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WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH 2024: AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTI NOGLE

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What inspired you to start writing?
I started writing twice, once in college and then again almost ten years ago. When I started writing in college, I remember wanting to learn to express aspects of my life that I had never been able to talk about. I’d had a strange childhood and wanted to write about it because whenever I’d tried to speak about it, things had never come through properly. When I started writing again later, it was because I felt a strong need to concentrate on some kind of creative work.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
The wonderful variety of stories being told. I remember feeling very inspired to write again reading Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney as well as the anthology set American Fantastic Tales edited by Peter Straub. Once I’d started writing, around 2015, I was reading from the Bram Stoker Award® and Shirley Jackson Award lists, magazines such as Black Static and Nightmare Magazine, Ellen Datlow’s many anthologies including The Best Horror of the Year, Michael Kelly’s Year’s Best Weird Fiction, the horror podcast PseudoPod, and a lot more. I realized how much broader the genre was than I had realized, and I became even more excited about it. I especially remember feeling very inspired to start a novel while reading novels such as S.P. Miskowski’s I Wish I Was Like You, John Langan’s The Fisherman, and Gemma Files’s Experimental Film.

Do you make a conscious effort to include female characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
My characters and their journeys often come out of my own experience, and being a girl and a woman has shaped that experience, so it isn’t so much a conscious effort as a default. My earliest stories were about women and girls, often dealing with internalized misogyny and struggling to conform or find a way beyond the expectations placed on them. As I have written more, I have continued to write some stories like those and have also included a greater variety of characters and themes in other stories.

What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
Writing horror has helped me confront things I fear, make friends who have similar interests, and feel a little more at home in the world. I suppose my journey in horror has taught me that there are actions I can take to feel less alone.

How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
When I was picking out my first horror novels in the Waldenbooks in the mall as a kid, the horror section was tiny. I remember knowing about Stephen King, Ann Rice, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, V.C. Andrews, and a few others from anthologies. I’m sure those in the know had ways of finding out about other authors, but if you were just becoming aware of horror, especially in a small town, options were extremely limited. Now there is so much more being written, in a variety of subgenres, and from independent authors and a variety of small presses. Anyone with an interest can find new work quite easily. Will things keep on going in that direction? I honestly have no idea. It seems like it would be good if, in addition to more and more variety, horror had a few more writers who were superstars and household names, to help get more readers hooked on the genre, but as for how to make that happen, I have no idea.

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 and will continue to be represented in all sorts of ways, from stereotypical to highly individualized, flat and round, static and dynamic, active and passive, and so on. I would like to see more difficult and hard-to-pin-down characters, complex characters, and unreliable narrators, not only among women characters but generally. 

Who are some of your favorite female characters in horror?
Merricat in We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and Eleanor in The Haunting of Hill House, both by Shirley Jackson. Jade Daniels in Stephen Graham Jones’ trilogy. The V.C. Andrews novels made a mark on me as a kid, and villainous women such as Corinne Dollanganger come to mind, as do some of Stephen King’s characters such as Annie Wilkes.

Who are some women who write horror you recommend our audience check out?
My selections below are based on the writers I know and the types of horror I enjoy, such as gothic horror, weird fiction, etc., but there are many flavors of horror, and your tastes might be completely different! Sumiko Saulson has a book titled 150 Black Women in Horror to check out, and Roxie Voorhees recently posted a Facebook list of over 350 women in horror. Amy Grech also keeps an extensive list for HWA NY, so check those out for a greater variety of authors.

That said, some long-time favorites as well as some writers whose recent works have impressed me include Gemma Amor, Paula D. Ashe, Nadia Bulkin, Tiffany Michelle Brown, Octavia Cade, Catherine Cavendish, V. Castro, Donyae Coles, Nicole Cushing, Kristi DeMeester, Alexis DuBon, Tananarive Due, Mariana Enriquez, Gemma Files, Ivy Grimes, Camilla Grudova, Elizabeth Hand, Shirley Jackson, Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito, Ai Jiang, L.S. Johnson, R.J. Joseph, Jo Kaplan, Ryan Marie Ketterer, Jenny Kiefer, Gwendolyn Kiste, Kathe Koja, J.A.W. McCarthy, P.L. McMillan, S.P. Miskowski, Lee Murray, Victoria Nations, Steph Nelson, Cynthia Pelayo, Suzan Palumbo, Hailey Piper, Sarah Read, M. Rickert, Lynda E. Rucker, Alison Rumfitt, Samanta Schweblin, Angela Sylvaine, Sonora Taylor, Tamika Thompson, Jolie Toomajan, Lisa Tuttle, Wendy N. Wagner, Catriona Ward, Rae Wilde, Sophie White, and Mercedes M. Yardley. . . and I had to stop listing because otherwise this would go on for pages. See the lists mentioned above.   

What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
I’d encourage them to stretch themselves and keep experimenting. As a reader, I’m always looking for books that either say something unique or present things in a way I haven’t seen before. 

And to the women who write horror out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
Some people and situations you’ll encounter will attempt to sap your confidence, so do what you can to cultivate your sense of purpose, autonomy, and self-regard. Try to surround yourself with people who are generally supportive and be a part of helping create a supportive environment for others.


Christi Nogle is the author of the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated and Bram Stoker Award® winning first novel Beulah (Cemetery Gates Media) and three short fiction collections, the Stoker-nominated The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future; Promise: A Collection of Weird Science Fiction; and One Eye Opened in That Other Place (Flame Tree Press). Her work has also appeared in over fifty publications including PseudoPod, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and Vastarien. She is co-editor with Willow Dawn Becker of the Stoker-nominated anthology Mother: Tales of Love and Terror (Weird Little Worlds) and co-editor with Ai Jiang of Wilted Pages: An Anthology of Dark Academia (Shortwave Publishing). Follow her at https://christinogle.com and on across social media @christinogle

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