One of the first things a colleague said to me after she’d read my first book – The Willow Tree – was: But Bekki, I thought you were a nice girl!
My response was: But I am!
It didn’t mean that she didn’t like my work, but she just hadn’t expected someone like me to have written such a dark, gory horror novel.
But I had.
And I’ve written a lot more since. I’ve written everything from extreme horror, to ghost stories, to psychological horror. What does that say about me? What does that say about me as an employee of the NHS? As a wife? A mother?
It doesn’t say anything about me, except that I like horror. I always have.
It has been hard over the years to prove my own worth in a genre dominated by men, although I am sure that men also receive such queries about their material – how can a sane, normal person write such extreme stories? There much be something unhinged about him!
But it feels that there is more pressure for a female to be soft around the edges, and if they write in such a genre as horror, it must be a little fluffier than how a man would write. I’ve tried to read a wide range of horror fiction written by women as well as men, and there is nothing fluffy about them – try The Missing by Sarah Langan, or anything by Shirley Jackson. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova also really disturbed me. Had these women been taken less seriously as writers of horror because of their gender?
I think horror is the most exciting, beautiful and intense genre there is, and possibly the genre for which most writers are scrutinised. Can you write good horror and still be a normal person who loves their husband, wife, children, family, and friends?
Of course you can.
I can disgust and horrify you, but I am also a nice person. I am a kind, loving person, completely normal.
Bekki Pate lives in Wolverhampton with her husband and daughter. She is a horror writer and loves all things spooky or gory—Richard Laymon and Stephen King being her favourite authors.
She draws her inspiration from other writers and her own imagination – the words also seem to flow better with a strong cup of coffee!
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