Women Can’t Write Good Horror?

March 12, 2013 at 2:26 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I don’t have my review ready this week – still immersed in Deep Cuts. I’m reading every little nook and cranny to the book, including the intro and all of the recommendations, in very careful detail. I guess I’ve been lingering so much on this because I was distraught and bewildered by something Lisa Morton says in the intro… that in almost every horror writer’s forum out there, there seems to be a thread running on the inability of women to write good horror.

Hunh? Really?

I was also disappointed to hear that only 30% of the submissions for a pro-rate anthology honouring women in horror actually came from female writers.

Have I had blinders of some kind on? Because I’ve never run into anybody who has told me I can’t write good horror because I’m a woman. I’ve had some people decide they didn’t like my writing in general, but I’ve never had anyone suggest that any problems they’ve had with my stories was a result of my gender. Do people actually think that way?

I decided to do a search on the internet to see if this was truly a common sentiment. Initially, I found a lot of postings defending female horror writers, most of them associated with Women in Horror Month. Most of them seem to be offering counter arguments or excuses surrounding the notions that female writing is too sappy and emotional for horror, or they don’t write anything that’s effectively scary or gory. I’ve never been accused of any of that either, so once again, I’m scratching my head.

By the time I was done my search, I was pretty upset. While I don’t give much heed to the odd forum entry that “chicks can’t write horror” (because I don’t value the opinion of anyone who would refer to me as a “chick” unless in jest), the reports of people on panels at conventions saying things like women were less effective at writing horror and suggesting we should stick to fluff and paranormal romance made me want to string the buggers up and whack them repeatedly in their scrota with a stick laced with rusty nails (pointy ends to flesh, of course). While I wouldn’t actually do anything like that, I was pissed off enough to consider the fantasy – not to mention it would certainly show them I mean business when it comes to horror.  I’m sure I have several female horror writer friends who might contemplate joining me.

Don’t think I can write horror that’s scary or gory? Think my work will be sappy because I’m a woman? If that’s the case, I’d advise you to check out “Wrigglers” when it comes out in the soon to be released Midnight Movie Creature Feature II from May December Publications. I don’t shy away from cruelty, gore, death or violence when it comes to my stories and I challenge anyone to give an example of a horror story I’ve written that’s “sappy”. Containing irony – yes. Offering dark humour – at times. But sappy? Never.

When I write horror, I write horror, and I mean business.

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She Doesn’t Have to Be an Amazon to Be “Strong”…

April 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm (Casualties of War, fantasy, writing) (, , , , , )

I noticed on a friend’s blog that archeologists have uncovered proof of another female gladiator in the Roman arenas. It brought me back to a discussion I had with a writer friend regarding strong female characters. When I suggested I like to see strong female characters, she automatically jumped to the idea that I was implying the stereotypical fantasy swordswoman, battling alongside the men with her rippling muscles, bronze brassiere and Xena-like war-cries.

Far from it.

All I meant was: “please don’t give me another story where every woman significant to the plot is either a doormat, an ornament or a victim.”

I admit – I do have warrior women in some of my tales. I have female Templars, soldiers like my Dee Aaronsod or Brianna, and my apprentice mercenary character, Carlisle. In fact the head of my Red-Sun mercenary guild is a villainous woman named Minerva. But a lot of my strong female characters are miles from the stereotypical Amazonian fighter. They range from a stout little middle-aged, ex-school teacher who is willing to brave a mountain full of dangers for the sake of helping others, my Reeree in the soon to be released “Casualties of War”, to my super-mom, Margot, who works as a financial administrative assistant and takes on some exceptional responsibilities, in “Just Another Day”. I even have a primary female character in my unpublished Snowy Barrens trilogy, the shamaness Fawn, who is extremely strong, despite being a healer, a social outcast because of some disturbing facial scarring, and a pacifist. I consider Sarah one of my strongest characters in Fervor, but she is not physically strong, wilful, contrary or bold. She is loving and understanding and offers as much of herself as she can possibly give, even though it might put her in danger.

Strong doesn’t just mean emotionally fierce and physically powerful. Strong can mean taking action, not bending when others oppose you, offering commitment to follow through on the things you’ve started and showing resolve when things get tough. It can mean not turning away and leaving things for others to fix, if they go bad. It can mean staying true to yourself, and helping those you love, or even helping complete strangers who need you, for that matter. Strength comes in various shades and designs, not just a single stereotype.

I’m not playing the feminist card and saying every woman in the story should be strong, for the sake of serving as a positive role model for any girls/young women who might be reading it. Fiction should reflect life, and there are a range of people out there, including doormats, ornaments and victims, so these personality types will play a part in stories – what I’m saying is there are an awful lot of women out there who make a very positive impact on others’ lives, and that should be reflected too, especially if you want me, as a reader, to be able to relate properly to your story.

So please, give me something other than just damsels in distress or women who can’t go on without their man. Give me something strong.

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