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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Women In Horror Month #6: Crystal Connor, A Trusted Name in Terror

I asked last year's slate of WiHM guests pretty much the same questions as this year, including "Who are your favorite female horror icons?"  Mary Shelley was far and away the winner, but a number of other names popped up several times.  Remaining stubbornly dead after nearly two hundred years, it seems unlikely I'll ever get to host Mary Shelley here on ye olde blogge, but I am pleased to announce that I did manage to swing last year second most popular horror icon for today's blog post.  So let's meet her and then get straight to the interview!

Master Imaginationist Crystal Connor is a Washington State native, currently working in the Department of Sleep Prevention as the Chief Imagineer overseeing the Nightmare Division.

She loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains. Not 'those' kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and

You can find her at her website and on Twitter.


SK: Hi Crystal, Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Women in Horror Month!

CC: Are you kidding, thanks so much for asking me! 

SK: What are your horror credentials?

CC: Oh my gosh that’s sounds so official, lol. Ok let’s see here my 2010 debut novel, THE DARKNESS which is book I in the SPECTRUM Trilogy was the finalist in two categories, best cross-genre and best multi-cultural fiction in the International Book Awards and also made it to the final round of the Amazon Breakthrough  Novel Awards in the same year.

My anthology AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER! you can download a forever free audiobook version from here earned a 4 Star review from Reader’s Favorites.

I have 11 publications under my belt and one of my short stories has been slated to be turned into a short horror film to be included in an upcoming anthology called "7 Magpies: The Movie" which features 6 other Black women in horror and 7 Black women film directors

I review independent horror films for under the title Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor and I am a judge for this year’s Crypticon’s Film Festival and I think that’s it. lol 

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

CC: Though I enjoy a good old fashion slasher I really like psychological horror and suspense. I think the concept of things and their subsequent implications is what I find the most terrifying. 

SK: Are there unique challenges to being a woman in horror or do you feel like gender is irrelevant?

CC: I think that gender is unquestionably relevant and I believe race is too. In "The Monster," one of the stories in AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER! I tell a story about a black woman who locks herself in a cabin in the middle of the woods in Alabama with three white racist men because she feels safer with them than what she is running from.

Think about that for a second. Who else but a Black woman can tell that type of terrifying story? It resonates with the fans because "The Monster" remains in the top 3 most downloaded stories from the free site and "The Monster" is one of the stories brought up at every convention I attend when I am meeting new fans.

There are a lot of people who want more diversity in their horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy entertainment and that’s what women and people of color bring to the table, our unique perspectives offers fans a point of view they may not be familiar with. It allows the reader to safely walk a mile in our shoes. Yes, as a white man being in the presence of three racist men would be unsettling. But as a white man all you would have to do is bide your time until you could remove yourself from their company. Yes, as a white woman being in the presence of three racist men could possibly be dangerous, but then again, if the cards are played right she could walk away from them unharmed. If you are white those two scenarios are easily imagined. Now, come with me and let me show you how I would fare…. It’s a whole new level of OMFG! and let’s not forget she willingly locked herself in that cabin with them. Now you have to wonder what it is she’s running from to make her think she’s safer inside with them rather than taking her chances outside.

One of the challenges I see being a woman who writes horror and or science fiction is simply being taken seriously. Years ago I remember reading a review for one of the books in Eloise Knapp’s THE UNDEAD Trilogy and the male reviewer biggest highlight was not that only was she a woman but that she was younger than he was. He just couldn’t believe that she who was younger than he was could out write him the way she did. I see stuff like that all the time. Not only that, if I had a just one nickel for every man who expressed how impressed they were by my fight scenes or the accuracy of the military procedures that, as I woman, I write about I would have enough money to purchase two properties and spend an entire year traveling. And that’s not an understatement.

Another thing I see that women who write horror, including me, have to deal with is men trying to explain to us how things should be. A couple of years ago I was speaking on a panel when a male audience proceeded to tell me that I was wrong about how the Urban Anti-Terrorism Task Force, UATTF for short, would respond to a call. The UATTF didn’t exist until I said it did. But there I was being corrected about an imaginary agency that has no grounding in reality. 

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

CC: Joyce Carol Oats, Linda D. Addison, Anne Rice, and because as oftentimes science fiction is the evil twin of horror I am also going to add Octavia E. Butler. Since we’re talking about women in horror coupled with it being Black History month I would like to mention and share a link for a nonfiction reference book by bestselling author Sumiko Saulson called 60 BLACK WOMEN IN HORROR FICTION. It’s an excellent resource for those who are looking for more diversity in their horror entertainment.  

SK: What are you working on/promoting currently? Why should folks check it out?

CC: I have several things going on. I am currently working on unseating Stephen King so that I can reign supreme in the world of horror, after that world domination! Lol, just kidding. I am compared to Stephen King all the time, but no matter how many times I hear that it always knocks the wind out of me. Every time I am compared or mentioned in the same sentence as one of the Titans: Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe it takes me awhile to regain my equilibrium because its unbelievably amazing to be compared to the people you idolized as a kid.

Last year I did a midnight horror reading at Westercon Portland and one of the people in the audience was John Shirley. I already get super nervous when I am reading out loud in public but with John Shirley, who is considered a living legend in the science fiction world, I made a gazillion mistakes but then afterwards he came up to me to tell me and said, “You write really well.” And then gave me the contact information to his agent and told me to tell her he sent me. I nearly fainted.

And when you reached out to me and asked if I would grant you an interview, explaining that last year someone listed me … me as female horror icon, second to Mary Shelley, as the in mother of science fiction it sent me into a tailspin, hours later I started crying. Even though it’s what my delusions of grandeur envisioned, never in a million years did I think that someone like me would actually be compared to authors such as those.

So to answer your question the things I am working on right now are preparing for the convention circuit. The first Days of the Dead horror convention is Feb 3-5 in Atlanta and I will be attending all five of them. I am also going to be at all three Crypticon conventions. I’ll be returning to LA for the Midsummer Scream Halloween festival, back to Portland for Westercon 70 and I am going to Finland! For Worldcon 75.

I am currently working on two novels. One is entitled THE FAMILY, and the other is a second collection of short stories. I’ve also been included in a horror anthology SYCORAX'S DAUGHTERS which was compiled by professors Kinitra Brooks, Susana Morris, and the first African American woman to win a Bram Stoker Award, Linda D. Addison. I am terribly excited to me a part of this amazing collection of work. I am hoping to attend the launch party later this month in Atlanta and the second launch in New York.

I would love for people to attend one of these conventions because they’re a blast, I love meeting new people and of course I want people to read my books. I think people should pick up a copy of SYCORAX'S DAUGHTERS because there is not greater bang for your buck than anthologies when you’re looking to discover author’s to add to your personal library.

Thank you so much for this interview, it was super fun!


“Sycorax’s Daughters introduces us to a whole new legion of gothic writers. Their stories drip with history and blood leaving us with searing images and a chill emanating from shadows gathered in the corner. This anthology is historic in its recognition of women of color writers in a genre that usually doesn’t know what to do with us.”

- Jewelle Gomez, author, The Gilda Stories

A powerful, revealing anthology of dark fiction and poetry by Black women writers. The tales of what scares, threatens and shocks them will enlighten and entertain you.

SYCORAX'S DAUGHTERS' stories and poems delve into demons and shape shifters from Carole McDonnell’s “How to Speak to the Bogeyman” and Sheree RenĂ©e Thomas’ “Tree of the Forest Seven Bells Turns the World Round Midnight” to far future offerings from Kiini Ibura Salaam’s “The Malady of Need”, Valjeanne Jeffers’ steampunk female detective in “Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective II” and others.

These thought-provoking twenty-eight stories and fourteen poems cover creatures imagined— vampires, ghosts, and mermaids, as well as the unexpected price paid by women struggling for freedom and validation in the past—slavery to science-fiction futures with transhumans and alternate realities.

Leave the lights on and join these amazing authors as they share their unique vision of fear.


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