The Women of Horror Literature - Rachel Nussbaum - The Author's Own Words

Rachel Nussbaum is the best friend who might die,
so let's try to save her, okay?

Rachel Nussbaum has appeared in a variety of anthologies among different genres. Her story "The Deer Chaser" in Blood Bound Books' Night Terrors III is a monster story with a family twist. It has heart and substance, making it a stand-out addition to the anthology.

Rachel is a writer and artist living on the Big Island of Hawaii. She loves experimenting with many genres, but dark fiction will always be her favorite. One day, Rachel hopes to write and illustrate her own graphic novels and story collections. Knowing Rachel, they'll probably be weird. Check out her list of works on Goodreads.

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’m a child of the 90’s and I grew up with some great junior horror—Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark both captivated and scared the crap out of me. My parents were also big fans of classic cinema and got me into old black and white monster movies at a very young age. I’d always loved the idea of telling stories of my own, and when I finally started writing as a teen I already had a vast well of horror to draw inspiration from.

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.?

Supernatural and science fiction are my favorites, no question. I love monsters, mutants, cyborgs, body horror—anything not quite human has always really fascinated me. I like to play around with lots of subgenres and I try not to limit myself, but I always look forward to the stories where I get to write creepy creatures and abominations.

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 absolutely think WiHM is necessary and helpful. It’s an uncomfortable, shameful fact that women are treated differently in the literary profession, as they are in all professions. People may argue that there shouldn’t be a spotlight shown on someone just because of their gender, that talent should speak for itself—but so many women don’t get the chance to show off their talent because readers and publishers alike pass on their work when they see their name. WiHM is a great way to discover amazing writers and stories you may not have come across otherwise.

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’re in the midst of a horror renaissance. In the past five years alone there have been some truly original and intelligent horror stories from new voices all across the entertainment landscape. Books, movies, shows, video games…I see incredible additions to the genre everywhere I look. Women have most certainly contributed to this new wave—The Babadook, written and directed by Jennifer Kent, is one of my favorite horror films right now. I think this momentum is going to keep on building, and it’s really exciting to see.

I think WiHM could definitely help with that future. Not only are we getting exposed to writers we may not have known of before, but people with different experiences and perspectives—especially people in marginalized groups—can offer very unique, provocative ideas.

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 really love Sapphire Sandalo from the Youtube channel Snarled. She has a series called Something Scary where she narrates and animates a new scary story every week. The episodes range from creepypastas to urban legends, so there’s a lot of variety and she puts a ton of effort into each one. My favorite so far is "Pale Luna", a creepypasta about a text-based adventure game—Sapphire’s clever editing made that one especially creepy.

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

This is probably an obscure one, but she’s my tried and true favorite: Susan Ashworth from the independent horror game The Cat Lady. In it you play as Susan: a morbidly depressed middle-aged cat lady. She commits suicide in the first few moments of the game, but gets brought back to life with instructions to dispatch five sick, murderous people. Oh, and as long as they live, she can’t die.

I wouldn’t say I identify with Susan, but I understand her and really admire her character development. She’s not your typical horror heroine—she’s not young, not beautiful, and she’s not a pleasant person. It’s really refreshing to see a story told through the eyes of someone so different from your usual leading lady, and her flaws make her feel all the more real. As the game went on, I found myself really charmed by her—stubbornness and bad attitude in all.

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

Best friend who might die. I make way too many jokes and I trip on nothing way too much to make it to the end in one piece.