To end the month long celebration of Women In Horror, Shannon spoke with prominent horror journalist and author Heather Wixson about her love for the horror genre, her first book and Rondo nomination for “Monster Squad: Celebrating the Artists Behind Cinema’s Most Memorable Creatures”, and the women that inspire her.
Nightmarish Conjurings: To start things off, congratulations on your Rondo nomination for your book “Monster Squad: Celebrating the Artists Behind Cinema’s Most Memorable Creatures”! How did you find out and what’s going through your mind?
Heather Wixson: Thank you so much. I’m still not quite sure it’s real, but I think it is, so I’m just going with it. I found via a text message from one of my best friends, and my initial reaction was sobbing. Lots and lots of sobbing. This has been a two-year project that is still ongoing, so to be honored in any way for the work I’ve done so far is truly incredible, especially because this is my first book.
Nightmarish Conjurings: For those who may not be familiar with your book can you tell us a little bit about it?
HW: “Monster Squad: Celebrating the Artists Behind Cinema’s Most Memorable Creatures”profiles 20 special effects artists who helped shape the landscape of horror and sci-fi over the last 40-plus years. I realized a few years ago that there were a lot of books about how to make monsters but so rarely did we ever hear the stories from the folks who put themselves into those creatures. Also, because I’m a huge fan of film history, I wanted to help preserve these stories to the best of my ability too, and thankfully, I had some amazing artists who trusted me to retell their experiences, and it’s been an amazing journey for me to be able to honor them and their brilliant creations that so many of us have fallen in love with other the years.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Not only are you an author of a now-nominated book, but you are also the managing editor for Daily Dead. How long have you been with the site for?
HW: I’ve been with Daily Dead for almost five years now, but I’ve been writing about the genre professionally now for over a decade. I will say that being a part of the Daily Dead family has been the best experience I’ve had thus far, and it’s been so rewarding to see what we’ve been able to build over the years. I’m very lucky.
Nightmarish Conjurings: When did you know you wanted to write within the horror genre and what women in horror inspire you?
HW: I’ve been writing pretty much my entire life now, but I didn’t really know until around 2007 that horror entertainment journalism was even really a “thing.” I had been doing some newspaper writing locally for a few years prior, but I realized my heart just wasn’t in covering town hall meetings, or whenever a new sidewalk was being installed near a playground. So when I realized I could bring together two things I was passionate about – writing and horror movies – I just knew it was something I needed to pursue. I gave up a lot to follow this dream, but I’ve never once regretted my decision.
As far as women who inspire me, when I came into this industry, I was a huge fan of Jovanka Vuckovic and everything she was doing at Rue Morgue, so I was in awe of her (and still am, now that she’s transitioned into filmmaking). In general though, I’m grateful to know a handful of amazing women like Barbara Crampton, Felissa Rose, Caroline Williams, Sandy Carpenter and Lisa Wilcox who have all been incredibly kind to me, and are just amazingly talented and supporting of the genre as a whole.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What changes would you like to see within the genre to help elevate women within this (or any) industry?
HW: Obviously, the two biggest things would be creating more overall opportunities for women, and having better platforms in place to support female voices, whether as writers, directors, editors, producers, effects artists, etc. I don’t really know how we “get” to that place though, but it seems like each year, more strides are being made which is great. We have more women journalists out there being featured on more sites, and more female directors doing great work, so I think we just have to keep things moving in this forward direction.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What struggles have you faced as a writer and how have you overcome them?
HW: Oh, wow. I don’t even know where to start there. I’ve had my share of struggles, my share of failures, and so many moments where I’ve questioned whether or not I could (or should) even keep writing. I think the important thing for anyone who is creatively inclined to remember is that regardless of whatever the world throws at you, ultimately you are always going to be your own worst enemy. But if there’s something you deeply care about, you just have to keep pushing towards that goal, regardless of the obstacles, and don’t let anything get in your way. I never thought I would ever write a book, simply because I never thought I could, but I somehow pushed through all that self-doubt and got it done (which surprises me, to be honest).
Nightmarish Conjurings: Last, but certainly not least, are there any projects you are working on that we should be keeping our eyes out for in the future?
HW: Right now, I”m working on Volume II of “Monster Squad” which is a collection of (at least) 20 new interviews with more artists, so I’m hoping that will be out before the end of 2018. Beyond that, I’m just happy to get to continue to do what I love and that’s write about horror, although I think there might be a non-genre book project that I will be embarking on in 2019, but that’s not set in stone yet.
To stay up-to-date with Heather’s projects you can follow her on Twitter @horrorchick. To learn more about “Monster Squad” follow on Twitter @MonsterSquadFX.