Women in Horror Month: Kate Maruyama

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Author Kate Maruyama

This week I’m privileged to have my sister in horror Kate Maruyama talk about writing, writing in the horror genre as a woman, and our new band “King & The Spookettes” (so far we’re waiting on confirmation from Stephen’s people, although I have officially called alto).

My mother, having battled the notions of her times by being a woman newspaper reporter in the nineteen fifties (even after being told she should probably quit when she got married) manage to raise me with the fool notion that I could do anything I set my mind to.

As a result, it took me a ridiculously long time to recognize that there was any inequality between the sexes. Even working in 1990s white male dominated Hollywood, I looked around and thought, “Well, hey, I have a job as an executive at a major action star’s company. My boss is a woman and I play paintball with other action executives. Women are doing just fine.” I worked hard at finding the next job, and not recognizing that those jobs were going to “executive material” (meaning white dudes,) I figured the problem was me and I quit the executive life. And whatever the answer really was, I threw myself into screenwriting. Only years later did I realize that all of the romantic comedies (the genre I was working in) that were bought or greenlit—or at least 95 percent of them—were written by dudes. And, only years later did I look back at a photo at about fifteen of us action execs in our paintball outfits posing with our guns–to realize that I was the only girl in the picture.

Awake now, I took this new perspective into my writing life. There are a lot more novels being published by women than screenplays are being produced, so it’s a more equal arena for women, right? But the inequalities soon became apparent, mostly thanks to organizations like VIDA who had the brains to count, and articles by those paying attention, like Roxane Gay and Elissa Schappel.

So why Women in Horror Month? Why not just horror month?

frankenMary Shelley entranced the human imagination with Frankenstein. Dealing with the death of a newborn, groping in the darkness for answers and in twisted fiction, she came up with the grandfather—mother? of all horror novels.

Despite its origins, horror is currently a male-dominated genre. When J. Lincoln Fenn first reached out to me, calling me a ‘sister in horror’ I didn’t quite get where she was coming from. Our titles were coming out from the same publishing company, 47North within a month of each other. To tell you the truth, I felt a little competitive with her!

But as I started watching the charts as our books climbed them, I became increasingly aware that we were pretty well surrounded by dudes. There were a handful of fabulous female names to pass, (Anne Rice, anyone?) but once each of us, on separate days, managed to dethrone the King (show screen-captures) I realized that we were sisters in something quite unique. And I was so grateful Fenn had the brains to see that.

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Coming soon to a seedy bar near you? King & The Spookettes.

Both of us have written books with male protagonists, which is another peculiarity. But the point of this month, I think, is to help a sister out. If there’s a horror book you’ve read, written by a woman, write up an annotation for my site annotationnation.com or a review, or an article, or simply give it a nice rating on Goodreads. Celebrate all of the women who have, consciously or not, swum against the male tide and persisted in writing what they were best at, regardless of the number of men surrounding them.

harrowbackI adore guys, and I’m always ready to promote the writing of my male counterparts. I can’t say that I wasn’t influenced by my teenage reading of Steven King’s fabulous prose.  But the point of this month isn’t boys vs. girls. This is a month to celebrate women in horror. The trick is to find the woman horror writer who may not be getting a boost, whose book publicity may not be up to the standards of the males standing next to her, and to give her some notice, or a mention, or a like. Because, you know what? Likelihood is she could probably use a hand.

FOLLOW/LIKE/APPRECIATE Kate Maruyama 

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