The Women in Horror Literature - Laura Campbell - The Author's Own Words

Laura J. Campbell, a final girl who drives a jeep!
Now that's badass!
Laura J. Campbell is an American short story writer and novelist. She is best known for her speculative fiction works, which include science fiction, horror, and dark fiction. Her work appears in DOA II from Blood Bound Books in the form of a short story called "Bordertown". A gritty story that plays on the power of superstition, Laura was able to suck me in with this piece and transport me to a place that explores human kindness that comes with a price.

Laura was born January 23, 1965 in Coventry, England, and moved to the United States as a very young child. She has lived on both the West (California, Washington) and East (Georgia) coasts, but found her home on the Gulf Coast, living and writing in Houston, Texas. She is married to independent businessman and entrepreneur Patrick Campbell and they have two children, Alexander and Samantha. Laura Campbell was educated in the University of Houston System, earning a Bachelors Degree in Biological Sciences and a Masters Degree in Chemistry from the University of Houston at Clear Lake, and a Doctorate in Law and Masters of Law in Health Law from the prestigious University of Houston Law Center. In addition to fiction, she has been an author on medical journal articles and legal notes. She won the 2007 James B. Baker Award for short story for her science fiction tale, "416175". Her novels Blue Team One (vampires/ Double Dragon Publishing) and Five Houses (ghost hunting/ Reliquary Press) are available through the small press and electronic outlets such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. Check out her Facebook page too!

Q1. Where does your fascination, passion, and/or love for horror come from, and what sent you on the path to become an author in the horror genre?

I have a literary root for my love of horror – stories such as Rudyard Kipling’s “The Story of Muhammad Din,” Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” Poe’s “The Black Cat,” and Elizabeth Engstrom’s “When the Darkness Loves Us.”  Horror can give emotions a surreal edge; as a genre, it can illustrate the potential for good and evil in the world, and in individuals, by casting those potentials in a supernatural light. That is a very powerful thing. As a genre, horror is perhaps the only one where any and all limitations can be removed. That allows for significant latitude in telling any story.

Q2. What type of horror is your favorite and why? Do you write a lot of it, or do you write in various subgenres, such as romantic horror, bizarro, splatterpunk, supernatural, science fiction, etc.?

My personal favorite subgenre is good old fashioned horror – Poe, Lovecraft, Stoker, Kipling, Mary Shelley. That moody, “over-written” horror that envelopes you in fabulous words while taking you someplace that looks so normal and becomes so terrible.  You really can’t write in that style much anymore. Perhaps the closest I have come to that style was one of my earliest works, “Just Passing Through.”

I tend to write different types of horror – from science fiction hybrids (“Kryptos” and “Beyond Valhalla”) to traditional vampires (Blue Team One, “Concerning Edward Sweetly,”) to graphic horror (“Bordertown”), and even erotic horror (“For the Love of Rachel”). I do tend towards modern settings – historical settings are challenging because no matter how well the time-period research is conducted, our minds are still modern minds.

Q3. What is your opinion on women in the horror genre? Do you think WiHM is necessary and helpful, or can it create a rift by singling out one type of writer?

Women have always been an integral part of the horror market – Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is one of the foundation horror books, for example. I think women tend to have a sensitivity to the violence and unfairness of the world, and that by developing horror we find ways to sensitize the world to the horrors that exist in our societies and the need to correct them.

Women in Horror Month is a great idea – so much of horror can tend towards the exploitative or even infantile with regards to female characters. I mean seriously – how many times do we see a woman trip and fall while being chased in a film, or see the woman written purely as a victim or damsel in distress?  My own writing seeks to create strong female characters who confront evil head on – Five Houses for example features multiple women who drive the story, sub-stories, and take on the monsters.

Q4. What do you think the future will be within the horror genre, both in general and specific to women? Do you think WiHM will help with that future?

I think we will see an increasing strengthening of female characters in horror – the trend has started in the sister genres of crime drama and mystery, which sometimes contain horrific elements. The increasing number of women writing horror and influencing horror films will (hopefully) introduce strong female protagonists – and villains. The trick will be not to write a male character and simply recast as gratuitously female. I would like to see interesting people written and depicted...I think that our society is evolving to understand that gender is one aspect of a person; horror, in its capacity to challenge any and every part of our being, has the ability to transcend gender.

Q5. Are there any women in the horror entertainment area that you have looked to for guidance? Including authors, actresses, screenwriters, directors, wherever you find inspiration!

A nod to the first ladies who paved the way for women writers, especially those who painted pictures of bleak and dark places in allied genres  – Mary Shelly, the Brontë sisters, Agatha Christie. Ironically the “Slasher film” era gave us strong female characters.

Q6. Do you have a favorite female character in the horror genre, and what about this character do you identify with?

That’s a tougher question than it should be. So many female characters seem required to be at least some sort of romantic interest. I think that Shakespeare had some great female villains with a horror bent – Gertrude from Hamlet and Lady Macbeth from Macbeth.

I think the thing we can identify with in our female characters is the mission creep of protecting family (as with the Shakespearean ladies) or becoming lost in the career (Starling from Silence of the Lambs, for example); the female characters I like tend to respect their evil foe/force while remembering that they are one of the good guys, by which I mean, hero... :)

Q7. Just for fun: are you a token victim, the best friend who might dies, or a final girl?

The final girl. My son used to watch movies and tell me that I would be okay, “Mommy, you’re the smart girl who drives a jeep.”  Touché!