Horror writers just write about what they’re afraid of! I have a moderately debilitating chronic illness and a long standing, deeply ingrained fear of diseases like cancer and the such inborn from the usual childhood experiences with relatives who die quickly and traumatically from things usually portrayed in the media as slow moving. It’s difficult for me to conceive of any story concept without a healthy dollop of body horror and this particular flavour of powerlessness creeps into most of my writing. I also — as someone who studied modern war history in their academic life — have put a lot of thought into the issue of hierarchical violence. I’m not interested in revenge fantasies, but I am just as interested in the psychological effect of committing violence as I am in how it feels to experience it. Because, you know, I am a very small woman and I am sometimes terrified of violence and inhabiting its skin makes for powerful, honest writing I’ve found.

I’m interested in the stories of “powers” as a burden, or something monstrous, absent of all the asinine (and often belittling to real life marginalized groups) trappings of “people with powers as an oppressed minority”, and I’m interested in how transformation and transgression affect people who are more like me. In other words, every tortured white male anti-hero would be much better as someone who actually experience systemic oppression and violence. Privileged versions of these narratives tend to focus on re-affirming lofty virtues, social structure and responsibility and there are very good versions of that narrative, but I’m more interested in what these stories look like from the bottom, and what they do to characters on an intimate, psychological and philosophical level. No moralizing: just fragile, messy human emotions.

Jennifer Giesbrecht
Interviewed by Andrea Johnson
Apex Magazine 6tth July 2016