WiHM 12: Quick Six Questions With Shannon Lawrence
Welcome to The Horror Tree, and thank you for participating in Women In Horror Month. First, tell us a bit about yourself and your interest in horror.
Growing up, my grandma would sneak me into horror movies with her and try to keep it from my mom, but I loved horror, so she kept doing it. One of the first films I saw with her was “Cat People” in 1982 at the Lancaster Mall Theater in Salem, Oregon. I would have been all of five years old. I don’t know if that was the first one she took me to, but I do remember coming out afterward and my mom wanting to know what movie we’d gone to. You see, she was the manager of the theater my grandma had taken me to. Pretty sure grandma WANTED to get busted.
I used to watch horror and sci-fi with my dad. We watched “V” and “Doctor Who.” He was the one I watched “X-Files” and “Twin Peaks” with when those came on. And my parents had shelves of horror fiction, which is where I discovered Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz. So the fact that I grew to love horror more and more through the years, only to one day start writing it, isn’t much of a surprise. Plus, I’ve lived a fairly colorful life, which has given me plenty of fodder for the bloody gristmill. I love to write horror short stories and now I’ve got a true crime podcast, which has been a fun change of pace.
Why is Women In Horror Month important, and what do you say to someone who says ‘Oh, I don’t care if it’s by a man, a woman, etc., as long as it’s a good story’?”
Ah, yes, the good ol’ “I don’t look at who’s writing it” excuse. Women in Horror Month is important because there are a lot of readers who stick with a few authors and refuse to branch out, which often leaves women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ authors and their stories in the dust. But there are a ton of non-white, non-CIS, non-male authors putting out amazing books, and until people make a point of seeking out new and different types of fiction, not only are they missing out on fantastic material, but publishers won’t pick up those same authors, either, due to low readership or expected low readership. Whether everyone wants to believe it or not, there’s a bias that exists in horror, though it’s starting to change, and that bias is reflected both in publishing and in readership. If people don’t see it in writing, maybe they should look into how rare it is for, say, a female-led, comic-based film to make it big, and how quickly what could be a series gets thrown in the shredder when it doesn’t outsell the male-led ones. And you know what? Women know horror. Period.
Who are some Women In Horror (or other women) who have influenced your work, and why?
I’d say Anne Rice was instrumental in showing me women could write horror and make it with the big boys. She did it her way. Off the top of my head, Shirley Jackson is hugely formative. Joyce Carol Oates and her forays into the evil of people. Margaret Atwood taught me how well horror could play out in an otherwise mundane world. As a teen, Kathe Koja and Poppy Z. Brite caught my attention, and showed me a much darker, grittier take (I don’t want to misgender Billy Martin, but do want to give credit for how he inspired me in the years before he was able to openly embrace being his true self). Once I started really diving into finding more female horror authors, I got to discover women like Tananarive Due, Nancy Holder, Caitlyn R. Kiernan, Susan Hill, and, of course, so many more. I would hope that the more I read, the more they might influence my work going forward, as I continue to learn and grow.
2020 will probably be remembered as a TERRIBLE year for many of us; tell me something GOOD that happened in the past 12 months.
One good thing this year was that I returned to college to get a Bachelor’s degree, which I’m currently working away on. I also started a podcast right after I dove back into schoolwork. It’s all been a lot of work and a lot of learning, but worth it.
What have you got planned for Women in Horror Month, and the coming months of 2021?
Women in Horror Month kind of snuck up on me this year. Really, 2021 snuck up on me. In the past I’ve celebrated WIHM different ways, but this year I’ve got nothing huge planned. I do have a short story coming out in Terror Tract this month, which should be fun. For the rest of 2021, I hope to place some more short stories, finish a horror comedy novel I’m working on, and put out another collection of horror short stories, though not until later in the year.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers? Thanks for participating in Women in Horror Month!
For final words, I’d just say to keep writing, keep submitting, keep learning, and keep growing. Pursue your dreams and work hard; you’ll get there. When the lows hit, let them hit: experience them, acknowledge them, then move forward.
A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes horror short stories, which have been published in over forty magazines and anthologies. She has three collections out, the latest being Happy Ghoulidays. She’s also co-host of the new podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem.
Podcast Website: www.mysteriesmonstersmayhem.com
Podcast Facebook: facebook.com/mysteriesmonstersandmayhem
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