WIH Spotlight: Alannah K. Pearson
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a Woman In Horror writer.
Well, I’m an Australian and for as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed writing. It’s like a meditation for me, cathartic and escapism all at once. As to how I came to write horror, I love dark fiction, really enjoy the psychological aspects of Horror genre, the why is often far more disturbing than the what is happening for me. Plus, I’m told that living in Australia, everything wants to kill you, I guess it’s a natural progression then? In my other life, I’ve got university degrees in Archaeology, human and primate evolution – my “day job” as a doctoral candidate involves skeletons, deep time and many “macabre topics”. But aside from dark fiction and Horror, I also write dark fantasy, historical fantasy, and anything folklore-inspired on the speculative fiction scale.
It’s almost cliche that authors live on black coffee and hard liquor. What are you drinking right now?
I suppose I am cliché then! I certainly can’t attempt writing without a double/triple shot coffee – but I can’t abide black coffee. That’s just a special type of self-torture. When meeting deadlines, I’m partial to Irish whiskey in my coffee. But, I’m drinking water right now. It’s not dark chaos all the time…
Tell us about the first piece of writing you had published and how that impacted you?
Well, I’m pretty new to the publishing scene with my first pieces of writing only published last year. But my first piece was a self-published dark fantasy novel Bone Arrow in 2018, now undergoing some significant re-writing. This journey represented the culmination of confidence in my writing and myself, knowing my voice had as much worth to be heard as others. I think gaining that confidence is something many women writers, all experience at some point. It was a turning point that gave me the strength to submit short stories and now novellas and novels to open publishing market.
Did you know you wanted to write other genres as well as horror? Were you always interested in writing horror specifically?
I was always fascinated by the horror genre. I am fascinated by fantasy writing too, especially dark fantasy where the roots of fables and folklore still run very close to the surface. I harbour nostalgia for classic gothic horror and the psychological facets of what makes us as a species, afraid. There is a deep, primal and ancient sense of fear that we as humans seem to share, a fear of the dark and unknown, those things we can’t fully-perceive, whether this is with literal sight or a more metaphorical sense. In that moment, our imagination takes control, both a beautiful and terrible thing.
What’s your favourite trope in the horror genre? To read? To Write?
I enjoy reading gothic horror including classic authors Mary Shelley, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, and more recent authors not limited to Stephen King, T.J. Kingfisher, Stephen Graham Jones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Angela Slatter. The common tropes to these Horror writers and those that I enjoy writing myself include a dark, psychological element and often aspects of folklore, myth or legend.
Do you feel an obligation to speak for or represent women through your writing?
Yes. Although, having said that, I feel a strong need to advocate for any minority groups through my writing. My personal experience is connected to being female, identifying as LBGTQI+ and having a disability, my experience not limited to both physical and psychological manifestations. For me, Horror writing has a long history in holding a mirror to society as in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and showing that what society fears is what it cannot understand. My hope is that my writing represents these aspects through exploring topics and aspects of ourselves that society finds uncomfortable.
Writing in a pandemic. Has it changed the way you write? Has it made an impact on your voice?
Writing is a cathartic exercise for me. I find the escapism of the page, the world of my characters and experiences to be somewhere the emotions and energies accumulated during the day can fade. For me, there’s an almost a meditative quality to writing and being naturally solidarity but not confined during any strict lockdown measures, my writing practice wasn’t impacted negatively. I have been writing a great deal more during the pandemic to combat the stress I’ve witnessed in friends and the constant emotional turmoil. In writing more, my voice as an author has grown in confidence and I hope my contribution to several anthologies during 2020 lockdown measures in the pandemic has provided some escapism for readers.
What will we see from you in 2021?
2021 promises to be a busy year with several flash fiction and short stories coming soon in different anthologies. I am also working on various short stories and flash fiction, alongside a fantasy novel, dystopian dark fiction and horror novellas.
Alannah K. Pearson is a speculative fiction author inspired by global folktales, mythology, folklore, archaeology, history, and the environment. Her short fiction features in anthologies from Black Hare Press, Deadset Press and CSFG Publishing. She is a keen nature and wildlife photographer, bookshop, and Museum devotee, and when not writing, she enjoys exploring the Australian wilderness always accompanied by dogs (canine assistants). In her other life, an academic background in archaeology and human evolution has her completing a PhD in primate evolution. Alannah K. Pearson lives in Canberra, Australia. Follow her at www.alannahkpearson.com | Twitter & Facebook @alannahkpearson | Instagram @alannahk.pearson