WiHM Interview with Toni the Reader!

This year we are celebrating a decade of showcasing women in horror! In honor of something so close to my heart, I am featuring ten amazing ladies in horror on my blog all month long to celebrate their incredible creativity and work in the field.

My second guest is book reviewer and podcast host Toni, whom you might know as one of the great minds behind the Ladies of Horror Fiction! I am so excited to get to know more about Toni.

img_20180625_182916-2Toni is the owner of the blog The Misadventures of a Read and one of the co-founders of The Ladies of Horror Fiction. She is also the host of the Ladies of Horror Fiction podcast. She lives in Arizona with a houseful of boys and dogs. She loves anything that is related to horror, dark fiction and coffee.

 

 

ST: First of all, I want to say thank you for being such an integral part of The Ladies of Horror Fiction! It continues to grow and prove itself as an invaluable tool for promoting women in the genre. What has its creation been like for you? What do you envision for its future?

Toni: Thank you! Ladies, keep writing these fantastic books that everyone needs to read! I need some more poetry Sara!!!

The creation of the LOHF has been amazing. We have discussed and mapped out each step to roll things out slowly. The awards have been in discussion since August of last year. We wanted to make sure that everything that we do is thought out and maintain the integrity of the organization.

ST: As a reader, reviewer, podcast host, and more, I’m not sure how you find time to breathe! Is The Ladies of Horror Fiction Podcast the first podcast you have been a part of? How is it different than reviewing and helping to manage the website?

Toni: LOL…breathing and sleep are completely overrated. Yes, the Ladies of Horror Fiction podcast is the first podcast that I have been a part of. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I love the platform. One of my goals last year was to start a podcast. But I didn’t know what I wanted to talk about. When we founded the LOHF it gave me a topic that I am truly passionate about.

I find that I am doing a lot more research into whatever topic I am talking about. When I write a book review, it tends to be more about my feelings or what I get out of the story or writing. Whereas, with the podcast it is more topic based. With the topic I want to ensure that I have done enough research, so I don’t sound like an idiot. LOL. But I love it so much and it has been so much fun.

ST: Do you think women reviewers, especially women who review horror, have any challenges that they have compared to other reviewers? I know as a woman who writes horror fiction, there is always the challenge, or at least the question of, “am I being taken as seriously as male authors?” So, I wondered if women reviewers face anything similar?

Toni: Yes, we do. It is the whole stereotype that girls can’t like horror and there is going to be some horror that is too extreme for our delicate sensibilities. Over the past year we have seen women reviewers get bashed for having opinions regarding some horror tropes that may not be to the reviewer’s taste. It is unfortunate, that in 2019 we still have this divide between men and women in the horror industry.

ST: Women being drawn to horror has always made perfect sense to me as a way to confront our own daily horrors, to unleash the brewing darkness in our heads, and as a way to just have fun with our creativity. What draws you personally to the horror genre?

Toni: I have always read horror. When I was younger it was about the thrill of feeling scared. As I got older, my relationship with horror has changed. It is a place where monsters are fictional instead of on the news.

ST: What is a piece of advice you’d give to women just starting in the field, or what is something you wish someone would have told you before you started getting involved with horror projects?

Toni: The one piece of advice I would give to a woman starting out in the field is not to be afraid. Fear of being successful, fear of failure can totally torpedo so many of our dreams. Just keep pushing through the fear.

Okay, so I have another piece of advice. Historically, women as we are growing up are taught not to push ourselves forward, not promote ourselves. We need to use the tools available to promote ourselves. Talk to people about our work. Use the resources that are currently out there to get the word out.

ST: I know there are thousands of incredible horror ladies out there, but who is one woman in horror who inspires you particularly? What is it about this person’s work or personality that speaks to you?

Toni: There are three women whose work truly speaks to me. Gwendolyn Kiste, Kristi DeMeester and yourself. Each woman work speaks to me in a different way.

DeMeester’s work speaks to me on a familial level. It plays on my fears as a woman and parent.

Kiste’s work is beautiful and lyrical. It presents horror in this beautiful lyrical way.

Your work takes things that are horrific and make them beautiful.

ST: Aw thank you so much! I’m honored to be mentioned with Gwen and Kristi! One of the reasons I enjoy Women in Horror Month is because it gives us a chance to both reflect on how horror is evolving and reacting to societal and cultural changes, and it allows women to highlight the issues and obstacles we are still facing. What are your hopes for the future of women in horror, or just for keeping the momentum going all year long for more diversity within the genre?

Toni: My hopes are women horror writers become more main stream. There are so many amazing women horror writers that need to be shouted about from the rooftops.

Personally, diversity in horror is going to drive the genre forward and out of the shadows. When you walk into a book store there should be more than just Stephen King and Anne Rice. We should have more variety in main stream horror as it opens up different dimensions of horror.

ST: What are you working on this year or what do you have coming out? Where can we find you to keep up-to-date with your work?

screen shot 2019-01-29 at 8.01.55 pmToni: This year we are working on the Ladies of Horror Fiction awards!! (Get your work in ladies!!) We are also working on getting more guest posts from woman that are in the horror industry. We have also added a new series for the podcast where I get to read and talk about the original ladies who wrote horror. Which is amazing. There are many different projects that we are working on so keep an eye on our social media accounts and our blog!!

 

Meet the team behind the Ladies of Horror Fiction here!

Keep up with Toni’s reviews at The Misadventures of a Reader 

and on Twitter @Toni_The_Reader

ST: Thank you so much to Toni for joining us. I enjoyed learning more about the industry from a reviewer’s perspective! I am thrilled to see what all the Ladies of Horror Fiction have brewing for us!

Check back on Wednesday to read about my next guest! 

 

 

 

 

WiHM Interview with Karlee Patton

This year we are celebrating a decade of showcasing women in horror! In honor of something so close to my heart, I am featuring ten amazing ladies in horror on my blog all month long to celebrate their incredible creativity and work in the field.

My first guest is Karlee Patton, whom you might know as the artistic mind behind A Stranger Dream. I am so excited to get to know more about Karlee.

karleepKarlee Patton is a Horror Illustrator and Fine Artist living and creating in a small town called Duryea located in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She received her BA in Visual Art from Keystone College with a concentration in painting and drawing in 2017. She was the Keystone College Outstanding Graduate of the Year (2017) and won numerous awards for art and poetry at Keystone including the Edward M Cameron IV Poetry Award (2017), Keystone College Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts (2017),  Undergraduate Research Poetry Award (2017), 1stPlace at the Keystone College 2ndAnnual Draw-a-Thon, was Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities (2017), was a Keystone College Presidential Fellow, and a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society. Along with being an artist, she is a heavy reader as well as a closet writer, which got her into the business of creating bookmarks. Her self-started business, A Stranger Dream, allowed her to take her love of reading, writing, and drawing and intermix them. She creates one-of-a-kind illustrations and transforms them into extraordinary bookmarks that seem to come to life. Her passion to be creative and unusual certainly is exhibited through her life and work, and you hardly ever see her without a good horror novel, or a paintbrush.

 

ST: Thank you so much for taking the time to share more about your work today. To start, tell our readers a little bit more about your background with horror? What creative outlets do you channel horror into (writing, art work, film, design, research, etc…)? 

KP: My love of horror began when I was in grade school. I found the book In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz. I was most infatuated by the story in that collection called The Girl with the Green Ribbon. This story starts out sounding like a fairy tale, but spoiler alert: at the end, Jenny’s head falls off when the love of her life unties the green ribbon around her neck.

I would check out this book from the library as often as possible just to bring it home and read it to my brother with my “creepy witch voice” before bedtime. I just recently bought his daughter a copy because she is already taking a liking to the horror genre. She loves when I tell her the monster in my basement will eat her if she acts up (which makes her act up more because she wants to meet him!) and already is growing a keen addiction to skeletons “ooooo, spooky!”

I always loved to watch horror films especially the old ones, but my favorite subgenre of horror is the supernatural. My favorite thing to do on a Sunday is sit on the couch in my PJs and watch Ghost Hunters or Supernatural. I also love to read any book with a title beginning with “The Haunting Of…”  or anything about exorcisms.

kp work1

Patton’s gorgeous artwork! This reminds me of Poe’s “The Black Cat” and I am in love with it!

However, I’ve never really created anything to do with horror until college. My research in college began with magick and symbolism. I created my own set of symbols to tell stories in my paintings. My paintings and drawings were generally low-key and some would say, creepy. The main character of this body of art was a black cat with white eyes that glowed from within. The cat was the symbol representing myself and my consciousness and was my way of inserting myself into the story. I was unable to finish this body of work in college due to time restraints and my research had me studying deeper into things like witchcraft, the afterlife, and the underworld. My final body of work in college consisted of large abstracted paintings that all derived from a domestic cat skull. (No cats were harmed!) It was hard for some people to see that they were cat skulls though, so I generally tried to not tell them at my exhibit’s opening night. A lot of people were set back by the fact that they were cat skulls when they found out, and thought I was a little whacky!

ST: Women being drawn to horror has always made perfect sense to me as a way to confront our own daily horrors, to unleash the brewing darkness in our heads, and as a way to just have fun with our creativity. What draws you personally to the horror genre?

KP: I am personally drawn by the artistic freedom to be a “little whacky.” If I painted a skull around here, you guys would love me for it. It’s socially acceptable to think of dark things in this genre and not be charged with insanity. Horror unleashes my inner psychopath.

Women being drawn to horror makes my heart so happy. I hate the generalization that women have to be cute and proper and passive. I love to be in your face, loud, and maybe even a little frightening. If a woman with a ton of confidence, their own mind, and their own individuality bothers you, you need to grow some balls.

ST: Your creations for A Stranger Dream are amazing. I’m obsessed with the bookmarks. Did your artwork always lean toward the darker side or is that something that has developed over the years?

KP: As I said in my big long tangent I went off on in the first question, my artwork didn’t seem dark to me, but to others they were definitely leaning to the dark side. My cat skull

kp work 2

Patton’s beautiful cat skull series of work.

series was about being a vessel, and about celebration of the bones that contain our spirits and the things our spirits can latch onto, but, when the general public sees a skull, they think of death. But, as J.K. Rowling once said, “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

The artwork for my bookmarks sprang from my love of reading and writing, and honestly when I first started A Stranger Dream, I was all over the map. The first few bookmarks I created were for Harry Potter, then IT, and then Beauty and the Beast respectively. I actually even made bookmarks for Six of Crows! I do love to read a wide variety of books including YA, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi so I am not ashamed of creating these things and may even do so again in the future. Some of my favorite fandoms include The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, and of course, Harry Potter. I began to stick solely to creating horror pieces when I fell in love with the amazing online community, and my creative freedom felt unleashed from there. I always wondered where my artwork fit in the artistic community and wondered what my calling was. I’m proud to finally announce, horror is my passion. I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged anywhere, but I belong here, amongst you. I belong to the horror community.

 ST: Your website mentions that you now write graphic novels, illustrate for other authors, and are creating book covers for horror novels. Congratulations on how your beautiful work has taken off! Do you have any favorite projects you have worked on over the years, or is there something in particular you’re really looking forward to working on? 

KP: I haven’t published anything yet, but I am working on writing the words to my very first graphic novel. Of course, it is about a haunting! It will all be done in digital painting, and if you are on my patreon, when I have some artwork completed, you will be the only ones to see sneak peeks on it before it’s released! I also have a few small chapbooks up my sleeve that I hope to share soon!

None of the work I have done has been released yet, but I recently did a book cover for Edward Lorn! He is the first book cover I have done, and I really hope to do more in the future because I had a blast doing it. This book hasn’t been released yet either, so keep your eyes peeled!

Another project that I’ll be doing in the future, is a collaboration with J.Z. Foster! We will be creating a graphic novel together, and I’m so stoked for this project. It’s still a long way off so don’t expect it any time soon, but I have goosebumps just thinking about it!

ST: I never hear enough about women in graphic design and horror artwork as much as I want to. I think it’s probably an even more difficult field to solidly break into because it’s been male-dominated for so long, much like comics. What kind of impact do you think more women in horror art could have, or what unique qualities will they continue bringing into these fields?

KP:Women generally have to fight harder in order to be taken seriously. So, when you have HEARD of a woman in art, or you have HEARD of a woman author, she is usually a BADASS. For this reason, I think a woman’s work will always be better because she freakin’ fought for that. She busted her butt making it happen. So, I believe women in horror will always break the boundaries, raise the bar, and will always take it to the next level.

I love to show people what I’m made of, and I can’t wait to release my own comics and blow everyone’s mind.

ST: I know there are thousands of incredible horror ladies out there, but who is one woman in horror who inspires you particularly? What is it about this person’s work or personality that speaks to you?

KP: One woman who always makes my heart flutter is Emily Carroll. She is a kick ass graphic novelist who creates stunning images and books that you just need to have on your shelves. Her stories are short, but pack just enough punch. The artwork is what truly sends her stories over the edge for me. Whenever I’m working on my graphic novel, I have a stack of woman-powered graphic novels and novels next to me that I use for reference and take note of how they got something to happen in their novels. Emily Carroll is always in my research stack and I seriously look up to her.

Emily has a new book that is available for preorder right now on amazon!

It is called When I Arrived at the Castle and it is set to release on June 19, 2019.

ST: What are you working on this year or what do you have coming out? Where can we find you to keep up-to-date with your work?

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 2.58.43 pm

Karlee’s work is a horror lover’s dream! You have to check out her website and shop. Links below.

KP: This year, I won’t really be “restocking” my shop with old designs, but I will do it on occasion to have big sales etc.. My plan is to create more artwork and new designs constantly so that the bookmarks will “retire” faster. Meaning, I will create new designs and there might only be 50 of them in existence. I think this will make my work more collectible for those who collect them. I’m also toying with the idea of numbering my bookmarks, so those people know they have a collectible in their hands.

My goal for this year is to finish my first graphic novel. So hopefully by 2020 you will have some spooky goodness in your hands!

Get exclusive peaks into Karlee’s work through her patreon account.

To see her new artwork for bookmarks as she creates them, and to keep up-to-date with her releases, follow Karlee on Instagram: www.instagram.com/astrangerdream

on twitter @astrangerdream

To see her amazing shop, visit www.astrangerdream.com and to see her fine art, follow this Instagram:

www.instagram.com/karlee.patton

ST: Thank you so much to Karlee for joining us. As you can see, she has a beautifully macabre and creative mind, and I strongly encourage everyone to keep up with her work and support our fellow horror sister!

Check back on Monday to read about my next guest! 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
-Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII

Ah, amour.

What does today mean? It means I work all day in retail later and I’m sure after today I’ll never want to see roses or boxes of chocolates again (*cue the last minute shoppers.* Oh, they will come, believe you me). And today means I have a writing deadline for grad school by midnight. That’s about it.

Valentine's Day means zombie hearts, right?

Valentine’s Day means zombie hearts, right?

Oh wait, it also means I can write you a love poem or two, *says the horror writer as she cackles and slips back into the shadows.*

I love love. Especially dark, twisted love. So much in fact that I wrote a whole poetry collection about it (that I will totally have published someday and share it with you all…right?!)

Anyway, here’s two love-filled poems from me to you. Now go tell someone you love them, even if it’s your cat.

After the Massacre

The candle burned auburn,
and he thought of her hair,
of her lipstick after dessert,
and her red velvet tongue.

He remembered her blood,
how easy cutting her was,
and how she bled like drops
of rain over the flower garden.

He thought of her skin, daisy-
petals painted with scarlet flecks
and how she tasted like Valentine’s
Day, right after the Massacre.

I Am Love

This is me breaking the glass over your head,
watching wine and blood mix together, and
I wonder if you will still want me then, when
the sirens scream and the police kick in the door?
And that is the end of our battlefield romance,
of bloody love in the sunshine state, and god,
your skin smells like smoke and I am inhaling
you until my lungs blacken like boiled tar.

I have found darkness. I have crawled inside its
angry mouth and begged forgiveness, but our sins
had already been slayed, been splintered into red
caskets and buried beneath dirt blessed with holy
water, and I cannot touch it, I cannot dig our lust up
from the cursed soil because our wicked passion
resides in my atoms, my eyelashes, is curved beneath
my fingernails, and how can I compete with that?

I know you intimately, the way sand beneath the ocean
knows its foaming grip, its salted perfume. I know you.
Darling, I am you. I am crawling out of your ribcage,
breaking bones like they are sand dollars disintegrating
between my feral teeth. You can tell me you don’t love
this, but I know better. You can say you are sick of my
kisses that taste like copper, but raw and bloody are
the only ways I know how to teach this lesson.

Maybe we just liked the flavor of ruin too much, and I spent
too long imagining the taste of your marrow dancing on my
tongue, the way I longed to swallow you whole and have your
life marinate inside my veins. Now we are left at the end of
the world, waiting for the bang, for the whimper, for whatever
promise the writers scripted. You never could decide which
ending you liked better, and I was just trying to survive. You
chose now. You chose me. I am Love, and I am your destruction.

Happy Women in Horror Month!

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 10.12.23 PMHappy February! In honor of this month here are a couple suggestions of horror and other dark tales by some lovely authors you should most definitely check out.

The classics are a given, but I would be remiss not to mention them since they are some of my favorites, and forever will be.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. If there were no other monster tales but this, the world would still be a good place to live. Shelley captures the bond between creator and creation in such a way that the reader isn’t sure to root for human or monster. Perfection. “If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” -Frankenstein

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Rice’s vampires are intriguing because she gives us the classic vampiric elements while still adding her own creative twists without losing the reader along the way. Rice creates vampires with the perfect balance of sensual bloodlust and interesting back stories. “Evil is a point of view. We are immortal. And what we have before us are the rich feasts that conscience cannot appreciate and mortal men cannot know without regret. God kills, and so shall we.” -Interview with the Vampire

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Jackson brilliantly writes a Gothic ghost tale of a haunted house that becomes more of a main character than the other actual characters. And she has one of the greatest opening lines I have ever read. “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.” -The Haunting of Hill House

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 9.39.46 PMWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë because you’ll take my Gothic fiction away from me when I am dead and burned to 1,000 ashy pieces. “Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living. You said I killed you–haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe–I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” -Wuthering Heights

And for some more contemporary reads. Have you checked out Stephanie M. Wytovich’s poetry collections Hysteria and Mourning Jewelry yet? (okay technically this is two recommendations, but they are both so damn good I can’t just pick one.) Wytovich’s voice offers a beautiful madness with the craft of her words as she creates a story within every poem she gifts to her readers. Some of my favorites from her collections include: Blood Whiskey, Black Bird, The Color White, Orchids Take the Children, Dare I Keep the Body, and Urns Make Me Drunk.

Another poetry collection I fell in love with recently is Sierra DeMulder’s The Bones Below. The concepts deal with the more quiet horrors of simply existing and going through life’s hoops. DeMulder brilliantly captures the brutal, dirty details of the human experience. My favorites from the collection include: When the Apocalypse Comes, Paper Dolls, Mrs. Dahmer, Sawdust, and Talking to God.

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente consumed my soul. Holy Hades, this woman can write. If you’re a fan of beautiful prose that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go until you sink wholly into the world from where it came, then read Catherynne Valente. Read. Consume. Become. “Be selfish and cruel and think nothing of them. I am selfish. I am cruel. My mate cannot be less than I. I will have you in my hoard, Marya Morevna, my black mirror.” -Deathless

Okay, and another multi-rec because if you haven’t read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects, then put that at the top of your to-read list. Her female protagonists are dirty, gritty, cunning, and fucking awesome because they are realistic. And these people saying Flynn’s characters are “too unlikable” to read must be the most well-behaved, cautious, and boring people imaginable. “I am a cutter, you see. Also a snipper, a slicer, a carver, a jabber. I am a very special case. I have a purpose. My skin, you see, screams. It’s covered with words – cook, cupcake, kitty, curls – as if a knife-wielding first-grader learned to write on my flesh.” -Sharp Objects

And if you need some music to rock out to while celebrating this wonderful occasion, try listening to Mz. Hyde herself Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, or that Natural Born Sinner Maria Brink. These ladies make bad look so good.

It’s Women in Horror Month. Sin a little with us. Drink some wine. Read something scary. Write something scarier.

In the meantime I’ll be working on a Valentine poem or two for you all to read later this month. *cackles*