Females of Fright: Meghan Arcuri
I joined the HWA in 2013.
2) How did you serve the HWA and for how long?
I was the Social Media Coordinator and Sponsorship Coordinator for both StokerCon 2018 (Providence) and StokerCon 2019 (Grand Rapids). I am currently serving as the Vice President, where I do a number of things, including running the HWA Twitter account and coordinating Quick Bites.
3) Who were/are your biggest influences?
My first influence on my writing was my mother. She would proofread all my papers in high school, sharing her vast grammar wisdom with me. (I can still hear her saying, “Don’t use ‘it was’ or ‘there were’!”)
Recently, my writing has been influenced by Tom Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, and Doug Winter. I’ve done the Borderlands BootCamp a number of times and have learned a metric ton about writing fiction from them.
4) Was there ever a time you felt being a woman affected your career (for better or for worse)?
I am one of the lucky ones: I don’t feel my gender has impacted my writing career. I am aware, however, that this still goes on, and I hope one day we can move past it.
5) Do you feel women’s role in the horror genre could be improved? If so, how?
Yes! I feel women’s role in the horror genre—and society, at large—could be improved. My answer would be to get more women in decision-making positions. In our industry, this means editing, publishing, and owning small presses. In other industries, it means, directing, owning small businesses, and becoming presidents of corporations.
This issue was driven home to me while I was watching Wonder Woman (the recent movie). Just before the No Man’s Land scene: Wonder Woman was still cloaked in her coat, walking through the trenches, contemplating her options. Right then, she realized she needed to reveal herself and take charge. She shed the coat and began her ascent up the ladder. Now … the second she set her foot on that ladder—camera aimed at her boot—I distinctly remember taking a breath and thinking, “Okay … here comes the ass shot.”
I love comic book movies and have watched tons of them. What I didn’t realize was that my expectations had been subconsciously trained to expect female superheroes/villains to be costumed and shot in a hyper-sexualized way (I mean, the camera must have been mounted on the back of Catwoman’s bike in The Dark Knight Rises, amirite??).
But that’s not what happened in Wonder Woman. The camera lingered nowhere: not on her ass, nor breasts, nor thighs. It panned over Gal Gadot to show her costume, to show her power. And then she went on to kick some ass in No Man’s Land.
In that moment, I remembered: a woman directed Wonder Woman. I don’t know if Patty Jenkins made that decision consciously or not. Either way, I’m willing to bet Ms. Jenkins’s gender played a role in it. She knew that scene needed to convey power, not sex; it needed to convey strength and confidence, not T & A. She nailed it. And I got to see this superhero how I wanted and, frankly, needed to see her.
When both men and women share positions of power, decisions are more well-rounded; they’re made with a fuller view.
Look at the HWA: for the past four presidents, two have been men and two have been women. The Board is also pretty evenly split. And in the past nine years or so, our membership has increased by almost 200%. Literally.
Diversity (of all kinds) offers new perspectives. And those perspectives can yield positive results.
Hopefully, we’ll see more and more women/diversity in positions of power: directors, CEOs, editors, publishers, owners of small presses, so everyone in our genre—our society—can see the books, the art, and the heroes they need.
Meghan Arcuri writes fiction. Her short stories can be found in various anthologies, including Chiral Mad (Written Backwards), Chiral Mad 3, and Madhouse (both from Dark Regions Press). She also has a story in the forthcoming Borderlands 7 (Borderlands Press). She is currently serving as Vice President of the Horror Writers Association. She lives with her family in New York’s Hudson Valley. Please visit her at meghanarcuri.com, facebook.com/meg.arcuri, or on Twitter (@MeghanArcuri).