Women in Horror Month – Interview with Angel Leigh McCoy
February is Women in Horror Month! The HWA is celebrating by posting interviews with award-winning authors. Following is an interview with Angel Leigh McCoy who won the Silver Hammer award in 2010 for volunteer work.
Tell us a little about your experience with the Horror Writers Association and how it has influenced your own writing.
ALM: I could never express all the ways the HWA has influenced me as a writer. I’m sure there are even ways I’m unaware of. Here’s just a few that come to mind, in no particular order:
- I have found mentors who have taught me both directly and by example how to be a better professional writer—not just how to write better, but also how to behave as a professional, how to market my work, and how to find markets.
- I’ve found a group of comrades who understand what it’s like to be a writer and specifically a Horror writer, and that sense of community is invaluable. The feeling of belonging and the encouragement have bolstered me throughout my career.
- I have met collaborators through the HWA, with whom I’ve worked on some of the most rewarding projects of my career.
- I’ve discovered publishing outlets I wouldn’t have otherwise and have published stories as a result.
Talk about winning the Silver Hammer Award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?
ALM: I was quite surprised. You never know you’ve been nominated for a service award until it’s announced, and so I had no early warning. My boss at the time, and predecessor as Webmaster, was Mark Worthen. He was a patient and generous leader who took the time to teach me all I needed to know to step into his shoes when he passed away. He nominated me, and the recognition cemented my loyalty to the job.
HWA members and leaders, (Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton, and many others) have always treated me with respect and professionalism. They’re an easy lot to serve. I love that I can give back to this organization in this way, because I’ve taken so much learning, assistance, and friendship from it.
Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?
ALM: I think women have to work harder to earn respect, yes. This is actually a very complex issue. One problem is the age-old boys’ club issue. In any society, the men tend to hang out with the men and women hang out with other women. (Generalizing like a fiend here, but only to make my point.) What often happens, in my experience, is that men tell other men about opportunities and don’t think to tell women because they don’t hang out with them as much. It’s not that they’re consciously shutting women out. It’s just a culture thing. And it does seem to be slowly changing.
The HWA has taken action to break down the divide between men and women by hosting conventions where everyone hangs out together, by encouraging discussion about gender bias, and by providing a location to post calls for submissions on our private forums and in our member newsletter so that everyone can see them and submit. By opening communication across the entire membership, the divide between men and women is closing.
Furthermore, for a long time, there was a stigma about whether a woman could write good Horror. The wonderful talent and warped imaginations of many female Horror writers have proven this is nonsense. There are good, mediocre, and student writers in both genders.
I’m seeing more and more anthologies today that have a nice mix of male and female writers. I take that as a good sign.
What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?
- Join the HWA. Start making friends now. They will sustain, inform, and support you throughout your career.
- Volunteer with the HWA if you have the time. It’s the best way to meet people.
- Attend StokerCon. It will open doors for you.
- Write as much and as often as you can.
- Submit what you write. You will get rejections and lots of them. Do not despair. Just keep writing and submitting. Writing and submitting. That’s how you get better.
What new works from you can we look forward to in the future?
ALM: My most recent project was an anthology that I edited called ANOTHER DIMENSION. It is a tribute anthology to Rod Serling and the legacy of shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery.” The stories are a mix of Horror, Dark Fantasy, and Science Fiction from an array of talented writers. It just came out and I’m quite proud of how it turned out. It’s now available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. (https://www.amazon.com/Another-Dimension-Angel-Leigh-McCoy/dp/0983182485/)
In addition to that, I’m part of an indie team of game designers and artists called Games Omniverse (http://www.gamesomniverse.com). I have the joy and honor of being the primary story architect and writer. I’ve been spending a great deal of my time world-building and writing for our long-term puzzle-adventure game project tentatively called “Danika Dire.” It’s an interactive tale of Horror about a young school teacher who abruptly discovers her family’s curse and has her whole world turned upside down as a result.