For Women in Horror Month 2021 I talk with Caitlin Marceau, an author and columnist who has worked in the horror genre extensively. She discusses working in the genre with various writing formats, and gives advice to other writers. She also discusses her latest book “Home: An anthology of dark microfiction.”
Please introduce yourself!
My name’s Caitlin Marceau and I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. I’ve worked in horror, experimental fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. My work has been published in a range of places including Tilt Magazine (where I most recently did a column for them on feminist icons in horror), Home by Ghost Orchid Press, and in Shadows at the Door: An Anthology.
What is it that attracts you the horror genre for your chosen field of creative work?
I got into horror because, as a kid, I’d have really bad nightmares. So I thought that if I was able to scare people, instead of letting people scare me, then I’d be able to reclaim my agency in a creative way. Now that I’m older, I love looking at the world through the lens of horror. It’s such a great genre to explore sociopolitical issues and express common social anxieties in an approachable (albeit terrifying) way.
Who inspires you in your work and in life?
When it comes to my work, I’ve always said that Tamora Pierce has been hugely influential in getting me into writing. I had the great fortune of meeting her when I was younger, and the advice she gave me (which was to write the stories I wanted to read) helped me understand myself and my work better. It was a big motivator in my decision to pursue writing as more than a hobby.
When it comes to my real life, I’m really fortunate that I’m surrounded by plenty of inspirational and strong women. My mom, Robin, has always been so supportive when it came to me pursuing my dreams and exploring my creativity. My best friend, Sabrina, has been hugely influential on me. She’s always encouraged me to live my life authentically and for myself, and I don’t think I’d be as self-assured as I am today without her. And my other best friend, Georgia, has always been this amazing, loving, kind woman, who’s just wise beyond her years. She’s been with me through thick and thin—not to mention she’s one hell of an editor—and I’m eternally grateful she’s put up with my sh*t for these past 17 years. I’m really blessed to have these women in my life.
Women in horror have made great strides, but it’s clear that a lot of work is still needed to make it a most inclusive genre. To you, what is the importance of a movement like Women in Horror Month?
I think Women in Horror Month is a great way to mobilize and unite the horror community. While I love that it showcases women and promotes their work, I think what’s most important about it is that it highlights some of the struggles that women and marginalized individuals face in horror media. This movement helps give a platform to people who are striving to make horror a more inclusive and safe space, and I think that’s phenomenal. I think it’s really important that while we’re making this feminist push to diversify authors, editors, and publishers in the genre, that we make sure this feminist movement is an intersectional one. I don’t just want to see women in horror, I want to see a diverse collection of people all being given the opportunities that have traditionally and almost exclusively been afforded to cisgendered, heterosexual, white men.
What would you tell an up-and-coming creative in the world of horror who sees that being a woman is something that makes it so much more difficult at times?
I would tell them to look to their community for strength, reassurance, and support. There are definitely challenges that come with looking to be traditionally published in a male-dominated industry, so having that community support and solidarity will be your biggest asset. I think it can also help to be transparent about the challenges you’re having. It can be really isolating to feel like you’re the only one struggling at times, so reaching out and hearing how other people have overcome similar challenges in their own life can be an incredibly cathartic and motivational experience.
What are your favorite bits of helpful advice that you have received about your work or your field?
“If you’re doing something that makes a man angry, you’re doing it right.” This was something I’d heard that was specifically about challenging gender norms and societal expectations of women. I’m not sure how helpful it is for people and their writing, but it’s definitely been a mantra that’s emboldened me in the last few months to speak out about what’s right and what’s important, regardless of who I anger.
In honor of celebrating Women in Horror Month, who do you believe viewers should keep an eye on in terms of the creative ladies in horror?
M. Regan will always be a favourite of mine. Her work isn’t always traditional horror, but it’s always brilliant. I also think Hannah Butler is someone to keep an eye out for. Her story, Loose Ground, was on season 2 of Shadows at the Door: The Podcast, and it was probably my favourite episode of the entire series.
What do you have coming soon that you can talk to us about?
My hundred-word story “Lazy Sundays” just came out in Ghost Orchid Press’ anthology Home. I also have a poem that’s coming out with them this March, which is pretty exciting to me. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff I have coming out this year are things I can’t talk about just yet. But you’ll definitely be seeing (and hearing!) a lot from me in 2021!
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