GREENFIELD — Leah McNaughton Lederman, a Greenfield native and longtime freelance editor, had an idea she wanted to explore in a book: What are women afraid of, and how do they write about their fears?
Lederman became intrigued by the idea after editing several horror stories by women and decided to create a collection of female perspectives on the genre. After pitching the project to a few publishers, who she said were not interested in short-story collections, Lederman decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign — one that was quickly successful.
“Cafe Macabre,” a collection of thirteen women’s horror stories, is available now after being successfully funded on Kickstarter. The project was fully funded after just 12 hours and was named a “Project We Love” by the crowdfunding site.
Lederman said the topics explored as sources of fear include isolation, abandonment, family and ancestry, haunted houses and even the Mandela Effect.
“I like to know what women are concerned about,” Lederman said.
Each of the thirteen stories is accompanied by an illustration by a female artist. Many of the featured women are involved in independent comics as writers, illustrators or both, and Lederman said she was not surprised that people backed the project to see more of their work.
“I had the combined platform of 23 women, writers and artists alike,” Lederman said.
Some of the women featured were experienced horror writers, while others were new to the genre. Five out of the thirteen stories were written by fellow Hoosiers.
“I selected women who had strong voices, even if they had never written horror before,” Lederman said.
One of those women was Christina Blanch, a comic book writer and owner of Aw Yeah comics in Muncie. When Lederman asked her to contribute to the project, Blanch said she started several different stories before settling on one inspired by a personal experience she had — finding a dead, mummified cat in her home shortly after moving in. The resulting piece is called “Repossessed.”
Blanch said she was inspired by the dedication Lederman showed to the project.
“She has so much energy, and she’s so smart and so driven, even with small children at home,” Blanch said.
Indianapolis comic book writer and artist Kari McElroy wrote and illustrated the story “Steps,” about a woman trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship who finds an escape in her dreams.
McElroy, also new to the horror genre, said she was excited about the project’s female perspective.
“I was just so thrilled to work with Leah and all these other women,” McElroy said.
Jennifer Barnett, a pen-and-ink artist who lives in Indianapolis, is one of the visual artists featured in the book. She created an illustration for the story “Beating a Dead Dog.” Barnett said she initially worried about how to portray the gory story visually, but created a visual that used its setting in the deep woods to portray the mood of the piece.
Barnett said what intrigued people about the project was the focus on women’s voices in horror, a typically male-dominated genre.
“Leah herself is definitely a force of nature. She had a vision, and I think it was definitely her vision that brought us all together,” Barnett said. “This entire project was definitely her baby.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Where to buy ‘Cafe Macabre'” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
“Cafe Macabre” can be purchased online at amazon.com or sourcepointpress.com and will also be for sale at several upcoming Midwest Comic-Cons.
Lederman and other contributors to the book will appear at Scarlett Lane Brewing Company in McCordsville on Friday, Dec 13th from 5-8 p.m. and at Indy Reads Book in Indianapolis on Saturday, January 18 from 2-3 p.m. for book signings and readings. Copies of the book can also be purchased at these events.