Horror Writers Association

A Point of Pride: Interview with Katrina Monroe

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Katrina Monroe is the author of They Drown Our Daughters. She lives in Minneapolis with her wife, kids, and a ghost named Eddie who haunts their bedroom closets.

Photo Credit to Bert Jones Photography

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always written—short stories when I was a kid and angsty poems when I was a teenager—but it wasn’t until I became a young mom that I decided to pursue it as something more than just an outlet for big feelings. I was in an unhealthy relationship and needed to prove to myself that I was intelligent and capable—things my then partner didn’t believe.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

I sort of fell into it by accident. My stories have always included eerie elements and aspects of the supernatural, but I could never figure out how to categorize them. Dark fantasy? Supernatural thriller? Nothing really seemed to fit. I hadn’t even considered horror because, to me, horror was slasher movies. Jump scares. I didn’t realize it could be more until an editor pointed out how neatly my style fit into the genre. A whole new world opened up and I haven’t looked back since.

Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
Absolutely. While coming-out stories and stories of queer trauma are vital, sometimes it feels like that’s all mainstream publishers and producers want to show the world. It’s important to me that my characters are queer, but that it isn’t all they are. Their sexuality isn’t central to the plot, or sometimes even acknowledged except in passing. In my debut, They Drown Our Daughters, the main character is a lesbian who is on the verge of divorce, but neither of those things is central to the conflict. They are just pieces of who she is as a person, which is how I feel about myself. I am a lesbian, but that’s not all I am. I think normalizing queer lives and queer culture in our entertainment contributes a lot to tamping down homophobia.

What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?

That fear evolves. The things that terrified me a year ago, ten years ago, aren’t the things that terrify me now, nor are they the things that terrify the people around me. Fear is intimate, cousins to love or lust, and easily underestimated, especially in yourself.

How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
As the True Crime phenomenon has blossomed among women, so too has horror. It has been incredible to watch women take back the power of their own fears, writing and reading stories about the things that frighten them most, only to use them to empower themselves. Feminist horror is slowly becoming a genre of its own, and I’m excited to see where future writers take it.

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?

In the past, I’ve been disappointed to see them either not represented at all, or as having their sexuality vilified. This is especially true of trans characters. Buffalo Bill comes to mind. Writers like Gretchen Felker-Martin represent what (I hope) will be the future of the genre. Manhunt burst through the doors, taking no prisoners and giving no apologies. The same way women have begun to take back their stories, I hope queer writers do the same.

Who are some of your favorite LGBTQ characters in horror?

I had to really think about this one! I can think of dozens of queer characters I love in other genres, but horror is difficult (a trend I hope will change!)

Carmilla, the title character in the novel by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Andy Rodriguez in MEDDLING KIDS by Edgar Cantero
Piper in THE NIGHT SISTER by Jennifer McMahon
Tory in INTO THE DROWNING DEEP by Mira Grant

Who are some LGBTQ horror authors you recommend our audience check out?

Gretchen Felker-Martin
Jennifer McMahon
Carmen Maria Machado
Mira Grant
Ally Wilkes
Kirsty Logan

What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?

Keep working to expand the genre. I love when authors weave different tropes or aspects from other genres throughout their stories. When we’re too precious about what horror is, we make it less accessible.

And to the LGBTQ writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
I would give them the same advice as above. Don’t try to pigeonhole your work into what you think other people want horror to be. Everyone has their preferences—possession vs. hauntings; body horror vs. psychological—but they’re all valid and all awesome in their own ways. Mix and match. Experiment. Play. And don’t be afraid to be yourself, or to feature characters like you in your stories. We need them.

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