Horror Writers Association Blog

Women in Horror Month – Interview with Sarah Langan

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February is Women in Horror Month! The HWA is celebrating by posting interviews with award-winning authors. Following is an interview with Sarah Langan, who has won the Bram Stoker Award twice for her novels and once for short fiction.

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

SL: The Keeper, The Missing, and a short story called “The Lost” have all received Bram Stoker awards, for which I’m grateful. The Keeper was a book-of-the-month-club main selection in the US and UK. As it happens, it was the lowest rated BOMC in the US ever listed, because nobody likes a surprise realistic rape on page 200, when they’re used to Eat, Pray, Love. I even got some death threats. It was funny in hindsight.

Talk about winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

SL: I think it got my work more attention in the horror community, which was pretty neat.

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

SL: Yes. We face more difficulty in every field. I’m always reluctant to fill out these interviews during February because it’s also Black History month, and there’s something discomfiting about taking the light from people pulled from cars and shot by cops on a disturbingly regular basis. But time has taught me that women aren’t fairing all that well, either, and it’s exactly my reluctance that defines the insidiousness of problem. I mean, crash test dummies are only tested for the average man, video game avatars are based on male-movements, and when we ladies get sick, the medical books only devise treatments based on trials on men, from symptoms of illness measured only in men. So, we’re not only making less money, but we’re dying more often, too, and unnecessarily.

That’s such a rant, and I know it. But I’m finally feeling like women in horror month makes sense to me and the above is why. Before, I’d always felt like I was being thrown a bone I didn’t need. But (1) what’s wrong with a bone? (2) why says I don’t need it (3) it’ not about me, at all. It’s about women in horror.

What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?

SL: Go. Don’t stop. Don’t let anyone stop you. You don’t have to be the best or smartest or most educated. You have to be the person who doesn’t stop.

What new works from you can we look forward to in the future?

SL: I just handed in what I hope is the final version of my fourth novel The Clinic: Invisible Monsters, to my agent. I’m six weeks away from giving her my fifth novel, which won’t need much work. It’s called Empty Houses. So, those two, plus there’s some film news I hope to announce soon.

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