Ginger Nuts of Horror
Ginger Nuts of Horror's The Motherhood of the Monstrous has been such a roaring success that we decided to keep this running as a permanent feature. Ginger Nuts of Horror has always been committed to promoting diversity in the genre and hope that the continuation of this column will bring focus to a lot of great writers. As always please support the writers featured here by liking, sharing and commenting on these posts, and if you are considering purchasing any of the books featured here please use the links provided.
Today we are honoured to welcome Lee Murray into the Motherhood to talk about the writers that influenced her. Lee Murray is a six-time winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award for science fiction, fantasy and horror writing. Her fourth novel, bestselling monster thriller Into the Mist was published by Cohesion Press in 2016, and Hounds of the Underworld, the first book in her speculative crime-noir series The Path of Ra, co-authored with Dan Rabarts, will be released by Raw Dog Screaming Press in 2017.
Women writers who have influenced me… Sadly, published works by female horror writers fiction were thin on the shelves at the public library where I grew up, but along with Milly Molly Mandy adventures and Dr Seuss picture books, my parents made sure I got a good dose of Grim’s Tales and Pinocchio, gruesomely didactic stories intended to keep naughty children from straying, books which set me off on my journey to the dark side. I was twelve when I discovered Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue, and The Tell-tale Heart. It was the year I saw my first horror film, too: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, thereby beginning my fascination with horror and suspense. In my teens, I found exquisite hints of darkness on my high school reading lists: Attwood’s the The Handmaid’s Tale, Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, all works by female writers. I was newly-married and embarking on a career as a scientist, when I read Susan Fromberg Schaeffer’s The Madness of a Seduced Woman, a psychological horror story disguised as literary fiction. The story of a woman’s betrayal by her lover and her subsequent devolution into madness, it struck a chord for me in the way it showed how heinous acts can be achieved in the name of love, and by the least likely protagonists. I haven’t read it since, but writing this blog has made me want to read it again, if only to see if the narrative has stood the test of time. An English professor and an award-winning novelist, Fromberg Schaeffer’s work included short stories, poetry and memoir, and two books for children. The Madness of a Seduced Woman was her sixth novel. Another writer whose work has resonated for me on a personal level is Xinran’s, The Good Women of China in which the Beijing journalist documented accounts of Chinese women’s lives recorded during her highly regulated ‘Words on the Night Breeze’ radio broadcasts in China the 1980s. The book was translated and published 2002 and still I’m haunted by the images revealed in those simple narratives. Tales to make your marrow ache.
You want me to name a contemporary female horror writer to watch? Just one? There are so many on my radar: New Zealand’s Octavia Cade, AJ Fitzwater, Cat Connor, and YA writer, Mandy Hager; Australia’s Angela Slatter, Kaaron Warren, and Joanne Anderton. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But I’ll take a stab and suggest that readers sample the work of Asian-American writer Rena Mason. Mason’s work is highly political, addressing marginalisation, feminism, and the ‘poverty of privilege’. She doesn’t hit you over the head with it – far from it; the reader is too engrossed in her stories to notice. In fact, if we asked her, I suspect she’d insist she didn’t set out to be political, she simply writes the tales she’s compelled to tell, depicting the world with her own unique perspective. It is a keenly insightful perspective, refreshing and yet deeply troubling. Her first novel, The Evolutionist, is an excellent example. The blurb begins:
Las Vegas suburbanite, Stacy Troy, dreams that everyone is dead. She dismembers the bodies of loved ones, stuffs them into a shopping cart, then takes them two at a time to the pile where she will burn their remains and say her last goodbyes…
Chillingly gruesome, the novel is more than simply a dark tale to get your pulse racing and make you want to keep the light on at night. Set amongst the wealthy social elite of Las Vegas, The Evolutionist tells of the stigma of being an outsider, the isolation and fear associated with mental health, and the burden of domesticity. With echoes of Madge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, it is a modern-day Sophie’s Choice; Mason taking her character to the very darkest of places. That darkness won her a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel in 2013. President of the Horror Writer’s Association, Lisa Morton, herself a Bram Stoker winner, said of it: “The next time somebody tells me there’s nothing new in genre fiction, I’m going to hand them this and ask that they let me get a safe distance away before their presumptions are blown to smithereens.”
Rena’s short fiction is equally provocative. Take a look at her story in Alessandro Manzetti’s bumper anthology The Beauty of Death. Entitled Metamorphic Apotheosis, it’s a spine-chilling comment on reproductive failure.
Last year, I was lucky enough to meet Mason at a writers’ workshop, where she read from her current work in progress, a contemporary gothic tale that had me engaged from the first page. That Mason was at the workshop at all, speaks volumes. Already an accomplished writer, she is still striving to improve her craft, which means her writing will only get better. Rena Mason is definitely a horror writer to watch. As Gene O’Neill author of The Burden of Indigo and Frozen Shadows states: “Rena Mason is a fine writer. Write her name down, underline it, stick it on the fridge with the other reminders. Then, buy everything she writes. You will not be disappointed, because she is indeed a: Rising Star.”
When NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Militant Tūhoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place in winter. Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them. Death incarnate. They backtrack toward civilisation, stalked by a prehistoric creature intent on picking them off one by one. With their weapons ineffective, the babysitting job has become a race for survival. Desperate to bring his charges out alive, Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?
"Cinematic and evocative, Into the Mist is a tension-packed expedition into primordial terror. Murray's writing had me feeling the damp of the forest, seeing the mist curling through the fern fronds, and sensing the danger lurking there. Ancient myths, military men and scientists placed in remote, primordial locations - it had all the right ingredients for me, and it didn't disappoint for a moment. Lee Murray is an author to watch." - Greig Beck, best-selling author of the Arcadian series
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