Horror Writers Association

Women in Horror: Interview with Brianna Malotke

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Brianna Malotke is a freelance writer and member of the Horror Writers Association. Some of her most recent work can be found online at The Crypt, Witch House Amateur Magazine, and Sirens Call Publications. She has poetry in The Spectre Review and The Nottingham Horror Collective. She has work in the anthologies BeneathCosmosThe DeepBeautiful Tragedies 2, and The Dire Circle. In April 2022 her poetry was included in the Women in Horror Poetry Showcase, Under Her Skin, published by Black Spot Books. In 2023 she will be a “Writer in Residence” at the Chateau d’Orquevaux in France.

What inspired you to start writing?

I had a wild childhood imagination and that sort of spiraled into writing down any and all dreams and thoughts I had on my mind. Whether it was stories or little tidbits that could then be turned into poetry, I wrote it all down. During high school, I had a couple of very encouraging English and Language teachers who definitely helped nurture my love of writing and more specifically, my love of poetry. They really helped me see that passions can be pursued at any level in life. In the past couple of years, I finally took the step to start getting some of my horror work published.

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

I grew up reading the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” swapping ghost stories at summer camps, and watching slasher films just a tad too young in age. I’ve always enjoyed horror, and I feel as if it has endless stories to tell. There are so many different fears and situations to work with in storytelling. From serial killers and supernatural beings to paranormal tales and common fears like spiders, you have so much room for new stories to weave.

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

I wouldn’t say it’s conscious, but as a female, I do tend to write my stories and killers from a female’s point of view. I would say at the moment that about 90% of my horror writing involves a female or nonbinary main character. As far as themes go, most of my poetry involves painful experiences and situations, and in those times of need, they find their strength and/or surpassing others’ expectations.

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

One thing that writing horror has taught me is that there are a lot of unsuspected fears that you share with others that are a lot more common than you’d expect.

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

I’m fairly new to the horror genre as a writer, but as a reader, I feel that it has become a lot more inclusive. I am loving the wide variety of leads in stories, especially when it comes to more LGBTQ+ characters that are well written and not just placed in the background. I do think that the horror genre will continue to evolve, especially as more and more fresh writers emerge.

How do you feel women have been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?

From the books I’ve read, the women are all strong and well-written characters. I would love to continue to see the variety in characters’ backgrounds

Who are some of your favorite female characters in horror?

My all-time favorite female character has to be Merricat Blackwood from Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”

Then from some of my favorite short stories – I love Daisy in the “Rings on Her Fingers,” from “More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and Jenny in the story “The Green Ribbon.”

Who are some women who write horror you recommend our audience check out?

I’ve been trying to dive into more work by other women in horror. I would recommend checking out S.P. Miskowski, Silvia-Moreno Garcia, Xtina Marie, and Nadia Bulkin. Also, Gillian Church runs a really fun and interesting weekly horror prompt Instagram account – “horrorprompts.”

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

Since participating in the HWA Mentor Program, my one piece of advice would be to not be afraid to switch things up and mix up your original plot. You can pick it apart and rearrange your story whenever you want and just play out all the different options that come to mind.

And to the women who write horror out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to others in the community! It doesn’t matter what stage in your writing career you’re in, everyone is friendly and supportive.

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