Female Horror Writers (Women in Horror)


Every year in February we celebrate “Women in Horror” and the question comes up about whether there is sexism in the horror genre. In interviews, I get asked if I feel it is harder for women in horror than it is for men. Today, I’d like to discuss this and give my thoughts, and I’d like to hear from you guys.

In order to understand the gravity of this topic, we have to do some digging. I wanted to research “Female Best Selling Horror Writers” so I might have some back pocket information on which to speak.

On Ranker’s list of “The All Time Greatest Horror Writers” (it wasn’t even all female because the search engine couldn’t pull up such a specific request), there were 100 authors. Of these 100 authors, a quick count were approximately 10 female authors. Something struck me while I stared at the list, though. It wasn’t the small number of female authors. It was the fact that in the top ranks, the female authors who were named were authors who had lived – and died – a long time ago.

Our beloved Mary Shelley, for example, who paved the way for women to not only write horror but to write intelligent, well-thought out, science fiction. Which, I might add, wasn’t too far off from real science (organ transplants save lives every day).

Of course Anne Rice is on the list, and is still writing to this day, but to this list I say … “Really? Is there no other female author who is deserving of the Best Seller title?”

There are a few other things which need addressing as well. Horror isn’t for everyone. Let’s face it. Someone women don’t want to write horror. (Gasp! I know, right? It’s crazy!) This genre is hard. Not harder than other genres in complexity, but harder because the world is already hard, and there are enough scary things going on. Why would anyone want to write about these horrible atrocities on a daily basis?

To them, I would say this …

Love is hard, too. Romance isn’t always about googly eyes, saving a silly girl from her stupid mistakes, and making her feel all warm and fuzzy. It isn’t always about lost loves finding one another again. Sometimes it’s about growing apart and learning to hold on while the winds of chaos try to pull you apart. Sometimes it’s about letting go because you’re in an unhealthy relationship. It’s not always a rush of butterflies, but years of friendship and respect. It’s not full of sex, fluffed up into rapturous orgasms wrapped up in pretty lace lingerie. Love is difficult, quiet, stormy, steadfast, fleeting, stupid, and painful. And you never read that in a romance novel.

And don’t get me started on any 50 Shade of whatever because I’m sure there were plenty of 911 calls, ER visits, Walgreen’s late night runs for salves, and bandages and rise in divorce for women (and men) who thought, “Oh this sounds so hot!”

Life is hard. Life is scary. It’s real and it sucks sometimes. Horror is psychological, and it exorcises demons living in the scars of reality for a lot of us. Some can face it, some can’t. There is no right or wrong genre to write in. Do it because you want to, and you’re doing it for the right reason. When you can’t do it anymore, stop.

With all that said, many women don’t have the stomach for horror and that’s OK. The concerning fact, as I mentioned, is the number of women who make the Best Seller List. Being an Indie Author, I don’t have grandiose expectations of turning into a Best Seller without hard work and years of putting my nose to the grind. Looking at the odds, though, I can’t help but feel a sense of doom-and-gloom when it feels I have better chances of winning the lottery than seeing the fruits of my labor paying off.

I put a lot of time and effort into helping other authors, both male and female, and it would seem unjust to watch these efforts fade into the background. Many women end up settling for the role of “editor” or “agent” because getting recognition for their written works is next to impossible.

I’m sorry but I can’t go down like that. I may be a starving artist until the day I die, but I refuse to give up because I know this is something I love to do. Who knows? Maybe after I’m long gone, my works will finally get the recognition I feel it deserves.

The truth is, there is sexism everywhere. It’s just another fact of life. I don’t feel it is holding female authors down. It’s a simple matter of statistics. There are so many male authors who write horror and of those authors, a fraction of them will make it. Of the females who write horror, only a fraction of those will make it. Take into consideration the natural order of networking, cliques, friendships, etc. Guys will bond, they will chat, go have beers, and maybe collaborate. John Doe will introduce Bob Doe to his friend Jack Doe, and so on. When you start introducing females it can be a little intimidating, especially if there are wives involved! (Note: Sorry, but it’s true. Wives are very territorial, as are men. Especially when their significant other is always on a computer, taking time away from family to pursue a dream.)

I know this article is getting long-winded but if you’re still with me, you understand this isn’t an easy answer. There is a solution, though. If you have read a book by a female author, whether it is an Indie Author or not, spread the word. Lend the book, Tweet about it, give them a shout, and most importantly … leave a review. Reviews are the reader’s way of telling the people who publish authors what you, the reader, want to read. Otherwise, it will be decided for you (and believe me it has been, years in advance).

Let me know what you think about this subject in the comments below!

Guest Blog: Clock Work and HorrorAddicts.net

HorrorAddicts.net Press presents…

Clockwork Wonderland.

Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.

Edited by Emerian Rich
Cover by Carmen Masloski

ClockWorkFrontFeaturing authors:

Trinity Adler
Ezra Barany
Jaap Boekestein
Dustin Coffman
Stephanie Ellis
Jonathan Fortin
Laurel Anne Hill
N. McGuire
Jeremy Megargee
James Pyne
Michele Roger
H.E. Roulo
Sumiko Saulson
K.L. Wallis

With Foreword by David Watson

URL: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544785518

Excerpt from
A Room for Alice

by Ezra Barany

Alice woke on a cold floor. Candlelight flickered, throwing more shadows than light. She lay beside a metal table. Dried, splattered blood covered the walls. Clocks big and small hung their heads upon the walls. They ticked and clicked, wringing their hands at different hours. Some second hands spun fast as if racing to get away from the present, other hands twisted time backwards.

Where was she?

Skies and stones! She tugged on her clothes. These weren’t her pajamas! She sported a white tunic, a black corset with brass ringlets down the front, black shorts, and black and white striped knee socks. The only thing that was hers was her choker, but she never wore it to bed. Someone must have placed her choker around her neck. Someone must have dressed her. Her gut sank at the thought. A woman in a black dress lay on a mechanical table near her.

Stones! Was the woman even alive? She looked pale, fastened to the table by two metal neck-braces, one just under her chin, the other just above her shoulders. What kind of machine was it? Alice held her nauseous belly.

Flies buzzed nearby. A huge severed head of a rabbit perched on a tall pedestal. The dry thin flesh of the lips receded into the gums, baring its teeth into a twisted snarl. One black marble-shaped eye posed open. The other eye wore a cylindrical monocle fastened with leather straps. Beside the head rested a tiny blue vial. Behind the head on the wall hung a huge clock, bigger than all the rest, spanning from floor to ceiling.

Alice’s stomach coiled sick. She had to get out. She ran to a metal door along one wall and tugged on the handle. Locked. She pounded on the door.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” she yelled.

“Yes, Alice,” a man’s voice boomed.

Her heart thu-thumped. She scanned the room to see where the man’s voice came from. She peered through a small hole in the wall beside the door and sucked in a breath, surprised. Another eye squinted at her from the other side.

She bolted backwards and tripped on something, landing on her backside. She had tripped on a walrus puppet.

“Careful. I don’t want you to hurt yourself,” he said with a scolding tone. “That’s my job.”

“Who are you? What do you want?” She scrambled to her feet, eyeing the wall.

“Call me D. I have orders from the Queen of Hearts to behead the Queen of Spades and replace her head with the rabbit’s head.”

“You’re joking.” Alice eyed the poor woman on the table. “That’s the Queen of Spades?

“Yes. Relax. She’s dead already and won’t mind the removal.”

“What does that have to do with me?” Alice tried to swallow, but her mouth was dry.

“I don’t wish to mess my hands with such business. You’re here to complete the task for me.”

“What? Never!” Alice spun, looking for another door.

“Alice, listen carefully.” The man’s voice commanded attention. “Before you woke, I fed you a poison. In three minutes you’ll have a stomachache. In five, a headache. In ten, your heart will beat rapidly, fighting to get more oxygen to your blood. In fifteen minutes, it won’t matter, because your lovely body will lie dead on the floor.”

Oh, no. Alice’s belly already clenched with pain. Was the pain just a phantom sting in her imagination? The horrible man didn’t sound like he was bluffing.

“You have the antidote, right?” Stones, she hoped he did.

“Actually, most of the antidote is in the room with you.”

Flickering shadows teased glimpses of toys and clothes.

“See that blue vial on the pedestal? It has the main ingredient to render your poison inert, but it’s completely useless without its catalyst. The catalyst to activate the antidote is with me. Do what I say in under fifteen minutes and you’ll get it.”

“What do I have to do?” Alice clutched her stomach, wincing at the immense pain. The pain was real, not just her imagination. She had been poisoned.

“You must behead her.”

Alice gazed at the poor Queen of Spades. Dead or not, cutting off the woman’s head was an impossible task to bear. But if she had to, what would she use? There was no saw in the room, though the corners of the room were too dark to be certain.

“I don’t have any tools to behead her.”

No response.



Alice approached the peephole and stooped to look in.

“Are you still there?”

The door beside her screeched open. A thick man with a balding head trampled in.

“Don’t hurt me!” Alice scampered to the back of the room.

To read the full story and more Clock-inspired, Alice Horror, check out Clockwork Wonderland.