Women in Horror Q&A with Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson

Posted by Quirk Books Staff
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Quirk Books: What do you love most about writing about horror?

Lisa Kröger: Horror, for me, has always been a way to dive into the things that scare me. There’s a pretty famous quotation from Shirley Jackson (we actually used it in our book Monster, She Wrote) that says “I delight in what I fear.” I’ve always liked Jackson’s words because it really gets at the heart of why I gravitate toward writing horror, both in fiction and nonfiction. I’ll be honest—a lot of things in this world scare me. I think a lot of us feel that way. We are faced with big fears and real horrors every day. What kind of world would we have if we held all of that inside us? It would fester and turn us into something that looks like it belongs in a Cronenberg movie or that fleshy blob in Basket Case. I know I’d rather face that down in the safe confines of a book or movie.

Melanie R. Anderson: One of the things I love most about writing about horror is helping readers who may not think of themselves as horror fans realize that horror is not just one monolithic thing. Horror crosses over into other genres all the time, such as science fiction, for instance, and the Gothic subgenre of horror has a long history of merging with romance and mystery. Another thing I love about writing about horror is how the genre offers writers an avenue for dealing with cultural anxieties and issues of the time period. This aspect of horror also makes it fun to teach in the classroom.



Quirk Books: What sparked your interest in the horror genre?

Lisa Kröger: It’s always been with me. I grew up fascinated by it—but I always was a bit too scared to really indulge. (I’ve always been a wimp—see my above answer.) I remember Friday nights at the local Blockbuster. I’d always walk straight to the horror section and then walk through that aisle with my eyes partially covered—a mixture of fear and fascination. I knew all the faces: Pinhead, Jason, Michael Myers. But I didn’t know their stories. I actually used to invent stories for what I thought the movies were about. That may have been my first inkling that I would have a future in the genre! Even as much of a scaredy cat as I was, I still loved it. My Memaw used to show me old Vincent Price movies when I was very young. I have memories of playing Barbie dolls on her living room floor while watching my personal favorite, House of Wax. And I read a lot of horror too—Poe, Christopher Pike, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It’s always been a big part of my reading life.

Melanie R. Anderson: I’ve always loved supernatural and weird stuff, like Poe, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, etc. In school, I loved when we read spooky stories, and I have a distinct memory of visiting my grandparents when I was a kid and listening to an “old-time radio” type production of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” My mom introduced me to Vincent Price movies, classic creature features, and Godzilla. However, I didn’t really think of myself as a horror fan growing up, because, until I was in my early 20s, I identified “horror” with blood and gore. I didn’t realize, really, until conversations I had with Lisa in grad school, that the supernatural and psychological things I loved to read were also under the larger horror umbrella.



Quirk Books: Is there a particular horror subgenre that you prefer to read or watch?

Lisa Kröger: Honestly, there isn’t much that I won’t watch or read. I’m a sucker for a good vampire story (see what I did there?) and I absolutely love a werewolf tale. Maybe my favorite “monster” is a Frankenstein retelling or a really solid alien encounter. Alien/Aliens, Under the Skin, The Thing. Gore doesn’t bother me, so bring on the blood (cannibal tales have a special place in my heart). I will always love Ravenous. About the only thing I don’t like is true crime or real-life serial killers. I prefer my horror fictional. I need it to be fun, and I don’t enjoy delving too deeply into real-world horrors.

Melanie R. Anderson: I would say my favorite subgenres are haunted house and supernatural books. Ghosts often overlap with haunted spaces, but don’t have to. I think I was prepared for this preference at a young age with my love for Scooby-Doo reruns, which were full of Gothic tropes, and Ghostbusters.



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

Lisa Kröger: Oh, that’s difficult. For books, I loved Maeve Fly by C. J. Leede. It’s like someone peered into my brain and crafted a story just for me. I loved everything about it. Raging women! Disney princesses! Blood and gore! For television, The Fall of the House of Usher was fantastic. I am a big fan of Mike Flanagan and his team. This one knocked it out of the park. It was a love letter to Poe (with some real deep cuts), but it also had a fantastic storyline and compelling characters. For film, this isn’t new, but it was new to me: The Witch Who Came From the Sea. It’s a film from 1976 with another rage-filled woman on a murder spree (I’m sensing a theme here). It’s worth finding and watching.

Melanie R. Anderson: Recently, I read Carissa Orlando’s The September House, and her approach to the haunted house and its ghosts struck me as something really original, especially the reasons for why the protagonist decides to stay no matter what happens. This isn’t new, but I’ve been working my way through Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass, and I am loving the character development and the compassion and empathy present in the writing and the portrayals on screen. Late last year, I read Sarah Hollowell’s What Stalks Among Us, and it’s been haunting me. It had a weird, almost multiverse angle to it that I wasn’t expecting.



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

Lisa Kröger: A bigger TBR pile!

Melanie R. Anderson: I have to echo Lisa that I hope readers add more to their TBR piles. I also hope they learn something new about a favorite writer or maybe find a new favorite whose work they can explore.

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