Women in Horror: Interview with Christina Sng
Christina Sng is the two-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Collection of Dreamscapes (2020) and A Collection of Nightmares (2017).
Her poetry, fiction, essays, and art have appeared in numerous venues worldwide, including Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Interstellar Flight Magazine, Penumbric, Southwest Review, and The Washington Post.
Christina’s most recent title, Tortured Willows: Bent. Bowed. Unbroken (2021), is the Bram Stoker nominated collaborative poetry collection with Lee Murray, Angela Yuriko Smith, and Geneve Flynn.
Visit her at christinasng.com and connect @christinasng.
What inspired you to start writing?
It feels like I’ve always been writing. I always had a pen and paper on me and remember myself at age 5 or 6 writing poems and stories in notebooks. As a teen, I wrote horror novellas in class and passed them around. As an adult, I write to document my life, events I observe around me, and give a voice to those who have none.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I was born into that era—the 80s. Horror was everywhere back then, in books, on TV. My older brother was a big fan and I spent much of my childhood watching B-grade horror movies on TV.
Growing up, there was a lot of fear.
Of headhunters chopping off children’s heads as documented in my TORTURED WILLOWS poem “Headhunters”, of red-eyed ghosts behind doors, of doing badly in school, of getting bullied.
Horror helped me challenge those fears by showing me how much worse it could get.
Do you make a conscious effort to include female characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
Yes, I do. It’s natural for me to include female characters in my writing because our voices have been quelled for so long. And very often, it is my voice or the voice of a woman I know.
When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, men were always the heroes in movies and TV shows. Women were usually just “ornamental vases”, as we call it here.
But then TV shows like Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman, and Isis gave me a first glimpse of how women can also be powerful and save the world.
Attitudes have shifted more over the decades, yet Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was the first character in the movies to make me feel truly empowered.
Every other woman I watched as an adult got quashed for being strong, Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones being the most painful example.
In my writing, I portray women as strong and brave with powerful voices, as human beings with volition, feelings, and rights. I write them surviving whatever horrors they endure. Sometimes they save the world, too.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
That there are worse things than death. That writing horror can be cathartic in a world where monsters do exist.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
Horror has become very much more diverse, and we are all the better for it because now, we have so many more stories to read.
Reading the writing of diverse writers offers us a glimpse into other cultures and histories. They made me realize how similar yet different we are.
I think diversity will bring us together as a community and our shared stories will become our stories, Earth’s stories.
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?
Women are better represented now with more women writers writing about us. A greater authenticity of women’s perspectives.
I hope this will mean that one day, we will be universally seen as humans with agency, feelings, and rights, not merely as objects and property.
Who are some of your favorite female characters in horror?
Ellen Ripley, who survived on sheer courage and grit. She had no military training yet evaded and killed Xenomorphs, saving the day, the cat, and the child. There is no other.
Who are some women who write horror you recommend our audience check out?
I have been a longtime fan and admirer of Marge Simon and Linda Addison. In recent years, I’ve loved the work of Cindy O’Quinn, Lee Murray, Elizabeth Massie, and the late Lisa Mannetti.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Write what you feel. When your heart is in it, your writing will flow.
And to the women who write horror out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
Read a lot of horror. Watch a lot of horror. Be kind in the community. Write your story.