The Women of Horror Literature - Debbie Daughetee - The Author's Own Words

Debbie Daughetee, a serial killer's worst nightmare.
My introduction to Debbie Daughetee was in DOA II from Blood Bound Books. Her story, "Anointed", about a broken baptismal font that needs a plumber, is cleverly written. It has perspectives from three different characters that are broken up by section as interviews. I really liked this approach; I think it made the story that much more interesting because we got the information about the action in snippets rather than as one big narrative. Not an easy task, but Debbie pulled it off!

And she should have, because Debbie has a really incredible list of works. From her website: "I’ve written for television shows, published short stories in anthologies and magazines, have three audio dramas for the 60s classic Dark Shadows out at BigFinish.com, and have written nonfiction articles for various newsletters. But now I’m turning my attention to the world of comics." She has been a writer's assistant for script writing, she worked for her favorite TV show's creator, Dan Curtis, and she and her coworkers actually had the doll from Trilogy of Terror in their office! She also turned a TV pilot that didn't get off the ground into a really well-made comic book. I find it fascinating that she has touched on so many different types of fiction, and several different genres, such as horror and dark fantasy. She also offers consulting and teaching services, and with her experience, I imagine all of us could learn a lot from her! Her comic book is available here: Kymerapress.com. Check out her website here: dlynnsmith.com

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?

My first real memory of loving horror is running home from school to watch Dark Shadows.  I absolutely loved the show.  My favorite character was Angelique, played by Lara Parker.  Even though Angelique was the villain, I loved her for being a strong woman who didn’t play by the rules.  I remember wondering why she was the villain when Barnabas treated her so terribly.  Why wasn’t he the villain?

I wasn’t allowed to read horror as a child, which strikes me as funny now since there wasn’t any such censorship on my television watching.  I remember the movie The Screaming Skull scared the heck out of me.  I was hooked on Vincent Price movies.  But to me, the scariest movie of them all was Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte.  Mom and Dad took my sister and I to the drive-in to see that.  They tried to get us to sleep in the backseat, but I found a way to watch anyway.  I’ve had a severed hand phobia ever since.

I didn’t start writing horror until I was a much older adult.  I took a short story writing class with World Fantasy award winning horror writer Dennis Etchison to hone my skill.  He brought in a few guest speakers you might know:  Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, Bill Nolan, and George Clayton Johnson.  Dennis and Bill became my mentors.

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.?

I like traditional horror… the kind the Richard Matheson wrote.  Some of my favorites are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, Nancy Holder, Nancy Collins, Lisa Tuttle and paranormal writers like Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris… I tend to like authors that write fantasy as well as horror, and I love cross-genre books.  I’m not a big fan of splatter.  I really like David Schow’s short stories and though he’s considered the father of Splatterpunk, stories like "Pamela’s Get" and the award winning "Red", my two favorites, really don’t have any "splatter" in them.  They’re just good writing.  And that’s the key for me.  It doesn’t matter what kind of horror it is; if the writer is a good storyteller and a good writer, then I’m in for the ride.

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?

I think Women In Horror month is important because it sends a message to other women. "Hey, women horror writers really do get published.  Send your work out."

There is a bias against women writing horror.  I was at a Ray Bradbury lecture where he said women can’t write horror.  I’m not kidding.  He really said that.  And I adore Ray Bradbury.  He was a great writer (One of my favorite short stories of all time is "The Veldt") but, unfortunately, he had the mindset that many men have.  And it’s up to women to change that mindset.  We can’t do that if we don’t send out stories.  We can’t be afraid of rejection.

I run a comic publishing company that supports women writers and artists.  Our motto is, "We’re not asking for permission.”  I think that should be the motto of all women writers.  We’re not asking for permission to get our work published… we going to send you such good stories you’ll have no choice.  Is that naïve?  Not in this day and age.  It’s important that women know there are other women out there writing and publishing.  And it’s important that women support each other rather than see themselves in competition with other women.  I believe WiHM helps with both those things.

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 partly answered this question above.  As to the future of the horror genre regarding women… there’s a revolution going on right now with all the high-profile women coming out against sexual harassment.  This is breaking down all kinds of thinking that’s been ingrained in the social consciousness for hundreds of years.  Just look at Greek Mythology if you’d like a look at misogynistic ideas of the role of men and women, whether they be gods or not.  All the female goddesses are either abused or deal with domesticity.  But now that thinking is truly being challenged.  Women are becoming empowered.  We’ve stopped asking for permission.  So yes, I think WiHM can help with that future.  It’s a reminder to keep challenging the status quo and build upon what’s come before to change the thinking that’s ruled our lives for so long.

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!

I look to Nancy Holder.  We’re working on a project together… the adaption of women Victorian Horror short stories into comic book form.  I’ve never seen such a hard and dedicated worker.  I’m learning a lot just by watching her work.  Nancy has written in many different forms. She’s won the Bram Stoker award six times I believe, has written the media tie-ins for Crimson Peak and Wonder Woman, is famous for her Buffy, the Vampire Slayer books, and is a NY Times best selling author for her YA books with Debbie Vigule.  So yeah, I look to Nancy for guidance.  I get inspiration from Gilluermo Del Toro movies.  I see something like The Shape of Water and think, I want to write something that good.  Another real inspiration is the greatly lamented Ursula K. Le Guin.  I read Buffalo Girls Won’t You Come Out Tonight and thought, I didn’t know you could do that!  The story influenced my writing in a profound way.

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

I already talked about Angelique from Dark Shadows.  I love Carol in The Walking Dead.  I don’t know if I exactly identify with her, but I feel her pain more than any of the other women.  I love Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson.  She’s a strong woman who may be able to turn into a coyote, but who’s real superpower is the ability to make allies out of dangerous creatures on the basis of her integrity.  That is an ability to which I aspire.

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

None of the above.  I’m a kick-ass woman in a team of kick-ass women who are a serial killer’s worst nightmare!

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