THE BLOG
01/18/2016 04:18 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2017

Horror Novels: Women Write Them Too

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Once upon a time in a literary setting long ago, an accomplished "lady novelist" searching for a change of venue from writing about "womanly" interests might have tried her hand in writing a neat, nothing messy, of course, who-done-it. It was unthinkable that the fairer-sex would ever have the unholy desire to create a horror story filled with blood, gore, and frightening characters. Even the clever Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, whose mind created one of the best psychologically frightening horror novels ever to be printed, was not taken too seriously as in, "This cannot possibly have been written by a woman!"

In fact, Frankenstein was published anonymously in 1818, and readers and critics alike argued over its origins many attributing the dark work to her husband poet Percy Bysshe Shelly. But the work was all Mary's own, taken from her imagination and, as she told it to her friends, "the grim terrors of a waking dream from a sleepless night."

While horror might seem as if it's the sole purview of the male writer there are plenty of female authors who know exactly how to terrify their readers in a well-written horror novel. Indeed some of the best horror fiction comes from the minds and vivid imaginations of women. Think of Anne Rice and Shirley Jackson; their work can strike terror into our hearts.

There has always been a misconception about how authors of certain genres should look. Romance? Sweet, pretty, and passionate about falling in love. Erotica? Sexy, eyes filled with hot sexual passion, and slightly devilish. Horror? Grim, dangerous, attractive but scary.

But most writers often look nothing like the stereotype of their work. Romance and erotica authors are more likely to look like your average grocery store shopper than the image their work puts into our minds and writers who create good horror stories, especially women, can look like the cute grown-up girl next door. Their appearance belies the genius of their excellent work.

One such genius at creating a solid and satisfying horror story is a pretty redhead named Jeani Rector and she was gracious enough to carve out time in her hectic schedule to allow me to interview her.
A woman with a passion for gardening, Jeani is a master at writing novels and short stories guaranteed to give a delightful fright to her readers. She is also owner and editor of the popular online and print magazine The Horror Zine. She's been hooked on horror since the age of ten when, sleeping over a friend's house on Saturday nights, and while her friend fell asleep, Jeani would stay up to watch a show called the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature at eleven at night. In her teens she began reading books and stories by Stephen King.

Her interest in horror became a passion. Additional influences included books by Susie Moloney, Joe R. Lansdale, Elizabeth Massie and "anything by Bentley Little."

Jeani began having her short stories published in online horror magazines and all went well until 2009 when all the ezines seemed to fold due to the recession. Undeterred by this Jeani decided to step into the void and create her own online magazine; The Horror Zine was born. An interesting note is that she named the ezine The Horror Zine simply because, as she says, "They included key words that people might randomly Google and stumble across; the, horror, and zine." Little did she know the enormous success her ezine would become.

Like most writers Jeani had a "day job" and, like most writers who are itching to do nothing more than write, she hated it. For twenty-five years she was a professional Research and Budget Analyst for a large government department. Readers are grateful that she did leave. Completely devoted to her endeavor, she gets up at five AM every morning to write, edit, and create The Horror Zine.

Besides devoting her time as editor and writer for her ezine, Jeani is also a popular author having penned two novels, Pestilence-A Medieval Tale of Plague and Accused-A Tale of the Salem Witch Trials plus a "best-of" Jeani Rector book of short horror stories.

While it used to be be rare that female authors would make a career of only writing horror novels, Jeani Rector has proven that is no longer the case. Her work is definitely on-par with the best in the genre male and female alike. Be prepared to be wonderfully scared!

Happy writing!

Read Kristen Houghton's own ebook of horror shorts Stolen Property available at all book venues

Copyright 2016 Kristen Houghton The Savvy Author all rights reserved