Er, so, when I put out a call for women in horror to join me on the blog this month, I was expecting a few of the usual suspects, maybe one or two of the lurkers on my friends list who don't normally chime in, something like that. I was not expecting the plethora of big names that have graciously stepped up to appear. And about the time when I knew something really special was going on was when today's guest's publicist reached out to me.
So, yeah, now I'm fielding calls left and right from agents, publicists, studio execs, all kinds of Hollywood people, all the while trying not to become the kind of phony Holden Caulfield would look down on while wearing a giant, oversized pair of Hunter S. Thompson glasses. (And if you believe any of that, I have a bridge to sell you in New York...) But the upshot of it is that highly prolific and famous author J.L. Murray has joined me in my humble abode for the day. Let's get to know her, shall we?
About J.L. Murray:
Murray is a firm believer that horror can be beautiful, and that good and evil are very far from black and white. She lives with her family in Eugene, Oregon and can be reached through her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon.
SK: What are your horror bona fides?
SK: Who or what terrifies you?
SK: Are there unique challenges to being a woman in horror or do you feel like gender is irrelevant?
SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?
SK: What are you working on/promoting currently? Why should folks check it out?
JLM: Thank you for having me. I'm J.L. Murray and I write dark fantasy, mostly, but most of it is so dark that it's considered horror. THE NIKI SLOBODIAN SERIES was my first toe in the water (BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, THE DEVIL IS A GENTLEMAN, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD, THE DEVIL WAS AN ANGEL, and THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE.) My AFTER THE FIRE series has some true terrors in it, but it's more fantasy than horror. THE THIRTEEN SERIES (JENNY UNDEAD, EAT THE ONES YOU LOVE) is my first true horror series, set in the POV of the monsters (monsters have feelings, too!). Soon after, I published BLOOD DAY about a world run by Nosferatu-type vampires. I go back and forth between fantasy/sci-fi and horror, but mostly I squash them all up together.
JLM: People who think their rights are more important or more relevant than the rights of others. Being stuck in a theater that's playing a romantic comedy. Cockroaches. Running shorts. Ice cream socials.
JLM: There are many challenges to being a woman in this genre. I've actually been shocked by the amount of people that assume I write romance because I'm a woman. It's especially awkward when other women complain that my books aren't romantic. They're really not. I tend to have especially violent and dark plots with (usually!) a lot of blood and guts. It's weird to get “compliments” saying I write like a man. I don't. I write like myself.
I'm also often irritated that my books are considered feminist because I often write about strong women. I consider myself a feminist, but to put a label like that on a book is silly. Books are stories, and I tell the story that needs to be told. The fact that it's about a woman should make absolutely no difference.
Not being taken seriously, though, just because of my biological makeup is the most challenging of all. My pen name is J.L. Murray, and I actually, in the beginning, thought of not disclosing my gender. But then I thought about it and decided, “if you're going to judge a writer on gender, then I don't want you to read my books.” I write about monsters, both human and otherwise. I write horror and suspense and mystery. I am also a woman. These things can go hand in hand because I'm an individual.
JLM: I know she's not technically considered horror, but Margaret Atwood kills it with her imagery. ORYX AND CRAKE specifically was mind blowing to me. She goes so deep that the horror elements jump into your soul and hang on for a very long time. Obviously Mary Shelley, because she was amazing. And when I was in college, I read “The Company of Wolves” by Angela Carter, which completely changed the way I thought about writing. If you haven't read it, I insist you go looking for it. It's strange and dark and not at all like the Little Red Riding Hood you remember.
My newest release is BLOOD DAY. It's a sort of dystopic gothic horror about vampires taking over the world. Everyone has to donate blood on their assigned blood day, and if you can imagine, people are not very happy about it. It's also about how good people can turn bitter and monstrous in the face of horrible adversity. It's very dark, maybe my darkest to date.
Currently, the book I'm writing is a time travel book. Sort of. It's equal parts noir, horror, beauty, and even a little bit of love (Heaven forfend!). I actually started it because my fans kept asking for a love story. But I kept adding things like vodou, gods, time traveling mobsters, and sentient nebula and it became something quite different. I think my readers will be pleased. It's not nearly as dark as BLOOD DAY, and it's a whole lot of fun. I'll be sad when I have to let it go because I'm having such a good time hanging out with the characters.
After this, I will be returning to my roots and starting a new Urban Fantasy series called BLOOD OF CAIN, about a woman that has to fight her way to redemption by murdering serial killers. So, you know. Just your typical female stuff.
About BLOOD DAY:
The lights went out and the streets ran with blood. When the power came back on, the monsters were in charge. And the children were missing.
When the Reverents take over, they force humans to donate blood to feed their insatiable hunger. They overthrow governments and take away the music, television, and free will. The very meaning of humanity is about to change. But four people from completely different walks of life are about to deal the Reverents a blow that might rock the world to its foundations.
Sia, a classical musician, who wakes up in an experimental hospital. Mike, a journalist with a past, who finds himself on the run. Viv, a doctor who has lost everything: her job, her house, even her son. And then there is Joshua Flynn, a Reverent with a grudge, who wants to shatter what the other monsters have build into a million pieces.
The players are cast.
But who will survive?