Q&A for UNDER HER SKIN
Edited by Lindy Ryan & Toni Miller (Black Spot Books, April 5, 2022)
Questions answered by Lindy Ryan
What can readers expect from your new book?
Under Her Skin is the first in an annual women-in-horror poetry showcase from Black Spot Books and features dark verse from women and femmes in horror. The first collection is focused on body horror, and we plan for each showcase to explore other resonant themes for women in horror.
What motivated you to develop and edit a Women in Horror-focused collection?
As a genre, horror has seen such an incredible resurgence. New voices, new stories. Black Spot Books is focused on amplifying voices in horror, and when we had the idea to produce a horror poetry showcase, we wanted to build a collection that spoke in a really intimate way toward the same. This is something particularly close to my heart, so I was proud to edit this inaugural showcase, and Toni Miller—one of the founding members of the Ladies of Horror Fiction—joined in to help build a phenomenal collection of over 80 contributors.
Do you think poetry is a good medium to explore the horrors of being a woman in contemporary society?
Poetry is such a potent art form—it cuts straight to the quick and gives us a mirror to experience intimate topics in a raw, unfiltered way. As such, I feel it’s a great way to put a fine point on the horrors of being a woman, like a needle, pricking on each individual nerve. Some of the pieces in the collection are short, some are long, some are prose, some are verse—all are powerful. One reviewer described Under Her Skin as “a nice little sip of arsenic after bouts of flowered tea,” and that may be the most apt way of describing this collection I’ve heard thus far.
What other elements do you explore in this collection—is it poems only?
Not at all. We’re proud to showcase women-in-horror in all aspects of this book: from Lynne Hansen’s absolutely stunning cover art, to the talents of Najla and Nada Qamber on the cover design and interior layout, to Marge Simon’s interior illustrations and the introduction graciously penned by Linda Addison. This book is poetry by genre, but a showcase of women-in-horror from cover to cover.
Did you find it difficult to narrow down your selects from the submissions received for this collection?
Insomuch as we had far more submissions than we could accept, absolutely. In fact, the response to this call for submissions (and for another of our upcoming women-in-horror projects, an anthology of Baba Yaga inspired stories called Into the Forest, planned for publication in November 2022) was tremendous—a testament both to the wealth of talent and creativity of women in horror, and to the resonance of how body horror speaks uniquely to women.
We’re already hard at work on our next women-in-horror poetry showcase, still untitled, which will be themed on domestic horror. We’re partnering with The Pixel Project on the second collection, and will donate a portion of proceeds to help end violence against women. We’ll be opening the call for submissions soon, and plan to release the second showcase in November 2023 in alignment with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.