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"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

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."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Women in Horror Month #7: Mary SanGiovanni. Author of CHILLS

I got to meet today's guest around Halloween in 2015, and since then she's been very generous with her time and talent both with me and my friends.  She's also one of the greatest horror authors in the world, and I couldn't have hoped to ever host a better guest.  Let's meet her and then dive right in.

About Mary SanGiovanni:


Mary SanGiovanni is the author of the THE HOLLOWER trilogy (the first of which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award), THRALL, CHAOS, CHILLS, and the forthcoming SAVAGE WOODS, and the novellas FOR EMMY, POSSESSING AMY, THE FADING PLACE, and NO SONGS FOR THE STARS and the forthcoming A QUIET PLACE AT WORLD’S END, as well as the collections UNDER COVER OF NIGHT, A DARKLING PLAIN, the forthcoming NIGHT MOVES and A WEIRDISH WILD SPACE. Her fiction has appeared in periodicals and anthologies for the last decade. She has a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Pittsburgh, where she studied under genre greats. She is currently a member of The Authors Guild, The International Thriller Writers, and Penn Writers, and was previously an Active member in the Horror Writers Association.

You can find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.


SK:  What are your horror credentials?

MS:  In a career spanning almost two decades, I've written about a dozen books, including novels, novellas, and short fiction collections. My first novel, THE HOLLOWER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and I received the Lavinia Kohl Award for Excellence in literature for one of my first short stories. I have a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, and was one of the first women writers to speak to the CIA about writing. My most recent novel is CHILLS.

SK:  Who or what terrifies you?

MS:  There are many real-world things that I find absolutely terrifying. The thought of people I love going missing, particularly the children in my life, is probably at the forefront, and recently have been investigating ways that I might help missing and exploited children and their families. I'm terrified of fire and strangely, have an acute discomfort around iron things. I have an irrational fear of faceless things -- or maybe it's not so irrational. And I'm absolutely, almost loathsomely averse to hospitals and gurneys. I think I have a fear of abandonment due to illness, mental or physical, and somehow, my mind has designated hospitals as a symbol of that. So...I suppose a fire in a hospital while I'm tied to a gurney by a faceless person and everybody thinks I've gone missing is my ultimate nightmare.

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

MS:  I believe there are some unique challenges to being a woman writer in horror, though the extent has decreased over time. I think women have only just gained a foothold as recognizably relevant figures in the genre, and so we don't have the historical cachet to our names that frequently lead to invites to commercial anthology slots, film and television adaptations, or foreign markets as often as male counterparts, for example. It's not that it never happens; I think it just doesn't happen as often quite yet. I've been lucky enough to watch the decline in acceptance of sexual harassment of female writers, editors, publishers, and agents and also, I've seen a remarkable acceptance of women's work by readers as well as peers. New generations of writers, both male and female, now cite female writers as influences and favorite authors as often as males. This may not sound like much to some, but having seen the change happen -- being able to remember when these things were not the standard case -- is encouraging. Even if the proportions haven't quite evened out, recognition of women's work as on par with men's in the horror genre is certainly balancing out -- a trend I hope to see continue.

From a business perspective, I think women face the challenges they do in the business world, particularly in that women have historically been taught not to be bold or assertive. I think this makes women somewhat hesitant to insist on better pay rates per word, say. It makes them uncomfortable to cross out clauses in contracts we know are not in our best interest. It makes us uneasy to cold-contact an editor or make use of a networking opportunity. I saw it in the corporate world as well; in many cases, men get promotions and better pay and nicer offices and more latent and overt respect for their skill and knowledge simply because they demand it. Women are taught that's...bitchy or unladylike, somehow. I think the women who can get past that and in addition to being prolific and talented, they can also command respect and push their own careers forward will make immense strides in our field.

SK:  Who are your favorite female horror icons?

MS:   I admire Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), who combined beauty, wit, business acumen, and talent to reach an iconic status in horror. I admire Kathy Bates, who I suspect, from things I read in interviews, had never much wanted to be an icon of horror, but I believe she is incredibly talented. I admire Sarah Pinborough and Sarah Langan, both supremely talented writers and great people. I admire their ability to juggle so much vibrance in their own personal lives with such success in their professional lives. I also admire women like film directors Ida Lupino ("The Hitch-Hiker"), Jen and Sylvia Soska ("American Mary"), Jennifer Lynch ("Boxing Helena"), Kathryn Bigelow ("Near Dark"), so many others), Jovanka Vuckovic ("The Captured Bird"), Izzy Lee ("Innsmouth", "Postpartum"), Mary Lambert ("Pet Sematary", much more), and Jennifer Kent ("The Babadook"). I think it's important to acknowledge talented directors like these because let's face it -- a primary portal to the world at large for horror is through movies. These women create more than just hack-n-slash, by-the-numbers stuff. They create work which speaks to the female as well as male experience, which showcases the textured, emotionally complex artistry of horror and its viability as an artistic expression. They give visibility and respectability to our field while stretching its boundaries and contradicting the stereotypes that characterized so much of horror -- books awe well as cinema -- for so many decades.

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

MS:  Currently, I have a non-fiction book on writing, life, and other topics called A WEIRDISH WILD SPACE, due out this year from Thunderstorm Books. I also have a short story collection due out from Post Mortem Press due out in July called NIGHT MOVES, which collects novelettes and short fiction that is rare, out of print, or relatively new to the world. I will have some short fiction and a novella appearing in various places toward the end of the year, and my newest novel, SAVAGE WOODS, is due out from Kensington Books probably in the fall. I'm currently working on the aforementioned short fiction and novella, as well as an additional novella due out from Cemetery Dance called A QUIET PLACE AT WORLD's END and when I make some headway on those, I have a new novel and two new collections of original and unpublished short fiction.

I hope folks will consider checking them out because I have a son to put through college, hahahaha. Seriously, I'm particularly excited about these upcoming works for a number of reasons. A WEIRDISH WILD SPACE explores over a decade of developments, personal and professional, of a writer in the field. It features advice for women writers in particular and all writers in general, shows the history of change our genre has experienced in the last 12 years, notes important events that shaped the current landscape of publishing, and remembers some great creators in our field. I think readers interested in getting to know me and writers interested in books on writing will enjoy it. SAVAGE WOODS might be one of my favorite books since THRALL, much more visceral than my usual work, while retaining that supernatural/psychological blend of creepy that I strive for. I'm also excited about NIGHT MOVES because I think some of my best and most intense short fiction is all available in one book.

I look forward to 2017 and 2018 as prolific and productive years, and I sincerely believe if readers have enjoyed what I've put out so far, they're going to really enjoy these upcoming works.



It begins with a freak snowstorm in May. Hit hardest is the rural town of Colby, Connecticut. Schools and businesses are closed, powerlines are down, and police detective Jack Glazier has found a body in the snow. It appears to be the victim of a bizarre ritual murder. It won't be the last. As the snow piles up, so do the sacrifices. Cut off from the rest of the world, Glazier teams up with an occult crime specialist to uncover a secret society hiding in their midst.

The gods they worship are unthinkable. The powers they summon are unstoppable. And the things they will do to the good people of Colby are utterly, horribly unspeakable…

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