Early analysis

Since we’re a couple of weeks into the Campaign for Real Fear I thought it might be useful to look at the submissions breakdown so far by gender.

In the first week of the competition we received an almost 50/50 ratio of submissions from men and women. Chris and I were very pleased by this.

In the past week however, we’ve had more submissions by men and less by women.

Women: send more stories! Men: keep submitting!

The Campaign for Real Fear offers writers the chance to do something different. Take a risk, be inventive with your language, explore the fear of 21st century life, and tell us a story. It’s 500 words: what’s the worse that can happen?

Challenge yourself. Scare yourself – and us.

Everyone is welcome in the Campaign for Real Fear!

Read our FAQ, and email us your work, now.

Stoker Awards 2009

Stoker Award

Horror writer Lisa Morton has put together a very useful web page listing the nominees for the 2009 Bram Stoker Awards – the annual awards decided by the members of the Horror Writers Association to honour the best horror writing during the year.

If you’re wondering what horror fiction is currently getting attention it’s a good page to visit, especially since Lisa took the trouble to include photos of the nominees and their past publications/history.

The winners will be announced at the Stoker Banquet on Saturday, March 27 as part of this year’s World Horror Convention in Brighton.

Remember, keep the submissions for the Campaign for Real Fear rolling in! Before you know it the deadline of April 16th will be upon us.

Formatting tips

We’re only a couple of days into the Campaign for Real Fear and we’ve already received a number of strong contenders for the top ten positions. Keep the submissions coming!

Just a note on formatting. Thus far the submissions have been sticking to our required format as detailed in the FAQ: copy and paste the text of the story into the body of your email submission, and indicate italics _like this_ and bold *in this fashion*. Thank you all!

Smart quotes = failExcept… a reminder that most word processing software use smart quotes (curly quotes) as the default option. They also use special characters to indicate ellipses and em dashes. So, when you copy those characters into an email, and they are sent to us via your email programm, they can turn up in our inbox as text with strange characters in them. It doesn’t render the story incomprehensible, but it makes it much harder to read.

The solution is to go into your word processor options (it’s usually under AutoCorrect) and disable the feature that exchanges straight quotes for smart quotes, renders a double hyphen as an em dash, and replaces three full stops with an ellipsis. These flourishes might look good on the page, but special characters are the bane of anyone who has to deal with copying and pasting text.

Most writers would be well advised to stop using these features. The first thing I do when I have to reinstall a word processor program is uncheck those functions.

You’ll certainly make our life easier if you could avoid sending us those hidden typographic mines.

Give us your fear

Chris and I are already receiving submissions for the Campaign for Real Fear, so keep them coming!

We say:

“Give us your terror, your fear,
Your horrid tales yearning to alarm,
The wretched stories of your teeming brain.
Send these, the disturbed, nightmare-tossed to us,
We lift our laptops to behold their forms!”

With homage to Emma Lazarus and The New Colossus.

Also, it’s especially pleasing to note that the Australian Horror Writers Association has announced its finalists for the 2009 Shadows Awards and three out of the five entries in the Long Fiction Award are women. There are also three women out of five in the short fiction category, and two women co-editors among the three anthologies up for awards.

No one should ever ask “Where are the women in horror?” again. No excuses. They’re everywhere!

And of course, congratulations to all the finalists, irrespective of gender!

The campaign starts now

Alien ArchitectureWhat are the horror myths for the 21st century?

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.

Check out our FAQ, and submit your best story by 5pm GMT, on Friday the 16th of April 2010.

The top ten stories will be published in Black Static, and podcast by Action Audio.

If you want change, you better write it.

Get passionate. Get personal. Get published.

Evolution

How did the Campaign for Real Fear originate?

In mid-September 2009, in a blog post entitled Horror Wants Women to Scream But Not Talk, Maura pointed out that the British Fantasy Society was launching a new collection of interviews with 16 horror writers, but had neglected to record an opinion from any women in the field. Later that day Chris posted about the matter, and the debate went around the Internet.

Luckily, the story had a better ending than beginning. Maura posted only a few days later: BFS Apologies for Forgetting Women, and Chris picked up on the piece on his blog too: Horror Wants Women to Scream II: Response. A day or two later The Guardian wrote an article about the incident: British Fantasy Society admits ‘lazy sexism’ over male-only horror book. The BFS impressed everyone with its quick and honest admission of error, and it appeared as if lessons had been learned.

Women in Horror

Around the same time an initiative began called Women in Horror Recognition Month. Its aim was to encourage people to blog and promote women who work in the horror industry during February 2010.

The idea received a lot of support and as February 2010 started blog sites, twitter feeds and Facebook entries were written about women’s contribution to horror. With the advent of World Horror Convention Maura had been spending a lot of time reading horror, with a particular focus on work by women writers. Chris and Maura struck up a conversation in an email exchange about the state of the industry as it is generally portrayed. Chris felt that the horror genre needed a new movement: one that reflected a modern world, with all its diversity and strange terrors.

In a stroke of dismal irony, the genre magazine SFX decided to launch a special horror edition that month, without much contribution from women. Maura wrote about the matter in a blog post SFX Forgets Women in Horror, and wrote to the editor, Ian Berriman, to query how the magazine ended up being a one-sided representation of the horror industry. Chris also discussed the question in Horror: Something for the Boys?, and first raised the question: “Where are the new monsters?” He followed up with an entry called Horror for the Boys 2: The Campaign for Real Fear, and first named his idea for a new horror movement.

Just a few days later Maura posted a blog post called SFX Responds: A Long Post, in which she published Ian Berriman’s reply, and her reaction to his litany of poor excuses.

Early in March Maura’s blog entry Women in Horror: A Summary of Recent Posts, gave an overview of the responses from a variety of sources to Ian’s explanation for forgetting about women  in the horror industry.

On March 9th Chris declared the Campaign for Real Fear: Open for Business.

It’s important to stress that while this movement began from the glaring omission of women from the horror genre, the Campaign for Real Fear wants diversity in themes, characters and monsters. It’s time to reflect a twenty-first century horror sensibility, one that explores what scares us most in our rapidly changing world.

If you want change, you better write it.

Check out our FAQ, and submit your scariest story.