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Women in Horror: Interview with Tonia Ransom


Tonia Ransom is the World Fantasy Award-winning creator and executive producer of NIGHTLIGHT, an IGNYTE Best Fiction Podcast featuring creepy tales written by Black writers, and Afflicted, a horror thriller best described as Lovecraft Country meets True Blood. Tonia has been scaring people since the second grade, when she wrote her first story based on Michael Myers. She lives in Austin, Texas. You can follow Tonia @missdefying on all the socials. Risen is her debut book.

What inspired you to write?

As a child, I told myself stories at night to help me fall asleep. I don’t really remember when I first thought of writing some of those stories down, but my inspiration for writing started off as a desire to mitigate some of my anxiety. Now, I’m also inspired by the thought of getting in other people’s heads and living there rent free 🙂

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

I loved horror as a child because it helped me make sense of the wrong that I saw in the world, and it still does that for me today. As a consumer and writer of horror, I find the genre incredibly therapeutic. Aside from that, I also love exploring the darker side of the human psyche—the monsters we can become, and the monsters we create.

Do you attempt to include female characters and themes in your writing and, if so, what do you want to portray?

Absolutely! I want to show women as capable and smart but also reflect the reality that women are flawed humans. It’s also important to me to show the unique horrors women face in the world, and how that changes us.

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

That we are all monstrous in some way. We’re all the heroes in our own stories but can be the villain in someone else’s. It’s all about perspective, and it’s important that we embrace our darkness and our light, both to know when to draw from the light/darkness and to know which aspects of our darkness need healing.

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

Absolutely! I love that we’re seeing more diverse perspectives in horror across all media. I think we’ll continue to see that.

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

Oof—-in general, I don’t think we have represented well women in horror. “Slutty” girls are still among the first to die, and they still show female characters as weak and helpless and in need of a man to rescue them. That’s definitely changing, but I think we have a long way to go. It’ll take a long time, but we’ll get there!

Who are some of your favorite female characters in horror?

Probably Carrie. I love her character arc—it shows how easily we can slip into the darkness, but her traumatic childhood and treatment at school make us still root for her in the end. I love creating characters that do irredeemable things for the right reasons because it makes us question the nuance of life.

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

R.J. Joseph and Gemma Files — I’ll buy every book they publish!

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

Be yourself. Explore what scares you, and the audience will respond positively to authenticity and truth.

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

You know this already, but men still dominate this field. Our time is coming. We just need to keep working.

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