A Point of Pride: Interview with Avra Margariti
I’m Avra Margariti, a Rhysling and Pushcart-nominated author from Greece. My poetry has appeared in Vastarien, Asimov’s, and is forthcoming from F&SF. My dark fiction appears in places such as The Arcanist and Daily Science Fiction. “The Saint of Witches”, my debut collection of horror poetry, has been published by Weasel Press.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved stories! Growing up in Greece, I listened to a lot of folktales and ballads preserved through oral tradition. Like most fairytales, these folk ballads included murder, monsters, and mayhem which I always found very appealing in storytelling. The first stories I ever wrote never appeared on paper. I either created them in my head, similar to a memory palace where concepts are explored and preserved, or I spoke those stories aloud, following my country’s folkloric tradition.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I’m extremely fascinated by the existence of monsters in horror. The way they are villains or victims–sometimes both! How, traditionally, they have been used to represent the queer, the Other. I enjoy reclaiming monsters and maligned archetypes to tell my own stories, and more often than not I end up relating to monstrosity in horror, even if that wasn’t the creator’s original intention.
Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
I wouldn’t call it a conscious effort since including queer themes and characters in my stories is something that comes naturally when my ideas are formed. However, what I have been trying to do lately, is write more messy, unapologetic, and even “problematic” queer characters, as I believe there should be more unflinching, difficult art published by LGBTQ+ creators.
I recently published a collection of horror poetry (“The Saint of Witches”, Weasel Press). For me, the collection as a whole is inherently queer, even when some of the poems are about non-human entities, or written from the perspective of unnamed, ungendered characters.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
It may sound unorthodox, but I believe horror can teach compassion through understanding a character’s motivation, what scares them, what triggers their survival instinct.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
I’ve seen my favorite indie horror writers publish work that is queer, weird, and transgressive even when publishing professionals claimed the genre wasn’t ready to embrace that type of work. It is my belief that no landscape will ever be ready for change unless that change happens anyway.
How do you feel the LGBTQ community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?
I want the LGBTQ+ community to stop cannibalizing its own. Difficult work has a right to exist and it’s not “bad representation”, especially since a lot of us draw inspiration from our own experiences and fears as queer people living in an anti-queer society. I also want audiences–queer and allies–to learn to live with the confusion some works or identities may cause. In my opinion, both clarity and confusion should be able to coexist in fiction.
There’s room in horror for all sorts of expressions and experiences.
Who are some of your favorite LGBTQ characters in horror?
I really like Eli from Let the Right One In, and Lisa Nova from Brand New Cherry Flavor!
Who are some LGBTQ horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
Hailey Piper, Joe Koch, Suzan Palumbo, M. Lopes da Silva, Paula D. Ashe.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Don’t be afraid to go full weird and inscrutable with your art.
And to the LGBTQ writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
There is a community waiting for you, ready to devour your beautiful words.