Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Women in Horror by Mercedes M. Yardley

Women in Horror: Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

by Mercedes M. Yardley 

It’s inevitable. Somebody asks me what I do. I smile sweetly and say that I’m a writer.

“Oh, that’s wonderful. What do you write?” They ask. “Do you write romances?”


“Children’s books or YA?”

“No. I write horror.”

Wait for it. Wait for it.

Wide eyes. A brief pause. A puzzled expression. “But you seem so nice!”

Yes. I am nice. Very nice. I bake muffins. I have three little kidlets. I write stories that sometimes make people cry. Being nice doesn’t have anything to do with it. In fact, most horror writers that I know are incredibly nice.

The confusion stems not from the fact that I write horror, but because I’m a woman writing horror. Even in this day and age, women are considered to be fair and gentle. The idea of a beautiful thing conjuring up dark fantasies, well! That isn’t what women do!

Unless, of course, it’s an evil woman. We’re all familiar with Lilith. Then there’s also Grendel’s mother, Medusa, the wicked 13th fairy, and Baba Yaga. Throw in Hera and a few of the other jealous goddesses. Delilah. A plethora of stepmothers and queens. These are wicked women who are generally beautiful, jealous, and murderous. They bring about horror. They certainly aren’t known for being nice.

So it makes sense that there’s this disconnect and perhaps a little fascination about female horror writers. We should either be nice and good, or wicked and dark. Nice and dark can be a bit jarring. It isn’t what we see in literature or television. You’re either a good witch or a bad witch; it’s that simple.

Horror is also generally known as a genre dominated by men. It may appear that we’re awkwardly encroaching on the Good Ole’ Boy’s Club, when in all actuality female horror writers slide into the genre as easily as a villain into an acid bath. I find male horror writers to be genial and welcoming. Editors are usually pleased to see women in their lineup. And the other female horror writers are brilliant and inspirational. I haven’t run across any jealousy or catfights. You won’t see us at a conference rolling around on the floor and yanking each other’s hair. We’re too secure in our own skin for that. We’re too nice.

Not to mention that women come by horror naturally. I wrote a post addressing that on Damien Walters Grintalis’ blog.  ( Damien is also one of my favorite horror writers. She’s stunning. Oh, and a woman. A talented, nice one.

There are more female horror writers than ever. We don’t have to choose between being a good witch or a bad witch. We can have our devil’s food cake and eat it, too.

Mercedes M. Yardley wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair. Her first short story collection, BEAUTIFUL SORROWS, was just released and is available on Amazon. Mercedes works for Shock Totem Magazine. You can contact her at or follow her on Twitter as @mercedesmy.

There is a place where sorrows pile up like snow and rest in your hair like cherry blossoms. Boys have wings, monsters fall in love, women fade into nothingness, and the bones of small children snap like twigs. Darkness will surely devour you--but it will be exquisitely lovely while doing so.

Mercedes M. Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows is an ephemeral collection encompassing twenty-seven short tales full of devastation, death, longing, and the shining ribbon of hope that binds them all together. You can purchase this collection at store at on Amazon.


Charles Gramlich said...

I write horror as well, and don't seem so nice when folks meet me so they have less trouble understanding. :)

Snarky Lady said...

I hold out hope that the Internet is helping us to (slowly) change all the gender stereotyping with regards to sci fi, fantasy, horror and the rest. The vast majority of published critics are still male, but I read on the Internet (which is never wrong!) that the majority of *bloggers* are female. More than ever, we have women talking publicly about their experiences writing horror, or their love of the latest comic book movie, or what-have-you. It's only a matter of time before the offline world straightens up and takes note.

Keep on doing what you love, and good luck! (Not that you'll need it, eh?)

Mercedes said...

Oh, Charles! I bet you're nice. Maybe with a bite, but nice. :P

Snarky Lady, we all know that the Internet never lies! I think that the old stereotypes are giving way. It might not be quick enough for my taste, but it's definitely happening, and that's wonderful.

Thank you two so much for your comments!