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[Guest Post] Author Maura McHugh Recommends More Women In Horror for 2013

2013 January 31
  • Today we’re honoured to welcome author Maura McHugh back to BadRep Towers to kick off a series of posts on the theme of women and horror.


In February 2010, Hannah Forman (under the pen name Hannah Neurotica) began Women in Horror Recognition Month as a way to celebrate women’s contribution to the horror industry.

She began the campaign out of frustration at the lack of coverage of women working in horror media, and received a terrific response to the initiative. People used social media and blogging platforms to discuss their favourite women creators throughout the month of February, and aided the conversation about horror and women’s participation in it. It’s a fine example of how online communities can be harnessed to a positive effect. It’s become an annual event since then.

In the past four years there’s been a discernable increase of attention given to women’s contributions across the creative spectrum. This has not been given freely. It’s come about because women and men have asked to see a more equal representation of work by creators they enjoy. It’s because of campaigns liked Women in Horror Recognition Month that some media sources have finally noticed there are women in the industry, and that many of them have been around for a long time.

Hopefully there will come a time when such an initiative is redundant, but since the Vida statistics on the participation and coverage of women’s work in many media sources remains low, that time is not upon us yet.

Two years ago, Bad Reputation asked me to write an article called Women in Horror: Five Recommended Writers, and this year I’m singling out the work of women who create across horror media.

1. Livia Llwellyn – Short Story Writer

enginesofdesireLivia Llwellyn was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and raised in Tacoma, before moving to live on the East Coast. She’s been making a reputation for herself in horror circles since her stories began to be published, from 2005 onwards. Her work has been printed and reprinted in many prestigious anthologies.

She writes difficult, fascinating characters coping with disturbing situations. Some of her stories are unashamedly erotic in a way that honestly reflects the terrible fixations of desire.

Her first short story collection, Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors, was published by Lethe Press in 2011 and contains ten of her stories. It received rave reviews, and was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award for Best Collection. It announced the arrival of an original talent, and one fans of horror fiction should watch.

2. Jen and Sylvia Soska – Screenwriters, Directors, Actors, Producers

Jen & Slyvia Soska are Canadian identical twins, long fans of horror, and have trained in martial arts and stunt work. Their first short film was a trailer for a movie, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, which they then made as their début film. They wrote, produced, directed, and acted in the movie, and it gained a lot of attention on the horror film festival circuit.

american_maryThey created their own production company, Twisted Twins Productions, and made other short films, such as The Hornet, Together We’re Heavy, and Bad Girls.

It was last year’s movie, American Mary, which showed the development of the sisters’ work. Once again they wrote, directed, and appeared in it. It stars Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) as Mary Mason, a broke medical student who changes her career after a traumatic experience, and puts her knowledge of physiology to use by doing extreme body modifications.

The film won five awards at Screamfest last year, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Over the years they’ve demonstrated determination, creative progression, and ambition, and I’m looking forward to what they will do next.

3. Hannah Berry – Comic Book Writer and Artist

Hannah Berry began drawing from a young age, inspired by comics like Calvin and Hobbs, and French bande dessinée. She completed a Degree in Illustration at the University of Brighton, and during that time began work on her first graphic novel, Britten and Brülightly.

adamtineHer noir detective story featuring ‘Private Researcher’ Fernández Britten was picked up by publisher Jonathan Cape, and hit the shelves in 2008. It was universally lauded, and was translated into many languages.

The French edition was chosen for the Official Selection of the prestigious Angoulême International Comics Festival in France in 2010. While not overtly a horror story, the dark, noir atmosphere is resonant with supernatural mystery tales.

She was the Booktrust Writer in Residence in 2012, and has been an instructor on the Arvon Foundation’s Graphic Novel Writing course several times.

Her latest graphic novel is Adamtine, an eerie story about a late night train journey that stalls and brings its passengers on an altogether unexpected journey. Its atmospheric art and complicated narrative prove that Hannah has the chops for slow-burn supernatural stories.

A free preview of Adamtine can be downloaded from her website.

4. Alice Lowe – Screenwriter and Actor

Alice Lowe attended Cambridge, and started her career co-devising and performing in small fringe shows. She appeared in Garth Marenghi’s Fright Knight in 2000 at the Edinburgh Festival. The show was nominated for the Perrier Award, and Alice won it the following year for her performance in the sequel, Garth Marenghi’s Netherhead. The show was then turned into a Channel 4 comedy, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. Alice has also appeared in such television shows as The Mighty Boosh, Little Britain, and The IT Crowd.

She went back to Edinburgh Festival in 2005 with her own Kate-Bush inspired prog-rock spoof, Moonjourney, co-wrote and starred in Channel 4’s Orcadia, and was part of E4’s sketch show Beehive.

In 2010 she and director Jacqueline Wright set up Jackal Films to challenge themselves to create a short film every month, which they did. She also created Alice’s Wunderland, a
comedy sketch show for BBC Radio 4.

Alice’s work focuses on comedy, but there are often dark veins of horror threaded throughout her material. A case in point is the film Sightseers, which was released in November 2012. She co-wrote it with Steve Oram, with some material by Amy Jump, and co-stars in the film with Oram. The film is a black comedy about a couple who go on holiday in a caravan and get up to a bit of murder along the way.


If you’re not familiar with these women’s work, I encourage you to seek it out. I should note that this is a personal pick: there are many other talented women horror creators out there.

  • Maura McHugh is a writer living in Ireland. She’s written the comic books Róisín Dubh and Jennifer Wilde, and her first collection Twisted Fairy Tales is on sale in America now. She’s loved all things spooky and supernatural since she read her first fairy tale.
  • More from Maura McHugh on BadRep: our interview with her about Róisín Dubh is in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2, and you can also check out her previous guest post, ‘Women In Horror: Five Recommended Writers’.

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