Women in Horror 2019: Victoria Dalpe

Victoria Dalpe is a writer and artist. Her dark short fiction has appeared in various anthologies and her horror novel, Parasite Life, came out through ChiZine Publications in 2018. She is a member of the HWA and the NEHW and is currently editing the Necronomicon 2019 Memento Book with Justin Steele. She lives with her husband, writer, and filmmaker Philip Gelatt, and their young son in Providence, RI.

Learn more at victoriadalpe.blogspot.com

1) what is horror?

For me, horror is a thought exercise, basically facing your fears and messing around with the various scenarios. It is a playground to muck around in our ID; playacting the roles of victim and victimizer, experiencing profound loss without having to leave your couch, seeing beyond the veil in some way or another. Horror, like any genre, allows us to dip a toe into an experience or emotion, and I think this trains us for dealing with the challenges of actual life. There is the catharsis that comes from being really scared and then realizing you’re safe. We are a complex animal, humans, and I think our brains enjoy exploring the grotesque, the abhorrent, the forbidden. Much in the way we enjoy comedy, and romance, and weep at dramas. I think our imaginations crave thought exercises and delving into more depraved and scary spaces as well. And because what each of us finds horrifying vary wildly, there are many flavors to chose from.

2) why horror?

I had an interesting conversation at a writer’s convention once, where another writer joked that he felt the dark fiction and horror writers often were the most down to earth and well-adjusted of the writing community. His theory was that we were essentially doing our therapy and exorcizing our demons by delving into our fears and darker fantasies in our work. I found that idea delightful. For me personally, I think my natural inclination is to look for balance, the sweet with sour, the good with bad. I’ve always been attracted to the more monstrous aspects of human nature, more out of fascination and a desire to understand. There is no answer to why bad things happen, but there is something illuminating in exploring those spaces. I think you learn about yourself in the process as well. 

3) where do you see horror going?

Horror is cyclical and directly tied to our natures. We tell stories of witches eating children to keep them from wandering. Monsters under the bed keep us under blankets. Hook killers in our backseats have us checking the cars. Culturally, I think it becomes more important when times are tough. Horror gives us a vehicle to explore our fears and blow them up into worst case scenarios. Horror provides a language with which to discuss the horrible, the unpleasant, the violent. We can look at our governments, our wars, our cultures, our vicious histories, and face our fears for the future. It’s a safe space to have hard conversations. I think it also isn’t all dry and academic, it’s also fun, and there can be a real feral pleasure from watching wanton violence, creative gore, and sheer mayhem. Let’s call it constructive carnage!

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