‘But, You’re a Girl!’ by Author Rachelle Bronson
For some it comes from their parents’ expectations, the need to please, some it takes years of trial and error to draw obvious conclusions, and others just never seem to “get it.” But there comes a time in every person’s life where they need to decide who they are and where they are going. For me, it came early, perhaps too early. I want to write horror. I want to immerse your senses, so you can feel engaged in this new world, scare the shit out of you and enjoy doing it. Horror isn’t so much about dying as it is to feeling alive, enjoying the thrill of the ride.
Looking back I can choose to believe that living in a haunted house, or dealing with bullying in school lead me to find solace in my writing, but those were occurring during my adolescence making it even more complicated than it already was. Even before that, when I was 6, I knew there was something different about me when my mother told me not to blow up blood suckers on the firepit at our summer cottage. The next year I wrote a story for class about a troll, I can’t quite remember the ending, but I’d like to think the troll blew up.
Over the years I’ve always received the same reaction to my being a horror writer. Girls don’t write horror. You should write a nice romance novel. Only sickos go there. I’m not sure where this stigma comes from. Why shouldn’t women write horror and be damn good at it?
Shirley Jackson’s, The Lottery (1948) was so controversial when it came out in The New Yorker some people cancelled their subscriptions. Today, along with The Haunting of Hill House, are considered classics. As well as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Modern day writers are making waves too such as Sarah Pinborough, Lisa Morton, Sarah Langan, Alexandra Sokoloff, Sara Gran, Nancy Kilpatrick, and Fran Friel all manage to make our hearts race, creating provocative, gritty, and well deserved award winning fiction.
The stigma with horror is more so based on old time politics the authors themselves are affilliated or involved with, some forms of religious or social heresy. We are in the mainstream. Award winning writers and artists, a distinct subculture. So, it’s not on the fringe like some would suggest. Women are increasingly being drawn to this genre because the thrill, the suspense, the catharsis, the human experience. Sometimes you have to stop being so serious. Just let go and enjoy the ride.
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I face the same stigma myself, I try not to let it bother me but I admit it does sometimes when I get “those looks” from the people I know and care about.You’d think I just slit someone’s throat for real or something. Women are going to move into this field big time, I think. I hope to be one of them.
I believe there’s a baseline lingering pre-feminist mentality attached to women in horror. Most coming from the 70s and 80s film industry (She should only be heard if she’s screaming.) Though we’re picking away at this stigma, it’s important that those in the industry represent (which we are) and those that are upcoming continue on their journey and don’t get discourage if the door is slammed in their face. Keep it up 🙂
Great article, Rachelle. I believe women know horror like men can’t. You go, ‘girl’!
We need more “girls” writing horror! Bets of luck with everything. Hit me up if you ever need a home blog away from home.
I started watching horror in the 60s (Dark Shadows) and reading and writing it in the 70s. No one’s ever been surprised or treated me with derision. Perhaps they knew I wouldn’t care or were simply relieved I wasn’t writing porn.
I love your story about the blood suckers.
I was sitting around with friends at work talking about our experiences growing up with National Geographic.
I said, “Remember, how you used to just sit for hours searching the National Geographic for pictures of dead bodies?”
My friends all turned. “No,” someone said. “Only YOU spent hours searching the National Geographic for bodies.”
Up until then, I thought that was the sole reason kids like the N.G.
I was late on the ‘girls can right killer horror’ train. I read Hill House, Sarah Langan’s “The Keeper” and “Ink” by DWG this year–my opinion (and hesitance/ignorance) is shattered forevermore. Grrrrl Power!
women have no place writing horror fiction. Stick to your glamour shots Rachelle!
I keed, I keed. You know I loved Frozen, and think you’re effin awesome!
I think both men and women get strange looks from people outside of the horror community once it’s discovered they write horror fiction. Inside the community, I don’t think anyone cares if you’re a male or female as long as the story is good. Of course, I don’t know if I would marry a woman who wrote horror. I would probably be too afraid of closing my eyes at night.
Haha, Matt, no glamour shots here, only awkward selfies. I’m trying to stay current, ok?! Great feedback everyone. Thanks for your thoughts.
Wayne, great point. I agree. The same goes for those who frequent Star Trek conventions. PS. My husband has no complaints 😛