Women in Horror Month: Kate Danly
Author Kate Danly chimes in for Women in Horror Month. Her debut novel, The Woodcutter (published by 47North), was honored with the Garcia Award for the Best Fiction Book of the Year, 1st Place Fantasy Book in the Reader Views Literary Awards, and the winner of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Her book Maggie for Hire hit the USA Today Bestselling list as part of the boxed set Magic After Dark.
I am not a horror enthusiast. I do not enjoy the sensation of fear. When I was probably three-years-old, my friend convinced me to watch Bella Lugosi’s Dracula. She said that if I got scared, I could hide beneath a granny-square afghan my grandmother had made. She didn’t tell me that I should close my eyes, though, so I saw the entire movie through the crochet holes. And from that point forward, vampires lived under my bed. The scariest movie I willingly watched was Jurassic Park, and even that I watched with my fingers over my face. I don’t understand Halloween. There is so much death and destruction already on this earth, I don’t understand looking upon pain as entertainment.
So it is strange that as an adult, I find myself writing horror. What is it that causes all of my creative impulses to want to dig into this genre?
And I think that, for me, it is about overcoming fear. As a woman, in particular, I find society tries to tell us to fear the world, to seek shelter in others, to place our trust in some big, strong someone who will make all the monsters go away. So, what is the most frightening trope which horror employs? That a woman will be left to face the monsters on her own. That everyone who should be there to save her has not just gone away, they have died horribly.
But there is a twisted lesson of hope in horror: if she is willing to stand up for herself and fight, she will survive.
And so, when I really think about the reasons I write horror, it is about this fight. I defang the monsters that have frightened me my entire life, both real and imaginary. It is about digging deep into their psyche, looking at them from all angles, and ultimately coming to a point of understanding… perhaps even affection… for my creatures. In world mythology, there is a common idea that to defeat a monster, you need only find out its true name. And so I name them “vampire” and “ghost” and I am not afraid. I mean, we wouldn’t sit down to have dinner anytime soon. But monsters do not live under my bed anymore. And when one does try to sneak in? We have ourselves a little chat and I find out his name, and I bring the story to you so that you might know his name, too. And together, the boogeyman can’t get us.
Kate’s latest horror project is her story Queen Joanna, a retelling of the Bloody Mary ghost story in the anthology From the Indie Side, on sale for the next few days for 99-cents.