I’ve been terribly remiss. It’s Women in Horror month and I haven’t done a thing for it. Last year I wrote an appreciation of Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Red Tree for Peter Tennant’s Case Notes blog over at TTA Press. The year before that, I wrote about attending a festival of shorts by women at Athens Cine. This year, for what remains of February, I’d like to try to complete a series of blog posts on women horror writers who have been especially important to me personally.
As I say every year at this time, I have mixed feelings about this month. I don’t particularly want to be known as a Woman in Horror. I want to be known as a horror writer, full stop. (Come to think of it, I’d like to just be a writer–I am not that crazy about hairsplitting genre labels and categories either, but that’s another post for another day.) And yet I’ve heard enough stories that I do see a need to raise awareness that there are a lot of women who work in the genre and a lot of women fans of the genre.
The fact is, my personal experience with male editors has been nothing but positive. My personal experience with fellow writers/aspiring horror writers and fans has been mostly positive, and aside from having to occasionally dissuade people of the assumption that I must write paranormal romance or urban fantasy because I am a woman (not that there’s anything wrong with that! it’s just not what I happen to do!), those not-so-positives were quite a long time ago.
But women do get overlooked. I recently saw a horror 10 best of the year list for 2011, for example, and not one book on it was by a woman*. Okay, so it’s entirely possible that the compiler’s ten favorite books were all by men. But I couldn’t help thinking: really? Not one? And I can’t help wondering how much effort the compiler of the list put in seeking out horror by women last year. I’ve known quite a few guys who freely admit they don’t read books by women and others who, when pressed, have allowed as how they don’t have any particular opposition to doing such a thing, they just . . . don’t read women.
Now maybe this particular writer reads widely and just happened to not include any women writers on the list because they didn’t write any of his favorite books, and that’s cool. However, at that point, I’d have looked at the list and gone “Willya look at that! It’s a boy’s own extravaganza!” And then I’d have acknowledged that yeah, there are no women on this list. (And then maybe asked myself: really? Not one?)
Anyway, I’m going to try to write about some of my favorite women writers in the genre here over the next week. In the meantime–I was going to send you back to the piece I assembled on women writing horror at Sinescope, but the site is temporarily down. I’ll link when it’s back up.