A Point of Pride: Interview with Craig Laurance Gidney
Craig Laurance Gidney writes both contemporary and genre fiction. He is the author of the collections Sea, Swallow Me & Other Stories (Lethe Press, 2008), Skin Deep Magic (Rebel Satori Press, 2014), Bereft (Tiny Satchel Press, 2013) and A Spectral Hue (Word Horde, 2019). He is a 3-time finalist for the Lamdba Literary Award and a finalist for the Carl Brandon Parallax Award. His website is craiglaurancegidney.com. Instagram and Twitter: ethereallad.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a child. I remember looking at all of the Newberry Award books (particularly the SF/F winners like A Wrinkle in Time) and wanting to be an author. When I learned about Black authors, like Delany and Butler, I realized that an author who looked like me could have viable careers.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I get a real endorphin rush from reading fiction where danger is present. Thrills and chills, and all of that. I’m drawn to work about survivor’s experiences, and fiction that pulls no punches about how terrible some things can be.
Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
For the most part, I don’t make a conscious effort. I just find myself writing about people and experiences that I have had, and as a result, many if not most of my characters are queer.
That being said, I have had to be extra careful in my portrayals of trans and nonbinary people, since that’s outside my own identity.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
Horror fiction in particular has taught me the importance of empathy. People who lack empathy are capable of great harm. A lot of my characters carry trauma that comes from their systematic dehumanization. The “horror” in my work comes from the same place—being from a marginalized background carries with it an existential horror of its own. You have to survive layers of gaslighting and outright cruelty which often puts on a ‘friendly face,’ i.e., ‘hate the sin but love the sinner.’
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
I love how Horror can encompass all sorts of tropes. SF and non-supernatural/paranormal work falls under the big umbrella of Horror fiction. There’s even horror fiction that flirts with Philosophic parables and I’ve read non-fiction work that could easily fit underneath the horror label.
I would love to see more mash ups—the Horror bildungsroman, or a Horror romance that goes beyond the whole ‘partner is a part-time monster’. I’d love to see “mundane” horror/dark fiction with and without supernatural influences.
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 appreciate that many cis-het authors are including LGBTQA+ people in their casts, but they tend to be on the “Will and Grace” level — i.e., there for exotic bits of color. What I would like to see is more #ownvoices writers that write for a queer sensibility. I’d love to see the vibrant subculture, warts and all, representation on the page. From gay parents to kinky rubber fetishists, from twinks to bears, from ballroom queens to gays with problematic POVs.
Who are some of your favorite LGBTQ characters in horror?
I love the characters in Poppy Z Brite’s work—they (now Billy Martin) really understands gay subculture and the horror doesn’t arise from their character’s queerness.
Who are some LGBTQ horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
The trans author Gabriel Squallia’s work is perhaps more New Weird than horror, but their book Viscera is a masterwork of grotesque dark fantasy fiction that’s full of queer sensibility and some of the most unique body horror descriptions I’ve come across. You need a strong stomach! Sam J Miller’s The Blade Between is a contemporary horror novel about gentrification full of whale demons(!), ghosts and anti-capitalist sentiments in equal measure.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Develop your voice. That uniqueness will eventually find an editor or two (or more) who will vibe with it.
And to the LGBTQ writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
Be persistent! It’s taken me 20+ years to get some measure of success. I had to wait to see the wider acceptance of queer and Black voices. Some readers are very eager to see diversity on the page.