Graveyard Shift Sister: Michele Berger

Horror meets Black hair care.

When I found out about Michele Berger’s latest release, Reenu-You, I knew I had to reach out to her to discuss her inspiration for the book, the strength of sisterhood, and how she’d never before thought of herself as a horror writer.

Well, welcome to the sisterhood, Michele. We’re glad to have you.

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Read the entire review and interview on Graveyard Shift Sisters.

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Emily Knight I Am… – A Review

I don’t know if I’ve ever reviewed a YA novel for this blog before. Not that I’ve specifically excluded them, but …

*shrugs*

Well, now I am. And it’s a wonderful one to start with: Emily Knight I Am… by A. Bello.

I met her in September of last year at the Triskele Literary Festival in London. She was fun and energetic, and her work was so impressive. She was also a finalist for the Great British Entrepreneurship Award in 2016. For more on that and the press she’s started, you can read my interview with her on the Graveyard Shift Sisters website.

When she asked if I would review Emily Knight, I was flattered. Her book has a brand-new cover, more vibrant than the last in my humble opinion.

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Emily Knight is a troubled thirteen year-old girl, who takes her frustration out on the world around her. She fights, she steals, and is unrepentant when caught. She doesn’t need to steal, she’s from one of the wealthiest, most well-known families around. The paparazzi have captured many of her thefts on camera.

But Emily is crying out for attention. Her father hasn’t been home in years, instead he’s searching the planet for her long-lost brother, Lox. Both Emily’s father and brother are famous fighters, with the ability to fly, breathe underwater, command fire. While Emily is struggling to control her power. Surrounded by wealth and privilege, she’s still unhappy.

When Emily gets the chance to go to the Osaki Training School, where her father and brother attended, she’s nervous. She wants to learn, but is worried the other students (and teachers) will expect more from her and she won’t be able to deliver. She’s Thomas Knight’s daughter, after all.

Soon, what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter as an evil older than she is resurfaces, and Emily will have to use her intelligence and cunning to protect everything and everyone she loves.

Emily Knight I Am… is a page-turner, full of magic and dojo-style fights, perfect for any reader that loves to watch an imperfect character grow into a hero.

It’s rare for me to read about a character of color from a wealthy, famous family who is tested and challenged to become something more than she started to be. The teachers as well as the students in the Osaki Training School are of diverse backgrounds, both racially and socio-economically, which makes it feel like a real specialist school. The lessons are fascinating, and I was amazed to find out that there is real danger of injury and pain for the students.

The second book in the series Emily Knight I Am…Awakened will be launched here in the UK on September 28th at Waterstone’s Islington 6:30-8:00pm. If you can’t make it, grab a copy of Bello’s Emily Knight I Am… on Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Emily Knight 2 book launch invite

Graveyard Shift Sister: L.C. Cruell

Talking to artists gets me inspired.

No matter the medium — books, film, paint, digital — speaking with these artists and hearing what keeps them doing what they do drives me forward.

One person whose drive always impresses is L.C. Cruell. (I can’t imagine how she gets it all done.) I’ve had the pleasure of working with Cruell on her 7 Magpies project, a horror film anthology written and directed by Black women, feating a slew of talented authors and directors. It’s still in progress, but I wanted to talk more with her about her ideas, her motivation, and her experience.

You can read the entire interview this amazing filmmaker on Graveyard Shift Sisters.

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While you’re at it, check out some of the trailers for her films:

31 the web series – www.youtube.com/31theseries

I Need You Trailer – https://vimeo.com/97681128.

Cemetery Tales Trailer – https://vimeo.com/158551687

13 Dark: A Fiction & Art Project

Are you ready for a journey into the dark? 

I’ve been asked to be a part of an amazing project.

13Dark (stylized to †3Dark) is a unique project that will showcase both written and visual artwork of some of speculative fiction’s greatest creatives.

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All of the work will explore the sacred and profane, the holy and damned, the beatific and the demonic. Think of the kind of subtle supernaturalism and religiosity of something like True Detective, or Craig Clevenger’s story “Act of Contrition” from The New Black.

 

Who are the writers?  Established names including Richard Thomas, Moira Katson, Veronica Magenta Nero, and Christa Wojciechowski as well as newer voices such as Matthew Blackwell, Andy Cashmore, Samuel Parr, Tomek Dzido, Anthony Self, Ross Jeffery, Jamie Parry-Bruce and Tice Cin. And myself, of course.

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The aim is to release 13 unique short stories monthly, in digital and paperback form, accompanied by custom artwork from Shawn Langley, and with cover artwork by grandfailure. These editions will be beautifully produced, melding the visual and written elements, offering unique insight into our world, and the darkness it holds.

Each story will be edited and have a foreword written by editor Joseph Sale. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something colossal. Joseph has put together a YouTube video for 13 Dark, where he talks about the project and why he quit his job to bring his vision to fruition.

Here’s the Kickstarter link. Check out the amazing rewards, including magazine subscriptions from Gamut and Storgy, custom designed artwork, and professional editing for your novel or novella! Then share, and donate if you can. Talk about the project on your social media channels.

Keep up with new releases, artwork, and how we’re doing on Facebook and Twitter.

Oh, are you wondering what my story is about? (It’s scheduled for release in January 2018.) I have some ideas, but it isn’t written yet, so feel free to leave me a comment if you want to throw out a suggestion.

Day 18: Toni Morrison

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Toni Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931. A novelist, editor, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, her work is best known for its epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters.

Beloved (1987) won Morrison the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award, yet is one of the most highly disputed works in terms of genre. Many contend that it is not a work of horror, even though it is a ghost story, and is rife with isolation, violence and paranormal activity. Others, myself included, contend that horror’s definition desperately needs widening, to embrace this masterpiece of a work. As such, it is one of the books in the 28 Days of Black Women in Horror giveaway.

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But Beloved isn’t Morrison’s first foray into speculative fiction.

Morrison points out that with its island of spirits and talking trees, her novel Tar Baby (1981), is more “timeless phantasmagoria” than identifiable present reality. Her latest novel, God Help the Child–her 11th–is a successor of sorts to Tar Baby in theme: beauty, self-image, and blackness.

Pick up Morrison’s books on Amazon. For more about her, head over to her website and follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7: Tananarive Due

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Tananarive Due was born in Tallahassee, Florida is a recipient of The American Book Award (for The Living Blood), NAACP Image Award (for the In the Night of the Heat: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel, with Blair Underwood and Steven Barnes), and the Carl Brandon Kindred Award (for the short story collection Ghost Summer).

Due was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for The Between (Superior Achievement in a First Novel) and My Soul to Keep (Best Novel). Due, author of twelve novels and a civil rights memoir, was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University in 2010.

Danger Word, a short horror film funded by a successful crowdfunding venture, is based on the post-apocalyptic sci-fi short story of the same name by Due and husband Steven Barnes. The short story has also sparked full length YA horror novels Devil’s Wake and Domino Falls.

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Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories—one of which has never been published before— her first short story collection, Ghost Summer is a must read. Keep up with Tananarive on her website, her mailing list, and on Twitter.

Day 1: Helen Oyeyemi

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Helen Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria in 1984, moved to London with her family at age four. She wrote her first novel while at school studying for her A-levels. For those of us from the US, that’s sort of like study for the SAT in order to be considered for entrance into a college or university. Also while still at school, she got a publishing deal and The Icarus Girl, a ghost story about an eight-year-old girl torn between her British and Nigerian identity, hit the shelves.

Her third novel, White is for Witching–described as having “roots in Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe”–was a Shirley Jackson Award Finalist and won a Somerset Maugham Award. Set in Dover off the South East coast of England, the Silver family house has been home to four generations of women, weaving threads that bind them cross time, space, and death. I loved the points of view in this book–the teenage Miranda’s, her twin brother Eliot’s, and yes…the house itself has it’s own voice.

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Readers are divided about White is for Witching, because it is a bold work. Oyeyemi trusts the reader to be able to follow along without explaining every move, every shift she makes in this Gothic tale. It has subtlety, it has a bite that you might not feel until the welt raises on your skin hours later.

Like much of Oyeyemi’s work, White is for Witching is a commentary on beauty, horror, nationality, and race. Her novel Boy, Snow, Bird is an inventive take on the Snow White and Cinderella fairy tales. Her latest release is a collection of short stories, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, which is on my to-read list. 

Since 2014 Oyeyemi has lived in Prague. Find out more about her work on her website.