Local author to share horror stories by women


Editor’s note: The Daily Reporter will feature our “Neighbors” occasionally, whether it be someone with an interesting hobby or profession, or a nonprofit group making a difference in our community. Here, local author and freelance editor Leah Lederman shares about her books and an upcoming event at the Hancock County Public Library. The event will delve into what women fear and how they express that fear, both in their writing and in their artwork. Lederman and her family live in Buck Creek Township. If you know a person or a group that you’d like to see featured in Neighbors, email [email protected]

Daily Reporter: How did you get into writing?

Leah Lederman

Leah Lederman: I wrote stories as a kid and have kept a dedicated journal for close to 30 years. I never called myself a writer, though, until the release party for “Café Macabre” in 2019. Up to that point, I had been lurking in the outskirts, first as a literature major and composition instructor, later as a freelance editor. Finally in 2016, I rolled up my sleeves and said, “It’s my turn.” In those six years, I released three short-story collections, published in multiple literary journals and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I currently volunteer with the Lafayette Writers Studio, work for the Indiana Writers Center and serve as assistant director of the Midwest Writers Workshop.


DR: Why did you compile two volumes of “Cafe Macabre”?

LL: I had stumbled into editing the work of a handful of horror authors and noticed that the female authors had a different slant to their stories, one that I wanted to explore. I asked a dozen women I knew to contribute a story. Most of them had never written horror before (including myself) or didn’t typically write fiction or short stories. That way, they would be unaware of the genre’s conventions and tropes, stepping out of their comfort zones and tapping into something primal: their previously unexpressed fears.

DR: Did you write in the books yourselves as well?

LL: Between the two volumes, I included five of my own stories. Two of them involve moving to a new house in the country, and the one from 2019 includes encroaching warehouses. Fiction certainly draws from real life! Another dealt with some mental illness issues I was discovering in my ancestry, and the last two were ideas that had been floating around in my head for ages, including a character, “Esther,” a tragic and deranged cleaning woman who collects dust. In 2020, I wrote a 9-story collection about her entitled “A Novel of Shorts: The Woman No One Sees.”

DR: How would you describe the “Cafe Macabre” books?

LL: They tend to be cerebral, more like something out of “The Twilight Zone” than a slasher/gore story (though there’s a little bit of blood in there). One reviewer described the work as “sad and heart-rending.” Each story has the added layer of a piece of artwork, so there’s another opportunity to see women’s expression of the horror genre.

DR: Why do you think it’s important for people to hear the messages in the books?

LL: These books are enjoyable for fans of horror, but even for readers who typically don’t read that sort of stuff, there’s an interesting peek into the mindsets of women. Many of the stories deal with the manifestation or personification of inward feelings like anxiety, grief or trauma. Haunted houses and family issues appear in several tales, indicating that the places women are typically relegated to can haunt or even threaten them. It’s a genre that capitalizes on fear, and thus allows the writers and artists to explore that emotion in a creative way.

DR: You’ll be featured in the Local Author Showcase this Thursday at the Hancock County Public Library. What can people expect from the event?

LL: Two of the artists and three of the writers will be present to discuss the choices they made in their pieces and read excerpts of the stories. Books will be available for purchase, and we’ll be happy to sign them! Even though it’s a collection of dark stories, our events tend to be filled with belly laughs, fun stories and general silliness. I also plan to wear an awesome hat.

To learn more about the event at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the main branch of the HCPL, or to sign up, visit hcplibrary.org.


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