GEI: Discussion on Gender and Sexuality in Horror

Hailey Piper, a horror author, said she has been interested in the horror genre for nearly all of her life.

Hailey Piper, a Maryland-based horror author, is working to blend the world of being queer with that of horror novels.

“I write the books I want to read, and I want to read queer characters, queer themes, queer stories, however selfish that may be,” Piper said.

Piper will be discussing her works, such as “The Worm and His Kings” and “Queen of Teeth,” on Wednesday at the Margaret Sloss Center’s latest installment in their GEI: Discussions on Gender. The event, which will take place at 6 p.m. over Zoom, is titled “Discussion on Gender and Sexuality in Horror.” According to the Sloss Center’s website, Piper will discuss how she’s working to make horror “gay AF.”

Piper said her interest in the horror genre began when she was a child with the classic monster Godzilla. From there, her love of all things horror only grew. She soon realized that horror was more than a genre of novels and films to her; it was an escape.

“As I grew up and gained a deeper understanding of the genre and its effect on me, I realized horror was a place of catharsis and healing for me, and I wanted to have that impact and bring that feeling to others,” Piper said.

It was this wanting to share the feeling of healing with others that prompted Piper to begin writing, but she did not settle on the typical horror genre. Piper set out to explore this catharsis within the queer experience.

According to Piper, there are many reasons she wanted to view horror through a queer lens, one reason being that horror is a genre of honesty. Piper said that this honesty is not only desired by authors and readers, but it is inevitable. Another reason Piper wants to bring a queer perspective into the world of horror is that she sees similarities between how queer people are viewed and how monsters are viewed by society.

“There’s also sometimes a sense of response to the treatment of gender [and] sexuality as taboo subjects, or inherently monstrous, and I want to express that through monsters,” Piper said.

Piper said she finds inspiration from many different sources, ranging from odd observations to emotions she wants to delve into. But she said the most important part of being inspired is not to actively seek out inspiration but to let it find you. Because of this, Piper said she can be inspired by anything. When she has an idea about a plotline or character, she quickly jots down the idea to reference later.

“I have an enormous file of chaotic notes, and at times numerous of these get plucked out and assembled into a new story,” Piper said.

Piper, who is currently working on a novella set to release in late 2023, said she has multiple books coming out this year and early next year. But until then, she said she is excited to discuss one of her latest works, “Queen of Teeth,” with the Iowa State community Wednesday. The link for the discussion can be found here.

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