For the final entry in WiHM 2017 I am delighted that today's guest agreed to stop by as she is one of the most singularly influential people working in the field today. Without her, modern extreme horror - as well as the the entire bizarro genre - would look nothing like it does. Let's meet her and then pick her brain as we save the best for last in this year's WiHM interview series.
About Rose O'Keefe:
Rose O'Keefe is the owner/ publisher of Eraserhead Press, the leading publishing house of Bizarro Fiction since 1999. Eraserhead Press is comprised of one main line of books and three imprints: Deadite Press, Lazy Fascist Press, and Fungasm Press. Under O’Keefe’s direction, Eraserhead Press has released over three hundred titles and developed an international cult following for its cutting-edge weird fiction which has been praised by The Guardian, Chuck Palahniuk, Jack Ketchum, Boing Boing, and Cracked.com, among others.
As a leader in the Bizarro Fiction community, she hosts monthly writer's gatherings, writer's retreats on the Oregon Coast, and the annual convention/art event, BizarroCon.
In addition to being a full-time publisher and editor, she’s also a homebrewer and Argentine tango dancer. She lives in Portland, Oregon. You can find her on: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
SK: What are your horror credentials?
RO: I am a lifelong fan of horror and have been professionally involved in the industry for nearly two decades. I am the publisher/owner of Eraserhead Press and our imprints Deadite Press, Lazy Fascist Press, and Fungasm Press. I publish powerhouse authors Brian Keene, John Skipp, Edward Lee, Carlton Mellick III, Monica O'Rourke, Wrath James White, J.F. Gonzalez, Bryan Smith, Tiffany Scandal, Jan Kozlowski, Shane McKenzie, Molly Tanzer, Stephen Graham Jones, Laura Lee Bahr, Ryan Harding, Autumn Christian, Geoff Cooper, David Agranoff, Brian Allen Carr, Bryan Killian, Adam Cesare, Robert Devereaux, and many others. I also support the work of artists and filmmakers working in the genre and as programming chair of the 2014 World Horror Convention, I was the first person in the history of the event to make sure there were women seated on all the panels.
SK: Who or what terrifies you?
RO: So many things! And that's what keeps me interested in horror. Rather than running from the things that terrify me, I'm interested in confronting them, dissecting them, seeing what makes them tick. Some of the big ones are parasites, going blind, narrow confined spaces, losing my memory, unpredictable people, willful malice, natural disasters, and loved ones in danger.
RO: The challenges to being a woman in horror are less about the horror genre in particular and more about being a woman in a patriarchal society. Even in 2017, being taken seriously as a woman in business has its obstacles. For example, it is still a frequent occurrence in meetings of mixed genders that myself or another woman will put forward an idea and the men at the table won't hear the idea until another man repeats it. This can be very frustrating and is one of those things that women frequently have to pick their battles on. As a woman in a position of leadership, I make sure to create space for women's voices wherever I can and encourage the men around me to learn how to listen. Similarly, I've had other experiences of being overlooked. Like the time I was setting up my table in a horror convention dealers room and one of my employees, a man, was down on his knees on the floor digging through boxes of books organizing our inventory. Meanwhile, I was standing next to the table overseeing the setup and telling him what I wanted him to do. A writer walked over with some questions about our company and addressed the man on the floor. My employee looked up at him and said, "You should probably ask my boss those questions, she's standing right next to you." These are things I think women in any business can relate to and unfortunately things I consider just part of the landscape of being a woman. But the most beautiful challenge for women in horror, as well as men in horror, is the risks they take with their subject matter. Creating art that delves into the darker parts of the human psyche and holds a mirror up to our most depraved aspects as well as our best and most fragile strings of hope takes empathy, compassion, and bravery. It is no easy task and can turn people off if handled improperly. At its best, horror has the ability to transform the reader/viewer and reveal things about the human experience that they may otherwise have left unexplored. To truly appreciate this requires being open to diverse voices and the women who create horror are some of the fiercest among them.
SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?
RO: As a teenager I had a poster of Morticia Addams on my wall, but my true heroes are story creators like Shirley Jackson, Mary Shelley, Angela Carter, Joyce Carol Oates, Tananarive Due, Anne Rice, Mary SanGiovanni, Francesca Lia Block, Sarah Pinborough, Anya Martin, Mehitobel Wilson, Mercedes Murdock Yardley, Jemiah Jefferson, Lisa Morton, Damien Angelica Walters, and badasses of film Jen and Sylvia Soska (who I've published a story by in WET AND SCREAMING with Shane McKenzie), Lori Bowen ("I Am Monster"), Jennifer Kent ("The Babadook"), Sofia Coppola ("The Virgin Suicides"), Ana Lily Amirpour ("A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night"), Gigi Saul Guerrero ("El Gigante"), as well as Kathe Koja and Charlee Jacob.
RO: I'm excited to announce that this Fall Eraserhead Press will be releasing a new novella by Amber Fallon titled THE WARBLERS. I've been following Ms. Fallon's work for a while and was delighted to receive this book during our open submission period last year. It knocked my socks off! It is about a young farmer who is plagued by strange cryptozoological creatures and what it will take to save his family. Anyone who loves heartfelt, weird and creepy stories is going to love it. It comes out September 1st.
Out now, I'd love to bring the attention of fans of women in horror to the dark comedy SHIT LUCK by Tiffany Scandal:
About SHIT LUCK:
"One of the most exciting new voices to emerge in years. A deft, masterful mix of both bizarro and horror."
"Dark and grim and surreal."
Mondays suck. You get mugged, your car won't start, you miss the bus, and your stylist burns a bald spot into your head. Suddenly you're single and unemployed, and the only friend you have left is a cat. By Tuesday, you've been murdered. But death isn't the end. You find yourself on an odyssey between weird worlds, reborn each time you die, stalked obsessively by the man who killed you.
Even in death, you just can't seem to catch a break. Call it Mercury in retrograde, call it Murphy's law, call it...SHIT LUCK.