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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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:

 

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 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.

 

Day 19: Rasheedah Prioleau

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Rasheedah Prioleau is a southern African American writer and filmmaker with an eclectic range of writing and ghostwriting credits. After a few years in the corporate world she started over from the bottom as an unpaid intern for a literary manager and never looked back.

“I love to write because there are no limits. All it takes is a finite space of time and I can create a story from infinite possibilities.”

Writers who have influenced her include: Judy Blume, Jude Deveraux, V.C. Andrews, Octavia Butler, Stephanie Meyer, and Charlaine Harris… just to name a few.

Her first film project of the year is The Descended, inspired by her Gullah ancestry, which is the story of two estranged sisters who travel to the South to inherit land they never knew about.  Along the way, a restless spirit possesses one of them and other must work with local Witches in order to save her. The full pilot script was an Official Selection at the 2016 Fright Night and the October 2016 Indie Wise Film Festivals.

Her novel Everlasting: Da Eb’Bulastin (Sa’Fyre Island Book One) is also steeped in Gullah-Geechee culture. After another incident of sleepwalking, Aiyana wakes up lying under the stars on Sa’Fyre Island, an island off the coast of South Carolina with a rich Gullah and Native American history. Believing the incidents have something to do with her long awaited transition into queen of the island, Aiyana shrugs them off. Soon she learns the transition involves an unwanted possession and the revelation of a dark family curse.

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To learn more about Rasheedah, check out her website and follow her on Twitter.

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 17: A.D. Koboah

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A.D. Koboah spent the first few years of her life in Ghana before moving to London, where she has lived ever since. She completed an English Literature degree in 2000, and although she has always written in her spare time, she didn’t start writing full-time until a few years ago.

Her debut novel, Dark Genesis, was inspired by her thoughts on dehumanization, specifically, the ways in which people are able to dehumanize others, the impact it has on the psyche, and if it’s possible for people to find their way back.

Dark Genesis is A Southern Gothic tale, beginning in present-day and moving quickly to the slave plantations of Mississippi. Luna, pregnant with her abusive master’s child, is taken by a tormented creature while on her way back to the plantation, and likely yet another unwanted pregnancy. Sure she won’t survive the night, she is offered the chance to rebuild the life and humanity taken from her.

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Dark Genesis, the first book in The Darkling Trilogy is free to download. Find out more about A.D. on her website and follow her on Twitter.