Blog Author Archive: Gillian Polack

The Horror of Chocolate

Some people can type “Hi, my name is…” and the words are seen as challenging stereotypes and bringing justice to the world. Me, it doesn’t matter what my past is or how I apply it in my fiction or in my teaching, everyone remembers me as the person who gives chocolate. Until I wrote my second novel, when people started saying “You write horror, don’t you?”

I write a novel that challenges assumptions about middle-aged women and it’s not seen as the feminist (slightly amusing) story I penned, but as horror. Humorous horror (with food and clothes), but scary. I know people who refuse to eat chocolate at my place for fear of the Mirror.

The fact that the mirror is not the same as the one in the book is irrelevant. My lovely antique mirror inspired the one in the book and therefore it might suck their souls and then where would the chocolate be?

Let me explain that mirror… no, let me not explain it. Honestly. It was meant to drive fear into the souls of innocents. So was the Beehive. They’re the sort of things that scare middle-aged females, you see (evil mirrors and bosses from hell). And it turns out that they scare other people, too.

“Horror latte,” its first editor called it, once.

I told her “It’s a feminist diatribe! And it’s funny. Very funny. Suburban fantasy. With art galleries and food. Canberra as it ought to be seen.”

She said “You can call it whatever you like: that mirror is creepy.”

“Middle-aged heroine,” I said. “Breaking stereotypes. Challenging assumptions.”

“I wouldn’t have that mirror in my lounge room,” she retorted, far too quickly. “I wouldn’t even have it in my house. I would take a blowtorch to it.”

“If the book sells a million copies as a horror, I’ll give you the mirror,” I declared.

I’m not sure she heard my declaration. She was munching on chocolate. People often do this in my presence. I reason that it’s because I’m terrifying. Short round people who carry chocolate are always terrifying.

“Because it’s not a horror. I don’t write horror novels. Or romances. I write speculative fiction. Besides, I like the mirror.”

“It ate your soul, years ago,” was her response. “That’s why you’re a feminist.”

“Why do people have such a strange concept of feminism?”

“Why do you write creepy mirrors? Have you got any more of that chocolate?”

And this is how I came to be known as a horror novelist, when the real me is an overweight historian who thinks she’s writing happy stories for the home.

Find out more about Ms Cellophane here, and about Gillian here.

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