Posts Tagged ‘ diversity ’

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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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.

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.