A Decade in Horror: Part 1

It’s February, which means it’s Women in Horror Month (WiHM).

But what is WiHM?

It’s a time to show our support and encouragement to women in all areas of the horror industry. Sounds crazy because this should happen all year round, right? But sadly, this isn’t always the case. February is about reminding folk not to forget or overlook the female creators amongst us – be they writers, artists, actors, film-makers or any other creatives within the field.

Can you remember the last time you read a horror novel/novella/short story by a female writer? If not, I urge you to remedy that right away and show us lady wordsmiths of dark and dangerous prose some love! We’re every bit as competent as our male counterparts and have stories to tell that are just as terrifying.

I’ll be listing some of my favourite writers on Friday, so watch out for that. For now, I’m going to discuss where it all started for me (mistakes, bad covers and tongue-in-cheek vampires). But first, since I’m a woman and it’s WiHM, I’m going to stand up and give a shout out to myself.

Because who else will if I don’t?

I don’t have a massive following and am pretty much beaten into obscurity by complex online algorithms, which are enough to make me feel like I’m having an aneurism whenever I try to figure them out. It probably doesn’t help my cause that I’m introverted and find it exceptionally hard to sell myself. I have so much self-doubt it’s crippling at times. But then I look at reviews and testimonials for my books and am reminded that I MUST believe in myself because others do.

2021 marks the tenth year since I took up writing seriously. In 2011, I undertook a comprehensive writing course for which I received a certificate of competency within ten months. The first three novels I published, over the subsequent three-year period, were part of what became The Reluctant Vampire Trilogy – a paranormal fantasy based at the seaside. (Who even knew there was such a thing?)

Did I know what I was doing? Hell no. I was learning processes from scratch and making stuff up as I went along. But each challenge that confronted me was extremely important to aid me in my journey. I needed to make mistakes (and holy shit, did I make lots!) in order to progress. All of it was a steep but beneficial learning curve – from plotting to finding target audiences.

These first three books of mine (Slippery Souls, The Forgotten Ones & Tattooed Gods) were very much trial and error. Even down to the covers, which I got tragically wrong in the first instance. They portrayed stories for a much younger audience than the books were actually intended (and were a bit naff, in all honesty). But when I realised I’d fucked-up (having listened to feedback) I made the necessary changes.

Here’s how the original covers looked:

And here’s how the covers ended up:

Was the trilogy a success? It depends how you look at it. Financially? Not especially. But learning how to plan and write a novel, then edit, format and publish it, these aspects were absolutely priceless. And Slippery Souls, the first in the trilogy, was short-listed for the UK’s Writing Magazine’s Self-publishing Award 2012, which was pretty damn cool.

I like to think of The Reluctant Vampire Trilogy days as my apprenticeship. I gained valuable skills and knowledge, which then enabled me to become the writer I am today. Stylistically the books are far from my best work, but they are vibrant, quirky and a whole lot of fun. By the time I’d wrapped up the last book in the trilogy, I knew I was ready to take on my ultimate passion – supernatural horror fiction. 

Cue, Emergence, my debut horror novel. And oh man, did I have fun writing it! It allowed me to dig deep and visit some really dark places. The characters were more evolved and my prose more grown-up. I felt by this point I’d found my real voice.

For this week only, to celebrate WiHM (and to entice you to take a chance on me, if you haven’t already), Emergence is on a promotion for 99c (99p).

It’s a ghost story about a young widower who takes his daughter to visit his childhood home. It’s kind of like if The Shining was based in a family home that’s haunted by ghosts and visited now and then by Succubus. Would you dare turn off the lights?

Emergence is available on Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Barnes & Noble & Google Play.

Rocking red nails for WiHM ❤️

R. H. Dixon is a horror enthusiast who, when not escaping into the fantastical realms of fiction, lives in the northeast of England with her husband and two whippets. She is an active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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