Today, let’s meet with Silvia Moreno-Garcia to talk about about women in / and Lovecraftian fiction.
Hello Silvia. Thanks again for answering my questions ! For those who may not know you yet, could you please introduce yourself ?
I am the best-selling author of the novels Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Certain Dark Things, Untamed Shore, and a bunch of other books. I have edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters).
When did you meet Lovecraft for the first time ?
I read Lovecraft as a teenager, right after reading Poe. He was one of the first horror writers I encountered.
Is there any text by HPL which is your favorite?
“The Colour out of Space” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”
In 2016, you wrote a thesis « MAGNA MATER: WOMEN AND EUGENIC THOUGHT IN THE WORK OF H.P. LOVECRAFT ». You write that HPL constructs women as agents of « biological chaos ». Could you explain this idea?
Eugenics was the belief that you could improve the human race by preventing or encouraging the reproduction of certain people who were deemed superior and inferior. Because you are talking about reproduction, women become important components of eugenics discourse. Some of what you see in popular cultural is the promulgation of an ideal woman and mother. And on the other side of the equation you have ‘dangerous’ women and bad mothers : women who are sexually promiscous or poor, for example. To eugenicists, these women pose a threat to the human race. And in Lovecraft’s work, when we find women, they also pose a threat to people. Let’s put it this way: the fish people of Innsmouth had to have a mother.
How Lovecraft’s depiction of women can be related to the eugenics movement of the early 20th century in America ?
Lovecraft corresponded frequently with women and admired a number of women writers. But Lovecraft didn’t feature women in his stories very prominently. When he does, he has a number of biological anxieties which can be tied to some of the eugenicist thoughts of the era. For example, in the Dunwich horror Lavinia is an albino woman, which makes her biologically unfit, and her inhuman child is described as “black.” He seems to be a monstrous representation of race mixing, which was a common fear of eugenicists.
You are also publisher at Innsmouth Free Press. When and why did you decide to create your own publishing house?
It was around 2009. I met fellow writer Paula R. Stiles and we knew a lot of women and authors of color who were interested in Weird fiction but were not being featured in many places. We thought it was an underutilized pool of talent and that we could tap into it and it would be fun.
You published an anthology of women and Lovecraft’s Mythos She Walks in Shadows. Was it difficult to find lovecraftian fiction written by women?
Many women have written works inspired by Lovecraft, but they are frequently forgotten and written out of the canon. The blog Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein, which is run by Bobby Derie, has a huge repository of stories by women.
Did you encounter any difficulty to convince female authors to write texts related to an an author who was so harsh with women?
No. As I said before, women have contributed to the Mythos, but they are quickly forgotten or written out of the canon. In the case of my anthology, it was spurred because women were not often invited to participate in Lovecraft inspired anthologies yet I knew there were many of them who had an interest in this niche. Several of the contributors, such as Molly Tanzer and Gemma Files, were people I had published before in other projects and they had done explicitly Lovecraftian worked or had expressed an interest in it and had worked in other horror modes.
More generally ,what is so special with Lovecraft that makes contemporary writers still tackle his works and Mythos almost 80 years after his death ?
He functions like a Lego kit. You can reassemble the pieces into whatever shape you want.
Your new book is called Mexican Gothic . « It’s Lovecraft meets the Brontës in Latin America » says The Guardian. Could you tell us more about your book and its lovecraftian flavor?
I named one of the characters after Lovecraft. Lovecraft was concerned with the past, with family secrets and compromised genealogies, so there’s some of that. But I was most often trying to hit the feeling of uncertainty of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and the tropes of classic Gothic tales.
So Mexican Gothic will be a TV series on Hulu ! How do you feel about that ?
Glad. But I would caution it might be a TV series. It has been optioned and hopefully it’ll become a real show one day, but it can take years to develop anything for the small or big screen.
What are you currently working on?
My next novel out in 2021 is A Dangerous Eagerness, a noir set in Mexico City during the summer of 1971. And my vampire novel Certain Dark Things will also be reprinted next year.
Thank you Silvia !
Les indicibles entretiens de l’Association Miskatonic sont sous licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0