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 Kelli Owen. Lets see what she said about being a “Woman in Horror”…
-PH: When did you first become a horror fan?
-Kelli: I’ve told everyone how I read Frankenstein in kindergarten and fell in love with the idea of being a writer, but that’s not when I became a horror fan. I dabbled in and out of horror as a young girl—a voracious reader I wasn’t paying attention to the genres as I burned through the school library. I also used to watch Night Owl Theater when I stayed over at my grandmother’s house on the weekends, and loved all the old black and white horror classics. By ten I was writing scary poetry and stories, watching the movies, and reading everything I could find. But I think the definitive moment that did me in belongs to a quiet shape—the night I watched Halloween on television after trick-or-treating. The night He Came Home was the night my little eleven-year-old brain took pause and decided all things dark and creepy were definitely for me.
-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?
-Kelli: It was always there. It started when I realized (with Frankenstein) that you didn’t have to be a doctor or fireman, but could be a writer. During my young adult period when my skin wasn’t thick enough to handle rejections, I turned to others in the genre and helped them get the word out by running a huge genre website, which provided news, reviews, interviews and more. I feel like I’ve been part and parcel to the genre since my late teens, being a girl doing it was just the way it was. I never thought of myself as a different kind of fan or contributor based on my gender, just my love of the genre.
-PH: What does having a “Women in Horror” month mean to you?
-Kelli: While I adore the idea behind the movement, I fear it is perceived as overkill. Not a popular opinion, and I’m usually quiet on the subject, but this year I’m being brutally honest. I think a whole month dilutes it. February 1st is the anniversary of Mary Shelley’s death, and we could just have a day of recognition for women writers of horror—giving different individual days of choice to those in other fields, such as film. I think because it’s a month it starts to sound like droning after a week or so, and usually devolves into nothing more than lists and links to women who contribute to horror. I love the idea and I appreciate the support, but I’d rather concentrate on solving the problem that created the need for the month-long celebration.
-PH: Is there a woman in horror who you consider a role model?
-Kelli: Not specifically. There are women I look up to, but not because they’re women. The only woman-centric thing I can think of is the silent high-five and hug of appreciation I give to any women who breaks into something new, because one foot in the door helps pave the way for the rest of us.
-PH: How do you think the role of women in horror has changed over the years?
-Kelli: I think as creators we’ve gone through the gamut of being recognized (early gothic horror was mostly women), being hidden (for a time we published under Mrs. So-and-so, because we didn’t have identities of our own), being ignored (women can’t write horror), and finally to being seen and accepted again (where we are now, I hope). As characters, we’ve also grown. Women used to be solely used as the victim or catalyst for the hero to be angry and need revenge. Then we started living through to the end (final girl). Now we can even be the protagonist and save the day. It’s a truly bizarre thing when you break it down like that. I wonder what would happen if men went through a phase where they had to write under a female name to get attention, or had to be the victim in the movie to even get a role. It would be interesting to watch the collective reaction, that’s for sure.
-PH: What do you think the future holds for women in horror?
-Kelli: The same thing it does for men. We create for an audience, and the audience gets to enjoy it. It’s still tough to get it in front of that audience on occasion, but we’re getting there.
-PH: If you could serve a role in horror that you’ve never done, what would it be?
-Kelli: That’s a tough question. I’ve been a reader, pre-reader, editor, reviewer, writer, webmistress, advertiser, layout and design for books, and even the other side of this, the interviewer. I’d say publisher, but that would take away from my writing, and that’s why I gave up both the website and the podcasting. I’ll leave that to the lovelies already doing it: Rose O’Keefe (Eraserhead Press), CV Hunt (Grindhouse Press), and Bailey Hunter (Dark Recesses Press) to name a few.
-PH: Who is your favorite final girl, and favorite female villain?
-Kelli: Way back at the beginning of this, my answer was written between the lines. My favorite final girl will always always be Laurie Strode. She didn’t do anything extraordinary, she didn’t do anything outside her knowledge base, she just moved forward. As far as villains, my gut reaction is Malificent (Sleeping Beauty). She’s been my favorite Disney character in general since I was little, and I love everything about her. But if I need to pick a more grown-up answer, I’d currently go with Cersei Lannister (Games of Thones)—she is wonderful in every horrible way.
-PH: Being that this is PromoteHorror.com, please feel free to plug your current/next horror project.
-Kelli: My latest novel TEETH is a true rewriting of the vampire myth, turning the creatures of the night into a science-based fact of life, and tossing them and their ilk into society as the newest minority. As a recessive gene, anyone can have it in their bloodline—anyone could become something you fear. Vampire lovers and haters alike seem to be enjoying it.
For Women in Horror Month, people may also want to check out SIX DAYS or FORGOTTEN, to find females in both the strong victim role and the adversarial position.
WHERE TO FIND ME:
Thanks for including me, I can be found at the following places…
amazon — bit.ly/kelliowen
We would like to thank Kelli Owen for taking the time to answer our questions, but more importantly for her contribution to horror!