Women in Horror: Interview with L. Marie Wood
L Marie Wood is an award-winning dark fiction author, screenwriter, and poet with novels in the psychological horror, mystery, and dark romance genres. She won the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper. She is a recipient of the MICO Award and has won Best Horror, Best Action, Best Afrofuturism/Horror/Sci-Fi, and Best Short Screenplay awards in national and international film festivals. Wood, a Brand New Weird nominated author, has penned short fiction published in groundbreaking works, including the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology, Sycorax’s Daughters, and Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire. She is also part of the 2022 Bookfest Book Award-winning poetry anthology, Under Her Skin. Wood is also the founder of the Speculative Fiction Academy, an English and Creative Writing professor, and a horror scholar. Learn more about L. Marie Wood at www.lmariewood.com.
What inspired you to write?
That is a difficult question to answer, at least for me. I started writing when I was five years old – seriously. I wrote in the horror genre, specifically psychological horror, even then, though I didn’t have a name for it. I doubt I would have seen anything at that age to make me want to write spooky things, but if I did, I don’t remember what it was! It feels like I’ve always been this way–I love a cliffhanger ending, a mysterious drawn-out story. I love character voices and costumes to make each stand out; I was born with an interest in the theatrical…, so I think it has always been a part of me.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
Again, no idea! I wish I had a better answer than, ‘it’s always been there,’ but that’s the honest truth. That is a little scary, though, isn’t it?
My poor mother…
Do you make a conscious effort to include female characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
No. I tell the stories I want to tell, and how they come out is how they come out. When I write female characters, however, I make sure they are strong, independent, and clear-minded. There is truth to the saying that there’s a little bit of the author’s personality in their writing, which is reflected clearly in the structure of my female characters. The women in my work know what they want and are strong enough to go after it… whatever ‘it’ might be.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
Horror writing has taught me to recognize and appreciate the layers that exist in the world, to recognize them for what they are, and to understand that there are some that I will never see but affects my life, anyway. There is a surrender that I am learning to accept.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
There is more diversity in horror now than there has been in the 20+ years I have been actively publishing, and I am here for it. It will continue to evolve because the floodgates haven’t opened, they’ve been broken, and we will push through. We are here, and our voices will be heard.
How do you feel horror has represented women thus far in the genre, and what hopes do you have for the representation in the genre from now on?
Final girls and shrieking violets were popular for a time if a female character is noticed at all, but I am ready for stronger women to be portrayed, women who know how to change their tires, and that knowledge doesn’t somehow make them unapproachable. Women who reflect the ones we see in the real world are the characters I am ready to see step into place. It is long overdue.
Who are some of your favorite female characters in horror?
I think the best depictions come from the screen, so Ripley from Alien and Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street–these women stood up to the baddie and showed what they were made of and didn’t lose their femininity. They used their fear to develop a plan to stay alive and defeat the beast. It was encouraging watching them own the fight and go all out.
Who are some women who write horror you recommend our audience check out?
RJ Joseph, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Linda Addison, Sumiko Saulson, Vivian Schilling, Michelle Renee Lane, and Tananarive Due- this is a good start. These dynamic women write horror fiction in its various forms–extreme, paranormal, crossed with sci-fi and erotic, psychological, as prose, and poetry–you name it. Go back to the classics and read Ann Radcliffe. Look at Toni Morrison’s, Beloved. Get lost in our worlds.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Read widely; there is so much to choose from and know the genre, the ins, and the outs. Then write with an understanding of the lived experience in its most honest form. Only then can you produce your most well-rounded work.
And to the women who write horror out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
Do not stop.
This is our time.