Ginger Nuts of Horror
As we approach April our celebration of women in horror continues on its march to bring to your attention some of the female writers we should all be paying attention to. Today we welcome Amanda J Spedding The Motherhood of The Monstrous.
Amanda J Spedding is an editor, proofreader and award-winning author and comic writer whose stories have been published in local and international markets earning honourable mentions and recommended reads. She won the 2011 Australian Shadows Award (short fiction) for her steampunk-horror, ‘Shovel-Man Joe‘, and the 2015 Australian Shadows Award (written work in a graphic novel) for her comic, ‘The Road to Golgotha‘.
She is a freelance editor, and also the editor-in-chief for Cohesion Press. Between bouts of said editing, she is writing (and rewriting) her first novel – an apocalyptic horror. And short stories, oh how she loves her short stories.
Amanda lives in Sydney with her sarcastically-gifted husband and two very cool kids. And cats. Of course she has cats.
I’ve been writing horror for almost eight years, editing it for about five, but when did the appeal of horror really start? I like to blame my father because he hates when I do so, but this was the man who read Poe to me as a child (nicely balanced with my mother’s reading of Dr Seuss). My dad read all the classics to me, and one of those was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
I remember being curled up in bed, covers pulled up to my nose as his voice transported me into the pages, into the story, into nightmares. I also remember Mum rousing on him for reading me the story because I spent the next few weeks sleeping between them.
While Mary Shelley was the first female horror/sci-fi writer brought to my attention, I’d actually like to talk about another, lesser-known writer – Waif Wander. Hers is an incredible story, and for me, highlights the plight of women writers that to some extent still exists today.
Irish born Waif Wander (aka Mary Fortune, 1833-1910) migrated to Australia from Canada 1851, and was one of the first female detective writers in the world (the first in Australia). She was a prolific writer of poems and short stories, but her gender precluded her from being published under her given name. But The Australian Journal published almost everything she wrote under her pseudonym – Waif Wander or W.W.
So closely guarded was her privacy, it wasn’t until the 1950s that her real identity was discovered. Under the name Waif Wander, The Australian Journal published the first Australian ‘vampire’ tale, and what an incredible story The White Maniac: A Doctor’s Tale (1867). While not a ‘true’ vampire in the Hollywood sense of the word, it’s a bleak and cut-off world filled with madness and different yet no-less-compelling view of vampirism.
This tale was published 150 years ago, and Ms Fortune had long since passed, anonymous, because a woman writing horror at that time was almost an egregious sin. We’ve come a long way, sure, and there are some truly amazing women horror writers making the world sit up and take notice, but we’re still fighting the stereotypes, misgivings, and flat out bullshit that sometimes comes with writing horror while swinging the X chromosomes.
And one writer I believe everyone should be reading is New Zealander, Lee Murray. Not only is Lee one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, she’s one hell of a writer. Her ability to weave horror – both subtle and gut-punching – will transport even the most cynical of readers.
Lee first came to my attention with her novel, Into the Mist (Cohesion Press). A military horror creature-feature tale set in the wilds of New Zealand, with a monster ripped straight from Māori legend. It was incredibly refreshing to read a story that incorporated a sadly under-represented culture in fiction. It’s brutal, it’s gory, and when the chase is on, you’re on the edge of your seat.
There’s a lot to Into the Mist. It incorporates the Māori culture and history, the landscape is rugged and beautiful, and her characters are as real as you and I. So much so that the book made it to the preliminary ballot of this year’s Bram Stoker Awards. There’s a seamlessness with her storytelling, and the woman sure as hell knows how to put the horror into horror.
I can’t recommend her work enough. And there are a plethora of female writers out there who should be read: Kaaron Warren, Cat Sparks, Kirsten Cross, Christine Morgan, Angela Slatter, Yvonne Navarro, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Maria Lewis, Joanne Anderton, Thoraiya Dyer, Rivqa Rafael, Kirstyn McDermott… the list goes on.
There’s diversity here, a way of telling stories that’s unique. And women? Oh, we know horror.
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