A Biographical Sketch

By Lisa Morton

"Where do you get your ideas?"

That's probably the one question we horror writers hear more than any other. In Roberta's case, I could be glib and answer, "Simple: She teaches high school." But I think the real answer is this:

It's a pretty horrific world out there, and Roberta is a sensitive soul.

"Sensitive?," I hear you crying in dismay, "but she writes horror!"

Fine. Let's talk about horror for a minute. What I find most attractive about reading, watching or writing horror is that all emotions are heightened. A film like The Exorcist can take you from the depths of dread to the rare peaks of catharsis all in two hours. The genre was born because of a woman mourning the death of her unborn child, nearly 200 years ago (for those of you not up on literature - shame on you, by the way - the woman was Mary Shelley, and her book was FRANKENSTEIN). And now, after the splatterpunks nearly killed the genre with ten years of excruciatingly sadistic and ultimately ineffective writing, the brightest new stars on the horror horizon are all women. And who do you think led the way for this little venture in equal opportunity?

Roberta's first major sale, "Goodbye, Dark Love" came in 1986, in Dennis Etchison's anthology CUTTING EDGE. Upon perusing the table of contents, you'll notice such names as Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Whitley Strieber, Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, Roberta Lannes... now, pop quiz: Which one of the above is different from the rest? In that seminal anthology, only three stories were contributed by women (in addition to Roberta, there was work by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Jessica Amanda Salmonson). Of the three women present, only one was a newcomer, and only one wrote grue as well as the boys. But what Roberta's story had that the boys' didn't was a shriek of protest and an offer of hope. In six short pages, "Goodbye, Dark Love" did more than tell the story of a woman avenging herself upon the corpse of her abusive father - it flipped the genre on its ear. It set a new standard for horror-story-as-social-commentary, and opened the doors to an eager new wave of female writers, including Kathe Koja, Poppy Z. Brite, Lucy Taylor, Nancy Holder, Nancy Collins, and... oh yeah, me.

Which brings us back to the biographical part of this. See, unlike the other women listed above, I've been lucky enough to count Roberta as a best friend and something of a mentor (and a great introduction writer - check out my chapbook THE FREE WAY for one of the more - um - unusual pieces of Lannes-iana). She's that kind of person - giving and supportive, confident enough in her own talents that she doesn't have to waste time on petty competitions or jealousies. Anyone who has read her work knows she has extraordinary courage and honesty. What else?

About 4,000 rubber stamps. A serious computer addiction. A fabulous husband (Mark). A previous career as a graphic illustrator. A desire to be worshipped. All she's missing is a dog.

There. There's my biographical sketch of Roberta Lannes. Sorry if it's neither very objective nor very informative, but then again, why are you wasting time reading this? Go read some of her work - it says everything you need to know about Roberta better than I can.

Roberta and Lisa

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