Ginger Nuts of Horror's Motherhood of the Monstrous continues its celebration of female horror writers of the past present and future. Today we welcome the fabulous Cate Garnder to talk about the female writers that matter to her. Cate Gardner's stories have appeared in Black Static, The Dark, Shimmer and Postscripts. Her novellas Theatre of Curious Acts and The Bureau of Them are available from Amazon. You can find her on the web at www.categardner.net
Emily Bronte's tortured love affair between Cathy and Heathcliff set against the wild backdrop of the Yorkshire moors filled my teenage soul with fire and influenced the gothic aspects of my early work. Although my work has diversified over the past twenty years, and now lacks sufficient gothic torment to appear to stem from Bronte, her words still inspire me. The first time I ever marked passages in a book was when reading Wuthering Heights. I'd re-read them, and lie on my bed reciting those lines in a rather dramatic way.
We've all done that. Haven't we?
Wuthering Heights spoke to the teenager who dreamed of a wild, gothic romance, who didn't realise that Cathy and Heathcliff's desperate relationship wasn't something to yearn for. Tragedy is often important to teenage girls. Moreover, I was (and still am) fond of melodrama.
I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights.
I wasn't just in love with Cathy and Heathcliff's desperate relationship but with the craggy landscape and the loneliness of it all. I lived in a city, thankfully near the sea, but the moors of Yorkshire were an alien territory for me.
Educated at home, Emily and her siblings wrote fantastical tales set in their own worlds. Wuthering Heights was originally published under a male pseudonym Ellis Bell, because, at that time, it wasn't seemly for women to write fiction. Bronte died at the age of thirty and never knew how successful her novel or those of her sisters would be or how influential they would be to female writers a century and a half later. That her name would be remembered.
Alongside Emily Bronte, my other main literary influence as a child was Enid Blyton, and in retrospect, I should perhaps have chosen Blyton and her tales of The Magic Faraway Tree (my favourite book as a child) because the Enchanted Forest stories have lodged in the weird corners of my stories. However, I could not forget my soul…
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.
… and I like to think my work is a mixture of both, that they are tortured oddities.
The second part of this article highlights a rising star in horror/dark fantasy fiction, writer Priya Sharma. Whereas Bronte's fiction was for me, at the time, an unknown landscape, Sharma's fiction visits streets I know such as in her Tor.com stories, Rag and Bone and the award winning Fabulous Beasts.
The Mersey is the city's blood and it runs rich.
At Eastercon last year, Sharma spoke on a panel exploring 'The Gothic'. Although her first panel, she shone and I recall the moderator later saying if she was in charge of programming she'd put Sharma on every panel. She'd researched the topic thoroughly and approached the subject with passion, much as she writes. Her stories cut into our soul, but they live within her belly, gestating into magnificence. She doesn't sit at her desk and write something on the fly (not that there's anything wrong with that - ahem!). Sharma constructs and lives with her stories, often for months at a time. I am overawed at her commitment.
Like all major-talents, she doesn't always see her worth, despite working with some of the best editors in the business.
There are times when I feel lost, even to myself, and what looks out from behind my eyes isn't even human.
I first met Sharma when Roy Gray (of Black Static magazine) introduced us at a writing event in Halton Lea Library and since then she has become a very good friend (making writing this article and referring to her as Sharma very strange indeed). The latter is not the reason I have chosen her as a writer to watch. No, it's because she is a bloody good writer (although she's also a cool human being who slaughters her opponents when playing Cards Against Humanity).
Her story Fabulous Beasts (published by Tor.com) recently won the British Fantasy Award for Short Fiction and was also nominated for a Shirley Jackson award. Her fiction has appeared in several Best of Anthologies, on Tor.com, in Black Static. Recently two of her stories have been reprinted in prestigious online horror magazines The Dark and Nightmare. Both are available to read online. Her debut story collection will be published by Undertow Publications next year.
No coward soul is hers.
"You’re not the first to talk to your dead here", the vagrant said. The living always chase after their dead until they come upon their own.
Formed from shadow and dust, ghosts inhabit the abandoned office building, angry at the world that denies them. When Katy sees her deceased boyfriend in the window of the derelict building, she finds a way in, hoping to be reunited. Instead, the dead ignore, the dead do not see; and only the monster that is Yarker Ryland has need of her there.
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