Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Interview with Author Louise Bohmer

Louise Bohmer is a freelance editor and writer based in Sussex, New Brunswick. Her debut novel, The Black Act, is available on Amazon from Library of Horror. You can read her short fiction in the upcoming Courting Morpheus, Ladies of Horror, and Tabloid Terrors 3. Her poetry can be read in the Death In Common and These Apparitions: Haunted Reflections of Ezra Pound.

Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you?

Louise Bohmer: Horror is probing your fears and facing them. For me, it’s all about challenging myself, and my reader. When you come into a Louise Bohmer story, I hope I don’t just scare you. I want to take you through a gamut of emotions. I want to shake you up. Horror is about staring into your dark side and admitting you have one—we all do. It’s about looking at that dark side through the comfortable pages of a book. It’s also about our fear of things unknown. The unknown still unsettles us, I believe, because it’s something we can’t control, something we can’t fully explain yet. It makes humans feel vulnerable, and that scares us silly.

Fatally Yours: How did you fall in love with the horror genre? 

Louise Bohmer: It all started with Frank Langella, and my cousin’s encouragement of my fascination with all things spooky. I was entranced almost immediately. My cousin was thrilled, but my mother and grandmother were dubious. I can’t tell you how many times I heard: “How can you watch (read) that stuff?” from them.

I’d discovered a safe way to walk with fear. Through vampires, werewolves, and other horror tropes as I grew older, I experienced the safe thrill of fright. Nothing delighted me more, and to this day nothing delights me more than a well written horror tale. If it makes my heart beat faster, makes my eyes fly over the words because I just have to know what’s going to happen, I’m entranced.

Fatally Yours: How and when did you start writing about the darker aesthetic?

Louise Bohmer: I used to write a lot as a teen. I was constantly scribbling horror stories in notebooks, wrote my first novel on an electric typewriter when I was 13, and when I bought my first computer, I was a mad writing machine. I quit writing at about 19, but then started up again at 25, when my husband read some of my old stuff and encouraged me to get back into it. My writing has always been dark in nature, even as a kid (although I did try to write one pioneer / prairie life novel, based off my childhood love of Little House on the Prairie books). For whatever reason, stories in a darker vein just seem to come naturally to me. I’ve been writing, this second time around, for about eight years.

Fatally Yours: Why do you choose to write about dark fantasy and horror as opposed to other genres? Would you ever write in another literary genre? 

Louise Bohmer: Horror and dark fantasy just seem to come natural for me. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and as a kid I could scare myself witless with the monsters I’d dream up. Between that and night terrors, I think it was destiny I write horror and dark fantasy.

I’d love to try literary fiction one day. While I enjoy horror, I’ve always read outside the genre (everything from historical to romance to tons of non-fiction). There’s a human interest story in me that will just have to get out one day, and I think it would fit literary fiction best.

I’ve tried my hand at some erotic fiction / erotic romance, and I did enjoy writing that also. I only quit because I wanted to devote more time to dark fiction and my editing.

Fatally Yours: What sub-genres in horror (vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc.) are you sick of? What sub-genres do you want to see more of?

Louise Bohmer: Admittedly I am a bit sick of the romantic vampire. I like my vamps mean and nasty. I was dubious of zombies, but I have read some wonderful zombie tales that focus more on the characters rather than the monster, and they’ve changed my tune a bit. For some intriguing, thought provoking zombies, I’d highly recommend Kim Paffenroth’s work. I’m also editing a sequel to Tony Monchinski’s EDEN that I’m enjoying, titled CRUSADE. As for werewolves, well I always felt they didn’t enough attention in the past, so I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of them.

But what I’d really like to see is completely unique monsters, monsters like the ones Clive Barker has created: the monsters of Midian, some of the creations in Weaveworld. I’d love to see more authors come up with creatures that are uniquely their own.

Fatally Yours: Why do you think the horror genre has been primarily male-dominated?

Louise Bohmer: In some cases, I don’t think people believe women can be scary. But women have a dark side too. In contemporary publishing, women are often associated with romance or ‘chick lit.’ Some folks don’t think we’re supposed to write horror. (I’ve received that reaction. “You’re a woman and you love horror? Why?”) Traditionally, men are more associated with violence and the darker side of human nature, so I think some people have a hard time reconciling that women can write a dark, perhaps violent, pieces too. We’re seen in society as the nurturer, the caregiver, but I think the misconception women can’t write horror is changing. Look at authors like Gina Ranalli, Poppy Z. Brite, and Caitlin R. Kiernan, and going farther back Shirley Jackson and Mary Shelley. I think these ladies prove women can write effectively unsettling, eerie dark fiction. I hope because of ladies like this the misconception is changing, and the voice of women in horror will grow.

Fatally Yours: What elements can female authors bring to the horror genre that are lacking in males’ perspectives?

Louise Bohmer: I think women horror authors tend to be a bit more internal and, in some cases (but, really, I’m generalizing a bit here) more cerebral. Male authors often go after the action and high octane factor (but then Tom Piccirilli is a great example of a male writer who is cerebral and more internal). Female authors often concentrate more on social issues, human issues, or a rediscovery of self, and they weave this into a strange tale. I also find women horror authors don’t go after the overt scare as often as male horror authors do.

Fatally Yours: Do you feel women authors in horror get the proper recognition when compared to their male counterparts?

Louise Bohmer: I think it’s been hard in the past for women horror writers to achieve the deserved recognition, but then I think that has a lot to do with the fact there were so few of us out there. But then look at someone like Shirley Jackson. No one can dispute her contribution to weird fiction. However, mention H.P. Lovecraft and Shirley Jackson in the same breath, and chances are more people have heard of Lovecraft.

I think as the amount of women horror writers grow, you’ll see recognition for female horror writers increase too, both on a contemporary and historical level. Women in history, in general, have been anonymous for so long, we’re only now realizing their literary contributions. After all, at one time, women were to be seen and not heard, much as was said of children. Now as women more and more take control over their identities in society, I think female horror writers will grow to be more widely known, and more recognition will come.

Fatally Yours: Since you’ve been involved with the horror genre, have you noticed an increase in women becoming involved with the genre, whether they be fans or writers?

Louise Bohmer: Yes, definitely. It’s wonderful to see. Growing up, as far as contemporary female writers went, I could count on one hand how many I knew of and read, as compared to the abundance of males in the genre. These days, I see a lot more females reading and writing horror and dark fiction. Women don’t have to hide their love of horror as much as they once did, and they shouldn’t. More and more females are laying claim to the fact they have a dark side too, and they want to write about it.

Fatally Yours: Do you feel that other people view women as being “soft” and not able to endure horror as well as men? How do you fight this stereotypical view?

Louise Bohmer: Definitely, some people do indeed. Like I said earlier, we’re viewed as the nurturers—the mothering force—but not all of us are mothering or nurturing at all. Stereotypes about women have been set up so we’re not supposed to be tough, angry, or aggressive. But, indeed, we can be all these things. Some women identify with the ‘male’ gender more than the female, and we’re often seen as the bitches. But we’re not. We’re just different from the societal stereotype of women.

I try to fight this stereotype by showing women can be different from how we traditionally perceive them (as can men.) I personally don’t believe in gender roles. We’re people first. Our sex should not define what we like, say, write, or how we act.

I try to write strong women who aren’t very traditional in their pursuits—to show the other side of females. To show that we too can be very diverse, even very ‘male’ sometimes.

Fatally Yours: The women in your writings are fierce and know how to take care of themselves. How do you go about creating such strong female characters?

Louise Bohmer: Thank you! Strong female characters are very important to me. I try to look to my own life for inspiration, and to the strong women who surround me. My maternal grandmother was a big inspiration for the women I create. She was tough as nails, and you listened when she told you to do something. She inspired me to be myself. To never agree just to agree, but to be honest about my feelings and opinions. Other friends and family I also draw inspiration from, and women in fiction or other fields whose achievements give me great hope for the future of female potential.

Fatally Yours: What women in horror do you admire? 

Louise Bohmer: At the top of my list would be: Shirley Jackson, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Poppy Z. Brite.

Fatally Yours: What inspires, influences and motivates you to keep writing about the darker side of life?

Louise Bohmer: Things I see in society, my own questions about why we’re here, why I’m here. Where humanity is going. The unknown, other authors I’ve enjoyed, odd music or my favorite songs. Often just a walk in the woods in the greatest inspiration of all. The silence of the forest trail is a great motivator for my imagination.

Fatally Yours: What advice would you give women who want to become involved in the horror genre?

Louise Bohmer: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t write horror because you’re female. Never give up, and write what you want to write. Don’t observe trends. Write the story that is uniquely you.

Fatally Yours: Who are your favorite horror authors and what are your favorite horror novels?

Louise Bohmer: I’m a big Clive Barker fan. He’s been a huge inspiration on my imagination. My favorite novels by him are: Weaveworld, Imagica, Hellbound Heart and, well, just about anything he’s written. I have yet to read a Barker I haven’t enjoyed.

Other writers I enjoy are Tom Piccirilli, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Wrath James White, Monica J. O’ Rourke. There are so many, I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

Other favorite novels: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Shining by Stephen King, We Have Always Lived in This Castle by Shirley Jackson. I know I’m forgetting many more!

Fatally Yours: What was the last good book in the horror genre that you read?

Louise Bohmer: Valley of the Dead by Kim Paffenroth, and Mama Fish by Rio Youers.

Fatally Yours: What are your goals for yourself within the literary world?

Louise Bohmer: I’d like to write and edit professionally on a full time basis. I have one more year of editing experience to chalk up before I can take my certification test, by the EAC standards (Editors Association of Canada) and if I pass all the tests I’ll be a certified editor. I have a lot farther to go with the writing. I do have a dark fiction collection in the works with a micro-press, and another press is interested in a novella series I’m working on, so hopefully they’ll take it. I’m also working on a poetry chapbook. My second novel is started, but with many other projects demanding my attention now, I’ve shelved it until I have more time to devote to it.

Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you? 

Louise Bohmer: Folks can find more info on me at:
I’ve got my own little forum, courtesy of Skullvines Press Forum, at:
And you can check out a humorous tale from me in Tabloid Terrors 3, now available for pre-order from Skullvines Press

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