Friday, February 16, 2018

Women in Horror - Episode 3

For our third guest post for Women in Horror month 2018 - please welcome Morgan Sylvia
Sylvia has stories in Wicked Witches and Wicked Haunted, please visit her links and the bottom of the blog and visit her sites.



WIHM 2018
This year’s WIHM blog may be a bit of a downer. Or a PSA. Or both.
When I look back on what happened to women in horror in 2017, there’s a mixed bag of good and bag. 2017 was a great year for me. I released a novel, was in three anthologies, and sold a short story for 2018 publication. The coming year may suck, for all I know. This business is a roller coaster. It always has been, and it always will be. 

Women put out some killer work this year. But, to be honest, that happens every year.
On the social end of the spectrum, there was a lot of talk about misogyny, harassment, and assault. While in Hollywood, some casting couches went up in flames, in the writing world, we heard some pretty fucked up stories about stuff happening at cons and events.
I’ve heard way too many of these types of stories, recently and not recently, from both in our little corner of the world and outside it.

So here’s my message to the other WIHM this year:
Be careful.

Predators are lurking in every industry and every walk of life. Doesn’t matter whether you are an accountant, a writer, or an aspiring actress. Slimeballs are everywhere. They can seem to be nice guys. They can seem normal. They can even be altruistic. They don’t walk around wearing abuser logos. They’re our neighbors, teachers, uncles, and coworkers. And, unfortunately, as we saw in the news this year, they sometimes make it into positions of power. Larry Nassar. Bill Cosby. Weinstein. Spacey. James Franco. Countless coaches, priests, uncles, directors, teachers, agents ... you name it. UN Peacekeepers, for fuck’s sake. The arts, however, may be particularly risky, because we work in industries where word of mouth and connections are so crucial to people who are struggling to make their way up the ladder. When the people have the ability to elevate others, they have leverage. And because leverage in the arts is not something you can easily legislate against or even define, it becomes something we have to somehow navigate around. 

If you really want to read something scary, delve into some true stories of encounters with creeps. Many of these stories would fit perfectly into horror novels. Jack Ketchum’s Girl Next Door is another example of this. I didn’t make it through either the book or movie on my first attempts. The night he died, I gave it another shot. This time –perhaps because I was prepared—I made it through, and was struck by both his talent and also by how he framed power as a catalyst for horrific abuse. It took serious chops to tell a story that brutal without sinking into torture porn. But Girl Next Door wasn’t just disturbing because of the story it told. The truly horrific thing about it was the fact that it was based on truth.

Reality is often much more terrifying than fiction. 

This may be our blind spot.

We painstakingly consider every tiny detail of the fictional monsters we create. And yet sometimes we are oblivious to those same characteristics when they are present in our communities. We are so busy creating imaginary monsters that we don’t always see the real ones in our midst.
In reality, pepper spray and self-defense classes are a lot more useful than an ancient cursed sword.
In reality, the serial killer is always the nice guy that no one suspects.

In reality, we sometimes put monsters on pedestals. Who among us didn’t adore Bill Cosby as a kid?

So here comes the PSA part of this post:
Stay vigilant. Always follow basic precautions, whether you are at a con, reading, bar, mall, store, or party. Never accept an opened drink or leave your drink unattended. Don’t drink more than you can handle. Stay near trusted friends. Don’t walk alone at night. Take self-defense classes. (Bonus: this will also likely come in handy for your writing some day.) Carry pepper spray. Or a knife. Or a flamethrower. If you wear skimpy clothes, be extra vigilant. Not because you are asking for attention, but because there are men out there who see it that way, and a dark parking lot is not the place to debate that. Get a dog. Lock your doors. Avoid sticky situations and nope the hell out of anything that seems even slightly off. Watch out for each other. Don’t end up in a situation where you are alone with strange men. And when you go to or leave an event, con, retreat, bar, concert, store, or restaurant, watch out for creepers sitting two tables over, as well as ones in the parking lot.
That little warning bell that sometimes dings in our heads when something seems a little off? Ignore it at your own peril. 

This doesn’t just apply to meat-space interactions: you also have to watch out for publishers and agents who will prey on you in other ways, through terrible contracts and shady business practices. It’s always great to get that shiny acceptance. But don’t let your joy blind you into signing a bad contract.

We are often told to make our villains likeable, to make them human. As writers, we hear time and again that even the most despicable antagonists should have good qualities. Shades of grey. As writers and artists, it’s our job to tell the story of our society, even if those stories are draped in fictional lands and haunted by ghosts and demons. We have this amazing/crazy ability to create—and kill—fictionalized versions of our monsters and demons. I hope that this year the women in horror create some truly horrific beasts, both human and inhuman. But as we are doing that, let’s not forget to watch for the real ones.
Ladies: have fun, stay vigilant, and keep kicking ass.
Morgan Sylvia

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Women in Horror - Part 2

Next up, sharing her views on Women in Horror Month is Emma J. Gibbon



So You Think You Might be a Horror Writer
By Emma J. Gibbon

I came to realize fairly late that I was a horror writer, only in the last couple of years. I’ve been writing for *gasp* twenty years and been female a lot longer, so this is a new piece of my identity. That said, it seems like the signs were always there and I was the last to know. An actual conversation that happened with my husband:
Husband: I always thought of you as a horror writer.
Me: Why didn’t you tell me?
Husband: I thought you knew.
So in the spirit of helping others, I would like to share with you some of the clues I didn’t catch just in case you’re a horror writer too and didn’t realize yet.
1.      When I was really little, my favorite fairytale was Bluebeard. Yeah, really. The one about the serial killer. I still have the illustrated Perrault’s fairy tales. One of the pictures features a bloodied axe and the corpses of his previous wives hung up on the wall. I was a weird kid.
Also, read “55 Miles to The Gas Pump” by Annie Proulx. It’s in Close Range: Wyoming Stories. It’s so short, it’ll only take a minute. Stand in the library stacks and read it. You won’t regret it.
2.      Another, fairy tale related: I could not understand FOR THE LIFE OF ME why Sleeping Beauty’s parents didn’t just invite Maleficent to the party. It was so rude and mean of them. I lay the blame for the whole fiasco at the king and queen’s feet. I once didn’t get invited to some girl’s party but turned up anyway. I suppose I thought it was a mistake. I couldn't fathom why anyone would do that on purpose. The child-me deep inside felt so vindicated when the movie with Angelina Jolie came out. Count me in for Team Maleficent.
3.      You can add me to Team Medusa and Team Harpy too.
4.      Also, while we’re on the subject can we just agree right now that the Wicked Queen is better looking than Snow White?
5.      The first book I bought with my own money at the school Scholastic fair was an anthology of classic ghost stories. It had a picture of a creepy doll on the cover. I vaguely remember “The Signalman” being in there but my favorite in the collection was “Laura” by Saki. Laura was not technically a ghost but I loved her (read that too).
6.      My brother and I watched a lot of movies we shouldn’t have. This was the 80s. Nightmare on Elm Street, The Evil Dead, the Romero movies (remember Bub? We loved Bub), Critters, Child’s Play, Fright Night, Re-Animator, Hellraiser, Nightbreed, The Howling, Children of the Corn and many, many more. Shout outs to my parents’ free-range style and our incredibly lax neighborhood video rental guys.
7.      By the time I was 12/13, I was inhaling a lot of books that probably weren't age appropriate that I would pick up from yard sales: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Hitchcock’s collections, a lot of V.C. Andrews (called Virginia Andrews in Britain). I remember rereading Amy Girl by Bari Wood a lot (an awesome female horror writer!) but more than anything, Stephen King. I started with Salem’s Lot and then read everything I could get my hands on. The fact that I ended up living in Maine, in the next town over from where Stephen King grew up, near the railway line that inspired “The Body” is like some kind of creepy Castle Rock kismet.
8.      I spent my teen years bearing more than a passing resemblance to Lydia Deetz of Beetlejuice fame.
9.      My college dissertation discussed the representation of vampires in the movies from Nosferatu and Hammer’s Dracula (as a kid I begged my mother to let me stay up late to watch Hammer movies) to Interview with the Vampire (I had to eat humble pie with Rice, that bloody Cruise was actually great), Coppola’s Dracula (Gary Oldman! Winona Ryder! Sadie Frost! Keanu Reeves…) and From Dusk ‘til Dawn. All 30,000 words of it. In my defense, this was the era before sparkly vampires. Also around this time I read and reread the awesome Giant Book of Vampires edited by Stephen Jones continuously (you’d better believe I just found a used copy on Amazon and re-bought it!).

Is it really any wonder that when I finally put pen to paper myself, it was a little… dark.

So why write horror?

Because some of us really do see through a glass, darkly. We saw the Addams Family on TV and thought that’ll do for me. Because to see the light, you need the dark. Because night time is beautiful and so are black cats, bats and crows, deep dark woods and old buildings. Because life on earth can be horrific and fiction can be training and armor and a weapon you can wield. Because there are some who think that horror stories can’t be taken seriously, that they’re trashy and can’t be literature when they can be all these and more. So fuck you, you intellectually stunted snobs. I love trash and literature. Because there are some who think women can’t or shouldn’t write horror and I’ve never ever done as I am told. Because I listened to Where Did You Sleep Last Night? and The Killing Moon and the Jack White version of Love is Blindness and looked at Gregory Crewdson photos and thought I want to write stories like that. Because horror writers are surprisingly nice, kind people but they don’t want you to know. Because female horror writers build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

And in that spirit, here are some (but not all) of my favorite spooky women writers in no particular order:

Shirley Jackson: I finally read We’ve Always Lived in the Castle last year and I wish so hard that I had read it years ago so I could be rereading it over and over. Maybe I would have become me sooner for its influence. The New Yorker received more letters about “The Lottery” than any other story, such was the visceral (and mostly disapproving) reaction.
Mary Rickert: Whenever I sense one of “our tribe,” I want to press a copy of You Have Never Been Here into their hands and send them on their way. Her story “Everything Beautiful is Terrifying” in Shadows & Tall Trees 7 is a thing of creepy beauty that will convert you completely.
Caitlin Kiernan: The Drowning Girl is a masterpiece and Agents of Dreamland was so effective I could taste the dryness of the desert in my throat.
Daphne du Maurier: murderous birds, canal haunting dwarves, Cornish smugglers, and Rebecca...oh Rebecca and Manderley. Be still my beating heart!
Mary Shelley: Possibly the first female horror writer?
Angela Carter: A legend. “The Bloody Chamber” finally sees karma catch up to wicked old Bluebeard.
V.C. Andrews: Go back and reread My Sweet Audrina. Seriously. It might not be great literature but it is bonkers in the best way and creepy as fuck.
Sarah Monette: Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is my favorite short story collection.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the kickass anthologists Ellen Datlow and Paula Guran!

Finally, as my gift to you as a female horror writer and strange woman, is this podcast recommendation. It’s pretty great: storiesofstrangewomen.com.

Emma J. Gibbon is originally from Yorkshire in the U.K. and now lives in Topsham, Maine. She is a writer and librarian. Her work has appeared in Wicked Haunted, a New England Horror Writers anthology and is due to appear in The Muse & The Flame, an anthology of bizarre romance. She was also a runner-up for the 2017 Island Verse Poetry Prize. She lives with her husband, Steve, and three exceptional animals: Odin, Mothra and M. Bison (also known as Grim).

amazon.com/author/emmajgibbon
goodreads.com/author/show/17246043.Emma_J_Gibbon
@sleepyfable

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Women in Horror month - 1

We started doing guest blog spots for Women in Horror month a few years ago. We're continuing it now.

The first guest blogger is Elaine Pascale - enjoy. And do check out Elaine's Amazon page.



Another year, another Women in Horror Month…I do love WIHM and greatly appreciate all of the opportunity that it allows.  Each WIHM serves as a catalyst for not only establishing writing goals for the year ahead, but also for looking back at the year that was.  2017 was a year that, for me, contained more terror than horror.  Some of that was of my own choosing, as I had tasked myself with doing things and exposing myself to things that frightened me.  In doing so, I realized that most of us (especially non-horror writers) spend the majority of our time trying to avoid fear: real-life fear.  Some of us (and the people I most like to talk to) avoid that real-life fear by escaping into fictional horror, especially the world of monsters.
We need monsters.  They give us a place to “hide.”  They provide us with opportunities to dispel anxiety by preparing for non-real threats that, in practice, may help us in the unfortunate case that a real-life emergency happens.  Preparing for a zombie apocalypse contains a process similar to preparing to deal with hijackers on an airplane or shooters during a concert. Monster stories help to dispel that extra adrenaline that builds up after a stressful week or during a time when the world seems particularly inhospitable. Monster movies and stories also remind us that the good guys always outnumber the bad guys.
Like the people who tell monster stories, the monster tradition is not gender specific. There are plenty of female monsters to fear.  We check beneath our beds for the “bogeyMAN” but that name is simply a placeholder for the variety of monsters that have long captivated our imaginations.
I want to focus this WIHM/monster discussion on the female vampires of Asia.  They embody a fear of female sexuality and reproductive power which has long been a part of the human narrative.  Like most vampires, this subgroup is highly desirable, with a siren-like allure. These vampires have a common theme of attacking pregnant women or infants and children: a plot that also occurs in Western vampire lore.
A few favorites:
Mandurugo (Philippines): an attractive girl by day, she has wings and a long hollow tongue by night.  She uses this tongue to suck fetuses off pregnant women.  Mandurugo is also told as a “Black Widow” story, with her marrying men only to have them wither away while living with her.  In these stories, she is exacting revenge over a lost love.  She will always remain young and beautiful while she has a supply of fresh blood to drink. She is interesting because of that proboscis-like tongue that has the ability to enter homes while her body remains outside.
Manananggal or Wakwak (Philippines): a beautiful woman who rubs her body with an oil in order to grow wings and to detach the top half of her body at the waist.  Her top half flies round looking for victims, most often pregnant women. Her ability to control her transformation marks an unusual level of power in monster lore.
Penanggalan (Malaysia)/Abs (Cambodia): a beautiful woman, most often a midwife who made a pact with the devil.  She can detach her fanged head, but typically detaches the entire top half of her body.  The head/torso flies around looking for pregnant women so she can suck their blood.  She sometimes appears around women giving birth in order to drink the birth blood.  Her “tell” is that she keeps a vat of vinegar in her house so that she can shrink her entrails small enough to fit back into her body when she is ready to return to human form.
Langsuyar (Malaysia): a beautiful woman who suffered the loss of a stillborn baby.  A woman who died during childbirth could become a Langsuyar.  A Langsuyar can live a normal human life is someone cuts off her hair and nails and stuffs them into her neck.
Pontianak (Java): a beautiful woman who died a virgin or while giving birth.  She attacks and emasculates men before turning them into vampires.  She also attacks babies because she is jealous of their happy mothers.  The Pontianak will announce her presence by making the sound of a crying baby. One way to protect yourself from the Pontianak is to never leave your clothing outside overnight to dry; the smell of drying clothing is like catnip to her.
There are plenty of places to find more vampire or monster stories from various cultures, if this is of interest.  Comparing monster stories from different cultures shines a light on the values of a particular place, as well as the influences that may have happened during empire shifts and colonization.
During the 9th WIHM it is important to use these monsters to consider our views on gender and the stereotype of the devouring mother or jealous matriarch/female lover. If that is an unappetizing intellectual exercise, then the stories can be used in the way that they are used best: a diversion from the real-life terror that causes sleepless nights.  Monster stories are preferable to the news, and remind us of what is good about being human.  

Elaine Pascale had been writing her entire life.  She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, son and daughter.  Her writing has been published in magazines and anthologies. She is the author of the soon to be released Blood Lights, and If Nothing Else, Eve, We’ve Enjoyed the Fruit.  Elaine enjoys a robust full moon, chocolate, and collecting cats. Find out more at elainepascale.com, https://www.amazon.com/Elaine-Pascale/e/B003MRXUCS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0, or https://twitter.com/doclaney, or https://www.facebook.com/elaine.pascale

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Women in Horror month

This February - keep your eyes peeled to this site for several guest bloggers for their visions of Women in Horror.

NEHW invades Cemetery Dance.

Our latest anthology Wicked Haunted has been reviewed (and approved of) by Frank Michaels Errington.

Check out his review on Cemetery Dance online.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Salem MA

Salem, MA was a deep dark history and now the NEHW is part of it, with our second book release in Salem in two years.

Halloween Weekend, October 28 & 29, the NEHW will be back in Derby Square for the Open Air Marketplace.

We're there Sat and Sun from 11 - 6 - maybe a tad earlier if we're set up. We'll have hard copies, TPB of Wicked Haunted for sale and several of the short story authors and a couple of the editors. Here's a list of the participants:

Scott T. Goudsward
Trisha Wooldridge
Rob Smales
RC Mulhare
Gregory Bastianelli
David Price
Curtis Lawson
Kameryn James
Pete Kahle
Phill Perron
Tom Deady
EA Black
Gordon Bean

The Cover! Front one anyway. And an Amazon link!

Buy it here!