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WIH Spotlight: Gemma Paul

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a Woman In Horror writer.

My names Gemma, I am a new writer from the UK where I live on the south coast with my two rescue dogs. By new writer I mean I have only been story/novel writing since summer 2020, so you can blame the pandemic! But I have been writing for a few years now in the form of scripts. When I turned 30 a couple of years ago I have a somewhat mid-life crisis, I quit my job where I made decent money and trained to become a make-up artist with dreams of becoming the next Rick Baker. I worked on a few small films, most local and found that I wanted to go back to my college routes, where I studied Film, and make a film of my own. So, I did. It was only a 6-minute short (horror of course, think Alice in Wonderland with vampires), but I made it with a few local friends and contacts, I put it on the film festival circuit and the first festival it got selected to show at was the Lady Filmmakers Festival in LA! I treated myself and went all the way over there to see it on the big screen and it was awesome, I’m not going to lie. I came back, made my second short horror and that went pretty far too. But after that second film I found myself more drawn to the writing side of things. I worked on several scripts including 2 TV pilots that again did well on the circuit, but I ultimately kept finding that my scripts were overwritten and weren’t exactly written in a way that would ‘cost-effective’ to make. So, come 2020 and a UK lockdown, I thought I’d try turning my scripts and the hundreds of ideas floating round in my head into stories instead of scripts, to really unleash my imagination without any restraints, without having to think ‘how on earth am I going to fund this?’. I have found the indie author community to be a great one, nothing but supportive and welcoming, and I hope I can make the women in horror community proud. As well as inspire young female writers with my children’s books on monster hunting.

What books did you read as a child that inspired you to become an Author?

I never particularly wanted to be an author as a child, I was always told at school by my teachers that my writing was weak, so I avoided it. But one book series that I read as a child which does inspire my writing now, is the Goosebumps books. I tend to flick between writing for children and writing for adults, and my children’s stuff is definitely Goosebumps inspired as my children’s books are all monster/horror based.

Did you know you want to write other genres as well as horror? Were you always interested in writing horror specifically?

Horror and monsters just seem to appear in my work, it wasn’t necessarily a choice, it just seemed to be the path I naturally took. It seems to be where my writing and my characters go when I start to tell a story. And if it’s not monsters, it’s mythical creatures. My biggest inspirations and the things I find myself drawn to are Tim Burton and the classic Universal Movie Monsters, the Bride of Frankenstein being my favourite, so much so I have a tattoo Tim Burton themed sleeve and a cartoon pin-up tattoo of the Bride on my thigh. I also has Nosferatu and Dr Frankenfurter tattooed so it’s safe to say if I didn’t write horror it would be odd.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I tend to write best when slouched on the sofa in my comfy pjs, tv on in the background and my laptop perched on my knee. I need that moment of relaxation and comfort in order for my brain to let loose. If I try to write any other way, like at my desk, I find I can’t.

What’s your favourite trope in the horror genre? To read? To Write?

I like stuff with a gothic feel to it, creature feature, quirky, which turns up a lot in my writing. I didn’t realize it until recently when I was trying to write something a little different and struggled, it was then I looked back and saw a common theme with my writing, and it’s usually a creature of some kind, even if that creature is more towards the human variety. With films I am a big Tim Burton fan, I love that quirkiness he puts into his work, so I like to look for that in writing too.

Do you feel an obligation to speak for or represent women through your writing?

I don’t particularly feel an obligation, but I do tend to write from a female perspective, pretty much 95% of what I have written has a strong female lead. It feels easier and more natural for me to write this way. My debut children’s novel has four strong 10-year-old girls who fight monsters in their town. I do feel it’s important to show younger children that girls can be the monster fighters too and do what is typically seem as a ‘boy’ thing. I have had several female adult beta readers remark about how they wish that had had that type of book around when they were young, which is a nice thing to hear. I want little girls to realize its ok to like horror, monsters and the scary even though they’re girls.

Besides horror, what is your favourite genre to read?

Fantasy is my genre outside of horror. Similar to how horror takes you away from the real world, I like how fantasy does that but in a different way. A lot of my stuff has fantasy elements to it so it’s definitely on par for me with horror. I like to delve into some YA as well. I suffer from dyslexia so sometimes reading can be tricky for me, depending on how stuff is written. A lot of older classic books I find difficult, and a lot of adult stuff for me is overwritten and I find it hard to get my head around, so I do venture towards YA at times. A favourite series of mine is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. A favourite adult author of horror is the master of the genre, Stephen King, his style really sucks me in and I find I can read page after page quickly getting lost in the words, in the non-dyslexic confusion way.

Award-winning filmmaker and script writer turned author, Gemma Paul is a horror and fantasy writer from the UK who enjoys writing and illustrating stories for all ages. She has three children’s picture books published and her first children’s novel due out February 2021, each one about monsters, to bring her love of horror to the young. She has also had several short stories published by Red Cape Publishing, WPC Press and Black Hare Press, and is about to head two group horror projects of her own conjuring for Black Hare Press.

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