Women in Horror Q&A with Leslie J. Anderson

Posted by Quirk Books Staff
The Unmothers by Leslie J. Anderson goes on sale August 6, 2024.
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Quirk Books: What do you love most about writing horror?

Leslie J. Anderson: In many ways horror feels more honest. The fade to black or metaphor or pull away before the final blow feels a little patronizing to me. I enjoy when I do not have to hold back, to use a light hand, or to cover anyone’s eyes to what really happens in the world. The genre allows us to explore not only what terrifies us, but also what is worth fighting through the terror to preserve and save. I am able to both expose the violence of the world while celebrating the softness. It feels vulnerable and open and clear-eyed.



Quirk Books: What sparked your interest in horror writing?

Leslie J. Anderson: I don’t mean to write horror! It just comes out that way. I recall telling my husband “I’m surprised this story is being published in a horror magazine” and he said “I’m not! You write horror! I can’t read some of what you write!” Now I turn to the genre intentionally and it feels like home. I think writing can be a bit of an exorcism for me. These ideas rattle around in my brain until I get them on the page and then I feel better, but my readers have to live with them. I write the stories that feel right, that I want to tell, that feel important, and those happen to fall in the horror genre.



Quirk Books: Do you have a preference for writing in any particular horror subgenre? (Survival horror, supernatural horror, etc…)

Leslie J. Anderson: Supernatural horror will always be my favorite. The imagination and world-building can be as much of the experience as the monster. I’m just a sucker for a good monster and I like a little distance between me and the objects of my fear. I’m a big fan of science fiction and fantasy so it makes complete sense to me to blend those into horror. The genre is incredibly flexible and expansive! I’m also a huge fan of Comedy Horror like Shaun of the Dead or Tremors. It’s just good fun and genre mixing produces such great results.



Quirk Books: What are the last three pieces of horror media you’ve consumed and loved?

Leslie J. Anderson: I recently rewatched Ravenous which I honestly think is one of the best horror movies ever made. I also really enjoyed the animated series Scavengers Reign. It was absolutely beautiful and very dark. I just finished Man, Fuck This House which was a delightful deconstruction and reconstruction of the haunted house trope.



Quirk Books: What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Leslie J. Anderson: I hope readers come away with the memory of my characters, who are the shadows of people I know in the world, who often feel angry and trapped and desperate and really do not need that many resources or energy to be safer and happier. I want people to reflect on the role of community both in doing damage but also healing it, in lifting up but more often caging in, and reflect on their roles in their own communities and how they may mirror the heroes or villains in the book.

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