As you may know, February is “Women in Horror” month. To celebrate, PromoteHorror.com asked women from different professions if they would like to answer some questions about being a “Woman in Horror,” and more. One of those women, who was kind enough to answer our questions, was author Michelle Merz. Lets see what she said about being a “Woman in Horror”…
-PH: When did you first become a horror fan?
-Michelle: I’ve always been drawn to Halloween, the supernatural and things that surround that. I was born on a Friday the 13th, so even as a really little kid – I’m talking like first or second grade – I remember telling people that I was a witch. Halloween was always my favorite holiday, and each year was an ongoing quest to have the best, most-realistic costume. In high school, I was the artsy, goth girl when no one else was (other than some of my friends of course). But I would say that I remember in summer camp that I would go to the library with the camp and we’d be able to check out whatever books we wanted. I don’t remember the counselors ever double-checking which books we got, so of course I was drawn to scary stories. My absolute favorite – Scary Stories You Tell In the Dark – still haunts me. I’m very excited about the movie coming out this fall.
-PH: Was there a specific moment when you realized that you wanted to go from being a fan of horror to a woman who contributes to the genre, or did it just kind of happen naturally?
-Michelle: Along with all of the Halloween, goth-girl stuff, reading and writing has gone hand in hand with growing up for me. In the same summer camp that would let me check out horror books from the adult area, we would take a lot of field trips. Being shoved in a van with twenty other kids in the early nineties, we didn’t have a lot to entertain us. So we’d tell each other stories. My friends and I would attempt to scare the pants off of each other by telling scary stories in the back of the van. I have really fond memories of these and some of my own stories have roots in these childhood stories. So when I got older and began to actual realize that I could write and people really enjoyed my stories, I expanded on those story telling skills. My friends in high school had to read countless stories that I wrote, and to this day I think I probably owe them editing royalties for all of the time they spent. Sorry, ladies!
-PH: What does having a “Women in Horror” month mean to you?
-Michelle: Having recognition that women aren’t just “scream queens” or items to be chased in horror movies really resonates with me. I love being able to hold my own and see other get recognized, especially when most of the time we’re just featured as something in a tight shirt, dripping wet, screaming and running from a killer. Ladies like Mary Shelley creating her monster, or Shirley Jackson finally getting recognition for The Haunting of Hill House makes me excited as an author. These ladies were before their time and are icons in the horror world. Being able to celebrate next to them is amazing.
-PH: Is there a woman in horror who you consider a role model?
-Michelle: Hahahaha – the nine year old in me screams Elvira! I always thought she was amazing. And not just because of her boobs. Annie Rice and her ability to create worlds with written words makes my heart flutter. Oh, Lestat!
-PH: How do you think the role of women in horror has changed over the years?
-Michelle: When Shelley wrote Frankenstein, it was probably something that created so much controversy. I can only image the shock and absolute terror the world felt when they read it, and for those thoughts to come out a woman? Unspeakable! Now, compared to some of the things on television, in movies, in print – Frankenstein almost seems tame. But to have that kind of footing has allowed women to rise and thrust their work into the audience and really take hold of the genre. I congratulate any woman who can scare the pants off of someone – man or woman – with their acting, their writing, their art. It’s hard to scare audiences today; they’ve become almost blind to anything but “gore porn”. (This is my term for blood lust films such as Saw or Hostel or any thing that really explodes blood and guts everywhere).
-PH: What do you think the future holds for women in horror?
-Michelle: I’d love for a woman to be recognized as the master of horror just like Stephen King. Like a household name. I think there are a lot of actresses, directors, authors, artists, and many others in the genre who are really achieving this.
-PH: If you could serve a role in horror that you’ve never done, what would it be?
-Michelle: I’m not an actress at all – I can’t act my way out of a paper bag if you gave me directions. Maybe try something like that? Hahaha – I’d be the worst actress ever.
-PH: Who is your favorite final girl, and favorite female villain?
-Michelle: I’m a huge villain person – those are my favorite characters. I like the diversity of why they are so dark, so evil. But I’d have to say my absolute favorite villain is Annie Wilkes from Misery. She’s got such a depth that a lot of other characters can’t touch.
-PH: Being that this is PromoteHorror.com, please feel free to plug your current/next horror project.
-Michelle: Dark: A Collection and Abhorrent: A Collection are both available now on Amazon. Links are below. I’m also looking for a literary agent to pick up my works, so call me! LOL
We would like to thank Michelle Merz for taking the time to answer our questions, but more importantly for her contribution to horror!