Archive for February, 2019|Monthly archive page

Monthly Round-up: February 2019

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

February is, of course, Women in Horror month. A chance for we women horror writers to blow our own horns and remind people that we are out here, jostling for space amongst the men. I went to a social gathering of fellow horror writers a couple of weeks ago, in London. It was a very pleasant evening, and good to chat to fellow horror hounds. Chatting to another woman, I explained to her how many times over the years I’d had people say to me some variation of, “what’s a nice girl like you doing writing such horrible stories,” and she nodded in agreement. Meanwhile another writer (male) involved in the conversation looked at us somewhat incredulously and said, “I keep wondering if we still need a Women in Horror month, since women in horror are so well established now. But I guess we do.”

As we still need Pride parades because there are still bigots out there who refuse to accept that LGBT+ people have the right to exist, we need Women in Horror month because there is still a preconception that women don’t do horror. Things are changing, slowly, but there is still work to do (in both of the aforementioned groups).

Hence, I have been busy pimping myself this month, and I have things to report.

OUT NOW

I am pleased to announce that the 43rd edition of the e-zine ‘The Siren’s Call’ – an all-female edition for Women In Horror month – is now out. It contains my story ‘Cigarette Burns’ as well as lots of other stories and poems by fabulous women horror writers. The issue is available to download free of charge from The Siren’s Call site now.

PUBLICITY

I had a guest blog post on Colleen Anderson’s site this month, about why I write horror. You can have a read here.

WORK IN PROGRESS

More good news to report here – the sequel to OUTPOST H311 is officially underway. I haven’t written too many words yet, but I have made a start on the first chapter, and I’ve made progress in plotting and character sketches. I feel like I am gently, but firmly, coaxing my muse out from the rock it’s been hiding under, and it’s starting to wake up.

I have also thought of a title for said sequel. I want to call it ‘OUTPOST: ARMAGEDDON’. I’d like to know what people think of this.

And that’s it to report for this month. See you at the end of March!

My Life in Music: 1979

There’s a bit of a convoluted story attached to the song for this, so bear with me.

In 1979 my mother married my stepfather and he moved in with us, and my sister and I saw my dad during weekends and school holidays. I guess we’d more or less got accustomed to this arrangement now, but I was still suffering badly with nightmares. And one of the things that always seemed to trigger nightmares – from early childhood it seems – was distorted and featureless faces.

There were a few things on TV in the 1970s that I vividly remember giving me nightmares. One was the fembots episode of  ‘The Bionic Woman’, when the fembots took their face masks off, revealing a pair of eyeballs in a maze of electronic circuits. There was an episode of ‘Sapphire and Steel‘ where the supernatural entity removed Sapphire’s face (I can’t find the name of that particular episode). There was also an episode of the original ‘Star Trek’ where a supernatural teenager removed the features from a woman’s face for laughing at him.

All of these things rather jumped out at me without warning while I was watching TV as a child, freaked me out completely and gave me nightmares for weeks.

And there was the album cover of a band called Sad Cafe, called ‘Misplaced Ideals’, which I am including below.

My memory of this is that I was walking through Ashton during the Whit Walks with my sister (referred to in the post for 1978), and this poster was stuck up everywhere. We talked about how it freaked both of us out, and we didn’t know exactly what it was advertising, but I thought maybe it was a film.

Since then I’ve done some research into this. The band Sad Cafe were from Manchester, which explains why posters advertising their album were all over Ashton-under-Lyne. But the album ‘Misplaced Ideals’ was released in 1978, not 1979.

I do remember that this image featured in my nightmares for rather a long time. And the next time I came across Sad Cafe was when their biggest hit was in the charts in 1979. And every time I heard the song on the radio I remembered what I thought of as the scary Sad Cafe image and it gave me nightmares all over again.

I look at this image, and it still freaks me out, although as an adult I don’t suffer from nightmares the way I did as a child. I have been trying to analyse for years what it is about blank or distorted faces that freaks me out so much. I think perhaps it’s connected to a primal fear of loss of identity. Is this a common fear? Does anyone else get freaked out by images of distorted or blank faces?

The story connected to the photograph for this year is slightly happier. It was taken by my grandfather, who was a keen amateur photographer. He had a real eye for detail and probably was good enough to be a professional photographer, but he was a working-class Lancashire mill worker and probably didn’t consider that such a career was open to him.

This is my favourite photo of me as a child, because I think it captures the essence of who I was then, and I still look enough like ‘me’ to be recognisable as the adult I would become. I recall it being taken – in the local park. My memory is that it was taken on or around my tenth birthday, so it was autumn.

Life would change quite dramatically for me, for the second time in my short life, in just a few months, but we’ll get into that in the next post.

Meanwhile here’s the song for 1979, and one that still makes me think of that creepy album cover: ‘Every Day Hurts’ by Sad Cafe.