Monday, September 9, 2013

Stranger Danger, Comic Con and Girls Gone Gore

Last month I  presented a panel, Girls Gone Gore, at Comic Con Chicago with author Carrie Green. The first time we met, Carrie and I talked about how both of us have had people suggest that because we write horror/suspense/thrillers, we ought to consider using our initials or male pen names. The idea that readers believe male authors more likely to write good horror is nothing new. As I learned when I researched for the panel, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein originally was published with the author listed as Anonymous. Everyone assumed it was written by a man.

Why the bias toward men still survives is puzzling considering the success of Frankenstein, as well as of works by other women horror writers like Shirley Jackson (The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House). But something Carrie pointed out on our panel is that when women write horror, suspense or thrillers, it's often called something else. I read The Lottery in English class, and a lot of people read Frankenstein in school as well.  So these horror tales are called literature, not horror.  (I don't know why there needs to be distinction between the two, but that's a whole other post.)  Happily, when I asked the audience of about 40-50 for our panel what they thought, most did not seem to care if authors were male or female, they were just looking for good books.  One young woman said she hoped women would not use pen names or initials because she actively looks for women writers.  She believes they are more likely to develop the characters' interior lives than are men, and that's something she likes in fiction.

Another thing we talked about is the portrayal of women as victims. Based on a lot of popular movies, TV and fiction, one would think strangers are a great danger to women. Curious about how reality and fiction match, I checked the FBI website. It turns out over 75% of homicide victims are men, not women.  (There is one exception. Serial killers, who are rare in real life, are more apt to target women.)  Even more interesting to me was that men, not women, are more likely to be killed by strangers.  Women are more likely to be killed by people they know. Specifically, husbands, boyfriends, and relatives. Which led me to comment that despite what we see on TV, the most dangerous thing for a woman to do probably is not to walk down a dark alley, but to get married.

The Comic Con panel attendees, many of whom are Buffy fans (as am I), were great to talk with on this point. These readers want to see strong women characters. They love reading about and watching on film girls and women who are portrayed as three-dimensional characters in all type of roles, including as heroes.

And the more such books and films and TV shows sell, the more of them there will be.


Lisa M. Lilly is the author of Amazon occult bestseller The Awakening.  A short film of the title story of her collection The Tower Formerly Known as Sears and Two Other Tales of Urban Horror was recently produced under the title Willis Tower.  Her poems and short fiction have appeared in numerous print and on-line magazines, including Parade of Phantoms, Strong Coffee, and Hair Trigger.  She is currently working on The Awakening, Book II: The Unbelievers.
The Awakening for Kindle:

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