WiHM 12: The Evolution of Women in Horror
The Evolution of Women in Horror
By: N.M. Brown
“I delight in what I fear.” Shirley Jackson
Fear is one of the most instinctual human emotions, originally meant and used to keep humanity as a species safe. It can be a powerful motivator and deterrent to keep in the proverbial line. However some of us love it, seek it out, are almost … addicted to it some can say. This is where the horror genre comes in. One can be thoroughly enthralled and terrified to their core all from the safety of their own location. We can indulge in the thrill of a terrifying book, show or movie whenever we want to and turn it off so to speak when it becomes too much.
You can use that sense of fear to be more appreciative of just how un-horrific your life truly is, but you can also use it to make you stronger. Some of the most successful, entertaining and unsettling horror literature has come from the minds of the afraid. To write fear is to know it, have experienced it at length, and more so… to understand it.
As we greet Women in Horror month with open arms, I thought I’d shed light on some of the most prominent female horror authors of the present and past, the struggles we have faced as a gender, how things have gotten better, while others have stayed exactly the same.
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”- Mary Shelley
My name is N.M. Brown. I am a voice actor, publisher, media director, podcast coordinator, best selling horror author, and above all… a woman.
With the rise in popularity of true crime in print, podcasting, voice acting and television along with the continuing Creepypasta trend, female horror creators are now thriving more than ever. We are no longer cowering in the shadows of our fears, waiting for valiant men to save us. Now, we use those fears to create and inspire terror in the hearts of the masses.
The blank eyed blond screaming helplessly as she meets her brutal fate. A surrogate incubator, whose sole purpose is to bring about the birth of the next antichrist. The sobbing girl stumbling away from the homicidal antagonist, tripping again and again until she is ultimately caught and killed. One of the chief complaints of Hollywood criticisms has been the way women have been treated and underrepresented in the world of Horror stories brought to life on screen. With the continuous rise of the technological era, it is now easier than ever to follow your dreams as a woman of the macabre. This last decade has seen a significant rise in female horror authors and creators. One example of this instance is American author CK Walker, who hails from the Los Angeles area. This inspiring and groundbreaking author first made herself known through Reddit’s NoSleep forum, an online horror community consisting of over 13 million members. While there, she was picked up by Netflix’s streaming service and signed on to write for the well known Haunting of Hill House and Haunting of Blythe Manor.
Another victory in the world of women in horror is the booming rise of female independent publishers. There are now more companies than ever to submit to that are run by women, read by women, and funded by women. Nocturnal Sirens Publishing, Eerie River Publishing, Macabre Ladies Publishing, and D&T Publishing to name a few.
“I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.“- Mary Shelley
The above quote came from the last completed novel of one of the most successful female horror authors of all time. A common slight disguised as a compliment that I’ve heard used is, ‘Wow! You write horror very well for a woman.” Shelley explains it perfectly with her above quote. Horror is for everyone, the experiencing and the telling.
Some of the most core elements of what we now know as horror came from women of horror. The dark romanticism of vampirism was gifted to us by author Anne Rice. Mary Shelley blessed us with the idea of reanimation, the beautiful meld of both science fiction and horror. In some ways, you could say that Frankenstein was one of the first ‘zombies’ of all creation. Are you chilled to the bone by the idea of a haunted house? Shirley Jackson introduced that trope to us that as well, with her novel the Haunting of Hill House.
While we are making great strides, some things have unfortunately stayed the same. You may have noticed earlier on that I introduced myself as author N.M. Brown instead of my full name, which is Natalie Brown. This is because it is statistically proven that readers will be more likely to buy a book written by a male or someone with a gender neutral pen name. Now, am I saying that you will automatically fail by using an obviously female name? Absolutely not. There are several exceptions to every rule, and the celebration of Women in Horror month helps that standard become a thing of the past more and more each and every year.
Find your favorite female horror author, and inhale their work. I promise you will like what you read.
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The Horror Tree is a resource for horror authors which was created in 2011. The main goal when starting the site was to include all of the latest horror anthologies and publishers that are taking paying submissions. A resource useful for both new and experienced publishers alike looking for an outlet for their written material!