All during February for Women in Horror Month I’ll be highlighting my sister nightmare makers and their work! Today’s installment is the incredibly talented Jeannie Wycherley. She is going to share her thoughts on why she writes horror. Take it away Jeannie!
Getting Under the Skin of It With Jeannie Wycherley
The reasons I write horror are a little oblique, to me at least. I’ve wanted to ‘write’ practically my whole life, but I got caught up in being an academic and having a career. When I finally listened to my soul and put pen to paper, I simply explored the things that were in my heart and in my mind. I was in a dark place, severe anxiety, depression with suicidal ideation, so those early forays were bleak and black and unhappy. In any case, people always say ‘write what you read’ and I would say a third of what I read is horror, with the rest made up of classic Victorian literature, historical drama, and murder mysteries.
I’m a writer, yes, but being a woman who writes horror puts me in a unique place because it allows me to dissect female experience based on my own inimitable experiences as a female, using scary situations. The things that terrify any of us are likely to be different in every case, so I utilise the emotions and knowledge that I’ve gained as a woman and a human, and they become my monsters. I find this process absolutely fascinating. Getting under the skin of all my characters, regardless of who they are, gives me a real thrill.
I’ve always hated the ‘woman-as-sidekick’ character, or woman-as-victim, or the female teen scream queen. We can be those characters for sure, but since I noticed I had the central role to play in my own life, I’ve always enjoyed stories where the woman is complicated and multi-dimensional. While I think it is important characters are likeable and can be identified with, I don’t mind incorporating faults and flaws.
As a result, Crone, has received high praise for the characterisation of the witch Aefre (including an Indie B.R.A.G Award). She’s not just evil for evil’s sake, she actually has her reasons, because let’s face it, when you or I make a decision that will have repercussions, we usually have a line of reasoning behind it that we find rational (even if no-one else does).
One aspect of writing that I love, even when I’ve plotted a good outline, is when the character runs away with story themselves. I found this with the character of Elizabetta in A Concerto for the Dead and Dying (my long short story written for the Mrs Dracula anthology and now available by itself). She is a vampire, but as I wrote, I became very aware of how nuanced she was, so this is a very bittersweet story.
Horror and dark fantasy are immensely satisfying to read and write. Women in HorrorMonth is fantastic because it highlights some of the wonderful writing out there, tales you may not stumble across otherwise. I recommend casting your net wide, and trying out a few new women horror writers! Enjoy!
A Concerto for the Dead and Dying http://mybook.to/ConcertoDead
Deadly Encounters http://mybook.to/DeadlyEncounters
Follow me: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady
Jeannie Wycherley has always been blessed with a wildly overactive imagination. Her formative years were spent inhabiting the glorious worlds that other writers had created, and even now she finds it a wrench to leave Narnia and Alderley Edge behind. As a child she loved history, and visited many sites of interest, with her family, in the UK and around Europe, and was a keen – and sorrowful – observer of the evil man perpetrates. No surprise therefore that she went on to study history at University, and left – or was eventually politely turfed out – with a PhD in modern and contemporary social history.
After 16 years teaching in higher education, Jeannie hung up her mortar board and scaled down her life. She moved home to Devon with her husband and the fur-kids, three beloved dogs who are spoilt rotten. They all reside in Sidmouth, Devon, where a rocky coastline meets the glorious East Devon countryside, providing immeasurable inspiration for Jeannie’s writing.
Jeannie writes dark stories, suspense, horror … and just the plain weird. As Betty Gabriel she has written some erotica – just for fun! She has seen her short stories successfully published in the UK and the USA. Her debut novel CRONE is available from April 2017.