Our latest guest of honor in our Women In Horror Series is, the author of All That’s Fair, S.H. Cooper.
S.H. Cooper is a Florida based author who got her start in 2016 by posting short horror stories to the Reddit subforum, NoSleep, under the username Pippinacious. Since then, she has published three collections, The Corpse Garden, From Twisted Roots, and All That’s Fair, a cosmic horror novella, The Festering Ones, and a young adult fantasy novel, The Knight’s Daughter, in addition to appearing in various anthologies.
Tell us a little more about yourself!
I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, starting with the first iteration of what would become my YA fantasy novel, The Knight’s Daughter, when I was 11. There was a long period where I took a break from original prose in favor of fanfiction and roleplaying, but I returned in 2016 by posting stories to the horror subreddit, NoSleep. Since then, I’ve written hundreds of short stories, released the three collections, and a cosmic horror novella, in addition to co-writing the horror comedy podcast, Calling Darkness.
In 2021, I’ll be releasing my second novella, a Victorian gothic horror titled Inheriting Her Ghosts.
So let’s talk about the forthcoming book! What was the inspiration for the storyline?
Inheriting Her Ghosts began as a very clear voice in my head, that of its narrator, Eudora Fellowes. I don’t know where she came from, really, only that she was loud and had a story to tell. I wrote the entire first chapter that same day. I think it was a little bit my love of gothic horror, a little bit my love of strong female leads, and a lot of just wanting to write a traditional ghost story. Eudora just happened to take the reigns and I’ve been following her lead since.
So as main characters go, you’d say Eudora holds a special place in your heart?
Eudora for sure. Out of every character I’ve ever written, she’s one of the closest to representing me, and the kind of person I’d like to be. She’s a misanthropic woman who prefers the company of her dogs over other people, which…isn’t too far off from myself. She’s also confident, comfortable in her own skin, and straight forward, traits I admire. There’s also a certain degree of humor to her, which is similar to my own.
Honestly I think Eudora is probably who I’m going to end up as if I ever grow up.
Was the writing process different and what challenges did you face when writing in the horror genre?
This book required a lot more research than I usually do for stories due to its specific time period and setting. I found myself researching everything from appropriate foods and word choice to bathroom setups. I also deferred to my good friend and editor, Elle Turpitt, who’s from Wales, with some questions and she was very helpful with sending me her own research and offering feedback on particulars that I, as an American, might be ignorant of.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I refer to myself as a very selfish writer. I read what I want, I write what I want, I do what I want. I’m terrible at keeping up with trends because of it. I don’t know that I’m terribly original, but I definitely only write what genuinely appeals to me as opposed to what’s the Current Big Thing. It keeps me happy and I think that comes across in the work.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Ego is a funny thing with writing. You have to have one to a degree. You have to think “Yes, what I’m doing is worth other people spending their time and money on.” If you aren’t your first champion, you won’t get very far.
That said, if believing in yourself crosses over into believing you’re better or more deserving than others, you’re in trouble. That kind of behavior, especially in the indie community I’m a part of, will definitely alienate readers and fellow writers, who are really your greatest support system.
What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien will always hold a special place in my heart. I was also a big fan of the Goosebumps series and the American Girl series (Team Felicity 4 life).
So what’s your favorite food?
I’m a simple woman. Give me a pepperoni pizza and we’re gonna get along just fine.
Would you rather always be an hour early or be constantly twenty minutes late?
Hour early, easy. As is, I’m usually at least ten minutes early everywhere I go because being late causes me huge anxiety. I’ll just sit on my phone instead of sweat over being even a minute late, thanks.
Coke or Pepsi?
How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I have a medieval fantasy horror in the works that’s a bit Dark Souls-inspired. It’s probably my favorite of the lot. It follows a young woman whose village has fallen victim to something called the weeping blight. After being saved, she joins her rescuer and together they unravel what the blight is and how it came to be.
As a woman author, what are you most proud of in bringing into horror literature?
I definitely wasn’t the first, but I kind of made it my Thing: Wholesome horror. That’s horror with a happy ending. It contains all the creepiness and scares of traditional horror, but subverts expectations by having the things that scare us be something that’s merely misunderstood and, often, benevolent.
Who are your favorite women writing in the genre?
I’m lucky to know so many amazing women in the horror genre. Elle Turpitt, who I mentioned previously, writes fantastic stories that combine uniquely Welsh elements with traditional horror. Olivia White, who I came to know through my involvement with The NoSleep Podcast, is a master (mistress?) of erotic horror. Laurel Hightower will rip your heart out and serve it to you between her pages. There are so many more I could name. I would just suggest following accounts like The Ladies of Horror Fiction and Sci-Fi and Scary on Twitter to get a broad, diverse look at all the women making horror their own.
Well, we’ll be anticipating the release of Inheriting Her Ghosts soon! Thank you for your time and all your contributions to genre fiction!
While you’re waiting for S.H. Cooper’s next book, pick up a copy of her latest collection All That’s Fair.
All That’s Fair by S.H. Cooper
A maiden looking for love in all the wrong places.
A mother in an endless search for missing children.
A crone whose passing is marked by the tinkling of tiny bells.
All That’s Fair is a collection of twenty-two short horror stories themed around women who are made up of anything but sugar, spice, and everything nice. Be they human, ghost, or something else entirely, one thing holds true for all: These are not the girls you’ll find (or want) next door.
Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.