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Women in horror is more than film; in the final part of our series, we introduce you to several talented ladies working in all aspects of the genre.

When I decided that I wanted to celebrate Women in Horror Month by conducting as many interviews as I could, I put out a status on Facebook requesting anyone that was interested to contact me. I was expecting maybe about six to seven people, at the most, to respond. To my surprise, I had an overwhelming response!

I could not believe the amount of talented women who wanted ME to help showcase them. From actresses, to artists, filmmakers, writers…every single one of these women is insanely gifted, and I cannot wait to showcase them each. These are some of the best in the biz, and I feel extremely grateful that they’ve all trusted me to make them shine.

Here is the third and final in the series featuring four talented women involved in various aspects of the genre — from art to horror journalism to theater to photography and beyond. Thank you to Lynne Hansen, Molly Henery, Kristina Lakey and Heather Taylor.


LYNNE HANSEN

1. Please tell us a little about yourself and your projects (past, present, future).

I’m the owner of Lynne Hansen Art, and I create horror art, primarily for book covers. My clients include Cemetery Dance, the world’s largest independent publisher of horror, New York Times bestselling authors like Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala, and even the occasional debut author. I love creating images that will draw potential readers in and make them want to buy an author’s book. I started out as a horror author myself, so I know how hard it can be to reach your audience. I want my art to help folks with that.

I’ve always been a horror girl from the time I was tiny. One of my earliest memories is watching the Acri Creature Feature with my dad on one side and my big brother on the other. They taught me that being scared could be fun, and it’s been a part of my life ever since. I even met my husband, horror author Jeff Strand, at the World Horror Convention. We’ve been married for 21 years now.

I spent some time as a horror filmmaker, but I’ve made my living as a book cover artist for the last 9 years. I’m primarily a digital painter, and most folks see my work online, or on the cover of a book. This past summer though, a friend on the convention committee for Necon gave me the opportunity to show my work there, and it changed my life. It forced me to look critically at my portfolio, and to select the 24 best images I’d ever created from hundreds of options. I made signed, numbered, limited edition archival giclee prints of my favorites, thanks to the help of Robert Lowery Imaging, an independent specialty printer in Athens, Georgia. The show allowed folks to see my work not just as a marketing tool, but as art that has a life of its own.

The demand for my work skyrocketed. It gave me the confidence to take more risks with my art, and I’m loving the results.I have so many things I’m looking forward to this year—opening a real online store, trying my hand at merchandising with goodies like enamel pins and stickers, and showing my work for the first time at StokerCon, the international professional conference for horror writers. However, I think the thing I’m most excited about is creating the art for the high-end limited edition of Jeff Strand’s Cyclops Road, coming out this fall from Haverhill House Publishing. I get to paint a cool cover and four interior illustrations, but I’m most excited about getting to create the image that will be embossed in gold on the leather cover. As a kid, I revered beautiful books. They had a special place on my shelf and in my heart. It blows me away that it’s now my job to help bring something like that into the world. I am so grateful for my life.

2. Who inspires you?

My artist friends who hustle from show to show trying to introduce as many people as possible to their art. My writer friends who slave away in thankless anonymity to put the stories they have boiling in their heads on paper and then get them out into the world so that folks can be entertained. My filmmaker friends who fight the good fight, even when the odds are so stacked against them. I am inspired by artists of all sorts who pursue their art with a passion and joy that makes other people want to create.

3. What does having a Women in Horror Month mean to you? 

We are seen. We are heard. We are significant. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the women who love the darkness, and to draw new fans into the fold for the women doing astounding work.

4. How can we help increase gender equality in the genre?

Come up with ways to get more amazing men working with more amazing women. It’s not enough to simply increase the number of women working in horror. A quota system isn’t the answer. I’ve heard men say, “I didn’t hire a woman for X job because I didn’t know any who fit the bill.” Or, “We didn’t publish more pieces by women because we didn’t get enough submissions from women.” Look harder. Try harder. Reach outside of your normal circle. Trust me, we are out there, and we rock!

5. Where can our readers find you and and your work?

My portfolio website is www.LynneHansenArt.com, and folks can find me on FB at https://www.facebook.com/LynneHansenArt/ , Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/lynnehansenart/ and Twitter at @LynneHansenArt.

Here are some of my upcoming gigs:

  • February 9th – Con-Tagion in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • February 21-24 – The Tampa Bay Publishing Conference in Tampa, Florida
  • March 6 – The Broadleaf Writers Association Self-Publishing Seminar in Atlanta, Georgia
  • March 22 – 23 – The Outer Dark Weird Fiction Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia
  • May 9-12 – StokerCon in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • July 18-21 – Necon in Portsmouth, Rhode Island
  • August 2-4 – Scares That Care in Williamsburg, Virginia
  • October 12 – The Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival in Haverhill, Massachusetts

6. What’s your favorite scary movie? 

Shaun of the Dead, hands down. Meticulously written with not a spare word that doesn’t pay off. Smart, funny, and yet there are moments when you believe that these characters are in real danger. Love it!


MOLLY HENERY

1. Please tell us a little about yourself and your projects (past, present, future).

I’ve been a horror fan since I first saw A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was 4 years old. In 2015, I finally decided to take that love of horror and start my own website where I write horror film reviews. Since then, I’ve expanded and started contributing to other horror websites. My writing gave me the opportunity to be on Con panels discussing women in horror, and in 2018 I co-hosted a film screening at the Filmbar in Phoenix, AZ for Women in Horror Month. While I love writing about horror films, I want to start creating my own original horror content as well. I got my Master’s degree in professional creative writing in November 2018. With that, I’m working on a collection of short horror stories featuring dynamic, strong women and I’m also working on a screenplay.

2. Who inspires you?

There are so many women who inspire me. In the horror industry, Rebekah McKendry is a big inspiration. She’s successfully doing many of the things I want to do; writing about horror, podcasting, teaching, writing scripts, and directing great horror. She really does it all! On a more personal level, both my mom and my sister and big inspirations. My mom raised us to be strong, intelligent, and independent women and my sister works as chief legal counsel for a region of Planned Parenthood fighting the good fight.

3. What does having a Women in Horror Month mean to you? 

Women in Horror Month is vital. Women working behind the camera in the film industry (at least larger budget films) are already a rarity, but horror has always been considered a “men’s genre” so they are even harder to find in this area. Female horror fans aren’t quite as rare, but we don’t often see ourselves well represented in front of or behind the camera (this applies to people of color, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities as well). I get questioned about being a horror fan on a regular basis, and it’s something I never see male horror fans having to do. Even among other horror lovers, men will automatically quiz me or question me about horror as if I have something more to prove simply by being a woman. It is important to showcase not only that there are a lot of women who love horror out there, but there are also amazing women who are writing, producing, and directing great horror. Hopefully one day we won’t need a Women in Horror Month, but until there is better representation it is a necessity.

4. How can we help increase gender equality in the genre?

I think the two biggest ways to increase gender equality in horror are promotion and money. Social media is such a powerful tool these days. If there is a horror film you love that has a women who directed it or wrote the script, use your social media to tell the world about it. Share, like, retweet, whatever you can do to let others know about the film and how much you enjoyed it. It’s equally if not more important to help support female filmmakers by buying movie tickets, merchandise, donating through crowdfunding, etc. The more money a film is able to make, the more likely the people behind that film will be able to work on future films!

5. Where can our readers find you and and your work?

I write primarily on my own website, TheBloggingBanshee.com, but you can also find my current and previous work on NightmarishConjurings.com, TheCodaFilms.com, and 1428Elm.com. I also try to be active on social media, so you can find me on Twitter @BloggingBanshee and on Instagram @blogging.banshee.

6. What’s your favorite scary movie? 

I’m so terrible at answering this question! It’s impossible for me to pick just one, but the first few that always come to mind are A Nightmare on Elm Street, Creature From the Black Lagoon, and Ginger Snaps.


KRISTINA LAKEY

1. Please tell us a little about yourself and your projects (past, present, future).

By day I’m a sign language interpreter, mother and wife. My love of horror began when I was just a small child. My Mother and I watched horror films for as long as I can remember so I grew up with a special affinity for them. My work in horror has taken me many places. I ran a charitable zombie walk for ten years, I specialize in horror themed burlesque and modeling, and have worked as an actress in theatre, film and voice over work. I run a shadow cast theatre company and am a cosplay artist.

2. Who inspires you?

I wish that I could give one name but that’s not really how it works for me. I am deeply inspired by all women entrepreneurs. It takes guts and business savvy to put yourself out there every day. It is these women who make me want to keep going.

3. What does having a Women in Horror Month mean to you? 

At times it feels like horror is such a male dominated genre. Focusing on women in horror is deeply personal to me. It is a time when we can look to the women who are creating this content as leaders and developers. Not just seeing someone as simply a nerd girl into Freddy or Jason but a woman who has her own varied reasons for loving this genre. Recognition is everything. I hope that other women look to this and see that there is no reason to be ashamed of loving this genre. Not everyone will understand it. But they don’t have it. If you love it you have to pursue it.

4. How can we help increase gender equality in the genre?

We can help increase gender equality in this genre by allowing women to direct horror movies. By taking women seriously. Women should be moderating panels at conventions. They should be funded to make films. Women should be smartly written into horror films as women are, not as slutty cheerleaders who can’t even make it through a forest without tripping on a twig. Strong, interesting, powerful characters should emerge — and not only if they are virgins.

5. Where can our readers find you and and your work?

You can find me on social media under my name, Kristina Lakey or under the stage name of Victoria NightShade. You can find my shadow cast theatre company under The Goblin King Players.

6. What’s your favorite scary movie? 

The original Fright Night.


HEATHER TAYLOR

1. Please tell us a little about yourself and your projects (past, present, future).

My name is Heather Taylor, and I am a Dark Art / Horror photographer from Covington, Virginia, a small town surrounded by the beautiful Alleghany Mountains. A town that is also surrounded by miles upon miles of dark forests, abandoned farm houses and a ghost story around every corner. I’m a self-taught photographer that has always had a deep love and admiration for being able to capture a moment beautifully that most would consider morbid. I have been able to shift my love for horror movies, true crime & dark art into my photography.

My work highlights obscure beauty in the grotesque and obscene using mood lighting, real fear and a love for special effects. My focus is to evoke intense emotion through expressive imagery as I recreate the conventional perspective of beauty. I, along with my gorgeous wife Nneka, own and operate an all-female horror photography company rightfully named, GOREgeous. GOREgeous allows local models the chance to bring their admiration for horror to the forefront and to a worldwide canvas. Often using family or friends to mimic my nightmares, I have been able to find art in everyday situations and introduce horror to a whole new audience.

From poetry, painting and photography, I have always been able to grasp the gorgeous silver lining of all the macabre and horror broadcast in the world. I, like many artists, am a firm believer that if you see my art and aren’t still thinking about it later, that I haven’t done my job. Often taking on subjects that others would steer clear of, I find myself the most comfortable surrounded by the offensive. A homage to old school horror movies and the many albums of my favorite musician, Marilyn Manson, I feel that I’m able to beautifully project an image that most can’t turn away from.

2. Who inspires you?

This is going to sound so mushy, but I have to be honest… my wife, Nneka Nekro. I actually met my wife at the GOREgeous launch party, “The Alleghany County Metal Massacre”, and I was instantly drawn to her look. I knew that I wanted her to be involved with GOREgeous. I approached her a few days later via Facebook to possibly model for GOREgeous, and we just hit it off. We developed an extremely close friendship within such a short time. I fell for her completely.

Since then, she has pushed me to never let go of my dreams (or in this case, nightmares). Her mind is incredible, and without her drive and her honesty, I don’t think that I would be able to properly execute GOREgeous. We’ve hit a lot of roadblocks because we’re both women — she’s biracial and we are absolutely infatuated with horror. So, controversy tends to follow us into a lot of different platforms. Being from a small town only intensifies it. But honestly, as hard as it’s been, I wouldn’t want it to go any other way, as it’s helped me develop a strength I didn’t initially have.

3. What does having a Women in Horror Month mean to you? 

Everything. I think it’s extremely necessary to showcase the talented, hardworking women that make up the horror industry. Because honestly, I don’t see it as often as I’d like. You see these badass movies, actresses or artists creations but a lot of people don’t know where that came from. And a lot of time people doubt that women can be portrayed in any way other than a victim & I think that is so disappointing.

4. How can we help increase gender equality in the genre?

Education, empowerment and acceptance. A beautiful mind is a beautiful mind regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. I think that by highlighting our differences, we will eventually learn to appreciate them.

5. Where can our readers find you and and your work?

Official Website: www.bloodyGOREgeous.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bloodyGOREgeous
IG: @GOREgeousLLC
Twitter: GOREgeousLLC
Patreon: www.Patreon.com/GOREgeousLLC

6. What’s your favorite scary movie? 

Instead of my Memaw putting on cartoons for me while I was younger, she would insist that we watch horror movies together. One of my most vivid memories of being younger was being dropped off with her at my Mom’s uncle’s house. She skimmed through the VHS pile laying on the player with a sigh that we were probably going to be bored for a while. I came over to look around and saw a box underneath the entertainment center. The corners were pulled up and bent, and it immediately grabbed my attention. I pulled the VHS out, and the first thing I saw was Marilyn Burns’ wide eyes graced across the top of the box. I was fascinated.

My grandma laughed and insisted that I’d have bad dreams. I must have either been persistent or she just wanted to watch it again. But in what seemed like no time at all, the film began to play. I felt like I was watching something forbidden, something that I should never see. The sounds pierced my ears as I sat there wide eyed watching the flashing parts of the introduction. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The intro echoed in my head. I then promised to not tell my Mom what would lead to the nightmares that my Memaw was sure I’d end up having.

After the movie ended, I was ready to rewind it and watch it again. I actually wanted nothing more than to take the video home with me. I was absolutely intrigued. I don’t know what happened to that VHS after that because I looked for it every single time I would visit. It may have been gone, but I never forgot anything about it. I didn’t get to watch the movie again until I was older and able to con people into renting it for me at the local movie store. That movie wasn’t only one of my favorite memories with my Memaw but it was my introduction to horror. It became the inspiration to create horror.

Everything that I do with GOREgeous trickles down to Gunnar Hansen’s portrayal of Leatherface so many years ago. An iconic performance from a horror legend that has inspired so many — and will continue to inspire for years and years to come.

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