Queer Horror

Interview with Pam Keesey

Dark Angels

Daughters of Darkness


Women who Run with the Werewolves

Name: Pam Keesey
Orientation: Lesbian-identified
URL: http://www1.minn.net/~pkeesey

What have you written?
I've edited three books, two of which are collections of lesbian vampire stories (Daughters of Darkness and Dark Angels). The third is a collection of stories about women werewolves (Women Who Run with the Werewolves). I am also the author of Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme Fatale. I've also written a number of essays, including an essay on The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson as lesbian gothic. Although only two of the books are specifically queer, I like to think that a queer perspective imbues all of my work.

What got you started in writing/editing these stories?
A little self-indulgence, really. I've been a fan of vampires of all stripes for as long as I can remember, and my interest in lesbian vampires grew with my awareness of my orientation. I'd been collecting lesbian vampire stories for years when I got the idea for Daughters of Darkness. It was more popular than I ever thought it would be, and I have to say that I'm delighted!'

What specifically inspired you to create a collection of lesbian vampire stories?
I'd always been interested in vampire imagery and became more curious about lesbian vampire imagery when I saw The Hunger. Later, I decided to delve into my interest at length as a subject a paper I was writing for a class. I enjoyed it, the professor liked it, and the class really responded well. So, on a lark, I wrote up a book proposal, sent it to a publisher, and voila!

What is your favorite horror character?
That's a tough one. I've always had a special fondness for vampires, for whatever reason, but I'm also very interested in mummies. Werewolves are cool, too. I'm less interested in the slasher monsters (Freddy, Jason, Mike Meyers, and their ilk). I guess I'd have to say that I'm more interested in the "classic" monsters.

When did you first start becoming aware of your orientation?
I'm not exactly sure. My parents were very open and willing to discuss just about anything. When I was 11, Anita Bryant started her "Save the Children" campaign, and that was the first time I ever really thought about it. I thought she had no right to tell anyone who to love, and from that point on knew I was open to the possibility.

Any specific movies or books that especially inspired you?
Oh, god. There are so many that inspired me at various times in my life, not the least of which is Forbidden Planet. I guess the question would be, inspired me to what?

How has the lesbian community reacted to your books? Have you had any difficulties because of the subject matter?
Hmmm. That's an interesting question. My books has been surprisingly popular, or at least surprising to me, and the lesbian community has been very supportive.

There have been some, though, who have been less than pleased with the subject matter and how it's portrayed. Some have objected to the sexual objectification ("pornographic trash" was one comment), while others have reacted to the portrayal of violence. But overall, and I must stress that this, the response has been positive and supportive.

Any future projects in the works?
Nothing definite, although I have written a couple of essays that should be appearing in print soon. One is "The Power of Suggestion" about Robert Wise's 1963 film The Haunting and should be appearing this summer in Horror Film Reader edited by James Ursini and Alain Silver. The other is on Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Rappaccini's Daughter" and will be appearing in the literary magazine Darkling Plain sometime early this summer.

Where can people get your books?
I'd really like to encourage people to go to some of the really great on-line independent bookstores, especially those specializing in horror, science fiction, fantasy, and the macabre. I'll make a couple suggestions (and in no particular order): Borderlands Books (www.borderlands-books.com) and DreamHaven Books and Comics (www.visi.com/~dreamhvn/index.html).

Last updated 5/13/00

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