Horror Writers Association

Transgender Awareness Week: Catching Up with Hailey Piper



Catching Up With Allison Church

Catching Up with Hailey Piper

Hailey Piper is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Queen of Teeth, The Worm and His Kings, No Gods for Drowning, Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy, and other books of dark fiction. She is an active member of the HWA, with over ninety short stories appearing in Pseudopod, Vastarien, Cosmic Horror Monthly, and other publications. She lives with her wife in Maryland, where their mad science experiments are secret. Find Hailey at www.haileypiper.com or on Twitter via @HaileyPiperSays.

What is the latest in your world as a writer? Do you have any new writing news, upcoming projects, or other exciting professional news you’d like to share with our audiences at the HWA?

It’s been a wild busy year of 2022! I went to my first StokerCon and met so many wonderful people; it was a beautiful weekend of good horror company. I also had two book releases, space horror Your Mind Is a Terrible Thing from Off Limits Press and noir/horror/dark fantasy No Gods for Drowning from Polis Books, with more to come, and I’m eager to attend StokerCon in Pittsburgh in 2023!

Are there any other transgender horror/speculative fiction authors, or transgender authors in general for that matter, that you’d like to recommend to our readers?

Restraining myself to three, Cassandra Khaw, Joe Koch, and Eve Harms, all immensely talented and only a few of the wonderful trans horror authors everyone should be reading.

Transgender Awareness Week is an opportunity for the transgender community and its allies to share our stories and let the world know who we are. In that spirit, is there anything you’d like to share with our readers? 

I think a crucial part of Transgender Awareness Week is to be aware not only of trans existence as a concept, but as a reality. That we are existing in the same world, trying to work, eat, love, and get on with our lives. Awareness should hopefully lead to understanding and acceptance, so despite the name on the week’s label, I hope those are the goals.

Check Out Hailey’s Interview from Pride Month

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always told stories, and part of me wanted to write them down and share them. Bouts of depression aside, once I got started, it was hard to stop. Michael Crichton and Stephen King showed me writing was possible when I was still a child.

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

Monsters have always been my jam to start, but that’s only part of horror. For a long while, I thought I might write fantasy, but everything skewed toward darker fiction. In time, I realized horror gives me healing, and I crave horror’s honesty.

Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

Not so much character-wise. Usually they reveal who they are to me, and my worldview is so queer-oriented that they are who they are. My conscious decision is how much to reveal to the reader. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.

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

Writing horror has connected me with others in a wonderful community. Internally, I’ve learned I have a lot more about myself to understand than I once realized. We are deep creatures, but we have to be willing to dive.

How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?

I’ve noticed trends in what’s popular (monsters, slashers, torture, ghosts), but I think under the surface there have always been works of a pure threat, others more subversive, others questioning. I feel we’re seeing more prevalence for more kinds of stories than before. I hope that will continue. More voices, more stories.

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 feel like I grew up in an environment so drenched in homophobia and transphobia that it still feels like the foundation we’re fighting against, even though queer horror creators have existed so far back, even though we’ve made great progress of late. My hope is we can keep building on that progress, where queer creators no longer have to walk on eggshells over whether we’re being too subtle, too overt, too anything in our art’s queerness. We have a long way to go.

Who are some of your favorite LGBTQ characters in horror?

I love Ore from White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi. She’s brilliant and observant in ways few horror characters ever manage. I also love Gyre from The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling, her directness and determination. And for movies, I like Sam from Satanic Panic and Anya from Annihilation. Oh, do the Cenobites count? I feel like they do.

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

Everyone knows Clive Barker, Caitlin Kiernan, and Carmen Maria Machado, so I recommend giving a chance to TC Parker, Eric LaRocca, Joanna Koch, Jessica Guess, A.C. Wise, Larissa Glasser, Zin Rocklyn, Laura Mauro, etc. The list could really be endless.

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

Jot every idea down, no matter how ridiculous, because you never know.

And to the LGBTQ writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?

Don’t say no to yourself. There will already be people telling you “no, don’t make it political,” as if all art isn’t inherently political, or “no, don’t shove queer stuff in my face,” as if that’s your problem. Don’t join the “no” chorus. You have all this energy to do what you want in your art; let yourself do it.

You Can Also Check Out Hailey’s Women in Horror Month Interview Here

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