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 writer, author, journalist, editor, and PR Professional/publicist Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. Lets see what she said about being a “Woman in Horror”…
-PH: When did you first become a horror fan?
-Erin: I wasn’t allowed to watch or read horror when I was growing up so my first experience with it was in middle school and high school when we read short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Something about the humanity and emotion in them made me never forget them. I read Stephen King as a teenager, but the milder books I was allowed such as his fantasy The Eyes of the Dragon and then The Dead Zone, because my interest in psychic abilities was approved, then by the end of high school, The Gunslinger. I liked his writing style and years later would read more of his short stories and books. However, I was deathly afraid growing up of any horror movies, Hellraiser (I peed my pants at a slumber party) and anything Freddy specifically gave me real nightmares. Also, I was petrified of vampires. About eight years ago I met online an author named Brian Moreland. I was reviewing books on my newly formed site, and had reviewed the King short story collection, Full Dark No Stars. He introduced me to his book, Dead of Winter, which at that time I promised I’d only read in the daylight. Now, I read any time of day, anything, and even watch horror movies. I’ve read horror, written horror, edited horror, and publicized horror consistently since then. That said, I only read and watch certain types of horror, so I am not an all-encompassing fan. I really enjoy the most how horror delves into the deep recesses of the mind, tries to answer questions about humanity and how we act towards each other, and makes us address our darkest fears.
-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?
-Erin: I alluded to this above, but it happened very naturally. I realized my love of short stories (reading and writing) and the emotional depth of my writing work really lent to the genre. With my poetry, it was an outlet for me to deal with things in my past, and I’ve enjoyed infusing it with legends and myths and creatures. I enjoy meshing my love of history with horror and true crime as well. I suppose that it’s just all working together. Life, history, love – I mean it’s all horrifying. Every day life is horrifying. I love writing about humanity in its truest form. As for my editing, I’ve always been set on a career in journalism, writing, editing, PR and had worked in those realms for years, so when I had the chance to edit various horror novels too, I found that as with writing, my eye for content was much the same. I love pushing boundaries and challenging art.
-PH: What does having a “Women in Horror” month mean to you?
-Erin: Some women online aren’t natural friend makers (even if they don’t mean to be more reserved), especially in the horror genre in my opinion, so when I first started out, I knew more men as that is who was reaching out to me. I met most of the women I first knew, and I continue to be introduced to women authors, through February Women in Horror promotions. Men seem to naturally promote themselves and reach out, while women seem to remain in the shadows. I think it’s a great time to allow women of the genre to be introduced, and while things are getting better, serves its purpose to continue to break down walls and barriers be celebrating and showcasing what women have to offer.
-PH: Is there a woman in horror who you consider a role model?
-Erin: Definitely. I very much admire Heather Graham (the NYT and USA Today best-selling author!!), not only in terms of her longevity as an author or her prolific output (she’s written over 200 novels and novellas), but as a person. She’s an amazing mother who puts her family first and she’s very humble and kind, especially for how successful she is – something you don’t always find. She’s someone to aspire too in personality, but also in managing a career as a professional author. I also admire how she can cross genre lines and meld them together. And I want to learn how to churn out as many mass market paranormal books like she does!
-PH: How do you think the role of women in horror has changed over the years?
-Erin: I think women are less in the supporting roles and/or acting as scream queens and more making trailblazing films themselves. Women authors can be best-selling novelists now alongside the men. There are more women editors working in the field. Women work in every variety of job there is in horror but now more than ever they are being recognized for their efforts and valued as real players in the field.
-PH: What do you think the future holds for women in horror?
-PH: Erin: I think the future is very bright. A woman director will win an Oscar for horror and many more of the top mass market books in the genre and in cross genres will be published by women. Someday a woman editor in horror will also be called “a legendary editor in the field” for doing the same or more work as male counterparts. It’s their heart and passion that is allowing them to make bigger and bolder strides.
-PH: If you could serve a role in horror that you’ve never done, what would it be?
-Erin: I would love to be a publisher.
-PH: Who is your favorite final girl, and favorite female villain?
-Erin: Final girl would be Maddie Young from HUSH and female villain would be Maleficent of course!
-PH: Being that this is PromoteHorror.com, please feel free to plug your current/next horror project.
-Erin: I’ve been in various anthologies, magazines, and websites with poetry and short stories or flash, but my current major publication is Breathe. Breathe., a collection of dark poetry and short stories that run the gamut of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and domestic crime. It was published by Unnerving in October 2017. Besides some new short stories and poems set to publish in various venues this year, I’m putting the final touches on a new poetry collection that is water-themed and looking for a publisher among many other works in progress. You can find about my work at my site Oh, for the Hook of a Book!, Amazon, or GoodReads.
Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Biography –
Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She is an author and has over twenty years of experience in her field which includes being a professional and published writer and author, a journalist, an editor, and a PR Professional/publicist among many other things.
Breathe. Breathe. (Unnerving in 2017) is her Amazon best-selling (paid) debut collection and a mix of dark poetry and short stories. She has dark stories and poetry featured in several other anthologies and magazines and was the co-curating editor of the gothic anthology Haunted are These Houses.
She owns Hook of a Book Media from which she’s busy freelance editing and coaching authors and writers. She’s very proud to have edited and worked with publicity on several Bram Stoker nominated titles. When not busy with work, writing, or home, she’s often been found interviewing authors, directors, or actors for various horror and entertainment sites.
She continues to make progress on her novels and write multiple stories and poems from the forests of rural Ohio while juggling activities and meltdowns of her three children and a cat.
We would like to thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi for taking the time to answer our questions, but more importantly for her contribution to horror!