Some difficulties in being a female horror writer

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Guest blogs
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Today’s guest post is by Autumn Christian, author of A Gentle Hell and The Crooked God Machine.  She lives in the dark woods of the southern United States with poisonous blue flowers in her backyard and a set of polished cow skulls on her mantel.

She’s been a freelance writer, an iPhone game designer, a cheese producer, a haunted house actor, and a video game tester. She considers Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Katie Jane Garside, the southern gothic, and dubstep as main sources of inspiration.


Some difficulties in being a female horror writer

By Autumn Christian

Sometimes they expect you to be Anne-Riced with dead lilies in your hair, wearing combat boots and purple liquid eye-liner, racing down the main street on a motorcycle in a leather jacket with a skull on the back. Or Gothic Lolita with pretty lace petticoats and a bat on one shoulder, perhaps tongue clicking glossolalia while you write in a suede antique journal. I often wonder if this picture is somehow superimposed on me, like I’m wearing a blue floral dress and they hear the word “horror writer” and see skulls and spiderwebs instead. But when I’m writing I don’t want to wear bat skulls, I’m most likely wearing a sweatshirt because it’s cold. Okay, maybe I’ll throw on some doc martens, but that is the extent of it. At least male horror writers have been somewhat integrated into normal society – as with the smiling Dean Koontz hugging his golden retrievers on the back of his books.

You’re pretty for a writer
“You’re pretty for a writer.” I’ve been told this often enough and it still confuses me. Pretty as a writer but unattractive as a cocktail waitress? And since when did writers have a standard of beauty? Is the idea that we’re all mongoloid troll beasts that skulk in an underground city banging on typewriters and drooling? That we’re supposed to be ineligible for the dating pool? What about Colette, Sylvia Plath, and Zelda Fitzgerald? And more importantly, when did this matter?

The boyfriend syndrome
I had this problem. I used to date “writers”. Which is an entirely different matter than dating writers san sarcastic quotation marks. But also more likely at my age when it’s incredibly rare to break into the industry yet and you’re surrounded by a lot of people who have yet to realize they really should just stop pretending to be artistic and focus on a career as a carpenter instead. But when you’re a writer dating one of these “writers,” especially if it’s a boy, most people will assume that he’s got more credibility. And even though I had a few publications, was in the credits for writing a video game, and on my sixth novel, whereas my boyfriend had yet to finish a short story, whenever I walked into a room it would be, “Here’s [actual name withheld] the writer. Oh, and his girlfriend.” My ego was wounded.

You should write romance
This one speaks for itself, and is something you’ll most likely never hear spoken to a male horror writer. “You’re an excellent writer, but this stuff is a bit abrasive. Why don’t you try writing something nice? Like romance?”

What? Like Twilight?
No, not like twilight. Twilight is not horror, it is paranormal romance. And there’s been an idea circulating around that Twilight is “for girls,” and that anything “for girls” is fluffy and glittery and should be dismissed. When horror for females by females can be something that is dark and quite powerful, that is both full of substance and can be regarded as serious literature.

But with all that being said
I love horror, and I love being female. I love being a female writing horror, and all the idiosyncrasies and annoyances of it won’t take me away.


This has been a guest post by Autumn Christian. You can purchase my latest collection from Dark Continents, A Gentle Hell, exclusively at amazon here:
You can also follow me at my website at on twitter at @autumnxtian or on Facebook at

  1. […] Some difficulties in being a female horror writer according to a female horror writer. (Disclaimer: I haven’t experienced any of these) […]

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