Women in Horror 2019: Emma J. Gibbon

Emma J. Gibbon is originally from Yorkshire now lives in Maine. She is a writer and librarian. Her stories have appeared in Wicked Haunted, The Muse & The Flame and Toasted Cake podcast. Her poetry has been published in The Pedestal Magazine and Clash. Emma lives with her husband, Steve, and three exceptional animals: Odin, Mothra and M. Bison (also known as Grim). Her website is emmajgibbon.com.

1) what is horror?

The most common definition of horror is that it is something that evokes fear or shock or disgust and I think there’s a lot of mileage in that. What we fear or what shocks and disgusts us varies so wildly means that horror is a huge umbrella term that we can all stand awkwardly under.

For me, it’s the moment of transgression. When what is considered the norm, whether that is culturally, societally, personally is transgressed, whether it is something supernatural or monstrous or aberrant human behavior or the body or mind doing something unusual. That “we’re not in Kansas anymore and this is not the yellow brick road” moment or “everything is turned around like in a funhouse mirror” moment that is the key to where horror lies. Of course, this idea of what the norm is is a shared delusion anyway depending on your background and who you are.

2) why horror?

Again, I can only speak for myself but I am interested in that transgression and picking apart and demystifying norms. I’m always on the side of the monster, the underdog, the other and have always found “normal” people capable of much more evil than the so-called outsiders. So, I suppose horror let’s me play around with that—remove the masks like a reverse Scooby Doo episode. Normal neighbor guy is actually the monster!

Pretending that everything is all positivity and light is deeply creepy to me. I am much more comfortable in the shadows and I just think it’s psychologically healthier to acknowledge the light and the dark, life and death, good and the bad and all the gray spaces in-between. I’m very interested in writing about that gray, ambiguous, liminal area and I think that horror is the perfect space for that.

There’s also a lot to be said for horror as protection. A lot of life and the world is fucking terrifying and we have so little control of any of it. Horror can be a psychological practice run.

3) where do you see horror going?

I hope to see it become more diverse and to invite all kinds of people whose norms are different under that big awkward umbrella. More varied voices are always a good thing in anything, in my opinion. We’ve seen a resurgence in mainstream interest in horror and I really think that is a response to the world being especially horrific these days. I sometimes feel like the apocalypse is happening but it’s just not quite reached my house yet. It’s a simultaneously horrible yet privileged place to be in. I also think that when we get to the end of a decade, there seems to an uptick in interest in darker art (and skateboarding, for some reason). My hope is that this interest will act as an impetus to a creatively rich time in horror.

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