I am thoroughly convinced that if Rhiannon Frater and I lived in the same country/state/city, we would totally be goth bosom buddies.
But since I’m all the way up here in Canada, and Rhiannon is way down there in Texas (for which I have a particular fondness, as I have a lot of family in TX – what up, y’all?!), I can only enjoy her feisty spirit and darker sensibilities from afar.
Check out this little interview I did with the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy.
Can you start off by telling everyone about your writing background?
Well, for as long as I can remember I have been telling tales. Once I learned how to write, I started to write stories. So I am a natural born storyteller. Growing up I was terrified of vampires, zombies and things that go bump in the night. Strangely, I think that is why I now write about them. It’s a way to contain my fears. I consider myself to be a horror writer, but others sometimes define me as urban fantasy.
Speculative fiction – including Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (and all their sub-genres) – are often seen as male-dominated genres. Do you think that stigma still exists?
Absolutely. I am often asked why I don’t write paranormal romance instead of horror since I would still be writing about monsters. My response is that I like my monsters to be scary, not sexy. I have also noticed people try to avoid tagging my novels as horror. They will say I’m urban fantasy, chick lit with zombies, paranormal romance (even when the vampires are ripping people’s throats out) and all sorts of other classifications. I’m most popular for my zombie series, AS THE WORLD DIES, and I have had plenty of people tell me they were surprised that a woman could write horror and gore so effectively. I am well aware that I’m one of the few women making a mark in the zombie genre, but I am happy that the ranks are growing.
Do you think publishers or readers still act as though women writing these genres are a novelty?
They do still act that way in the horror genre even though our impact is growing. I am mostly concerned about reader bias. People pick up my vampire novels expecting something akin to Twilight, but end up with vampires who kill humans without mercy. They’re surprised by this and sometimes I’ll have a negative review because of it. But other readers find it refreshing to read something that isn’t tame, but dangerous. As I said before, I have had people tell me they didn’t expect my zombie novels to be all that scary, but those same people often tell me they end up sleeping with the lights on. I always take that as a huge compliment. I like the idea of scaring people so badly they don’t dare turn the lights off to sleep.
Have you ever felt any resistance from others stemming from the fact that you are a woman writing in a darker genre?
I am harshly judged for having elements of humor, romance, or any sort of sex in my zombie novels. Though Robert Kirkman can write about love triangles, sex, and romance in his THE WALKING DEAD comic series, if I have a hint of romance or even a very tame, non-descriptive sex scene such as in the one THE FIRST DAYS the book is tagged as a Harlequin novel with zombies. If I depict people in mourning over the loss of their loved ones, I get accused of being mushy. It’s a double standard that is difficult to understand. I feel those types of criticism are based more on my gender than the story.
Name some of the female spec-fic writers that you like.
I really, really love the Sirantha Jax series by Ann Aguirre. It’s tagged as Science Fiction Romance, but it is so much more. Again, I feel that because there is a romantic relationship in the story and it’s written by a woman it was automatically labeled as “romance.” I love Anne Rice. She’s been an enormous influence on me. Tanith Lee has written some of the more disturbing books that I just adored. I’ve been reading a lot of speculative fiction YA. Carrie Ryan, Suzanne Collins, Ally Condie, Amanda Hocking, and Susan Kaye Quinn are all amazing authors. But I still feel most of us are slotted into the romance category or urban fantasy. I was speaking with another author recently about Anne Rice and how today her books would be considered paranormal romance. That just seems wrong.
What would you say to other female writers out there looking to explore the darker side of fiction?
I would encourage them write what their heart desires. I honestly believe women have an intriguing and unique take on dark fiction. We tend to break away from the tropes and explore new terrain. And I believe the more women write in speculative fiction, the greater our acceptance will be.
Tell Bloody Bookish readers a bit about your upcoming adventures.
The third book in the AS THE WORLD DIES trilogy is coming out in April. It’s called SIEGE. I am already gearing up to promote the book and attend book signings. I’m also planning to self-publish the follow up books in two of my other series. PRETTY WHEN SHE KILLS is the next book in my vampire/ necromancer/zombie series set in modern day Austin, Texas. THE RISE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE is the next novel in my gothic horror VAMPIRE BRIDE series set in Buda, Hungary in the 1820’s. I’m also going to be putting out a small book of short stories and novellas in the AS THE WORLD DIES universe. It’s the second book in the AS THE WORLD DIES UNTOLD TALES series. I have a few more projects in the works, but nothing I can talk about right now.
As for parting words, I hope that people will continue to discover female genre writers like me and support our writing careers. It’s a thrill to hear from readers who are excited to have discovered my books. I hope to continue to write books that people enjoy while being scared.
Thanks for the great chat, Rhiannon!