It’s award season. In the field of horror writing that means that the final ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards has been announced. Here are your nominees. You’ll note that female nominees are pretty thin on the ground and you may wonder why. I know I do. In a recent discussion on Facebook, two editors of horror zines noted that only between 10 and 20% of their submissions come from women; a statistic that lines up pretty well with the number of women nominated for Stokers. I also find that statistic very interesting.
Are there so few female horror writers? Do they have a harder time getting published than their male peers? I’ve heard it said that many female horror writers tend to cover their butts by writing in other genres in addition to horror. That’s certainly true of me. What might some other factors be? Please feel free to opine in comments. I’m all ears.
I love horror fiction in its short form. There’s nothing I find so visceral as a short, hard punch of horror right to my solar plexus. For this reason I’m always particularly interested in the short fiction category of the Stokers. We have one woman nominated this year. Good luck, Lucy Snyder!
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SHORT FICTION
Boston, Bruce – Surrounded by the Mutant Rain Forest (Daily Science Fiction)
McKinney, Joe – Bury My Heart at Marvin Gardens (Best of Dark Moon Digest, Dark Moon Books)
Ochse, Weston – Righteous (Psychos, Black Dog and Leventhall Publication)
Palisano, John – Available Light (Lovecraft eZine, March 2012)
Snyder, Lucy – Magdala Amygdala (Dark Faith: Invocations, Apex Book Company)
I’ve been delving in some some short horror fiction from years past recently.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This is quite a famous story that, for some odd reason, I had never read. I LOVED it. The story works on two levels. Is it the story of one woman’s descent into madness? Or is there something supernatural at work? It’s never quite clear. I particularly love the pacing in this story. It builds… and builds… and builds. Gilman never rushes the story; rather she lets it unfold. That’s considered quite an old-fashioned way of telling a story these days and I find that quite sad. Is it our modern short-attention spans at play, perhaps?
The Open Door by Margaret Oliphant
A friend mentioned this story to me and I had to read it. The author was a Scot, famous in her time for her ghostly tales. Being a Scot myself I was most interested to read her work. I enjoyed the story, though I had some problems with it. It certainly started with a great aura of creepiness and, like the previous story, the author did a great job building suspense. The second half of the story, though, I found disappointing. The author didn’t let the story unfold, so much as she let it unravel.
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
I’ve read this story numerous times, the most recent being last night. It never fails me. Never. The horror of the ending rings true every single time. Is this the greatest horror short story ever written? How can I have read it so many times, be so aware of how it’s going to end, and yet shudder every single time? It’s a masterpiece of the short form and of the horror genre.
To return briefly to the topic at the top, and particularly what is said to be the low numbers of women submitting their horror fiction in what is generally seen as a man’s genre? I admire these women. I’ve spent time on that same roller coaster, and it’s one so steep and intimidating that it’s not surprising that many choose an easier path. But for the ones who don’t? I salute you. Here are four of them. Please feel free to recommend, in comments, any women you know writing on the darker side of short fiction. I promise I’ll check them out.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth by Rebecca Ann Renner in Underground Voices
Apart At The Seams by Sealey Andrews in SNM Horror
Invitation by Siobhan Gallagher in Lovecraft E-Zine
Running Empty In A Land Of Decay by Damien Walters Grintalis in Niteblade