Women in Horror Spotlight #4

Women in Horror Spotlight #3 Click Here

Welcome to the February Women in Horror Spotlight Project, co-hosted by David Spell at The Scary Reviews, and Erin Al-Mehairi, Hook of a Book Media. We will be featuring many women over a short period of time with mini-interviews in which all were asked the same three questions. We urge you to get to know them and delve further into their work, whether they are a writer or editor or other professional. We will feature about three women each day and hopefully have a Facebook party at some point in the future.

Women in Horror Spotlight #4

Cat Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish, Author

How do you define horror and what drew you to it?

I find that the genre of horror is increasingly difficult to pin down, because there are now so many different sub-genres, from Horror-Comedy through to Visceral, by way of Suspense, Horror-Lite, Paranormal, Gothic…The list is endless. What do they have in common? I would say that any horror – even humorous – has to contain elements of the unexpected, shocking, scary and sudden. An unexpected ending, with a twist if possible, is also a requirement. I think horror stories that end with Happy Ever After are usually disappointing. I am sure there are exceptions to that, but I can’t think of any at the moment.

What sub-genre(s) do you write in?

It varies, but frequently Gothic, as in my novellas Linden Manor and Miss Abigail’s Room. Also Timeslip – as in Saving Grace Devine (which also has elements of Gothic in it) and The Pendle Curse. A lot of my books feature ghosts and/or demons – so there are some more sub-genres covered!

What is your personal favorite part of writing or reading horror?

I love to be deliciously scared. If I frighten myself when I’m writing, I know I’ve done a good job. If I get scared when I read a horror story, I know the author has done a good job. I only write stories that I would want to read myself and, as I am not one to spend hours and days plotting beforehand, my first draft is always a voyage of discovery. I never quite know what’s going to happen next and I love that.


Catherine Cavendish, Biography

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain as is her novella – Dark Avenging Angel. Her next novel, The Devil’s Serenade ,will be released by Samhain on April 19th.

You can connect with Cat online at Catherine Cavendish, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Tsu.


stephanie W

Stephanie M. Wytovich, Poet/Author

How do you define horror and what drew you to it?

I define horror as an element of fear that makes you question something that you previously, full heartedly believed in. For instance, it’s the shadow on the wall that makes you question whether or not monsters are real. It’s the silence that chokes after spending day after day praying only for you to question if God is even there. It’s loving someone so fiercely that it hurts, that when you bleed for someone, you ask if it’s really worth it. Horror is the question that you’ve spent your whole life burying deep inside you pretending it doesn’t exist. It’s the possibility, the chance. Horror is doubt.

The second half of this question is more difficult for me to answer because it’s twofold. Part of me thinks that horror is more drawn to me than I am to it. My life, while filled with many blessings, has been filled with much darkness, too. Some of my first memories as a child are of my neighbor committing suicide, and my mom almost dying when she gave birth to my brother. I had to grow up fast, mentally and emotionally, and as we all know, growing up in and of itself, isn’t easy. So the real life horror was/is very much present.

The other half of this is that I’m equally attracted to darkness because I’m desperately trying to use my light to understand it. Together, we are the Creature and Victor Frankenstein, we are Jekyll and Hyde. I’m drawn to horror because I’m simultaneously the monster and the girl who’s trying to slay it.

What sub-genre(s) do you write in?  

I write horror and dark fantasy often with heavy undertones of psychological, religious, and sexual themes.

What is your personal favorite part of writing or reading horror?

Whether I’m reading it, or writing it, horror teaches me how to survive. It shows me time and time again that I’m no damsel in distress, no victim, no scream queen. It teaches me how to fight, how to live, how to conquer what I’m afraid of. It puts me in situations that makes me come to terms with who I am as a human being, and because of it, I’ve gotten to know myself, love myself, and accept myself as the person that I am.

Stephanie M. Wytovich, Biography

Stephanie M. Wytovich is an Instructor of English by day and a horror writer by night. She is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for Nameless Magazine, and the assistant to Carlow University’s international MFA Program for Creative Writing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated poetry collections, Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, and An Exorcism of Angels can be found at www.rawdogscreaming.com, and her debut novel, The Eighth, will be out in 2016 from Dark Regions Press.

Follow Wytovich at stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com and on twitter @JustAfterSunset.

Book Links

Hysteria: A Collection of Madness

Mourning Jewelry

An Exorcism of Angels



Kristin Dearborn, Author

How do you define horror and what drew you to it?

I have very clear memories of watching Scooby Doo as a kid and having it scare the shit out of me. Somehow I recall always being surprised that it was a person in a mask…I guess it took me a while to catch on to the formula. Growing up, we always had horror around. My parents weren’t much for the movies, but there was a lot of Stephen King on our shelves. I remember in high school finding a musty box of paperbacks from the 70’s up in our attic. The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Harvest Home…all sorts of good stuff.

I would define horror as any media that strives to make you uncomfortable. Good horror teases out a feeling of unease and dread, draws you in to that tunnel vision you only get when you’re afraid. A lot of writers try to do this, but only the good ones really move past entertaining into chilling.

What sub-genre(s) do you write in?

My work has frequently described as noir, and to borrow a phrase from author Ray Garton, I dig trailer park noir. Dirty, gritty characters doing despicable things. The fun is to take these characters and give them hearts. It’s what I liked so much about Breaking Bad, and is something I strive to emulate in my own work. Walter White and Jesse Pinkman were virtually irredeemable (Jesse less so than Walter). Yet those writers and actors made us care for them, drove us to conflicted feelings over them, and kept our butts in the chair for six seasons.

Other themes I like to revisit include monsters. I’m not wild about the Scooby Doo style human villains. When supernatural baddies are pulled off well, I find them the most satisfying of antagonists. In real life, the monsters are always human, but fiction gives us beasts like Cloverfield, xenomorphs, and particularly nasty piranhas. We are almost always exposed to these nasties because of some sin humans have committed. Polluting the water, exploring space, nuclear testing, etc. The other brilliant piece about monsters (and this may seem contradictory to what I’ve just said) is how they provide a foil to how horrible humanity is. The xenomorphs in Aliens are just doing their thing—eating, reproducing, but Carter Burke is a piece of shit through and through.

What is your personal favorite part of writing or reading horror?

My favorite part of writing, reading, or watching horror is the anticipation. Where you know something is coming, but you don’t yet know how big or how bad it’s going to be. When it’s done well—or you’re in the process of doing it well—you start to physically expend energy tensing up for the big reveal. The opening scenes of Dean Koontz’ Watchers where Travis is in the woods, and the dog shows up, are masterfully executed as Koontz infuses the whole scene with a palpable, tense wrongness. If I’m not mistaken (it’s been a few years) nothing actually happens in the scene—the dog successfully steers Travis away from the lurking Outsider, but it’s the pregnant promise that’s so powerful. I’d say Watchers is a rare example where the payoff is as good as the buildup. Another, more recent example that stirred that reaction in me was The Deep by Nick Cutter. I really found myself in the claustrophobic environment with the characters, felt my skin prickling as I read. I was really uncomfortable reading the book, and loved every second of that squicky feeling. I didn’t feel like Cutter stuck the ending quite right, and the book won’t hang with me the way Watchers has.


Kristin Dearborn, Biography

If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it. She revels in comments like “But you look so normal…how do you come up with that stuff?” A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft. When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!) she can be found scaling rock cliffs or zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe. Watch for Kristin’s upcoming DarkFuse release, Woman in White.

Find more about Kristin online at kristindearborn.com or Facebook.


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