I’m glad that everyone reading this surviving the Snowpocalypse that hit last weekend (at least where I live in Indiana). Unless of course, you’re part of the undead horde. Which, if that’s true, I commend you for being one of those creatures that managed to still have a strong grip on your intellect. Not many of the undead can still read, write, and buy a newspaper. Have you ever noticed that many of those shambling, mindless zombies are trying to read James Patterson books? I rest my case.
The reason why I’m discussion the literary habits of undead is because that’s half of the theme of this week’s column. The other half, obviously if you’ve read the title of the column, are women authors. February is Women in Horror Month (WiHM). This is the ninth annual WiHM. “It’s an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre,” states the press release that can be found on the WiHM website.
Now you might all be saying “Jim, you’re not a women.” And you’d be right. I’m a man, but I’m also a horror genre writer. Since my first book (The Book of Roland) was accepted by Burning Willow Press a few years ago, I’ve come to network and befriend many horror writing women in the independent book society. Most of those connections happen to be women.
Now, nothing is scarier (this is my opinion as both a husband and a man) than an angry woman. William Congreve obviously agreed with me when he wrote that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” in his work The Mourning Bride (1697). Now, before I any further allow me to clarify that I tend to believe that one should have a healthy respect for the things that he/she fears. I would like to take Congreve’s quote a step further to state “Hell hath no fury like a horror writing woman scorned.”
Think about it. Think about having a horror writer as a wife or girlfriend. Imagine reading about all the horrible things that happen to the characters in her book. Think about all the time she’s taken to research those despicable acts. Then think about, in order to write those atrocities, she’d have to plot out exactly how to perform them.
Now think about this: You sleep in the same house, sometimes the same bed, as that horror writer. She’s probably dreaming about those things. Do you really want to make her mad? Something to ponder when you start fighting about what restaurant you guys should dine at.
Now, there are numerous women in horror that should be acknowledged and recognized for their work. I’m just going to list a few from the literary world and list a book that you should read. So here is my top five women in literary horror that you should read. They are not listed in any particular order:
• Shirley Jackson, House on Haunted Hill. You might remember the Liam Neeson and Luke Wilson movie when you were a kid or maybe the Vincent Price movie way back in the day. This story was the premise for both movies and you won’t regret picking this one up.
• Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire. Even though I enjoyed The Vampire Armand better, Interview with the Vampire would be a better pick if you’ve never read anything by Rice. It will be familiar territory if you’ve seen the movie, but never read the book too.
• Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. What I’m about to say next is not meant to be a snub against anyone else on this list. This is by far my favorite book on this list. Reading this book in middle school helped spark my obsession with the horror genre. This probably is the most popular book on this list, if not the most known horror book of all time. It’s spawned books, movies, parodies, and the idea that man could create life just like God.
• V.C. Andrews, Flowers in the Attic. Reading this book about kids trapped in an attic was terrifying when you had an attic and you were a child when you read this. All parents should let their children read this and say “and you thought you had it bad.”
• Kindra Sowder, Hello, My Name is… I would like to add that Sowder is the president of Burning Willow Press, the publishing company that publishes my book series. I’ve also edited a few of her books. I also consider her a friend and hopefully she considers me the same. I also know her husband, Edd Sowder. If he ever dies in a gruesome manner, I’m pretty sure I know who did it. The listed book is a novella that serves as the beginning of the Miss Hyde Novellas. Think Fifty Shades of Grey mixed with Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde only infinitely superior writing. Sleep with one eye open Edd…
There’s no way I can list every female horror writer that should be recognized. I don’t have the space to list them. This is the I will say that women need more recognition when it comes to writing. As a brother to three sisters, husband of eight years, and have had multiple female bosses I can assuredly state that whenever I’ve been wrong it’s been my sisters, wife, and bosses that have pointed it out. Heck, my niece Sophia, who’s not even ten years old yet, keeps telling me “that’s not right Uncle Jim.”
Do yourself and those under appreciated writers out there a favor. Pick up one of their books and try it out. If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you won’t be disappointed.