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 Mary Rajotte. Lets see what she said about being a “Woman in Horror”…
-PH: When did you first become a horror fan?
-Mary: I remember the Scholastic Book Club from grade school and that excitement of choosing books every month. I think I started out with more YA suspense books. We lived around the corner from a branch of the local library, so I spent a lot of time there. I was perpetually late in bringing books back on time (in fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a wanted poster up on their wall with an age-enhanced photo of me for accumulating a horrific bill in late fees).
-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?
-Mary: In high school, I was hooked on Anne Rice. I was taking a creative writing class and our big project was to study an author and write various papers on them, which included writing a story in homage to their style. My story was about a war between vampires & humans and at the end of the semester, we had to read our stories to the class. We were allowed to use music as a backdrop to our readings, so I chose a song from Skinny Puppy’s album, Last Rights, for mine. Let’s just say my classmates were a little shell-shocked 🙂
It was in that class that I solidified my desire to write for a living.
-PH: What does having a “Women in Horror” month mean to you?
-Mary: I wish we didn’t need it, but I think it’s important. Sometimes it feels like those who are most vocal about WiHM are the ones who are already supporters. Horror isn’t as big of a genre as, say, romance. So, one would think that if you’re already a horror fan, some of those books (or films or movies, etc.) would already be on your radar. But still, it seems that we do need this month to bring attention to those of us in the genre and hope those new supporters won’t forget about us once February is over.
-PH: Is there a woman in horror who you consider a role model?
-Mary: A few years ago, I was taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo and I was invited into a virtual writing cabin that included members of a writing collective called The Midnight Society. I was welcomed into the fold fully & completely, and eventually invited to join as a member & contributor to the website. Our current roster is made up of 8 females and 1 male, and I absolutely look up to each and every one of them for their creativity & talent, not to mention their unconditional support.
-PH: How do you think the role of women in horror has changed over the years?
-Mary: Women have always written horror, in my opinion. Maybe in the past, it was “unladylike” to write about darker, messier subjects, but that doesn’t mean we don’t experience those things. We all have darkness within, male or female. I think the female perspective is important. We have experiences to share that offer a unique depth and breadth.
I haven’t specifically faced any kind of resistance or backlash being a woman who writes horror. I’ve never shied away form writing scary, ugly, dark or horrific stories. I’ve never put that barrier up for myself or waited for permission to explore those topics.
-PH: What do you think the future holds for women in horror?
-Mary: I can only hope that it keeps getting bigger and better. This is the 10th official year of the Women In Horror Month initiative, which is amazing. Authors, artists, musicians, filmmakers – we bring our own special insights and experiences to the genre. I hope that as we continue to shine a spotlight on women creators, that it becomes the norm instead of a month-long spotlight that eventually fades.
For my own future, I was awarded the HWA Scholarship at the end of 2018, which has allowed me to take a number of workshops to improve and enhance my skills as a writer. The HWA offers a number of scholarships, and you don’t have to be a member to apply, so I encourage everyone to apply for them because I feel it is an amazing opportunity to work toward more exposure not just for female horror writers but for the entire genre.
There are also a number of female writers in my local Ontario Chapter of the HWA who are writing & publishing incredible works that push boundaries and offer unique voices for readers.
-PH: If you could serve a role in horror that you’ve never done, what would it be?
-Mary: I was lucky to have a great mentor in author Loren Rhoads through the Horror Writers Association’s Mentorshop Program. She always had great notes for me on my work and still encourages and supports me in my pursuits, so I hope that one day soon, I can offer that same support to another up-and-coming author.
-PH: Who is your favorite final girl, and favorite female villain?
-Mary: There are SO MANY but I have to say Sidney Prescott, for many reasons! I love the Scream franchise, so much that it inspired me to create a serial with a similar vibe. It’s one of my back-burner projects that I hope to eventually get off the ground and start posting to my Patreon and Wattpad.
As for (one of my) favorite female villain – Margaret White in Carrie! The thing that sticks with me from the film adaptation (where she’s played by the incredible Piper Laurie), other than her instability and abuse and locking Carrie in the closet is her, pinned to the doorframe with those knives. A chilling image.
-PH: Being that this is PromoteHorror.com, please feel free to plug your current/next horror project.
-Mary: I’m currently writing a number of short stories and posting snippets & behind-the-scenes tidbits at my Patreon page. My latest story, The Culling, is available in Black Buttons Vol. 3: A Family Affair. As always, readers can keep up with me at my website, MaryRajotte.com
Thanks so much for having me!
The Midnight Society: http://midnightsocietytales.com
HWA Scholarships: http://horrorscholarships.com/
Ontario Chapter HWA: http://horror-writers.ca
Loren Rhoads: https://lorenrhoads.com/
My Website: http://maryrajotte.com/blog/
BBV3 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Buttons-Vol-Family-Affair/dp/1949369005
We would like to thank Mary Rajotte for taking the time to answer our questions, but more importantly for her contribution to horror!