By Bonny Capps
My horror writing journey began a year ago when I was riding along in a bumpy semi, learning to live with very little, and enjoying the vagabond life.
My starry eyes were set on the prize – a bestselling book – but, it seemed that would never happen. Still, I never gave up (even after my first two books – a fantasy YA and a paranormal romance flopped).
I was ready for a change, and I had made up my mind that I’d write horror. I’ve always loved horror – from the time I was five and watched The Exorcist in awe (unbeknownst to my mother) …or when I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning with a flashlight in hand and my head under the blanket as I clung to every sentence Stephen King crafted in The Shining.
Oh, but there was this one paramount issue; my vagina.
There is no denying that there is a gender gap in the horror world – everywhere from behind the scenes of our favorite slasher films to the literary world.
After all, who wants to read some estrogen pumped “horror” novel penned by an emotional woman? That sounds ridiculous now, but when I first considered giving horror a shot, it was a question that I constantly asked myself.
Obviously, you can look at the genius works written by Anne Rice, or Sarah Pinborough whose work has been compared to Dean Koontz to know that women can in fact write horror – not only write it, but write it well.
Do readers not only judge a book by its cover, but also by the author’s gender when it comes to horror? Possibly.
Is there an undeniable gender gap in the horror world? Absolutely.
Since writing my first horror novel (Deliverance for Amelia), I’ve gone on to write three more, and my most recent (SNUFF) became an international best seller the day of its release.
So, yes, my friends – women can write horror, and they can be successful in the literary world.
I’m just a Girl in the Horror World
(Some tips to deal with the inevitable gender gap)
1) People are going to judge you.
This is the unfortunate truth, and it becomes even more so when you’re a woman. Will you be taken seriously? It took a lot for me to be taken seriously, or to even consider myself a horror author. The title seemed to come with so much responsibility, and it was scary. But when you do decide to take the leap, own it.
2) You will be compared to male horror authors.
Get used to it. The writers in this genre are primarily male, and people will wonder if you can be as gruesome as our male counterparts. In a review that I received for Deliverance, the reader compared my novel to “American Psycho” by Brett Easton Ellis.
In this review, she compared the book to the movie (directed by a female – Mary Harron), stating that Ellis (being a male) was able to remain consistent with Patrick Bateman’s character, while Harron made the viewers feel pity for him.
The reviewer went on to say Deliverance began with Ellis and ended with Harron – “the happy ending”, because Ellis was not afraid to show the readers how cold and vicious Bateman was, while Harron held back. In conclusion, Ellis was able to portray the sick character better simply because he is a man, and Harron was not, because she is a woman.
3) People will be quick to question what is actually wrong with you.
This has happened several times. Why, though? Obviously, men deal with this also – and in this industry, it’s a compliment. However, what I’ve noticed is that women are looked down upon at times, especially when there is subject matter containing violence, rape, and the macabre. Women are naturally nurturing, so it can be disturbing when they dive into the headspace of a sadistic killer rapist.
Own it. Smile. If people are questioning your sanity, you wrote a good horror novel.
The moral of this story is, if you’ve got a tale to tell – then tell it. Don’t allow anything to hold you back or to limit your creativity. In the land of horror, the sky is the limit.
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