To all my readers, I hope you are staying safe and fierce during these saddening times. It's extremely necessary for artists, writers, and creators to produce because creating is a critical component in transforming the world. We must tell our stories and what's happening now is what becomes our history so let's be sure our creating never stops.
In a continued effort to lift each other up, in a world where voices of marginalized communities are ignored, silenced, and buried, let's stick together, create together.
Today's woman thought leader in horror is Hailey Piper. Thank you Hailey for your constant bravery, strength, talent, and collaboration.
Buckle up and hold hands.
1. Why horror? What fascinates you about horror and enticed you to write in the genre?
HP: No genre is so true as horror. Characters show you who they really are when they’re afraid. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re afraid, too. Fear makes us and them real. I’ve had to dig into unpleasant memories and attachments in writing. But on more surface level, I love monsters, Halloween, Gothic elements, witchcraft, and so on. For all the fear and dug-up trauma, there’s a lot of fun to be had.
2. What is your favorite era of horror and why?
HP: For film, the ‘80s. I’m in love with the aesthetic, creativity, special effects. I love many of today’s movies, too, but it feels like the past decade was colored largely by ghost stories. I want to see more branching out into stranger subjects.
Like maybe adapting some of today’s written fiction, because when it comes to books, my favorite era of horror is right now. Ideas explode in every imaginable direction, and there are mountains of excellent books at our fingertips. Many of today’s voices suck me into deep water and I’m grateful to drown.
3. What are some of your guilty horror films?
HP: If we’re talking movies I wouldn’t want my friends to watch with me, then we still travel back to the ‘80s. I’d be nervous showing friends The Blob or Killer Klowns from Outer Space because there’s a good chance those kinds of movies will repel them.
But overall I love my horror and wear it on my sleeve, without shame.
4. What do you think the genre of horror brings to the world in terms of values, beliefs, impact?
HP: We have trouble looking in on ourselves presently, but if we peruse horror in the past, we see it reflecting societal or personal concerns. Generally, horror can be an outlet. Horror as its best is empathetic, and for marginalized groups, that outlet might be the ringing of ominous bells. We’re only touching the iceberg’s tip there right now, but in time, those bells might be deafening.
5. How do you think your writing of horror reflects you as a person or your life overall?
HP: People in my life do pause and then go “Oh” whenever my wife brings it up (I rarely bring it up myself). I’ve had people wonder why I don’t write queer romance. Women live a horror story, and being a queer woman doesn’t exactly make that any more lighthearted. I write queer fiction, certainly, but it’s horror. The writing and the life reflect each other. Much of existing horror for better or worse grows off fear of the Other because the Other is fearsome. But travel back to that empathy, and we are the Other. Be afraid.
6. What do you think lies ahead for the genre?
HP: The future is uncertain, never more so than right now. Someday we may collectively realize we live inside the inter-tangled stomachs of several giant monsters and then our fiction might reflect this. Or maybe society will get better, and we’ll have to find new things to be afraid of.
7. Like many things, women are underrepresented in the horror genre. Why do think this is and why is it critical to have women more represented in horror?
HP: Sexism. I won’t sweeten that bitter pill. Even unintentionally, there’s a “men have written horror therefore horror should be written by men” logic wheel turning and turning, ignoring that women live horror, that there’s room at the table for everyone. There are so many perspectives that bleed new kinds of stories. What horror fan doesn’t want new kinds of horror stories?
8. Any tips for new women writers in the horror genre?
HP: Read someone recent, please. I see too often that writers’ only experience with women in horror is Shirley Jackson or Daphne du Maurier. The classics are excellent, but they have limits, like distance in time or how there aren’t going to be any more of them. It’s important to keep a finger to the pulse of now because we’re not writing decades ago, even if sometimes our fiction takes place then—we’re writing now. Mix it up. Ask for recommendations and read your contemporaries.
9. Who are some of your favorite women horror authors to read?
HP: I guess this is where I put my money where my mouth is on the last question! There’s a flood of women I would suggest, so I’m going to cut myself off at five: Gwendolyn Kiste, Eden Royce, Caitlin R. Kiernan, L’Erin Ogle, Sara Tantlinger (and look at the TOC for her anthology Not All Monsters for a longer list).
10. For readers who have never read your work, what should they start with and where can they find more information about you?
HP: For books, The Possession of Natalie Glasgow has been looked on fondly, though I’d prefer to recommend Benny Rose, the Cannibal King as it’s my favorite horror sub-genre, coming of age horror. My website, www.haileypiper.com, has links to free flash fiction on places like The Arcanist and Flash Fiction Online, plus info aplenty, and I’m mostly pretty good at keeping it updated.
I am Sterp. I write horror fiction and have a very unhealthy obsession with disturbing narratives. I am the author of The Cult Called Freedom House: Sophia Rey Book One. My short story The Lost Tea Cup will be in Issue 26 of The Literary Hatchet in 2020. I am also a painter.
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