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 G.G. Silverman. Lets see what she said about being a “Woman in Horror”…
-PH: When did you first become a horror fan?
-G.G.: I was probably about six years old. I had gotten up very early on a Saturday morning, way before sunrise, and went to the living room to turn on the TV. No one else in the house was awake, and my parent’s bedroom was at the far back of the house, so they didn’t hear me. I was probably looking for cartoons, but what I ended up discovering was way darker. I don’t remember the exact premise of the film that was on, but I vaguely recall there were two twin brothers, and one was luring the other to be drowned. I loved my own brother deeply, and was very protective of him, so I found the imagery shocking, yet I sat there in front of the flickering black and white screen, mesmerized. I understood, then, that I was learning a grown-up lesson, that the world out there had very real danger, and that not all humans were good all the time. There was a powerful initiatory feeling that I was grateful for—I was given a peak at human nature that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Then as a nine-year-old, I got my hands on a copy of Stephen King’s THE SHINING, and read it by flashlight under the covers so my mom and dad wouldn’t know. That book blew the lid off my mind. Especially the bathtub scene, and its horrific push-pull feeling of both attraction and repulsion. The book was terrifying, but also a huge relief—like I was exploring my fears in a safe way.
Since then horror has always been cathartic for me. My own forays into the horror genre, as a young adult novelist, have been more comedic, but I enjoy that balance of light and dark, being able to laugh into the face of zombies, as it were. If more comedic horror had existed when I was a teen, I would have been all over it.
-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?
-G.G.: I’ve known since I was about 12 that I wanted to be a writer, so it was a natural progression. I think it’s difficult to not write what you love. Try as you might, eventually, what you love comes out.
I think that’s what happened when I wrote Vegan Teenage Zombie Huntress—it’s essentially a mash-up of pop culture things that I love, taking its attitude from the Daria cartoon series and the Mean Girls movie and Shaun of the Dead, a comedic zombie horror classic. I’m just a pop culture kid at heart.
-PH: What does having a “Women in Horror” month mean to you?
-G.G.: I love that it helps push more women into the limelight. It becomes a group effort, people sharing the female written/directed authors, books, and films they love, and helping each other discover things.
Ultimately the goal is to change minds of those who are still only consuming the work of men: women are just as capable as writing and directing effective horror as men. I look forward to the days of truly equal opportunities—when women and men will have same access to publishing resources, the same opportunities to direct and produce films, and the same pay. And while we’re at it, let’s be intersectional: let’s lift up creators who are people of color, LGBTQ, and differently-abled individuals.
-PH: Is there a woman in horror who you consider a role model?
-G.G.: For dead authors, Shirley Jackson is my ultimate favorite—the way she could turn a phrase and cut through the heart of a matter with gorgeous prose, and capture the anxieties of life, and being female. Then I’d say Flannery O’Connor, who’s not classically a horror author, but her work does how some horrific human nature, and her work also discussed disability, which is something I’m interested in, as a disabled/differently-abled author.
As for people who are very much alive, there are people in my extended online community who are breaking out and it’s very exciting to watch them. Look up Sarah Read (author of The Bone Weaver’s Orchard), Gwendolyn Kiste (author of The Rust Maidens), Stephanie M. Wytovich (author of The Eighth) and Aislinn Clarke (director of The Devil’s Doorway). They’re all doing great things, and you should absolutely follow them.
-PH: How do you think the role of women in horror has changed over the years?
-G.G.: First off, as subject matter, we’re being given more power as characters. And I think that women’s issues are being explored more—having agency, what it’s like to have a body that others would consider monstrous (menstruation, and birth), women’s sexuality as seen through their own lens. I honestly think that exploring women’s subject matter is great for everyone—creating empathy helps to create change.
-PH: What do you think the future holds for women in horror?
-G.G.: I think the question should be flipped: I think it’s not so much what the future holds for women in horror, but how are women changing the future of horror. Its’ an active statement, rather than a passive one.
And the answer is, I think that boundaries are going to be pushed, barriers are going to be smashed, and we’re going to see some very exciting work that has never been done before. The best is yet to come.
-PH: If you could serve a role in horror that you’ve never done, what would it be?
-G.G.: That’s a very big question for me. I know I have a horror novel inside me that’s very darker and in no way comedic, unlike my teen books. I’m waiting before I put pen to paper, letting the ideas simmer. Meantime, I’m educating myself, reading a ton and exposing myself to great writing in the hopes that I’ll learn how to make my prose more beautiful and more satisfying. Not flowery, but learning how to use language to pierce through the heart of a matter, to increase the sense of the horrific, is my goal. I want the prose to cause as many shivers as the story. I have no idea if this is possible. And I may not be ready for a while. But I’m learning.
-PH: Being that this is PromoteHorror.com, please feel free to plug your current/next horror project.
-G.G.: If you’re a teen or a kid at heart and like comedic horror—it’s a great time to read the first two books in my Redvale Zombie Prom series, because the prequel is coming out next year.
The first two books are: Vegan Teenage Zombie Huntress, and, Stoners vs. Moaners.
The prequel, called The Innermost Thoughts of Cokie Morimoto, is all about the best friend character in the first book, and the days leading up to the prom-night zombie outbreak. This book also has zombies in it (by night Cokie immerses herself in a video game world where she slays the undead) and ghosts—the ghost of Cokie’s uncle, a police officer slain in the line of duty, keeps appearing to warn her of impending danger. People really loved Cokie from the first book in my series, and were clamoring for more, so writing a book that’s solely dedicated to her is me giving the people what they want. It also has Asian-American characters, discusses the limiting confines of gender norms, and mines my own personal history as the daughter of immigrants.
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We would like to thank G.G. Silverman for taking the time to answer our questions, but more importantly for her contribution to horror!