I am pleased to introduce you to the talented and humble author Meg Hafdahl. She made me shudder with her frightening tale, “Willoughby” in Eve’s Requiem. When I meet readers at events and signings, horror fans will volunteer that her writing reminds them of Stephen King. That’s high praise. She and I recently discussed the pull of a vivid, dark story in today’s messy world.
Welcome, Meg. What do you love most about reading and writing horror?
What I love most about horror stories is the opportunity for a character to realize they are stronger than they previously thought. I think there is something empowering about watching/writing about a normal person thrust into a scary situation and seeing them use their smarts or brawn or resourcefulness to save their life and the lives of those they love. Also, I just really like exploring the dark side of life!
What is your favorite horror novel or story collection and why?
My favorite novel is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier because of the gothic setting and atmosphere. Du Maurier creates such an amazing world with such a command of place, it’s really something to behold. My other favorite novel is The Shining, there’s nothing scarier than not being able to trust your own mind which is what Jack Torrance ultimately goes through. This is a theme I like to play with in my own work. I think The Shining is such a special novel with so many different themes and also it’s just plain scary.
The still remember the visceral impact that the ending of “The Shining” had on me. I sat up all night thinking about it! But back to you, Meg. Name one thing that scares you in real life.
Birds. They have always scared me, especially when they are indoors. If I see an enclosed aviary at the zoo, I run the other way! I get a physical reaction to their presence, like a chill down my neck. One of the stories in Twisted Reveries is entitled “There’s Something About Birds,” so I get to explore why they are so frightening. I’m pretty sure I was uncomfortable the entire time I wrote it!
I see a few more horror books by women in my local bookstore. Do yo think that there are more women writing horror these days, or that female horror writers are finally getting noticed, or both?
I think that women are inextricably linked to horror. Back when novels were considered a lower form of literature and “gentlemen” were more focused on poetry, women, like the Bronte’s, began to write these amazing gothic novels. In my first semester of college I read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and I was struck by her fusion of horror and female issues.
From the time women are born we are told we are smaller and weaker. We are told that we are natural prey for some boogeyman, a real threat, who can grab us off the street. We’re trained not to be alone or not to wear certain clothes because we can cause our own death. It’s a really a frightening reality. So I think women have always been drawn to creating horror stories where we prevail, where we win. I think unfortunately when horror movies came along there was a lot of sexism involved in the making of the films as well as how women are portrayed in them, so I think horror, for a while, became a man’s game in literature and film. But I think recently there is a shift of women abandoning some of these sexist horror tropes and creating great scary stories and owning their place in the genre. And I’m so glad to be a part of it.
I was excited to learn that you have a new short story collection coming out this month! What inspired you to write “Twisted Reveries?”
The idea really started with “Willoughby,” the story that I was very pleased to have included in Spider Road Press’ anthology celebrating women in horror; Eve’s Requiem. I wanted to write a book about a bunch of different women, young and old, weak and strong, and have varied settings from the suburbs to the Texas desert. Each story has a central character, a complicated woman whom is forced to rise or fall in a terrifying situation. Some stories are supernatural, “Guts” for example is about a group of strangers trapped inside of a hospital being stalked by something with a very peculiar appetite. And then there are stories that are very much grounded in reality like “Hannah Goes Home” about a young woman with a dark secret she is trying desperately to hide from her new fiancé. While all the stories have different settings and characters and events I think they all link together with the universal reality that we are all going through something rough and we have to grow and become stronger to get through it. Thankfully, most of us don’t have to deal with zombies or hungry wolves!
I am both eager and afraid to read you new book! You’ve got interesting ideas about the horror genre. Where can readers learn more about you and your point of view?
I’d love to chat with readers about books, horror, anything! Visit my website www.meghafdahl.com to read my blog and find out more about me! You can also follow me on Facebook on my author page: https://www.facebook.com/meghafdahlhorrorauthor and I’m @MegHafdahl on Twitter.
Meg Hafdahl was raised in British Columbia, Canada and Duluth, MN. She studied literature and creative writing at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she received a grant for playwriting. Her short story “Dark Things” was a recent finalist for the 2014 Jane Austen Short Story Award. She has published short stories with Spider Road Press in their anthology “Eve’s Requiem,” as well as with Inklings Publishing in the “Eclectically Criminal” anthology. Currently, Meg lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons.