Thursday, February 7, 2019

Hell Hath No Fury (Like Women in Horror)

February marks the annual celebration of women’s contributions to the horror genre, aptly dubbed “Women in Horror Month.” This international, grassroots initiative is now in its tenth year of encouraging support and recognition of the underrepresented work of women in the horror field.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to celebrate “Women in Horror Month” by focusing on horror in its written forms by showcasing 51 female horror writers and 49 of their works—10 poetry collections, 13 single-author short story collections, 12 novels, 10 non-fiction books, and even a trio of anthologies for good measure. With no disrespect intended, I’m purposefully omitting the obvious suspects like Shirley Jackson and Mary Shelley in favor of exposing readers to some names they may not be immediately familiar with. I’m also limiting mention of each author to a single representative work (with the exception of one whose scope of work garners mention of three titles), noting that several of these gifted writers have written and published in numerous forms and formats. 

Since poetry is my new jam, I’m beginning here with ten of my favorite dark poets of the female persuasion and a representative collection from each:
·         Helen Marshall – The Sex Lives of Monsters

·         Claire C. Holland – I Am Not Your Final Girl

·         Saba Syed Razvi – In Crocodile Gardens

·         Stephanie M. Wytovich – Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare

·         Angela Yuriko Smith – In Favor of Pain

·         Daphne Gottlieb – Final Girl

·         Charlee Jacob – Heresy

·         Linda Addison – Being Full of Light, Insubstantial

·         Rain Graves – Barfodder: Poetry Written in Dark Bars and Questionable Cafes

·         Marge Simon – The Mad Hattery

Let’s move on to short-form prose by highlighting a baker’s dozen of exemplary fiction collections by female writers:
·         Joyce Carol Oates – Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque

·         Helen Oyeyemi – What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

·         Gemma Files – Drawn Up from Deep Places

·         Yōko Ogawa – Revenge

·         Caitlín R. KiernanThe Ammonite Violin & Others

·         Daphne du Maurier – The Birds and Other Stories

·         Carmen Maria Machado – Her Body and Other Parties

·         Tananarive Due – Ghost Summer: Stories

·         Karen Russell – Vampires in the Lemon Grove

·         Lisa Morton – Monsters of L.A.

·         S.P. Miskowski – Strange Is the Night 

·         Fran Friel – Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales

·         Livia Llewellyn – Engines of Desire: Tales of Love and Other Horrors

As a bonus, I’m also going to include here this generation’s preeminent horror anthologist—Ellen Datlow. Datlow consistently draws from the abounding talent pool of women writers to populate her award-winning anthologies. Personally, I think Datlow shines when she curates themed collections. Three recent favorites to get you started include Black Feathers: Dark Avian Tales, The Devil and the Deep: Horror Stories of the Sea, and Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Her tables of contents include a number of talented female contributors including Seanan McGuire, Pat Cadigan, Catherynne M. Valente, Genevieve Valentine, Alison Littlewood, and Priya Sharma, among others.

Next up, we move onto novel-length works. Following are ten outstanding horror (horror-adjacent, in one or two cases) novels by female writers that I’d highly recommend:
·         Sarah Langan – The Missing

·         Sarah Schmidt – See What I Have Done

·         A.J. Colucci – Seeders

·         Alexandra Sokoloff – The Harrowing

·         Mariko Koike – The Graveyard Apartment

·         Ania Ahlborn – Within These Walls

·         Liz Nugent – Unraveling Oliver

·         Sarah Lotz – Day Four (which is a sequel to Day Three)

·         Lauren Beukes – The Shining Girls

·         Kathy Koja – Under the Poppy

·         Alma Katsu – The Hunger

·         Marisha Pessl – Night Film

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to point out some of the notable academics amongst the female set who have contributed some invaluable non-fiction to the horror genre. Below are a handful of must-have genre reference books written by women—beginning with my all-time favorite academic tome:
·         Carol J. Clover – Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film

·         Stacy Schiff – The Witches: Salem, 1962

·         Lisa Morton – Ghosts: A Haunted History and Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

·         Margee Kerr – Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear

·         Alexandra West – The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle: Final Girls and a New Hollywood Formula

·         Amanda Reyes (as editor) – Are You In The House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999

·         Lucy Chase Williams – The Complete Films Of Vincent Price

·         Barbara Creed – The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis

·         Kier-La Janisse – House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films

·         Stacie Ponder – Death Count: All of the Deaths in the Friday the 13th Film Series, Illustrated
I hope at least a few of these titles—and the literary virtuosos behind them—have piqued your interest enough to have found their way into your online shopping carts. My hope is that you’ll expand your reading repertoire to consciously incorporate more female dark scribes. Their unique perspective, creativity, and abiding talent will no doubt enrich your reading experience ten-fold.

Now, go forth and celebrate women in horror.

“It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight.”
― Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories

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