Archive for the ‘Women in Horror’ Tag

Monthly Round-up: February 2018

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

On 1 February, I went in for surgery.

Since then I’ve been at home recovering, so February is pretty much a write-off. However, it’s been very cold while I’ve been off, so it’s not been a bad time to be stuck indoors. And by the time I go back to work, which I hope will be next week (pending doctor approval) it will be daylight when I leave the house.

That said, there are a few things to report this month.


I’m pleased to announce that my story ‘Morgan’s Father’ is included in the Women in Horror edition of the SIREN’S CALL e-zine. This issue is completely free to download as a PDF and is chock full of horror stories by women, so download your copy now.

In other news, we don’t yet have a release date for OUTPOST H311, but the onus is on me at the moment since I’ve had the edits back and I’m working through them. And it’s taking rather longer than I was expecting. Partly that’s due to being on sick leave. For the first two weeks following surgery I couldn’t really do much except lie about reading or watching TV. No concentration for anything else. However, this week I’ve been making progress with the edits, so hopefully there’ll be more news on this next month.


I contributed to Mark West’s Stephen King mixtape, which appeared on his blog on 26 February. This was a post including a long list of writers talking briefly about their favourite King story. I chose ‘The Breathing Method’.


I haven’t worked on any WIPs for a while, what with surgery getting in the way and all. So the current status is unchanged. There are two current works in progress:

A WHITER SHADE OF PAIN: a crime thriller set in 1967 which is a collaboration with my husband. We plotted the book together, then I wrote Draft 1 and he started on Draft 2. The latter isn’t finished yet, but I’ve taken it back to make further changes to the amended chapters. So I suppose it’s currently on Draft 2.5.

DEADLY SUMMER is the fourth Shara Summers novel, which takes my intrepid sleuth to New York City when she gets a job in a US soap opera. I am about a third of the way through the first draft. I halted work on this when I started writing OUTPOST H311, and I haven’t got back to it yet.

That’s all to report this month. I anticipate that by the end of next month, spring will have sprung. But you can never tell, with British weather.



Monday’s Friend: Fiona Dodwell

Today I’m pleased to welcome another woman of horror to the blog – British horror writer Fiona Dodwell.

SJT: Some writers discover their calling at a very young age. Others arrive at it a bit later in life. How did it come to you?

Fiona DodwellFD: This is a tough one to answer, because in all honesty, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. I seem to have been born with a passion for writing, and there doesn’t seem to be a particular moment that sparked this, at least that I recall. It seems to be in my blood! One of my earliest memories is of writing short stories and poems, and of declaring to my teacher in primary school that “when I grow up, I want to write books.”

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

FD: Not to over-think things. I believe it’s far too easy to put up your own road-blocks, to keep thinking of the struggles, obstacles and difficulties in writing. The reasons can be many: I don’t have much time. I find this story hard to write. What if no one likes it? Am I good enough? You can carry these issues around and let it stop you, or you can ignore the doubts and simply try. Only two things can happen: 1) You complete a story you are happy with, which is an immense achievement or 2) You write something you feel unhappy with. Ultimately, neither of those two outcomes are a waste of time – all the while you are trying, working, writing and practising, you are becoming the best writer you can be. Don’t let doubts stop you, or you’ll never reach your full potential. You’ll never know what you could have done.

SJT: You seem to have been rather busy in the last six months, with several new releases. Want to tell us about them?

FD: Yes, I’ve had a really good time lately. Last year, I was offered representation with Media Bitch Literary Agency, and from the team there I’ve had a lot of support. The agents there are amazing – always helping, supporting, promoting and uplifting their authors. That’s a big part of why I’ve been able to get a lot done – they’ve been behind me all the way, helping me. In the last few months, I’ve released Nails, which is a paranormal novella, The Redwood Lodge Investigation and Juniper’s Shadow, which is the first segment of what will eventually be a trilogy. I also took part in The Dichotomy of Christmas, an anthology of horror stories alongside wonderful talents such as Graham Masterton, Michael Bray and M.R Sellars.

nails full wrap NO SPINE (2)SJT: Why is horror the genre for you? What’s the appeal, for you, about writing spooky stories?

FD: From the youngest age, I loved telling friends ghost stories at sleep-overs, and watching scary movies. I’ve always had a morbid fascination with anything dark or creepy. I used to go to the library and borrow books on hauntings, and obsess over the tales for days. I’m not so much into blood and gore, but I love a good creepy ghost story. I think it’s because I find reading something scary quite thrilling. I love the fear, the tension, the sense of darkness. I’m really not someone who loves comedies and romantic films!

SJT: February is Women In Horror month. Would you say that there is still a misconception out there that women don’t write horror? Have things improved? Discuss!

FD: I think horror is still very dominated by male presence – we have Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Adam Nevill, Jack Ketchum, Joe Hill etc who are all brilliant, and who I very much admire. But I think females can bring something different to the table, something that shouldn’t be ignored. There is a quiet and sinister element to certain female horror writers that really gets under my skin, in such a delicious way. One only has to read Susan Hill, Alison Littlewood, Sarah Pinborough or Shirley Jackson to know that a female writer can be very dark – in a very unnerving way. I love that more and more female horror writers are making a name for themselves. With the advent of ebook publishing, I think we will start to see more of us, and hopefully the playing field will be a little more level as time goes on.

SJT: What projects have you got on the go at the moment?

FD: I have some projects ahead of me in 2016 that I am very excited about. There are some that I can’t yet share, unfortunately, but I promise there is a lot going on.

Juniper FINAL (2)What I can tell you is that I am taking part in a horror anthology which will be released in March, called Beasts. I am really happy to be sharing pages alongside Jack Ketchum, Iain Rob Wright, Michael Bray and many, many more fantastic writers on that project. I will also be releasing a novella entitled The Faceless, which has been great fun to write.

Later in the year I will hopefully be releasing my fourth full-length novel, The Risen. That novel is in the hands of my agent as we speak, and being shopped around various publishers. So it’s full steam ahead, and I am really excited to see what the year brings. I’m enjoying being busy, and it’s keeping me out of trouble!

Many thanks to Fiona for being my guest today! You can find all of Fiona’s books at Amazon.

Monday’s Friend: Kay Lalone

As Women in Horror Month continues, I am pleased to welcome another woman of horror to the blog.  Today’s guest is Kay Lalone, author of spooky stories for children and young adults. Welcome, Kay!

SJT: Some writers discover their calling at a very young age. Others arrive at it a bit later in life. How did it come to you?

KL: I remember in grade school sitting at the kitchen table writing a short story and asking my mom how to spell words. So I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a writer.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

KL: My biggest influences were my parents because they taught me the joy of reading. Without that joy of reading, I don’t think I would have found the passion for writing my own stories.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

KL: That it is hard work. If you don’t have that passion to write, you will eventually give up. It’s not easy sending your story (baby) out into the world and seeing it rejected over and over again. You need to have that passion to write even if no one reads your words. You have a story to tell, so tell it.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release, FAMILY SECRET.

Family Secret 200x300 (2)KL: Sixteen-year-old Thomas Patrick Henry is thrown into a web of secrets and demons after his mother’s murder.

FAMILY SECRET is not based on a secret from my past or from my family. The idea for FAMILY SECRET came from a picture I saw for a writing class. The writing assignment was to look at a picture and develop a story from it. In the picture were a train and a boy and girl.

I asked the question, What if? What if this boy was running away from something? What if he felt like he wasn’t wanted? What if a secret was being kept from him? Asking what if gets the imagination flowing. Over the years (it took fifteen years before Family Secret became published) I just let my imagination run wild and soon it developed into the book it is today.

SJT: Have you always written spooky stories, or is this a genre you accidentally fell into?

KL: I have always loved to read mysteries and spooky stories. I was always told to write what you know. So, yes, I’ve always written spooky stories.

SJT: Have you ever put people you know in real life into your stories?

KL: No, not yet!

SJT: February is Women In Horror month. Would you say that there is still a misconception out there that women don’t write horror? Have things improved? Discuss!

KL: I have never really thought about it much. But yes I think there is still is a misconception about women writing horror. When I think about horror, the first author that pops into my head is Stephen King. I love to read his books. But recently I started reading a book by Willow Rose.

SJT: What projects have you got on the go at the moment?

KL: At the moment, I am revising a mystery, paranormal story titled MYSTERIOUS VISIONS. It is about a teenage girl who has visions. Of course, some of those visions are scary. There is mystery, romance, and ghosts in this story.


On the road to solving his mother’s murder, sixteen-year-old Thomas Patrick Henry discovers a secret his father has kept from him for years. Tom thought Dad’s secret put him in danger, Mom’s secret is far worse. Magic. Witches. Ancient Book of Spells. Magical Amulet. Ghosts. Demons. Tom never thought these things existed until he is face to face with them. There is nothing else to do but destroy the demons before someone else Tom love dies. He already lost his mom and a close friend because this secret was kept from him. No one else will die. No one else will be possessed. Tom faces his demons. A mother’s love gives Tom the strength to slay his demons.

Kay and her family

Kay and her family

Author Bio

Kay lives in Michigan with her husband and teenage son (two older sons and a daughter-in-law and her first grandbaby live nearby) and two dogs. She loves to get up every morning and write about ghosts, the paranormal, and things that go bump in the night. She writes PB, MG and YA novels. No matter the books she writes, she wants her readers to feel like they have met a new friend. She is an avid reader of just about any type of book (mystery, paranormal, and ghost stories are my favorites). She does reviews and posts them on her website and blog. She loves to collect old books, antiques, and collectibles and you can find many of her antiques and collectibles selling on ebay and at fleamarkets.

Catch up with Kay and her books at the following links:

Barnes & Noble

Monday’s Friend: Diane Dooley

February is Women in Horror month, so I am featuring women horror writers for my Monday’s Friends feature all of this month. My first woman of horror is author Diane Dooley. Welcome, Diane!

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

DD: I’ve always been a voracious reader, but for many years the idea as me as a writer never occurred to me. It wasn’t until I was on maternity leave with my second child that I decided to try my hand at it as an intellectual exercise. I wrote a novel in six weeks and it was terrible. But I’d been bitten by the writing bug and I’ve been unable to shake it off ever since.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

DD: Ah, too numerous to mention, but I’ll give it a try. I’m very influenced by music. Often, the first little throb of a story comes while I’m listening to music or reading poetry. And the real world is a big influence, things I’ve seen: a house scarred by lightning rods, an abandoned graveyard, a rusted wheelchair in a ditch. Art is another inspiration, as well as the field of psychology. A short story soon to be published by Liquid Imagination was inspired by this photograph of an infamous psychological experiment:

scared monkey (2)

Among the authors that have most influenced me are Octavia Butler, CJ Cherryh, Shirley Jackson, Philip K. Dick, Daphne du Maurier, Jane Austen, and Vladimir Nabokov. Add to this list an untold number of poets and musicians.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

DD: Most likely you’re going to suck at first. Take the time to learn the craft of writing. Work hard, seek out critique, and don’t rush to publish.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release.

DD: DOWN BY THE DARK WATER​ is a Scottish Gothic, the first of three I have planned. It’s dark and twisted and is stuffed with characters nobody can like very much. I loved writing it.


SJT: You describe yourself as writing ‘romance, science fiction and horror – sometimes all in the same story’. Do you purposefully set out to mash genres, or does the story usually just develop that way?

DD: I really can’t help mashing up genres. I’ve tried to write to the specific tropes of specific genres, but those projects usually end up getting abandoned due to my lack of passion for them. I use that particular tagline to let potential readers know that anything might happen and to expect the unexpected.

SJT: Plotter or pantser?

DD: Kind of a hybrid. I think a lot about a story before I even sit down to write it. Often, the story is mostly complete in my head, and I just need to type it into words. I keep a few notes on characters and settings, but I don’t do a written outline.

SJT: February is Women In Horror month. Would you say that there is still a misconception out there that women don’t write horror? Have things improved? Discuss!

DD: I think horror is still very much a male-­dominated genre. When I browse the book offerings it’s mostly male names on the books. One has to work a bit to find female horror authors, and I rely quite heavily on recommendations from others. I don’t know if I really fit well in the horror genre, to be honest. What I call my horror stories are very dark, very twisted, but rarely have any kind of supernatural aspect to them. My horror stories are usually about the most terrifying monster of all: humanity.

Have things improved for women writing horror? I’d say that self­-publishing has allowed female voices to be heard more frequently. On the other hand, the sheer glut of books being published makes them just as hard to discover.

SJT: What projects have you got on the go at the moment?

DD: My main project at the moment is a horror novel set in rural upstate New York, where I live. As usual, it’s got a couple of genres going on. It’s a historical and contemporary dual timeline American Gothic sort of thing with an awful lot of body fluids and rotting vegetation. Typical me, in other words. Side projects are a blue collar romance set in the seedy side of the country music business, and the other two Scottish Gothic novellas.

Thanks for having me, Sara!


Diane Dooley was born in the Channel Islands and grew up in Scotland. She finally settled down in Upstate New York where the summers are short and the winters just might kill you. She lives with her best friend/husband and two obstreperous boy children in a falling­down farmhouse in the sticks.

Diane writes ​short stories​ and ​novellas​ in several genres, and has been published in a variety of online and print publications, as well as by several digital­first publishing houses.

Facebook​ | ​Twitter​ ​| ​Blog

Alien LOL (2)

Women in Horror #4: Sarah Connor

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

For my fourth and final post on Women in Horror, I’m looking at the heroine of the TERMINATOR films. OK, maybe this is more science fiction than horror, but it’s a series that deals with horror themes. Machines take sentience and try to destroy the human race. The second film opens with apocalyptic scenes of a nuclear blast, an empty playground, machines crushing piles of human skulls in their wake. And it’s the second film I want to focus on, the film in which Sarah Connor becomes a kick-ass heroine.

Sarah Connor
When we meet Sarah in the first TERMINATOR film, she’s an ordinary American young woman. She works as a waitress, she goes to college, she laments with her flat mate about not being to find Mr Right. And then her life changes when she learns a cybernetic entity from the future is hunting her down, and will not stop until she’s dead. The reason she’s being hunted is not for something she’s done, but something that will happen in the future. When the machines rise up to destroy humanity they almost succeed, but one man leads a band of human survivors to victory. That man, John Connor, is Sarah’s son – the son she hasn’t conceived yet.

Aided by the man that her son sent back in time to help save her – a man who turns out to be the father of her son, conceived the one and only time she sleeps with him (yes, let’s not dwell on that paradox too much lest our brains explode), Sarah manages to escape from the Arnold Schwarzenegger-shaped cyborg, though her rescuer is killed in the process. The end of the film shows her alone and pregnant, driving through Mexico, knowing the Hell of the future that is to come and burdened with the knowledge that the unborn child she carries is the last hope for humanity. That’s got to change a person.

It’s the second film in which Sarah becomes a lean mean fighting machine. Eleven years have passed. Her son John is a hellion, placed in foster care because Sarah has been sectioned. Caught trying to blow up an electronics factory and ranting about the machines that were going to destroy humanity, she was deemed to be mad and locked up in an institution. In her first scene in T2, she is doing arm lifts on bars in her cell room, bulging biceps clearly on show and wearing the expression of a woman who is completely sane and in control of her faculties. Linda Hamilton took her role as Sarah Connor seriously, engaging in a gruelling workout routine before the second film, to demonstrate the hardcore survivor that Sarah had become in the years since the first film. Eventually breaking out of the mental institution with the help of her son and the Arnold Schwarzenegger cyborg who’s now a Good Guy – the cybernetic assassin from the future who’s been sent back to kill John Connor as a child is even more devastating and unstoppable than the first one was – Sarah goes after the electronics engineer who will develop the computer chip that will directly lead to computers gaining sentience – the cataclysm that marks the beginning of the end for humanity. On the way we learn just how tough this woman has become. She has all manner of contacts around the country, stashing weapons and supplies with all of them. And her only motive is to do what it takes to survive – long enough to raise her son to adulthood and ensure he grows into the man who will save humanity. Sarah Connor is a self-taught bad ass. Once she came to terms with her fate (can’t be easy finding out just when and how the world will end, and that you’re going to survive to suffer the aftermath), she set out to learn the skills she would need to survive.

John Connor is presented as the most important human ever to live, because he’s the leader of the human survivors and he takes them into victory. But John would not have become the man he does without Sarah – so in one sense, she’s the most important human in the world. She’s the one that saves humanity, because she turns John into the leader he needs to be.

As far as female role models go, you don’t get much better than that.

Monday’s Friend: Luke Walker (interview)

Today I am pleased to welcome Luke Walker back to my blog, to tell us all about his new novel ‘SET.

Luke WalkerSJT:  Welcome, Luke. It’s Women In Horror Month!  Tell us about your favourite women in horror?

LW:  So many to choose from. I love Beverly from Stephen King’s IT. Same with Rose from King’s Rose Madder. Cass from Alison Littlewood’s A Cold Season was a great character. You really get into her head and heart while she’s trying to work out what’s happening with her son. Going back a while, Mina Harker from Dracula was much more interesting than any film adaptation of her character. And obviously Geri Paulson from my first book. J

SJT:  You write about your own women in horror.  The main character of your new book, ’SET, is a woman who’s lost a child.  Tell us more about the book.

LW: ’Set (short for Sunset) is the name of the world between life and death. The book is more of a dark fantasy than straight horror. My first book, The Red Girl, was out and out horror so it’s nice to have something a little less dark for this one. Anyway, it’s about a woman named Emma who’s contacted by an angel and demon to help them sort out a blockage in death. An old guy, recently dead, is leading a rebellion against what he sees as unfair death. This means that while people are dying, they’re not moving on to Heaven or Hell. And that means the halfway place between our world and the afterlife, ’Set, is growing in an effort to reach the dead. Eventually, it’ll reach the living world. The soul of Emma’s stillborn daughter is somewhere in ’Set and she has to work with Heaven and Hell if she wants to save her daughter and everybody else.

SJT:  The death of a child is a very emotive topic.  How did you come to write about this?

LW:  I wanted a female character who’s strong and determined for the most part, but who’s dealing with a terrible grief and anger. Obviously they’re negative emotions, but they’re also powerful. I wanted someone who’s trying to do some good even though she’s motivated by that strong negativity.

Emma has been through a bad relationship and then a horrible experience. Once she learns what’s happening, her thinking is more how can I help my daughter’s soul than anything bigger. As the plot progresses and the stakes get higher, she has to develop that idea.

SJT:  Do you think it’s harder for men to write about women and vice versa?

LW:  I’m not sure. I like writing about either. As long as the character fits the story, I’m happy. I’ve read fiction from men with a female POV that I’ve felt was lacking just as I’ve read women writing about men that didn’t work. With one of my books (not ’Set), a female friend told me, generally speaking, women tend to think their way around problems while men think through them. At the same time, a person’s actions also depend on the situation as well as gender. For example, the scene my friend referred to featured a woman trapped in a house with a potential threat at the front of the house and no keys to the back door. She briefly considers breaking a window but knows there’s no furniture she can move by herself that would be big enough to break a window. While a man might smash the window without much more thought, the woman knows she has to find the key.

Like I say, I’m happy and comfortable with writing about either gender and from either POV as long it’s the right one for that story. Whether or not I get it right is up to the reader.

SJT:  In order to scare one’s readers, the horror writer must deal with things that they themselves fear.  Do you agree with this?  Do you write about things that scare you?

LW:  Fear can be one of our most personal emotions. One person’s terror is another person’s indifferent shrug just like one person’s offensive joke is another’s harmless giggle. Some people would rather chew off their own hand than be anywhere near a snake. And some people are probably scared of the person scared of snakes chewing off their hand.

It’s a personal thing. For example, I HATE going to the dentist. Teeth give me the creeps. Plenty of people reading that will think it’s stupid to feel that way, but it doesn’t change a thing for me any more than it would change another’s feelings if they were scared of clowns.

At the same time, there are universal fears. We’re all scared of something happening to a loved one. Everybody’s imagination kicks in when it’s late and your child or spouse is still out and you can’t get hold of them, when the phone rings in the middle of the night, when you’re in bed and there’s a noise outside. Whatever your background, things like scare everyone. And it’s interesting to note none of those examples are supernatural. They’re all real-world fears, and that’s the stuff that works on everyone. So while I love using the supernatural as a springboard for plots and events, I like to contrast it with real life issues. Probably why my characters are always in a pub.

SJT:  What’s the scariest story you’ve ever read?

LW:  If we’re talking novel, Stephen King’s Pet Sematary is up there. King nails the whole something happening to your family thing and puts it with a creepy, desolate feel that comes from the story’s location. And for short fiction, Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, which I read when I was about ten, is creepy as hell. The thought of being bricked up like that. . . in the dark. . .alive. . .brr.

SJT:  Yes, that concept scares me, too. If you had the opportunity to start your writing career over again, would you do anything different?

LW:  It took me a long time to understand that while writing is an art (or at least, it can be), publishing is a business. Publishing doesn’t care if you feel that you’re a writer or you could be one if only you weren’t spending all your time watching TV or on Facebook. Publishing cares about how well you write and how focused you are. While I never had the problem of talking about writing while not actually writing, I wasn’t focused on the business side of it until a few years ago. With that in mind, I should have been more focused on what I was writing instead of just thinking selling my fiction would take care of itself. So writing a long sequel to a book I hadn’t sold wasn’t my best idea in terms of business. Nor was writing a too short sequel to another book I hadn’t sold. While all my earlier writing helped me improve to the point I’m at now, I wish I’d been more aware of the professional side of writing.

SJT:  Apart from the release of ’SET, what else have you got lined up this year?

LW:  One of my short stories will be published in Vol 4 of Postscripts To Darkness which is out near the end of the year. The story is called Echidna (and funnily enough, also features a female MC). I wrote the original story a few years back and it was a little ropey, to be honest. Amateurish is probably the kindest thing you could call it. The crime/thriller author Jennifer Hillier read that version and really liked it. I had her in mind when I went back to it to see if I could improve it. As it turned out, I could.

I’m hoping a horror novella I finished recently finds a home. It owes a bit to HP Lovecraft and was a lot of fun to write. Other than that, planning and writing another book, and maybe the odd short story.

SJT:  So with your name, are you a Star Wars fan, or do you get annoyed when people call you Luke Skywalker?

LW:  I’m 35 so I’ve heard that joke approximately nine billion times. For what it’s worth, I came out before the film. Also for what it’s worth, my dad named me after Paul Newman. And no, I can’t eat that many boiled eggs.


Luke Walker began writing stories as a child and hasn’t stopped since. His fiction now is a little darker than it was back then. The flying teddy bears are out; horror, fantasy, death, suffering, pain and more horror are in. He is currently working on a horror novella and a full-length horror/mystery.

Luke is in his thirties and lives in England with his wife, two cats and what his wife thinks are too many zombie films. The cats are fairly blasé about the quantity.

To learn more about Luke and his writing, check out his blog, Die Laughing.

Women in Horror #3: Ripley

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It might have been over 30 years ago, but few films measure up to ALIEN.  A masterful blend of suspense, science fiction and horror, this film about a group of space explorers who encounter a terrifying alien predator still measures up to the test of time and has audiences on the edge of their seat. And its main character is another inspiring  female role model.


ripleyRumour has it that Ripley was written as a male character. In 1979, when this film came out, no one really took seriously the idea that a woman could be part of a space crew – even in science fiction. Let alone one as resourceful and enterprising as Ellen Ripley. But someone decided, early on in production, that a man would not go back to rescue the ship’s cat, when all the rest of the crew were dead and Ripley, as sole survivor, is trying to get to the escape pod. This was an integral plot point, as the alien gets into the escape pod whilst Ripley is in the ship getting the cat.

Another story goes that all of the characters in ALIEN were deliberately written to be genderless, so that any of them could be equally played by a man or a woman.

Whether or not either of these stories are true, I don’t know, but the fact remains that Ripley is a leading lady who does not shag anyone, doesn’t cook and doesn’t actually do anything different from the men. Except she keeps her head and therefore survives when the rest panic and get killed. In the decidedly misogynist world of Hollywood this is a rarity, even in the 21st century, and at the end of the 1970s it was pretty much unprecedented.

The second film ALIENS goes a step further and explores the concept of Ripley as a woman. Having been in suspended animation following the events of the first film, she awakens to discover that she has been lost in space for decades and that her daughter, left behind on Earth, has grown old and died in her absence. Thus she becomes particularly protective of the young orphan girl, Newt, the only survivor of a colony that has been attacked by the alien. Feeling guilty about not being there to protect her own daughter, Ripley takes on the responsibility of getting Newt out alive. The image attached to this post is one of the best portrayals of Ripley in this context – carrying the girl in one arm, whilst wielding a bad-ass gun in the other. And she has a cracking aim with that gun, even one-handed.

Ripley remains one of the best heroines of both horror and science fiction of all time. It’s rare that actresses are offered such a wonderful role, and it is testament to Sigourney Weaver’s talent that she was able to bring Ripley to life in such a human way.

Women in Horror #2: Alice

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

My second post in my series about kick-ass horror heroines features a marvellous character from a series of films inspired by a computer game.

If you’ve been following my blog a while you’ll know I have a fondness for ‘Resident Evil 4’ (and Leon). The video game franchise became a series of films. These have been met with mixed reviews. Those that don’t like them say they are lacking plot, lacking character development, lacking logic. I’m not quite sure what people expect from a series based on a game, but I always enjoyed them. OK, so they are not exactly intellectually stimulating, but there are days when a girl wants to switch off her brain and just sit on the sofa with wine and chocolate and enjoy some mindless zombie dismemberment.


aliceFor the live action series of films (there are some CGI animated ones as well), a new character was created who apppears in all the films. Her name is Alice, and on screen she’s played by Milla Jovovich.

Rumour has it that the character was created to be a kind of reverse version of Alice in Wonderland – an Alice in Dystopia. But she is by far the best thing about the Resident Evil films, and she’s a wonderfully kick-ass character. This lady is no damsel in distress. Her weapon of choice is a gun in either hand, fired at the same time. She has incredible aim, she is fast, smart, agile and resourceful. And she pretty much leaves all the men behind.

My favourite scene with Alice comes from “Resident Evil: Afterlife”, and also features Claire Redfield, who is a character from the games series. With the world being over-run by mutating zombies, a small band of survivors (led by Claire – in herself a strong character) encounter Alice, and they are trying to get out of an abandoned building over-run by zombies. They escape through the sewers. The boys have all run away, leaving Claire and Alice to it when the big guy with the giant meat tenderiser (a monster from Resident Evil 5) comes after them. But these two ladies can take care of themselves, as you can see from the attached video. If you’re wondering what’s with all the slow-motion, the films are mimicking the style of the games, because all the cut scenes feature slow-motion action.

Alice is a fabulous action heroine, and a prime example of a female horror icon who gives back as good as she gets. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I definitely want her on my team.

Women in Horror #1: Buffy

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

February is Women in Horror month, where we officially pay homage to the importance that women play in the horror genre.

This year I am going to be doing a series of posts acknowledging those kick-ass heroines who redefine the role of women in horror.


buffyOK, so let’s start at the top. I am a HUGE Buffy fan.There are so many reasons why she is such a great role model. Joss Whedon said that the inspiration for Buffy came from the fact that in the horror films he grew up with, the blonde girl was always the one to creep alone down the corridor and get eaten by the monster. He decided the blonde girl should fight back. So he created his teenage California girl who had superpowers. Who was chosen to kick vampire butt.

There are a thousand reasons why I love Buffy. It’s the only show I will make a point of watching reruns of when they are on. The only show where I can start watching a random episode and know within five minutes not only which series it is, but which episode it it. It has irony. It has real, flawed characters who are affected by the world around them and change from series to series. One of the great things I loved from the beginning was the way it handled adolescence with sensitivity and wry humour. Anyone who’s been a teenager knows the hell that is High School. Every kid has to fight demons in high school. For most of us, those demons are metaphorical. Buffy’s demons just happen to be literal. As well as having to deal with the usual adolescent angst of not being popular, whether she’ll have a date for the dance, getting into trouble with her folks for staying out late, bullies, jocks vs geeks and so on, she also has to save the world from demons, vampires and the occasional apocalypse. And she still manages to graduate from high school (well, after she saves everyone from the ancient snake demon posing as the Mayor).

People who don’t understand my obsession with Buffy have said: “if you like Buffy, you must like Twilight. They’re both about girls in love with a vampire”. If you can’t get the difference, I can’t begin to explain it to you. Just watch this terrific video. Yes, I know I’ve posted it before, but it so proves a point.

Yes, Buffy loves Angel. But at the end of season 2, when she has to kill Angel to save the world, she does it. Even though she loves him. Because a true heroine has that kind of strength of character. And that’s another reason I love Buffy.

Women in Horror – Introduction

February is official Women in Horror month. If you don’t want to click the link and read the official blurb, I have posted the mission statement here.

“Every February, Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.”

A group of fellow writers have come together on AbsoluteWrite to promote WiHM, as we did last year. Here is a list of participating blogs. Not everyone has begun to post yet, but please check out these blogs regularly over the next month to keep up to date with what’s going on.

Diane Dooley
The Girl in the Soap Dish
Glitter and Gore
Smoking Simian Scribbles
The Graveyard
Die Laughing
Johnny Compton
Lizzy’s Dark Fiction
Crunchy Says
Stained Glass in the Night

Last year I promoted several female horror writers. This year, in an attempt to do something different, I’m going to showcase fictional kick-ass heroines of horror. I realise that fictional characters do not completely conform to the WiHM mission statement. However, I think female role models are crucial to young women, and the fictional ones, who know how to stand up for themselves, are just as important as real-life role models. So for the next four weeks I am going to showcase female leads who are no victims. Who do not stand there and scream before getting eaten by the monster. Women who know how to fight back. Women who know how to kick serious butt.

I will be running this series on Wednesdays, cross-posted on the WriteClub blog, so check back on 6 February to meet the first of my kick-ass horror heroines. Oh, and there will be no prizes for guessing who she will be.