All month long, I’m using my blog to help promote Women in Horror Month. Now, some might say, “Why should there be a Women in Horror Month?” I used to think this way, too, until a few years ago. That’s because I never realized women had problems getting published in this genre, or that women writers weren’t as recognized as their male counterparts.
Growing up, I read books and stories by men and women with equal abandon. I never cared who wrote something, as long as it was a good book or short story. Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Tanith Lee, Melanie Tem, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro – those were names I learned at a young age, from books and anthologies. In college, when I was at the height of my paperback book-buying days (sometimes grabbing 6-8 titles a week from the local bookstores!), I got introduced to a new generation of female writers who, in my eyes, stood shoulder to shoulder with the men: Lucy Taylor, Yvonne Navarro, Fran Friel, Nancy A. Collins, Nancy Etchemendy, Lois Gresh, Nancy Holder, Laurell Hamilton, Anne Rice, PN Elrod, Tanya Huff... so many, I can’t list them all here.
Now, imagine my surprise when women writers—including some I considered big stars—spoke up about problems getting their books published, losing contracts, seeing anthologies containing only men (and only white men, at that!), and getting harassed at conventions.
What? I couldn’t believe it. I had all those books! I had met plenty of women writers at conventions, been on panels with them, seen people line up to sign their books. Heck, at the beginning of my own career, several people told me that books with a female protagonist sell better if written by a woman, as do supernatural romances and young adult novels.
So where were all the problems I kept hearing about?
Turns out, they were right under my nose.
Over the past few years, members of the Horror Writers Association and other organizations have been doing preliminary studies and surveys, and the data is rather sobering. White males dominate publishing lists, panels at conventions, and awards lists. I used to think this was because white males simply wrote more in the horror and sci-fi genres, while women wrote more in the romance, paranormal romance, and young adult genres.
I was wrong.
Women don’t write more in those areas, they simply get accepted more. Just as many women as men are interested in writing horror, or trying to write it, but they have a more difficult time getting published in it. And often when they do, the publisher reclassifies it as paranormal this or that rather than horror. There’s an industry-wide belief that women can’t write gory or terrifying or chilling the way men can.
This just isn’t right. Gender has nothing to do with what ideas you get. Or your capability for putting them into words. Women can be scary!
And with that in mind, here’s a list of my favorite women writers of today, a new generation that’s making waves and nightmares:
Rena Mason. Erinn Kemper. Chris Marrs. Chantal Noordeloos. Sarah Pinborough. JH Moncrieff. Shawna L. Bernard. Lisa Mannetti. Sephera Giron. Maria Alexander. Lucy Snyder. Catherine Cavendish. Mercedes Yardley.
In the coming days, you’ll see some of these people—and other great women writers—providing guest blogs or interviews here, or being spotlighted. Remember their names and buy their books.
You won’t be sorry!