About Mary SanGiovanni

Author of the Hollower trilogy, Thrall, Chaos, For Emmy, Possessing Amy, The Fading Place, and more.

Women in Horror Month 2021

So next month is Women in Horror Month.

In the past, I think I’ve made my feelings clear on what this means, but I have some new thoughts for the new year, and I hope you’ll indulge me a moment as I relate them.

I absolutely appreciate every time my name is mentioned on a reading list, a “best of” list, a list of women writers you should be reading, etc. I admit that it gives me a little thrill to know I’m not writing in a void, and that what I am writing means something to people. And since writing is such a solitary profession, it is sometimes the only way that I know you’re reading my work. I love seeing that, and I am always grateful. Now, during WiHM, we see a lot of these lists, specifically of women writing horror, and in the last few years especially, they’ve been pretty comprehensive, and show a wide range of women authors being read. While, ideally, women writers would like to appear on these lists all year long, it feels good to be acknowledged at least in February for all the hard work we put into our work. While, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need a WiHm because sex/gender/race/orientation, etc. would be irrelevant from a buying and selling standpoint and writers would simply be known for their work, the world isn’t quite set up for that yet, even though we’re making some significant strides in that direction. A month acknowledging and introducing women to new readers is helpful. We acknowledge and appreciate our allies who do what they can to recognize, acknowledge, and encourage us.

But I’d like to make some suggestions. If you do these things already, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

If the purpose of WiHM is to bring awareness of women writers to a larger audience and to balance professional/financial opportunities for career security and success between male and female writers of horror, then let’s focus efforts on doing just that. This year, instead of JUST lists of women writer recommendations, I would encourage folks to go a little farther.

If you haven’t already, read some women horror writers — living women horror writers. It occurs to me that if the only women horror writers you can name and/or say you’ve read are Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, and Daphne Du Maurier, then in essence, it’s like saying these women were a historical fluke, and that nothing of note in horror has been done since then. This is, of course, untrue, and fans of horror do a disservice to themselves in missing out on some great fiction.

Perhaps discuss a book by a woman writer you’ve read, and talk about why you liked it. Tell others why it is a good, scary book, why it is a worthy contribution to the cannon of horror literature. Tell others why they might want to consider buying and reading this book. Tell family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances — anyone you think might be interested. Start a dialogue about why that book made an impression on you, and why it might make an impression on others, too.

If you’re a writer, discuss some of the women writers who have influenced you, and why. What is it about their style or their work or their approach to their careers that you admire? Tell other writers. Tell readers. Tell publishers. Both readers and writers who admire you (and, to some extent, publishers, too) are interested in what has shaped you as a writer. I have often seen people look up and read authors they have never heard of, simply because an author they admire mentioned those who were an influence.

Legitimize women as writers of horror. While, for the purposes of this article, I refer to us as women horror writers or female horror writers for the sake of clarity, when you discuss books in general, that qualification really isn’t necessary. It’s not a phenomenon that, despite being women, we write horror. If anything at all, it’s simply another perspective, shaped by experience, which allows us to tell horror with different themes, focuses, and approaches.

Recommend us for projects because you genuinely admire our work, our work ethic, and our potential, not because you need a woman writer to fill a quota. Now look, I know that publishing is a business. A successful business makes money. A successful business person in publishing seeks out writers who do good work, do it on time with no headaches, and have the kind of reputation that brings in readers. I’m telling folks that women writers can promise the first two now. In time, we can promise the third item, as well, so long as we can work toward eradicating the misguided concept that women can’t write original, scary horror fiction. It’s a bias that I think time can resolve, as well as chances that allow us to show larger and larger audiences what we can do. Give us an opportunity to prove that readers will keep coming back for our work and will trust in its ability to move them.

When you represent us, don’t just try to sell our work for projects that fit some concept of a “feminine” or niche angle. Again, I understand that as author representatives, you are, in a sense, looking for the best fit. And I respect that. But it goes back to legitimizing women’s work in the same way we do men’s. Represent us for the same kinds of jobs, the same money that you would represent male clients for. Go after those same big-fish projects for us, and we’ll work hard to make sure we deliver and make it worth everyone’s while. We are willing to work in writers’ rooms. We’re willing to do tie-ins. We’d like to see our work optioned for television and movies and streaming services. We’ll do interviews with TV, radio, and news outlets. We’ll travel for meetings if you need us to. We’d love to see our work translated into other languages all over the world. We are absolutely happy to think outside the box, and to try new things and new forms of media that can help books stay competitive with other forms of entertainment in this rapidly changing, tech-heavy world. We have ideas. We have enthusiasm. We want to go big.

Media coverage can do a lot of good for people in entertainment fields. If you are a big news outlet, a pop culture web hub, or an influencer in any way over what people read, consider doing an article or interview on women writing horror. Don’t minimize or “cutesy” it in any way. Tell your readership that women ARE doing this, right alongside all the men whose names they might already recognize. Help us reach an audience wider than the community who already knows us. Help us reach the casual browser, the beach reader, the airport shopper, the grocery store book buyer.

You don’t need to skew us toward more “female-friendly” marketing unless we’re writing in those genres/subgenres. You can call my work horror. You can call it supernatural thriller. That’s what it is. It’s not paranormal romance just because two characters kiss once and because I’m a woman. It’s not sexy gothic because I wear black and I’m a woman. It’s not erotica because I like sex and I’m a woman. I don’t have to write in a certain style or in a certain genre because of my lady parts, and you don’t have to market me that way. Read what I’m writing, and market it for what it is. If I write a paranormal romance, market it as such. When I write horror, call it that. Let people see that women write a wide variety of things, horror not the least among them.

At conventions and book signings, as you pass the tables of authors with their books for sale, read the author names on the book covers. If I’m sitting at a table with a man who has also written books, but my name is on the book cover, then understand that HE didn’t write those books — I did. This would seem fairly obvious, but sometimes people dismiss the woman behind the table. I am not, in that capacity, a partner, a girlfriend/wife, a +1, or his administrative assistant. I am a writer in my own right, and I am displaying the results of the hard work I’ve put into creating a literary product.

There are some things women writers have to navigate themselves. We have to decide what we want to wear — jeans and t-shirts like so many of our male counterparts, dresses, or business clothes, makeup, etc. — and how we want to present ourselves. We decide how much sexuality goes into our public image, because it’s a hard facts-of-life truth that women still are judged on that and so it’s still a consideration. We have to take some initiative in going after projects, negotiating fairness in contracts, and hell, sometimes, just making statements that are either a) actually heard, or b) not just automatically attributed to the nearest male. We have to be heard, to make our words count, to make ourselves seen, and to get our work read. We have to work twice as hard sometimes to be considered half as good. We have to consider what to do with WiHM, and how to make the best use of it so that come March 1st, people don’t go back to forgetting. And I encourage fellow women writers to be bold in doing those things. Bold does not have to mean bitchy. We have grace, class, talent, and power — bold means using those qualities to avoid being forgotten, ignored, or walked over, and that’s okay.

There are plenty of men (and other women and people of fluid genders) that are there for us and will support us and can understand struggling. We see them — we love and appreciate them — and we acknowledge that they’re there for us. They are our champions in this business. But the biggest champions for women writers are those women writers themselves. We can do this. We have been doing this. We will keep doing it.

To those who support women horror writers in any way they can, big or small, thank you. It is, sometimes, those little gestures that make all the difference. And to those who want to support us, I hope these suggestions are helpful. I think we can make next month, and all the months in 2021, a truly positive move forward for horror writers everywhere.

A (Hopefully Final) Statement Regarding Poltergeist Press

I am sick of talking about this. I’m sick of having to relate my thoughts on it over and over.  I’m sick of being reminded of uncomfortable,  unpleasant, and painful memories every time this flares up. So consider this my definitive statement.

I thought Brian and I had made it pretty clear, on more than one occasion, what our stances on Poltergeist Press were, but one of the continuing problems with the situation is that the gray areas surrounding PP’s operation seem to keep casting doubt. I had no idea my book was still listed on their site, for example.  I have the rights reversion letter for that English language book, my understanding was that they had taken it out of print (or were in the process of doing so), and there are no forthcoming Russian editions. That’s not changing. 

I think Brian and I have a track record of being fair and honest with matters concerning sexual harassment and publishing, and we will continue to do so.  We have a track record of obtaining all the facts, from all sides, and we always try to make fully informed decisions.  We consider all facets, some of which others might not be aware of or directly involved with, when making those decisions.  

It’s frustrating and disheartening, but I can only do so much.  I believe I’m a good person at heart — honest, loyal, and understanding.  I don’t jump into decisions regarding professional or personal relationships, forming or ending them, lightly.  I have to follow my heart and conscience, and those want to see the Anna that I knew do well, the Matt that I thought I knew get therapy and do better, and the genre I’ve loved and supported and worked in for 20 years move past this. However, because of the continually swirling cloud of toxicity and vitriol surrounding PP and its supporters, I see no way to continue supporting them that I can be comfortable with.

Brian and I have made a number of public statements both on the air and in print regarding good faith, good will, and a desire to let people heal and move on; we support the women who have come forward, of which I am one, and will continue to do so.  

Writing Updates

Hi, folks! I wanted to update everyone on some new things coming down the pipeline this year — new books, new appearances, and new shenanigans of cosmic proportions!

This year will see the publication of my very first post-apocalyptic novella through Cemetery Dance, titled The Skin We’re In. I think it’s one of the darkest things I’ve ever written, along the lines of For Emmy. I’m really proud to be a part of CD’s novella line, and can’t wait to see what folks think of my venture into post-apocalyptic fiction. I don’t believe there’s a solid pub date yet, but it should likely be sometime this fall.

Another novella of mine, The Shapes of Night, is also to be published this year. I’m not sure I can announce the publisher yet, but as details become available, I’ll let folks know.

I’ve recently completed a graphic novel adaptation of Richard Chizmar’s and Billy Chizmar’s Widow’s Point. Details to follow on that as well.

I’m currently at work on what I think is the best and possibly scariest thing I’ve ever written, a cosmic horror haunted house novel I’m very excited about it. I look forward to bringing you details about this one soon, as well.

I’m updating my 2020 appearances now — I certainly hope to see you this year.

Cosmic Shenanigans will be moving from the Project Entertainment Network to Brian Keene Radio starting on April 1st. This should not affect listeners’ ability to find past or future episodes – they’ll still be available in all the usual places where you listen to podcasts. There will be a beautiful new look to the title card and merchandise. Further, I’m moving to a more regular, weekly schedule, so barring unforeseen circumstances, there should be content every week, including new interviews, readings, analysis of classical and modern cosmic horror in various facets of entertainment and the real world, and other cosmic shenanigans.

Further, I’m putting a call out for ads for Cosmic Shenanigans. I’ll be running two ads per episode, and they should be no longer than one minute in length. If you’re interested in advertising, contact engineer Matt Wildasin at thegrindedword@gmail.com.

MS Editing Services

Hi, everyone! In an effort to better support myself financially, in addition to writing my own novels/novellas/short stories, I’ve decided to put to use my editing experience and offer manuscript editing services. I have 20+ years of writing and editing experience, and have written 17 books, numerous short stories, comics, non-fiction articles, press releases, ad copy, marketing content for products, how-tos, and brochures. I have a working familiarity with the speculative fiction market, particularly horror, and have taught reading and writing as well as navigating the publishing industry for over four years.

For $3/page, double-spaced, I will copy edit, content-edit, check for continuity issues, and offer suggestions throughout the manuscript. Payment is to be made in advance, preferably through Paypal (marysangiovanni@hotmail.com). Turnaround time, barring unforeseen circumstances, is about 9 days for full-length work, 5 for novellas/novellettes, and 1 day for short stories 5k or less.

If you’re interested in my editing your manuscript, please contact me at marysangiovanni@hotmail.com with “MS Editing” in the Subject line, and I’ll be happy to discuss your needs further and do my best to accommodate you. If you know of any other writers who might be interested, please pass this info along to them.

Thank you! I look forward to working with you!

News, Appearances, and Reader Goodies

I wanted to let folks know that my newest novel, Beyond the Gate, is now available for pre-order. This is the fourth book in the Kathy Ryan series and one of the wildest yet, and may be the last Kathy Ryan book for a little while, at least. I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy.

You can pre-order it HERE.

Also, I’ve been revamping my website, as you may have noticed. I’ve included a page for reader/fan goodies — things like concept art, fan art, maps, trivia, Easter eggs, histories, and anything else I think might appeal to readers. If you’d like to contribute something in the way of fan art, by all means, let me know, and I’ll post your work there for others to ooh and ahh at and admire.

Regarding upcoming appearances, I’ve recently updated my Appearances page. I know my schedule is a little light this year, but a combination of getting more work done and saving some money has compelled me to pick and choose very carefully. If you’ll be at any of these upcoming events, please stop by and say hi! I’ll have copies of my new book, Inside the Asylum, as well as a bunch of others, and will be signing whatever folks bring along for me. I hope to see you!

One final thing — Brian Keene, Damien Angelica Walters, Gwendolyn Kiste, and I will beteaching a Lit Reactor workshop, THE HORROR, THE HORROR VIII, late this summer. I believe spots are available if you’d like to sign up.

Some Announcements

First, I’d like to let everyone know that the absolutely gorgeous signed, limited edition of NIGHT MOVES is available now from Thunderstorm Books. It’s so lovely. I hope you’ll consider picking one up before they’re all gone: http://thunderstormbooks.com/thunderstorm/book/night-moves/

If you haven’t picked up BEHIND THE DOOR yet, Bookbub is running a promotion where you can pick it up in e-book for $.99! Check it out HERE.

Chat with Me Tonight

I’m doing a chat tonight to support the Pixel Project, an organization dedicated to eradicating violence against women. I’ll be doing a live reading from Savage Woods and answering all your burning questions (and perhaps some smoldering ones, too). I hope you’ll join me for this worthy cause this evening. Check out the info above.

New Kathy Ryan Book and Holiday Promotion

Hi there!   

So in having discussions with other authors I respect greatly,  it was noted that my promotional efforts regarding my own work are somewhat passive and spotty, which is absolutely true.  I am not great at hawking my wares, so to speak.  However, I recognize the importance of consistent promotion in building and maintaining a readership base, so let me try to catch folks up on what is going on with me.

Patreon — In case you’re not aware of it, I have a Patreon.  I would like to increase the number of subscribers because Patreon is currently a much-needed source of income for me.  I have bills and debt and tuition, and I would like to avoid loans and handouts if I could; Patreon gives me an opportunity to feel like I’m trading goods for financial compensation.  In 2019, I’m hoping to switch things up a little on my Patreon, and maybe offer new tiers and incentives.  If you’ve been supporting me through  Patreon, now matter how great or how small, please know how much it means to me, really and truly.  I’m moved and humbled by people’s faith in my work, I can’t tell you how often that money has come through for me just when I really needed it.  If you’d like to support my Patreon, go HERE.  And thank you.

If you’re looking for something to read this holiday while you’re snowed in with family or friends, might I suggest one of the following?

TBA


“True Detective” meets H.P. Lovecraft in this chilling novel of murder, mystery, and slow-mounting dread from acclaimed author Mary SanGiovanni….

It begins with a freak snowstorm in May. Hit hardest is the rural town of Colby, Connecticut. Schools and businesses are closed, powerlines are down, and police detective Jack Glazier has found a body in the snow. It appears to be the victim of a bizarre ritual murder. It won’t be the last. As the snow piles up, so do the sacrifices. Cut off from the rest of the world, Glazier teams up with an occult crime specialist to uncover a secret society hiding in their midst.

The gods they worship are unthinkable. The powers they summon are unstoppable. And the things they will do to the good people of Colby are utterly, horribly unspeakable…

BUY PAPERBACK (Amazon)
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BEHIND THE DOOR – 

TBA

Occult specialist Kathy Ryan returns in this thrilling novel of paranormal horror from Mary SanGiovanni, the author of Chills . . .

Some doors should never be opened . . .

In the rural town of Zarepath, deep in the woods on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, stands the Door. No one knows where it came from, and no one knows where it leads. For generations, folks have come to the Door seeking solace or forgiveness. They deliver a handwritten letter asking for some emotional burden to be lifted, sealed with a mixture of wax and their own blood, and slide it beneath the Door. Three days later, their wish is answered—for better or worse.

Kari is a single mother, grieving over the suicide of her teenage daughter. She made a terrible mistake, asking the powers beyond the Door to erase the memories of her lost child. And when she opened the Door to retrieve her letter, she unleashed every sin, secret, and spirit ever trapped on the other side.

Now, it falls to occultist Kathy Ryan to seal the door before Zarepath becomes hell on earth . . .

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BUY NOOK (B&N)

Regarding new books coming out in 2019, first up in the newest installment in the Kathy Ryan series, INSIDE THE ASYLUM, which you can pre-order now.

From “master of cosmic horror” (Library Journal) Mary SanGiovanni, comes the latest terrifying novel featuring occult specialist Kathy Ryan . . .

A mind is a terrible thing to destroy . . .

Kathy has been hired to assess the threat of patient Henry Banks, an inmate at the 
Connecticut-Newlyn Hospital for the Criminally Insane, the same hospital where her brother is housed. Her employers believe that Henry has the ability to open doors to other dimensions with his mind—making him one of the most dangerous men in modern history. Because unbeknownst to Kathy, her clients are affiliated with certain government organizations that investigate people like Henry—and the potential to weaponize such abilities.

What Kathy comes to understand in interviewing Henry, and in her unavoidable run-ins with her brother, is that Henry can indeed use his mind to create “Tulpas”—worlds, people, and creatures so vivid they come to actual life. But now they want life outside of Henry. And they’ll stop at nothing to complete their emancipation. It’s up to Kathy—with her brother’s help—to stop them, and if possible, to save Henry before the Tulpas take him over—and everything else around him.

Praise for the novels of Mary SanGiovanni

“SanGiovanni evokes a Lovecraftian sensibility in this action-filled story. . . . Scary, suspenseful, smart, and gory, the novel is also beautifully set and described.” 
—Library Journal on Savage Woods

“A feast of both visceral and existential horror.” —F. Paul Wilson on Thrall

“Filled to the brim with mounting terror.” —Gary A. Braunbeck on The Hollower

“A fast-building, high-tension ride.” —James A. Moore on The Hollower

Also, THE HOLLOWER has been revamped with a new cover and a new audiobook version.  If you’ve never read the series, you can start HERE.

Also coming in 2019, I believe, is my novella from Cemetery Dance, titled The Skin We’re In.  It’s one of the most brutal (and one of the few post-apocalyptic) stories I’ve ever written, and I’m kind of proud of it.  I hope you’ll consider checking it out when it comes out.

Book Signing This Weekend

I’ll be signing copies of my latest novel, Behind the Door, this Saturday, September 8th, at Protean Books & Records.  I’ll be joined by amazing authors Brian Keene, Stephen Kozeniewski, and Wesley Southard.  We’ll be happy to sign books you bring from home but please consider supporting the store by purchasing a book or record as well.

I hope you’ll stop by!  Details:

Protean Books & Records
836 Leadenhall St
Baltimore, MD 21230
Signing noon – 3pm