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Women In Horror Month 2024 : An Interview with Lori R. Lopez

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What inspired you to start writing?

I suspect it had something to do with following Alice down the rabbit hole. And through the Looking-Glass. Maybe all of the times I checked out Where The Wild Things Are from the Public Library (starting before I could read). Maybe listening to the grimmest Fairytales, The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, “The Raven” and “The Highwayman”. Maybe learning to read and finding my life transformed by books — each cover I opened, a doorway to someplace new and thrilling! Possibly my Frankenstein Book Report, which I read aloud in class, and the Principal led me down the hall so I could watch him post the paper in a glass case outside the School Office. Maybe winning Third Place in a scholastic competition with a Werewolf Play in Seventh Grade. But I was already writing stories, poems, and plays at home — all illustrated. You see, it was not any one thing, nor any single defining moment. Writing has long consumed me. I started a Horror Novel in High School and never finished. The pages are lost, yet I still remember the first line: “It was the total dark of the universe.” Teachers, Librarians too, told me since I was small that I should be an artist or a writer. And I believed them. So here I am. 

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

Childhood being a rather dark and murky place, a black-and-white world of intense shadows and the blinding glare of people who could not be trusted . . . the Horror Genre nonetheless appealed and consoled, whispered to me at night and told me that this was where I belonged. I was a little girl who cherished monsters. And I was lucky that so many amazing books and films had been created to nourish me, that new ones were still being released a kid could read or watch, and even Cartoons would turn spooky thanks to Scooby-Doo! Shows like The Addams Family and The Munsters gave me a home away from home. Then the Kolchak Series based on Richard Matheson’s The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler Made-For-Television Movies compelled me to ride my bike down steep, bumpy, precarious hills at night — rushing home in time from beating a snare drum at a football game. In my youth, I read voraciously, the works of numerous great authors but revered the tales of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, and Victor Hugo. As a child, I craved The Three Investigators like candy. As an adult, I found Stephen King and Dean Koontz; then Shirley Jackson. I’ve read many others too. I was enthralled by Horror and still am. I think its spooky, atmospheric, starker qualities summoned me. Tales with depth, suspense, mystery, and otherworldly traits. Courageous and creepy characters who become essential parts of my life. Just the thought of being able to craft these precious gifts for others makes me feel a powerful purpose and belonging. I have never been good in “group settings”, but there is a kindred spirit among those who have an affection for darker things. A multitude of us have been through horrors ourselves.

Do you make a conscious effort to include female characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

I’ve had forms of abuse in my own life since small and write about victims. I write about survivors. I have created strong female characters, but also Final Girls of all ages who just need to stay alive. They might not wish to be a hero, but they might surprise themselves. I enjoy creating both female and male characters as protagonists or villains. I like to feature older characters as well as younger ones. And prefer to let events unfold, developing a sense of the characters along the way. Or visualize the Main Character in the opening scene. However it happens, they reveal themselves to me, taking shape in my head. There can be interruptions, and disruptions before my ideas have a chance to fully form. And so I carry much clamor in my brain, screaming at me, wanting to be written. Specific Themes do recur. Bullying, Animals, Children.

Another important one is speaking out for women and girls who have suffered great loss or trauma. They may be damaged, wounded, or incomplete. I try to help them find a way to heal, become whole again, and discover a strength within. But something many of my Protagonists share whether female or male, young or old, is a sense of feeling alone. They might be outcasts or bereaved, introverted, isolated, stuck in a rut, or trapped in a situation beyond their control. They may view the world differently from others. Perhaps they are in some degree or facet like me. I collect these offbeat characters and give them a home. Speaking of which, a newer theme I’ve started to include is eviction. The threat of being cast out of your safe space. Experiencing with my family years of threats — and thus far more than nine months of nonstop eviction cases in court, despite prevailing — has instilled a keener awareness of a crisis that is faced by far too many. I was homeless at times in my life, many years ago, yet always had shelter. The thought of losing a roof over our heads is truly terrifying. My sons and I have stood up for our rights as tenants. At present, we hope the third time will be a charm. For us, not our landlords. Wait, make that the fourth time . . .

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

My skin needs to be a lot thicker! And however deeply I delve beneath the skin of my characters, revealing who they are for all their interior and ulterior selves — the slimy, throbbing, pumping, icky-sticky inside workings brought to life — I suppose it may lead me back to learning clues or secrets or details about myself. Plus, contemplating how somebody else might cope with obstacles or get out of harrowing situations is bound to make you think defensively and not be the one who does everything wrong! It is certainly a great Primer on how to handle problems in the real world. Well, maybe not. You might create additional problems for yourself, actually. But it should increase your resourcefulness. Just as reading, watching, and listening to horror can help prepare us, brace us, and even train us for the unexpected in our lives.

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

There are trends that come and go, and there are always those who push the boundaries. I am glad to see respect for Classic Horror, along with fresh directions. I personally mix genres to suit my Imagination’s wildest reaches and throes (it has these tentacles, you see, that like to thrash and grope for words). Prose or Poetry, I stir in touches of humor and traces of the weird. Yet I feel there will always be interest in good solid horror. That in itself is a broad term because each of us has an individual concept of what it means. As both Reader and Writer, I prefer a range from quiet to quirky, supernatural to creature. Gothic, Psychological, Urban. I love Ghost Stories, Dystopian Fables, and Dark Fairytales. My work differs from the Indie Horror that people might expect, which can be more graphic with a tendency toward the disturbing and extreme. I may have noticed further blurring of the lines between mainstream and indie or cult, but as horror evolves, I believe it’s important to encourage more people to try the genre by emphasizing story over gory.

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?

People react to things differently, depending on their temperaments and experiences. Women shouldn’t all be cringing and needing to be rescued in books, or on film. I think according to the circumstances, everyone’s entitled to have moments of panic or freaking out. I have Anxiety, so it’s practically a normal thing for me. Unfortunately, most women in the Horror Genre have been portrayed as weak and helpless, not to mention objectified and used for Window Dressing. Yet there has been progress since damsels were tied to train tracks. And recent decades have gradually witnessed iconic females rising up to save the day. Through efforts like these Interviews, shining light on such issues, even women who write Horror can increasingly be seen — kicking monsters to the curb.

Who are some of your favorite female characters in horror?

There are others, but I’ll mention some of my top faves. Morticia and Wednesday Addams from Television, Film, and Streaming. Laurie Strode of John Carpenter’s Halloween Movies. Dana Scully in The X-Files. Joyce Byers and Eleven from Stranger Things. Lydia Deetz of Beetlejuice. Ellen Ripley, also Annalee Call from the Alien Franchise. Carrie White from the book and film Carrie. Jane Hudson of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? Amelia Vanek in The Babadook. Adelaide (Addy) Wilson from Us. Grace Stewart in The Others. Jennet Humfrye, The Woman In Black. And Rhoda Penmark, The Bad Seed.

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

It is enormously gratifying to feel part of the Horror Community. I always was, but around 2009 I started to meet more of the members, even fellow Horror Scribes! It’s impossible to mention everyone whose work you respect, or everyone who helps lift you up, but I’ll try to name some of the ladies who write Horror and have supported my endeavors. To them and many more, heartfelt appreciation . . . Nina D’Arcangela and Gloria Bobrowicz of The Sirens Call E-Zine, Marge Simon of Blood & Spades in the HWA Newsletter, Jeani Rector of The Horror Zine, Angela Yuriko Smith and Linda D. Addison of Space & Time, Ellen Datlow for Best Horror Anthology Long Lists, Cindy O’Quinn, Genie Rayner, Anna Taborska, Lee Murray, Christina Sng, Jaye Tomas, Tamara Fey Turner, Lisa Lane, Jaime Johnesee, Mary Ann Peden-Coviello, Diane Severson Mori, Aline S. Iniestra-Reider, Kristina Grifant, Becky Narron, Malina Roos, Krista Clark Grabowski, and Mary G. Fortier-Schütz II . . . A special thanks beyond to the late Billie Sue Mosiman, the late Jordan Gallader, and the late Geri Small-Graham.

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

Write it yourself, and write it your way, in your particular voice and style.

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

I’m no expert in terms of financial success, but I can tell you it requires reading, writing — not sure about arithmetic — and being stubborn. Believing in yourself. Not letting others block you. If you think you’re a Horror Writer, then it’s possible you are. But just thinking won’t make you one. Remember that, even if you hit your head and can’t remember anything else! If you really need to write, then do it and get it done. The End.


Lori R. Lopez haunted graveyards as a child. Enlisting in the Navy as a Journalist, she was nominated for the American Spirit Honor Medal. As an Author-Illustrator and Poet, she has since received honors for her books including The Dark Mister Snark, An Ill Wind Blows, The Fairy Fly, and Darkverse: The Shadow Hours (an Elgin Award Nominee and Kindle Book Awards Finalist). Two poems garnered Editor’s Choice Awards; eight have been nominated for Rhysling Awards. Verse and stories appear in numerous publications, among them The Sirens Call, Spectral Realms, Space & Time, JOURN-E, The Horror Zine, Weirdbook, Oddball Magazine, Under Her Eye, The Weird Cat, Dead Harvest, Grey Matter Monsters, Terror Train, Trickster’s Treats #3, Speculations III (Weird Poets Society), In Darkness We Play, Rhysling Anthologies, HWA Poetry Showcases, and California Screamin’ (the Foreword Poem). She is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, Lewis Carroll Society Of North America, and co-owns Fairy Fly Entertainment with two talented sons. Visit her website at fairyflyentertainment.com.

 

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