Thursday, February 13, 2014

Women in Horror

I've been a book junkie since I could read. As a kid, I went to the library on a weekly basis, bringing home as many books as I was able to check out. I would read a book every day or two and move on to the next then go back to the library and start again.

Then we got a Barns and Noble in our town. Watch out. My book addiction suddenly became expensive. Like other normal teenage kids (cough cough) I would have my mom take me to B&N, drop me off, and pick me up before they closed. If my evenings weren't spent at the barn, you can bet you'd find me at Barns and Noble sitting in the back of the cafe with books about ghosts or witchcraft. Like I said, totally normal for a 15 year old.

When I would pick out armloads of books, I never paid attention to the author's name, let along gender. My book picking out process goes like this: find books in genre I like, pick out something with a cover that catches my attention (the font and color a title is written in can be the deciding factor on this many times), flip to blurb and either take it or put it down. Checking to see if a woman or man wrote the book never crossed my mind. Why would that matter? A book is a book, right? Men and women BOTH write and they BOTH can be really good and really bad.

Call me crazy but I assumed other people functioned this way.

Now I am involved in the book world in an entirely different way. I am an author. I've written 8 books in the last 3 years. Four are published through Permuted Press (releasing this summer) and the rest are Indie published. In some ways I feel that I have lost my innocence when it comes to books. I see things on an entirely different side than I did before. I know how all the blood and sweat it takes to write a book and that's not to mention editing, proofing, and promoting!

By far, the most shocking thing I've discovered is that there are people out there who will NOT read certain books in certain genres if they are written by women!

I know, right? WHY in the world would you NOT read a book just because it was written by a woman? Sadly, this prejudice is most prevalent in the horror genre. And it's there on both sides…men not reading women and women not reading women. I'm not going to get into they 'why'. How can I explain something so totally asinine as that? I'll just say that the general reasonings behind not reading women horror writers is that women are not 'as good' as male writers. 

Right. Women don't think, feel emotions, or know what's gross, gory, or scary. No, never. Women never feel pain or deal with issues that force them to remain strong and silent. We women can't write horror. Women don't go through childbirth or any other horribly painful event in their lives…more than once. Women never feel fear and definitely can't describe it in written words. We can write about fluffy love stories and puppies and rainbows and…seriously? The minds of women are no less than the minds of men. 

I've been told (more times than I can count now) that it is surprising to hear that I write horror. My newest book is about human trafficking and is way darker than any 'traditional' horror (and by that I mean the gore/slasher/zombie stuff). It's gritty and raw and emotional. It's terrifying and real.

I've been told that I'm 'such a nice, quiet girl' and horror doesn't 'fit my personality'. Say what?? How…*shakes head* I don't even know where to start with that one. 

I've been told that my books are too scary, too dark, that they deal with too many real issues. It's hard for me to think of anything I write as scary or suspenseful since I write it and know what will happen, but that is a compliment to me. Honest.

Being in the minority of female horror writers, I make a point to be proud of who I am and my work. I don't use initials like E.K. Goodwin which leaves gender too ambiguous to figure out. I do not wish to hide the fact that I am a female because it never once crossed my mind that being female was something to hide.

I'm going to close this post now before the turns into a endless rant. Women in horror are awesome. I've gotten to know a few female authors who really stand out to me. Not only do the write kickass books, but they are genuinely nice people who have helped me as a new author. I admire them not only for their literary skills but for their willingness to help others and for sticking up for women in horror.

February is Women in Horror Recognition month, and the focus is on promoting female authors. There is so much we can do to help each other out and end this sexist nonsense. We still have a long way to go, but each step (no matter how little that step is) is a small victory.