I have mixed feelings about Women in Horror Month. While I'm pleased there's a dedicated month to bring attention to women who write horror, I fear we cease to exist in people's minds the other eleven months of the year. Ask someone in August to list their favorite horror authors, and it's quite possible the only woman included on that list will be Shirley Jackson. She was brilliant, don't get me wrong, but she's not the only one.
It's hard to admit, but even I'm guilty of this.
It's not that women haven't been writing amazing horror for ages; it's that we're all conditioned to unconsciously give work written by men more weight. I've mentioned many times in many interviews that reading Stephen King's The Shining when I was eleven played a huge role in my development as an author, and it did. But this is only part of the story. I've done a grave disservice by not turning the calendar back a little more, because Lois Duncan truly paved the way.
I devoured books as a young girl, rereading my favorites multiple times, something I still do as an adult. The titles of most of those books have been lost over time, but some, like Lois Duncan's Down a Dark Hall, Killing Mr. Griffin, Summer of Fear, and Ransom have stuck with me over the years. I remember checking them out of the library again and again. I remember the cold snake of fear moving up my spine each time I read them.
Without her, I never would've told grim little stories to myself, never would've started writing them down, never would've read King or Herbert or Poe. Or Carter, Jackson, Shelley, du Maurier, Oates, or Rice, for that matter. Please, Lois Duncan, forgive me for not giving you the credit you've deserved for years. You played a huge role in my becoming a writer, and I won't ever neglect to mention you again.
So, let's leave young Damien behind and talk about a writer she's reading now, someone you definitely should be reading as well. I could list a dozen easily, and then I could take a moment to think and list a dozen more. Rinse. Repeat.
Since I'm only supposed to talk about one, though, I'm going to highlight someone you should be paying close attention to: Kristi DeMeester. In the interest of full disclosure, I frequently beta read for her. What that has offered me is an insight into where she is as a writer and where she's going.
Since Kristi started publishing a few years ago, her short fiction has been published by Shimmer, The Dark, and Black Static, among others, and has been included in The Year's Best Weird Fiction. This year, her first novel Beneath will be released from Word Horde, and her debut short fiction collection, Everything That's Underneath, from Apex Publications.
Her voice is poetic and confident. Her stories cut deep into your heart and linger in the shadows. She writes of beauty and ugliness, of love and loss, of family and solitude, and everything in between, and I suspect she's going to be around for a long time.
Honestly, I've never been very good at following directions, so I'm going to add a few more authors, and I highly recommend you also give them a read: Livia Llewellyn, Priya Sharma, Helen Marshall, Gemma Files, Sarah Langan, S.P. Miskowski, and Cate Gardner.
In this haunting and hypnotizing novel, a young woman loses everything, half of her body, her fiance, and possibly her unborn child to a terrible apartment fire. While recovering from the trauma, she discovers a photo album inhabited by a predatory ghost who promises to make her whole again, all while slowly consuming her from the inside out.
Damien Angelica Walters' work has appeared or is forthcoming in "Year's Best Weird Fiction Volume One," "Nightmare," "Strange Horizons," " Lightspeed," "Shimmer," "Apex," and "Glitter & Mayhem." She was an associate editor of the Hugo Award-winning "Electric Velocipede.""
WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH LINKS
THE WOMEN IN HORROR MIXTAPE
INTERVIEW WITH KAYLEIGH MARIE EDWARDS
THE HISTORY OF WOMEN IN HORROR 1: A MAN EXPLAINS
28 Days Of Black Women In Horror
Interview with Lee Murray
Women in Horror Month
The Monstrous Regiment of Women in Horror