Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Celebrating Women Horror Writers: Do Women Write Horror Differently Than Men?

I have heard the comments growing up; women can't be professional race car drivers; women can't be professional chefs; women can't do comedy and women can't do horror. These comments usually came from men. And I often wondered what it was about these professions and gender that sealed the deal. No one could tell me or pin point the error, other than saying women weren't funny or couldn't cook professionally. I found it interesting that girls develop language earlier than boys, read easier and faster because of brain development, write quicker and neater for the same reason, so why could they not write horror? If they developed these skills at an early age and worked on them longer, why was horror the one thing they could not write? Do we not have the stomach for it? Do we not give enough detail? Too much emotion? Not enough sex or violence? Too subtle? Pretty it up too much? Add sparkles....oh, wait.

Then came crime. Women weren't sexual predators. Women weren't serial killers. Women weren't sadists. And again I pondered this mythos our society perpetuates about gender. I have known many female sexual predators that went after both male and female children. I have known women that tortured people, women that enjoyed inflicting pain, women that sought it out and women that led the chase.

Granted, they were fewer in number when it came to getting caught and in serial murders, but in sexual crimes the numbers were almost as high.

So what's the problem? As an impromptu question on Facebook, I asked, Do you read female authors? Why or why not? Most of the people had only positive things to say, and that gender did not factor in. Others pointed out that there were more male authors than females, which is correct. But some did say nope. Won't read them. And they pointed out things like females hold back and men are more disturbing. Others said women writers dissolve in to dark romance. I am not going to argue with these people because they are correct. I remember when paranormal meant anything vaguely paranormal related. Now, it is usually a term for paranormal romance writers (not all of whom are women, by the way).

But I do think there are some women that knock it out of the park; Chantal Noordeloos, Billie Sue Mosiman, Penelope Crowe, Suzi M, Allison Dickinson, Lisa Lane and there are many, many more.

Do women write horror differently than men? You be the judge. I am going to post six pieces.One of them is mine. What makes these pieces work? Not work? Which were written by the women? How can you tell?


Sherryl felt a rush of impotent, bitter anger. She brushed a tear from the corner of her eye. A cramp tore through her. She drained her teacup and set it down on the table and drew her legs up on the couch, feeling it sinking and settling. “I'm so sorry, Noko,” she said. “I wish there was some way to fix it, to go back.” Noko shook her head. “So do I. They thought they were helping us. Kill the Indian in us, they said. They killed a lot more. My boy.” Sherryl raised her head to look at Noko over the side of the couch. The older woman's face was drawn, set in lines from years of pain. Shadows stretched her eyes into skull sockets. “Oh, Noko. What happened?” Noko took a deep breath and folded her hands in her lap, where they twisted like small animals burrowing. “I was gigishkaage,” she said. “Pregnant. How old were you?” Noko nodded. “Thirteen, maybe fourteen. We were supposed to be in school until sixteen, but a lot of us didn't last that long.” Sherryl had to stifle a sarcastic, inappropriate laugh, as if it was an understatement. She thought of another story, about a nun who had struck a child so hard the child's neck broke and the nun's instructions to the other children: step over the body and get back to class. “I was able to hide it most of the year,” Noko continued. “It was winter, late and cold and I couldn't hide it anymore. The people who ran the school, they were mean but not stupid.” “How did they find out?” Noko shrugged. “They saw it. Or maybe somebody told. Who knows? The matron, she beat me, but what was she going to do? I wouldn't tell her who the father was.” “What happened to the baby?” As far as she had ever known, her Uncle Ray was Noko's first born. Then her mother and her Aunt Bess. Noko looked at the moving pictures on the silent television. She stared for so long, Sherryl was about to give up and turn the sound back on, when Noko spoke again.


It wasn't until the titanium blade caressed her flawless cheek that she shook and wept, silently screaming under the duct tape. I pressed a little harder and the blade bit into her skin causing a scarlet trail of blood in its wake. She screamed but the duct tape muffled it well. I set the knife down and saw a moment of relief in her. Can’t have that now can we? Relief is no fun. I picked up the pliers and put her fleshy earlobe between the vice of the pliers. I then squeezed as hard as I could, delighting in her wincing and repressed screams. I had some more fun with the pliers on other parts of her body. Paying particular attention to her fingers. What can I say? I enjoyed the sickening crunch of her cartilage being mangled by the steely jaws. Several times she passed out from the pain, every single time I grabbed the smelling salts and brought her to.


For some reason he figured that must be his destination. Would getting there end the Hunt? Was there any end to the Hunt? There must be, for by the time he actually made it to the trailer he was in the Splatterhouse; walls dripping red blood, organs sticking to them as if they had been flung forcibly against them. Hands snatched at him, tried to trip him up, tried to grab his clothes and hair; disembodied extremities falling off the walls with fingers curling around his ankles. His progress was stunted by this, it felt worse than when he was being pursued by the masked chasers in the narrow tunnel bordered by canine fiends as he seemed to be getting nowhere. Every step he took shook the Splatterhouse walls and cascaded more blood down them, shook more mutilated flesh off them to fall upon him. A tangle of entrails dropped in ghastly ropes around his neck, an eyeball bounced off his cranium. Rolled along the plane of the floor, splashing into a puddle of congealing blood, staring at him. The masked Hunters came right through the walls. They ripped through them with their blades, sliced great holes and jagged rends in them as if they were actually composed of flesh, forcing their bodies through their created apertures, looking like mutated creatures in the midst of a gruesome birth.


Scarlet snarled and palmed her knife, holding the sharp blade just above Grandmother’s heart and plunged it deep with both hands. She closed her eyes, breathed in deeply, a moan of satisfaction escaped from her lips. She pulled out the knife and the spear and then rolled the body over, kicking it with her foot.  She licked the blood from the blade. It was still slightly warm, salty.
A hunger overtook her, consumed her. An overwhelming sensation enveloped her mind, like a mist which wrapped its nebulous folds around her synapses and nerves compelling her to consume the flesh. ‘Eat’ it insisted.
Scarlet sank to her knees and whimpered, fighting the command, while at the same time her hands moved willingly along the body, tearing at the clothes and discarding them in a pile. The knife traced the  sagittal line on the body neatly dividing it into two halves. The skin parted and Scarlet help separate it from the bone, and the internal organs spilled from their casing. Blood, gore, muscle and fat oozed onto the floor. Intestines and stomach contents collapsed into a gelatinous puddle of offal. Scarlet plunged her hands and arms into the mess, feeling the warm innards wrap themselves around her skinny arms. She rubbed the organs over her face and body, trying to fight the impulse to bite into the organs, but her hands kept shoving the body pieces closer and closer to her mouth. Gagging, Scarlet’s hand reached for the heart and pulled it out of the chest cavity. She gripped the muscle and yanked it out of its home, ripping it free with a slurping sound. Blood ran down her arms. Sobbing, gagging and turning her head, her hand forced the heart to her mouth, her mouth opening wider and wider. The heart was warm and slightly heavy in her hands, a myriad of red and blue veins and arteries. Scarlet slowly sunk her teeth into the muscle, the blood squelching between her teeth. She ripped into the meat and tore it in half with her teeth. She chewed and swallowed, chewed and swallowed and ate the entire thing and fell asleep amongst the mess.


The voice is in Denny’s head; a lilting sing-song, scolding him for something. His eyes remain clenched; he’s afraid to open them, terrified, though he has no idea why. Something’s not right. A stench fills his nostrils, familiar, surrounding him…drenching him. “Bad, bad daddy.” Harsher this time, as though through gritted teeth, the voice clotted, congested. No, the voice is not in his head. He slowly peels his eyelids apart, looks around at the blurred bedroom from where he huddles in the corner. Like a scene viewed through a lens smeared with grease everything is distorted, runny. The only color he can make out is a deep, violent red. And this red is everywhere, in Rorschach splotches and splashes, in rivulets and puddles. Everywhere.


“Nine months,” Susan said to her living room—her mourning room.  “Nine months, to-day.  And today’s the day, isn’t it?”
            No answer.  Why would there be?  She was alone, had been practically the entire time.
            No suprise.
            Her baby was coming.  And she knew, knew with knowledge and feeling, she wasn’t going to survive.  Nor did she deserve to.
            Little Susie Bruisey had messed around , yessiree.  Had messed around with a Tall, Dark and Handsome, and, as her mother would have said, had landed in the soup.
            Soup, hell, daddy would’ve added—you’re chin-deep in the chowder.
            She sat down on her couch, disgusted with the mess she had allowed to fester: pizza boxes, Chinese from Wong’s (“We Speak English/We Delivery” written on the side of their van), Stouffer’s by the ton (Lasagna Italiano, Macaroni and Cheese, Salisbury Steak, Meatloaf, shrimp scampi, and more), OJ cartons and bottles ... candy wrappers, and One A Day Women’s that she had taken by the triple (her baby was needy, and there’d been no OB/GYN prescribing prenatals), and that was just some of the food-stuffs.  There was also the piles of laundry, all dirty, full of filth and bile and crusted clumps of tissue and blood.  Way too much blood.  She hadn’t dealt with occasional spotting, no.  She had gushed, again and again, for months. 
            The price to pay.  And the bleeding had seemed the least of it.
            Hair had gone, too.  First, she lost her perm.  Then her hair went flat, its life gone.  It turned gray, then corpse white.  A sunrise or two later, started staying on her pillow.  Ugly warning patches of witch’s-tress.  Next, was its washing down the drain, freaking her out as it inch-wormed down her shower’s walls and snaked its way past her feet toward oblivion.
            She did have some teeth left. 
That was nice.
            But then there was the arthritis, the insomnia, the back-pain (let alone her arms, hands, legs and feet).  Oh, sweet Susie, let’s not forget about the incontinence—her favorite.  Or the bonus round of eczema that fruited everywhere save her healthy, rosy-glow stomach.  No carny would dare guess her age, which could be anything from 90 to 175. 
She used to be so, so pretty. 
            Last month she’d turned 22.
            Had it been worth it?
            But almost, she thought.  Oh, yes, almost.  She’d bedded an angel.  How many could say that?  A beautiful angel—a son of God.
            “I thought there’d be wings.”
            “No, Susan Thorpe.  No wings.  Angels don’t have wings … only the Seraphim on the Ark of the Covenant.  The wings are symbolic.”
            His voice had been magick, a mesmerizing croon.  And though there’d been no wings—“... Angels don’t have wings.”—there’d been that glow, his glow, flashing up the bedroom in its mystifying black-light, more romantic than a single or a thousand perfectly placed candles, a radiant smolder of the divine that shrouded the room, and her heart, in a blazing puissant embrace.
            He’d enveloped her.  One thrust.  That was all.  One thrust as she lay back, legs splayed, knees impossibly high, sex beckoning—begging, pillow under her bottom ... and that one seed-driving thrust.  A single plunge enforced by gripping, manly hands.  Just one singular, stabbing pitch of power and ... then he stopped, freeze-framed, shivered, yelled and—
            —she’d yelled with him, an orgasmic bellow beyond knowing that simultaneously was also a keening wail, an exhalation of release so pleasurably-traumatic it would kill her, would have to.  Would indeed be the highest blessing for which she could ever hope—to die with his coming and hers, her body and soul’s. 
            Yet, she’d somehow lived through to gasp another breath … then another.
            Her angel had left.  But not that nirvanic peak.  Oh, no—that remained on hold, ready to explode any time she flipped the switch.
            Still would, if she willed it.
            Her angel’s parting dowry, the anesthesia that kept her going through all these long and horrifically short months, the ability to put herself back into that cumming moment.  A perfect drug on mental tap that she could draw down on demand, any time, in any mood, day or night—the perfect distraction while her body channeled all its resources for the baby.  Don’t like going bald?  Go have a ten-hour orgasm.  Don’t like puking up your left lung?  Go twitch and drool through the night.
 How jealous Amy Winehouse would’ve been. 
At least she hadn’t had to worry about anything else.  All his promises had been kept: the place to stay, the DVD player, the big TV, all the food and utilities taken care of, all the clothes she could want—a full-blown complete blank-check.  Her job?  Sit back, zone out.  Feed her baby: its food, its fluids, her life. 
She only had to get through nine months, before, like a good little girl, it would be time to quietly slip away.
That’s almost what she had done.
            Till six days ago, when she’d said enough’s enough.  No more.  Till six days ago when a moment’s realization came that she was damned, her baby destined for the same … twice-over, that Little Susie Bruisey was going to Hell and how that would break her daddy’s heart, her mother’s … how her baby becoming his, would break hers. 
She’d said no more, and started to pray again, like when she’d been a little girl, even an early teen, well before discovering boys and how much fun it was to twirl them ’round slim fingers.  Well before discovering the intoxication inherent in saying fuck-all to her parents’ stooped rules.  Before she’d learned to say no, but to them, not drugs.  Yes, before all that.  Back to when she’d known how to pray, with an honest and believing heart. 
She’d tapped into those memories and brought back those blessed ways.  Humbled herself and begged.  For herself, sure.  It was inevitable.  Pure survival instinct.  But really, in her heart of hearts, she had pleaded for her unborn—for him (and it would be a him) to have a chance at redemption, for something better than the life of blasphemy and murder his father had planned.
            And then there was today, her seventh day of sobriety.  Wonderful number seven.  It was a good number. 
It was her last. 
Tonight was, after all, the night. 
Her baby was coming. 
            She looked at the good-bye letter, enveloped and scented with Love’s Baby Soft, like she’d used as a girl to mark all her birthday, Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day cards.  She’d even found enough strength to clean a spot on the disaster-strewn coffee table so it woudn’t get dirty.  Mommy and daddy were going to love it. 
            Colors had been one of her gifts.  She knew ’em all.  Collected them, too: pencils, pens, ink bottles and paints.  For her letter, there’d be nothing plain; a ball-point would’ve been an abomination.  She’d written her letter in calligraphy using a quill dipped in her favorite ink bottle: a small, circa 1950, cobalt-blue (her favorite color) glass affair, labeled, New Parker/Super Quick/Permanent Black/2 Fl. Oz.59cc/Made in USA. 
            The ink was a hell of a lot newer.  Still, Jane Austen would have been proud.
If she had any tears left, she’d let ’em fly. 
Her parents deserved so much better. 
Spilt milk. 
            She thought of her words, spat out some of the room’s stink, and thought of her words—of their total inadequacy:

            Dearest Daddy and Mums,
Remember your little girl ... do you?  Falling out of that apple tree, Daddy?  Busting her lip in the swimming pool, Mommy?  Always getting hurt, always sorry and ready to do better?  Well, she’s back.  Loving God again, and back.  And so sorry.  So very, very sorry.  Understand?
            I’m sorry.
            I’ve been bad, and I’ve gotten hurt again.  But it’s for the last time.  I’ll never be bad again, because I’m back in His loving arms—for good.  Don’t worry, no more and never.  Don’t cry, either, at least not more thanna little.  You’ll see me again … here, there, or in the air—I promise.  I’ve found the Lord again, and I’m okay. 
            Again, If I could just take it all back, everything, for being gone for so long, for torturing you two.  But that’s all over, and this time, as hard as it is to believe, I’m telling the truth.  Or like when I was littles and waiting for my new uppers: I’m tellin’ the troof.
Thank you for everything, and know that you were right.  You were right about it all.
            Loves and Misses,
                        Your Susan
xxx/ooo 4-ever and evers

            In retrospect, she supposed there were too many sorries in the letter.  They made her sound like some kind of ’tard, but that was okay.  She wasn’t going to change a thing. 
            She sniffled.
KFC napkin in-hand, she wiped her tears.  Guess, I wasn’t out after all, she thought. 
Then her doorbell rang, the first time in all these months. 
Christ a’mighty, what now?
            She thought about getting up and waddling to the door, scrawny left hand in vain trying to support her back, and then she thought better.  Why go to all the trouble?  The door wasn’t locked—never had been.  Why should it be?  She was safe as safe could get.  She was going to have his baby, after all.  Nothing on Earth could touch her.
            “Come ON IN.”  Old instincts started to drive her hands for some last-second hair fixin’, but she quickly corrected herself.  What was the point?  “Door’s unlocked.”
            The front door opened and two men in white stuck their heads inside.  Susan almost gasped.  Next to her angel, the two were the most handsome men she’d ever seen, their eyes almost glowing, almost golden—almost.  “Can I help you?”
            One of the men, the brown-haired one that made Brad Pitt look like a hairy-ass, said, “The Agency sent us.  Somebody having a baby?”
            “You could say that.”
            The other man answered her rhetorical statement: “Super.  We’re here to help you through it.”  And then they came in, each one carrying one of those medical kits she’d seen EMTs use on TV. 
            “Now who sent you guys?”
            Brown hair again, “The Agency.  Can we get started?”
            “Uh ….”
            Then the other guy, face and form perfect, hair blonde as a sunbeam, “Yeah, the Agency.  Now, what we’re going to do is set up, clean this place, and give you all the help you asked for and more.”
            “All the h—”
            “Shh,” blondie hushed.  “Don’t worry about a thing.  You were heard.  Now drink this.”  He opened his kit and pulled out a bottle of water made by some company called “Living Springs” and handed it to her.  “It’ll make you feel better, I promise, and then we’ll get crackin’.”
            The other guy smiled.  “Trust him.  He never lies.”
            “Never-ever.”  Blondie grinned and got moving.
            She opened the bottle and drank, and immediately felt all her fears melt.  She stared into the brown-haired man’s eyes, and for a second, the briefest of flickering moments, they were golden … shiny, heart-melting golden orbs.  She blinked and then they were blue again, but shifting … from lightning bolt to Nordic to gentian … others, all the blues in the universe, the kind she could just fall in forever and 4-ever. 
“Thank you, my name’s Susie Bruisey.”
            “Not any more, Lady Susan,” the two answered together.  “Not anymore.”

Ok begin your guesses........six entries, which ones are which?

1 comment:

  1. Since I read the your latest post first, I can't take the challenge. I wish I'd have tried earlier.
    I think I'd have been wrong, but...

    Is it rude to ask ... if these are taken from already written books, can I get the titles? I'd love to read them. (If you want to keep them off the blog, but I'm not offending, my e-mail is