter: Supernatural is still on the air after 12 seasons.

  • Smallville and the original Stargate both lasted 10 seasons.

  • X-Files and Touched by an Angel lasted 9 seasons.
  • Vampire Diaries and Charmed, 8 seasons each.

  • Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, still going at 7 seasons.

  • Outer Limits, Buffy, Sabrina, Medium, and Crypt, 7 seasons.

  • Star Trek spinoffs: Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, 7 seasons each.

  • Lost, True Blood, Highlander, and Xena, 6 seasons.

  • Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Heroes, 4400, Angel, Ghost Whisperer, Sanctuary, Being Human, Stargate: Atlantis, Lois & Clark, Warehouse 13, Lost Girl, Star Trek Enterprise, 4/5 seasons.

  • Even shows for hard core sci fi fans — Quantum Leap, Sliders, Farscape, Andromeda, Lexx, Kyle, Eureka —  have lasted at least 5 seasons.

  • UK science fiction shows:  Doctor Who, 36 seasons and counting.  Red Dwarf, 12 seasons and counting.  Misfits, Sarah Jane Adventures, Primeval, Being Human, Merlin, 5 seasons each; Blake’s 7 and Torchwood, 4 seasons each.

Meet Compelling Science Fiction’s Editor Joe Stech

By Carl Slaughter: Compelling Science Fiction is a hard SF magazine. Armed with a team of editorial advisers, all of them scientists and engineers, Joe Stech sorts through growing pile of slush to select the best hard science stories.

Compelling SF pays pro rates. Its fifth issue came out in January.

CARL SLAUGHTER: What’s your definition of hard science?

JOE STECH: I’d say that hard science itself is any science that relies on rigorously quantifiable data and high levels of objectivity. If you’re asking about hard science fiction, I’d define that as fiction that is self-consistent, scientifically plausible, and technically detailed when necessary. Basically, any fiction that I can read and say “this seems like something that could actually happen, based on our current understanding of the universe.”

CS: What type of stories are you especially looking for?

JS: The stories I get the most excited about are stories that have novel premises and also satisfy the “this could actually happen” criteria. The best examples of these types of stories that I’ve seen have generally been either about the near-future, physics, AI/robotics, or space exploration. We definitely don’t receive enough truly novel submissions to fill out our issues, even though we now receive 300-400 submissions a month when submissions are open.

Joe Stech

CS: What type of stories are you definitely not looking for?

JS: I’m definitely not looking for any stories that violate the laws of physics, or that are exceedingly implausible in any other way. I’m also not looking for banal stories — if your story is plausible but lacks novelty, Compelling Science Fiction is not the right venue for you. I really don’t want stories about going to get groceries in space, or watering your plants in space, or doing any normal activity in an exotic setting.

CS: You’re currently not taking submissions. How do you find stories?

JS: When submissions are open we receive 300-400 submissions/month (this number continually increases). We usually are able to find a couple issues worth of stories during the submissions windows, so we aren’t open continuously. We will be open for submissions again in mid-March, and I’d encourage writers to sign up for the mailing list on the bottom of our main page (http://compellingsciencefiction.com) to get notified when submissions reopen.

CS: Any plans to include columns, convention news, forums, advertising? Any other type of expansion?

JS: I’d definitely like to add written interviews with authors, and if I can find someone who is knowledgeable about conventions I’d definitely be open to getting that information up on the Compelling Science Fiction blog. However, since I have a full-time day job I have to be judicious on what I commit to. I’ve done some audio interviews with the intention of releasing a podcast, but I haven’t had the time to correctly follow-though with that yet. I’m looking forward to engaging more in this way, however.

As for advertising, I currently sell small text sponsorships for individual stories — basically just a 1-2 sentence blurb at the top of the web versions of stories. I don’t have any plans for other forms of advertising.

CS: The magazine is currently free, yet you pay SFWA rates. What’s the business model?

JS: When I started the magazine back at the beginning of 2016 I paid for everything out-of-pocket. However, since then I’ve received enough financial support to break even. I have a Patreon page where readers voluntarily contribute financially (https://www.patreon.com/compelling), and I also sell issues through the Kindle store for those who want that convenience. Finally, I sell sponsorships so that companies/individuals can support the magazine and get the word out about their products/services. I’m pretty selective about what companies can advertise, however.

CS: You’ve got a fistful of advisers. What exactly does advising consist of?

JS: My advisers mostly help me make purchasing decisions. I generally pass the top 10% of stories on to my advisers, who then read and give me feedback. They’re all technical people (scientists and engineers), so they generally have great feedback on plausibility of plots.

CS: Who does your artwork?

JS: I don’t yet have the funds to commission art, so all my current art is pre-drawn stock that I license. However, I really enjoy the art of Tithi Luadthong, so all the issues so far have licensed his art.

CS: What’s that design above the title? It looks like a circuit board.

JS: You’re right, it was intended to look like a circuit board. I worked with a British designer named Weaponface to create a cityscape full of circuits, and that logo was the final result. I’m very happy with it!

Today’s Birthday Maestro: John Williams Turns 85

Simply one of the greatest moments of my life… Meeting John Williams for the very first time in his dressing room at The Hollywood Bowl in late August, 2010.

By Steve Vertlieb: There’s simply no other way to say it. This is one of the greatest single photographs of my seventy-one years. The time was late August, 2010. The place was inside the dressing rooms at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California.

I discovered motion picture and television music in the late 1950’s, and had quickly become a passionate proponent of this wondrous art form. It was in 1959 that I’d first heard, or seen the name Johnny Williams. The program was a weekly detective series on CBS Television called Checkmate, and I immediately fell in love with its musical theme. A year later in 1960, I first heard the lilting strains of the music for Alcoa Premiere, a weekly anthology series for ABC Television hosted by Fred Astaire. It wasn’t long after that Wide Country debuted on NBC Television, and it too featured a wonderful accompanying score by Johnny Williams.

Over the next half century, I came to know and love the wonderful music of Johnny…then John Williams. I’d written published articles about him in books, magazines, journals and ultimately online. I’d written him numerous “fan” letters to a variety of locations over the ensuing decades, but to no avail. After the deaths of Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury who both became cherished friends over many years, John Williams was my very last living lifelong hero. I’d finally come to the sad realization that I was never going to find an opportunity to meet him.

John Williams, Juliet Rozsa, and Steve Vertlieb in 2010.

And then, merely five months after life threatening major open heart surgery in March 2010, and due entirely to the efforts and loyalty of cherished friend Juliet Rozsa, I walked backstage to the dressing rooms at The Hollywood Bowl in late August, 2010…a year that I did not expect to survive…and stood next to John Williams for the very first time. When he put his arms around my shoulders, I forced back tears of gratitude, and of joy. It was one of the happiest nights of my life in a year that I didn’t expect to complete. It was wonderful to be alive. Today is John Williams’ birthday. He is eighty-five years young. Happy Birthday, Maestro. God Bless You, both for your wonderful music…and for your even more gracious kindness.

HWA Celebrates Women in Horror Month

In February the Horror Writers Association blog is posting interviews with award-winning women authors. Here are the highlights of the first week.

Elizabeth Massie – February 7

Elizabeth Massie

What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?

Read extensively across the genre. AND read extensively outside the genre. Write what you want to write how you want to write it. Don’t write as if your mother is looking over your shoulder; let the stories flow freely. If you need a story to be graphic, go there. And if you want a story to be more subtle and quiet, go there. Don’t feel that you have to write splatter/gore to prove yourself. And don’t feel you can’t write splatter/gore if the story demands it. Meet other writers – both female and male. Attend conventions or conferences if you can. Don’t be arrogant but be bold.

Ellen Datlow – February 6

Ellen Datlow

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

ED: I’ve won twice for original anthologies: Haunted Legends (with Nick Mamatas) and Fearful Symmetries and twice for The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (one of those with Terri Windling and one with Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link).

As an editor I’ve been inspired by three people:

Maxwell Perkins, the mainstream editor of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and other American greats. He inspired me by his relationships with his authors-his nurturing and pushing them to create their best work.

Judith Merril, the great sf/f editor (and writer) inspired me by being generous in her definition of science fiction and her perspicacity in embracing mainstream writers works of the fantastic in her Year’s Best Science Fiction reprint series.

Harlan Ellison (also, a brilliant writer) for his two seminal anthologies Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions. They broke boundaries, they smashed taboos and many of the stories in those books have become classics.

Paula Guran – February 5

Paula Guran

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

PG: If you are talking about a woman who writes or edits, I think the challenges are about the same now in publishing as they are for a man. There are areas probably easier for a woman to break into; areas men will have an easier time. For women who write for the screen or direct, I think it is still hard to get a foot in the door.

I feel any woman creative who considers herself only “in horror,” though, may have a lot of difficulties of many kinds. I suppose it depends on what you want, but don’t confuse a very small, insular community for the world. If you want only to write for a limited audience and enjoy feeling you are part of a group of like-minded individuals—if that makes you happy, then that is great. But if you want to become a professional writer, then you need to avoid isolating yourself.

Kathe Koja – February 4

Kathe Koja

Talk about winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

KK: Mr. Stoker has many friends in many places, so it’s always an honor to be able to say I won a Stoker Award: Dracula is an enduring symbol of the shocks and pleasures of darkness. And of course winning was a lot of fun, and the Dell Abyss list was a marvelous, groundbreaking group of writers.

Linda Addison – February 3

Linda Addison

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

LA: It’s pretty clear in the wider world that women face more problems in fields where men dominate. I don’t have any personal experiences to point to because no one has treated me badly, but I have heard other women authors tell of having issues as horror writers. I’m glad there is an increase in conversation and attention about the need for inclusiveness on many levels of our field. Part of the challenge is convincing people to read/publish outside the names they are familiar with; this is happening slowly.

The gatekeepers (editors, publishers, agents, etc.) have a lot to do with evolving the horror landscape. Not only is there a need to be more aware of the need for diversity, but they also need to become more diverse.

I’m part of the HWA Diverse Works Inclusion Committee and we’re tasked with introducing the membership to creators in The Seers Table column of the monthly newsletter that they may not know about. It’s a way to put names and work out to members that they wouldn’t necessarily choose. I hope it’s making some impact.

Another project I’m involved in that I hope will introduce interesting new voices to the field is Sycorax’s Daughters, an anthology of 28 horror stories and 14 poems written by African American women writers, and edited by myself, Kinitra Brooks and Susan Morris from Cedar Grove Publishing. It is currently available for pre-order.

Nancy Etchemendy – February 2

Nancy Etchemendy

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

NE: Two of my Stoker-award-winning works, “Bigger than Death” (1998) and “The Power of Un” (2000), won in the “Work for Young Readers” category, which was very broadly defined. “Bigger than Death” is a short story, and “The Power of Un” is a novel. The rules surrounding works for young readers have changed since then. The category no longer exists. I also won the award in the short fiction category in 2004 for “Nimitseahpah.”

People seem particularly curious about where horror writers get their ideas. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked about my sources of inspiration. I do have nightmares, and have had them all my life. They are certainly one source. But my stories more often revolve around the mysterious or inexplicable in everyday life. In “Bigger than Death,” a ghostly mother dog leads two children to her nest of puppies, still very much alive. “The Power of Un” examines questions about how a boy would change his past if he had that power. I wrote “Nimitseahpah” for an anthology about gargoyles. It didn’t make the cut, I think because I strayed pretty far from the usual definition of gargoyle. On the surface, it’s about a supernatural stone figure who guards an abandoned mine where a large number of miners lost their lives. Deeper down, it’s about a human boy who has an uncanny connection with the four traditional elements — air, earth, fire, and water. That story and several others which share the same setting were inspired by the weird desert landscape of Nevada, where I grew up….

Mercedes M. Yardley – February 1

Mercedes M. Yardley

Talk about winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

MMY: Oh my goodness! I was the dorkiest award winner ever! I was so certain I wasn’t going to win that I wasn’t even paying attention and missed my name being called. I was wearing six inch heels and nearly tripped on my way to the pulpit. I didn’t have a speech prepared. I just grinned like a fool and garbled out a very sincere, heartfelt thank you before staggering back to my seat.

Winning put me on the map in a way that hadn’t happened before. People were interested in doing interviews and that was enjoyable. I had a few agents approach me instead of it happening the other way around. But what was most profound is that the award validated me in a very meaningful way. I had a friend say to me, “You’re a Bram Stoker award winner now. Your time is worthwhile. Work on what is important to you.” They were wise words. It’s almost as if that award gave weight to what I wanted to say. It was a nearly magical totem that gave me the power and courage to say no to some projects and stop stretching myself so thin.