February is fast approaching and so is Women in Horror Recognition Month. I was looking over the website and reading some posts on Facebook and that got my wheels turning about inspiration and the role female horror writers have played in inspiring me. I’m drawn to horror in movies, writing, reading and there are women in the genre who have inspired me and that I greatly admire. There are so many women who have played influential and ground breaking roles in the world of horror, that it would difficult to identify them all. I have compiled a very brief list of women writers who have inspired me to write.
My first true taste of a female novelist classified as horror, came from Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire. I was about 15 the first time I read this and fully enraptured with the vampire genre after a friend gave me a book called The Dracula Book of Great Vampire Stories. I finished Interview and quickly read The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned. I was even more in love with Rice’s work after reading these two because of the inclusion of Ancient Egyptian vampires. I moved on to the Mayfair Witches, The Mummy and continued to read the rest of the Vampire Chronicles as they were published. I even had the briefest meeting with Ms. Rice on her book tour for Pandora. Along with vampires, what drew me to Rice’s work was New Orleans. She describes the city like a fantasy, a city of beauty, mystery and rich culture. Her writing was evocative and ignited my imagination. She made me dream of wandering through the Garden District among all those beautiful, historic homes. Her vampires weren’t scary but they were tragic and sexy. Rice inspired with her characters being both deadly and intellectual and with the details and descriptions throughout her work. She is able to paint such clear, beautiful pictures with her words. That being said, I have not read any of her work since 2002’s Blackwood Farm. I have Angel Time and I am going to try to get through it but as of yet, I have not been able to get immersed in the characters’ story. I am curious to read The Wolf Gift coming out on Valentine’s Day and see what she does with werewolves.
Anne Rice was the first female horror novelist I read but Poppy Z. Brite had the most impact on my delicate mind. Her work was eye-opening and sometimes shocking in the brutality of her writing. If Anne Rice showed the romantic, cultured and tragic side of the horror genre, Poppy Z. Brite showed me the gory, raw and human side of it. The most shocking novel I have read is her Exquisite Corpse. Of course there are worse novels out there but for me, this one disgusted yet intrigued me. My favourite book of Brite’s is Drawing Blood. This was a gift from the same friend who gave me the above mentioned Dracula book. I would read until 1 or 2 in the morning when my husband was working night shifts and this book scared me sufficiently in the quiet and lonely night. Her writing is inspiring in the way that she tells the tales of nobodies – losers, loners, misfits, mystics – who find themselves in scary and extraordinary situations. Her blunt descriptions of death and sex are meshed into her tales brilliantly. Reading Brite showed me that women can get down and dirty and tell it just as good or even better than men. Brite also dips into the mystic land of New Orleans, albeit in a more gritty manner than Rice’s depiction of the city.
On a different side of the female horror novelist, is Canadian Tanya Huff. Her Blood Books revolve around Toronto PI Vicki Nelson, her former partner on the police force and vampire Henry Fitzroy. This series is more urban than Rice’s books but less rough and tamer than Brite’s. Huff puts the sexy vampire into 20th century Toronto, facing off against other supernatural creatures. The inspiration that I found from Huff’s work, is her use of a strong, sarcastic female lead character which differs from both Rice and Brite. Vicki must deal with losing her eyesight, losing the job she loved and juggling her sometimes reluctant feelings for the mortal Mike and the immortal Henry, all while solving cases and battling monsters. Trust me it’s good.
A couple of brief additions of inspiring women in horror are: writer Shirley Jackson and Director, Writer & Artist Jovanka Vuckovic.