A Guest Post by A.F. Stewart
Lately I’ve been thinking about women and preconceptions, both on and off the page.
Preconceptions are funny things. They can be hindrances, such as when people assume because you are a female author you must write romance, or when they think a woman can’t write the splatter and gore side of horror. Of course, none of that is true. Women write in many different genres, and they can get their fictional hands as bloody as any male writer.
However, preconceptions can also be a boon, especially to a horror author. They are a built in security blanket, welcoming a reader into familiar territory. Preconceived character types can be the basic building blocks of a good horror story. Everyone knows what they’re getting with the tried and true, benchmark horror story.
But what if you craft a story playing against those very preconceptions? Take female characters for instance. Often the preconceived role for females in horror is either victim or love interest (or both). If you have well rounded characters there’s nothing necessarily wrong with those roles, but they are the same old standard tropes. While it can be comfortable knowing that the annoying blonde cheerleader will get stabbed in the back, it is also predictable and (gasp) even boring. The damsel in distress or peril has been done to death.
Now playing with those feminine preconceptions, twisting them into something diverse can breathe fresh life into the dead. Perhaps the story needs a female protagonist who steps up to save the guy from the clutches of the killer or the monster. Or maybe she uses her male companion as bait while she escapes; no reason women can’t be ruthless. Another approach is to make the antagonist a woman. I wrote several wickedly despicable female villains for the stories included in my book Killers and Demons II, and recently a story about a female serial killer. Moreover, if you do go the victim route for your women, they don’t have to go down easy, or stupid. Let them get their licks in before they expire.
The point of messing with preconceptions is to serve the reader an unexpected situation, something that nibbles at the brain and says, “okay, that’s different.” And that’s part of what good writing’s about, injecting creative ideas into old traditions. So turn some tropes on the head, and let the ladies have some fun.
About A.F. Stewart:
A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being dark fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author she’s published novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry and non-fiction.
She is fond of good books, action movies, sword collecting, geeky things, comic books, and oil painting as a hobby. She has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.
You can find A.F. Stewart and her work in the following places:
Killers and Demons II: They Return
They lurk forever in the shadows, smile at you in the morning, and haunt your dreams at night. You can’t hide, you can’t run, and there’s no escape. You can only scream when they come for you.
Killers and Demons II: They Return is a collection of thirteen tales, blending short stories and flash fiction, tales where the blood lingers on your tongue or spurts quickly from the swift cut.
The Villainous Roster:
Wade, every parent’s nightmare
Hannah and Mr. Greeley. Who is the victim and who is the villain?
Simon and Zoe, a married couple who are dying to be single again.
Norman and his “cookie” of a wife, Mabel.
Millicent and Jane, a delightful duo you shouldn’t invite to your Regency tea party
Amanda, who literally has a skeleton in her closet
Balthazar, the demon bounty hunter on the hunt once more.
Sarah, a young woman going through some changes and craving new tastes
Emmeline, hanged as a witch, now back from the dead for revenge
Gabrielle, a woman haunted by shadows
The Dollmaker, she showers death, and an umbrella won’t help
Nightmare Demons, bent on driving a town insane
And then there’s Alice, a little girl locked in the basement by her Daddy…
Together they form a spine-chilling cadre of predators.
Beyond the Wail
‘The Weeping Lady’
GO GENTLE by Julie Barnson: After the death of her boyfriend, a young musician uses her talents and a fabled violin to stop the fatal accidents at a dead man’s curve.
DEAD WATER by Amanda Banker: A stalled truck, an abandoned graveyard, and a town not found on any map take two brothers on a detour they’ll never forget.
COLD SPOT by Jay Barnson: When a laptop is stolen from their computer security company, two high school buddies go to extremes to investigate. But, will they manage to return?
THE WEEPING LADY by A. F. Stewart: Eva Douglas must face her mother issues, past and present, when the disappearance of her sister forces a confrontation with a terrifying ghost.
THE POLTERGEIST AND AUNT BETTY by Ginger C. Mann: Aunt Betty is eccentric, but how much is ghost, how much is medication, and how much is just plain crazy?
THE ‘GRIM’ REAPER by L. K. McIntosh: When a soul reaper loses the source of their power,
they must either find the witch who stole it or a new purpose for living.
SHRINE OF MIRRORS by F. M. Longo: A spy on a mission becomes a believer in the supernatural when the theft of three ancient relics threaten to bring down the empire.
DEAD MAN HOCKING by T.N. Payne: A world-weary zombie learns to beware what you wish for, and not all sure bets are worth the gamble.
ST. PETER’S FISH by Alex McGilvery: Sam is a walking disaster of biblical proportions, but how much is he willing to sacrifice to escape, and will the Powers That Be allow it?
THE DIORAMA by Sebastian Bendix: A play set turns life around for Martin Taper, but things take a turn for the worse when he neglects it and the lonely child obsessed with it.
DATE DUE by Danielle E. Shipley: A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way . . . or the fatal one.
Fairy Tale Fusion
What if the characters in Fairy Tales were real? What if they lived in Fairyland, a place not too dissimilar to ours, next to Wonderland and down the street from Camelot?
Meet Detective Piper, member of the Fairyland Metro Police. His job, to ferret out the suspects and investigate crime on the streets and in the lanes of Fairyland. Along with Officer Simon, he’s hard at work, searching for a missing pumpkin, hunting for an arsonist, wondering what the future holds in a series of crystal ball robberies, and dealing with spells, curses and other strange happenings.
His cases, and others like them, are the headlines of the day, brought to you by FTN news anchors Spider Bramble and Aurora Gossamer, with entertainment correspondent Lucinda Lovedust and reporter Chip Charming. Keep up-to-date on the latest information out of Fairyland and its adjacent suburbs, and the recent hubbub with trolls, princesses, fairies and their ilk.
And when you are done dancing with Cinderella and her cronies, open the lid of a very scary toy box to find where children’s nightmares begin… and end, badly.
And remember, always be nice to your Fairy Godmother.