The Campaign in The Guardian

Today David Barnett wrote about The Campaign for Real Fear in The Guardian. Here’s a small chunk:

On her blog Splinister, McHugh has twice blown the whistle on instances of perceived bias: in September, she pointed out that a British Fantasy Society  book of interviews with horror writers contained no women. Last month, she highlighted the same issue with SFX magazine’s horror special. Both of those rows are well-documented and led to widespread internet debate (and, to be fair, apologies and explanations from the targets of her ire). Now, with Fowler’s support, McHugh seems to be focusing her energies on doing something positive about the situation. Setting out the Campaign for Real Fear’s manifesto on his blog, Fowler writes: “Our nascent horror movement is beginning to grow… We’re hoping to change the outmoded habits of the past, aiming for some positive discrimination leading to fresh new strands of writing that will benefit readers and publishers alike. The Campaign for Real Fear starts here.” Both Fowler and McHugh were at the World Horror Convention in Brighton at the weekend, spreading the word.

Despite the talk of positive discrimination, the Campaign does not aim to address the imbalance in the genre by putting together an all-female anthology; rather, the idea is about celebrating diversity. “What are the horror myths for the 21st century?” asks their mission statement. “Sure, we all love our werewolves and vampires, but where are the new monsters for our age? Where are the characters that reflect the diversity in our streets and neighbourhoods? What are the stories that tap into the terrors of modern life? We want to read them, in 500-word bites.”

Fowler has always been fascinated with “real fear” and his stories are littered with desolate tower-blocks, haunted council estates and nasty surprises in the fried chicken. On one of his early blog ruminations, which led to the launch of the Campaign for Real Fear, he recalled a truly terrifying anecdote that had not a supernatural entity in sight: “On the subject of diversity – and its lack – I was talking to a film director mate of mine who is making a film with a largely black cast, who was told ‘Well, you’ve just lost a third of the world’s sales.’ Now you start to see what we’re up against.”

Thanks to David for the terrific plug for the campaign.

We had a fantastic time at World Horror Convention in Brighton. The panel I moderated about Women in Horror was well attended despite being up against one of the Guest of Honour interviews, and we had an excellent discussion about the issues of diversity in horror.

We’ve also had a burst of submissions since the convention ended, which is brilliant. Keep the work coming in – what scares you about the world today?

Next up is Eastercon, the biggest SF convention in the UK, where I’ll be spreading word about the campaign.

On Friday at 4pm I’ll be in the Tetworth room moderating a panel on “SF – Taking Shows From TV to Audio”

The following day at 2pm I’ll be moderating a panel about “Writers and the Web – Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.” in the Connaught room.

Much later that day at 9pm in the Connaught room I’ll be moderating a panel on “Small Press Comics and Webcomics”.

If you have any questions about the Campaign you should be able to catch me after one of these panels, or have a look for me during the convention. I’ll be happy to answer any queries.

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