Veronica Henry writes speculative fiction under the name V.H. Galloway. Born in the Ft. Greene section of Brooklyn, N.Y., she is a resident of Austin, TX, who has also lived in Ohio, California, and Nevada. From her career in tech, to her fascination with the stars, she is made of and loves all things geek.
In 2008, she traced her African ancestry to Sierra Leone and the subsequent trip still remains one of her proudest moments and her fiction often incorporates African themes.
Her horror/sci-fi hybrid, The Un-United States Of Z is a trilogy series that even for non-zombie fans has been described as “tasteful insanity.” In this trilogy, Galloway shows that even during the zombie apocalypse, the country remains racially divided. She has said “Reflecting this reality in my work is important because I think that its is only through ongoing dialogue that we can effect change.”
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.”
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.
I was updating my media kit recently and I realized I’ve been writing features for the Graveyard Shift Sisters blog for over a year now. For anyone unfamiliar with Graveyard Shift Sisters, it is a site dedicated to purging the black female horror fan from the margins. Before sites such as GSS, many of us had few like minds to discuss our love of the genre with. In talking with other black female horror writers, we also experienced surprise from others–readers and authors alike–and it was much the same:
*You* write horror? Really?
Yes. Yes, I do and I’m not alone.
Those responses were the reason I reached out to the owner of GSS, Ashlee Blackwell, and asked if I could write a feature on the black women who write horror. To my delight she responded with a resounding, “Yes!”.
My posts for these features tend to be my reading a book of the author’s choice and reviewing it, along with sending them an emailed list of questions about their work and inspirations, their experience with horror, and what shape they would like to see future of horror take. I’ve been told it’s one of Graveyard Shift Sisters’ most popular features. *Blush* (Actually, I think it’s badass.)
This time, I had a real treat with the feature. Since I’ve moved to the UK, I’ve not been able to find a strong group of writers to talk shop with and I missed that feeling of camaraderie. So when African horror author Nuzo Onoh emailed me to review her latest release, Unhallowed Graves, I asked her if she’d be open to doing the interview on the phone instead of via email. (My first review/interview with her was via email on her short horror collection, The Reluctant Dead. You can read about it here.)
Nuzo agreed and I’m so glad she did. It’s different conducting an interview on the phone, but it was the right call to make. (Ha!) We had an inspiring talk about writing, writing horror as a woman of African descent, the similarities between her culture (Igbo) and mine (Gullah-Geechee), and the differences between England and America. (That last topic is for another post.)
Whenever I do an interview and review for the Graveyard Shift Sister website, I also post it here in case there’s someone who follows my blog, but isn’t connected to me on Facebook or Twitter.
Since the last post was about me, I’d neglected to do that.
While I have no issue singing the praises of other authors, I have a hard time promoting my own work. A part of me feels like it’s tooting my own horn and I should be more modest. But blogs and books on writing (and my advice to other authors) state you must get over that.
It takes a lot for me to go against my natural tendencies and promote myself and my work. Thankfully, the super talented Sumiko Saulson was willing to help. Sumiko interviewed me via telephone and it was great to be able to chat about writing, trends in horror and my own inspirations.
May is Short Story Month, so I’ve asked horror short story author Kenya Moss-Dyme to be Graveyard Shift Sister of the month.
As such, I’ve reviewed her collection Daymares, seven short tales of all-too-possible horror.Kenya is excellent at choosing everyday subjects and twisting them into stories that make you not want to trust anyone. I mean, we all know what happens when our loved one gets possessed by the spirit of a dead gangster. It’s hard to trust a guy after that.
Read my review of Daymares and my interview with Kenya on the Graveyard Shift Sisters site here.
I had the privilege to read an advance copy of Spider Road Press’s release Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery, and Horror.
Eve’s Requiem is a compelling compilation of tales in tribute to the resiliency of women who are placed in dangerous situations.
Many of these tales have paranormal elements, while others are firmly grounded in realistic, everyday situations that spiral out of control. Historically in much of horror fiction, women have been regulated to helpless victims or sexual conquests. This collection of stories places women in positions of power.
The women in these short stories are relatable: they assert themselves, make choices, and take action. While they feel fear, these women are not stymied by it. I found it heartening that the focus was not on their physical descriptions—the characters could be any of us. The essence of these stories was centered on their strength, their reasoning, their decisions, their need to survive.
That fight for survival is what makes the stories in Eve’s Requiem such an engrossing and relevant read. To purchase, head over to the Spider Road Press Bookstore.
An added plus is that 5% of the proceeds from all Spider Road Press titles are donated to charities which address the issues of sexual assault, supporting American veterans, empowering youth and fighting hunger at home and abroad. I’m sure editors Fern Brady and Patricia Flaherty Pagan would love to have a review from you as well.