Books, Babes, and the Business: Mary Ann Peden-Coviello

Celebrating Women in Fiction

blog header cwifMary Ann Peden-Coviello

WiHM is nothing but self-promotion. Women use their sexuality to get ahead, and it gives them an unfair advantage over men.

I ought to write a couple books about rape and revenge under a female pen name. That way I can get in on this “Women in Horror Month” publicity.

I will pick up a horror novel by a man before I even try one written by a woman. Women don’t have the imagination that men do.

Women don’t write horror anyway. They just write romance with a few scary scenes.

Men are better storytellers than women.

There are more good horror novels written by men.

Why do we even need a “Women in Horror Month” anyway? Shouldn’t we just be writers, judged solely on the merits of our stories? Yes, in a perfect world, yes. I’d ask you to reread the comments I began this post with. I saw those comments in various forums in the last few days. I have not included the names of the people who made them, and I have reworded them slightly. I did not change the meaning, however, not even a little bit.

Women are not judged solely on the merits. Books written by women are not taken as seriously as those written by men except in the romance genre. (Men in that genre, by the way, face much the same discrimination and marginalization as women in horror.)

Malina Roos threw down a challenge. She took six pieces of writing (volunteered for the experiment by the writers of the pieces), half by men and half by women, and asked readers to decide which pieces were written by which gender. Here are the results. They are instructive.

As long as readers skip over a book written by a woman just because it was written by a woman we will need to celebrate those of us who elbow our way in, demanding a seat at the table and refusing to be patted on the head and set in a corner.

Oh, and that bit about women using their sexuality to ensure their success? Please. Granted, my success has mostly been in the editing department, but if I had relied on my sex appeal to gain that success, I’d be about as successful as an Alpine skier with a fear of heights.

As long as women are not taken seriously as writers of horror, we need to shine a spotlight on the ones who write and write well. Is one month every year too much to ask?

 And now the interview…

Please tell us a little bit about yourself… (would you describe yourself primarily as a writer, publisher, editor, artist, radio talk show host…)

I am a writer who edits. Or an editor who writes. I do copy-editing, not structural or developmental editing. I’m not so good at telling you that the second chapter is too long and the sixth chapter should be cut in half and Part A stuck back with chapter four and Part B expanded. However, if you want someone to catch your excessive point-of-view changes, repeated words, and then nag you about tags – well, I might be your Evil Editor of choice.

Do you focus on a specific genre with your work?

I’ve edited horror, adventure, fantasy, young adult mystery, and romance. I write horror, paranormal, mainstream literary—all of it with a leavening of humor.

Do you/Would you ever write under a male pseudonym?

No, I don’t think I would. I’m not going to say never, though. After all, I have never used a pseudonym since leaving the fanfiction world where I did use one. I use my whole double-barreled first and double-barreled last name. If you Google that name, you won’t find anyone but me. Why or why not? If the work felt as if it needed a male presenter, I might consider it. On the whole, though, I prefer my own name.

Name a few of your favorite books/authors you’ve read recently:

Killion Slade’s “Exsanguinate,” Valerie Douglas’ “The Coming Storm,” Jaime Johnesee’s “Bob The Sequel,” Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall,” Sue Grafton’s “W is For Wasted.” These are just the ones I’ve read in the last few days. My reading is all over the place. (I haven’t even begun to list the craft books I’m reading now. I’m a glutton for writing craft books.)

 Who has been the most influential female in your personal life and how have they shaped your work?

Probably my mother, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think. She loved me, but she never understood me and never believed I could do anything well. She passed away in 1996, and I began writing again in 1997 or 1998 after a twenty-year hiatus. I’m always still trying for her approval, even though I’ll never have it.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice relating to the business what would it be?

Don’t stop. Don’t let anyone tell you your talent doesn’t measure up to some standard they hold over your head. On the other hand, don’t think you know it all. Learn. Learn all the rules, so you can bend them, break them, twist them into pretzels with authority, style, and grace. If you don’t learn those rules, you’ll just look as if you don’t know any better.

Do you have a current project or upcoming project you would like to tell us about?

I’m writing a novella called “Zombies Ate My Homework.” The main character is a teacher. I’m working on a paranormal novel called “Rule Number One.” And a boatload of short stories. Of course, I’m always editing for someone as well.

Mary Ann can be found online here:




cropped for FB profileMary Ann was born in Arlington, Virginia, and has lived in several states, all below the Mason-Dixon Line. She has been married to the same man since 1976. She and her husband have two sons of their own, one unofficially adopted son, and one daughter-in-law. Even as a little girl, Mary Ann made up stories and continued to write through college. She stopped writing after she married. Twenty years or so later, she began dabbling in fanfiction. She had no confidence in her ability to create characters, so playing with someone else’s characters seemed safe. After a couple of years of fanfiction, she began writing original fiction again and has never looked back. Recently, she began editing. Her motto is simple: Every writer deserves an editor with a sharp eye and a nasty attitude.

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