Women in Horror
Profile: Billie Sue Mosiman
I’m a novelist of 17 novels. My NIGHT CRUISE was nominated for an Edgar Award. My WIDOW was nominated for a Stoker. My THE GREY MATTER was nominated for a Kindle Book Award. I’ve been published since 1984. In 1983 I sold my first novel, WIREMAN, and also my first short story in the same month—November.
I always wanted to be a writer. My mother was a voracious reader and encouraged both my brother and me to read by buying comics and books for us. I heard stories that sounded like myths as I hid beneath the dining table to listen to the adults in the family. There was a great deal of drama in my young life, due to my unstable mother, and it all soaked in. I wanted to know more about the world and why people acted the way they did. I wanted to understand, to get into the minds of people to figure out what they were thinking. I was a most curious child.
I’ve had a fussy relationship with horror. When my first novels were published they were labeled Horror and I was caught by surprise. They were realistic stories and suspenseful, but without the supernatural and without real gore. I had written suspense. But the publishers thought differently, I suppose because my works were graphic and realistic. I didn’t shy away from showing the real thing when it came to murder. So during that time I grieved I’d been labeled a horror writer. I had to give in, though, there was no fighting it.
Then came my stories and they were always strictly horror. Most of them. I published a few that were published as mystery. Most of the stories were psychological horror and I liked it very much and didn’t mind it was called horror, for it was and I meant it to be. I published more than two hundred of them, maybe more. I can’t keep up for I write fast and faster.
My challenge was to do it my way. If someone didn’t want to take it and publish it my way I didn’t care. I always found someone who did want and take it. Yet when you go against the mainstream thinking and you won’t be swayed to jump on some trend, you do face push back. Didn’t bother me. I’m headstrong and did it my way, knowing if I caved in I wasn’t true to myself. My reward was the extent I moved into publishing. Companies bought my books, recognizing I was true to me and no copycat of anyone else. They liked that, obviously. I was a storyteller with ideas and strong personality. Today people think I’m famous or an icon and I don’t know what to think of that. I don’t feel like either. They list me on Top Ten lists of women horror writers. What? But the readers and writers show respect after all these years and all my work and I’m damn grateful for it.
I started out telling the stories. I keep telling them. People have responded in kind ways. I am getting older now and these events feel good to me, as if I didn’t really spend over thirty years flailing at the wind. I blew a few trees down. I sailed the ship right across a squalling ocean.
I did something I’d always wanted to do—reach people. What a fortunate thing to happen.
Some work I’ve done in the past year includes stories sold to anthologies, the editing and publishing of FRIGHT MARE-WOMEN WRITE HORROR, which made the Stoker Preliminary ballot for anthology, and the publishing of LOSTNESS, the dark fantasy sequel to my novel, BANISHED.
I think women in horror is moving forward and it’s being said women are writing some of the best horror available. For so long women have had it hard, anthologies and magazines publishing a majority of male authors. Women have been slighted and overlooked. That’s changing and I’m happy to see it.
The future? It should open up and be fairer. I believe it will because the ladies are no slouches. Some work is extraordinary. I never changed my name to reflect a male persona because I’m just too stubborn. [If] I can’t make it for who and what I am then I don’t freaking want it. You want to ignore my work because I’m female the loss is yours. That’s how I see it. I always have. I won’t be changing.