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.

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