The REAL Women Writers of Horror #REALWomenWriters

by Emerian Rich

Welcome back to the blog series #REALWomenWriters to explore #REALWomenWriters who toil in the day-to-day, soul-crushing, confidence-demolishing, existence that is the life of a REAL Woman Writer. We hope you enjoy this inside look and if you are a REAL Woman Writer, email us to share your story.

Name: Stephanie Ellis
Genres: Horror, Dark Fiction, Poetry

Favorite story you’ve written and why. Favourites change over time as you develop. At present it is The Way of the Mother, a folk horror story (in Nosetouch Press, Fiends in the Furrows anthology) which finally allowed me to join the HWA. A few years back I wrote a story called The Dance (published in Horror in Bloom) which, because I loved the characters in it so much, I turned into a novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel, now currently seeking representation. And again, because I couldn’t leave that fictional place, I wrote this story. The folk horror aspect has allowed me to bring back memories of my rural childhood, a country pub in the middle of nowhere.
Favorite character you’ve ever written and why? Betty. He is a creature from another world, Umbra, who returns to a rural area of England known as the Weald. A giant of a man, he travels with his brothers, Tommy and Fiddler, as part of a troupe who lead the rituals in the Weald. In traditional rapper (sword) dances, Betty is always a man dressed as a woman and bringing in a comedic element to the performance. In my stories, he is a grotesque, a hairy giant who leads the slaughter. His behavior and appearance, his animalistic tendencies, just keep coming back to haunt me. A monster already I have yet to see how far he will go, I want to see how far he will go. Since I’ve created him, it’s as if I need to know his story.
What is one thing about writing you didn’t know before you started? How much it takes over your life, becomes an almost physical need.
What is the hardest kind of scene for you to write? Anything involving the loss of a child. I have 3 children, all adults now but I lost one through miscarriage and I also have friends and who’ve lost children, whether during pregnancy or later on in their lives. The pain is hard to bear, or even contemplate,  so I have to make sure what I’m doing warrants ripping such a horrible wound open for a reader.
Did you go to college? What was your major? Mine was a roundabout education. A-levels didn’t turn out as planned so jumped at the first thing that came along – computing. Dropped out after a year (although did well) and went on a weird and wonderful career path. Ended up taking my degree with the Open University whilst I was working as a Technical Author and starting a family. Ended up with BA(Hons) Humanities, First Class. It is mainly a history degree but they didn’t name them back then, although the OU does do named degrees now.
What did you think you’d be “when you grew up?” Oh, I changed every now and then, from Vet to historian to geneticist but in the end I just followed the path life seemed to hand out. I certainly never considered writing even though I read non-stop.
EVENTS
What is the best event you’ve ever been to? I’ve only recently started going to events but I will say Edge Lit – which I am going to again this year. It’s an event for writers of speculative fiction and is so welcoming. I’ve been able to meet up with online friends to become friends in real life.
What is something hurtful you’ve had to endure at an event? Nothing.

I would make an observation though. Author tables at events can be male dominated …

What is something hurtful you’ve witnessed another #WomanAuthor experience? (No names please.) Haven’t witnessed anything.
ONLINE PRESENCE
What is your favorite form of social media? Where can we follow you? I’m generally to be found on twitter (although I am on Facebook but not as an author page or anything) and I have my own website, https://stephanieellis.org. I prefer twitter where you’ll find me as @el_Stevie.
What is the biggest challenge of social media? Being inclusive and respectful to women.

I also know that when women comment and others disagree, the language howled at them is vitriolic and disgusting in a way it rarely is towards a male, and often it is women themselves! I think social media needs to find a way back from the extremes it allows to be posted and people should relearn tolerance and respect for another’s point of view (provided they are not promoting hate and violence). I also think people should never type something they wouldn’t say to that person’s face. A lot of the abuse is bullying and cowardice.

And can we stop calling women a minority group?

Have you ever been abused or shamed on social media because of your sex, skin color, views, etc..? And how do you deal with that? Not too much. I have commented occasionally on Brexit (I am pro Brexit) but tend to not say too much as a vocal group immediately start chucking the ‘racist, ignorant, etc etc’ comments towards those like me. The language can be vile. And now, as then, I feel I have to justify my view and say I voted Brexit for reasons of sovereignty and independence from EU laws and I’m not stupid. I also tend to keep quiet about my views on the whole as my feeds are full of Remainers and I’m fed up with the intolerance. But I do speak up occasionally when I get really annoyed.
Have you ever seen another #WomanAuthor shamed? Were you able to help? Not seen anything.
What should readers know about your social media presence? As I mentioned, I am on twitter – slightly less lately as other things have taken my time. BUT I can be found as co-editor for Trembling With Fear at HorrorTree.com and in my editorial I am more than happy to promote or comment on things I come across. One thing I will say about TWF – we never discriminate on grounds of sex or gender. I don’t mind people just emailing me via TWF either, whether to ask a question or just establish contact.
YOUR MESSAGE
What is the message you try to convey with your writing? Is there any keyword you want all of your work to convey? Some themes and messages are seeping through into my longer works these days, particularly the view of the female or the mother as the ‘scapegoat’ for so much of whatever has gone wrong. They pay in so many invisible ways, often on an emotional level no one considers, that their suffering is ignored. This continues as they get older and become isolated and invisible. I am intending to bring older women into my writing, probably because of my own age. As a female writer of 55, all I see around me are the ‘bright young things’. I think it’s time to develop ‘menopausal horror’ as a subgenre! I think the keyword would be ‘strength’. The strength my female characters show when confronted with difficult situations, the morality of decisions they have to make.

Thank you for joining us for #REALWomenWriters!

Check in next time when Sandy Sadiak will tell us about her journey.

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