The Gullah-Geechee Film Festival

The International Gullah-Geechee Film Festival is back!

Who are the Gullah-Geechee?

If you’ve read any of my stories, you’ve already had a taste of the Gullah language and Geechee culture.

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The Gullah-Geechee Nation runs from Jacksonville, NC to Jacksonville, FL, encompassing the coastal Sea Islands and some thirty-odd miles inland. We are descendants of varied African groups linked with Indigenous Americans. We’ve been considered “a nation within a nation” from the time of chattel enslavement in the United States until we officially became an internationally recognized nation on July 2, 2000.

W. Kamau Bell’s recent episode of United Shades of America featuring the Gullah-Geechee of South Carolina is bringing more of the culture I grew up with to light. Turns out 90% of Black Americans can trace their roots to this part of the world. The popular series followed Bell as he discovered our past and our present, talking with local artisans and storytellers and walking some of the Charleston roads I grew up playing on.

Even Tracy K. Smith, 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, had a profound experience among the Gullah-Geechee of Georgia.

In 2006, the passage of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Act enabled preservation of certain Gullah historical sites.

But more of our stories need to be told.

How can you help further the story and preserve the culture of one of the oldest groups of African-Americans in the US? One thing you can do is support the International Gullah Film Festival (TIGFF). TIGFF’s mission is to encourage filmmakers to explore and tell visual stories based on the rich history of Gullah culture. This film festival is as much about pride for people of Gullah descent as it is about our place in the global community.

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My speculative fiction writing, along with the novel The Everlasting by Rasheedah Prioleau — also steeped in Gullah-Geechee culture — show The Black Experience isn’t a monolith.

But it doesn’t happen often on screen.

In 1974, Twentieth Century Fox released the film Conrack starring Jon Voight. This film follows the arrival of a white teacher onto a South Carolina Sea Island.  In 1991, Daughters of the Dust, an epic tale of the Peazant family’s migration from the Sea Islands to the mainland, was released by Julie Dash. In 2017, John Legend introduced a Gullah narrative in the breakout hit television series Underground.

Every twenty years isn’t enough.

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TIGFF goes beyond showing short films, to offer education and experience to youths and young people on filmmaking and how to bring their stories to life. There’s even a contest for screenwriters to win a table read for their screenplay. Other beneficial impacts include adding new jobs to the community, encouraging the use of facilities, increase local cultural tourism, influencing film projects, and showing the area as a desirable film location.​  

Please consider donating and sharing this post and/or the link to the GoFundMe page for TIGFF. We’re trying to raise $2,500 by June 30th to help fund the film festival and its community outreach programs and any amount helps. This is a one-day event, with the potential to become a global advocate and ambassador for the Gullah-Geechee Corridor as a whole, as well as Gullah-Geechee and descendants all over the world.

 

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Day 24: Lori Titus

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Lori Titus is a Californian with an affinity for dark fiction, and a knack for crafting sympathetic characters. Her work explores mysticism and reality, treading the blurred line between man and monster. She credits her mother and sister–both horror lovers–with her early love of the dark and strange.

An editor responded to one of her short story submissions, asking if she was willing to serialize it. That serial became the basis for her first novel, Hunting in Closed Spaces, Book One of The Marradith Ryder Series. Marradith is a young girl with extraordinary powers, which make her valuable to some, and dangerous to others.  Amid does of romance, magic, and werewolf lore, she attempts to find her place in and amongst figures, so so easily  categorized as good or evil.
Her work is also features in the anthology of horror fiction and poetry by African-American women, Sycorax’s Daughters.

Her latest release, Blood Relations, is a paranormal tale of religious fanaticism, witchcraft, and murder in a small South Carolina town.

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Learn more about Lori on her blog and follow her on Twitter.

 

Cinched – A Release

It’s been a busy year for me, full of amazing experiences. I managed to get my short story collection Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror out this year, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get anything else out.

But I have!

I’m happy to announce that my short horror story “Basque of the Red Death” is in the multi-genre anthology Cinched: Imagination Unbound available now from Falstaff Books. (And it’s the first story in the antho!)

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Contains my short story “Basque of the Red Death”. Yeah, you read that right.

 

This collection runs the gamut from steampunk to horror, from steamy romance to weird western, from victorian thriller to contemporary bondage. But they all feature the corset in some way.

My story was inspired by Poe’s classic short story “Masque of the Red Death”, but I’ve set the tale in the South and given it a few additional horrors. If you haven’t read Poe’s original tale, read it for free here.

Then check out Cinched: Imagination Unbound on Amazon for some twisted tales.

Featuring stories by:
John G. Hartness
Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin
Misty Massey
Emily Lavin Leverett
Kimberly Richardson
Sarah Joy Adams
MB Weston
Herika Raymer
Dave Harlequin
RD Stevens
Andrea Judy
Nico Serene
Eden Royce <–That’s me!

 

Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror — A Release

It is finally here!  Seems so long since I’ve posted about my own book release.  This one is especially close to my heart as it is a collection of Southern Gothic horror short stories inspired by my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.

The final cover for Spook Lights. Man, this went through about seven versions...
The final cover for Spook Lights. Man, this went through about seven versions…

Not familiar with Southern Gothic?  It’s a genre of Gothic fiction unique to American literature set in the American South. (Although I’ve taken a few liberties…) Commonly featured are characters who may dabble in hoodoo and conjure magic–like my great-aunt. Other characters practice more devious or violent acts. But all of them are deeply flawed, disturbed or eccentric characters. Much of Southern Gothic focuses on the macabre and grotesque. Maybe that’s why I love the genre.

It isn’t all foreboding haunted plantations, either. Also featured are warped rural–and sometimes urban–communities that reflect the morals, or lack thereof, of the South and showcase sinister events relating to poverty, alienation, racism, crime, and violence.

Southern Gothic isn't all marshes and haunted plantations, but sometimes, it is.  I took this picture at my last family reunion.
Southern Gothic isn’t all marshes and haunted plantations, but sometimes it is.
I took this picture at my last family reunion.

Southern writers in particular are said to craft a strong sense of place, where the setting itself becomes a character and the human characters may be tied to those places. That’s what I hope I’ve done with this collection. Here’s the back cover copy:

Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these tales of Southern Gothic horror:

Sinister shopkeepers whose goods hold the highest price, a woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, a witchdoctor’s young niece tells him a life-altering secret, an investigator who knows how to keep a 100% confession rate….

These are stories where the setting itself becomes a character—fog laced cemeteries, sulfur rich salt marshes—places housing creatures that defy understanding and where the grotesque and macabre are celebrated.

Pick up a copy for Kindle on Amazon US, Amazon UK or a paperback copy on Lulu.