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Women in Horror: Interview with Cindy O’Quinn


Cindy O’Quinn is a four-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated writer. Author of “Lydia”, from the Shirley Jackson Award-winning anthology: The Twisted Book of Shadows,  “The Thing I Found Along a Dirt Patch Road”, “A Gathering on the Mountain”, and “One and Done”.

She is an Appalachian writer from the mountains of West Virginia. Steeped in folklore at an early age. Cindy now lives in the woods of northern Maine, on the old Tessier Homestead, which makes the ideal backdrop for writing her dark stories and poetry.

Her work has been published or forthcoming in The Bad Book, HWA Poetry Showcase Vol V, Northern Frights, Eerie Christmas Anthology, Under Her Skin, Were Tales: A Shapeshifter Anthology, Space & Time Magazine, Chiral Mad 5, and others.

Follow Cindy for updates: Facebook @CindyOQuinnWriter, Twitter @COQuinnWrites, and Instagram cindy.oquinn.

What inspired you to start writing?

My love of stories began by listening to my elders talk about growing up in the mountains of West Virginia. Once I started reading and choosing the books I enjoyed, it felt natural to write my own stories.

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

I had the coolest mom ever! She introduced horror to me at a young age. Maybe too young, but the results turned out well. My love of horror became a permanent part of who I am. Some of my fondest memories are of the two of us going to the local drive-in and watching horror flicks in the ’70s & early ’80s.

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, female characters are a must for me. They need to have the strength or regain it. I want my female characters to be intelligent, regardless of their circumstances.

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

When I was young, horror was all about the thrill of the scare. At age 55, I find myself often writing about the truly horrifying things in life that can really happen. And for whatever reason, horror calms me.

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

In the past, horror often focused on the boogeymen, the make-believe monsters we feared as children. And they are still a blast. In recent years, horror has delved deeper into the real monsters within humanity.

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?

There’s always been a lack of recognition of women in the male-dominated world of writing horror. Times are a-changin’, and it’s exciting to see the increased numbers of female writers who are celebrated for their excellent work. I hope that continues.

Who are some of your favorite female characters in horror?

Dolores Claiborne, Laurie Strode, Becky Hooper, Clarice Starling, Annie Wilkes, Vanessa Ives, & Cordelia Goode.

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

Linda D. Addison, Stephanie Ellis, Priya Sharma, L. Marie Wood, Cina Pelayo, Anna Taborska, Hailey Piper, Lee Murray, Gene Flynn, Angela Yuriko Smith, Christina Sng, Sheree R. Thomas, Carol Gyzander, Kyla Ward, Brook Warra, and you, Lindy Ryan.

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

Continue reading, keep writing, and set no limits on what you can achieve.

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

Read a lot, and not just horror, read everything in order to expand your craft.

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