WiHM: Spotlight Rachael Boucker
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a Woman In Horror writer.
I love to read and watch horror, but I always thought I’d be a professional artist. Oddly, it was through this love of art that I started writing. I had been making one page horror comics for my partner for anniversaries, birthdays etc. and decided I would write a zombie graphic novel, putting us in as the main characters. I couldn’t draw fast enough to keep up with my ideas, and it evolved into a whole different animal. We’re not the main characters anymore, and the Decaying Days trilogy turned out to be much darker than the humorous and gory comics, but I still took inspiration from my initial ideas and the people and places around me.
How do you feel about the past practice of women being advised to hide their first names when authoring books (J.K. Rowling, or a neutral name like Robin Hobb, for example) and do you feel we're past this in the writing world?
I’d like to think we’re past it. Plenty of authors choose to use non gender specific pen names, and I wonder if some now do it out of habitual practice, rather than feeling pressured to. Though the gross inequalities that first spurred the trend aren’t as prevalent as they were historically, I can see why some would still want that level of anonymity. It seems to lean more toward certain genres as well, horror being one of them. Children’s books, even in the past, often had women authors proudly displaying their names on their books (Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton etc.) and it was inspiring as a child to see that. There are many great women horror authors and I’d hope that when they choose a name to publish under, they do so without any outside force dictating to them.
Tell us about the first piece of writing you had published and how that impacted you?
Though I self published three novels, the first piece of writing I had accepted by a publisher was a story called Underlopers. I got to make up a brand new monster, which is always fun to do. Having that piece published alongside more established authors gave me a massive confidence boost and introduced me to many other great writers. Every short story I entered after that for a long streak got accepted, and though that streak didn’t last, I’ve found writing short stories helps to hone my skills for longer works.
It’s almost cliche that authors live on black coffee and hard liquor. What are you drinking right now?
White coffee... though, to lend to another cliche, I’m British, and you’ll often find me drinking tea.
Writing in a pandemic. Has it changed the way you write? Has it made an impact on your voice?
The pandemic is the reason I started writing and submitting so many short stories, as I found writing shorter pieces easier to manage with my children home than writing and editing full length novels. I’m not sure if it has impacted my voice generally, but it has influenced a story I’m currently working on. Though not a major feature in the plot, I was inspired by not being able to easily recognize some people with masks on, and how when it’s cold, I keep mine on after exiting the store. A handy thing for someone trying to conceal their identity.
Besides horror, what is your favourite genre to read?
I absolutely love sci-fi and fantasy, as these books often have the weirdest concepts and creative ideas. If there are strong horror elements in those stories—even better!
It’s the zombie apocalypse and somehow you find yourself locked in a room with two other people and a horde of zombies on the other side of the door. There is no food or water, you have to leave to survive. Real or Fiction, what would you want in that room with you?
Real? An escape hatch.
Fiction? A personal teleporter. I’d feel bad leaving my companions behind, and if that guilt leaked into the thought controlled navigation system of the teleporter, I might find myself deposited between the room and safety, say... smack bang in the middle of the horde. And while my two companions escape thanks to my distraction, and I’m being eaten alive, I would be grateful that they’re getting away and bitterly disappointed that I can’t trade fates with them. If I’m left intact enough to turn, I may well hunt them down.
Rachael Boucker lives in the Forest of Dean (yes, she calls from the forest) with her long suffering partner, three children, and two attack cockatiels. Having shunned the sun in favour of indoor pursuits, such as writing and painting, she has an affinity with shadows. She published her first book Decaying Days at the end of 2019, and the other two instalments of the trilogy early 2020, and has had a number of horror stories published in anthologies since. The forest is where she goes to absorb a sense of foreboding and isolation, a place where peace can turn to terror with the snapping of a twig.
Dith the Fire Witch: A Night Order Story will be published in March in Eerie River’s With Bone and Iron dark fantasy collection. The Night Order world is where she will spend most of 2021, polishing her first two books in this witch series, and drafting the next.
Though, she’s not planning to publish any novels this year, she is hoping to contribute to more anthologies.