The Women of Horror Literature - Patty Templeton - The Author's Own Words
|Paty Templeton. Please, don't ask her to your|
cabin in the woods shindig. She's going to die, so just don't.
Patty draws weirdo cartoons, writes dark fiction, and desperately wants a tiny rat dog to sit by her as she reads. Currently, she’s obsessed with dancing in her living room to AC/DC and Thai tea. Say hi to her over by www.instagram.com/pattytempleton or http://pattytempleton.tumblr.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?
When I was but a bright-eyed, wee slip of a thing, probably knee-high to a weasel, I stumbled into a murderpit of a basement and witnessed a satanic ritual that sent me scurrying to the dark side forever more – or, more probably, I was closer to eight and I saw Creature from the Black Lagoon at a pal’s house which instantly coffined my heart in care for creature features.
Horror movies, as a rule, were not allowed in my house growing up, but books, well, I could read any book that I wanted to and I did, including the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The first book may or may not have been shoved off the shelf at my feet by a haint of a librarian.
I wish I could say that my path to becoming a writer of dark fiction stemmed from me walking through a blood swamp with boning skeletons all about and living to tell the tale, but really, it comes down to writing what I want to read and which amounts to darkly humorous, gritty, fantastical fiction.
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.?
At a gas station during a hot summer twilight, quite in the middle of nowhere, an ancient blind woman in coveralls filled my tank and told me that my pen was filled with blood, palms filled with power, and to “Keep, ye, an open, dark heart.” Then she burst into a murder of crows after not giving me change on twenty bucks for a tank only filled with eleven in gas.
So a wide open, autumn heart I have kept.
I adore horror of all stripes. I most often find myself reading and watching psychological, gothic, supernatural, and comedic horror. I’ll give anything a shot though and don’t limit myself to writing in any one genre over another. I like to sling gore in whatever way is taking my attention. My first novel, There Is No Lovely End, was an 1880s ghost story, but I’ve dabbled in zombies, apocalypses, bizarro, the folkloric, fantasy, cyberpunk, and historical fiction. I’m as likely to write about a headless saint as I am a hexed carnival werewolf and pretty much hold one rule, and that’s to have hella fun on the page.
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 that people who identify as women write as fiercely, fragile, funny, deep, disturbing and as damn fantastic as anyone else on the gender spectrum.
I think that having Women in Horror as a month long celebration is a positive move toward recognizing that women have created work that has not been as significantly recognized in historical and contemporary context as male writers due to patriarchal power structures. For centuries, hell, for millennia, women writers have had to battle notions that they didn’t actually write their own work, that they were anomalous if they did, and that is if they were given the space, tools, and time to write in the first place. Joanna Russ wrote a fantastic book on the subject, How to Suppress Women’s Writing.
Themed celebratory months give an opportunity for conversation and a good chat around the kitchen table with a coffee in hand will always be a pleasure of mine.
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?
Ye, gods, I have no idea. Let’s go find that woman who burst into crows. Considering where the American socio-economic landscape is, I’d guess that we’re about to see a flood of fiction that hopes for a better future that surpasses a dark tomorrow by people across the gender spectrum, not just women. Horror has always held commentary on the beasts that are inside us, the fear of the other, the fear of loss of control and all of those are very real issues that are being exacerbated by the current political administration. I think that genre fiction attempts to be a progressive space, and I would hope that we see horror that explores issues of racism, classism, sexism, and income inequality in the near future.
I think WiHM can assist the future of horror insomuch as it helps give a platform to feasibly otherwise unseen writers with points of view that can expand cultural conversation.
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!
Absolutely Geezus H Jumping Yup, I have women in my inspiration book. Shirley Jackson was a goddess who left this earth way too early, but gave us We Have Always Lived in the Castle, “The Lottery,” and “The Witch.” Mary fucking Shelley kept her dead husband’s heart wrapped in one of his last poems in her desk drawer and penned Frankenstein, to boot. Hell and yeah, I want to live and write that hard. Ana Lily Amirpour is a GD marvelous director and master of contemporary, quiet horror. Poison Ivy, guitarist for the psychobilly horror trash band The Cramps, is a style, DIY, and attitude icon to me. Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira, is supposedly the stripper on the cover of Tom Waits’ album “Small Change,” which is amazing, but even more so is the camptastic, macabre empire she’s built. Gemma Files’ dark, weird westerns slay me. Octavia Butler, Lauren Beukes, Kathy Bates, Siouxsie Sioux, Patricia Morrison of Sisters of Mercy, the freakin’ Brontes - there’s a forever many women that I love.
Q6. Do you have a favorite female character in the horror genre, and what about this character do you identify with?
Oh heck. How does one expect to pick a best friend out of SO MANY. There’s a thousand right answers to this all dependent on mood. For tonight, while my tea is hot, the moon is shining through the window, and I have The Horrorpops on, I’ll go campy. I goddamn well love Winifred Sanderson of the nerdo, family-friendly horror film Hocus Pocus. She’s got spellbook smarts, catches on quick to street smarts, and is willing to destroy the world to save her sisters. She can raise the dead, charm a room, hex humanity, has a badass outfit, and sang Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. She may be a psychotic control freak, but I’d totally be her friend. We could talk about old time scary tunes and maybe she’d show me how to conjure money from thin air.
Q7. Just for fun: are you a token victim, the best friend who might dies, or a final girl?
Most likely, I’m the sober best friend who dies via an axe to the brain right as she gets to the living room to warn everyone that there’s a murderer in the house.
Then I’d bitterly ghost about pissed off that I was first to die when I didn’t want to go to the damn party in the first place. I wanted to stay home and read, but nooooooo, I got guilted into a cabin in the woods shindig.