My Interview on Talking With Authors

I do a lot of interviews, I rarely am interviewed myself.

But Curtis Anderson of Talking With Authors reached out and asked me for an interview. I’m so glad he did. We spoke about my influences, Southern Gothic horror in general, and why some people may shy away from horror as a genre. And of course, we spoke about my writing!

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Curtis is a phenomenal interviewer– enthusiastic and engaging, and his questions are thoughtful and fun. For those who are nervous about being interviewed on live audio, he also makes you feel comfortable, and if I may say it… really good about yourself and your work.

Thanks to Curtis for this amazing interview, and for reaching out in the first place. I appreciate all he does to boost and bring attention to our work. Listen to the entire interview below:

 

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Day 25: Virginia Hamilton

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Virginia Esther Hamilton (March 12, 1936 – February 19, 2002) grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was a multi-award winning children’s book author, including the U.S. National Book Award and the Newbery Medal–the first African-American to do so– in 1975.

In 2010, The American Library Association established in 2010 the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award to recognize an African American author, illustrator, or author/illustrator for a body of his or her published books for children and/or young adults who has made a significant and lasting literary contribution.

In her lifetime, Virginia wrote and published 41 books in multiple genres that spanned picture books and folktales, mysteries and science fiction, realistic novels and biography, such as Zeely; The House of Dies Drear; Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush; and The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales . Woven into her books is a deep concern with memory, tradition, and generational legacy, especially as they helped define the lives of African Americans. Virginia described her work as “Liberation Literature.”

After her untimely death from breast cancer on Feb. 19, 2002, three of her books have been published posthumously: Time Pieces, Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl, and Wee Winnie Witch’s Skinny.

Wee Winnie Witch’s Skinny draws on African-American folklore for this scary tale of bewitchment and fright, where young James Lee discovers his Uncle Big Anthony has been cursed by a Wee Winnie Witch, who rides him like a broom across the night sky. But Mamma Granny knows just what to do.

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For more information on Virginia and her books, visit her legacy website.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 21: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911) was born to a free African-American woman in Baltimore, and studied at her uncle’s school, the William Watkins Academy for Negro Youth. She worked briefly as a servant, becoming a teacher in Ohio and Pennsylvania when she was in her mid-to-late twenties.

In 1854, she moved to the Boston area, and became active in abolitionist movement, lecturing publicly against slavery. In that same year, she  published Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects, which sold over ten thousand copies.

In 1859, her story “The Two Offers” was published in Anglo-African Magazine, making her the first African-American woman to publish a short story in the United States.

The story concerns two cousins, Laura and Janette, who consider Laura’s two offers of marriage. Janette suggest her cousin’s hesitation is due to her not wanting either man. Laura feels obligated to marry. Harper does not disclose the race of the the characters, suggesting similarities in how women are viewed and treated in black and white society. Her story provides an alternative to the established gender roles of the age, letting Janette embrace the idea of having her freedom by becoming “an old maid.”

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Some may say this story isn’t horrific enough. Since women of the time faced these choices–marry or live in poverty, I’ve decided to include it. A line from Harper’s story:

A shadow fell around her path; it came between her and the object of her heart’s worship; first a few cold words, estrangement, and then a painful separation; the old story of woman’s pride—digging the sepulchre of her happiness, and then a new-made grave, and her path over it to the spirit world; and thus faded out from that young heart her bright, brief and saddened dream of life.

Read “The Two Offers” online free.

 

Day 16: Sumiko Saulson

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Sumiko Saulson is a novelist, poet, and artist from Los Angeles, California now living in Oakland, California, who by age 19, had two self-published books of poetry. She is the Oakland Art Scene reporter for the Examiner.com and also a lead vocalist in the alternative rock/crossover band, Stagefright, that combines gothic and alt rock influences with reggae.

Saulson has penned several novels– Solitude (2011), Warmth (2012), Happiness and Other Diseases (2014), Somnalia (2015), and Insatiable (2015). Many of her short stories have been published online or with presses large and small, including Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales From the Lake Volume Three. In 2016, she won the Horror University’s Scholarship from Hell, given by the Horror Writer’s Association.

She has also compiled a non-fiction book collection of author biographies and interviews called 60 Black Women in Horror (2014), which she is currently in the process of updating the book to add at least another twenty writers.

Her short story anthology Things That Go Bump In My Head (2012), has something for just about any horror lover–a few old-fashioned scares, a ghost story, and dark humor. You can also find her work in the Colors in Darkness anthology of horror featuring characters of color, Forever Vacancy.

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Learn more about Sumiko on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Day 10: Pauline E. Hopkins

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Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins (1859 – August 13, 1930) was a novelist, journalist, playwright, historian, and editor. She is considered a pioneer in her use of the romantic novel to explore social and racial themes, reflecting the influence of W. E. B. Du Bois.

Her short story “Talma Gordon,” published in 1900 in The Colored American Magazine, is often named as the first African-American mystery story. Hopkins was the editor of the magazine “devoted to literature, science, music, art, religion, facts, fiction and traditions of the Negro Race,” until 1904 and is considered to be the most influential literary editor of the first decade of the twentieth century.

Some consider Hopkins’ final novel Of One Blood–originally serialized in The Colored American— to be science-fiction. But with its portrayals of astral projection, mesmerism-inspired trances, and catalepsy, I’m comfortable placing this work with the Gothic horror sepulchre. The work is reminiscent of Poe’s fascination with the catatonic, death-like state.

“A young medical student interested in mysticism” finds himself in Ethiopia on an archaeological trip. Poised to raid the country of its treasures, he discovers the painful truth about blood, race, and a history of which he was never told.

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Read “Talma Gordon” online for free and find Of One Blood compiled in this omnibus of Hopkins’ magazine novels.

Day 4: Linda D. Addison

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Linda D. Addison is a poet and writer of horror, science fiction, and fantasy currently living in Arizona. In 2001, she became the first African-American to win the HWA Bram Stoker award® for superior achievement in poetry for Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes. She has since won the award three additional times, including one for her poetry and short story collection How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend (2011).

Addison has also published over 300 poems, stories, and articles for such publications as Essence Magazine and Asimov’s Science Fiction. Ms. Addison is a founding member of the writer’s group, Circles in the Hair (1990) and is the poetry editor for Space & Time Magazine.

She is also one of the editors for Sycorax’s Daughters, an anthology of horror fiction and poetry written by black women.

In her collection How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend, her poetry is moody and melodic; the meter weaves a dimly lit path and you feel compelled to follow. The verse itself is seductive, almost playful—the picture of elegant disturbia. The prose included in the book is a combination of sub-genres, and you get a taste of homespun magic along with science fiction-laced Gothic horror. Buy it here.

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For more information about Linda, such as her full bibliography and schedule of events, please visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

 

Day 3: Ann Petry

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Ann Lane Petry’s birth date is not certain. Some biographers state October 12, 1911, while others list it as October 12, 1908. Either way, she was born in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, a predominantly white, rural community. Her family often told stories while she was growing up, and Petry began writing short stories and plays while she was still in high school.

The Street is her most famous novel, published in 1946; it made her the first black woman writer with book sales over a million copies.

As Petry is considered one of the most successful members of the “Richard Wright school” of writing, some overlook the Gothic–the dark and macabre–tones in her writing. In Keith Clark‘s book, The Radical Fiction of Ann Petry (Louisiana State University Press, 2013), Clark compares Petry’s work to Poe’s, saying she has brought the symbolism of classic Gothic into the 1940s. The tenement building becomes a haunted castle, filled with beings bent on destruction. Imagery of darkness, seclusion, entombment, and insanity pervade the work. Even the physical descriptions of characters, both black and white, are monstrous, draping Lutie’s (our main character’s) every move in fear.

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Clark goes on to note the use of dark comedy and the macabre in Petry’s short stories “The Bones of Louella Brown,” a ghost story in which a maid comes back to haunt her employers and “The Witness,” in which a teacher is forced to witness a crime committed by his students.

Over the course of her life, Petry lectured widely throughout the United States, and her contribution to literature was acknowledged by membership in the Author’s Guild and other literary societies, and honorary doctorates from several colleges and universities.

Ann Petry died April 28, 1997, near her home in Old Saybrook, after a brief illness.

The Street  and Miss Muriel and Other Stories are available on Amazon.