As I type, we’re just over halfway through ‘women in horror month’. If that’s news to you, you are not
Derick Jacobi alone. If it hadn’t been for Facebook, I wouldn’t have had the first clue. I’m not even a tiny bit proud of that, but it is what it is. Ignorance is never a defense, but it still beats malevolence, in my book.
Here’s the more worrying thing – one of the practical consequences of this is that I’ve realised I know basically bugger all about female horror writers.
That’s a travesty.
I mean, okay, I know Poppy Z. Brite made Thomas Harris look like an amateur, that Anne Rice proved to me that I basically will never dig on vampires no matter how well they are written, and… that’s it. Oh, wait, no, I’m also familiar with the work of Mercedes Murdock Yardley, whose short fiction is astonishingly good and whose debut novel I devoured in less than a week. Still, when I think about the hundreds of genre novels I’ve read, that’s a pretty shaming strike rate.
This is profoundly embarrassing, for me. I was raised as a feminist. I self-identify as a feminist. I have a daughter and a step daughter and a wife and a mother and a sister and I need the world to be better and safer and kinder and more robust than it currently is for them. I need that. I follow @EverydaySexism on Twitter (and fellas, if you don’t you need to – trust me, you have no idea what the world looks like for half the population otherwise). I try really hard to write strong, complex, real female characters. I’m trying to raise my daughters to believe that they can be and do anything they want. And yet, here I sit with this big old blind spot right in my own wheelhouse.
Oops. Also, sorry.
(I have a silver lining with the above, and it’s this – I do believe I’ve successfully answered the question ‘Do we really need Women in Horror month’? Because clearly I bloody well did, and I can’t possibly be the only one.)
So, good and kind blog readers, I cry your pardon, and beg your assistance in rectifying this sorry state of affairs. The first five named female authored horror books I see in comments, I will buy the recommended book on Kindle and read – they will be my next five books. I need to broaden my horizons. Famous, indie, self-published, novel, novella, shorts collection, don’t care – if it’s broadly in the horror genre. and you recommend it, it’s good enough for me (no series please, and yes, of course you can recommend your own work). Assuming I have nice things to say (and if you’re recommending them, I’m sure I will), I’ll report back here.
Number two, all my profits from the February sales of my debut e-novella are going to my local women’s shelter. Because I need to do better.
And by the way, thanks for sticking with this, and with me. I remain grateful, and feel more humbled than ever.
PS – I realise there’s a whole gigantic can of worms lurking behind the question ‘why did it take Women in Horror Month for you to think about this issue?’ That can of worms is, I strongly suspect, labelled ‘male privilege’, and I hope you’ll forgive me for keeping my thinking on that subject off-line for the moment. Believe me, I am thinking about it, long and hard.