A Point of Pride: Interview with Ron Gabriel
Ron Gabriel is a magazine industry veteran and author of supernatural fiction. He grew up in northern New England where he loved exploring old graveyards and places rumored to be haunted. He has a BA in Journalism from the University of Maine, and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is an active member of the Horror Writers Association.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved when reality surrenders to fantasy and creation. And writing is such a satisfying challenge, a multi-layered puzzle with no shortcuts. Filtered thoughts and hard decisions turn into sentences that somehow take shape, and need nurturing as the work progresses. The reward is the opportunity to make the reader feel something, whether it’s dread, sorrow, empathy, or joy.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
It was in my bones from an early age. I loved monsters and graveyards and ghost stories. I started reading The Hardy Boys and Gold Key’s Mystery Comics Digest. I graduated to Agatha Christie and found nirvana in early Stephen King, like ‘Salem’s Lot and The Shining and Pet Sematary. With elements of brutality or suffering, horror engages the imagination in an eerie way as an allegory of the struggle of life.
Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
Yes, I always include an LGBTQ character or circumstance, and treat it as ordinary. I want to portray it as something completely natural, not some badge to shine or shun. In The Banished, an important character is lesbian, and her scenes add insight to some challenges that are unique to her among her friends. In The Pawns, a witch’s possession over a mortal always induces arousal, regardless of gender. And characters are intrigued by it, not repulsed, despite their heterosexuality.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
It’s taught me to fight against snobbery sometimes directed at horror as a lowly genre. Meanwhile, the world at large is a very superstitious place. The popularity of religion is proof in point. So, if horror is trite, why the worldwide obsession with the afterlife? That’s taken deadly seriously. And we all live with our own fears and struggles. Horror for me parallels human pain and offers the chance to live vicariously through the characters for a while. There’s comradery there, a shared fight against darkness.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
I’m attracted to the term ‘elevated horror,’ the recognition that horror can be a serious genre not unlike literary fiction. There’s a place for readers who love slashers and gore, and a place for readers who see horror as a vehicle to examine life’s abject misery. Horror’s evolution may feature more diversity and genre-blending. And surely all writers will continue to face massive competition from a relentless stream of entertainment options beyond—and including—books.
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?
The horror genre certainly has not been synonymous with representation of the LGBTQ community. I’d like to see more characters naturally become part of the fabric of horror tales, not a token, not a checkmark, and not limited to a subgenre of queer horror.
Who are some of your favorite LGBTQ characters in horror?
A long-time favorite is Anne Rice’s Lestat. The vampire’s tortured soul and longing for meaning really resonates. His attraction to men is handled as unremarkable yet is captivating, unexpected, and sexy. More recently, Belinda Montoya in Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro is exciting in the equal vigor she brings to sexual encounters with a hunky male athlete, and a sensual, resurrected goddess of death.
Who are some LGBTQ horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
- Eric LaRocca https://ericlarocca.com/
- Greg Herren https://gregwritesblog.com/
- Azzurra Nox https://azzurranox.com/
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Try to be inspired—not intimidated—by all the talent on display in even one month’s new releases.
And to the LGBTQ writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
Refining your craft is a worthy, lifelong pursuit. Don’t compare yourself or your trajectory to other writers, but savor the moments when you catch yourself getting better.